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The crisp, night air stung my lungs as I ran down the hill towards the main road, my feet numb against the pounding of the concrete below me. I couldn’t control my breathing; one minute I felt my breaths even out and slow, as if I was finally starting to calm down, only to be swept up in another dream, another memory, another version of my nightmare and be pulled back down into the dark depths of my mind.
But I didn’t stop running.
My mind was scrambled with little bits and pieces of what had just happened. Normal peoples’ minds tend to go blank and block out any highly unpleasant memories from a tragic event, at least until it was all over and the person was left to reflect on what had just happened. But this wasn’t the case for me. My mind emphasized the horrible, traumatizing parts; it put them on display for me, causing whatever relief from the event being over and done with to be dominated by the memories playing over and over in my head.
Over and over and over.
And this absolute numbness which I felt – it was unlike anything that had ever happened to me in a state of panic and shock. I couldn’t feel anything besides the dead weight of my heart in my chest and the sting of the cold air against the wet tears on my cheeks. I couldn’t feel the pain of my bare feet repeatedly digging into the texture of the pavement below me. I couldn’t feel the pain of my fingernails biting into my palms as my fists opened and closed, opened and closed. I couldn’t even feel the fatigue in my legs from running and running and running without so much as a sense of direction in the flurry of dim street lights.
It wasn’t like I had a plan or idea of where to go: I just kept running. Away from what had just happened. Away from the drama and the pain.
I ran away from my problems – like I always did.
I was caught in a cycle of uncontrollable sobbing – tears streaming down my makeup-ruined face, incoherent mumbling and my lungs gasping for some sort of air amid the crying fit – and a state of wet and dry anger – a state that made me see everything in red, made my hands shake with pent-up energy and made me want to punch something (or someone) hard. I must have went through these polar-opposite stages at least five times each in a span of under ten minutes before my feet started to cease their continuous momentum – albeit ever-so-slightly. Before, I couldn’t control my movements – my body seemed to have taken control. But, after taking a painful gasp of air and finally slowing down, I turned around in a circle and stopped, wondering where I was and what I had just gotten myself into, as I heard and felt a rumbling from the sky and it slowly started to rain.
But wondering led me to thoughts and thoughts led me to memories. Memories of the distant and recent past, the joyful and painful past. Memories of the nightmare that was my reality.
Why? Why me? Why can’t I just do the things I love and go to the places I want to go and be with the people I want to be with without-without-without-
You’re a loser – a failure. You disappoint everyone. You’re a terrible daughter and a terrible friend and you deserve to-
Terrible. Awful. Disappointment. Pathetic-
I found myself mumbling these words – these self-deprecated insults – to myself as I stood alone and wet and confused in the dead of night. Only I wasn’t standing anymore; I was slowly walking backwards, still muttering hysterically to myself like a madwoman.
Despite everything, I still didn’t foresee what was coming: it was like whatever deity in the sky was presenting the clues – the hints – to me in slow-motion and I was still too dense to see the big picture.
That is, until it was too late.
I could feel my bare, now-calloused feet slipping in the puddles that were forming on the pavement and yet I still walked backwards in a state of shock and confusion. I felt myself trip on something and I knew – I knew then – that I was on the street, still walking backwards. The texture of the ground beneath me changed and I could hear something – something in the distance coming closer –
But it was drowned out by the roaring in my ears and the sudden pressure in my head, not to mention the barrage of thoughts and memories playing over and over in my mind and the feelings that were threatening to burst in my chest. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by everything – the dim yellow streetlights above me, the feeling of the rain against my skin and the smell of gasoline that hung in the air. I gasped again - the world seeming to spin around me - and I felt like letting my trembling legs go out from under me and just laying down in the middle of the road for just a minute and-
Then I heard it. Saw it. Felt it.
The load beep! of a horn against the static in my ears.
The blinding sight of the headlights through the wall of tears against my eyes.
The feeling of metal hitting my skin, the bones in my body breaking, snapping, cracking and the pain of my trembling, broken body hitting the wet street below me.
And I was still mumbling, “Idiot. Disappointment. Pathetic. Freak…”, although my breath was caught in my chest and I felt like I was choking on my own blood – the disgusting metallic taste flooding in my mouth as it dripped down the sides of my ringing ears and pooled onto the street below me.
I heard a scream – a few men yelling for help. Then, I heard nothing. Nothing at all – not even the toxic voices in my head.
And so, after the word freak died on my lips and I squinted up at a new Light that had entered my failing vision, a thought slipped through that moment of quiet – the last thought that I would ever have:
At least the voices are gone…