I lost count of the days. The only thing I know, is I’m truly alone. Not the alone feeling you have when the house has been empty for the weekend. Alone down to your bones where you don’t recall your last deep conversation. The type where you feel the person really understood you. As much as I had thought James never did, maybe he did enough to not make me miss that human connection. Now, I missed that human connection.
It’s how I wanted though, alone for a year was inching closer and I seemed to begin counting down the days. I had begun working out in my mind how to request a divorce without having to return. How to get my belongings and move on from James then I would need to work on getting Sadie back, getting a new job and starting over since I had ruined everything I once had.
Now, just as I had wanted it, I am alone and it’s Christmas morning. I would be lying if I said I wanted to be happily sitting at a family’s house but a friend to day drink with at least would be sufficient. I have not spoken to any family member in weeks, I did not bother asking Matt if Sadie would come visit for Christmas since my self induced depression seemed to slip further. To keep my pride intact, I am carrying this through. Even with the calendar on the wall with black x’s through the days I have trudged through.
I am back staying in a hotel. After the rainy season staying at Doris’ B&B, she asked me as kindly as she could last month to vacate. Christmas is a busy time of year for her. Not me. I didn’t even need to buy gifts (I wouldn’t afford any anyway, not with the lower side of fourteen thousand in my bank.) It’s been raining and threatening snow so, it goes without saying that camping is out of the question. I have positioned myself in a decent hotel but refuse to pay the extra $5 per day for television, probably better off anyway; it sucks your life away. I even went so far as moving the TV from the center of the room, it’s sitting in the closet. Facing the wall.
My room, cold, bare and unfriendly. I have a single bed, one lounger chair, an empty TV stand, a stained toilet and a rusted shower. I am blessed to have a refrigerator that hardly keeps a can of pop cold and refuses to fit more than three cans at a time. Communal showers are attached to the laundry room and I learnt the hard way of attempting to shower while one washing machine was running.
The groundskeeper was sure to tell me to lock my door every night but of course there’s a trick to the key and it makes it near impossible to lock the door without body slamming the thing. He, himself made me give that extra kick to lock the door. The way his eye lingered too long, his hands shook too much. Like the Bates Motel, it is a room centered in the middle of a row of rooms. Ten in total that bend at my room to form an L. I can see both ways up the street and I can see the front door of the linger eyed man’s office.
I cringe he opens his door and strides directly to my room. I shudder before I answered the insistent knock and roll my eyes when it’s a simple query of, “is the heat too high? We can’t afford too much heat.”
He brought me coffee once, I dumped it. My paranoia telling me ketamine had found it’s way into the black stank tar. I did, however, appreciate the leftover newspaper he offered every other day. That, I always opened the door for. Ketamine can’t absorb through your palms.
I can’t even find the will to peel myself out of bed. My laptop is open and sitting next to me, yesterday I didn’t care what day it was. Now, with the large 25th of December flashing on my screen, I couldn’t chew back my sobs anymore.
I am alone. I wake up alone, I spend my day alone and I go to sleep alone. There’s no joy in grocery shopping for yourself, not when it used to be for a family household. I used to gain a strange thrill of returning home with bags and bags of food, Sadie and James helped put away the groceries. As if each bag were a gift to open and explore. Simple snacks, treats that James would stash in the back of the cabinet in hopes Sadie wouldn’t eat them first. Now, I would walk blindly down the isles and buy the smallest packages possible. Too many nights I have eaten cereal for dinner. It’s no longer a hobby, it’s now just a necessity.
I look at my wrists and think this would be the ideal time to commit suicide. The room is empty, there is no one to scare or upset. That’s what I always wanted wasn’t it, solace and promise my children were safe.
Only God knows I considered it, how easy it would have been to turn the steering wheel hard to the left. To end up in front of that semi-truck. Simply close my eyes and allow my world to slow.
It’s not that I’m depressed, or even suicidal. My life is not that bad, it never has been. Middle class since birth, even my husband has up-kept that life style. Those factors don’t stop the consideration. What if? What if I just put an end to my misery, my problems would go away. It would only be the beginning really, for my family. For my friends, scarce as they are, I know the love is still genuine.
The way my daughter can hear a slight sob from another room and before the tears dampen my shirt, she is off her bed and down the hallway. Throwing herself into my lap. Her soft warm hands on my cheeks, “Mom, what’s wrong?”. She cuddles to my chest, I stare at her feet and silently wish she were just 40 pounds again. Now over 100 pounds, her green eyes dig into my soul and soothe something so deep its unreal.
The tears I shed are for passing on these insecurities to my children. To hear my son say he’s stressed, depressed, anxious. Struggling with school and social problems. My daughter asking for pills to help her, they are all doomed. It’s my fault, passing on these tampered genes.
