Revealing secrets to people you don’t trust – Post 008.

Marie gave me a verbal beating. I got home after school on Monday, and she instantly pushed me aside to her and Simba’s bedroom, where she told me all about my rude, inconsiderate behavior. She couldn’t believe her own son would do something like that to our new guest, just abandon them… and so on.

She left the door ajar, and yelled louder than necessary, to make sure everyone in the house—Simba, Albert, the twins (not so much Felicia)—heard every single word. That was my real punishment: to have them hear mom punish me.

I didn’t say a word. I didn’t bother. I didn’t care. Fuck them, fuck her, I didn’t care. A sort of nihilistic serenity embraced me. I didn’t care, fuck yes. Mom could yell all she liked, and all that bothered me was having to sit there, bored, with my ears hurting of all her loud, disapproving words. I think she noticed this, because I saw this sudden flash of powerlessness in her eye. Yelling at me used to work. It used to send me crying to my room, and then make me come crawling back, pleading for forgiveness. When I got older, and stopped crying, I would instead be sort of dazed, withdrawn, and eventually, I would apologize. Now, now she could tell her words had close to no effect on me.

But then her gaze assumed this strange calm, and she lowered her voice, and said some final words, intended only for me. I didn’t listen. I choose to forget those words. However, her words wasn’t the point: it was all in her intonation. She reminded me, with her intonation, that her sharpest weapon wasn’t yelling, but acting in the background, manipulating the situation in her favor, play out people against each other. She could punish me without me knowing it. The tone of her voice told me I could expect more of that.

That evening, I spoke to Kris. He had been sleeping in my room alone this weekend. All his possessions lay scattered all over the floor, and he had moved some of my shit around. I decided to ignore this.

“So, you liked us so bad you decided to screw?” Kris said, sitting on his mattress and struggling with his socks, that——judging by his struggles——sat really tight.

“I’d like to talk to you about something”, I said, and closed the door behind me. I sat down on my bed. The sun had set an hour earlier, but some of its light still showed above the street lights. This was Tuesday, and we were all heading to bed early for school the next day.

“You slept under a bridge or what?”

I had the screwdriver in my pocket. I intended to give it to him.

Kris got one of his socks off. “Your mom didn’t do nothing but apologize for your behavior. Every meal, she said, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry Max isn’t here. He’s usually a good, good boy. All polite and calm and he doesn’t eat with his elbows on the table, and he’s house-trained too, believe it or not.’ ”

“Hey, Kris?” I said.

“What?”

“I’d like to talk to you about something.”

“And what is that?”

I left my bed and sat down on the rug in the middle of the room. Kris and I are about the same height, but sitting on his mattress, he looked down on me. I went with Amanda’s advice: make him feel trusted. Sitting close, below him, talking in a confidential tone, I told him all I had to say.

I told him about my sleepwalking——how I strolled around in my sleep, wandered, silently. I told him about my old medications, and that I didn’t like them. I didn’t tell him about my brain degenerating into oatmeal. I told him about me roaming the house. I didn’t tell him about Felicia using me to acquire the bowl of cookies. I told him I liked to keep the door locked, keep my sleepwalking a secret, and that I had decided to trust him, even though we hardly knew each other. I displayed the screwdriver, and told him its purpose.

Afterwards, he just sat there, nodding, an ugly smirk on his face. Eventually, he said, “Sleepwalking, you say?” Like he only heard my very first sentence.

“Yes”, I said.

“You ever, like, done anything to anyone while walking?”

I didn’t want to know exactly what he meant by ‘anything’. “No”, I said. “I don’t think I notice people at all, when sleepwalking.”

He nodded.

“So, can I trust you with this? That you won’t tell anyone about it?”

He cocked his head. “Yeah, sure mate, whatever you say. And I’m a man of my word, believe you me.” He took the screwdriver from my hand.

“Good”, I said, getting up again. “I’m heading for the bathroom, and then we’ll sleep, alright?”

“Sure.”

