Drama Thriller

“You can’t fill a well with water that is poison and expect it to be nourishing when you are thirsty”. That’s the message that came to you, the thread of thought that lingered as you closed your eyes and reflected on the deposit from that piece of reading from Gather Ministries that you perused for your devotions that morning. It was a morning like any other – alarm buzzing off at five am, you hitting the snooze button three seconds later, alarm buzzing off again at 5:15, you dragging yourself upright in bed to silence it. You'd flick on the bedroom light, pull off your socks, turn on the radio on your night stand tuned permanently to Word 93 FM, turn the volume up slightly to hear the soft worship tunes playing in the background. You'd get on your knees in genuflection and start your mantra to God, thanking Him for His role in waking you up and asking Him for His Divine intervention for the tasks that lay ahead - favor for the bus to be on time, for a good seat in the first two rows behind the driver to be available, for the traffic light to be on red at the stop at 60th and Main Street (so you could take a look at what ‘Sprang King’ the homeless Street Artist had conjured up on the pavement that day – his chalk drawings always contained a hidden message that would confirm what kind of day you would have), for the cute guy at the desk at the library to be working when you'd stop by later in the day (this one was relegated to the middle of the week). You'd read the day's devotional message from the Bible App subscription that you had running at that time and spend a few moments reflecting on what The Spirit was saying to you for the day. And that morning, you were cautioned to stop filling the reservoir of your emotional pool with 'aromatic bitters' that would ruin the waters' taste, figuratively speaking.

The bus ride that morning was as uneventful and commonplace as your morning prayer. It arrived at two minutes before it's usual time at 6:28 am. The window seat in the second row behind the driver was free. The light turned red when the bus was two car-lengths and a cubit from the corner on Main and 60th. You couldn’t stare long and hard at what Sprang King had come up with but you were able to spot, beyond the matted, misshapen dreadlocks sticking up from his nape as he hovered, the canary sphere he plastered on the pavement, shrouded in the midst of blue and white cumulus. With colors from the chalk dust seeping from the arms of his knackered striped-shirt sleeves, his artwork, to you, meant a very bright day ahead. You looked out the window and, not for the first time, thought about how wrong the weather forecast had been. While showering, the announcer on Word 93 FM interrupted the slow worship to mention that a storm was brewing up north in Vancouver and that some resulting heavy winds and showers from as early as midday could be expected to hit Mount Tabor that day. As a creature of habit, you despise surprises. To some, you are obsessive compulsive. Others find no oddity in your need for routine. To you, a sense of control means a reduced possibility of losing control while the silent world that you carefully avoid remains tethered; an anchor for your mental stability as you successfully maneuver through life post-Sandy. Dr. Samuel would not agree with you, but therapists rarely have all the answers, if ever, far less the correct ones.

Portland is the perfect place for familiarity. It’s frequently recognized as “one of the world's greenest cities to live in" and was "the first city to enact a comprehensive plan to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions”. The climate there is marked by warm, dry summers and cool, rainy winters, ideal for growing roses, hence the nickname "City of Roses" that it has borne for over a century. Summers in Portland are warm, dry, and sunny, though the sunny warm weather is short lived from mid-June through early September. Due to the inland location of the city - seventy miles (110 km) from the coast, as well as the protective nature of the Oregon Coast Range on its western side, Portland is less susceptible to the moderating influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean. As a result, heat waves are experienced there on rare occasions, with temperatures rising into the 90 °F (32 °C) for a few odd days on end (no sweat! – pun unintended). Besides, it’s the warm weather you desire and not the opposite for the fear and the memories that it brings. While rain often falls as a light drizzle for several consecutive days at a time and cold snaps could take temperatures to a downward plunge in spring and fall, severe weather conditions in Portland, such as thunder and lightning, are quite uncommon and tornadoes are exceptionally rare. This bit of city trivia is enshrined in your mental database as an ineluctable element of your “healing self”. While inutile to the average city-dweller, it’s a pacifying soliloquy on your daily sojourns.

