It’s been eight years. Time is supposed to fly by, but for those of us with a dark secret, the clocks move a little slower. I’ve spent years with it. The madness, the fear, the cowardice. It crept up the walls and stretched thin from the ceilings to gaze into my bloodshot eyes. It has never blinked. Not once.
Sometimes I can’t go home. I pace the streets manically, unable to stand another second in my dark little apartment. Every tick of the clock echoes, pulsing energy break through the room, and I hold my breath so I can listen. Was the last tick a little louder? Was the sound more than just the clock? Are they here?
Other times I can’t leave the house at all. Can I control it this time, the power of it, deciding for myself when it should surface? Or will it just burrow deeper again, returning when I least expect it? By the time I realize what’s happening, it will already be over. History is instant and forever. Lives are changed most by things people don’t desire.
Pausing at work the other day, I noticed how much I’ve changed since it happened. My hands look older and worn, my fingernails are down to the nubs, bitten and chewed until raw. There’s no white at the tips. I tell people it’s just a bad habit, but it’s a letter of confession, one muffled by the habit every time the truth wants to escape.
Will it happen again? Am I strong enough to stop it? There’s no one to provide answers. The only way is through the looking glass, Alice. Step inside and see what comes. If my desire and will have allowed me to control it, then I can live a life again. If not, then the horrors that occur will perfectly mirror that dark day eight years ago. There were so many victims. The thought of their tortured faces always keeps me from trying.
But the time will soon come. I can’t hide forever. The deeper I dig the hole, the more it closes in on me, and my demons will always be there at the exit, waiting impatiently. Tick tock. Tick tock. Ring.
We all remember where we were that fateful morning in 2003. The day none of us would ever forget. It’s a moment in time etched into our minds, scratched into the folds of our brain so we won’t forget, can’t forget. November 3, 2003. The day Paul Ryan farted while standing in line at the bank.
I’ll pause for effect. Please do so while reading as well.
You remember, don’t you? You were there. Even if you weren’t at the bank, or in the same state, or on the same continent, you felt it. A sonic boom of epic proportions, pure force thundering through the landscape, exploding through patrons and tellers as if they weren’t even there. The blast killed 70 innocent bystanders and weakened the bank vault. People clung to tables for dear life as others were sent crashing to their doom. Mothers howled as they tried to save their helpless children, only to watch them flung into the abyss and consumed.
Nearly 38 days later, after my mighty winds had subsided and the fallout lessened, people throughout the country emerged from underground vaults to find barren landscapes. Trees were dead, roads were ripped from the ground like pieces from a child’s playset. A few select species of animals survived, but only by evolving into sickly, mutated creatures that now need the toxins to survive. Even when we thought it was safe to go back, the contamination was forever in the soil. It never left, and it won’t for hundreds of years. November 3, 2003. The day the Lord decided that locusts were for pussies.
Frivolous, you say? Farting in a bank? Ha! Double ha! You haven’t had to bear the shame for these eight long years. You weren’t the monster who ruined the air quality inside that bank for at least a half life of 30 years. You aren’t the one the surviving tellers still refer to as The Count of Wells Fartio.
You can still find people who were directly hit by the blast, but the experience was so traumatic that they can only speak in hand signals and soft, tortured moans. Aaron Brown, a man so affected by the tragedy that he changed his last name to describe the thick crust covering him afterward, now has Alzheimer’s. He’s 31 years old, but he can barely remember any of the episodes of “New Girl” he used to recite from memory. Kathryn Houlihan, who was 145 miles away when the payload hit, now has to dye her hair red because it is no longer that color naturally.
But enough is enough. I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m through with blaming what happened on that Armenian guy standing in front of me. It was I who farted in Wells Fargo on November 3, 2003. Loudly. I’m the one who dealt it, and now I’m dealing with it. I won’t hide any longer.
I will, however, use direct deposit from now on. You’re welcome.