Man or A Seahorse
Shadow owns me. I open my eyes. Slivers of sunlight cast docile shadows on the popcorn ceiling that meets the white wall of my unpacked, messy bedroom. I breathe deep. I watch the puppet show. What twin shadow follows me? I’m both lured and irked by ripples of light and dark on my wall. I close my eyes in hopes sleep will call me back to the veil of dreams. Not so. My eyes peel open.
The vigilant shadow taunts me. “Is it a man or a seahorse?” I hear myself say. “Or is there something you need from me?” I stare fixated until the sun finally moves. I kick my green-blue blanket off. I jump from my tattered, double bed that’s travelled two hours with me to an eight hundred square foot apartment on the outskirts of Cabbage town. I dash to the bathroom. I hope my bare feet doesn’t encounter any squashed cockroach. Yuck. My bladder screams in pain for relief. Why do I wait so long knowing at any moment I will wet myself? I do a jig as I drop my undies to my ankles and drop onto the toilet. There I sit. Sit. Sit.
For months now, the shadow worms its way under every fibre of my skin. Bores. Lurks. I wish it were still winter. I go for daily walks, weather permitting in hopes the frigid winter mornings will freeze shadow and crack it into oblivion. While my teeth chatter, and I huddle into my shoulders to brace the tundra winds, my cheeks burn. Icicles dangle about the chambers of my heart. Go ahead stab me. I press an ungloved thumb to my exposed wrist. A faint pulse. Instead, I wish I can drink myself into numbness. I wish a lot of things to relieve hurt. What am I to become?
I simply function because that’s what others expect of me. Be there. You’re so good at what you do. Who else is going to do it? Did you get a chance to look over those videos I sent you? Can you get on it I need it yesterday? I grab the sides of my temples, squeeze, and groan. Why torture yourself, Saiya? Your feelings – what feelings? A vast cavern of nothing in the center of my chest. I’m unable to feel anything. I had a heart once. A beautiful heart.
I exit the bathroom. I scrounge through an open moving cardboard box marked ‘kitchen’ and find a frying pan. I find myself making quick work of scrambled eggs sizzles in the pan as toast pops up from the toaster in the dimly lit kitchen. I don’t remember brushing my teeth. Did I brush my teeth? I turn the eggs and I’m standing in the contemporary kitchen of my three thousand square feet, five-bedroom house. I sigh. The drop kick of being an unemployed, professional digital manager choke holds me. I press a hand to my chest. Breathe, Saiya.
“Hey,” he says.
I turn and face him with an expectant half-smile. “Good morning.”
“I guess we have to sell the house.”
I lose my stomach in free fall like a Drop Tower amusement ride waiting to hurl whatever angry bile resides within me. My eyes cloud over. Inside, I roar, “All you think about is money. I lost my job, asshole. For once, I want to hear you say – hang in there, Saiya. You’re talented. You’ll find another job in no time. Jackass!”
He sees he’s put his foot in his mouth and runs for the front door before I can unleash the kraken. I slam anything I can get my hands on. The beginning of the end. Burning eggs brings me back. I grab the pan and throw it into the sink.
I cry myself into exhaustion. I blubber and howl some more. I blow my nose into a tea towel so hard my ears pop. What is happening to me? Why is there no ground beneath me? I had a heart once. A beautiful heart.
I regain myself. I’m vex with myself as I throw away my burnt eggs. I hold the cold toast, crunch down and eat with displeasure. I return to my bedroom and stand at the window. I see my fragmented, restless, enraged reflection shimmer and I disappear.
The ring tones from my cell phone beckons me towards the bed. I search for it beneath the blanket. I find it, glance the caller I.D. I hesitate to answer.
I’m literally saved by the ping of the text message which reads: “Hi, Saiya. Hope you are doing well. Just thought of letting you know that your profile has not been shortlisted for IT Manager.”
Oh, no. Not again. I slump down onto my bed.
“Why is my existence a clothesline of jobs?” I ask myself.
I breathe. Shadow whispers to me. I cover my ears. I scream hoarse.
“I’ve given you everything! I give and give. Whatever I am, give me back.”
My cell phone rings. I check the screen I.D. and answer.
“Sis, I’m not a doormat. Right?” I continue. “I saw a shadow of a man or a seahorse on the wall this morning. A seahorse. Weird. I checked. Turns out a female seahorse gives her eggs to the male, who then fertilizes and carries the eggs two to four weeks in a pouch in his body. Then gives birth.”
“Saiya, you’re scaring me.”
“Not as scared as I am. Sis. I wore a mask. I lost myself. I am something. But what? Shadow keeps me locked inside.”
My heart thumps in my chest. I get up from the bed and walk to the window. I open it. I inhale.
I think to myself, maybe this is the way to get the shadow to let me go.
“Do you know what this means? Of course not. It means I will find balance and stability no matter how bad my life gets.”