To the mirror,
A few nights ago I was wandering about the house when I took an unexpected pause in front of Matthew's room. It was late, at least in that moment it felt late and dark, and either way I didn't dare knock. I listened to his music trickle beneath his door and every song gave me a feeling that beckoned me to stay for just a few moments longer.
I didn't realize I had fallen asleep until I woke up. Dazed and only slightly confused, I stumbled back into my room and locked the door. And then the oddest thing happened. I sobbed long and hard into myself for the first time since the last thing I can remember, and I wanted to know why. Why did I feel so numb, hollow, and endless? And suddenly I knew what I had to do. I had to be alone. So that's where I went.
I stood up, opened the door, and walked up the dark, wooden stairs of my parent's old apartment. The same stairs I had tumbled down once as a child and all I remember is being dizzy, and my mother screaming like the world was going to end. Maybe it would have. I didn't bother knocking. I waltzed right in and shut the door behind me. It seemed brighter now. Brighter than when I was five and taking every shadow into consideration. My mother used to tell me how much they loved to follow me around from apartment to apartment and give her a good scare. So I guess I always believed in ghosts. Even though sometimes I feel like it was them believeing in me.
My grandmother's couch still sits pressed up against the apartments two front windows and sits relatively close to the big, black box tv on the opposite wall. I sit down to watch the same Nascar race that we watched when I was five. That day I swore in front of them for the first time when my plastic block tower collapsed. They laughed, and Dale Earnhart won, and now this is the only channel that comes in. Muted.
I pass through a few other shadowy living rooms filling in the gaps with less significant memories until I walk into the small cluttered kitchen, which holds the door leading to the attic. I can remember standing in the same spot looking at my father leaning against the counter. I can remember hiding in the same spot after my mother bravely went to reencounter the ghost who had spooked her only moments before. I remember being scared, only because she was, but I believed what she saw and I still do.
A bouncing, rubber ball thumps against every step coming down from the attic and rolls through the open door into the kitchen. Must have been the cat. I retrace the ball's path and the smell hits me. The smell of cigars, and dust, and weed before it had meaning. It smelled like my dad. When he was just my dad, and not just another pothead. I realized how self absorbed I've always been, when I realized how long it took me to discover the difference.
The air inside the small attic is thick with smoke from the burning cigar left in the ash tray. Nearly every hot wheel ever made is hung up on every wall, so thick with dust I couldn't see through the packages. I was hardly ever allowed up here, but on the occasion that I was dad would always be up here smoking, and asking me what I wanted and even though it was never anything relevent I was thrilled with the venture up here and the hope that he would give me a car I would actually be allowed to open. He always did.
From his chair I can see the future, and I'm crying again. Staring into the eyes of every face I used to paint on this vessel, and they're all looking back at me. All versions of the same soul. All me. But fuck I left to be alone. I stand and leave the apartment, slamming the door and slipping through the curtain onto the Venice boardwalk on the opposite side of the country. The sky is pink, the air is warm and salty. I stand amoungst the dispersment of strangers going about their evening as if I'm not even there. The sweetest of reliefs, but as I walk I can't help but feel that I'm most certainly walking away. Away from what?
They begin to appear in the surrounding reflections. All walking with me through the crowds and trying to get my attention. Fuck I wish they would go away. Fuck I wish I could go away. I run and they all start yelling their own various forms of 'fuck you'.
"Where you gonna go Jack!"
"Remember me buddy!"
"Come back, Jack. I love you!"
Every fucking truth is hurdled at me until I turn and hurl my fists, screaming and smashing every window that stares back until my eyes open and I'm home. Laying on the floor on a bed of broken glass, covered in blood, with Oughta Know by Atlantis Morissette blaring from my innards.