I shake the thoughts from my head, look up from my wrists and pick up a book instead. These are just thoughts and with any thoughts, they can be changed.
Stephen King novels are a comfort and distract me from almost anything. Even after reading a novel that is not very well written, picking up Bag of Bones is like an old friend, the shoes that are already worn to your feet. A warm blanket, like my daughter’s hands on my cheeks. Wiping away my tears and reassuring me. I can’t help but have wandering thoughts. The silence is shattering.
I wonder if James is happy, I think I should call him some days. I wonder if he’s sitting at home or a pub picking up local girls. I stopped calling my Mother, she only has negative things to say to me. She disapproves what I am doing, I reassure her that Sadie is safe with her Father and having a blast living with him. If nothing else maybe this is what it was meant to do, bring Sadie closer to her Dad.
Sadie called me, I mean it is Christmas Day. She told me how beautiful I am. How much she misses me and loves me. The question she truly wanted to ask me though is if she could meet up with me to smoke weed. She hadn’t tried it yet and wanted to do it with me for her first time. I was so flustered on the phone I had to call her back after composing my response. I was flattered really, that she wanted to try smoking weed with me, but I had to explain it’s not really my thing. For the most part me and marijuana do not mix well and I wouldn’t feel right partaking in my daughters first experience when I didn’t truly want her to try it at all. I was flattered though.
I wandered most of the day, tried to find somewhere for an adventure but everything was closed. The cafes were closed, the convenience stores closed. I’m miss world, I sang to myself; kill me please.
Thankfully the theaters were still open, and I found myself there. Standing in line behind two other lonely patrons. I glanced nervously around as if expecting to see someone I knew. Pretending I would have friends show any minute. I even bought two pop at the concession.
I watched the Justice League in theaters, by myself. That was a new all-time low. I had been out for dinner numerous times, been to the bar and even gotten drunk by myself at that point, but a solo movie date night was a new one. I was drawn to the movie, I had grown with the Wonder Woman comics, Batman movies, and the Flash action figures. I filled my void of family with popcorn, French fries and skittles. Getting up out of the movie several times when the snacks ran out. Drowning my sorrows with sugar and salt.
I sat, still as a stone, allowing the food to dissolve in my mouth. Suddenly self conscience of how thin my cheeks were. The whole theater quiet and I was positive the lady three chairs down glared at me every time a new skittle hit my tongue. I soaked the fries in my mouth until they turned to mush and slithered down my throat before I gave up entirely and retired them to the floor along with the two-day old stick and rip on my shoes. I felt my head was too large, possibly blocking the man behind my view, but he was too polite to say a word. The fight scenes were the worst, I saw myself seemingly from someone else’s vision, looking around the theater. Thinking, why was everyone so quiet. Maybe I had been drugged. A few times I willed myself to not jump and run from the theater in tears and eventually the appearance of Wonder Woman kept me in my seat.
I regretted not bringing my passport, I could have easily jumped onto a plane and traveled the USA. The movie made me want something grand, excitement coursed through my veins, nervousness made me want to run screaming but loneliness held me in place. It was an overwhelming feeling and I ended up stuffing my mouth so full of skittles that my cheeks bulged as they melted on my tongue.
I seek normality and a Monday to Friday job is the top of the list of normal. Selling a book would give me some level of fame, bring friends to me. My novel is complete, I have sent a few emails to agents but have heard no reply. Which adds to the down swing of my mood. I had expected more of myself, maybe a depression is leaking in.
I considered at one point, seeing a doctor. Maybe I needed some medication to ease off the darkness that was creeping in. Self induced or not, it was leaking in the corners. Making my edges blacken and threaten to die as a flame run out of propellant.
It was how I felt with the walls around me, the darkness of the theater hid my irrational fear but there was something in the depths of that. A truth I had yet to explore and it crept in anyway.
We had the step-children up for Christmas, piled into the truck and went on an adventure to seek the biggest Christmas tree we could find.
The drive was long, sketchy and at a few times, too loud. Causing my anxiety to spike through the roof which put me on edge. Just waiting for something to set me off. The kids in the back seat played their games and laughed and talked. James was getting angry since we had been driving for so long and had yet to find a tree.
That’s when we had turned the corner and I saw it. The most beautiful Charlie Brown Christmas Tree in the world. It’s branches smiled upward toward the crystalline blue sky. The pine trees in the background were the black landscape to make the emerald of this gem stand out to me.
I pointed it out, James pulled over and examined the tree. Stating it was too scrawny, too skinny and pathetic looking.
“It’s perfect!” I had exclaimed.
“It’s crap and you know it,” he had retorted before clambering back into the truck.
