Miles To Go...
Trees are slowly changing shapes and changing sizes, my chest hurts. I can’t breathe. I wish I could find something that isn’t dark or tree like. My legs are failing. I think the bones, writhing inside of my flesh, are wearing away to nothing more than a dull ache. A person in the clearing—a man. I trip on a rock and fall hard on my sweating face. ‘Oh, Miles…” the man calls, his voice is strange, it sounds like my own. ‘Miiiilesy…’ he sings mockingly as he jumps me. I try to slap him away, but he just keeps tearing off bits of my clothes, my skin, bones…soul. I scream as his malicious face contorts with rage, quickly caving in; a black hole. I am sucked in. I wave back at the world for dying so slowly. “Miles?” I hear again. “Miiilesy…” They sing again.
I reach to slap him away. My arms won’t move. I’m stuck… the room is hot. Fiery red flames lick my ankles angry hands grope my feet my legs my groin my stomach my arms my face my mind….Oh, God. I’ve gone to Hell. “Miles!” Smack! My face is all that is left on fire. I look up through angry tears. A short, dark woman stares at me, terrified and tortured. “Miles?” People are rushing around in bright lights, the stench of disinfectants and misery.
I blink. “Annie?” I stare blankly at the woman I once knew as my lover. She smiled sadly at me. My arms are tied to a terribly white bed. My eyes hurt.
“Miles! Oh Miles...” she leans down and hugs me. I can’t breathe. I feel tears fall down the back of my neck. I hug her back. She smells of soap. Her body is soft, even through layers of clothing I feel her figure. “Annie? Where am I?”
“You’re in a hospital.” With my remaining look of bewilderment she added “You’re in Chicago , it’s December, 2005.” I nod.
“Why am I here?” I ask. My voice sounds distant, causing me to look around for the man.
“Because, Miles, you had some sort of breakdown…I don’t know how to explain it, but you tried to scratch your own eyes out and you shot at our neighbor. When the cops came you ran, and when they found you, you were ranting and drooling and scratching the hell out of your arms.” She took a breath. I don’t know what to say. After a long, uncomfortable silence I speak.
“You look tired.”
“I am tired.” She replies.
“You should get rest.”
“I should, I know. I can’t, though.”
“How long have I been in here?”
“A few days, I think… almost four.”
“Oh. Have I been sleeping?”
“No, not much. You’ve been out of your mind.”
“I’m very sorry.”
“It isn’t your fault, Miles.”
“I’m still sorry.” I attempt to scratch my groin.
“I know, I am too.” She unties my left hand.
Suddenly I am running again. My heart is beating in my neck. I’m running as fast as I can. I can feel nothing but my feet and my fear. I’m breaking. Like a vase in slow motion, dropping to the floor. Shards of me on the floor…I’m bleeding. I’m being shaken and battered. The culprit, I perceive to be God—the cruel bastard. I scream. My face is wet: sticky. I am restrained. I am wrapped in a backwards shirt and placed in a cold, empty room, but for the window, which the man sits in. He looks horrid. There is blood in his teeth, his eyes are bloody, and scratch marks run all over his face. His hair is matted and dirty. Someone put him in a straight jacket.
“Miiiilesy… He sings, grinning at me. I smile.
“What do you want?”
“Several things, Miles.”
“Why are you after me?”
“Because I have this specific grudge, and vengeance IS mine. I intend to break you, Milesy.”
“Why? What have I done?”
“Not what you have done, really. What you didn’t do.” I start to cry. “Miles, I can’t allow you to forget what you did to them. Oh your dear mother! How horribly you treated her. You left her there to rot, and rot she did. You sicken me. The way she always praised you and did everything you wanted her to. You deserve punishment worse than death, and that’s what I want. That’s why I am here, Miles.” I am bawling.
“Get OUT of here!” I scream, and in my throes of fury I lunge my head into the glass. “Get out! Get OUT!” I hear my voice grow distant the dark, misty forest engulfs me. I am lost. I run. As I move I wonder why I do so. I stop and look around. No one is here. I sit down on the grass and cry. I cry like no man has ever cried. I drop my hand in the grass before me and feel something sharp prick my finger. I open my eyes and see a shard of the window. The man is in it. ‘How in the…’ I wonder. I jump. Either this man can replicate my every move exactly as I do it or…he is me.