I went. I was dead scared he’d do something, tell someone, or mess with me, in one of the millions of ways possible. However, I realised another problem on my way to the bathroom: what if I had to pee in the middle of the night? Usually, I don’t, but what if I had to? I’d have to wake him up, request the screwdriver, and probably be forced to play some kind of cat and mouse game of his, where he ‘confirmed’ I wasn’t really sleepwalking. I got the impression he might be one of those people who like to indulge in such games.

On my way back to my room, I was sure he would have locked the door, that he already would be messing with me, laughing on the other side, making me plead… But the door was unlocked. Kris still sat on the mattress, only in his underwear, flipping through a book in front of him. I didn’t think he was the type who read much of anything.

He looked up, and said, “Should I lock it now?”

“Go ahead”, I said, and began to undress.

Kris locked the door, no fuss, no weird smiles, dead serious. He then lay down, at the same time I did, in my own bed. We didn’t talk anything that evening, or any evening after that, really. All he said was, “I snore, so watch out.”

And he didn’t lie.

All this unsettled me in ways I didn’t anticipate. I believe I’d preferred if he’d smiled, made silly jokes, messed around, or watched me while I walked, and when I woke up told me I was ‘interesting’ to observe. But none of that happened. The next morning, I felt I’d been walking, but Kris didn’t make a single comment, or act like anything in any way strange had happened during the night. We got up, he unlocked the door, and handed me the screwdriver. Then we had breakfast.

Oh, and one other thing. This morning at the breakfast table, I realized I was attracted to Maya. I hate it, but I can’t deny it. She, there, hair undone and in a wide t-shirt which the morning sun, like, made glow… I hate it, and I’m disgusted by myself. She’s family. This is someone I meet at Christmas, on fiftieth birthdays. However, to be fair, she’s my dad’s dad’s sister’s son’s daughter. It’s not like we’re closely related. Still, I feel sick.

And a third, unsettling thing: Simba has found God. Maybe Marie made it happen, I don’t know, but it’s clear he reveres Albert, The Man with the Pig’s Heart. They have some kind of history together, I’ve understood. Something to do with their college years…  I don’t know what happened back then, all I know is that Simba never disagrees with Albert, that he makes sure to be the one to hands Albert the milk, that he makes sure to cook Albert all his favorite dishes, and clean his dishes, and play Albert’s favorite music, which happens to be atonal jazz, which I can’t stand.

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The Future is Non-Existent – Post 006.

At the moment, I study natural sciences: fundamental physics and chemistry and maths and biology; stuff like formulas for gravitation, how hydrogen and oxygen gas can create water, the PQ-formula enabling you to solve second grade equations, and how photosynthesis transforms carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen gas, etc. And, apparently, large scale artificial photosynthesis is on the way. Soon, we’ll be completely independent of all green bug-attracting plant-life. What an age we live in.

Anyway, this is what my ever-smiling father and my never-smiling mother want me to do. And what do I want? Shut up with your stupid questions.

Some people believe schooling is still free here in Sweden. If only. At the moment, I work as a janitor in the local library to pay for school. The other day, I found a homeless man sleeping on the library’s toilet’s floor, strangely peaceful, slowly breathing, his coat as a blanket and a backpack as a pillow. I didn’t want to wake him up, but I had to, because it was closing time. I told him I wouldn’t mention it to management, and he could come there to sleep whenever he wished, and I’d look the other way. However, right now it was closing time, and if he didn’t go, he’d have to stay in there the entire night to not set the alarm off. He thanked me, and shook my hand, and left.

Marie, my mother, often points at the homeless people sleeping under billboards, and she says, “Those specimens are better commercials for establishing your independence than anything else. They show us the importance of standing on our own hind legs.” She always looks at me as she says so.

My parents don’t pay for my schooling. Not because they don’t support it, but because they want me to stand on my own hind legs. You’d think that’s partly liberating: not having them hover above me, funneling me into the most respected schools, making sure I get good grades, and so on, but you’re wrong. They hover in another way: by praising independence, the individual, self-governance, the self. My mother has an oil painting of herself in the living room, huge, something you’d expect to find in the mansion of the villain in the latest superhero movie. Dad’s less hardcore about it, but he always picks Maries side. If he didn’t, I’d probably find him in the food waste disposal.

