catching up with life
The peaceful state lasts almost 9 hours and then it starts all over again. The only difference is that this time it’s much slower. At first, I don’t even notice it. Too exhilarated that I slept over 7 long hours. The silence in my head is so overwhelming that I just lay in bed, not even moving. Finally, I allow myself to stretch. Still nothing. I get up on shaky legs and head to the bathroom. I use the toilet and take a shower, letting the hot water almost burn me. Still nothing. I get out, head to the kitchen and open the fridge. It’s empty. My stomach growls.
I can’t remember when was the last time I ate and realize how loose all of my clothes were. I sigh. I actually missed my curves, being bony didn’t suit me much. My stomach grumbles again, demanding my immediate attention. I quickly pull on some clothes, my shoes, close the door behind me, and run down the four flights of stairs. I head for the nearest store to buy some food before the voices return. Because something told me this state wouldn’t last too long.
I almost fly into the store and grab a red shopping basket on my way. I take a carton of milk, eggs, apple juice and look for bread. Eventually, I find it and get two, grabbing a pack of Cheetos and two cans of coke in the next aisle. Then I go back, changing my mind. I leave one can, deciding that too much caffeine wasn’t the right option for me now. I reach the register and take a chocolate donut and a cheap pack of crackers. I look at my groceries and frown. I run back and quickly take five, discounted bananas from the fruit stand. I heard once that magnesium was good for headaches. I smile in a sarcastic way. Well, these bananas better be magical then.
I reach the register again and put everything on it. The guy behind it looks at me, bored out of his mind. His red hair stands in all direction and he has a lot of acne on his face. Not that it makes any difference to me. Right now, he could have had green skin and antennas, I would still be smiling. He stares at me in a suspicious way as if I had a bomb under my jacket or a gun, ready to blow his brains off. Hmm, apparently he wasn’t used to people being nice to him too often.
That will be $22.78.
I look around in my pocket and sigh with relief after finding enough money. Twenty-four bucks to be exact. I wasn’t very fluent in cash lately since I couldn’t really go to my job and make it through a workday. I keep one dollar to myself.
Keep the change.
He starts sarcastically but notices that I am still smiling, so he just nods his head and watches me leave. I smirk. Maybe he will Tweet about this to a friend.
I come back to the apartment, leave the food in the kitchen and decide it’s finally time to make that phone call. I kneel in front of the sofa and reach out for the miserable looking remains of my phone. I stare at it for a moment. Once ago it must have been white, but the best I could call it now was a ‘smokers yellow sunshine’. The thing is big and squared shape. It’s a good thing it was an old model, the new stuff wouldn’t stand a chance with my tantrum sessions. I plug it back on the counter and dial. I listen to the signal. One ring, two, three... eight, finally I hear a familiar crack as someone pick up the receiver.
Hey, it’s me.
Well hello there, kiddo. By now, I thought you disappeared from the face of the planet. Or did you disintegrated yourself in bourbon?
A heavy yet warm voice fills my ears. He’s joking around but I know that underneath his grumpy exterior he actually worries about me. In many ways, he was closer to a father figure in my life than my own parent.
Let’s just say that somehow I am still in one piece... well, at least physically.
You want to fill me in why I haven’t seen you for over 2 weeks? How many missed shifts at the bar, would that make...?
I know Phil, I messed up. Big time.
I hear my voice get unsteady as I can feel a slight migraine filling my head. I ignore it. In comparison with everything I had to go through, this was like a walk in the park, a soothing stroll while watching a sunset. I close my eyes and hope that it wasn’t coming back too soon.
I need more details, Elle...
I smile despite the situation. Phil, my boss, was the only one I let shorten my name. Even if this version made no sense at all. Well, originally it was made by him for the customers. An easy name to go on my identification tag. You know, the little white rectangle with the employee’s name on it. I hated it and not too long after, I got rid of it and flushed it down the toilet in the place that I was working. So the tag was gone, but Phil still felt the need to call me Elle as punishment. But time passed and the name remained.
Phil, I can’t explain right now... because honestly, I wouldn’t even know where to start without sounding like an insane person.
Start with the murder, a tiny voice in my head said but I ignored it. I couldn’t bring myself to even think those words without flinching. Let alone saying them out loud. Sometimes I considered giving myself away to the cops so they could lock me up for what I did. I doubted that the guy that I killed would be missed but at the same time, there was something alluring about this thought. It wasn’t so much about my guilty conscience as the lingering thought about what would happen next.
They would lock me up and eventually notice my erratic behavior. Then they would send me to a specialist that would without any doubt declare my insanity. That would lead to my lockdown in an institution. After that, I would have a free pass to endless medication that would numb me and keep the voices at bay. Sometimes I couldn’t shake that thought away. There have been at least dozens of times when I was already on my way out the door. There were certain occasions when I would actually reach the police station. Eager to give myself in, almost with a smile on my face... but each time there came a moment when I would back away. Terrified not only to confess my crime to the police but more to the point, admitting it to myself. Therefore making it real... and I didn’t want this nightmare to be real.
I think you already missed that boat, kiddo. You got crazy written all over you - his amused tone suddenly changes - Elle... Eleonore. Listen to me.
I take a deep breath hearing my whole name. He almost never did that. And if he did, it meant things were really bad. Like the time when I got into an argument with a customer and ended up with a broken wrist, after hitting him in the face. This wasn’t my fault. I saw how he was treating his girlfriend and my big mouth opened before I could even think. I didn’t regret it. And his broken jaw made everything even sweeter. I remember how later Phil set me down, his expression both irritated and proud.
Eleonore the damages are coming out of your paycheck...
Don’t get smart with me, you know what you did.
I’m not gonna apologize to that scum.
I wouldn’t ask you too... good right hook by the way.
Well, I’ve learned from the best...
Stop with the flattery and go clean up the mess you made”
There is a brief moment of silence before he continues.
Whatever kind of mess you got yourself into, we can fix it. I am sure the guys at the bar will be more than eager to help. They always look forward to a little rumble.
I know, it’s their spare time hobby.
Phil, I know how to handle myself.
I know that you have a lot of bruises to prove that... but I don’t want you to hit rock bottom again. That shit that you were taking before almost killed you last time.
I’m not taking drugs, I promise. And that was a one-time thing, after Dan, I just couldn’t...
My voice cracks and I take a second to compose myself, This wasn’t the time to open that dirty bag of memories. I count to ten in my head and continue.
Anyway, I just wanted to call you and let you know that I’m alive. But things are bad and I won’t be coming back to work for a while (if ever).
I know how this sounds but I got some help now. I found a... specialist, a doctor to fix me. I don’t know how that will work exactly. The situation isn’t easy but I’m not alone with this anymore. That’s all the information you need for now.
Alright, I know what you’re about, and that you need to fix your problems by yourself. I respect that... but make sure to keep me updated about your “alive status”.
I smile, I couldn’t believe I actually missed my work and the rotten normality that it brought.
I will. Talk to you soon - hopefully.
I hang up before he can say anything else and collapse to the floor. I sit on it and sob quietly for a while, bringing my knees to my chin. Then after a couple minutes, I make myself get up when I sense the pain starting to surge through my body. It wasn’t big yet, but I needed to hurry since I didn’t really have a timer on this. I go to the kitchen while my stomach grumbles to make a point. I sigh.
This was such a hell hole... but go ahead world, bring on the flames.