Inside My Eyelids (6)

Another night, another dream I wish I didn’t have. Another dream I’d had a thousand nights, in a thousand different ways. Bobby and Julie were holding hands, walking through the museum. I don’t know where it was, or what museum, only that it was a museum.

“Really weird art show, isn’t it?” Bobby waved his free hand at the paintings along the wall.

“Yep. Weird.” Julia kept pulling him from one painting, or one sculpture to another. Endlessly.

It took a while, but somewhere along the way, amid all the paintings, and statues, and abstract displays of spheres floating through rectangles inside of snow storms, and all the rest, they came across a statue not like the rest.

Julia tapped Bobby on the shoulder, “Dude, look at that one.”

“Wow.” They approached the display slowly. “Guy looks just like him, doesn’t it.”

“Yep. Just like him.” Julia drug Bobby around the display of a statue that looked strikingly like me. Why it was there, I don’t know. Why anyone would make a statue of me, I don’t know.

“Look at that.” From the front, it looked like me, but, as they moved to either side of it, the statue turned into an empty mold, with ragged edges along the back, and nothing inside it. “It’s like a shell. A prop.” They read the description of the artwork displayed on a stand next to it.

“The Facade. An illustration of what the world perceives us to be, and the reality that what the world sees is not real at all, rather it is only an image. A mask. A facade.”

Julia shook her head, “Looks just like him, doesn’t it.”

For some strange reason, I always woke up when the dream reached that part. Damn thing drove me nuts for decades, until I figured it out one day, at work. I wish I could forget that day, but know I never will. That was the day I told her, at work, the truth.

“It’s all a game, you know.”

“No. This is not a game. This is real life.” I remember the light in her eyes. There had been flashes of fear, and of concern in that light. As if I was speaking of a secret no one dared speak of.

“It’s got a set of rules. A specific behavior to follow. Ways to make bonus points. Ways to get penalized.” I’d made a point to look straight into those eyes, even knowing how dangerous it was for me to do that, knowing those eyes tore my own facade down, and left me standing there, unprotected, revealed, in broad daylight. “It’s a game. One everyone plays.”

That statue in that dream, that facade. That had been me. That had been what the world saw of me. Something artificial. A character in a story, an actor playing a part in a game. The things everyone knew about me, the person they all worked with, talked with, every day, wasn’t real.

It wasn’t me.

It was a facade. One I’d made, crafted carefully, over time, to be what I needed to be, in that environment, to make everyone shut up, and leave me alone. So they never got angry with me. Never fought with me. Never learned who I was. So I was always safe from them.

Until I looked in those eyes one day, and that facade started to crumble. Because. I found I could not lie to those eyes.

578 Words

I wrote this for week 142 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

Inside My Eyelids (5)

She was, I think, the last friend I had in that church. She was, I know, the last reason I had to be there.

It was in that place where everything went as wrong, and as badly, as it possibly could have gone. It was in that place where I learned to pray to God in Heaven, as I looked to the stars in the night sky, “Father, let me die. Let me die, please. And set me free from this hell.”

I remember so many stories. The time the church’s youth director spoke with me, as we watched the water tumble over rocks, and swirl around tree roots, and branches, by a mountain stream, on a Saturday night in August, with the stars hidden from view by the trees. The only sounds being our words, and the words spoken by the stream.

“There’s something wrong with you, isn’t there.” It was a statement, not a question. I knew that when she spoke the words. Words that echoed in my soul. “There’s something wrong with you, isn’t there.”

How do you answer when someone says those words to you? Defiance? Anger? Rage? How about when they say those words, and you know, beyond doubt, that you are not like everyone else. That somehow, some way, that you can’t understand, you’re different.

I was different. And I knew it. As I knew that being different was the absolute definition of there being something wrong. I was different. That meant there was something wrong with me.

“Yes. But I don’t know what. And I don’t know how to fix it.”

There are so many stories. The time the church pastor spoke with me, “You need to stay where you are in the sanctuary. Not come forward. You’re already right with God. If something in the service speaks to you, be thankful. But stay where you are.”

That was the day the lights in the building went out. The glow of hope. The sense that maybe, perhaps, with luck, and God’s guidance, and will, I could figure out what was wrong with me. With those words, from the leader of the church, that was gone.

I watched, on Sundays, as people walked into the sanctuary, smiling, hopeful. It was like the inside of the building lit up, that light shining through the windows, leaking to the outside world. Except, I was not welcome to be part of that light.

That light avoided me.

So many stories, and yet, they’re all the same. The time the youth went on one last retreat, one last trip, for the memories, I suppose. When they had me, a 19 year old college student, lead the car train to the resort. It was the first time, the only time, we got there on time. With no incidents. With no problems.

How, on that trip, the same youth directory who told me there was something wrong with me had trouble with her footing, climbing down a steep hillside coming back from the mountain swimming hold we all went to. And no one saw that, but me. And no one was beside her, to help her, to catch her if she slipped, but me. And no one noticed at all when we got to the bottom of that hill, and she smiled at me, “Still the same good old guy, aren’t you.”

