I decided to venture out of my hiding place tonight. I think I just ran out of air to breathe. Or maybe my mind is trying to save me: one last nudge out of its suffocating cage before it completely decides to give up on me. But I know my brain won’t quit. The human body is wired for survival. That’s probably the reason why I’m standing under the night stars right now, finally letting my weak lungs feast off the fresh air and allowing the cool breeze to touch my pale cheek. I hear the trees swaying their branches, the cicadas singing their song. I feel the darkness settling around me, enveloping me in its heavy arms, distorting the edges of my reality. I smell the first signs of autumn arriving. The moon radiates above me, casting everything in a magical glow.
I know that if my go back to my room and drop my body into the crease in the bed, sleep won’t rob me of my consciousness. I imagine my wild and awake eyes glow like those of a hungry wolf staring at you from the shadows. This thought makes me want to cry. Sometimes I do, but the sobs remain hidden somewhere deep inside me body, growing like a mold on the remnants of my soul. I also know that, when I eventually do pass out, the loud birds will wake me up in the morning. I’ve never been able to figure out if the birds were real. Maybe the birds were just memories – ghosts of my childhood- and still insist on filling my ears with their beautiful song. Long ago, I finally figured out that I live somewhere in the past, that I refuse to leave the body of the happy and innocent child I used to be. That child, with the freckled face, wide smile, and big dreams, she’s dead now. Yet I insist on clinging to her lifeless body, as if I can somehow travel back in time and be that girl again. It’s painful to live this way, but I’ve given up on trying to bargain with my confused mind. Either way, it’s better to be rooted somewhere along the path of time than to drift through space. The birds and my nostalgia are enough to force my stiff limbs out of bed and to survive yet another day. After all, the human body is wired for survival.
But today, standing under the stars, I dreaded my dependence on the hallucinations of my sick mind. So I remained standing there, letting the cold seep into my bones, letting the neurons in my brain convulse and wither from the lack of sleep. After a few hours, or maybe it was years, I could feel the sun starting its burdensome arc across the sky. I watch is slowly stumble to the edge of the horizon, offering its golden embrace to the dark survivors of the night. And I hear it again. A bird. My tired eyes can barely make out the fragile, fleeting shape in front of me. But I see it. The bird, the very beautiful bird, looks directly at me. I can feel hope and promise in those shiny black button eyes. The bird lifts its wings and flies off. It’s a bird that flies freely. It’s a bird that is not a slave to my mind. And what can I do but follow.
I sense the town waking up around me as I run. I hear the rush of voices and feel the gentle hum of the machines. My weak body gasps for oxygen but my legs move like wild beasts. My naked feet are cut by rocks and glass, but they won’t stop. I must follow the bird, I must learn the secrets of the universe. The red sun is climbing higher onto the sky. The darkness within me begins to whimper as its grasp on me weakens and starts to break. And for the first time in a very, very, long time, the warmth of happiness blooms within me. My eyes smile as tears stream down my cheek. I feel lighter, the burden of all those desolate years are lifted from my soul. I am a child again. A child. I keep on running and running. My starving lungs heave as I laugh loudly. My voice cracks and breaks.
The bird keeps on flying, but my body forces me to stop. I’ve had my moment of joy. But I must once again submit to the chains of reality. I dream of the day when I will keep on flying.
Originally published on The Literati Mafia