Written by Jules Delorme
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I am broken.
What is left of me is pieces. Pieces of something that once was whole.
I close my eyes and sometimes I can almost remember the pieces back together to form one whole me. Sometimes. Sometimes I can.
Mostly I just lie staring up at a ceiling caked with dust and I hope that the next moment will not come. Or the moment after that. But it always comes and I continue to lie here. Staring. Staring at...
Shadows. Shadows on the ceiling that never change. Lines and circles in the dust that have been there for as long as my memories.
There is nothing there. Nothing that I can't close my eyes and see in it's every detail. And yet I continue to stare. It's all I have left.
It's all I have left.
Sounds from the world outside sounds that have lost any meaning or context make their way into the stillness of my room and linger longer than they should. I listen to them sometimes. I forget myself and I listen to the sounds and see the pictures they loosen from me cast on the bare walls of my room. I listen and the pain starts all over again.
Memories are dangerous things.
They linger at the edge of each thought waiting for me and when I'm least ready when I'm in my weakest state they... They creep up on me.
They creep up on me and when I'm not ready for it and they fill me with...
They're very dangerous things.
I lie here shattered and without hope without possibility and all I have left are memories. Without them I could become numb. I could cease to feel. Without them I could be alone completely.
I could become singular and separate from the world around me. I could cease to be.
But the memories are there and I am not alone not alone enough and so I stare at the ceiling at the dust and the never changing shadows and I wait. I wait for the end that will never come. Because...
I am broken.
Are all broken.
Nothing about me is whole. Nothing about me is connected. Nothing about me is... Is...
I remember first pretending to be a Super Hero. I don't remember which one. There was a mask and a cape but that is all that remains in my memory.
I was hiding. Behind a door at the bottom of the stairs that led to our apartment. I think it was an apartment. There was a store in the front and stairs in the back that led to where we lived.
The color green. I remember green. Perhaps on the walls or maybe the door. Painted an ugly green. And I was hiding behind the door.
Because I was afraid. I was always afraid. That's why I wanted so bad to be a Super Hero. Super Heroes are never afraid.
So I wore a cape and a mask and I hid behind the door. Afraid. Of some other child. My sister. My mother. My father. It didn't matter. I was always afraid and I always hid. Behind doors. In closets. Under my bed. Under the table in the kitchen. I was hiding from something.
I was always afraid.
My mother threw a television down those stairs at my father during one of their fights. I was more concerned for the TV than for my father.
It meant everything to me.
I wasn't afraid of the television.
My mother went to her room closed the door and cried. My sister and I went to our rooms and waited. It was a very long night.
And there was the child.
The other child.
If I ever knew his name it has disappeared along with so many things I must have known about him. My mother kept him in her room where she spent all of her time.
He was broken.
He was born broken.
I remember pushing his cradle off of my mother's dresser and watching it crash to the floor. I don't know if that happened or if it was a dream that I had.
He smelled bad and he made sounds like an animal in pain. I would stand in my mother's doorway and wonder why he was so important to her.
They fought about him all the time. My mother and my father. They would yell and cry and doors would slam and my father would disappear for days on end. Because of the broken child.
That's all that I remember about him. The child. I can't remember his face or his name if he had one or how I felt about him. I remember his presence and I remember the cradle falling to the floor if that happened but I don't remember who he was or what happened to him.
No one ever talked about the broken child when he was gone.
He disappeared. And everything about him disappeared with him.
The broken child.
An empty space in every room in every place we ever lived reminded us all of the broken child. We pretended that the empty space didn't exist just as we'd always pretended that he never existed. But it did.
And he did.
I remember that he did.
We walked down to the construction sight where my father worked to ask him to come home. I remember that. Me and my sister. It was after one of their fights and we walked a long way or what seemed like a long walk to my small legs. My sister pulled me along so fast that I had to run just to keep up. It felt like a very long walk.
He had been gone very long this time. He seemed like a stranger in his work clothes covered in dust and dirt from his work. I stood off in the distance while my sister begged him to come back. She begged him.
I just watched.
That's what I did. That's what I always did. I watched.
He came back. And he brought the TV with him.
