Fire Boys

cainThe stories of my mischievous brother started like so many others, which always seemed to commence on a dreadfully boring day. If there was an equation for misadventure amongst village boys, it usually started with a boring day multiplied by the Caribbean heat and divided by idle hands which produced an outcome of mischief. Every summer my brother was allowed to rumor the village with the other boys his age. They would play with marbles, go down to the local beach, or ride the engine train that dragged sugar cane from the estates to the factory in town.  I on the other hand, had to be monitored and my summer days carefully organized. I stayed with my great-aunt and my cousins, where sometimes we spent our summer days in the company of my aunt’s husband or other relatives. No matter whether it was summer, Christmas, or spring break we had to have some form of supervision; while my brother because of his sex was allowed a freedom that was similar to that of the children in movies such as The Goonies or Stand by Me. I would often imagine that he was off on similar adventures minus the great perils, which left me envious of his hours away from home.

Sometime during the 8th grade, my brother and I was sitting around talking when he quietly admitted to doing something silly with his brand of boys while they were in the 3rd grade. Like always it started in the summer when none of them had another to do, but linger from house to house. He told me that he went to visit his close friend, who we jokingly called the Heads of State or Heads because of his enormous forehead. After dropping by the Heads of State’s home they collectively decided to go fishing. After fishing they thought their fun was over and started the walk back home with the cathc of the day. Since they had only managed to catch three fish to share among eight boys, they decided it was best to cook the fish on an open fire. It seemed like a logical way to ensure that they all got a part of the catch. They settled at the bottom of a hill just below a rolling field of sugar cane, and started cooking the fish on an open fire. They spent an hour after eating the fish, then the quandary of how to put out the fire arose. It turned out that starting a camp fire at a great distance from water was not a good idea. Knowing that the river was a good walk away, they started trying to put dirt on the fire. While the boys were trying to put out the fire, the Heads of State disappeared and reappeared with a large glass bottle filled with clear liquid. The bottle he carried was a CSR rum bottle that contained a water like substance which they presumed was water. CSR or Cane Spirit Rothschild was a local rum made from the same sugar cane the boys had started their camp fire next to. At this age they didn’t know the difference between rum and water.  If it wasn’t water they presumed that whatever liquid was in it was enough to put out the fire. As the boys gathered around the camp fire relieved that water was found, Heads emptied the bottle of rum onto it. Instead of extinguishing the fire the CSR rum increased the fire by 10 folds. To the dismay and the delight some of the boys once the content of the bottle was launched into the fire it rose above their heads.  There was a mini explosion that took them by surprise, but enthused them at the same time. While this might seem like a spectacular sight the fire couldn’t be tamed. As my brother told me the story he described the fire as growing legs and walking toward the sugar cane. As the fire entered the field from the bottom of the hill, they all thought it wasn’t be a big deal, but with the field being very dry it didn’t take long for the fire to spread and start racing left, right, and up the hill. According to my brother it was a spectacular site. Once they saw that the fire had grown to dangerous proportion, they all got worried and ran away.

As he told me this story he asked me to remember the hill fire that caused the firefighter to show up. I clearly remembered that day because the fire wasn’t caused by the farmers who normally conduct control burns during harvest season.  Everyone in the village knew that certain fields weren’t to be harvest that year because they weren’t mature.  The field the fire devour that day was one of these fields, so the workers were very suspicious about the fire and alerted the police. I was sure that the police discovered the camp fire and the bottle of rum, and knew that it wasn’t a natural fire. I remember that fire very well because my mother and many of women in the village had put out laundry on the clothes lines that day. The burning of the leaves caused ash to fall on the village like snow and cover the laundry with black particles.   When my brother shared this story I was bubbling with laughter at how silly they were to put out a fire with rum, but little did I know that this story was one of many that ended with a similar twist.

 

 

 

 

Witch! Witch! You’re a Witch! (Part 4)

As poorly written as this story is, it’s based on true events, without sugar coating or adding any extra excitement here is what happened to me (Victoria).

gunWhen I joined the National Guard and was sent to Iraq I started dreaming again. This time I fell asleep while on tower guard duty and that’s when one of my strangest dreams unfolded. At the time I was having issues with an ex-boyfriend who in many dreams I was constantly battling. In fact this was one of many dreams where we were engaged in full on battle.  In this dream I was dressed in my uniform covered in tactical gear with my weapon. Then somehowI was transported from Iraq back to the village I grew up in on my island. There I was with other members of my squad preforming tactical movements on the approaching enemy who happened to be my ex.  We all lined up and opened fire  and manage to pull off a shoot-out that was similar to a country-western movie.  In the end we manage to kill him after a long battle, but I was certain it wasn’t my bullet that killed him. For some reason that particular gun battle lasted in my memory. It was a very real and scary dream, but for some reason it was very satisfying to finally conquer someone who had caused trouble in my life. The dream continued to repeat itself in various ways that ended with him being killed by a gun that didn’t belong to me. There was no rhyme or reason to these dreams, they came randomly and sometimes in the dream I was simply receiving information about his passing by way of violence.  Other times I was the one in the distance shooting at him, while other times it was strangers. Then as years passed the dream changed, and I became a constant witness to his demise. I never thought much of this until 23rd September 2012, when he was actually killed standing in a public area by mask men wheeling a gun. When news reached me millions of miles away I was shocked, and didn’t think of my dream until hours after. Long after the news hit me, that’s when I recalled the dreams and started to really wonder what was going on.  I initially had the most vivid version of this dream 5 years before the event actually happened.  I kept having the dream repeat itself in various ways, which made it seem unlikely to happen. It was easy for me to say I was fixated on the problem between us which cause me to have those dreams. While, I started to question whether this was all coincidental, I was really beginning to fear having bad dream or heart wrenching gut feelings about situations I found myself in.