One evening a couple of years ago, my parents had some kind of fight, about me. I escaped the house and sat down on the porch outside, facing the Igloo. After a while, dad sat down beside me. The moon hung low, surrounded by horror-movie mistm, illuminated in a fuzzy circle.

“We want what’s best for you, Max”, Simba said.

I sat silent. He kept going.

“You see, the world is rough. It’s ruled by no one, by everyone. The market is everything, and if we don’t follow its rules, we die, okay? We just think it’s important for you to listen to the market. It will guide you to your future, understand?”

I didn’t look over my shoulder, but I knew Marie stood in the window, her hands on her hips, staring hard at my dad’s neck. Marie always wins their fights. Every single time.

Occasionally, when Marie’s had a glass of wine, she gets friendly all of a sudden, and sits down beside me. She says, “You know we love you, right? We do. We’ve given you this home, food on the table, everything you need. All we want is for you to succeed, you know. But dad, he’s afraid you’ll fail. He thinks your writing and video editing and all your whimsical interests are destructive. He’s afraid what happened to him might happen to you. And that would make him so, so sad. You don’t want that, do you?”

It’s not uncommon for her to threaten me with my father’s sadness.

I hate this.

All of it.

My mother is the manipulative mastermind of the family. Guilt, self-doubt, expectations of their definition of autonomy and success, they inflict this on me. Whenever I make a decision I always wonder, am I keeping my parents’ opinions in the back of my mind? I often feel like a remote controlled car.

And what I hate the most about it, is that sometimes, I’m glad they do it. I’m glad they manipulate me, that they try to make sure I go where I’m supposed to go. I hate that I feel this way. But, I’m young, and confused, and have no fucking idea where to go. Anywhere I look just looks like a dead end.

Everything that entrances me, be it music or writing or reading or some other “whimsical” interest, it’s never anything there’s a future in. The future lies in software engineering, industrial engineering, in bioengineering, anything with engineering in the name. The closest I’ve got to this, is playing around with coding, but only because it’s easy to use infinite loops to create evolving, chaotic patterns of symbols.

And, well, not only are my interests a bit esoteric and generally stupid,  but I don’t even know myself what I’d like to do, if I got to choose. Would a write, or make art-code, or what? I have no idea. I wish I could get obsessed with something, because at least then I’d know what I wanted to do, but obsession is nowhere to be found.

I have no idea what I’m doing. Part of me want to go rampage and run away from home, and maybe burn the house down while I’m at it, and another part of me want to listen to my parents, do what they says, and soil my hands by working with the bioputer technology, the Oh so great evidence of the power of the free market.

God.

Sorry for writing all this.

Another thing: tomorrow The Man with the Pig’s Heart will be here, with his twins, and Kris, one of the twins, is to sleep in my room, and have no fucking idea what I will do about it.

The Roe and the Fireflies

It might be worth mentioning that I’ve been writing fiction for a while now, and I write quite frequently, with the stoicism of someone who now they’ll never be great but says, “Fuck it!” and writes anyway.

I posted a short story to a reddit subforum just now, based on weird dreams, ghost stories and being on prescriptive drugs. Most of the story is fiction. Alina, for example, is a purely fictional character. But I do find my sister by the living room window, just staring out, occasionally.

Link: https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/5oy7cb/the_roe_and_the_fireflies/

Post 004 – Somnambulism

Observant readers might have noticed the URL of this blog: somnambulism. This name isn’t accidental, or something I thought sounded cool. I suffer from it. I walk in my sleep. A lot. Most nights I still wake up in bed, but with this kind of mental ache, like when you wake up and just know the alarm will sound, any minute now, without having to look at the watch. I know when I’ve been walking. I feel it.

And then, there’s also those nights where I wake up in front of the window, looking out, or standing fully dressed by the wardrobe, or laying on the floor, staring at the cracks in the ceiling. I once awoke underneath my bed, still shaking from a nightmare involving crawling shadows in all the room’s corners.