That's who he was to me at that very young age. The man who brought things with him. Sometimes it was something big like the TV. He always brought things with him. but most of the time it was something small. A piece of candy when he came home from work or a small toy like a chess piece. I remember that.
He brought me pieces from a chess board one by one to stretch it out so he would always have something to bring so I would always be happy to see him.
I was too young to love him them. He only mattered to me as the man who brought things. Later he became more. Much more.
My mother was the presence that mattered most then. She dominated my world the way the sky dominates the world of the small beasts on the African Savannah. Her moods dictated how my day would turn out. And her moods could not be predicted or controlled. Sometimes you could see a storm coming and if you knew the signs you could get out of the way somewhere safe and out of the way. But most of the time they hit without warning and you could only seek whatever cover was available when the moods were bad or glory in them when they were good. She was a natural force and we were merely...
We were merely.
That's all I remember. That's all I remember of that time. We moved from that place when I was about to turn five and with the new place came a new child. A little brother.
This one wasn't broken.
He had blond hair and blue eyes and he was as close to perfect as I was far from it. He was the first thing I ever loved. Besides the TV.
He was full of joy and wonderment right from the beginning and I had never seen anything like that. He was everything that I was afraid to be.
He changed our world.
He made it...
He made it lighter.
For a while there was happiness. A new place. A new child. A new life. The broken child still lingered in the empty places but we learned where those places were and we stayed away from them. For awhile. For a little while there was happiness.
I started school and found out there were other children even more frightened than me. I became a predator. I was large for my age and my size gave me great advantage. I struck out at these children who were weaker than me and I found courage in their fear of me. I hurt them and their pain gave me strength. It gave me power. I hunted them. I could smell their fear because I knew it so well I devoured them and became fat on their suffering.
I became the beast. I preyed upon the weak on the guileless.
My little brother beautiful and full of trust began to walk and I made him one of my victims. When my parents, who adored him as much as I did, caught me the punishment was always severe but it never stopped me. In fact it fueled my need to cause him pain. I ceased upon every opportunity developing almost perfect timing when it came to my parents' presence. I could slip in a punch or a kick when their heads were turned even for the briefest moments and maintain an expression on my face of angelic innocence. When I was caught I took my punishment with a shrug of my shoulders and a vow to hurt him even worse the next time.
My cruelty knew very few limits.
My father found me once jumping on my brother's back inside a darkened closet. He never cried out and never complained. My brother. My little brother. I accepted this and used it to my advantage. I learned to hurt him without leaving marks.
I was a very efficient predator.
I had learned to prey. Or to be preyed upon.
I preyed upon my bother and my classmates. And was preyed upon by those larger and stronger than me.
I was told that when I was very young I would hit my older sister at every opportunity and that, because of the difference in size, my mother wouldn't allow her to hit me back. Until one day I hit my sister in the head with a cast iron frying pan. From that point on my sister was allowed to hit me back. To hit me.
She took as much pleasure in victimizing me as I took in victimizing my brother. She was stronger then I was. And smarter. She hit me so hard once I lost my hearing for the rest of that day. She taught me how to steal. And to lie.
But for that little while after we left behind our fractured world or at least thought we did my sister's focus was on the new unbroken child and the new world around us and I was purely a predator.
For that little while.
For that little while...
There was happiness.
On a beautiful sunny summer day I took a cowboy outfit from a little boy who lived down the street. The outfit had shiny silver guns, a holster with studs and shiny buckles and tassels hanging off of it, and a shiny white hat with a silver sheriff's badge in the front. I hit the boy twice in the face and kicked him once as hard as I could. I left him there with blood running from his nose and went to the playground to show off my new outfit.
That was the end of my days as a predator.
The little boy had older brothers. Large older brothers. They beat me until I was bloody and then the largest one stomped on my hands with steel toed construction boots.
He'd seen that on TV.
I don't remember the pain. I do remember the fear. I didn't think they'd ever stop.
I never made a sound. I didn't cry out or ask them to stop even when they crushed my hands with those heavy boots. I don't know why.
I never made a sound.
