I couldn’t sleep. The lights in various rooms of the house were on. I had to keep it that way. I had to feel safe so having the lights off was out of the question.
I often find myself sleeping on a living room couch because dad won’t remember to wake up me up for school if I sleep in my bedroom. But we have this fucking picture of Marilyn Monroe smiling on a wall and it feels like the picture is staring into my soul whenever the lights are off. I generally don’t like sleeping in rooms with pictures of faces on them for this reason. I remember having a small picture of some cowboy in my room when I was really little and I would find myself immediately dunking into my blanket to try to get to sleep because of that fucking thing.
When there’s darkness everywhere, my mind seems to drop any semblance of logic and I start thinking that supernatural shit is gonna pop out of the darkness and kill me. It also forces me to think about death and dying, something that I have tried to avoid thinking about since the first time I’d ever heard of it. I first learned about human mortality when I was 5 and soon after, I was sleeping in my room, and the my mind was being flooded by the inevitability of losing my mother and father, and eventually, my own demise. I began to let out a scream of pure agony. I started running to the other bedroom where my mom and dad were and I just wanted to sleep with them so I wouldn’t be afraid anymore.
Dad told me that the anniversary of my mom’s death was gonna come up and we’re gonna go to my aunt Clara’s house to “remember her”. So on the 12th me and dad got on the freeway and drove all the way to aunt Clara’s two story house on the hills of Santa Clarita. Me and dad walk into the house with my uncle Bryan welcoming us at the door and then everything feels like a blur.
Me eating nothing but garlic bread because I hate lasagna and salad. Small talk with Annie and my many cousins, one of whom has a girlfriend and a baby son named “Zev” of all things. I felt disconnected from everyone. I was the least talkative person in the room. Things became worse as eventually, one of my aunts started playing some slideshows of pictures of mom back when she was a kid in the 70’s. Old pictures of her smiling with her sisters and parents. I felt so sad. Then some home videos came up of my cousins and Annie and me back when we really, really small in the 90’s and 2000’s. I couldn’t stand to look at this. I can’t stand looking at “time”. At this indirect reminder that each day, we grow closer and closer to our deaths. I couldn’t stop trying to predict the year I would die in my head. All these harsh and overwhelming thoughts took over and I secretly slipped out of the room and opened the sliding door into the backyard of the house without anyone noticing.
The backyard was wide and grassy. At the edge of the backyard (And the hill this house is on) was a view of the neighborhood looking down. The only sounds were just the sounds of cars, presumably down below, driving by. I blow out all the fires on those fake Hawaiian torches you’d see on Survivor or some shit. Everything in this yard is dark but there’s plenty of it outside in the neighborhood. I just stand in the dark at the edge of the yard thinking about whether or not there’s a God. I sob. I speak to “God”, telling him that he’s not very good at getting people to believe in him. I don’t want to fade away. But it seems all the evidence so far is not in my favor. I feel my emotions are terrorized by logic. I begin thinking of how even the sun will die someday. I imagine the idea of the world becoming entangled by unnavigable darkness, the natural state of the universe.
Uncle Bryan and one of my aunts walk outside into the yard to grab drinks from the cooler and despite the fact that the edge of the yard isn’t that far from where they are, they don’t notice me at all. I eventually walk back inside the house. No one ever realized that I disappeared.