“You only say that because it’s the one I want.”
“That’s the stupidest thing I have ever heard, why do you say such stupid things?” Were his parting words before he clambered back into the truck and slammed the door.
The rest of the tree hunt was silent and the tree was purchased from Canadian Tire the next day.
That was not the problem. The problem was that I stared out the window for the remainder of the truck ride since I was so bitter about not receiving the tree that I wanted. The kids had fallen quiet since James had turned the music off and just like that, with not a word spoken, our evening was ruined. Our adventure as a family was ruined and the Christmas tree left a bitter taste in everyone’s eggnog.
It seemed the darkness of the theater melted away and I could hear clearly the words James had said, I could see clearly the way I had reacted. Over reacted. In retrospect, I could not say who was at fault, what I do know is that I sit alone today, on Christmas Day. Without even a chance to over analyze a stupid comment.
My anxiety, over active imagination and stress had plagued me enough. It forced me to feel secluded even when I sat next to people. How badly I wanted to shake them, how I questioned what I had done in the past to end in such misery. Misery created in my own mind, invisible to others. My husband is a natural born hunter, and that’s what he did with me. Preyed on my weakness, which was insecurities intertwined with an imagination that created fantasy worlds to put on paper. It was a dangerous combination and who really paid for it in the end?
I understood what was happening in my mind, to an extent. I understood when I was stressed, anxious, scared or sad but I hid it so well that others did not. So when they approached with a simple request and I would cause the fall out? Who was that on really?
I gathered the remainder of my snack food and headed for the exit before the credits rolled. Actually it was in the middle of the fight scene since I really needed to sit in the bathroom stall and cry before I loaded a bus home. If there was even buses running on Christmas Day. Every at home, in front of their beautifully decorated trees with their families. That had picked out even the worst looking tree but they made it work, they made it perfect.
After my soul cleansing cry, and an hour wait at the bus stop, I walked. It was cold and I was emotionally spent and ready to run further from myself. At my hotel, I packed my belongings, had a quick shower and dropped the cooler, sleeping bags and blankets back off at the thrift store. Their doors were locked boasting a sign, ‘Home for the Holidays’. I left the supplies at the front door and, with not having the funds to afford a hundred dollar taxi, began my walk to Nanaimo.
I was back down to just my suitcase, purse and laptop bag. That alone seemed too many belongings however, as I walked through downtown core of Parksville and realized everything was closed. I only glanced down the street were my favorite Café and woman of mystery resided. I knew full well it too was closed and I had not dared to venture back since her birthday goodbye to me. To walk from one end of town to the next took me over an hour and evaporated all my energy. The weather was okay, not snowing or raining but the clouds had over taken the sky. Leaving no sun to warm me as I walked, I reluctantly popped my thumb up once I was out of city limits. I knew Nanaimo was not a far drive, and surely serial killers were at home too.
A vehicle slowed, my heart thumped as I hurried to the passenger door. There’s no going back once you open the door, “here ya headed Hun?” the woman’s voice sounded a pack of cigarettes too much raspy. My legs wobbled, my knees sweat even in the cool air and I didn’t care that she was in a rapist van. She had a bumper sticker that said vegan, voter and vagina. That was good enough for me.
“Oh darling, that’s not far at all, jump in”
I smiled graciously as I piled the stacks of paper from the passenger seat neatly onto the center console. Climbed in and positioned my bag between my legs. The back was full of potted plants and from the smell I think it was pot. A sleeping bag rolled up behind her seat and bundles of yarn rolled around.
“Thank you,” I smiled and tried to breath through my mouth without being obvious. The dirt and plant smell was over powering, I might never make it through airport security riding with her. “Merry Christmas.”
She nodded and turned the music up, apparently this would not be a chatty drive. The bags under her eyes told me stress, maybe even the same level I had to deal with. I resorted to looking out my own window, with a smile on my face. Her matted hair hid if she were at least smiling but I didn’t allow that to affect my mood. This would be a new me, I alone would decide what affected my mood.
The airport was empty, the ticket was expensive. I guess Christmas Day purchases were not the cheapest, they were potentially the most expensive! My funds dropped dramatically but care rolled off my shoulders easily. It would take four and a half hours to fly to Toronto, I had never been anywhere on the East coast in my life. The anticipation was immense, and I walked through a daze of security, loading and take off. I must have slept through most of the flight too since it felt all too soon that I had my face peeled to window waiting to land.
This made me feel really free.
“Ma’am, you need to put your tray table up,” the stewardess lingered in the path of the plane, nodded toward my open cream table. I had been so grateful to have the two seats to myself I hadn’t realized how messy I had become. Open bags of chips, Diet Pepsi, a reading book, pen and paper for sudden notes for a second novel were all over the seat and tray table.
