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 When I got older, and stopped crying, I would instead be sort of dazed, withdrawn, and eventually, I would apologize.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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My Options -Post 007.

They are here. The twins, Kris and Maya, and their father: the fabled Man with the Pig’s Heart. His real name is Albert. It’s almost too generic.

Maria forced me to show the twins the house, the garden and the block, while Felicia hovered about us, putting broken toys in our path, running around our legs, looking up at the new faces she probably recognized, or maybe not.

The twins didn’t say much. Me neither, just stuff like, “The kitchen, as you can tell” and “The living room”, and “Fela’s room, you’ll be sleeping here, Maya”, and “My room, there’s your mattress, Kris”, and “The garden, and the Igloo, we call it that because it looks like one”, and so on. Together, we embodied that awkwardness grown-ups inflict on you, when they force you to be nice, listen to what they’re saying, and play with your new friends.

Maya took Felicia’s hand when I showed them around the block. Mostly I think it was to stop her from running out in the open street, but I didn’t like it. Felicia got all calm, and looked up to Maya, and started talking real low, like she did when she told you a secret. Like she spoke when she told me mom’s been cheating, several years back. Most people would say she’s a kid, Felicia, she doesn’t know what to say and what to keep to herself, but I think it’s more than that: I think she knows what she’s doing, I think she’s probing, seeing what reactions she get. On the street, I worried she’d tell Maya about my sleepwalking.

Then Kris walked up beside me, and said, without any pretext, “We’re not happy to be here. We’re only here because of bullshit legal issues. We’ll be going soon, don’t you worry. I snore. Hope you can deal with that, until then. Otherwise, sorry you.”

Then he turned back towards the house. I stopped walking. Maya smiled this smooth, soothing smile, slightly cocking her head. Sorry, that’s the way he is, her smile said.

Back home, my parents and Albert, dressed in a suit, his hair reflecting the sunlight through the window, sat at the furthest end of the kitchen table. They spoke low, furtively, like they too had secrets going on.

I might be paranoid.

That night, and every night the last few days, I’ve been sleeping at a friends place. At home, I packed my bag, waited until mom went to the bathroom, and then I dropped by dad’s office, saying I’m going to see a friend. Then I left before he had a chance to object. At this time, Albert and the twins were in the Igloo, and they had been there for probably two hours, not a word or sound.

 

Contrary to popular belief, completely platonic relationship between people whose respective genders and sexualities happen to align, is possible. I’m staying with a classmate, Amanda, one year older than me, one of those self-made people my parents oh so wish I’d become: someone who pays for their own school, studies independently on their own, pays their own bills, have their own place, go out on the weekends, etc. She’s a bit infuriating, in that regard, but she doesn’t brag, or look down on anyone, for any reason. For her, what is, just is. She’s good with advice.

“What should I do about the sleepwalking situation?” I asked her.

Not all my friends know about my sleepwalking. I choose to only tell the people I truly care about. Victor doesn’t know.

Amanda counted my options:

  1. Get on medication again and hope it helps. To which I said no way, no way, not letting my brain decay into oatmeal… and those worms. I’ve told Amanda about that, too.
  2. Talk to my parents about it and see if they can house Kris somewhere else, which I’m not even going to try, since it will inevitably lead to possibility one: they will force me.
  3. Just go with it, leave the door unlocked, not say a word to Kris, and see what happens. This is possible, but I fear I will leave the room, walk around, and if seen… it would force me to do 2), which would lead to 1).
  4. Lock the door as usual, after Kris falls asleep, and hope I wake up before him, and that he doesn’t notice me walking around the room at night. This is a stupid idea. That I said, and Amanda just smiled, and told me, “It’s an idea.” But it is a stupid idea. Either Kris would wake up for a toilet visit, and find the door locked, which would incline him to wake me up, and force me to talk to him, or, me walking around would wake him up, and either he freaks out and tells my parents, or forces me to tell him what the fuck is going on. I said all this, and Amanda smiled, and said, “That leaves us to 5).
  5. Tell Kris about my sleepwalking. Explain why I like to keep my door locked, and why I like to keep it secret. Trust him, and make sure he understands I’ve decided to trust him with this. People like to be trusted, it makes them feel special. Let him have the screwdriver. Amanda said this.

Option five is the only possible option, it seems. This, or stay at Amanda’s place forever, to which she laughed, and tapped my head in a somehow not condescending way, and then she lay down in her bed, saying, “Sleepy time.”

I’m scared. I can’t sleep. That’s the sixth option, I guess: never go to sleep again. It’s sunday night, and tomorrow it’s school again, and I’ll be forced to return home. And not only that, but explain why I haven’t returned Maries calls, why I’ve been so rude to our new guests, and why I have made my parents look like fools in front of such a respectable person as The Man with the Pig’s Heart.

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.