I am awake.
I look into the sky. I can see it watching me. Eyes drooping on stalks, hanging like dandelion seedlings, watching everything but only paying attention to me. Do I deserve this? I do not know. All I know is that it is real. It haunts my dreams, breathes through my nightmares, and when I am awake, it watches my every move. I can sense it sometimes, my lies echoing back at me. “I love you, sweetheart.” “You mean everything to me.” “No, don’t be silly, I only have eyes for you.”
Like a shadow in a room of darkness, I can feel the presence everywhere. Sometimes I think it has gone, extinguished in the darkness. The sky seems to be clear, and everything feels as it should. Not even a cloud is there to look down upon me. It never lasts. It eats away at me. Knowing that it is there, just waiting. Hiding in a corner like a spider in a room, you know it is there. You just can’t see them. Then in the corner of your eye, you spot it. A quick movement of something, and it is back watching.
It is getting worse. I wander the nameless streets that never end. One foot in front of the other, step by step. Moving forward, but getting no further. The grass on my side of the road starts to rot. I can see it pulsating like a rotten fly larvae infested piece of meat. I see the maggots just poking through the soil. They watch me too, just looking and turning as I walk on by. The other side of the street is perfectly green, an immaculate turf that you could putt along with not one deviation. I have tried to cross; I walk across the road to the other side, but the rot follows me. I stand and watch the grass. I watch, looking for the change. It happens the second I blink. Never before, and never afterwards. One second it is lush, I blink, and it is bubbling like the skin on boiling milk, maggots trying to escape a rotten grassy cage.
I have tried to ignore it. Lord knows I have tried to ignore it. To move on like normal and pretend the world is as it once was. It has become an itch I just cannot scratch. I know who and what it is. Deep down, I know who it is. What I don’t know is how to stop him. Should I go back to him? Would he even have me back after what I did? Would it stop this nightmare? Things were not perfect, they never are, but he did not deserve what I did. I don’t deserve this!
Now I am back to feeling sorry for myself. I am looking for excuses; there is never an excuse for what I did. I can tell myself that I did it because of this or because of that, but truthfully I can’t excuse my behaviour. I left for another man; I walked away after fifteen years; he was not a bad guy. Like a Jenga tower, trust falls in an instant, crumbling to the ground. How could he ever trust me again? How could my new partner? How could anyone?
Like a needle on a scratched record, everything in my mind skips backwards. I have been here before, feeling sorry for myself, speculating about trust. The people all change. They change from random people I have never met to faces I know. On my side of the street, they have all changed to the head of my ex-husband. The eyes looking down at the floor, a depression etched on his face seems to have aged him ten years. On the other side of the street, the heads are my new partner. The bodies stand motionless, and the eyes follow my every move, just the eyes; everything else is still, unmoved.
I can sense what they are thinking. I can feel the thoughts burrowing into my head. “Bitch,” they scream. “Slut,” “Slag,” they may as well be shouting it through a megaphone; it feels that loud. Then the others start, but this is quieter, a faint whisper that I can only just make out. “Come to me and start over.” “It will be better here,” it claims. I can’t decide. Do I make the same choices again, or do I try something different? Do I really have a choice?
I shall walk along the centre of the road. To stand on the fence, as it were. Both sets of voices are now trying to compete for my attention, both trying to drown each other out. I don’t know why I just can’t decide on one. The middle ground between two extremes. I have lied to both. This is a choice that should be easy; I just can’t make it. I feel the tiniest, slightest bit of relief and then it happens. The lines down the centre of the road, those boring white lines change. I can never quite make it out at first. They seem to dissolve right before my eyes. The blurring of a world as tears smother my eyes.
My heart races, my eyes clear, and I see them speeding and morphing from white-painted lines into white snakes. They hiss as I try to avoid them. Everything else is quiet now. I can only hear the hissing of the painted snakes. My heart beats faster and faster. I can feel it throbbing in my neck. It feels like it is also trying to escape me, trying to run from what I have become. Just as I am about to scream, to beg to leave this ride that they call life, I see the car. The car is silently hurtling towards me. Silent until I notice it, and then the engine roars.
I can’t move left, right, or backwards. I can only go forwards. I think, and I will myself to change direction, to even turn and run the other way, but I just continue walking forwards. I walk towards the car, and the car speeds towards me. I can’t make out anything at first, but I can see the three people inside the car as we get closer to each other. It is being driven by my ex-husband. He has a grin on his face that would chill even the Devil. In the back seat is my new partner, and he is…
He is kissing another girl! He is cheating on me! What have I done to deserve this? Why would he do this to me! It is too much. My head feels like it will explode. Drops of me to cover the world, splatters of my brain dripping from every nook and cranny. I feel like screaming, fuck it, I will scream. I scream, and I shout about how it is all unfair. Fuck you, world. Adultery, shove it up your arse. Then it hits me, quite literally.
The car smashes into my body. For a moment, just long enough for me to feel comfortable, I feel nothing. Then the pain erupts. It explodes from every nerve ending in my body. My bones feel like they are all shattering at once into a million pieces. The pain of a million needles being driven under my nails, my teeth being pulled without an anaesthetic. It lasts not one more second than it needs, but also not one second less. The very moment I feel I will have my body torn limb from limb and finally pass into the hands of death, it stops.
I realise I am dreaming, dreaming my nightmare once again.
I am awake. I open my eyes and try to ignore the sweats; I try to ignore the wetness of the sheet and mattress. I am alone, awake and alive. I open the curtains and look out the window. I see those eyes looking at me once more.
Will this nightmare never end?