My parents used to buy me medicine. I’ve been on Klonopin and Prosom and other mind-numbing shit. It made me stop sleepwalking for a while, but whichever medicine we tried, it made me anxious and paranoid and convinced me my brain was in the process of dissolving. I couldn’t stand it. And sometimes, I still walked.

Soon the pills went down the toilet. I locked my room’s door with a screwdriver, to keep me from roaming the house, and kept taking my nocturnal trips in secret, now only within my room’s four walls. And when my parents decided I was old enough to pay for school and clothes and everything like that myself, I didn’t even buy a single batch of medication. I just kept the door locked, the windows firmly shut, and the screwdriver well hidden.

Before this, nightly incidents often occurred. When one of my parents got up for a nightly toilet visit, they sometimes found me right outside their bedroom door; or about to pee on a household plant; or standing in the middle of the living room, with the TV turned to static, dead-eye watching.

At one point, my sister woke up as my walk began, and she decided to make use of the situation. She made me fetch her the bowl of cookies hidden on a top shelf, way out of her reach. She ate them all, almost, and then led me back to bed, leaving the empty bowl outside my door, where my parents could find it. The next morning, crumbs clearly covered the kitchen table, and I didn’t remember shit, while my sister claimed innocence. Then mom found the bowl outside my door…

I only know the truth because Felicia told me, smiling, playing with a headless doll. She was only five then, but already she knew my parents would never believe me, the teenage sleepwalker, over the innocent child.

So I keep my door locked. These days, my parents have either forgot about my sleepwalking, denied it ever was a thing, or think I’m still on medication. I do not care which, as long as they do not bother me about it. But, the problem is, if one of the twins is to sleep in my room, I can’t just lock the door at night, with a screwdriver, without explaining everything to them. And more importantly: I can impossibly keep a locked door between them and myself…

This is a problem.

To me, sleepwalking is like walking around nude, literally and mentally. When walking, you are suggestive, and fragile, and only in your underwear, walking around, doing shit you can’t control or even remember. And it doesn’t help that I can’t remember it, because I know I’ve been walking the minute I wake up. I can see my future eyes wander towards the person sleeping in my room, either still asleep or already up—only a mattress on the floor. Did I wake them? What did I do, or say? What did they think? What will they do?

My parents would be zero help. I know them. Mom would take charge, and hold a speech about “responsibility” and “hospitality” and “not being selfish and take the fucking medication, like real people do”, and then my brain would once again turn into oatmeal, and I hate oatmeal, and all I could do would be to worry about my brain turning to oatmeal.

And I do not want my brain to turn into oatmeal.

So yes, it’s a fucked-up situation, yes it is.

Post 003.

Here, where I live, and everywhere around, big corporations have the habit of buying entire lower-class neighbourhoods, and then increase rent until everyone has to leave. Sometimes they let a few people stay in exchange for whatever slave-like services these corporations require.

Ten years ago, there was the so called “Great Buy-up.” Several thousand people were dispatched, turned landless, or allowed to stay, but now even more under the influence of the corporations in question. I was young then, everything blurry, but I do remember the shanty towns growing seemingly organically from the ground, sprouting up in parks and suburbs.

Today, all the shacks are gone. I don’t know where they, or their inhabitants, went. And I refrain from doing any research.

Similar shit is happening again. Of course, it’s happening all the time, but once again on a larger scale. The difference now is 1) that rents are already record high, everywhere, and 2) no one cares. Already, whenever you leave home you’ll see people sleeping under billboards, in ditches along the freeway, or in hundred-year-old ruins by the railroad. What difference could a couple more do?

Neighbourhoods are being converted into research facilities or factories or new offices or concrete structures behind barb wire, or testing grounds: fenced-in blocks with God knows what kind of chemicals in the drinking water, or whatever, places where desperate people live for free in exchange for a signature there, there, and there. Only to end up dead. I’ve read about people dying in not-so-pleasant ways because of projects like these. Maybe you see why I refrain from research.

