It was cold, the rain was beginning to turn to snow. I was cold, so bitterly cold, not just from the weather and the howling wind just outside the open door, but deep inside my soul, if in fact I still had a soul.
I was also hungry, but not the normal kind of hungry, not for food. In fact, the thought of food made my stomach roll over and I almost gagged. No, I was hungry for something else, something not easily attained but necessary for my very survival, yet I didn’t know what that something was. All I knew for sure was that I needed it and soon.
I don’t remember much about last night except for the howling laughter, people all around me, pushing me this way and that, bumping into me from all sides. When I tried to remember more, struggling to draw a clear memory, I got this awful, vulgar feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if I had seen something or perhaps, done something unforgivable. The feeling was too strong, I couldn’t bear it right now, I had to think of something, anything else to relieve this crushing feeling.
I ran through the open door, sliding on the slick sidewalk and almost falling. The rain and snow felt good on my face. I hadn’t realized that I had been sweating. How is that possible? To be so cold yet sweat as if traversing the open desert at high noon. What was happening to me? Have I caught some fatal disease that can’t be cured? Or perhaps it was something I ate last night, although I don’t recall eating or drinking anything.
As I stood in the rain and snow looking around, I realized that I didn’t know where I was or how I had gotten here. I also realized that I had no coat on and the deadly cold was beginning to creep back into my very being. I had to find somewhere warm and dry, I had to find answers to all these questions burning up my mind, but where? Where do I go? Where AM I?
I started walking down the sidewalk, and as I did so, out of pure habit, I stuck my hands inside my coat pockets to try and warm them up. Wait. Coat pockets? Coat? I don’t have a coat on. I looked down at my body and yes, yes I did have a coat on after all. I must have been mistaken earlier, I was just so cold that it felt like I wasn’t wearing a coat. That had to be it, yes, that’s what it was.
The cold and the rain were beginning to clear my head some, I was beginning to feel a little better and not like I was at deaths door with one foot over the threshold. I picked my pace up slightly and had this odd feeling that I knew where I was going, that something was leading me in this direction. Some forgotten memory perhaps? Maybe, but that didn’t seem right.
Just as I turned a corner I almost ran a woman over, she let out a little yelp, then a curse, which I’m sure I deserved. “I am so very sorry Miss, I wasn’t watching where I was going. Are you alright?” She looked at me with anger in her eyes, but not as much as before. Before answering me she bent over and picked up her purse that had slipped out of her hand during our abrupt encounter.
“I’m fine,” she said, and I noticed a little sparkle in her eyes as she looked at me again. Not knowing what else to say, I started to walk away when she grabbed my arm. “Are you OK? You look like you’ve had a pretty rough go of it” she said, and I sensed real concern in her voice. Why though? Why was this stranger, someone I had never met before, so concerned with my well being?
“No, no I’m alright,” I stammered. “I’ve just got somewhere I need to be and I’m in somewhat of a hurry. I really don’t mean to be rude, but I have to go.” I walked quickly away before she could say anything else and wondered why I would do such a thing. I had no clue where I was going, just that I needed to be there, now.
As time passed and the more I walked, that feeling of being drawn got stronger, more intense. So intense in fact that it soon turned into fear and then into terror, but I couldn’t stop walking, I had to get to my destination quickly. Again I wondered where that elusive destination might be and why I was so sure that I was going in the right direction. Soon however, the terror had intensified to an almost physical pain and I wanted nothing more than to stop, go in a different direction, anything to stop this soul crushing fear.
But I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t go in a different direction because every time I tried I doubled over in pain. It felt like my insides were being ripped out by some unseen hand and it stayed that way until I returned to my original course.
I walked for what seemed like forever, turning this way, going up that street, down this alleyway, the fear growing in me all the while. Jesus, how was this possible? How can one human being endure so much pain and fear and the hunger, the hunger was back, stronger than before.
I didn’t think that the fear and hunger could get any worse, until I turned the final corner. I had reached my destination, the terror I thought I couldn’t handle turned into unholy anguish as I looked on his face. I knew then that my life, my world, would never be the same again ….
This post is in response to OM’s WordPress Challenge.