At the end of a long, dark hallway, there’s a door. It’s the same average, everyday wooden door that can be found in almost every house, condo or apartment anywhere in the world. Just looking at this door, there’s nothing special about it. Made of oak, it has a few nicks and scratches from years of wear and tear, it creaks when you open it and sticks when it’s humid outside and the wood expands. Locked away behind the door, though, is the shit no one wants to know about. The memories, the nightmares and all the reasons my life is a fucked up mess lie just inside that door in a pile of regret. I lost everything because of that damn door, because my mind splintered into a thousand pieces and I couldn’t tell the difference between dreams and reality. I became a different man.
A dangerous man.
A suicidal man.
Some days, I think of that door as a barrier between me and the dark corners of my subconscious, a place to stockpile the skeletons of my past so that I don’t have to look at them or think about them. Other days, that door busts wide open and I am forced to relive every mistake I’ve made. I can walk into the room, sweat running down my back, and run my hands over each item that carved me into the man I’ve become. I can dig through the shoebox on the end of the bed and run the tips of my fingers over each letter she sent me, I can pick up the Purple Heart from the top of the dresser and feel the cold weight of the bronze medal and the satin purple ribbon in the palm of my hand, and I can lift the backpack off the floor in the corner of the room and smell the heat from the desert and the metallic hint of dried blood splattered on the camouflage design.
It’s not long before the sounds of war fill my ears and only seconds until I’m clutching my head with shaking hands and a pounding heart, trying to determine the source of the most tormented, heartbroken noises I’ve ever heard, the crying and the begging so loud that they can be heard even over the gunfire. It’s only when I realize that the horrified screams are coming from me, that I’m the one pleading for mercy, that I slam shut that door in my mind, begging anyone that’ll listen to take away the grief and the pain so that I never go back inside that room.
This is where my story begins.
I can never really decide.
The mind is a great and powerful thing, bisected with hallways of darkness and corners of light. Memories can alternately fill your life with joy and happiness and cloud every moment with nightmares and fear, making you second-guess all of the good things and wonder if they were ever real. Was I happy? Did I ever smile and laugh easily without a care in the world? How do I get that back when the darkness is hell bent on taking over, holding me in its clutches and making sure I never see the sunshine again?
I’m going to figure it out even if it kills me. I will piece together the fractures in my mind and take back what’s mine. I don’t blame her for walking away; I shoved her out the door and told her to go. I should have realized that she was my light. She was everything bright and beautiful about my life and it went to shit after she left.
I’m going to fix this. I have to fix this. I hate being in this place filled with people who think they know everything about me. I hate every moment that I’m away from her, but I will do whatever it takes to find the man she once loved and bring him back to her.
I’m going to kick down that fucking door at the end of the long, dark hallway and show everyone that I deserve the light.
March 24, 2006
Screams fill my ears and I jerk up in bed with my heart pounding. The moonlight shines through the bedroom window, illuminating Fisher’s body as he kicks at the covers and punches his fists into the mattress on either side of him. His screams are so loud and painful that I want to cover my ears and cry for him.
“Fisher! Fisher, wake up!” I shout over his yells and curses.
His eyes are squeezed shut and sweat drips down his chest, soaking the t-shirt he wore to bed. I quickly reach over and flip on the lamp on my nightstand, yank the covers away from us and move close to him, pressing my hands to either side of his face to turn his head towards me.
“Please, baby, wake up. It’s just a dream, it’s just a dream,” I chant softly, running my hands soothingly down his face.
He stops screaming, but the words that come out of his mouth next are almost worse than the screams.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to kill him, he got in the way. Oh, God, I’m so sorry!”
I sob for him and the agony that rips through his voice as he continues to thrash against me and cry out, shoving my hands off his face and pushing me away from him. He’s lost in another world, another time, and I can’t stand seeing him like this. He’s hurting so much.
God, please make him stop hurting.
“Please, Fisher, wake up. Come on, baby, open your eyes,” I cry, throwing my leg over top of his and using all my strength to get him to calm down and wake him up from this nightmare.
His hand flies out and connects with my cheek and I let out a yelp of pain, but I keep going. This isn’t Fisher; he would never hit me if he was awake and in his right mind. I have to wake him up. I need him to wake up.
Oh, God, I don’t know what to do!
As quickly as I can, I climb on top of him, straddling his waist and taking hits to my arms and chest before I can grab his wrists and hold them down at his sides. I kiss every inch of his face, my tears dripping down off of my nose and onto his cheeks as I whisper his name over and over and beg him to come back to me.