I'd wanted to be alone. So, I lost myself in the crowds. I wanted to forget. Forget who I was, forget the deafening silence of cold nights, curled up, voices and memories hammering on my head. Forget the pain and exhaustion. The hole inside of me.
I didn't want to go back to the usual hangouts. They were burnt out memories. Ruination. I did a quick search, and in the silence of the quiet night that shrieked at me like nails on chalkboards, I readied myself to join the crowds. I'd stopped looking in mirrors. Avoiding the emptiness reflected at me. Avoiding the spectre that reminded me that I was still alive. Alive for what?
As I slipped into the crowded room, the noise came at me like a soothing shadow on a hot day. Here was a place where I couldn't hear myself think. Here was a place where I was a stranger, where no one knew me, and where I didn't have to care. If I didn't care, I didn't hurt. It was strange, I thought to myself, as I slid into a seat, how I needed a place where I couldn't even feel I existed. Stranger yet how I wanted to be alone in a place where I was surrounded with people.
Slowly, people took notice of me. They asked me to dance. I didn't want to. I wanted to remain unnoticed, unseen. Someone took a seat nearby and pulled me into a conversation, and a bubble of kindness overpowered my resistance. I didn't want this.
I ran out in a panic. What was I doing? What was the point in anything anymore? Against a cold brick wall, I cried as the rain came down on me. The lamposts flickered dimly and I wandered through the night, another night without sleep, until I reached my door and crashed on my bed as the sun began its ascent.
The next night, inexplicably I found myself back at the new place. Despair was too strong a toxic substance that if its presence was all I had for company, I would submit to its addiction. What was so bad in that? A bubble of resentment pulled at me and I felt like screaming. I looked around me, surrounded by mouths. Moving mouths, smiling mouths, smirking mouths, mouths imbibing in drinks, mouths with shiny gloss, mouths all moving for some purpose. What purpose could there be in an army of moving mouths that threatened to conquer sanity?
Sanity was a notion I considered as if it were an alien unknown but theoretical. Was I so bereft of everything that I couldn't locate my identification for sanity? I patted myself down and found that I no longer knew who I was. The thought brought me comfort, and for the first time in a long time, somehow, I smiled.
To my horror I found that someone was smiling back at me. He approached and sat himself down and proceeded to speak. I was riveted by my horror at having a moving mouth directed straight at me. I needed to throw up. I was being pulled by that humanistic tendency to socialize and I was ready to die.
Death was something I was not stranger to. I'd considered various methods of dying. When moving mouths were too loud, and the mute button wouldn't work, I found that death was a welcome channel. Jumping from the highway overpass, walking into the flooded winter rivers, sitting in the subzero rain, ingesting toxic substances.
The moving mouth was offering me some substance. I blinked at the kindness and shook my head. Unspeakably, I found my mouth moving and I had uttered two polite words. The fish grabbed the bait and ran with it, and I was trapped into the world of moving mouths, enslaved to the phenomenon of small talk. Like a fish who'd gone without water for too long, I gasped and found that words were like a welcome drink. A drink I partook of too much for my own good. Within the night's end, I was made not only an acquaintance but a friend.
I didn't want to get close to anyone again. Ever. I was riddled with bullet holes and racked with agony from the electric shocks that had run through my body again and again. Years of mental despair that had eroded too much.
Every night, I found myself pretending to be someone I was not. I was somehow the one who made everyone laugh, who talked energetically, and, worst of all, smiled incessantly. Soon, I was hit by the realization that this was not what I came here for. That despite the luxury accorded to me for the few hours I was here, everything was just the same, if not worse. I was living a lie.
To be continued.