The Weight of Shadows


There I was, staggering down Merryweather street (ironic, I know), in the downpour of the century. Tears ran like a faucet from my heavily make-upped eyes, pooling in big, dark mascara puddles on my cheek bones. I looked like I had just clawed my way out of a grave. Perhaps I had, it sure felt like it. My clothes were array, and I had lost a shoe in the process. My knees were bleeding, as were my elbows, but otherwise there was no visible damage. It sure as hell left a stain on my thoughts, however. The kind of stain that water can't wash away.

Few people were out on the street, mostly drunk college boys, out to spill their guts. Literally. I inched past one of them, who lay sprawled like a old, tired dog in a gutter outside of a club called Spice 'n' Heat. Upon hearing the thumping music coming from oversized speakers inside, the sound of people dancing, moshing, grinding, I reluctantly looked down at my fake ID that I grasped lightly in my hand as if it were a razorblade, ready to slice at the slightest movement of my fingers. At that moment, I wanted to attack it, to cut it, to damage it.. as if it were the one to blame for what had happened.

I was the one to blame. My fault. Bad me, bad, bad, bad me. How could I let this happen. Why couldn't I have...?

My mind began racing with scoldings for myself, reasons why it was my fault, reprimands, finger shaking... this made the tears fall faster, harder, more. A song began to play in my head... 'It started out with a kiss, how did it end up like this? It was only a kiss. It was only a kiss!' The Killers... I would never perceive them the same again. Never. My head spun wildly... it resembled a carnival ride.

Where the hell were all the phone booths? It seems that before you couldn't walk down the street without running into one, but here they were no where to be found. I wanted to scream. I wanted to die. I wanted another chance. A do-over. A time machine. Something other than this. I couldn't speak... my tongue was weighed down with something. A drug, maybe. Ketamine... one of those drugs they talked about in sex-ed. Maybe it was weighed down with regret.

There! I see a phone booth. It's only a minute or two away. Or so I think. I begin to run towards it, stumbling over my own feet to get to it. My hand is outstretched, ready to grasp the germ infested telephone that might be my ticket away from here.

Although I run, I gain no ground. My legs are melting into the concrete, like butter on a skillet. The whole lower half of my body is a puddle. I try to scream, but I choke on my words. I feel a tap on my shoulder. Strong hands. Cologne. Beer breathe. Whimper, whimper. No!

I jerked in my bed, startling my mother, who had her hand on my shoulder, obviously trying to comfort me. I was sweating, a cold, deep sweat. One that came from within. From the soul. My throat was sore.

"Honey, you were screaming!" She bellowed, as she moved her hand away from my shoulder, and picked up a mug. I knew it was tea from the little paper tag connected to string that fluttered on the side of the cup, part of a teabag.

"I was...? Again?" I croaked, lying. I knew I had been screaming. This happened about once every two weeks. I could tell my mother was sick of it. But she always continued to carry on the ritual:

Wake up the screaming child.
"Honey, is there anything you need to talk about?" "No mom, just a nightmare. That ghost one again.."
Kiss goodnight.
Turn off lights.
Close door.
Go back to bed.

Same-old, same-old. Yet it never seems to help. She's afraid that if she mentions counseling I will think she thinks I am crazy. But she doesn't know why I am afraid. I haven't told her. I haven't told anybody. I can't. I feel like the kid you see in the schoolyard, crying, and everyone wonders why. Why is she sad? What happened to her? But she will never tell.