Anyway, I suspect my father’s cousin and his twins are victims of the most recent buy-up. That’s why The Man with the Pig’s Heart is coming to stay here… and apparently, one of the twins is to sleep in my room.

Today at the dinner table, all of us silent in the loud sunset’s curtain-filtered light, my mother Marie (who refuse to be called anything but Marie) broke the silence and explained that Albert is to sleep in the Igloo, where he also will set up office, and one twin is to sleep in my room, the other in my sister’s.

My sister, Felicia, or Fela, is seven, but she already has her own room, of which she only occupies one corner, where she sits, humming, playing weird games with her broken dolls and howling fire truck and gnawed-on lego pieces. At the dinner table, she begins humming, too, on a tune probably made up, because I can’t imagine popular music playing any of the shit coming out of her mouth… She doesn’t care one bit what is being said around her.

But I care. A lot.

Because one of the twins is to sleep in my room. This is an issue.

Post 002.

It seems like my initial premise already failed. Everyday life, I said. Well, my very own everyday life will apparently change for a while, starting soon.

Simon, or Simba, (my father, who’s real nickname refers to another Disney character) told me we are expecting long term visitors, who’ll stay here in our house as well as in our back yard’s extra-house, a small two-roomer called The Igloo (the rough shape of the building is that of an igloo, because the architect was high when they made it). These visitors are two of my second cousins, the twins, and their father, Albert, Simba’s cousin.

Albert: a tall man seen from a distance at family gatherings, always oddly surrounded by other grown-ups, everyone laughing those loud, obscene grown-up laughs. In secret, Albert is known as “The Man with the Pig’s Heart”, because supposedly, he had real fucked-up heart problems when young, and now a pig’s heart is beating in his chest.

At those family gatherings—christmas or someone’s fiftieth birthday or whatever—everyone below twenty years old are placed at the same table, and awkwardness begins, there at the farthest end of a party tent, or in some grandparent’s basement. I don’t know my cousins, and they do not know each other. Kris, one of the twins, is our only solace on those occasions.

Kris will gather a crowd of bored family youths, and sit down on the basement floor to tell them all his new ghost-like stories about his father: “The Man with the Pig’s heart.” He once told us Albert got his replacement heart well before animals became scary and ungodly—animals, with their untethered, chaotically developing genomes, free from human intervention. And now Albert too is scary, because that pig’s heart beating in his chest is something ungodly—something from Before. Kris says it gave his father the ability to speak to animals. Walking through the forest, Albert would stop to listen to whatever he hears in the absolute silence. Sometimes he can be found on the laundry room floor, whispering to the spiders beneath the washing machines. He’ll make them kill you, Kris once said. He’ll make them crawl into your ear and up your brain at night.

Especially the younger kids surround Kris, their arms around their legs, listening, while we older kids stand dormant in the background, also listening. I think Kris enjoys scaring people. It’s his power: the ability to entrance, induce fear, and turn himself, too, into some kind of mythological, superhuman being. Because, after all, he’s living with that strange, tall, grown-up man with a pig’s heart.

I have no strong memories of Kris’ sister. I can’t recall her name. All I know is that I’ve seen her hovering in the basement’s shadows, and roaming about upstairs, talking to the grown-ups, maybe pretending she is one.

It’s a weird thing about these twins: I don’t think they like each other. That’s the impression I’ve got, at least, although I don’t know what gave me that impression. Maybe it is because I’ve never seen them stand beside each other, or talk to each other, or look at each other.

Simba, my father, didn’t tell me why they are coming. All he said was, “They’re traveling through, like nomads, and plan to make use of the hospitality of this house.” And then he laughed and squeezed my shoulder and retreated back into his office.

He played on this joke, an inside joke about how my closest family, especially my mom, are notoriously bad at receiving guests. But dad plays on the joke without bitterness, non-serious. He’s got the ability to make everything lighthearted: he could produce genuine laughs at the expense of a newly deceased relative. People meeting him for the first time always get the impression he’s the kind of person who views life as a big ol’ joke.