As life went on I had many dreams and gut feelings about many things. Some dream literally disrupted my day and altered my emotions while I was awake. Sometimes I would have terrible dreams about situations or family members that made me withdraw during the day. Some were very sad and caused my depression or even had me lashing out at the people around me.  While other feelings made me question people’s loyalty and truthfulness. The only thing I can say about what was and is going on with me is that at any level of intuitiveness I had to learn to truth these feelings and try to rationalize my dreams.

…to be continued

Broken Glass

labPerhaps our lives are riddled with men like Harvey or much worse things. I will be honest I actually DO NOT know any female who has never been sexually harassed or assaulted in some ways. If it wasn’t full on rape, it was dirty comments, playful touching, or suggestive language. If this didn’t happen in adulthood, it happened during their childhood at a time in our life when we truly deserved the best.

My experience started when I was 11 years old. I was living in a small village on a tiny island at the time, and was slowly making that reluctant journey towards puberty.  If I look back at myself back then, I was skinny unattractive and hopelessly flat chested. Regardless of how I saw myself back then little did I know that I was being watched carefully by a boy who was 4 years my senior. One day while walking home from my aunt’s home, I took my usual part; crossing the river then walked through the pasture following it into a grove of mango trees towards the main road.  Then one day just before I made it to the mango trees he grabbed me from behind and started groping my flat chest and squeezing his finds between my legs. I can never recall what I was thinking about during those moments. I remember trying to wiggle my way out of his grip, but I couldn’t. When he finally let go I turned around and looked at him as he walked away leaving me wondering. I never told anyone and after that attack I avoided walking that path and always took the long way home.

A few years after that I was in my high school lab one hour after class ended. I was 13 at this point and struggling to stay afloat in chemistry, but was very committed to doing my extra assignments after school hours. Once again I found myself in a very familiar place, but in a very unfamiliar situation. While standing at the sink washing glass beakers, once again I was approached from the back and startled which caused me to break a glass in the sink. Again the person who hold their arms around me was unfamiliar to me. It didn’t take me long to realized that it was Kevin, a boy who shared a few classes with me. In order to properly address my relationship with Kevin and many of my fellow pupils, I most start by staying that I was a total loser. I was never looked at by boys, I was underdeveloped, had low self-esteem, and was often picked on. I had long concluded that I was too ugly to attract any male attention, so when I found myself in his arm I was shocked and kept asking him what he was doing over and over again. He never responded and like a python he kept squeezing me while grinding his hips on my behind. In this moment I was a different person than I was at 11, as I tried to violently resist. I screamed, yelled, told him to get the fuck off of me, and tried to bite his hands. None of this stopped him and before long he had put his hand under my school skirt, and was doing the same thing that was done to me years earlier.

At the end of it all I ended up with cuts on my hands because I grabbed the broken beaker from the sink, and tried to cut him with it. When that didn’t work, I cut myself in the palms of my hands to distract my mind from what was happening. That day he didn’t put his penis inside of me, he instead force his finger in me. Back then I didn’t know what that meant, I rationalized this attack thinking that it wasn’t really rape.  After that I never felt the same about myself. I had so many things on my mind and wondered why such an unpopular, nerdy, and frequently teased girl would demand such attention from a boy. Maybe he hated me, I thought.

I never told anyone about this, and I allowed my aggressor to continue to haunt me long after this event. While, he never got to touch me again, I lived in fear of him during high school and went out of my way to avoid him and other guys. I spent my high school years avoiding all social activity; I didn’t attend any school dances, plays, concerts, sport games, prom or even my own graduation. Just like the day I stopped taking the scenic route home, I once again allowed someone to change my prospection of the world.

I would like to think that this boy would have come to the realization that what he did was wrong. Well, the last time I checked he joined the US Army, deployed a few times and was an airborne soldier. Kevin had a good life from what I see, he was a jock at school and everyone including the teachers looked up him because he won all those games. Seems like he continues to win all the games regardless, but a part of me want to believe in someway he will eventually pay.