“Oh, we’re landing soon!” I exclaimed and pulled my feet off the seat next to me. Re-positioned the belongings into my over sized purse.
“No, not quite. The pilot just anticipates some turbulence coming up.”
“Oh? Turbulence?” I glanced around the plane, no one seemed concerned but my blood pressure spiked. Women buckled children’s buckles. Men removed head phones. The business professional dressed stewardess continued past me and an ominous feel grew in me. I had flown hundreds of times, usually from Fort St John to Vancouver to visit family. I had never been concerned before but the flight had always been a mere hour and a half. I had already been cooped in this plane for over three hours, the single beer I drank at the beginning long gone from my nerves. Leaving them vulnerable.
For whatever reason, unknown to me, the panic sprang up quickly. Thinking I hadn’t told anyone at all I was taking off to Toronto. My husband had not seen me in nearly nine months and as far as Sadie knew, I was still sitting on Vancouver Island. I could crash, die and end up a unsolved missing person!
My breath quickened, the view out the window made it worse. We were above a plain that if we feel there was a chance I wouldn’t die but would be eaten by the other survivors after weeks of starvation.
The cool isolated air in the cabin dropped even colder, to a frigid temperature and goose bumps covered my neck and arms. The realization that I wasn’t able to leave my seat to even fetch a sweater from my over head travel bag made bile rise in my throat. Then a sinking fear of, I might vomit, echoed in my mind. The oxygen thickened and I felt I could no longer breath, but then the plane would have an emergency landing. I placed my forehead against the cold glass, trying to freeze the electrical impulses in my brain that were running wild.
The view outside was a thick layer of clouds, fluffy tops threatened to touch the bottom of the plane if we dipped at all. The clouds separated and show only sneak previews of bone crushing ground. Inevitable screams bounded in me, I’m in the tale section. I will skid and bounce off the ground and then life a slow, painful death in the middle of nowhere. My body will go unnamed for years, maybe even eternity until rot takes over my eyeballs and teeth and I turn to just dust in the wind.
My thoughts are spiraling faster down into gloom as the plane suddenly hitched down. My heart smacks hard in my throat and the window is sopping wet with my exasperated breathes. I instinctively grab the sides of the fabric chair in front of me, the guy grumbles but I ignore him as I clutch the life saving chair. I expect to hear screams instantly but the plane seems eerily quiet. I glance once more around and no one seems to notice how close to death we are! The plane turns and now we are over tin can opening mountains. We’ll be spewed over the land as sardines.
A second turbulent bump made my whole-body lift from the seat, a little kid a few rows back squealed in delight. I felt I couldn’t breath. My heart thumped erratically and my chest clamped down. My bowels turned nervously, this was bad. My whole body was having a panic induced reaction and the seat belt light told me I couldn’t use the air flushing can. I wanted to pass out. My head was dizzy and the mountains below opened their hideous mouth to eat the plane whole. I tried to relax my grip, no one seemed concerned. The stewardesses were buckled in the front of the plane, laughing and talking away. Scanning our faces to ensure all was well.
The lady that had earlier told me to close my tray table caught my eyes. I tried to look away and act cool but I was still fighting to regain my breath. My composure was certainly shit, face pale and vomit creeping out the corners of my mouth. Hands clenched to the chair ahead, surely my eyes were bulging from their sockets too.
The click of her seat belt letting go echoed in the deathly silent plane, she held my gaze as she walked to the empty seat next to me. She was trained in her job all too well, she knew exactly what was happening to me. I was freaking out. I didn’t even have someone sitting beside me to distract with a stupid conversation about the weather.
“Ma’am,” thankfully her voice was low and she leaned right in to the seat. Pulled the blind closed over the window and then rested her hand on mine. Brain screaming in anxiety pain, my nerves shot in every direction and I wanted to cry but I smiled. As if I actually had this under control.
“You can eat your chips without the tray table if you like.”
I stared at her, not understanding the statement. I never asked to eat my chips, I had folded the bag and stuffed them back in my purse, I didn’t care about the stupid chips anymore. What I cared about was my immediate death, either by plane crash or heart attack. I wasn’t sure yet. I began to open my mouth to protest as her hard stare forced me to understand without words.
“Even though the tray table has to stay closed, you can still eat your chips,” she even went as far as pulling my purse out from the under of the seat in front of me. The chips were obviously stuffed in the top, purse unzipped, she placed the bag on my lap and it snapped my anxious spin to a halt.
She patted my hand once more before leaving me to recover. The remainder of my nerves settled by a quick shot of alcohol at the airport pub in Toronto Pearson Airport.