The same good old guy who dreamed of driving his car, at full speed, through the front door of the church one day, in a desperate effort to escape the bleeding of my soul, only to stand in the rubble, laughing, as God found yet another way to keep me alive, and prolong my agony.

I stopped going to that church. Except for Sunday morning classes, before the service. She was there. I couldn’t let her be wounded as I had. I told God, I didn’t ask, I told him. “I’ll be here. In this place. As long as she is. To do what I can to keep her safe.”

And I left the day she did.

That was the day the light shining from the church, a light I could never be a part of, a light not meant for me, turned orange, and red. The color of flickering flames.

I never returned to that place.

718 Words

I wrote this for week 141 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

Inside My Eyelids (4)

She stands where she has stood for years, on the seat of my old desk chair, the one I inherited from my parents. I think they got it from their parents, but no one really knows. No one remembers that far back.

Dad never understood why I got her, my doll. Her eyes fell out when I was still a child. Her face got colored with magic marker, and paint, a dozen times. I gave up trying to fix it, and put a mask over it.

She stands there, in my chair, in the corner of my room, where she can see me at my desk, and my computer.

Dolls were for girls when I was young. Boys didn’t own them, and didn’t play with them. If a girl wanted to clear a room, she broke out her dolls, and all the boys left.

But, something drew me to my doll. I saved my allowance for months until I could afford her. That was Mom and Dad’s rule. My allowance was mine. I could spend it how I wanted, on what I wanted. But I could not ask for money. I had to make decisions about money, about what mattered to me, and learn to build up the funds to get what I wanted.

I’d wanted my doll.

She was my friend. The person I could always talk with. The person who would never argue with me. Never tell me I was wrong. Never tell me to be more mature. To toughen up. Or that boys don’t cry.

She was the only one I could hug. The only one who would put her head on my shoulder. The only one who would kiss the hurt parts, the skinned knees, the cut fingers, to try to make me feel better.

I knew she wasn’t real. No doll is. Perhaps, one day, with enough artificial intelligence, and enough advanced electronics, we humans might make dolls that could act like they were alive. That wasn’t going to happen in my lifetime.

I never gave her a name. She’d never needed one. When I spoke to her, I called her, “you”, because it made sense.

The worst fight I ever had, growing up, was over her. When the boys at the church found out I owned a doll, all hell broke loose. They taunted me, insulted me, called me a girl, named me “Sally”. Eventually, like anyone would expect, after months of torture, I made the mistake of responding to one of the boys. I told him what I thought about him, and his insults.

It took two weeks for the bruises to fade from my face.

I still have her. She still stands, in my chair. Like she did then. Now, I write stories of a warrior, with high tech armor that makes him invisible. With guns, and explosives, and the ability to do what he believes needs to be done. A warrior who defends little boys who like dolls. One who beats the living shit out of the fathers whose sons torture such little boys.

In my dreams, at night sometimes, my warrior talks with my doll, about how to change the world, make it better, turn it into a place that doesn’t kill the dreams of children, and doesn’t teach them boys hate dolls.

And she watches me sleep, as she stands on the seat of my chair, in the corner of my room, each night.

I would have it no other way.

582 Words

I wrote this for week 140 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. It’s been a hard time, getting through the house repairs. I haven’t had the energy, or patience to write anything in weeks. That’s changing now. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

Inside My Eyelids (3)

At work, Monday, I remembered my Mother, and the time she read one of the stories I wrote. A story about a lonely, depressed guy, who crashed his car, and got himself killed. And how it was his escape from the hell that was his life.

My Mother, bless her, practically threw the story at me. “Why do you always have to write such awful stories? Why can’t you write something happy for a change?”

I wanted to scream, “That’s not how it works! That’s not how I work! I can’t write what I don’t feel!” But, she was my Mother. I spoke without knowing what else to say, “I’ll change it.” Then, I did. Same car wreck. But he gets through it uninjured, no one else gets hurt, and he wakes up to life, and decides to become a better person.

“Better.” That’s what she said.

I smiled, and nodded, “See? I can do that,” while my brain screamed, “What else do you want me to say? It’s what you wanted!”

It was one more detail in life that turned everything into a game. A stupid, silly game, all about making everything happy, and fun. And the movies on the inside of my eyelids responded, as people started smiling, and singing happy songs, as they cut each others hearts out.

221 Words

It’s Week 396 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Whatever it is that’s writing itself, wrote more words. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up weekly.

Inside My Eyelids (2)

I told myself to stop remembering the past. “I’ve got to work in the morning. Time to shut down my brain, and sleep.” With that, I hugged my pillows, rolled onto my side, shut my eyes, and deliberately tried to think of anything other than work, life, the universe, the damn movies I dreamed up each night.

