I know I should be writing this piece in Greek since it’s not just another story; it’s a chunk of my real life which would be better delivered, given, in my mother tongue. By the end of the story however, everyone will know why I’m typing these words in English.
I don’t think I have ever been overly people friendly, or that I have ever invested in human relations much. I don’t think I’m the social type. Having said that, I believe that my utterly misanthropic point of view on this world must have started after my special someone (back then) told me that I deserve to grow old and die alone. Some months later, my best friend decided he was better off without me and stopped talking to me altogether.
They would both later on confess that the only reason they acted the way they did was to shock me into becoming a better person… Right,…, what a bunch load of crap…
I had shut the world off and I had only kept for myself a couple of people that I truly believed were worthy of everything I could ever offer and probably, even more; and they left me so that I would decide that people are good and that I should let them all in?
I think that was the last time that I remember myself getting hurt. Funny thing, I’m not only referring to psychological pain, I’m referring to both psychological and physiological, physical pain. If there’s such a thing as an “Emotional Kill-Switch”, these two people helped me flip it on.
I can’t blame them alone. It wouldn’t be fair. Besides, if I didn’t already have the pre-inclination towards such a condition, I suppose that nothing would have forced me into it.
For example, I guess I will always remember that in 2000, when one morning at 5.30 I drove my car under a bus, I was not scared at the time of the collision, I was not shocked, I was not anxious about the outcome of the crash, I never feared for the worst, I felt no panic whatsoever… I saw the bus racing against me, I saw my car engine crumbling to pieces as the rear end of the bus smashed onto it and stopped inches from smashing into the cabin; and the only thing I was already thinking was that I would have to call and wake up my parents and how much that would scare them in the middle of the night.
If that was not enough, I also remember another time, when I was about six years old, some 25 years ago, a friend of mine and I were playing “catch me if you can” in a winter dark military base in Athens, Greece (we have to thank our air force officials fathers for that). Six years old, already so detached from basic human attachment…
My friend was chasing me in the dark. We could barely see. Despite that, I did see the black abyss that laid in front of me as I ran towards it and jumped, moments before my friend lost the earth under his feet and fell into the bottomless deep hole. I didn’t warn him. I had seen the hole. I just didn’t tell him anything. Nothing. Not a single word of warning. I rushed to the other side of the road where our fathers were talking while waiting for our mothers, I looked at them and even at that moment, I couldn’t decide if I was supposed to interrupt or wait till they were done talking.
In a spark of self exhaustion, I shouted at them and panicked them so very much in fact, that they ran after me as I raced, in the pitch black night, towards the location where my friend was still trying, with all his might, to hold his weight with his little hands grasping the edge of the hole he had fallen into. His father pulled him up immediately and hugged him and called for the base personnel to cover the hole before someone else was less lucky than his son. Still on this day, I know what my only thought was back then as I saw them holding each other in fright: “how deep was that hole really”?
I don’t know. Is this a condition? Is it something that the collective human intellect has come up with a name for? Am I suffering from some kind of mental illness? Who knows? Who cares? … Really, who cares?
So why am I typing all this today?
I felt today. It didn’t last long and it didn’t awake me like a self imposed inner clock, but I did feel today. In my world of apathy, in the theatre of comedic tragedy where I reign undefeated but unchallenged (and that’s a HUGE “but”), I got a shock treatment which… which I fear that it ultimately failed.
I saw death today.
I know that’s a huge and extreme statement for one to make.
But I saw death today. I know what it looks like. I know the warmth it emits, I know the yellow red colour that it paints its path with, I know the curves and the motions, the dance it approaches its victims with.
I saw death in the form of all engulfing flames. Flames! So beautiful and warm, so elegant and fluid, so mysterious yet welcoming, so deep yet so ethereal, so everything yet so nothing.
Nothing. Like all that it leaves behind.
Everything. Like everything that stood before it.
It came out of nowhere. It came like a comet and I only realised I had fallen into it when I saw myself being it. I was the flame! My hair was alight, my left hand was consumed, my face was burning and my throat… my throat was melting as my beard, single hair after singe hair, was burning to its roots; I could feel the fire crawling under my skin!
HOLOCAUST! A moment eternally lasting, but one which did not last for all eternity.
I flung off my chair, I galloped to the bathroom, I used my bare hands to cover my ablaze hair… but I didn’t make one single sound. I didn’t leave a scream or a shout. I kept as silent as the flame that brought death, as silent as Death.
My room stinks of burnt hair and skin now. My mother’s on the verge to collapse, calling God’s name again and again, thanking him for not letting me get hurt (which is kinda funny if you think about it: why am I the joker who set himself on fire but God is the good guy who didn’t let him get burnt? Why am I not the cool guy who managed to save himself when God tried to burn him alive? … questions … questions… ). My father’s funny. He told me a story about an old colleague of his who almost lost his hand when the alcohol can that he was holding exploded. He’s watching a movie ever since.
What about me?
Nothing. I feel nothing. Yeah, okay, maybe I’m a bit irritated by the fact that I can’t feel three out of five fingers on my left hand, I’m furious that I lost my rich long hair and I’m hating the feeling of stretched skin on my throat that doesn’t let me turn my head around freely (it sort of feels like it’s going to puncture or separate or fall off when I move).
But other than that? Nothing. A near death experience with no payoff? It sure does feel like it. No great resolutions made, no change on any point of views, no nothing.
Detachment. The essence of my life.
Maybe I’ll try it again some time. Maybe in order to make me crawl back to society and beg for membership I need to suffer a heavier shock. Maybe a deformation or something.
Maybe I need to turn into charcoal entirely before I finally realise that I’m alive.
Other than that, I came back to my PC and started working on my novel. I only stopped for a moment to write this down. Why? Probably a couple of reasons, I suppose. Most important one being that maybe, just maybe, one day later on (when I grow up -as we used to say as kids) I’ll read it and shock myself with the kind of detached person I once was.
The other reason is more practical. I endured and survived a near death experience, I witnessed my desk turning to ashes and dust before my burning eyes, I lost my eyelashes, hair, beard, my skin became almost identical to that of crash dummies and … well, truth be told, I have no one in my life to share it with. I have no one to call and describe what just happened, no one to lend an ear, no one to even pretend to care. Explains why instead of typing all this in my mother tongue, I’m writing it in English for strangers to read.
I’ve pushed everyone away; and one day, just like that one person told me back then, I will die alone. I will or I will not grow old alone, but I will die alone; and no one will learn.
Till then, I may get a couple of more shock treatments. Just so as to prove that I’m not dead yet; at least not physically, cause I’m dead inside. That much I now know.
PS: Okay now this is getting spooky. Ever since this “incident” my memory works like clockwork. I remembered a password that is practically impossible to remember and just now, I saw an image and I recalled where it was taken from… Funny thing, I’m not certain that I’ve seen this photo more than twice (or at most three times) in my life. Cool! Maybe next time I almost die I’ll get to do even more spectacular things. Maybe one day I’ll fly. Cool me!