More of the story so far…any and all comment welcome
Hope in Darkness
She lies motionless; hoping the stillness of her body will deter the thoughts from taking over her already cloudy mind. They scratch at her like a dog desperate to be let in from the cold. The cool early morning breeze floats through the window she had left cracked the night before. She begins to tremble as every little white hair on her pale ghostly arms stand up, as if at attention, privy to what’s to come next. A car’s headlights bleed through her window blinding her already strained eyes as she slowly, almost robotically, pulls her sweat-soaked blanket up and over her head. She clenches her eyes so as to stop the tears from falling. The rising and falling of the damp blanket against her cool clammy skin reminds her to slow down her breathing. She inhales slowly and deeply allowing the uncirculated air into her aching lungs. She pulls her knees into her chin attempting to make herself as small as possible hoping it might not notice her and pass on by. She desperately wishes she could find comfort in the sound of her own breathing. It begins to dawn on her that it is happening yet again, and there is nothing she can do to stop it. She lets out a small gasp as it begins to lower itself upon her, sucking the life out of her, hungry for a taste of the strength she possesses. She reaches out from under the blanket and turns the power to her radio on. Perhaps it will serve as some sort of distraction and calm her down a bit. She’s desperate for something; something to give her some hope to face the day. The sweet somber words of Mat Kearney come on and inebriate her soul as he sings….
”She’s lying in the back room, crying on the bathroom floor, singing I can’t take it, I can’t take any more…”
She literally feels the pain this girl must be feeling, yet she has never met her. Thinking about it she realizes, at times the bathroom had become her safe haven; a place she could rest her inflamed, tear-soaked cheeks against the cold smooth tile. It was the place that she often spent countless hours trying to rid the emotional pain that plagued her. She is probably safe in guessing that this girl, not unlike herself, has a mind full of monsters. The monsters have always been there clawing at her but have become more prevalent in the past year. She’s learned and attempted every skill there is to try to purge her mind of such hideous creatures, but not one has proved successful. It’s like a dark twisted version of the familiar child’s game: Hungry Hungry Hippos. Instead of the hippos frantically munching away at the marbles, they masticate her thoughts. Her mind has become a battleground; a place only the devil would dare to tread. The monsters in her head, not unlike the hippos, are hungry and her dreadful thoughts are feeding them; causing them to grow larger and more unsightly. This is not a game to her though; it’s a matter of life or death.
She remembers the story her father used to tell her when she was a little girl and begins to laugh quietly at the irony of it all. Her mother, Jane, was a strong attractive woman whose one aspiration in life was to raise a family with her husband, Don. She dreamed of two children, a friendly gentle golden retriever and a beautiful flower garden all surrounded by a white picket fence. Like so many newlyweds, their lives were just beginning and they were filled with nothing but optimism. After countless years of trying despite several miscarriages and her doctor telling her there was a very minute chance she would ever be able to carry a child, Jane found out she was pregnant. Despite great skepticism, the sun couldn’t have shown brighter than it did that day. Something felt different this time to Jane and she was determined to remain hopeful about this little life form growing inside her womb. Everything seemed to be going great until about seven months into her pregnancy when her doctor found a cancerous lump in her right breast. Needless to say she was completely devastated. She was told that she should start chemotherapy right away and was assured by the doctors that the risks to her baby were fairly low because she was far enough along. Jane decided, despite Don and her doctor’s requests, that she would postpone the chemotherapy until after she had given birth. This was her dream, she had come so far, and she did not want anything to destroy it. Fifty-two days later, she went into labor and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She had not chosen a name until she rested this radiant glowing angel in her arms against her warm soft bosoms. Looking down at her baby’s precious tiny face, a tear came to her eye as a name suddenly revealed itself to her: Hope.
Since the day she heard this story, Hope wondered how a name could possibly misrepresent someone so much. She had not been her mother’s hope or miracle, instead she believed, she was the reason her mother died a premature and excruciating death when Hope was still young. She wondered why she could not have been named Michelle, Stacy or even Amanda, instead of a name that served as a constant reminder that she had been the cause of such devastation. It’s almost as if she was being punished and she begrudgingly wore her pain like an albatross. The weight gets heavier every day and she remembers coming to the realization early on that her life had been much different than many of her peers. Not only had her mother been taken from her at such an early age, she also had been diagnosed with a plethora of mental illnesses that bared their teeth at her day in and day out. Growing up, while most children spent their evenings outside riding their bikes or playing house with fellow neighborhood children, she spent hers behind the sterile unwelcoming doors of a doctor’s office. Her legs stuck to the cool leather couch as she tried to articulate her many worries and fears to a complete stranger that studied her as if she were a puzzle that needed to be solved. Instead of popping candy and sweets, she popped pill after pill in the hopes of finding one that would prove beneficial. Looking back, her childhood was one that brought tears to her eyes, and she begins to realize that this has become her identity. She doesn’t remember ever experiencing life without it.