Why didn’t I tell? The 11 and 13 year old me felt too embarrassed. Back then while it happened in the late 90s and early 2000s rape and sexual assault was never truly addressed in my community.  Plus, I didn’t have the loving relationship with my mother or any other adult. I had no real friends as I was introverted and what happened that day in the lab sent me down the path of deep avoidance that continues to this day.

 

 

Witch! Witch! You’re a Witch! (Part 3)

As poorly written as this story is, it’s based on true events, without sugar coating or adding any extra excitement here is what happened to me (Victoria).

lucid dreaming

Lucid Dreams

A few months after that I started having strange dreams, and very intense feelings to go along with these dreams. The first dream happened sometime after October of the year this all stated, but shortly after I started dating my first boyfriend.  A dream came to me one night in the form of a very real event, I dreamt that my mother went to work with a flu and accidently burnt her arm. Doing this prompted her employer to send her to the hospital; where she was admitted for treatment of the burns and the flu at the same time. After running a few tests on her they decided to keep her overnight because they discovered that she had an irregular heartbeat.  My dream ended there, but was realistic enough for me to ponder on it throughout the day.  That afternoon while visiting with my boyfriend, I told him about it because it was on my mind and I felt I had to release it.  After hanging with him I headed back home and found my grandmother on the phone with my mother.  After she got off the phone she told me that my mother was sick. Then as if I was trapped in some alternate universe where events repeated itself in a random déjà vu pattern, I was presented with the details of my dream by my grandmother.  She told me that my mother had the flu, and while at work she accidently spilled hot wax on her arm which forced her to go to the hospital.  Unlike my dream she didn’t stay in the hospital, that same day my great-aunt who was like a mother to me also had to go to the hospital.  Based on the request of her doctor she stay overnight for further examination of an irregular heartbeat.  When my grandmother told me this I quickly recanted the details of my dream to her.  Words couldn’t describe how I felt when similarities to my dreams and reality was laid out before me.  I was impressed at the events that unfolded, but shocked and wondered what it could all mean.

After that year I endured a host of dreams and similar feelings, which I ignored or pondered on.  While I cannot truly recall any more memorable events months or even a year or two after these events those initial occurrences stuck with me until something happened again.

To be continued…

 

Witch! Witch! You’re a Witch! (Part 2)

As poorly written as this story is, it’s based on true events, without sugar coating or adding any extra excitment here is what happened to me (Victoria).

2_Sleep-Paralysis-970x641

I was staying with my grandmother when it started very early one July morning.  After a long day I went to bed and was awoken around 3 a.m. out of a dreamless sleep to find my room felt colder than usual.  The only problem with this was the fact I was living in the Caribbean at the time, and in the summer rainfall and the ocean breeze was the only two things that lowered the temperature. There wasn’t a steady supply of ocean breeze or rainfall that year, and to make matters worse my grandmother didn’t have air conditioning.  Living in a warmer climate one would think that ceiling fans would be included in the apartment’s decor, but they weren’t so we had to rely on upright fans. I recall that the days were hot leaving residual warmth still lingering in the air long after sun set. The concrete wallsof the apartment also added another level to this warmth as they trapped heat which was released into the rooms durng the night, so it was bazaar when I awoke to a temperature that was abnormally cooler than usual.

Feeling this cold air I opened my eyes to a dark room and saw hints of blue lights coming from the street light outside. Laying on my back I looked around using only my eyes then tried to grab for my covers.  At that moment I felt a strange weakness in my hands that stopped me from moving. I tried again to grab for something to cover my body, but I couldn’t move.  After my second attempt at moving my body, I grew scared as I found that my body was numb. My eyes and ears were the only functioning part of me so I scanned the room while quietly listening for sound.  As I laid there trying to move and scream all at once, I started blinked vigorously until something popped into my memory. This thought came from something my grandmother once said about the devil sitting on a person’s chest.  As usual I thought my grandmother was being silly, but the way she described it perfectly described what was happening to me at that moment.  When that thought came to mind, I grew worried and I hoped that the devil wouldn’t make an appearance that morning.  Fear took hold of me as I willed myself to get up or scream, but I couldn’t.

rosemarysbaby

Rosemary’s Baby by Roman Polanski, 1968

The longer I was in this state, the more fearful I became of seeing the devil so I closed my eyes just in case he was about to climb on my chest and look dead in the eyes. Just then a clip from Rosemary’s Baby popped into my consciousness, and the images of the devil’s eyes came to me. Seconds after I started remembering all these things, I was released from the strange hold and left wondering what was really going on.  I didn’t think much of this incident and gladly assumed that perhaps my body was too tried to move.

