Here: Im here. Just here; not sitting or standing or anything in between. Im restless. Its four oclock in the morning, but I cant say Im tired. I want outin more than one way. When I close my eyes and turn my face towards myself, I see black in my veins, like anger, like frustration but worse. Black swallows all; any painter can tell you that. I breathe out a fog of darkness and watch it coalesce before me. If I imagine myself squinting a little, I can make out a nose, eyes, hair, and a familiarly condescending, shifty grinsomeone I recognize, but someone I dont want to recognize.
For a while, I simply stare without wordsand I think, because I cant help but remember. I pace. I turn and walk slowly awaythen quickly. Finally, I whirl with mouth gaping. Thoughts stew, turbulent and hot behind my eyes, but although my throat works and twitches, I cannot find the words to say.
The anger courses from my blood and into my mouth insteadI speak a cry of rage that bursts into the middle of a thought, a pure ebony. I cry out:
How could you? I trusted you. I trusted you, and thenand then
The black: And then you left me; you left me with thoughts swirling around me like lost birds. So this is the black of afterthat was all I could think. Those before-after comparison ads I used to see in the beforethis must be the second panel, the panel that comes after.
And in the black of after, I sat hurting and wishing. You left; left me with the memories trembling as though to break. You dont know what youve got until its goneso true. So painfully true, now that you are gone, just gone. The change burns after so many years of having you there all the time, unconditionally.
And when I finally managed to paste over the hurt with medicine and salve, the anger started. First there was blame, covered up by excuses I made up for you because I thought I still cared, but all of that wore thin after a while. And thenthen there was the night I was too tired to think anymore. When there are no more thoughts, true feelings emerge, and so on that night, the revelation began; on that night, I realized that anger numbs, works as an anesthetic. Relief, yes, bitterly sweet relief. So I let the anger grow wild, let it take over the garden of my emotions. I let it fill the empty space left when you went away, let it reveal every disappointment and hurt you caused me until your supposed perfection, supposed completion crumbled away.
Could I learn to forgive if you come back? Could I let you back in? Dont burn my anger, my garden; I dont want to start all over again.
You arent perfect anymore, you know. You arent even close. You are no god, no idol; you are only a humanand not a very good one at that. I dont want you and besides, there is no space anyhow; anger has played your substitute far too well and for far too long. I have found that a fake can be just as satisfying as the real thing; more. You always did what you wantedyou leftbut I know that with anger here instead, I will be caught if I fall, not abandoned, dropped.
The gray: forgiveness? I cant, wont let it happen. I cant let myself be hurt again.
Am I only being selfish, though? Like the protagonist in a story who has been terribly betrayed and turns on everyonefriend or foesimply because of the pain; am I doing the same? Am I getting everything wrong, backwards? Should I be begging your forgiveness instead?
Oh, Im confused, so confused. Was I the one who hurt you?
Should I be sorry? Why doesnt anything make sense anymore?
And I find myself hurting again, after all these thoughts. In doubt, uncertain, nervous, pained. Wasnt that exactly what I was trying to avoid? Pain turns animals savageI am no different. Humans are only creatures, in the end. Pain can paralyze or galvanize, can still or electrify. At first, I was utterly unable to move, unable to function. When there is no reason to move, why should I? It was much more peaceful to remain quiet, to hope the threat would go away and leave me alone. But this threat didnt go away, didnt leave me alone, so I accepted the savagery, accepted the electricity of pain; let go of the paralysis. If others will not change to suit me, then there is no choice but to change myself. Some people curl up and whimper, and some people fight and kick to escape; they roar. Hear me roarI will escape this. I will escape the absence of you.
And I find myself sulking again, after all these thoughts. Brooding, dark, sullenand what right did you have to steal from me? What right did you have to take so much? That was wrong of you, terribly wrong, and so I was faced with how to respond. Two lefts dont make one right, but was anger really so bad? If I had let you escape without consequences, that would have been no good either; you would never have learned like I have. Things need to be fair, right? But who knows if you have actually learned anything
And I find myself angry again at last, after all these thoughts. And Im happy. Familiar, certain, friendlypeople think rage is so one-sided, but it isnt. It isnt always bad, isnt always negative; it can be good, healthy. Why should I conform to other peoples standards and forgive? Back off; I have my own beliefs, my own ways of handling things. So what if Im different? What are you going to do about it? If I am going to hate and pace and fume, what are you going to do? Im my own person now, not yours. Im me, and I belong to no one elseand that is how things are going to stay. You will never have me again, trust me. I wont let you in; I know better than to open the door once more. And then
and then there is nothing to say, because anger is my friend, your replacement.
The silver: but I dont find myself forgiving, after all these thoughts. I find myself back in the same place, the same mess. Why? Why am I still here, even though I know Im trying to move on? Isnt anger enough to get me out, set me free from you? I thought I had managed to sever ties, but is forgiveness the only way?
Perhaps, though, I dont have to accept you or let you in again; I just have to
forgive you. Perhaps. Will that liberate me at last, at long, long last?
Maybe. Maybe I should try, just once.
Is this the silver?
The white: this is the white of after; finally, this is freedom. The door
the door stands ajar, unlocked.
Now: And I tell the worldIm here. Im here, Im free, Im ready. I close my mouth and feel the blood pounding in my ears, still hot with agitation. When I look, I can see a sweet-sad smile instead of that arrogant smirk on his face, and I finally acknowledge just who he is; I acknowledge his kinship to me.
Nostalgiapain. The beige-cream of longing washes over me, followed by the smooth ivory of this newfound freedom. I breathe it in and feel the dark within dissolve, feel my blood pale to white once more.
I look at the ghost of my brother, the vengeful ghost of my memories, and I let him go. I let him fade away, and I understand at last that I am myself. I am only myself.
And after all this time, I open my eyes and the fog, the blackness, the anger is all gone; life with eyes open is so different from life with eyes closed. But I dont miss it; I dont miss any of it, not even the fog or the figure in the fog. I have learned to let go and let be. I have learned to forgive and maybe forget.
Its still dark out. The moon is still there; the sun hasnt risen yet. But Im alive, Im safe for now.
I dream myself into a new Before.