In college, I went on a date with the son of my mother’s coworker. I couldn’t remember if his name was Jason or Justin, so I spent the entire night maneuvering my way out of saying his name. He... [+]
The light turns green. I press the gas pedal and cruise down the empty streets with sleepy houses lining the roads and sleepy, unknowing residents resting inside them. I check the clock ticking on the dashboard of the car. 2:34 am. A few minutes pass by. 2:36 am.
I drive until the pavement turns into a gravel path, most of it buried from the sand blown from the beach. Pulling the car to a stop, I park as close to the water as I possibly can. I lean over the shift and grab the jacket discarded on the passenger seat. It’s thick denim with hand sewn patches covering the arms and when I take a cautionary sniff of it, it thankfully doesn’t smell like you. It doesn’t smell like hatred and pain and rage. Somehow, it smells like the ocean. And it makes me feel the tiniest bit better.
The red numbers read out 2:51 am. The jacket wraps around my bare shoulders and I exit the car. The waves try to reach for the tires but they miss it by a few inches. I sit on a large boulder several feet away.
Here, the crash of the ocean has a better effect in calming me down. I lay down on the flattest part and close my eyes. It’s music compared to the daggers of your voice. I stay still, letting the water wash over the shells and sand over and over again trying to forget everything else. Minutes pass and the waves do nothing to wash away the memories, so I open my eyes. I notice all of the stars shining against the darkness of space. They seem dimmer than before, but I can still make out the constellations. I search for my favorite one, but I can’t seem to find it.
My hands begin to shake. I need to find it. Maybe then everything will feel okay again. My breaths come out short and I only realize the starting stages of a panic attack when the blackness around the edges of my vision isn’t from the absence of the sun, it’s from the thought that’s been rattling around in my head since it happened. Since you happened.
I curl myself into a ball, trying to feel safe inside a body that doesn’t feel like it’s mine anymore. It hurts. Everything hurts. Nothing is working and I hate this powerlessness I feel. I want myself back. I want to claw out the me you have in your iron grip, scratch and hurt you until you can feel what I had to feel.
But I can’t do that now. All I have is nothing in comparison.
I hope that it will be enough.
I pick myself up carefully, shrugging off the jacket and holding it out over the ocean waves. This will be the first step. It has to be.
I take a deep breath. And I let go.