When they were done with me they took the cowboy outfit and they walked away. Very quietly. I didn't move for a very long time. My mouth was filled with blood and I could feel spaces where they had knocked out my teeth. My hands began to swell up. They felt like balloons on the end of my arms. There was pain. There had to be. But I don't remember it.
I didn't move.
An old woman found me. Her breath smelled like rye bread. Soon there were police and ambulances and voices all around me. My mother was screaming at my father. His eyes met mine and I could see that he was very worried. I realized at that moment that he loved me even though he didn't ever show it in obvious ways and I felt sorry for him.
For loving me.
I wanted to tell him that I was okay.
I opened my mouth to speak and blood came pouring out.
The attendants put me in the ambulance. One of them spoke to me and I looked at him without understanding what he was saying to me. He looked very worried.
So many people worried.
I remember most that I was sorry they took the hat. I was going to miss that hat. White with that silver badge on the front. I was sorry they took that hat.
I spent a very long time in the hospital. The nurses were nice to me. They liked that I was so quiet and that I never asked for anything.
They told my mother that I was the best patient they ever had.
I didn't want to leave. The hospital was a good place. It was very safe.
I had to learn to use my hands all over again. They were broken.
Fractured. Useless. Nothing was simple anymore. I couldn't get them to do any of the things that I had taken for granted before. They were numb and heavy like poor imitations of the things they looked so much like.
They weren't my hands anymore. They were...
They did not belong to me.
The doctors said my hands would always be that way. They would never again work the way they had.
I walked around with these dead things bundled up in bandages hanging uselessly at the end of my arms for weeks. Weeks that never ended. And when the bandages were removed the hands that were revealed were misshapen and gray.
I had to learn to move through life without the use of my hands.
Unable to grasp the world around me I pushed it away with all of my remaining strength. I could see the pity in the eyes of those around me as they watched me struggle with even the most minor of tasks and I hated them for it.
I withdrew into a safe self made world where I had complete control where I was the only judge of what was right and what was normal.
There was no happiness then.
There was only numbness and silence.
Without hands that I could make into fists I could longer be a bully. I became a victim. The fear that was always in me could no longer be tamed by preying on those weaker than me because I was the weakest being in my world. Without hands that I could make into fists I was a victim. I was prey.
I was prey.
Only when I was alone was I safe. Away from the world in my room or in the woods in dark places where no one else went I could almost forget that I was broken and I could dream myself whole. For those small moments when I was completely alone.
When I was completely alone.
My life existed I existed only in isolation.
There is a spot on the ceiling above me.
If I stare at it long enough it changes shapes. Sometimes it's an old rusty claw hammer. Sometimes it's the head of a dog, ears back and ready to attack. And sometimes it's a tree after a summer storm.
Sometimes, when I've been staring at it for a very long time it becomes all three things at once and I can actually hear it shifting shapes.
I can close my eyes and still see the spot see it's ever changing shape and when I open my eyes it's still there exactly the way I see it in my head.
The spot and I are going nowhere. We have reached our final destination.
We have reached our final destination.
I stare at the spot I stare at it with all of the energy I have left in me and it changes. It changes from what I thought it was to something else.
And I continue to stare at it.
It is a small spot. A very small spot. But when I stare at it for a very long time grows until it is large much larger than me and it is going to swallow me. It is going to swallow me and it will swallow all of my colour all of the colour in me and around me and smother it compress it down until all of the colour has been crushed and there is nothing left of me of the world I am in but black and gray. I will become the spot become it's colors and I will have it's thoughts it's lack of thoughts and I will have it's hunger.
The spot is hungry.
For color. For life. For death. For me.
And I am hungry. I have always been.
My hunger defines me. It defined me. It made up what I was who I am. It defines me. It controls me. It...
My hunger is who I am.
I have always been hungry. As a child I can remember how hungry I always was. I can remember that as a child I looked at the world with the eyes of the hungry. I was always hungry. For food. For safety. For heat. For love. For touch.
For the future.
And the spot like me is always hungry.
I stare at it and I stare at it and I can taste the thing's hunger.
I can feel it on my skin like the breath of something wild and unconfined.
I can feel its hunger.
I can feel its hunger.
To be continued...
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