Today I’m going to post the first rough draft I have for a short story. I’m in a creative writing class in school right now that demands I write a short story and share it with the class for feedback. I’ve made several attempts at writing one I feel “good” about, to no avail. This one, I feel…”alright” about. In my opinion, it’s hardly a short story. It’s a glimpse into a life. There’s really no tension or too much plot development. To me, it’s just a glimpse into the story of a life. It does include some facts from my life, and some fabrications. That’s what I did to make it fiction and not the latter. Even being fiction, though, it portrays one night (of many) in a life of someone (me, perhaps, or anyone else) suffering from PTSD. I have a lot of other diagnoses and shit in my life, however I’m solely focusing on the PTSD here, for the purpose of it being a short story.
Take what you will, and leave the rest.
And remember, I don’t claim this is anything fantastic nor is it a finished product.
But thank you anyway for reading 🙂
(NOTE: It may be triggering to some, because it is specific in some details. I’m including this warning because I don’t enjoy triggering anyone.)
A Truth That Demands to be Seen
He’s gasping for breath, right there in front of me. I’m screaming with all of the energy I can bring forth, yet no sound is produced from my gaping mouth. I lunge, but am forced back by a wall I can’t see. As if I hadn’t just been thrown backwards, I lunge again, and again, feeling the impact of the blow against my frail body physically, but emotionally unable to stop my futile attempts.
HELP HIM. HELP HIM. SOMEBODY HELP HIM.
Why can no one hear me? Where is everyone? Why can’t I reach him? Why can’t I save him? Please, make it stop. Make it stop. Make it…
I jolt up in my bed. It’s dark. My heart beats to the drum of a hummingbird; so fast that it seems impossible. Sweat is rolling down every limb, causing me to shiver in this already frigid room. I know this feeling all too well.
Attempting to slow my breathing, I loosen my grip on my mangled sheets and look over at my clock.
2:03am. It’s Thursday.
Yesterday was a good day, wasn’t it? Relatively, anyway. Nobody died. They didn’t increase my meds. I only had one panic attack.
So what did I do to deserve the nightmares?
It’s just how it is, unfortunately. Sometimes I feel my existence on earth is intertwined with an existence in hell. These moments show that, as human as I try to be, I am haunted by a past that will never let go. These moments show that, I can try to live as “normal” as possible, but I will never feel that I truly fit the role. I am not that good of an actress.
I lie back down and hug myself with my sheets. Two sheets- that’s what we’re given, in addition to the one that covers the mattress. One pillow, two sheets, and two roommates sleeping soundly across the room. There are no windows in this particular room, though many nights I wish there were. I like to look out into the night, pretend I’m not where I truly am. I think about my mom and my brother, sleeping soundly a few towns over in the house I lived in my entire life. It’s a one story house, made of brick. Sturdy, familiar, and predictable. I think of my best friend and her boyfriend and their pug, probably also asleep by now in their apartment after hours spent doing homework and studying for things I wish I could join in on. My unwarranted jealousy of their “normal” young adult successes never ceases to leave the pit of my stomach, as hard as I swallow to make it go away.
The world seems so peaceful at 2 in the morning. Inside these walls, you’re met with a stoic silence that lets you interpret the truth. I can more easily pretend like there isn’t war being waged, people being killed, or anyone at all hurting and feeling alone. I appreciate that, on nights such as this.
I could try to go back to sleep now. I always do, at some point, fall asleep again. Sometimes I try to stay awake. Sometimes, being awake is almost easier. I can be in reality, knowing that I am sitting alone in a bed in a psychiatric hospital in the middle of November. Sleep isn’t the same. When I’m asleep, my head tries to fuck with me. Usually it works, just like it did tonight.
I see him often. I see the moments he was taking his last breaths. I feel the panic and inferiority of my presence at that hospice care facility. I remember nothing of that place besides the image of my dad. I remember only specific details of that day outside of that moment, few and far between. It was raining, I know that. When it rains, it means to me that the world is crying. They should have been, that day. They should have been.
Many days I contemplate why I am sitting here, in this hospital, and yet no one else present during his cancer is. Like no one else has images burned into their eyes and heads of my dad failing to be able to breath. Failing to be the person he was once. Failing to be able to live.
Why doesn’t anyone else appear to wake up at 2:03am, shaking and drenched in sweat, trying to convince themselves that it was just another nightmare?
I look again to the other bodies in the room, confirming the lies that try to catch fire inside my head are just that-lies my mind uses to make me feel more alone. They have different people, different actions, different moments…but we’re all in this game together. We all lay down at night, begging more than praying, that we get to sleep through that night without the agony ensuing. Hoping that when we slip from our waking hours into the depths of nighttime hell, that maybe the torture will be just a little less tonight. That maybe those “skills” we’re learning and meds we’re swallowing will do some good, provide any ounce of relief.
I lie, hands together at my chest in a fetal position, slipping back into the abyss.
Please, please, please.
-October 25, 2016