Weeks after that incident something else happened. I couldn’t remember the exact time frame, but I knew it happened a few weeks after my 3 a.m. awakening. It was a normal Friday evening, and my brother was off visiting our cousins who lived less than 5 miles away.  My brother was a loyal gamer who toted his PlayStation, game controllers, and games around in a book bag. He often seek refuge in the company of other teenage boys playing games well into the early hours of the morning. That Friday afternoon he got home from work around 2 p.m., then left the apartment an hour after he arrived. He showered, ate and then packed his bag, and started his walk to our uncle’s house. He left around 3 p.m. and by 6 p.m. I got a sudden urge to call and check on him. This was strange because I was never very considerate of my brother’s wellbeing especially when he was off playing video games.  I remember telling him that if he was going to say out playing after 9 p.m. he was better off staying overnight or having our uncle drive him home.  Our uncle worked at a luxury hotel, and on the weekends he had an extra job as a card dealer at the casino. My brother and cousins loved this because they had longer intervals of gaming without adult interruption. After my first call that evening I called again at 8 p.m. and repeated the same sentiments to him.  I had no real idea why I was doing this, all I knew was that I was having a deep urge to do it and a growing feeling of anxiety towards him being out that late which was unusual. Being out late was something he often did, even while living in the bad neighborhood my grandmother occupied. Then when 9 p.m. came around I called him again and told him not to walk home, but I had a feeling that he wasn’t paying attention to me.  At the same time I didn’t truly know why I was telling him this and why I had a growing feeling of worry.  The only way I could describe it was like having something nag at you, but you couldn’t truly understand what it was. It was a mixture of having butterflies in my tummy and a worry on your mind all at once. I felt hopeless because I couldn’t tell where the worry and anxiety was coming from. I only could conclude that it started spontaneously three hours after he left the apartment. As the night process it grow into a feeling I couldn’t quiet distinguish, and only could explain as queer anxiousness mixed with an unknown excitement.

As the hours progressed into night, and then the night turned into something mysterious my worry for him grew.  After 10 p.m. I gave up watching movies and slipped into the same bed I was paralyzed in weeks earlier. For a while, I tossed and turned but it didn’t take me long to fall asleep.  Then all of a sudden I heard a cluster of knocks that woke me some time after 3 a.m. That night I couldn’t remember dreaming, and while more than two hours elapsed from the time I placed my head on the pillow, it felt as if I had recently closed my eyes only to have them open to the sound of loud knocks at the front door.  My grandmother reached the door first and pulled it open wide enough to expose my brother standing there looking like a ghost crossed his path. He had a look of fear on his face and was covered in sweat while trying to pant out words. After he entered the apartment, we learned that he was robbed at gun point for his book bag containing his PlayStation and games. As I listened to this I couldn’t help but angrily tell him that I called him a number of times that night and worried him not to walk home. I wasn’t sure if he was paying attention to me or even took the time to realize that I was uncommonly concerned for him hours before.

After I let it settle in, I pondered on how and why I became so anxious about him in the first place. The morning he got robbed was no different from any other time he spent at our cousin’s home playing game. I locked this event in my memory and tried to rationalize my queer feelings that unknowingly allowed me to predict an event that I couldn’t figure out myself. How and why this happen I would never know, but this became the cornerstone of similar events to come.

 

 

To be continued…

 

 

Witch! Witch! You’re a Witch! (Part 1)

blk witchThis story is based on true events, without sugar coating it or adding any extra excitment here is what happened to me (Victoria).

One could say that my Caribbean roots and thick accent was the stereotypical motive for calling me a witch.  Perhaps this idea had to do with those Miss Cleo commercials from the 90s which added both ridiculousness and witchcraft to my name. For many  the only way to authenticate a true Caribbean voice was to belt out the tagline call me now for your free tarot reading. While they were only jesting for their own amusement on my expense, it wasn’t the first time I was called a witch, as I vividly recall the first few times the word was thrown my way was in high school. I couldn’t for the life of me begin to understand why anyone would call me a witch back then. I was a very shy and unpopular student, who feared public embarrassment from peers more than death. I never talked about curses, spells or black magic; and no one ever heard me claim to be a witch, but still I was called one. While deep down inside I always thought witchcraft to be cool and artful, I didn’t believe in magic. If I couldn’t see, taste, or touch it no amount of concentration would make me believe in anything that wasn’t physical. For me being called a witch was linked to one other element that society shunned. The only people we knew at the time who came close to being real witches were odd anti-social individuals whose lifestyle was collectively summed up as eccentric. Eccentrism was almost always linked to some form of madness that everyone did their best to avoid, so calling me a witch was carefully highlighting my mental wellbeing and the vast difference in my personality that couldn’t truly be appreciated as a child.

What is a witch? A witch for me was always defined as a woman who casts spells whether good or bad. She kept to herself, had a demon or spirit trapped in an animal’s body follow her around, and held a particular distaste for young children. To me witches were unusual women with nasty attitudes and ugly appearance. For the powers they held so close to their hearts an offering of their youth and beauty was always required.  If ever a witch was beautiful, the idea of the devil being involved in her aesthetic appeal always came to mind. I often imagined that witches lived on the outskirts of a town or village; where the residences would secretly visit her for good luck charm, voodoo dolls, and love spell; but no one would ever admit to acquiring her services. If she didn’t live alone she would cohabitate with other likeminded women or live in close proximity to each other in groups of 13 forming a coven. No male presence was ever seen around them, which caused the wild imagination of onlookers to deem their childless and man less state an incredible sin.

