So every now and again, I like to smash out a short story. They are usually very weird, about my mental illness and can take a whole bunch out of me while I write them. Writing these stories makes me feel awesome. They make me feel that for just that moment in time, my usual life has taken a back seat and I have become me, the individual. I only think of what I want to think about and my whole essence is wrapped up in the weaving of the story. The story I would like to share with you today, is one of my favourites and I wrote it for a writer’s competition. It didn’t get anywhere, didn’t even make the first cut, but it signified that I had put myself out there. And that’s what matters.
If this story reminds you of you and you would like to drop me a comment about your thoughts, please feel free. I am no counselor, but I understand what you are going through.
My Crazy’s Game
I have a little friend. It likes to play games with my head. It doesn’t care if I like to play its games. Its name is Crazy and it lives in my thoughts. Just when I think I have everything in order in my head, I look closer and notice my Crazy getting ready to stick a mental spanner in my works.
It can seem as light as day in my mind, full of good intentions and rosy thoughts. Every waking moment feels on an even keel like, I suppose, a normal person’s mind. Thoughts flow easily and logically and the sun still shines in the face of stress. I can enjoy the company of almost anybody and am quick witted, a real gem and beloved. In this state, there is a vast space in the grassy plain of my mind for my buffalo thoughts to graze. I have cultivated the herd for years. Each buffalo represents a single thought, the birth of an idea created from the depths of my soul. The herd moves constantly across the wide, open expanse picking the juiciest young ideas from the fertile ground and sometimes, stopping to masticate a particularly tasty notion.
Never stopping to ruminate for long, the herd pushes on. Behind them, the plants with abstract thoughts eaten by the herd reincarnate as new theories, schemes, proposals and concepts. It seems to the observer that the herd might exist in this plain forever, such is the self-regenerative power of the plants sustaining the moving horde.
Each buffalo is fat and shiny with health and when moving together, they jostle and bump off each other causing parasitic negative tics to fly off and implode into nothingness. Although they exist as individual musings, my buffalo thoughts are still driven by the magnetic attraction between each one of them. Even as a buffalo carries its own idea, the herd cannot disassemble because if it does, the grass plain of my mind would fall inexorably to pieces. I would be left to wander along behind, in the dust of broken thoughts, trying vainly to gather them back to form a collaborative herd.
As the owner of this life-giving, sunny steppe, I benefit greatly from my herd of buffalo, but even as I rejoice in my creation, I catch myself trying to remember something important about it. I cannot quite put my finger on it and as I try to zero in on the feeling, I almost grasp it. Almost hear a voice whisper on a cool wind that has suddenly sprung up. What is it? What is it? What is it? What is it? What is it? That nagging notion, that feeling that I’m missing something vital. The voice on the wind whispers louder “It’s not real”. It sounds as if the voice is casting dispersions on the veracity of my buffalo thoughts. That perhaps the fidelity of my sunny grassland is less than bona fide. Looking ahead of the roving herd, I can see thunderclouds and a ravine.
What the hell?
It was sunshine and lollipops as far as the eye could see a second a go!!
The voice is screaming at me now “You are going to die! Rein in the herd!” Then I remember what it is that I was trying to forget. This has happened before. Many times. I also remember why I chose to forget, as I do every time.
I am going to die. My entire herd of precious buffalo thoughts are going to die.
The rate of death is different each time; but I remember that there is no escaping the dark, desolation of the annihilation that follows. I try to steer my buffalo away from the oncoming storm but they are on a particularly delicious strip of grazing fodder and will not be moved from its path. Its trail stretches into the storm’s oncoming course and the buffalo, zombie-like in their food coma, amble slowly towards their demise.
I desperately try to adopt some techniques to stop the herd. Positive thinking – nope, what’s positive again? Mindfulness – are you even joking right now?? More coffee – does nothing except make the buffalo walk faster to their death. Curling up in a ball – feels good, maybe I will stay here for a bit and try to think of another trick. All of a sudden, the buffalo reach the top of the ravine marking the boundary of the storm. They are not stopping. I’m feeling less inclined to care. It’s actually less effort to not care about my buffalo, or anything really.
The death of the sunny, nutritious grass plain of my mind is quick. The buffalo plunge over the crest of the ravine, falling, smashing into the jagged rocks of the darkness. Each thought following the one in front, unperturbed by the carnage below it, while the storm rages on above their broken bodies.
The tempest lashes at any sliver of light, throwing dark bolts of electricity at anything remotely resembling luminescence. Bitterness, grumpiness, distrust and constant emotional unrest is the now the order of the day. And the night. I do not mourn the passing of my sunny buffalo thoughts because I have forgotten them. They no longer exist in my mind. My mind is now a cesspool of dangerous bogs and menacing, slimy holes which are all just my size. Where before, nutritious thought-plants fostered growth and nurturing, now only poisonous thistles and thorny vines wind their putrid tendrils through my mind and my body.
Their poison makes my bones ache. My hair and fingernails are in constant agony. The poison saps my energy and my days roll by in a daze of lethargy and pointlessness. Every minute of my pathetic existence is spent fighting the ever-present fog, to keep from stepping in a bog or falling in a hole. The voice I heard whispering to me of my herd’s impending death, has turned into a seductive demon. It whispers that the bogs are warm and inviting and that the holes were especially made for me and would fit me like a warm embrace in which I could remain for all eternity.
The demon is alluring and it seems to be the only thing in my world that cares enough to be concerned about my level of discomfort. But I am distrustful in this state and I don’t listen all that carefully this time. As time wears on however, I become weary of navigating the pitfalls of my stupor and the demon is patient. It’s at my shoulder now. It’s breathing into my ear in its provocative way. My mind leans back into it, like a lover and I release my distrust, falling into the demon’s embrace. I become robot-like and completely devoid of all emotion.
Feelings do not exist within me now and when I could be bothered looking at my soul, I only see blackness. I do not understand the concept of happiness. I only know that it happens for other people. But for me, positivity, joy, progressiveness and the future hold no import or significance. The demon holds the reins of my thoughts and spurs me on with its acid whip. I only live because the demon lets me live. It hasn’t kept its promise that I would be able to stop in a warm embrace, the demon is relentless and cruel. I am physically tired and emotionally drained and I cannot see any use for my battered soul. I do not understand logic or emotion. It is almost too great an effort just to breathe.
Then, just as I have forgotten that any other reality exists, a voice whispers “It’s not real” and through the fog I make out the forms of buffalo lumbering towards me. Like the tide against a beach, their hooves beat out a tattoo that promises sun and freedom.
And my Crazy’s game begins again.