There’s a therapy where you write the truth on a piece of paper, read it out loud, and then burn the pages. This ridiculous activity is supposed to help people who keep secrets for a living find some measure of peace. Releasing your burdens to the universe is a last ditch effort and burning something so charged with energy is a terrible idea, but I’ve been told this exercise might help me.
I want the help. I want to feel something other than isolation and panic. Sadly, I don’t know what lie to start with. My life is built upon layers of fiction. Some lies kept those close to me comfortable by hiding my uncommon abilities. I’ve never told my someone's about all of my talents. I doubt they would have cleared me for field work. You know the Someones, go talk to Someone, go see Someone, go find Someone. My Someone is almost always lied to.
It would be easier to lie now. I could paint myself in a better light with lovely words and happy descriptions of my ideal life. I’m not an evil person. I don’t hunt people for sport or light puppies on fire to keep warm, but there is darkness in my life.
Early on I was encouraged to embrace my talents, use my darkness for a higher purpose. As with most good intentions, this higher path led me straight to hell. Accepting my situation once I arrived there took more strength than I could spare. Eventually, disgusted with myself and tired of the constant depravity, I orchestrated an escape. I intended this exit to be a one-way trip, permanent and final in every way. It was death without actually dying so I didn’t leave myself a way back. For God and Country, I have done unspeakable things. I wanted to forget.
I should lie. Writing these things down is a stupid idea. Omitting the beginning of my life does make things easier for me. The middle was less painful than the beginning. The end I have seen a few times. Hopefully, it doesn’t play out like I think it will, but with my luck, who knows.
By the way, you can’t tell people you have seen the end of your own life or theirs for that matter. The various Someones will put you in a padded room for 72 hours. There is a long list of things you can’t tell other people without earning a special three-day vacation.
Demon, angel, witch, and fraud. I don’t like labels, but they make the common man more comfortable. Have you ever met a common man? I haven’t, maybe that’s my problem. I’ve been trying too hard to make uncommon men comfortable.
Recently, I taught myself to drink. A tall glass of cognac watered down with pineapple juice and sparkly ice cubes should help unearth my deeply buried secrets. Don’t judge; vitamin C is helpful for so many things and the liquor keeps all my voices quiet for hours.
Yes, the middle is a safe place to start. I will try to be truthful. Having lied for so long truthful words feel naked and unwashed on my tongue. It’s not like anyone will read this and know this story is mine. Everyone affected is dead or would have the good sense not to claim me.
One day stands out to me. It separates what came before from what happened after. Everything was hectic and angry. A tall shadow blocked the light and stopped me in my tracks. A sharp sting spread across my face and blocked my sight. There was the feeling of falling and the smell of the floor once I stopped. There was pain and then there was nothing. This sequence unlocked a vault in my mind where I had buried my truth.
The beating was seen as a tragedy but really it was a birthday for me. Instead of cake and gifts, I received a key. The clang of metal chain on metal pipe whispered to me from a nearby parking lot. The sound unlocked a single morsel of information I was unwilling to forget.
Part of my great escape cost me the memories of my past. I willingly agreed to have my brain sliced apart in favor of a common, simple life. I cried and begged the universe for it so often I’m sure it was sick of hearing from me. There would have been no way to live in the ignorant bliss I longed for if I knew any part of the truth.
I believe fate manipulated the wind that day. She slapped one metal object against another, in a parking lot, a hundred feet away from my battered body. Over the noise of struggle and violence all around me, my ears filtered out the slow rhythmic ting. The ghostly sound transported me to a schoolyard I hadn't seen in decades.
The tetherball chains sing the same mournful song when the breeze brushes them against their metal poles. My red Schwinn bike zipped and hummed as I peddled across the hot blacktop. I could smell the tar and dirty sand melting in the sun. I rode around the swings, alongside the monkey bars, and through the hallways. By the time I reached the big grassy field my threadbare memories had stitched themselves back together. The sight of this place was tattooed on my brain for good reason. This was where I first disobeyed the rules. Never tell what you can do, never show anyone proof, and for God sakes, Cally baby never hurt anyone.
I was so happy to have mastered a new set of multiplication tables. The trick to the 9’s had been revealed to me by my Grandmother the night before. One times nine is nine, two times nine is eighteen, three times nine is twenty-seven. Zero plus nine is nine, one plus eight is nine, two plus seven is nine. The pattern clicked inside my juvenile brain and the world was beautiful and full of possibilities again.
That next morning, standing at the edge of the teacher’s desk, with the whole class watching, I rattled off the list like I was reciting the alphabet. The teacher smiled and offered me a reward from her cardboard pirate's chest of trinkets. I selected a fragile spinning butterfly made of balsa wood. It was purple with blue and gold accents painted on its wings. As the toy spun the bright colors melted into a mesmerizing blur. I felt so relieved to be rid of the torture this multiplication table held for me. I sat at my desk, twirled the toy and stared at the colors oblivious to my surroundings.
The recess bell rang out and the room full of children were let loose. I carefully placed my new prize on the corner of my desk, next to my perfectly sharpened number 2 pencil and waited for my turn to exit the aisle. Charity shuffled past my desk, grabbed my prize, and ran out the door towards the playground. Startled, shocked and furious. My tight grip on civility let loose.
We called them mist buddies at home, but I suppose my first poltergeist manifestation was eager to stretch its legs. I was not allowed to play with it away from home, but home recently changed. I was living with my Grandmother now. There was no place in her house for my mist buddy. I was trying so hard to be calm and quiet and keep every thought right where it should be. The mist slipped out of me like a loud burp in a silent room.