For me it all started when I was 18 years old shortly after moving away from my childhood home.  Perhaps everything begins when a great change in life occurs, and the greatest change for any was that slow painful realization that their childhood as slipping away from them.

To be continued…

 

The Land of the Endless Babblers: Dwight

oslo.jpgDWIGHT WAS A TALL MUSCULAR MAN with a medium to light skin complexion, and was in his early to mid-40s when I first knew him.  He was well-spoken and was skilled at switching between the local dialect and the Queen’s English.  I came to know him as a formidable character who shifted from a calm person into a hyperactive or even semi-violent individual.  I can’t recall when he first appeared in the village, but I knew that while I was a young child he was not living there.  By the time I was in the latter part of primary school; Dwight made an appearance and by High School he was well-known for being the village jester.  I later found out that he was the half-brother of one of my friend’s mother.  They never acknowledge the relationship and would only say that he was the half-brother of their mother and nothing more.  The back story on Dwight was never clear.  I heard many things about him, and one was the fact that he was a well-educated person who grew up in the village, but left years ago.  He lived in the capital at one point, and then it was rumored that he lived in America.  I couldn’t establish a concrete background and many people didn’t care where he had been or why his behavior was bizarre.  Rumors about his alleged drug use in America were secretly talked about.  It was never uncommon for us to assume that the reason for strange behaviors from villagers who once lived in America for a significant amount of time was due to drug use or from the many vices that plagued Americans.  When islanders returned to the island from American; many of their personalities seemed altered in some way.  We all readily assumed that America with its low moral standard and need for modernity affected them.

DWIGHT’S BEHAVIOR WAS LIKE A LIGHT SWITCH.  When it was off you couldn’t pick him out of a crowd.  He was well-dressed in suites and ties, and attended church religiously.  When the light was switched on he was loud, pushy, and demanded attention in various ways.  He was known for standing in random areas of the village with the Holy Bible preaching to anyone who would listen.  At his most extreme he would ride around the village in red speedos on a unicycle reading the Bible out loud.  Then he would perform juggling tricks while reciting verses and hymns.  Other times he would aggravate other villagers by intentional provoking heated conversations or running after children he knew were afraid of him.  He was very unpredictable and sometimes when I passed him standing in the road, I felt vulnerable.  His tirades would last for hours or days.  What was certain about his behavior was that at any level of madness he always returned to normal, and never seemed to acknowledge his dark side.

It was hard to muster up enough sympathy for Dwight, since his aim was to seek attention, aggravate and push the limits.  At times I hated him and wished he would drop dead or disappear from the earth.  I could never see who he really was or feel sorry for him in those moments.  I only saw him as a crazy loud mouth who was using mental illness as a scapegoat.  He never walked around the village in a daze like the others because he was too smart to be institutionalized.  In some ways we could always search our hearts for sympathy or even feel pity for the others, but not him.  While the other mentally ill villagers seem to be suspended in artful madness, Dwight frustrated all of us and we hated him for it.  His behavior seemed manufactured, and I was sure that he was taking something to cause his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality.

I recalled one night looking outside and seeing him in his customary red speedo dancing in the pouring rain.  Then there was the time I spent a full day in Basseterre attending the island’s high school science fair.  Driving back on the bus we came upon a 7 mile stretch of road that started before we got to Ross University.  It was a boring drive when we got to this point, with miles of sugarcane fields on both sides of the road.  Halfway into our journey I noticed vehicles veering out of their lanes in the distance.  As we got closer I saw a large queen size mattress.  At first sighting it looked like someone loaded a mattress on the back of a donkey that was walking in the middle of the road, but when we got closer I saw two legs.  The person was dragging a mattress mounted on their back.  The image that came to mind immediately was of Jesus Christ carrying the cross on his long journey to his death.  When our bus moved to avoid hitting the person, I saw that it was Dwight.  Once again he wearing his red speedo, while carrying a mattress on his back.  As the bus passed all the students laughed loudly, while me and another girl from the village looked at each other then looked at him in silence.  Just then a group of girls on the bus then belted out, “Isn’t he from your village?”  Then the bus erupted in a deafening laughter that lasted until I got to my stop.  It was a very embarrassing moment.  One that left me feeling as if my own mother was committing this very act herself.  To be associated with someone who acted out in this way angered me.  As the bus made its way to various stops, my mind was still trying to comprehend what I saw.  How was Dwight physically able to carrying a queen-size mattress on his back in the hot sun?  It was mid-May, and the temperature reached about 97 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the asphalt on the road to feel like the pits of hell.  Plus, he was carrying a queen size mattress which was sometimes a two man lift.  At that point I couldn’t fathom how he was capable of such activity.  I was sure his madness had reach level 100, allowing him to preform incredible feats.