I pick up the piece of mirror and sobbingly fumble with it until my fingers are entirely sticky with blood. Whispering apologies to people who can not hear me, I slowly pull the jagged edge of the splinter up my wrist, then my arm, and to my elbow. I look into the reddened piece of mirror in my hand and wonder how and why I was reduced to this. My formerly kempt, short sandy red hair is now unkempt and dirty. My eyes, once a vividly animated shade of blue-gray are now blood shot and haunted. My nose, lips, and chin all drawn in a look of disgust, bloody, dirty and unshaven. I am lost… lost to this man...if he is even worthy of that title. I notice my vision blurring as I glare, with the eyes of a madman, into the piece of the mirror. My thoughts come in a torrent, picking me up and out of the forest. I am abruptly ripped full force to the hurricane that is my memories, fears, accomplishments, pleasures… and I see my mother.
“Mother?” I whisper, my body trembling. I watch her thin frame and wonder why it was that she had such a… innate beauty. I remembered her affection, which had been so much more than just affection…She does not speak. “I’m sorry…” She holds her finger to my lips. She points to the Northern end of my childhood room, where she and I connected so many years and defeated our sorrow and our solitude. She kissed my forehead and stood, then walked to that corner of the room. She walked tall, as if on a ship before pirates, scaling the plank. She was completely naked. “Milesy,” she says with her head up high and proud. “You are not to blame yourself.” Her voice is distant and as sweet as I can ever remember it being. In a matter of seconds I saw my father burst into the room with a large knife to find my mother standing in the corner naked, and myself sitting on my bed. He stabs my mother once. Then he stabs her again and again. He stabs her as though the knife were a starved entity that was feeding from every vicious blow to my mother’s chest. I turn my head as time freezes, my mind whirls and I look while I watch my reflection in the mirror behind my bleeding mother. I become the young me, the tall, lanky boy with uncombed hair and far too old for his age. I feel his rage course through me. I feel him; I see him, pick up one of his many swords from his collection and furiously ram it halfway into his father. I feel the blood on my hands as I pull it out.
My father falls to the ground, on top of my beautiful mother. I stare at the bloody capsule that ruined every second of my life… I hear his voice in my head say…
I see my mother barely alive beneath him. With strength that surprised my young self I threw him off of her angrily. I cried out when I saw my bloody mother. I felt my body fall apart and my soul shatter like my mind, into shards on the floor… I stare, not able to save her life. I crouch down and place my hand gently on her neck. I feel her cooling skin and I feel my stomach lurch. Barely beating. I look up at her face. Her eyes are half open and she coughs up a puddle of blood all over herself. “My Miles...” She whispers, her unimaginable pain obvious in her voice. My heart races and all I can feel is every ounce of agony that she felt. She begs for me to end her suffering. I can’t.
“I can’t! No!” I shout and run out the door, out of the house, out of time, space… I am running. Am I running? I look at my hands. Covered in blood, but older.
“Miles?” I look up at the attendant. He is standing in the doorway of my room. I’m in a padded room and halfway in a straight jacket. I am covered in glass and blood. “Mr. Anders?” The man asks again, and then calls for assistance for the man who has escaped his straight jacket. He questions me.
“Are you Miles Anders?”
“Are you an artist?”
“Are you a 26 year-old male, handsome and intelligent?”
“I wish.” I smile. He smiles.
“Do you know where you are?”
“I’m in a nuthouse.”
“Do you know why?”
“Because I’m a nut.”
“Because you’re suffering from severe schizophrenia and manic depressive masochism, Miles. Among other small disorders.”
“That’s what I meant.” He helps me up, removes the tattered straight jacket and helps me out of the room. I hear my mother’s voice.
“You are not to blame yourself.”
“I know.” I whisper sadly. “I’m not in charge in my head.”
“Pardon me?” I look up at the attendant and shake my head. His face is blurred. I try to focus. “Miles, are you still with me, buddy?” He looks down and sees that I'd sliced into a vein. “Oh, Christ!” He sits me down carefully, quickly, and then runs off to find someone. He calls for an ambulance while still talking to me. To make sure that I’m alive, I suppose. I answer for his sake. Perhaps for my own, as well.
Now, I am running. No. I am sitting in a chair. But I am running, my blood barely hanging on to the walls of my veins, because they naturally want to survive. Slowly my body attempts to barricade the crimson spring that sprouts merrily from my arm, soaking the rag that covers it.
I am sinking. Quickly, blood loss, exhaustion, and psychosis rob me of my every ounce of will power. I let myself go.
I am running into a room in which my mother is standing, smiling naked in my window. I watch my hands move the pencil to save the memory of her image. I watch my mother, then, being murdered by my father, her husband. The man she married and the man she shared her life and body with. I am running away from the house, horrified. I am running through the white washed halls of an asylum, away from demons that are all really just me. Now, I am running into the arms of oblivion.
And I am running eagerly.