After

Camelia Sucaliuc

Prose

Temple Carrig School,

Wicklow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wake up exactly the same way every day. Sweating, panting and trembling from the dream I was having. Every night it’s the same. I fall asleep early, at around 10, and the moment I finally lose consciousness I’m there. I tell myself to just wake up or to not dream at all but it’s inevitable. Five seconds in and I’m already ‘dreaming’.

 

The nightmares only started recently. They’re like a handful of imagery with no sound, playing over and over in my mind, tormenting me until I start sobbing and screaming for them to let me out, and they usually do, but not after my throat goes raw and bloody and my tears erode my face away until I look like a featureless monster.

 

I used to have nightmares when I came home from Afghanistan, the deafening booms of bombs and the taste of blood and dirt on my lips, but I got better. It took a long time to get better but I went to the therapy sessions and the group counselling and took the pills and did the breathing whenever I felt ‘them’ coming on.

 

They told me it was PTSD and depression but it was a long time before I thought of it as that. I thought that the numbness was normal. I thought that constantly thinking of all the innocent men, women and children that were harmed and killed and wanting to die so I could finally give them the apology they deserve, was normal. And it is, nearly every single one of the fellow soldiers felt the same way. They were stricken by gut wrenching guilt and sorrow. They just wanted to make it right, but once you’re there, with that rifle in your hands, being ordered to do whatever necessary, you do what they drilled into you in training and follow your orders.

 

I take different orders now, lattes, cappuccinos, americanos. Being a barista in the local hipster café was the only job that I could keep for more than a week since it didn’t require much personal social interaction. Of course I interacted with people but I didn’t have to disclose much of my personal life to them, I asked what they wanted and made them it, pure and simple. There was not a lot of talking to be done anyway, considering that I worked with a stuck up gender studies major and that the only people to come in are either emo poets or shy teenagers.

 

Giovanna, the b*tch I work with, started crying (like literally crying, with big fat crocodile tears) when she found out that I had served a tour. She called me a ‘remorseless murderer’ and from then on refused to even look in my direction.

 

I go to my job every day from 9 am to 5.30pm. I would best describe working at ‘Beans n’ things’ as a personalised hell. Having conservative values doesn’t really help when I am surrounded by snowflakes that needed a ‘safe space’ every time they are exposed to an opinion that doesn’t directly correspond to theirs.

 

I come home at 6 after a long bus ride and the first thing I do when I get home is down a beer with a Zoloft and a joint. The golden trio I have to take to fall asleep. Since psychologists want me to ‘work through my trauma instead of dealing with it’ and won’t prescribe me anything stronger than an ovaltine. All they want to do is talk about my feelings and how I’m ‘coping’ instead of doing anything about it, it seems like they’d prefer to talk it out instead of giving me what I need, and what I need is to be normal again.

***

 

I decided to buy a ticket to one of his rallies, he was the only person who could make me feel anything other than an engulfing desire to end it all. It was raining when I went to see him but I didn’t care, neither did the thousands of people that were there. He said what he wanted to and didn’t care what people thought of it. I wanted that, I wanted to be able to speak out and say what I really thought since I physically fought for the rights that American people take advantage of every day. I used to be respected when I was in uniform, people would thank me for my service and nod in respect, and although I don’t expect that from everyone it was nice. I don’t even get that little anymore now that I’m an ‘out and proud’ conservative republican Donald Trump supporter.

 

Every single cell in my body felt like it had been charged with electricity the moment I had arrived here. The energy in the air was unlike any other that I had experienced, the only other thing I could compare it to was when I had done my first line in Vegas when I got home. I felt I was walking on air as I left the stadium.

 

Outside, a group of protestors was waiting. They shouted all kinds of offensive terms like “racist inbreds” and “hateful bigots”. They didn’t see that we were actual human beings, they only saw us as aggressive Klansmen.

 

I was an easy target, a white man in an army uniform carrying an American flag with a MAGA hat on. It was as if their previous insults were a warm up for me, the moment I came out the taunting increased tenfold. They got rowdier and louder as we tried to pass through the crowd. The police tried to keep them back but they were pushing the officers. They finally pushed through the barricade and all hell broke loose. I can’t remember all of it, it was all a blur. People were screaming and yelling at us and jostling us around. When I finally got out I thought I was safe but something happened that I never expected. A balloon-no- a condom full of water-no- piss was thrown on the ground a few meters beside me, some of its contents splashing onto my boots. I turned sharply and faced the culprit, a bearded man with dyed purple dreadlocks. I never would have thought that the Libtards would stoop so low.

 

The sound of broken glass pierced the air, an empty beer bottle landing in front of me. A second one was thrown, smashing against the side of my head causing stars to cloud my vision. The side of my head throbbed and blood began to pour out of the open wound. I turned quickly and looked the man in the eye. He was unashamedly proud of what he had done. I went for him, old army training finally kicking in, and I managed to get in a few punches before one of his accomplices took out a can of pepper spray and right then and there sprayed me directly in the eyes. This pain was different, somehow even worse than the one from the beer bottle. My eyes felt like they were disintegrating cell by cell.

 

I don’t remember how I recovered or how I ended up at ‘Beans n’ things’, or how I managed to unlock the door, punch in the password for the stairwell, walk up 6 flights of stairs and end up on the roof. I don’t know what I was thinking or feeling, I suppose the adrenaline just took charge and did what I had been thinking of doing.

 

And now I am here. I am on the ledge of the roof, looking down on the dismal scene below me. The rain has stopped but the sky still hasn’t cleared and the grey clouds cast a gloomy shadow onto the town below. I know why I am here, to carry out the desire I have been repressing for so long. To end it all. I know just what to do. And just like a child doing their first play, I take a deep breath and monotonously begn reciting:

 

“Here where the lonely hooting owl

Sends forth his midnight moan …”

 

 

The Suicides Soliloquy by Abraham Lincoln was the first poem I had read when I came back and I vowed that it would be the last thing I would hear when I left the world, the last thing I could give the world before I go.

 

I recite it all, down to “My last—my only friend!”

 

Deep breath, the world is so evil, this isn’t suicide, it is an act of mercy. I am sparing myself from the pain that I would’ve felt. I am surrendering to God.

 

I close my eye and the door to the roof slams open. I don’t look back at it, it is already too late for me. Whoever it is begins running towards me and grabs my hand. They pant, their hand cold and clammy against mine.

 

“Don’t”. The voice is familiar.

 

Pondscum green.

 

“Please don’t”.

 

It was her, huh.

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