Imagine the blow to my fragile ego the day that I found out; that just because I’m paranoid meant nothing more than that.
I was paranoid.
The lights that flashed around the bend were only there to guide me; not run me in the ditch. The shellshock helmet on my head squeezed tighter than any itch.
I was stymied by a world that never had it out for me in the first place.
Turned out my misfortune was all my own creation. Turned out my enemy was the reflection in the jailhouse mirror.
All the insights I thought would free me, were chains that held me there. And all the things that I thought would hurt me blew as wisps of air.
Perhaps too much time in dark corners made me comfortable with blindness. Perhaps the lack of sun was the reason behind my sickness. Because it turned out there were no aliens or government corruption. Turned out the only one spying on me was the most subjective one of all.
But he had the most valuable insight! you might say. And that might be a lie.
Not to say that the end of days isn’t slowly creeping nigh; this world can sustain only so much pain before she decides to die.
But imagine the load of carrying it on your shoulders. The weight of the future of all mankind because your rigid fingers slipped inside some slippery scorching panties. Because God didn’t whisper in your ear at night. Fundamental religions aren’t always about brimstone and handling snakes. They will teach you fear and they will teach you piety, no doubt. But they will also stack the stones high on your back.
Until your spine must crack.
Chemicals are there, too, a steady stream of hallucination; piebald irises and quivering fingers that seek cessation. How could I have expected to see any sky when clouds were my favorite shape? And violent answers to no questions asked, those were the kneejerk reaction. Yes, I know misfortune was a jailhouse I created myself.
I was paranoid.
There were no family conspiracies, no diabolical plots. Only reactions to loud noises. Self-defense mechanisms from those with the same blood in their veins. I can hear their whispers, he’s at it again, he’s at it again… is that a shovel he’s picking up?
Who wouldn’t talk behind your back when they can’t talk to your face? Where do you expect them to talk?
Turned out the only director of the play was chaos. And he wore a mask named Friend.
Crawling out of a dusky maze and free of perpetual haze; the chains that always bound me are clanking behind in pain. They miss the warmth of flesh; they miss the cries of disdain. But the further I move away as a slug in a trail of salt; I can see and feel warm light ahead and universal gestalt. I know the sum of the whole is greater than its parts.
To walk this path and come out unscathed would be the greatest sin. To look into the sun and be blinded, immersion in its pure beauty, is worth the price of admission. And what did I pay anyway?
I know that my misfortune was no one else’s fault.
I was paranoid.
But it turned out not to be a bad thing.
Based in the piney woods of East Texas, pbbr is a founding member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective. He is a technical writer by trade and the author of “The Scale of Savages” under the pen name Patrick Brendhan, available on Amazon.