After this incident, Dwight’s behavior went downhill fast.  He launched into a lengthy bout of madness that lasted for months.  His madness didn’t only extend to the village, but he also ventured into the town to do the same thing.  While, we knew that his mind wasn’t quite there, he knew what to do and what not to do in certain areas.  He never ran around the capital in his speedo because he knew the Royal Police Force would arrest him.  He then gave up the convenience of public transportation, and declined rides when he started walking to and from the village to Basseterre.  This was a very long walk, when you consider it took about 30 minutes by bus.  Then he started losing weight and slowly became a shadow of his former self.  We could see this change in his gaunt face, and the sad expressions he carried daily.  Everyone could tell that he was depressed, but they said nothing about it.   Something about his energy level wavered and bottomed out at an all-time low.  He was no longer hyper-active, but he still wasn’t walking around like a zombie.  It was in this depressed state, I saw who he really was and I felt sorry for him.  Prior to this I was unable to see through the façade of his manic highs.  When he was depressed and no longer seeking senseless attention, I knew that his pain was real and that he was misunderstood.  I saw a very lonely man during these days.  I could see his hopelessness, and knew that all the outburst and public performance he gave us was an act.  For all the times he disturbed the public, he was combatting depression in an upbeat way.  He had no way of dealing with it, and it was possible that hyperactivity was the only thing that saved him from lapsing into the depressed state we finally saw him in.  This quiet phase lasted for months.  Even the villagers who were used to his antics couldn’t recognize him.  Regardless of this everyone left him alone and avoiding contact.

Everyone in the village paid attention to him at the wrong time, but never bothered to question his silliness.  After a few months of this he was back to normal, and once again you couldn’t pick him out of a crowd.  When he snapped back to normal, he seemed to remain in a functional state for a lengthy amount of time, which fooled all of us into thinking he was cured.  As soon as the normalcy subsided the manic behavior surfaced again, and that’s when the villagers all agreed that despite the irritation he caused, we preferred him in either the manic or normal state.  We all understood that the depressed state didn’t fit him or us at all.

 

Short Story –Chapter 8: Sad Girl (Part 2)

6be784c850161aa8ccf952ba4a763ac3--painting-art-art-paintingsThe Taunting

BY THE TIME, SARA WAS 15-YEARS-OLD she was nearing her maximum height.  Although she was a year older than me, we both were almost at our maximum height of five foot six, which commanded more teasing from our schoolmates. We’d learnt that anything that made us stick out physically wasn’t a good thing. Being taller than most of the boys wasn’t a celebrated feature, and many of our classmates adamantly reminded us of that fact. Sara didn’t seem to let the teasing get to her. She couldn’t grasp the fact that we would never be popular because she always believed there was a chance to climb the social ladder. Sara decided to push it to the limit when she got tired of being flat-chested. She stole her sister’s bra and wore it stuffed with rolled up tube socks to school. Regardless of our friendship, I often wondered what possessed her to do these things. No matter how silly we may have seemed as teenagers, there was no way that we believed she grew breasts overnight. This fact was quickly pointed out at school the following day when everyone responded by laughing at her or by crushing up wads of tissue paper and throwing it at her. Even at that age, I didn’t consider myself to be a risk taker, and before I did anything, I carefully examined the consequences of my actions. Sara was a logical person, but she never took insults or attacks to her pride personal. Eventually, I had to commend her persistence because she kept wearing the bra for an entire year despite the teasing. Ultimately everyone stopped talking about it, and it became the norm. She continued this routine, and by the end of the year, everyone was convinced that she wasn’t flat-chested. This was how things worked in Sara’s world; she did things regardless of what people thought and was persistent with her intent. At the time she did this, I assumed she wanted attention from her peers. While this was part of her need, she absolutely craved attract from the opposite sex more.

Once I started going to high school with her, I uncovered more about her. Another part of her personality that everyone preyed on was her willingness to please. Sara was often taken advantage of by her peers and adults. The same people who socially ostracized her took her kindness for a weakness. Taking classes with her in the seventh grade, I began to see her in a different light. I witnessed her bravery in the face of bullies, her kind heart, and how intelligent she was, but I was well aware that while she went out of her way to show kindness to others, it was seldom returned. One minute someone was calling her ugly moon face, then in the next breath they were asking her for money, and she gave with little reluctance. This was one of the greatest difference between Kathy and me. People who openly ridiculed me, I avoided and offered no lifeline no matter how much they begged. Classmates did this to her over and over and even asked her to perform like a court jester. Sara loved to sing, but she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. As terrible as she was, ever so often other students would ask her to perform a song or dance for their amusement. I often warned her about this, but she did it anyway only to be laughed at her. Her sister Jenny exhibited the same behavior. Jenny was known for playing the saxophone and looked for any opportunity to play it. I recall one incident when she performed a solo for the church Christmas program. Just like her sister, Jenny wasn’t the best performer; as the audience couldn’t decipher what she was playing. The children and even the adults took that moment to laugh and publicly humiliate Jenny. I often wondered why they participated in social activities. Both sisters gave readily to everyone knowing that it would never be reciprocated, and from an onlooker’s point of view, it was very disheartening to witness. I concluded that it was their way of gaining acceptance or seeking positive acknowledgment from their peers. Regardless of what they did to make people like them or recognize their kindness, they were always treated poorly; and even adults with average levels of intelligence participated in publicly mocking the sisters.