Instead, I ordered up a walk on the beach, at sunset, on a summer night, with a soft breeze, and ocean sounds. Even a few seagulls flying around, and talking. Something that made me smile. Something I wanted to do more often. Something I kept private, never shared. Because, no weaknesses allowed.

I feel asleep on that beach, watching the waves.

Jesus, was that ever a mistake.

Have you ever been in the desert? Seriously. The middle of the desert. No water. No trees. No grass. No people. No roads. Nothing. Only sand. An ocean of sand, with motionless sand dunes for waves.

That’s where I was. In the desert. Hell, I couldn’t tell you which desert. Does it matter which desert? The sun rose in the East, and the ovens of hell came on. After an hour of searching for shade, any kind of shade, I tried hiding in the shadows of the dunes, where the sunlight didn’t reach.

You know how you normally die of thirst in the desert? Yeah. That would have been too easy. That would have let me escape. Let me have peace. Let me sleep. So, I had to stay alive. Hour after endless hour. Wondering if I could find a swallow of water. Just one swallow, to help the fire in my throat.

I didn’t get sun burn either. Like I was made of something other than flesh and bone. My skin got hot to the touch, coated in sweat, which the sand stuck to. The sand got in my pants pockets. Under my t-shirt. Inside my pants. It got everywhere. And it stuck to me. I couldn’t get it off. Every time I tried, more sand piled on.

To the East, I heard thunder. I wandered that direction, walking for hours. Maybe days. Who knows how long. I passed out a couple of times, certain I was finally going to die, and be free, only to wake up, spitting sand from my parched mouth and throat, watching it spray out of my nose.

The lightning was always to the East. Always as far away as it had always been. It never got closer. I set my direction by the sun, so I knew I wasn’t walking in circles. No matter how far I walked, there were never any signs it had ever rained. The ground remained parched, dry, dusty sand. That went forever. In every direction.

But, I kept walking to the East. Toward the sounds of thunder. Hoping, praying, desperately, I’d find rain, and at least a moment’s respite from the endless heat, and waves of sand, frozen in time, with sprays of sand, like the tops of waves, at their crests.

I was still walking, praying I could die, or find water, when I woke up, as I did almost every night, at 3 in the morning. Too tired, and exhausted to be useful in any way. Too desperate to escape the images on the inside of my eyelids to want to try to sleep for another few hours before I had to go to work.

572 Words

It’s week 139 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Flash Fiction Challenge. Please feel free to read all the other stories for this weeks prompt.

It seems I find myself in the middle of something unexpected. We’ll see if it lasts, or if the movies on the back of my eyelids silence me once more. Time will tell.

#EVERyTuesdayWordplay Week 23 : Pluck

“Lord, send some big ass bird crashing through the window into me. Let it knock me over, pluck my eyes out to make openings in my head, and then pluck my brain out, in bits and pieces, through the sockets!”

It wasn’t the first time I’d thought those words. Even as I thought them, I knew it wouldn’t be the last time.

“Why can’t I just fucking die!”

Must have been the billionth time I wondered why me, why did I have to be punished with all these visions in my head, in my brain cells. Every time I closed my eyes at night, to sleep, there they were. Hell, I couldn’t even call them nightmares. Nightmares scare the shit out of you. You wake up screaming. I always woke up wondering if my brain would ever let me sleep, or if it was going to play endless stories on the back of my eyelids, like movies, until I died.

I couldn’t remember when those stories started. I’d tried. “What’s the first time you had one of these stories stuck in your head?” I couldn’t remember them not being there. And I remembered 50 years of them, all the way back to high school. Maybe 9th grade. Maybe 10th.

But, I couldn’t remember much of anything before that. There was that time all the grown ups got really sad. That was when the President got shot in the head, and died. Even the people that didn’t like him got sad then. I couldn’t remember the President getting shot, since I was only 4 years old when it happened, but I did remember people were sad, and I knew from history books they were sad because of his assassination.

There was the time I learned to read for fun. Not to read because it was homework, or because I was in Sunday School at church. It was when I was sick one time. For a week. Missed school. Maybe it was second grade. Maybe first. Does it matter? I was stuck in bed, sick, couldn’t go to school, couldn’t go outside and play, couldn’t get out of bed, really, except to go pee. I learned a lot that time I was sick. I learned daytime TV in the 1960s sucked, on all three TV stations we could pick up. I learned being trapped in the house was boring as hell, and felt anything but right.

And I learned to read comic books. Dad picked up a couple of them. I’d never read any chapter books, or anything else, really. Other than the school books. “Run, Jane, run! See Jane run?” It was desperation that made me pick those comic books up. The need to escape the emptiness of time. The silence of listening to the sun cross the sky, and the clouds float past my room windows. The complete nothing I’d felt trapped in.

I read the comic books. Each one took me hours. It was my first time reading anything.

498 Words

For week 23 of Ever Addams weekly #EVERyTuesdayWordplay Flash Fiction prompt. There are words trying to get out. Perhaps these are the first few. Go read the other stories for prompt #23.