Endlessly rotting me away,
Leaving me in ruin.
I drag myself out of bed and walk to the closet door. Hanging there is my own harrowed image: green, sallow, and gaunt. With stick-thin fingers, the zombie traces its features, running them through every line from its forehead to its cheeks to its mouth. It reaches its lips, and I feel a tug on my own, pulling on either end. The weak, fragile forces pull them apart, stretching into a gruesome grin. The skeleton smiles, mocking me to the very end. Rage boils inside me, and I cock a fist back.
Glass shatters. Blood splatters. Claws grasp my face, scratching at my lips. They paint two red lines from my mouth to my ears. I look at the splintered monster in the mirror, and death earnestly smiles back.
I lie not just beneath his shadow
But under those binding white cypresses.
Insecure and afraid.
“What the hell was that?” a familiar face shrieks. I look up with glazed eyes at the crone well into her years. She is just as beaten and weathered as I am, but something is emptier about her. Disgust washes over me just as I know it rises in her, and I can’t help but laugh at the stupidity of it all. For a moment, I see fear in her eyes, and a savage pleasure fills me. I hate her for what she and I are, for what she hasn’t done. Then, she snarls.
“Your brother would have never acted like this.”
And I recoil. I see the glory in her eyes, and I snap. I grab a shard of the mirror and hurl it at the wall beside her where it explodes into billions of starry specks. The crone I once called my mother jumps away in surprise and scurries out the door like a rat. I get up and slam the door shut, rocking it clean off its hinges once again. With an enraged roar, I grab the wooden panel and toss it to the side. All of it is wrong. The world is wrong. It has all wronged me.
I turn around, yanking another door to lead myself into the bathroom. I open the cabinet behind another mirror and find my sweet release. Then, I walk into the shower. Within seconds, scraggly hair turns moppy, and my feet plant themselves in transparent red. I remain there, motionless for several minutes. Then, once my feet bathe in clean water once more, I step out and head downstairs.
It is not fire burning in his eyes,
But never-ending explosions.
He is arrogant.
He is confident.
He is proud.
“Took you long enough,” he says playfully as I seat myself. “I was getting worried you’d drowned.”
“Shut up, Joey,” I mutter. I pick up a relatively clean spoon and start to dig into my bowl of cereal before I realize that it is empty.
“Sorry, I had the last of it. Mom forgot to get more. You can keep the toy though,” Joey says jovially. I sigh and give him a look before shoving the utensil away. Within a quarter-minute, my bag is around my shoulders, and I am out the door. Joey comes chasing after me.
“Hey, how many times have I told you to eat breakfast?” he admonishes.
“I’m not that hungry.”
“Bull,” he snorts. “Wait right here, and I’ll get you a cereal bar or something.”
He is everything I have ever wanted to be.
He is everything I have ever feared.
He is everything I have ever hated.
I pause for a moment, weighing my options. As soon as he disappears from sight, I run off. I’m not in the mood for company after this morning. It’s too much for me, and I need to calm down. Instead of continuing straight for school, I hang a right. Dashing nearly mindlessly, I head for my one solace. Past the imperfect clones around me, past their imperfect clone residences. I break free of the neighborhood and keep on my left. I run and run on until I find myself panting, forced to a crawl of a walk. I am back amongst clones, but they are not as prevalent. Their residences grin with empty driveways. I check my watch and realize that I’ve been running for nearly a half hour. My arms droop forward like paws. I am unable to bring them up. Nausea bubbles in my throat like hot acid. I feel the burn rise, and I retch gray saliva into gray grass. Tiny white reason remembers that I hadn’t consumed anything last night. Once my stomach finishes its empty upheaval, I stand up, wiping away excess fluids from the corner of my lips. Then, I begin the rest of the long trek to my destination.
It takes me a while, what with the condition of my body. Traveling down St. Johnland takes up another fifteen minutes. The dead, broken, gray-brown trees dominate the land as crumbly, brown leaves bow at their feet. I shuffle through the mess as a car whooshes past. The driver blares her horn loudly for me to get off the road, but I pay her no mind. This roadway is seldom used, so I can afford to be cavalier with my steps.
Finally, the narrow, rickety road opens up into a six-way intersection. This area, too, is devoid of life. The woman who’d sped past me is long gone, presumably somewhere farther along St. Johnland. I, however, make a left turn to the path down to my destination. At first, the red apartment-style complex is completely covered by bony branches, but as I round the corner, it comes into full view in all its glory. Cold light transfused by shaded clouds reflects off the some five hundred front windows, making them gleam white. Those five hundred milky white eyes blindly gaze at me. There is no life in them; there hasn’t been in about nineteen years. Once I reach the fence covering the entrance, I breathe out a sigh of relief and, for a moment, stand stock-still. Then, I jog past the side, through the trees. They have grown a bit since the last time I was here, and I crawl under the tumbling branches to find the one shattered window. I manage to squeeze through the broken window bars inside and gingerly stand up on the other side.
I’ve once again entered the Psych Center.