It was quarter past the hour of one when you finally looked up from the computer and realized that you had skipped lunch. Your writing consumed you that morning as the image of the homeless guy doing his art on the street pavement inspired you to tap into your second love, after reading, and to get your creative juices flowing. Just then, you overheard the custodian barking on his phone at someone who was obviously a kid – “Look child - you better get home before that storm comes! Ain’t no hanging out late at the library today because they closing early at two…you remember how the roof of the science wing blew off with the heavy winds last fall…” The words faded as your mind began to race. Library closing early…roof blowing off…strong winds…weather forecast that morning…You pick up the phone and call the library yourself. Your routine would normally see you there at four-thirty in the evening on a day like that day – a Wednesday. Sure enough, the kind voice at the other end of the line confirmed that due to the forecasted bad weather and the winds that had already picked up, the library would be closed in the next forty-five minutes.

It’s not like you to break routine, but there are times that things happen unexpectedly so you must adjust to suit. If it were going to rain – and you told yourself that it was not as bad as they were anticipating – then you would need a new book to read while curled up on your settee later that evening. Besides, you wanted a chance to see that young man named Joshua (“You can call me Josh” he had said quite solicitously last week) who worked at the check-out desk once again. You took a late lunch hour, checked out of the office and hurried to catch the 1:30 bus that would let you off close to the Library’s Street. The glare hit you as soon as you exited the office building. The clear blue sky of the morning was now hazed by a dank, cloud-filled gray blanket expanding overhead. “This is not good”, you thought to yourself as your mouth suddenly went starch-dry.

You reached into your laptop bag for the bottle of water that you usually carry in the side pocket. As you placed the water to your lips, a sour stench engulfed your nostrils and it was too late to avoid the bitter taste that settled on your tongue. Your new-found habit of adding drops of freshly-squeezed lemon to make your water alkaline (Portlanders enjoy everything “green” and tantamount to healthy living) was too recent to be immortalized so you were guilty of not changing your water which had, by then, morphed into a pulpy pool with sediments, suspended in the bottle like sludge, since the day before. Suddenly, as if by compunction, the words of the devotional that morning came flooding back to your memory – “you cannot fill a well with poison and expect to be refreshed when you are thirsty”. Somehow, you had your sophistry game on at that moment, to dispel any eerie coincidences that were trying to prove evident, but the voice of Dr. Samuel also chimed, eldritch, in your mind: “The ABC’s of REBT – Activating Event, Irrational Beliefs, Consequences…” You had not had any “episodes” in over a year following your treatment with The Doc.

Portland was the place to be to ensure you did not regress. But with the clouds growing thicker overhead and the 1:30 bus obviously running late when you checked your watch at half-past the hour, you began to feel a sense of impending dread. Mentally, you began banging your head. You knew a day like this would come but you were too busy trying to be normal, to act normal, to stifle the memories of the past, to heal yourself. You neglected to practice what worked in the beginning – filling your mind with positive truths, emptying your mind of the trauma that you experienced. Instead, you were slowly poisoning yourself with ceaseless psittacism, finding comfort in the routines of new life in Mount Tabor. And there it was again – the word 'poison' – causing bile to suddenly fill your mouth as you started walking.

You counted each step as a form of practiced mindfulness, as you tried to steady your thudding heart. A drop of water landed on your nose as you counted step number twenty-three. You told yourself that it was evaporation from the A/C unit on the overhead wall of the JP’s office that you briskly passed. Then, another drop landed on your right forearm. Step number twenty-seven. Do rain drops fall in a specific time sequence of seconds when a cloud is going to burst? Would you make it to the library before any deluge came to engulf you? Did you really leave the house without picking up an umbrella when the radio announcer strongly suggested you should? These questions floated around haphazardly in your head as you continued counting your steps, your breath coming out in audible rasps and the purpose of the act of mindfulness being lost and defeated as your steps quickened and your anxiety naturally increased. The drops began to come with increased frequency, and you ducked your head down as your flight response prepared to kick in. Just then, you bumped into someone who was heading in the opposite direction. Simultaneously, a flash of light emanated above, followed by a loud sharp rumble from the sky. Fight? Flight?...Freeze! As you froze in the act of looking up into the face of the traversing jaywalker, a piercing sound filled the air and the familiar eyes of Josh, the Library Clerk searched your eyes disconcertingly. The sound was coming from your lips, a blood curling scream as the clouds burst open and the rains came pouring down. As scenes and memories of Hurricane Sandy skittered before you, the rain was not the only thing that was gushing. Your bladder violently loosened and immediately incontinence ensued. It was happening again. And this time, there was nothing and no one to stop it…

June 23, 2020 04:08

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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