Your presence sets fire to the remnants of my life. I do not know what I would have become had I not found you in my moments of misery.
Had I not found you amidst the stream teeming with blackness, I would never have found the sacred spark. It is all you. It will always be you.
But you see, this is nowhere near enough. I hid something from you. Did you know that? I guess you did because you see everything.
I will still tell you. I hurt myself for the first time in a long time. I thought I had it under control, but I overestimated myself and everything. Back up against the wall, next to the bed, I ran the sharp edge of a razor across my inner thigh. Then I scrunched my face up ever so slightly, as though I had grown accustomed to the pain which ensued. It was nothing. Not anymore.
The cut soon turned red, and I rested my head against the wall and heaved a long sigh. The unease, desolation, and worthlessness that had coalesced into a wild storm ravaging my mind for hours dissipated in no time, replacing it with calm.
Nothing noteworthy happened today, but I wondered if it had been me all along. I know. I know. I’d promised you I wouldn’t go back to square one. Think about it, though. Mom fell in love with Jay and married him as any widow would. They were so head over heels with each other that they forgot they had a son to feed. That happens, right? Would it be so wrong of me to blame them for what I have been through? Wouldn’t it have been better if I had packed my things up and left? I have nowhere to go, but I would give them the space they've always craved. I would be out of their lives once and for all. But I should not neglect what you’ve been trying to tell me all this while. You tell me I have to let go of this guilt. This guilt has latched onto me and has been sucking hope bit by bit. I latch onto you, for I know you will never leave me. You watch over me like an angel. You are my armor.
But you only greet me at night. I wish I could talk to you forever and not just for a few hours. I wish you would sit next to me so I could rest my head against your shoulder and whisper to you the many urban legends and show you the nightingales that sing a sweeping melody in the dead of night.
Before I saw a glimpse of myself in you, I was dead. I was a walking corpse bereft of any cardinal emotion. I had become a stranger to happiness that blooms in emotional warmth when flowers open in spring. I had become a stranger to anger, which is sadness in fight mode. And above all, I had become a stranger to the love of my mother.
My mother used to be one for surprises; each day, a sea of tiny things. . . how they would make me smile from ear to ear. Which hand was my cookie in? Which way would we walk to school? Would we splash in puddles and dirty our clothes? Would we dance our special jig whenever it rained? I had locked my heart away in hers and hers in mine.
"Come to me in your summertime, when our laughter is as irradiant as daisies in the grass," she’d say. "Come to me in the winter, when you feel as if ice freezes your heart and blood. . ." She was my shelter, my guardian, my home, always with an open door, the key always in my pocket and a love that was always mine. But now, she is a thousand oceans away, her heart enclosed by walls and mine a phantom.
I don’t know what she finds in Jay. She never stopped mourning and needed a distraction. She would never call it a blunder, but perhaps praise him for being the good man that he is, that he prioritises her over him. . . or me. He never considered me a part of their little family. I faded well into the background. I faded well and fast in her heart.
You wouldn’t be surprised to know that mom checked my phone for the fourth time today, vexed that I had been trying to seek help yet again.
"You’re being delusional, mom. Don’t you remember what your husband did to me the last time I tried that?"
"You are delusional for thinking you’d ever get away with this attention-seeking bullshit," she said as she pointed a finger at me, and walked toward me until her face was a breath away from mine. Her eyes widened, bulging as if they would pop out and roll on the ground any second, and her lips pulled taut. Right then, a pang of fear hit me. I pushed her. Hard. But it was too late.
A new expression took over her face in a matter of a second.
Hurt, as if to say, I had been in the wrong here. That I had genuinely said something wounding.
"Jay, come and look at what’s happening!"
"Your son’s acting up again."
He came in. Mom’s eyebrows lowered and knitted together, and her lips sank. Jay unbuckled his belt and slid it through the loops on his jeans. My heart galloped against my ribcage so loudly, that I thought they would hear it for sure. But I knew what I had to do. Jay left the room and I followed him into his bedroom and shut the door behind me.
I don’t wish to go further into the details, for nothing is new. Mom plays the offended teenager here, finding every opportunity to play the victim. I don’t remember the last time she took my side, defended me from Jay when he had come home drunk, and hit me for no reason whatsoever.
She blamed me when Jay first sexually assaulted me.
She blamed me and acted innocent when she tried to burn my arm.
I blamed myself when I slapped her. She is my mother, after all, right?
Somewhere deep within the thick layers of her heart, she still loves me, right?
I am still her son. . .
The world had renounced me. I was unworthy of warmth and any kind of right. And as an outsider in my home, I was a loner too. A drifter. A vagabond. But as time went on, it felt more like solitude.
But my emotions jagged at my insides and my heart screamed, "Please, help me. I just need you to sit next to me and eat chips with me. Maybe you could hug me as well. Hold my hand, look into my eyes, connect, because I’m falling. "
But alas, I was invisible.
That was when I knew. That was when the penny dropped. I was a teenager forced to act like a grown-up. I knew what to do. I swallowed down the pain, ate it up into my belly, plastered on a passive face, with a synthetic smile, and acted meek.
All the time that I spent seeking an oasis in the desert, and all the time I spent heeding the inner voice that I would never find anyone, you appeared.
You appeared and wiped those hot tears with your thumb. Bathed in the light of the sun, you are more beautiful than even the stars around you.
As I sit and dangle my legs off the roof, you shine your ethereal light down on me, reminding me that I am seen. I am understood and I am loved. You come to the sky and sing to me soft lullabies, as a mother would, to ease her children into the luminescent night. Your tender fingertips ruffle my hair and pat my back ever so lovingly.
"I will always be here for you. Lean on me and cry your heart out, for I will take your pain away," is what you said to me the first time I found your warm glow concealed by the woolen grey sky.
You have graced the sky and everything beneath it, and it is safe to say you have saved my life.
And it is safe to say you are my family.