When the time comes to leave, just walk away quietly and don’t make a fuss. – Banksy

Nightmares and Telescopes

I got a phone call today. They are taking him to court, I don’t know if I can handle it. But it’s almost over. 

It comes back in waves. Moments when you least expect it. You could be going about your day, having finally readjusted to moving to an old familiar city, laughing with friends when all of a sudden it happens. A co-worker enters your happy little bubble, her eyes filled with tears, as she deals with what is currently happening to her. And you sit there and stare. As the others congratulate her on doing the right thing, calling the cops, and seeking help, you are suddenly thrown back to 2 years ago. You put on that fake smile, block out the demons that are sprinting to the surface, and be there for your friend. You listen as she tells you about the pills. How it all happened 5 weeks ago and she stopped it from getting too far. How she’s talked to a bunch of people and seems to be doing well. You smile and remind her that she did a good thing. From the worst of circumstances, she did everything right.

And I did everything wrong…. 

You continue about your day. Bus the tables at work, joke around with customers, review your textbooks as your prepare for your dreaded medical exam. But it becomes harder and harder to concentrate on your movements. The smile starts to fade. You’re suffocating and no one can see it. No one can help you. As you drive home you pass by the house that haunts your nightmares. Salt fills your eyes and blood drains from your clenched fists over the steering wheel. You concentrate on the music playing in the car. It’s something acoustic, folky even. Why don’t I listen to this song more? You miss the turn into your driveway and instead opt for a long, late night wander. Your head is filled with the cooing of the scared girl of your past. Of one drunken evening that changed everything. You pull over. In the middle of a bustling city, there are little pockets of calm hidden from the rest of the world. The waves of the river follow the rhythm of your heart and you look up to the sky to study the constellations. There’s always one that you kept track of, the one that you’ve been following since you got your first telescope at the age of 10 and set it up in the backyard. How your father laughed as you tried to figure out how to properly use it and showed you that if you angled it just right, you can see the planets just as well as you saw each individual moon crater. Life was so much simpler back then.

Sirens in the distance bring you back to your reality. You don’t know how long you’ve been standing at your little house by the sea but it’s time to go. Your heart is heavy as you think of your co-worker and what she’s going through. You want to scream at the world for being this cruel and tormenting someone whose life has never been easy. You know of her struggles. Her childhood life. And yet the universe likes to keep throwing the punches. Well at least she was strong enough to call the police and stop the guy from doing it to anyone else. 

Her tormentor was her neighbour. Yours was as well. Hers was a stranger. Yours was a friend. She knew what to do. You panicked.

In the end we all try to do what we think is best. We all do what we know is right. We all want to put our nightmares away and get a peaceful sleep. We all want to be the kid staring at the stars and learning their stories. We want to be there for our friends and help them through their troubling times.

But don’t suppress your struggles as well. They have a funny way of coming back when you least expect it.

Handle it.