#FinishThatThought Week 2-34 : Treed

“Excuse me, but what on earth are you doing up that tree at this stupid hour?”

It occurred to me I should make some type of response. Of course, how should a grown man, sitting on a tree branch 30 feet above the ground at three AM respond? I was of the opinion there was no good response to make.

“Um. Reliving my childhood?”

I knew from her facial expression, my wife was not happy with that answer, and I should give her a better answer before she took a saw to the tree trunk.

“I needed to get outside.”

“Like when you walk?”

“I don’t really know, I just…” Sometimes it was hard to explain why I did anything I did. “I had to get outside. I couldn’t stay inside.”

“You couldn’t take a walk? You’ve taken them before. At this time of day.”

That was true. I’d left the house at three AM more than a few times in the past eight weeks. I’d taken walks that lasted two hours or more.

“I didn’t want to scare you any more.”

That was the truth, really. I knew she worried about me walking, especially before dawn. She worried if I’d come back, or if I’d end up dead by the side of the road somewhere, or mugged, and beaten, and left to die.

“I figured if I stayed in the yard, you wouldn’t worry so much.”

What else could I say? I knew it was nuts, sitting in a tree at 3 AM. Normal people didn’t do that. Normal people got up at five or six, then got ready for work. Normal people got in their cars, and drove to work. Normal people sat at their desks, or in their office cubes, and worked all day long.

For eight weeks, I’d watched them. Every morning. I’d watched them drive to work. I’d watched her drive to work. And then I sat at home, feeling like everything was wrong and broken. Like I was. Broken.

When I did things at stupid times, no one could see me. No one could watch. Everyone was asleep, and wouldn’t be thinking, “What’s he doing? Why isn’t he at work?”

“So, you think climbing a tree at this time of day means I won’t worry?”

“I’ll come down.”

She shook her head. “No. Stay up there. Just let me know when you have to climb a tree.”

“I’m OK. You know that. I’m OK.”

“I know.” She waved at me, then went back inside.

I’d have cried, really, I would have. But after eight weeks, I didn’t have any more tears. I knew she’d go back to bed, but she wouldn’t sleep. She’d worry about me. Even though I’d told her I was OK.

I wanted to tell her I would be OK. But in that tree, 30 feet off the ground, at three AM, I knew I couldn’t, because I honestly wasn’t sure I’d ever would be.

490 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 2-34 (Year 2, week 34) of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

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Sitting In The Dark

Here I am, again.
In the dark.
Alone.
The cat sleeping
On my lap.

I suspect a normal person
Would give up,
And go to bed.
“Tomorrow’s another day.
I’ll be better.”

Or perhaps they’d
Have a drink.
And watch a movie on TV.
Or something like that.

Perhaps a normal person
Would text message a friend.
And the two of them
Could keep each other company.
Cheer each other up.

I don’t really know,
You know.
What a normal person would do.
On a night like this.
When their depression
Cuts them to the bone.

Sometimes I scream at God.
“Why?
Why me?”
But I know.
It wasn’t God.
It was random chance.
The luck of the draw.
The way the genes
Of Mom and Dad
Mixed.

No sense,
And no use,
Being upset about that.

I never told anyone before.
Why I stopped Prozac
In 2003.
December 6th.
I remember the day.
It was the day I took
The last pill.

I’d taken 20 mg a day
For three years
And two months.
And for the last six months
I felt it.
The depression.
Growing.
Gaining strength.

I knew the Prozac
Wouldn’t work.
Wouldn’t help.
So I stopped taking it.

Now, I’m at that point again.
But I know so much more.
I know how to manage
My biochemical imbalance.
My screwed up neurochemistry.

I walk.
I visit the flowers
In the Botanical Garden.
I watch the ocean
As I walk on the sand.
I stop.
And breathe.
And remember now.
This moment.
This heartbeat.

I used to think
My hands
Were a curse to me.
I’ve learned.
They’re not.
They’re a gift.

I can feel the air I breathe
With them.
I can spread my fingers wide
And feel the air move
In the room.
Feel it pass between
My fingers.
Flow across my palms.