Family History

OUTSIDE THE TEASING AT SCHOOL, SARA ALSO FACED THE VILLAGERS who had a lengthy history with her family. When we became close friends, my mother warned me to keep my distance and asked me never to bring her inside her house. Demands like this weren’t uncommon, as she often requested that we didn’t bring other children to her home. My mother had a very backward approach to hospitality, especially when it came to the children in the village. She created an air of mistruth, forced upon us for various reasons. When Sara visited, we were often reduced to staying in the yard or on the verandah. Although my mother took pity on her, she constantly referred to her as the dirty girl. Sara didn’t have the luxury of having a washing machine, so her clothes weren’t always the cleanest. Many things were lacking in her life because her mother wasn’t well enough to help her. It was unfortunate that Sara was cast aside by the villages, but many of the reasons why she was teased were valid. Sara often smelled because she didn’t wear deodorant, her clothes were often dirty, her hair was frequently disheveled, and she didn’t brush her teeth every day. Sara represented a shabbiness that was borderline repulsive. To counteract my mother and the villager’s redundant prejudice, while my mom was at work I invited Sara over and often did her laundry. In those days she would come over to do her laundry and help me with my chores, then we would go to the beach during the drying cycle. I knew I couldn’t change the way my mother or the villagers thought of her, but she was my friend, so any opportunity I had to help her in this way I did it. I stole my mother’s excess personal hygiene products and other useful items and gave it to her. While my mom was at work, we had fun by dressed up in her expensive party dresses, using her makeup, accessories, and perfume. We created lasting memories with each other during those days, but I had to keep it a secret. If my mother knew the details of her time spent with me, I would have faced punishment. While I was taking a risk inviting Sara inside, it felt like I was revolting against my mother by getting back at her bourgeoisie self-worth. Many villagers believed that the Galloway family were a backward clan and considered them an oddity among us. Sammy left all the parenting up to his son David, who eventually moved to another island after graduating high school, leaving Jenny and Sara behind. Both sisters cooked, held part-time jobs in their teenage years, cleaned, and did all the household chores. Their father worked in construction, fished, owned livestock, and had three low-end rental homes. He was also known as a notorious rum drinker, sea turtle poacher, and manipulator. Most villagers didn’t care for him based on the many negative run-ins they had with him. Although I knew my mother and grandfather wanted me to limit my time with Sara, I didn’t understand why they did this until I was in the ninth grade. There were many things about the family that was whispered among adults that I wasn’t privy to. The gossip about the Galloway family ranged from trivial to scandalous, but I’d managed to avoid hearing any of these stories until I was in high school.

The Change

ALTHOUGH SARA AND I WERE CLOSE FRIENDS, by the tenth grade we started drifting in different directions. We were always in the top classes battling for first or second place, but by the ninth grade, everything changed. I wasn’t quite sure what the problem was, but I saw it in many of my classmates back then. When it started happening to Sara, I assumed there was nothing wrong, but when Sara’s attendance record declined and she became religiously tardy I knew something was wrong. She stopped caring, and evidence of this was seen in her poorly prepared homework, test scores, and appearance. At this point, we were both in separate worlds. She had a job on the weekends and was spending more time in the city. She even changed the way she dressed and became more fashionable. With her extra money, she stopped wearing her sister’s hand-me-downs. The changes I noted in her no one else seemed to observe or even care about. Everyone still saw her as a pitiful person and continued their systematic bullying whenever the chance arose. The real change for me started when rumors about her family sneaked into the side conversations at every household in the village. First, it started out with village kids saying that her father touched her and Jenny inappropriately. Even this was made light of, as they incorporated it into their bullying. Then rumors would encompass other things such as prostitution and the torture of her mother. I didn’t believe any of the rumors because there was a history of the villagers over embellishing stories about various community members. I never asked Sara about any of this because I felt like it was inappropriate to ask. I knew what it was like to be gossiped about, so it wasn’t a burden I cared to share.

