Chapter 11c

The creatures come at night. The first time changed me but, honestly, the rest have not. I am accustomed to the torment they bring. I do not look forward to it, exactly, but I've come to expect my muscles to be individually torn free of my bones. I always wake the same, though, as if they tore out every piece of my physical being but missed something that holds the parts together.

I don't feel like I can go one much longer like this, though. I lose something constantly. Sometimes a memory, sometimes a personal item, sometimes just something simple, like I'll lose my friends or a spoon. It always turns up later, whatever it is I've lost, but then I lose it again along with whatever else happens to be getting lost at that moment.

The pain is the same every time and still comes as a shock. The brain doesn't have the capacity to really remember pain but it does try. It lets you know that you should be terrified, it tells you how it will hurt and hints at the degree, but it doesn't soften the pain when they come, whispering "sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc," as they rend me to pieces.

The looks I get have only gotten worse and harder to avoid mentioning. The sun has gone away outside, permanently I believe, and there is no reminder that we cannot go outside except the immovable doors and notes warning of death taped to the windows. It's funny, really, to be so completely contained in such a comfortable way. Maybe it's not funny. I believe my sense of humor has shifted some, as well.

I am hesitant to say I know anything right now. I asked her, "Why is everybody looking at me like that?" the other day.

She told me that she couldn't live without me, that none of them could.

I told her that I couldn't live without her, either, trying to share in the tender moment and heal whatever wound she was hiding from me. When I said that she started to cry. I couldn't think of a way to say anything about it after that.

I did consider the possibility of it. If I lost her, would I be able to live? Without her, my single submerged home, Paul and Darren here acting as my friends in this world of absence, without those things I had nothing. Each day the house struggles more against the weight of the water. One day we will all die. Is that what she meant? That once I am gone to the floor they all will be? I think that is correct but no, I don't think that's what it means.

I think they want me to escape. I am sure I'm not the best suited to it and I'm not sure that I even want to do it. To go where? To float on the surface, pecked apart by birds and withered in the sun? I want to stay here but yes, I think that's it, I think I'm starting to feel unwelcome here.

But no, not even unwelcome. I think maybe it's more internal than that. I don't want to be here. I want her, I want my life, all of it, but being where I am doesn't leave me any way for my life to progress. Yes, that's it, I want to progress. I don't want to be twenty-five for another year. I want to see things and do things and meet new people and I want to live and eventually I would like to die. I can't do any of those things here.

That's why they're giving me those looks, perhaps, because they want me to stay but only selfishly. I understand that, I can relate.

At some point I asked, "Why can't you come with me?"

If there was an answer it was a dull one not worth being heard. They couldn't come because they couldn't. Because the choice wasn't mine to make and it wasn't theirs. That's not always how things work out.

I know now, from watching them and talking with them and being with them, that I have to leave. I am being torn apart nightly by staying here and, as much as I will miss them and try to visit as often as I can, none of us can be happy while I stay.

That night I stayed up drinking and talking and things seemed normal. They had seemed normal, that much hadn't changed, but things that night seemed like they might actually be normal. The nightmares did not come that night to murder and reconstruct me. The looks on the faces around me were as I would have crafted them, more serene and normal and happy than I had seen them for many waves (I like to pretend I can count time in waves now that the sun is only a memory but in truth I can't see or hear any waves, either).

I will leave tomorrow, though I don't know where to. I tell them I'll visit and call and think of them daily but we all know that once I swim outside I won't be able to come back. I still see sorrow welling up behind her eyes and remember her saying that she couldn't live without me. She is strong, confident, independent, there's no reason she should need me or anybody else so I put the thoughts aside. I do feel as if I'm robbing her of her own life by leaving but what else can I do?

Yes, the memories are vague but present. I remember the whole sequence of events that led me sub finem. That was the last of them. The next day I would be gone, pulled away by will-power and remorse and simple dumb luck.