Honestly, I was so angry with Charity that I could have wrung her fat neck with my tiny hands. But I didn’t. I sent my invisible friend after her instead. I could feel the hateful process begin but I didn’t try to stop it. My anger and will to harm my rotten classmate coalesced into a molten, black mass that I condensed and fed in the pit of my chest. I shot the hateful mass at Charity’s back like a ball from a cannon.
There were several points along this path where I could have stopped myself but I wanted to hurt her. I didn’t want to meditate. I didn’t want to recite affirmations or envision her bathed in brilliant white light. I didn’t want to forgive her. I wanted to kill her.
I ran after the dark shadow that chased Charity. I was terrified someone would see the dark shadow and know what I had done. Era, was another of my invisible friends; I had four of them, but only she traveled with me to school and dance class. My mother stopped calling them imaginary after I showed all of them to her. She asked me why I kept insisting that they were real. As the old saying goes, don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to.
Era bolted ahead of me and stood between the nasty child and my dark mist buddy. “Run faster baby girl; it’s going to hurt her.” Era’s voice boomed in the air. She was so loud; I was certain everyone on the playground could hear her.
Several children saw Charity snatch the toy from my desk; they were following behind me like strings on a kite. Charity and my dark mist were twirling in circles out in farthest part of the grass field. I could see the sweat beads form on her freckled forehead. The dark mist was forcing her to twirl faster and faster. Her pudgy legs pounded her feet into the ground so hard that she was starting to cry from the pain and the deep sorrow possession creates.
“Stop now!” I pleaded in my mind.
My mist buddy floated close to my chest. The shadow that was blocking out the sun faded from view. It was ready to return to where ever it lived. I asked it to go home. That was my second mistake. I asked. I should have commanded.
The plump girl tossed my toy to the groundbreaking the butterfly’s wooden wings in half. I hate you shot out from the pit of my stomach as I retrieved the pieces from the grass. Charity was crying and gasping for air as she stumbled away from the gathering of frenzied children. She looked terrified and confused. I imagine she couldn’t put a name to the cruelty she experienced but the way she looked at me. I never wanted to see that look from anyone again.
A dove flew overhead and dropped out of the sky as if it had hit a pane of glass floating high above us. The yelling and twirling children started kicking the dove, and then they stomped on the dying animal. There was a frenzy of screaming and running and jumping all around me. My mist buddy was enjoying the feast of energy. It was no longer controlled by me.
Era pulled me back from the mob of tiny screaming bodies, and we stood together watching the carnage. This mist was mine, not like a pet I loved or a toy I owned. It was of me, for me and made by me. I had lost control of it completely. The terror I felt at that moment was hot and nauseating. Someone was going to find out what I had done and I would be taken away just like my mother had warned me.
The children's shoes were smeared with blood, covered with dirt and grass. The dove’s wings had broken off its body, and the feathers were trying to escape in the wind. The bird’s mass mixed with the dirt leaving behind a red pile of mud, bones, and feathers in the center of the screaming children. Two girls yanked the bows off their pretty braids and tossed them in the pile of bird and dirt. With their hair wild and long they looked like banshees screaming to usher in the next gruesome death.
A yard duty lady came running up to the mob of children. She pulled the two unhinged girls away from the group by their little arms, and they began to sob and point at the pile of bloody bird confetti. Several of the boys stopped to look at the ground and their shoes. They slowly backed away from the mess as if they were waking from a dream. Thankfully the woman had broken their trance. She asked me what happened, pointing to the pile of feathers.
“I don’t know Miss Evans, but it’s awful. Look what they did to that poor bird.” I looked past her at the sun and made my eyes water. This looked bad and I knew the response I was expected to show.
This fiasco was all my doing. I let myself get angry and then I sent my mist buddy to kill my classmate. I couldn’t tell anyone that, not even my increasingly accepting mother could know what I had done. She blamed my odd talents on interference from past lives, imbalanced chakras, and sugary breakfast cereals. Past lives entered my dreams nightly. The sugar was yummy but the P.K. was all me.
I named the mist Fluff when I was five. I thought it lived in my purple stuffed kitty that bore the same name, but it didn’t. It lived in the thin space between my rage and my compassion. This was my first solitary lie. One burden I have kept to myself all these years. It does feel strangely freeing to write these things down. It may be the cognac, but I think this ridiculous idea might help me after all.
I’m sure my mother hoped my peculiar talents would vanish once I hit puberty, but instead they became more refined. Energy was something I could see eventually it became something I could manipulate.
How dangerous would you be with an extra talent? It’s one thing to be good at playing the piano or solving math problems quickly in your head, but this was nothing like that. You can’t brag about manifesting a soulless being or about knowing what people have touched well after they had left the room.
Now imagine you would willingly block that talent and all that comes with it. Decades of my life were spent learning how to control my abilities and how to hide them. I willingly shredded that knowledge and tossed it behind me, then I prayed it would never find me again.
The day it all went sideways started out like any Monday. Only I had no idea this was the last day I’d see the home we remodeled room by room or the last day I would speed to work in my green Volvo hatchback. I took for granted so many blissfully normal things I didn’t know I could miss.
I fought hard to have a normal life, and if I’m honest I was content but bored out of my mind. I thought this was just the way my life was meant to be. I was a restless soul.
The first journey towards Hell is easy. One quick step is followed by another until you find yourself in the middle of the flames. The road back was entirely different.