After a long time apart, and only seeing each other in passing our relationship grew distant, but we always reunited as friends whenever we had the chance. One day after a long break apart, I had the opportunity to walk around the school with her engaging in inconsequential chatter on lunch break. I told that I noticed that her behavior seemed a bit unusual just to see what she would say. It wasn’t noticeable for people who didn’t spend time with her, but for me, I discerned frivolity in her thoughts and behavior. During the lunch break, we spoke about movies we saw and romance novels we read. Then she started talking about a guy by the name of Conner. She showed clear signs of being infatuated with him, so I listened to her quietly. I found it strange that she of all people found a boy who was interested in her. I didn’t want to seem crude, but I could never honestly believe that a guy was interested in her or me at that age unless there were ulterior motives. I played along with her new bubbliness, and I hoped that she knew what she was doing. During our conversation, she asked me if I started menstruating. I told her no, and that I was happy to be almost sixteen and never had a period. Sara started her period long before me, and it was thanks to her I learned all the horrible things to come. I recall that afternoon our conversation jumped from one topic to the next, and then she told me that she was pregnant. She seemed freakishly happy while I was in utter shock. I didn’t believe her although she poked her distended belly out to indicate that her tummy was growing. Something about the way she was talking and behaving didn’t seem real to me. It looked as if an alien took over her brain and was controlling her thoughts and body. At this point in my life, I knew no one who was sexually active or who would openly say they had sex. She didn’t seem like the girl I met more than four years earlier, so besides the shock, I was disappointed. Her disposition seemed somewhat believable, but what was unbelievable was the manner in which she handed me this information. I digested what she told me and left it there. I never told anyone what she told me for fear that it was true. Then I thought if my mother found out, she would tyrannically insist that I stop being friends with Sara. After that, we never talked about it again. I was left to ponder her predicament, while she disappeared for two weeks. When she resurfaced, she never mentioned what she told me and proceeded to have a normal life.

To be continued….

Suicide is always on my mind

I know it is a very strange thing to say, but I always have suicide on my mind.  I often wonder if it’s normal, because even before I had a word for it the thought of self-harm and the eventual undoing of my being was there. I guess if I think back long enough, I can clearly remember that even at the age of 7 I hoped I wouldn’t live pass year 12. Then I remember while in primary school, I asked my catholic school teacher a very strange question. I remember standing up and asking her, if I was to kill myself before I am able to live a life of sin would I go to heaven? For some strange reason I was always preoccupied with the thought going to heaven. I always look back in wonder at my childhood and try to figure out why I was and am this way. Perhaps I knew that this all started with the feeling of being unwanted, never fitting in, and a deep feeling of melancholia that was just a part of my core. Sometimes I think I was born this way, because I can never really fathom what happiness feels like or what it could be like to be a human who was sure of who they are.

f4751e3c659176e5f0ec40507db1c8ec--van-gogh-art-buy-art

At Eternity’s Gate
Painting by Vincent van Gogh, May 1890

As an adult I realize that no one want to hear sad stories. No one wants to hear complaints, you are always ask to think of others in worse situations living their third world pain. Forcing me to know that my thoughts are ridiculous and self-centered. Whenever I am forced to think this way a few things happen. I always agree that others have it far worse and I never bring it up again. Then I keep it too myself and commence with swallow those poison words knowing that they would eventually kill me. I will keep swallowing my thoughts because this might be the only way I can come to a logical end.

 

 

 

31 Days of Horror

Last year I started something called 31 Days of Horror. There is nothing much to this and it’s no fancy sponsored event. I basically created a calendar in my Facebook account listing horror movies for every day in the month of October.  I encouraged my 40 plus friends to vote on a movie they want on the list, we watch each movie daily then discuss them in the comment section.

I love horror movies, horror is a genre I adore, but it can also be the genre that can seriously get it wrong sometimes. There is nothing more sinister than a bad horror movie, and while many big production studios might think scaring people is easy. It really isn’t! Just look at the list below…

So below is my list for the month of October 2017

  1. DAY 1: American Psycho (2000)
  2. DAY 2: It Comes At Night (2017)
  3. DAY 3: Annabelle 2 (2017)
  4. DAY 4: The Shining (1980)
  5. DAY 5: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
  6. DAY 6: Split (2017)
  7. DAY 7: Tran to Buscan (2016)
  8. DAY 8: Donnie Drako
  9. BONUS Day 9 : Life (2017)
  10. Day 10: Halloween II (1981)
  11. Day 11: Crimson Peak (2015)
  12. DAY 12: Blair Witch (2016)
  13. DAY 13: The Rainbow and The Serpent (1988)
  14. DAY 14: Sinister 1 (2012)
  15. DAY 15: The Fly (1986)
  16. DAY 16: Event Horizon (1997)
  17. Day 17: Land Of The Dead
  18. Day 18: Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)
  19. Day 19: The 6th Sense (1996)
  20. Day 20: Get Out (2017)
  21. DAY 21: Pumpkin Head (1988)
  22. DAY 22: Lost Boys (1987)
  23. Day 23: Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
  24. Day 24: Interview With The Vampire
  25. Day 25: Soceity (1989)
  26. DAY 26: The Crazies (2010)
  27. Day 27: The Babadoook (2014)
  28. Day 28: Phoneix Forgotten (2017)
  29. Day 29: Flatliners (2017)
  30. Day 30: Mother (2017)
  31. Day 21: It (2017)