Psychosis Part Two
When the leaves start to turn, the dance of the leaves falling remind me of the twirls of ballerinas. Around and around, towards the center of gravity, each leaf floats downwards, pirouetting till the very end. Sometimes in the rays of dawn, the yellow leaves merge into gold. For a brief moment in time and space, the leaves captured my attention. The very next moment, I’m rushing down the sidewalk, feet trying to hold onto shoes slightly too big. Ephemera can be enjoyed, but never too much. Reality beckons one to race against nature, not to enjoy it.
As I stepped onto the bus, I shied away from the eyes of the driver. I fell onto a seat just as the driver started to move, no seconds left to spare for the last unlucky rider. I fumbled through all my items to make sure nothing was lost and swore when I realized I forgot my purse. The guy next to me looked up from his phone and then back down again.
Fortunately, I would not need my purse for the day. I cooked lunch for myself, and it was the third day of the same old pasta. It was made, with the least amount of patience, on Sunday night. I never cook until I got hungry. It’s a habit I should break.
At least without my purse, I could not be tempted by the delicious choices that litter the streets of the city. The sounds of the cars and people around me persuaded me, once, to try an expansive plate of sushi at a nearby restaurant. There’s a certain mood for all kinds of foods, and it seemed like the world was trying to entice me into spending more money than I had.
The bus screeched to a halt. The truck in front suddenly stopped for a child running onto the road. The rubber on the road barely halted the giant beast. My shoulder slammed into the person next to me. I apologize profusely, but the older student is gracious and understanding. The bus driver was relieved she stopped in time, but the annoyance was also obvious. She was already running late. There’s no time in her schedule for an accident.
The parent, seeing that her child was gone too late, was running behind her and scooped her up. The child had already burst into tears at the sight of a large body of metal screeching to a halt. She was still too young to know the consequences, but she intuitively sensed that she had done something wrong.
The mother screamed at her for disobeying her commands, and the child started to sob harder. As I looked out the window, I couldn’t help but think that it was quite irrational for someone to yell harder when the culprit has already admitted fault. No one seemed surprised by her response. There was an air of implicit understanding that a frightened and terrified mother would lose her temper.
I shifted my gaze back towards the front of the bus. Yelling at a child would not change the past nor make the situation any less stressful than it already was. Fear would live in this child’s brain, and perhaps it would save her from the next car, but perhaps it would also contribute to anxiety of being around roads when she grows up. Perhaps there is some rationality in emotion, but does a child need more reason to cry than she already had? Does remembering require emotion?
The bus started to move again. It lurched forward and made its turn. I sat there wondering if an angry response would truly solve any issue better compared to a cool, calm, but stern response would.
The remaining leaves still hanging onto their branches were swaying with the wind when we passed the park. Every sway meant a shower of leaves onto the sidewalks. They went back and forth, like tormented brushstrokes. When I got off at my classroom, I broke out of my thoughts to the sound of wind trying to send me flying. Running with the wind is exhilarating, but fighting against it feels like a face of tiny icicles pressing into your skin.
The temperature of the classroom made my face redder than it already was. I took my seat among the hundreds of seats available. I slowly unpacked my books and slumped into the chair, twirling my pencil. The students next to me were chatting about the coming exam. I swore the conversation was for me based on the way the people would talk. I almost opened my mouth to respond, to say that I knew the exam would be difficult and that I knew that it was all a game in the end, but I stopped myself. I did not want to embarrass myself or be in a risky position talking to strangers that may or may not be possible friends.
So I held my tongue, and grumbled under my breath every time they mentioned something that pertained to me. They complained about the exam and the poverty of teaching. I mumbled in agreement and whispered that I wish there was someone who would have intervened. For the most part, the group did not notice my comments, but occasionally the student closest to me would give me a side glance that may have been a message to me. I never did find out because class began just as I struck up the courage to confront the offender. There was no more time to talk.
Class was a blur of programming that was already familiar to me. The diagram on the board reminded me of neurons. Each arrow drawn from a node, a circle that represents an abstract object that can store information, pointed to another node. Just like how neurons connected to other neurons at the junctions of the synapse and dendrites, so did nodes connect at the junction of arrows.
I wondered if my brain was like the
diagram. Perhaps memory was never retrieved like clothes from storage, but rather, memory retrieval is relived every time it is recalled. Trauma would scrambled the connections in away that each relived memory would be represented by frantic neuronal connections firing in the brain. The neurons wound themselves in a way that the more relived the memory is, the stronger the connection.
Although the classroom was mostly filled with the voice of the instructor, a pencil would fall at the most precise and opportune moment, and the ache and groan of the old building resisting the wind outside would echo across the room, communicating to me something sinister. Each sound confirmed my suspicions. I was very pleased to have made such an eloquent guess about the nature of the brain and memory itself, but there was something wrong lurking about.
When class was over, I stayed in the hall, trying to relax and clueless about my next class. I was conversing with someone, an old familiar friend, when I realized I needed to catch a bus. They were an old friend from the past that came out of no where. I felt discomfort at their presence, but I also felt trapped. The conversation circled around my thoughts about neurons and memory. The friend, despite our interactions in the last, was surprisingly supportive with my ideas and made many sounds of agreement.
Each agreement drew my suspicions even higher, but you got a sense of the enthusiasm by the frequency. Like neurons, the greater the frequency, the greater the strength in response. Perhaps they were really supportive, but I was starting to lose it. The thoughts in my head shifted from one idea to the next.
When I got onto the bus to goto my next class, my friend followed me. They were in my head, taking over my inner voice and telling me about the plot against me by the students that I saw from before. The conversation had shifted suddenly, and I could not stop it. They communed with me through the rise and fall in the rhythm of my surroundings, and I started to become irritated. I needed quiet, and it was clear no one acknowledged this need. Instead of going to class, I made my way to my dorm. I cursed everyone around me for being so rude and demanding in their space.
The bed was comforting, but my friend did not leave me. By now, I was very frustrated by their incessant complaints. Who are you to tell me what to do? I asked into the empty room. The rustling of the vents replied: because I am you.
When I opened my door to the sound of knocking, I became aware that they were watching. The person, dressed in all blue, briefly said hello and then disappeared. Time fluctuated so quickly that night became day outside of my awareness.
I did not know why the voice told me that I was in danger, but I feared that from behind the desk and from behind the windows, the shadows were ready to kill me. I didn’t see them, but I felt their presence. I felt the knife pointed at my throat. When I tried to run for safety out of the building, I was faced with locks I could not solve. I tried so hard to guess the code. Up and down the hall I went, jamming number after number into the device that refused to let me go. How could people not understand the obvious? I was in danger; my heart flew upside down and my friend screamed at me to get up and run. Where was I? The days and nights became one, and they passed on with no end.
The blue dressed person came back again, but the face was not the same. He came and interrogated me, but I lied to protect myself. This was not normal. I laughed to myself.
They gave me things to eat and told me I needed to try this medication. I eventually gave in, horrified at the potential of poison running through my veins and killing me, but exhausted at the thought of fighting them back mentally for another day. Eventually, I was allowed to go.
The bus lurched forward, and I was forced to hold on to the bottom of my seat. The sun was setting, and I needed to get home before the dark came. No children were playing at this time in the evening.
Opening the door, I started to grieve. There was a reality being lost. They had finally left, and I was safe now. I could breath now. I was going to be okay.
The next morning, I woke up.