My hands are not a curse.
They’re a gift.
They remind me,
Even in my darkest times,
Even on my darkest nights.

I’m alive.

And I can feel.

I can feel the carpet
With my toes,
And the soles
Of my feet.

I can feel the shirt I wear,
Where it touches me.
If I decide I want to.
All I have to do is stop.
And remember.

I’m alive.

Prozac didn’t teach me that.
I didn’t learn it from a book.
From a friend.
From a doctor.

I learned that
Long ago.
When I was so young.
I had no words
To explain
Anything I’d learned.

And I buried everything.
To be like everyone.

But my heart
And soul.
They knew.
And they found a way
To explain the truth
To me.

I’m not broken.
I’m not evil.
I’m not defective.

I’m Me.

I don’t know
What a normal person
Would do
On a night like this.

Somehow,
I don’t wish to ever know.
Instead,
I wish
The normal people
I have known,
And know now,
Could stop.
And listen.
To their hearts
And souls.

And perhaps they’d know
The drugs,
The medications,
They don’t cure a thing.
All they do
Is help.
Let you catch your breath.
Give you time
To get back on your feet.
And remember how to walk.

No.
The meds don’t kill
My depression.
They don’t remove it
From my life
At all.

Its me that cures
What ails me.
It’s me that remembers
I’m alive.
That learns to live
In each heartbeat.
And each breath.

It’s me that learns to walk.

So I sit here.
Alone.
In the dark.
And I face my self.
My heart.
And soul.
And my depression
That never really goes away.

And I take care of me.
Until I can once more
Smile.

#FSF : Ringing

If I pay attention, I hear the ringing, no matter where I am, or what I’m doing, and even in my sleep. I know many people who couldn’t live with the constant ringing I hear, the constant high-pitched ringing that never ends, never fades, never lets up; it would drive them crazy. They’re not me, I know, and they lack the ability to decide the ringing is normal, to decide it’s supposed to be there all the time, to decide to ignore it like I do. I can make it so many things, like crickets singing in the night, an invasion of cicadas, the sound of fluorescent lights, aliens that are talking to me, if I could only understand them. The endless ringing is tinnitus, there is no cure, so I have chosen to live with it, to make it part of life, to worry if I don’t hear the unending ringing in my ears, knowing something will have changed if that ringing ever goes away.


Here’s my second attempt at Lillie McFerrin‘s weekly flash fiction challenge, Five Sentence Fiction. This week, the prompt is ringing.

Please, go read all the other entries to this weeks Five Sentence Fiction. It’s amazing what creative people can do with just five sentences.

#ThursThreads : Different

#ThursThreads Week 23 – Honorable Mention

[Author’s Note : This was my entry in @SiobhanMuir‘s #ThursThreads Flash Fiction challenge. This week’s judge was @Madison_Woods. Lots of really good entries this week. I enjoyed reading every last one of them. Go read them. It’s worth the time. #ThursThreads Week 23]

“I’m left-handed, you know.” My doctor didn’t say a word. He just nodded his head. So I continued. “You remember what it was like to be left-handed in the 60s and 70s?” He still said nothing. So I kept going. “I can remember having to stand at the blackboard. After school. And write. 100 times. Right-handed.  I will not write left-handed.” Still, my doctor said nothing. “I’m 53 now. I was in 3nd grade then. That happened 45 years ago.”

It was so long ago, but the memories hadn’t faded. I could still see the 3rd grade teacher, sitting at her desk. Watching me write. Every so often, she’d get up, and correct some technical mistake in how I held the chalk, or formed letters. I filled the entire blackboard. Column after column of words. All saying, “I will not write left-handed.” My right arm ached. My right fingers ached. My right wrist felt like someone was hammering a nail through it.

When it was over, I remembered the words my teacher said to me. “We’ll teach you to be normal, yet. We’ll fix what’s wrong with you, so you’ll be like everyone else. Normal.”

That night I cried. Silently. In my room. In my bed. It was the first time I understood how people treat those that aren’t like them.