Story Contest 2016 #2 - Outstanding Stories » Mind of Mine
“Mind of Mine” is one of the outstanding stories of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2016 written by Alex Magero, South Africa.
Mind of Mine
I glance over at my bedside clock: its 3am. I’m still awake. I’m trembling, my body covered in a feverish sweat even though I’ve already thrown all the bedcovers off in a failed attempt to cool down. Night after night I’ve thrashed around my bed desperately trying to escape from an unknown demon lurking in the darkness of my room. At a glance one could easily say that I was going crazy. To me it was the slow and agonizingly painful disintegration of my sanity.
My depression and anxiety is a monstrosity that I cannot control. Over time it has poisoned my mind and robbed me of the joys of a normal teenage life. Not that I’m normal. I have an eidetic memory which means that I can remember everything that I have experienced. The school that I attend, St Alexander’s, is a school for prodigies much like me. It’s an incredible school but the only problem is that it’s not for me. Oh! in the beginning it was incredible. Being around people who thought like me and could relate to me was easily the greatest thing since sliced bread. Six months down the line however and I could not even begin to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. My nights are spent compulsively eating away at the faults in my performance both at school and at home while my days are consumed by plastering my fakest smile on my face to disguise my disgust in myself and my inability to understand the things happening around me. I don’t know who I am and I don’t think I want to. And so here I am.
As I toss and turn so does my mind. The problem with being able to remember everything that you experience is that you can never forget anything. Ever. The man who stood behind me in the line at the grocery store yesterday? I remember that his left shoe lace was untied and that he was wearing a pinstripe red dress shirt.
The couple sitting at the table across from my family and me at a restaurant two months ago? I remember that the lady ordered a well done sirloin steak with extra black pepper and half a glass of red wine while her partner had the grilled salmon with stir fried vegetables and two glasses of white wine.
When my parents went to see an opera show three years ago? I remember that my mother had worn a jade dress with black high heels and a black clutch purse and my father had worn a black suit with a deep green tie to match my mother’s dress. I remember that my father was wearing peppermint cologne and that my mother had smudged her red lipstick on the glass of water that she drank before they left. I remember that the theatre they were going to was on 36 Tenner Street and that the opera started at 7:15pm sharp.
Having a perfect memory is great until it comes to the point where your memories consume you. I don’t want to remember anymore. I want to shut the memories out. Desperate, I hum a random tune but my brain remembers that I heard the same one on the radio on my way to school in second grade. Frustrated, I try to clear my mind no longer feeling like a sixteen year old girl but rather a living and breathing computer spurting out knowledge that I don’t know what to do with. And as the memories swirl on and on, I curl further and further into myself and hate my mind more and more.
Keeping up a façade this large is not easy and, as a result, it requires many components in order for people around me to believe that there is nothing wrong with me. Every morning I drink two extra size energy drinks (taken from a stash cleverly concealed in my clothes drawer) and cover the shadows under my eyes with makeup before going downstairs for breakfast. In my locker at school there are dozens of bottles of energy boost tablets which I take during the day in order to help me concentrate in my classes.
However, this morning is different.
It’s 7am and as I open the first can of energy drink something inside me breaks. My tears are an eternal fountain and as I sit on my bedroom floor sobbing my eyes out, I realize that I cannot keep the mask up for much longer. The memories won’t stop and no amount of effort that I make has any hope in controlling them. Even now as my body is wracked with heavy sobs the memories threaten to make my skull explode as they try to force their way out. Voices whispering, colors exploding everywhere, different foods, dates, addresses, names; it’s more than I can take.
Overcome with fear, I let out a gut wrenching scream as the tears continue. All of a sudden I hear a banging at my bedroom door and someone is calling my name. It’s my older sister, Ivana. When she opens the door and sees me on the floor, she rushes towards me and kneels at my side, taking the can out of my shaking hands and wiping my face as she pulls me towards her into a tight embrace. And I feel safe. For the first time in what feels like forever, a wave of protection washes over me. As I cry into Ivana’s chest and she strokes my hair whispering that everything will be okay, something inside me believes her. I’m nowhere close to being fixed but just sitting and being here with her tells my twisted and poisoned mind that I can be.