Hope hadn’t even rolled out of bed, and her mind was exerting more than most people’s do in a life time. She did not want to think such daunting thoughts, especially so early in the morning but rarely was given a choice. Hope wished her mother were here to hold her during her darkest moments, to softly stroke her hair and wipe away the salty tears as they cascaded down her soft moist cheeks. She wanted nothing more than to feel someone’s arms wrapping around her, containing the monsters and making her feel safe, if only for a brief moment. This is something she had yearned for and sought after for as long as she could remember and was never fully able to master the act of soothing herself despite her many years of autonomy. She was fighting this battle alone, for almost everyone had given up on her over the years, even her own father. She felt he often blamed her for the death of her mother which only fed her own thoughts and suspicions. She had been labeled “damaged,” and was thrown aside like an old defective television that no longer served its desired purpose. She herself was even beginning to believe that she was too far gone to fix. Her thoughts and feelings were too intense for such a shallow world to comprehend and she felt ill-equipped for such a place.
As more and more thoughts fill her already cloudy head, Hope shakes her head vigorously, attempting to annihilate them one by one. She desperately wishes that the flood gates in her mind would close or at the very least filter her thoughts properly like they were designed to do. Instead she is drowning in her daunting thoughts, unable to stop them from swallowing her up. It is freezing and murky and no matter how much strength she puts forth to keep afloat, there is this undeniable invisible force that drags her weakening body down like a weighted balloon into the dark unknown abyss of the sea. Death seems to entertain her thoughts more and more as it becomes harder and harder to fight the notion that giving up seems so much easier and attractive than a life full of struggling. There is a terrified little girl stuck inside the body of a young woman, reaching her small hand out for help, however remaining unable to break free and heal.
The shrill ring of her alarm clock jolts Hope back to reality. She realizes that she had subconsciously hit the snooze button one too many times and is almost late for work. She slowly pushes the covers off and dangles her lifeless legs over the side of her bed. As her bare feet come in contact with the chilly wood floor, she pushes herself up and off the bed with her fragile arms and immediately her knees tremble as her body folds and hits the floor with a loud thump. It takes all her strength to hoist her pained body up and off the ground. Making her way into the bathroom she is fearful about what is certain to take place. Even though she hasn’t missed a day in weeks, it still shocks her as she feels herself begin to gag and subsequently vomit. Weeping and moaning she wets a cloth and puts it up to her burning face. She forces down her cocktail of pills, brushes her teeth and makes her way to the door anticipating what is to come next. Listening to the door slam shut, Hope wishes that she had just contained the demons; trapped them so they are unable to follow and disturb her throughout the day.
Hope has come to a fork in the road as she sinks into the driver’s seat of her frosted over car. She had always been one to religiously wear her seatbelt no matter what. Hell, she had even bugged her grandmother (who always seemed to forget to buckle up) so much growing up that she began to wear one regularly as well. She glances at the belt and begins to draw it across her body when suddenly her hand freezes in mid air. She didn’t feel like wearing it today. She was not ignorant. She had sat through all the videos in Driver’s Ed year’s back that showed quite graphically the consequences of not wearing a seatbelt. It wasn’t that she felt invincible, it was actually quite the contrary; she just plain didn’t care what happened to her anymore. Some might call it a passive death wish, but to Hope, it merely was a fate she left up to a higher power. Her body was not her own; it had been taken over and she was not sure if or when she would ever regain control of it. The drive to work was not long, maybe five minutes without school traffic. She knew the road by heart and could most likely drive it in her sleep. Fiddling with her stereo, Hope glances up right in time to see a truck plowing towards her head on. Despite the obvious sound of tires swerving and breaks screeching, Hope cannot hear anything but the flood of her thoughts echoing loudly as they pierce her ears. They say before you die you flash back on your life, and this is surely what Hope was experiencing. It’s almost as if time had stood still as a tornado of thoughts engulfed her and rendered her completely immobilized. Her eyes remained open, wide with fear as images of Hope’s most difficult……