Only recently. Only recently have I realize that, no, I was not dead. In one part of my brain, I felt disappointed; perhaps I am jealous of the fact that you are something I am not, but perhaps I am annoyed at the fact that I may not meet you in Heaven, if such a place does indeed exist for a bit longer.
I am starved. God knows how long I stayed in the same place. Apparently, I never went into the pond. Apparently, I never touched the water. But I remember it all; the feeling of the water around me and its coolness as it prickled my lungs. I remember it all. The swans, they parted and made space for me to join them. Maybe I was wrong. I do not know what happened. I can recall it as clearly as I can recall the feeling of a young man, sandy blond with worried brown eyes, putting me in the recovery position. He already touched me more than you did, dearest, and I don’t even know his name. I don’t know yours. I cannot remember anything.
He never spoke or, if he did, it was not directly to me. When my eyes adjusted suitably enough to let me see, I saw the face, the eyes, the hair, and I heard his voice in his head. I am not sure, he may have spoken and the voice burned onto my conscious, but I cannot recall his vocal sounds. But I could hear them, low and deep inside me, his kindly tone with worry stitched into it, and the stiff instructions he must have given.
Ambulances don’t just arrive by themselves, you know. They have to be summoned. Clearly, this young man must have summoned it up. Such a kind-hearted, warm-spirited gesture that would, undoubtedly, go to waste. I may not have made it to the pond that time, but one day I will.
My lips are still dry, my eyes still glassy, my skin still waxy and pale. How do I know? I can see myself, sweetie. I float above myself, trying not to go too far, but I am angled in such a way that I am hovering over myself, turning over slowly in the breeze that tip-toes through the window. The hospital workers decided that a window would be best for someone with my ‘condition’. I don’t know what they were saying. Something to do with a psychological disorder, probably. I am not… I don’t believe. Schizophrenia… Depression… Madness… people write endless books about them, countless and countless pages on the causes for, reasons why, and how comes. I do not believe this is right. I do not believe I have a psychological disease. If I do, the last thing I want is people knowing about it.
If I do, I am going to be another statistic, and I am going to be another case study for psychology students to use in their A-level work. Fuck that. I am not crazy, I am not mad, I am not insane.
I turn again, and I am facing the window. I try to whistle, but my mouth does not seem to want to move. I try to look down to see myself, but I cannot see suddenly. The world is black. I thrash out and cry, but no one hears. A flash of white, and my vision is back, and I see the wax figure below me, eyes wide and sweating. It thrashes and cries. I thrash and cry with it. It is not me, anymore. The last time I looked in the mirror, I saw a much different person. I saw a human. Now, I am seeing an animal. Someone rushes over, tries to calm the monster. I remain calm, still rotating slowly. There is no point in me panicking. I have figured it out; I must not try to move; I must not try to see; I must not try to hear. Anything that happens in this bubble of calm around myself, I must submit to.
I have twisted enough to see the ward. The crying of that monster is faint, and sounds like a snarl now. I cannot understand why it is so inhuman now. It is me. I am it. I do not understand…
Maybe I was lying beside the pond for weeks. Maybe I died and came back to life. Maybe for a moment, I blacked out and moved of my own accord.
I need to see the figure again, so I turn my head to the right. White hot pain and blue sorrow slashes through my neck. I don’t know why, but it feels as if my head has been pulled off. But I can see the monster lying on the bed, its head facing to the right and it is screaming, but the noise sounds like it is coming through a radio in my brain, hissing. I turn it down, turn it up. I am in control of that part of me. The pain doesn’t bother me, and it is fading.
The momentum of my head turn has changed my rotation from rotating left to rotating right. I spin, looking out of the open window, my head still cemented in the place where I turned it. The thing on the bed has eyes like large marbles, slick and unseeing, and its chest is rising and falling, pale and sweating. It looks like it is going to die. Its mouth opens and a sigh escapes, and, just before it disappears from my view, I see the teeth, yellowing and sharp.
Is that thing me?
I need to return, sort out the body I call my own. The radio becomes less and less fuzzy and suddenly the whole hospital ward explodes with noise in my ears. Even the nurses’ paces on the tiled floor sound like gunshots to me. I fall, screaming, but no noise is coming out of my mouth. I fall into the body, turning around until it is at the same pose as the monster’s and I feel feeling flood into my fingers, my toes, my chest and I am the monster. Again.
I feel so much worse. It is as if my veins are full of black syrup. I can see them under my skin, pumping, rising and falling. There is not enough feeling for me to lift my hand. It hurts so much, though. Not as much as when you walked away from me, love.
Well, enough is enough. The nurse seems to think so, him standing beside me, ramming a needle into my arm in slow motion. There is a dull, sharp pain and I half expect the syrup to explode out of the pinprick. Nothing explodes. A tube is inserted and the fluid pumped into my lifeblood.
I feel human; I feel pinkness returning to my flesh; I feel the syrup dilute into blood; I feel my pupils dilate instantly. The roar stops in my ears.
I don’t want to close my eyes, though, because I might die. Even if I feel so much healthier.
Why am I scared of death now? You died, and you are not afraid. I wanted to join you, so I fell into the pond. Or, apparently, I didn’t fall into the pond. I do not know what happened, but…
I want to be near you, though dying does not feel right enough.
I must go to you instead.
I pull myself up, my body screaming at me to quit what I am doing and lie down. No, I need to move. No one is around, they have left me for a while, possibly to go off and get some more chemicals to pump into my bloodstream. I take one step, feet numb. I look down, and the foot of a monster is there. Pinker, more flesh-like, yes, but definitely not human. My eyes are dry and my lips are cracked, my teeth visible in a grin. I am coming, lovely. I am coming for you.
Now I am on the grass. I don’t know where I am, but I can feel your corpse calling. Maybe not for me. Maybe you want to keep me away. But why should I stay away? I can hear you, so I can find you. However, there is wood in the way, a coffin, but your call is still harsh and shrill, if a little muffled. I keep walking. I am walking on air, it is lifting me up, numbing my whole body and making me cold. A nice cold. It bites into me more than the cold water of the pond did, but I still recognise that coolness.
Now I am on a road, lurching. Feeling has returned to the soles of my feet and one ankle and I feel the agony I will suffer for another seven miles. The sun is gone. Raindrops fall. A pain in my stomach. It is like sorrow and I want to cry. My tear ducts are blocked. I cannot cry. I try to, but I cannot cry.
I am a monster because I cannot cry.
There is light above me, so harsh through the rain, but it is not the sun. I look down. I have no shadow. It is in my head. The light is breaking the clouds and is shining down on me, but it is in my head.