“Mikey, something’s going on with you, and it’s scaring me.”
”Nothing’s going on.”Silence.
Like the calm before a storm, except this time, it’s an earthquake that’s brewing. An earthquake so strong, it’s off the richter scale. The cracks are already appearing, and I ain’t talking about the ones everyone can see if they look hard enough. Like the ones running down my arms, my body, across my face. Skin layers shifted and scarred, bruised black and blue by a fracturing force of nature my Mother hasn’t been able to stop for seven years. I’m talking about the other cracks.
The ones in my mind.
“Yeah there is, man. I get the feeling it’s been going on for a long time now, and Mikey, I wanna know.”The walls in my mind are cracking.
I look up at Chris. He looks shaken up, kinda pale. The ground’s been moving under his Nike sneakers lately. He’s been seeing the lie pillars swaying.
“Nothing to tell.”
Our friendship’s been built on them. Pillars of stone-hard lies which my mouth can’t help telling. Strong on the outside, yet weak on the inside, and now they’re crumbling. Just like all reinforcements do, when they’re made out of a load of crap.
We’ve been best mates since kindergarten, but I’ve been real good at planting smiles and shit on my cracks. Cementing the truth over…until my mind began to splinter.
”Mikey come on, I know something’s not right. Something’s all screwed up with your family."”Nothing’s screwed up."
I close my swollen eyes, swallowing back the seismic wave of vomit that’s wanting to spill. Getting thrown about like a rag doll, swept off your feet and being bumped and banged about the head, does that to a person. I’d tried to grab a hold of something to get back to my feet. I’d tried to find a place to hide, had aimed for my bed, but it’d been too powerful. You ever tried crawling on all bleeding fours, when you’re being knocked over?
“Yeah? Nothing’s screwed up, huh?”
There’s disbelief in his voice.
He can’t believe he’s hearing that word again. What can I say? A limited vocabulary has always been effective in countering the warning alarms ringing in his head.
Cause now, he senses there’s an earthquake coming. A big one. He’s seen me trembling for too long, and he knows my mind’s cracking.“Bullshit.”
This time, Chris is looking down at me, and I know I’m kinda pale too. Curled up on the floor, broken, I can’t be any other colour. I’ve been bent out of shape, and it hurts.
“How long are you planning on hiding this?”
“Ain’t hiding nothing.”
“It’s your Dad, hey? Mikey.”
“Leave me alone.”
“Man, we can go to the poli-“
You can’t ever win against a force of nature, you know?
You can try. You can try and try and try, try for seven years. You can move to avoid it; run away from home, and spend a few nights at your friend’s house. A place where the sun always shines bright yellow and happy, and the floral plates in the kitchen never lift off the shelves to be shattered. And then, then when you’re sick of that, you can try living out on the streets. Or, you can get yourself a suit of armour. A silver bladed pocket knife to protect your body, and a smoking joint or two, to protect your mind from cracking at the reality it ain’t ever going to stop trying to hurt you.
Like mine has.
Chris watches as I open my eyes. I don’t look at him this time. I stare at the wall behind him. It’s blank.
“Nothing’s going on.”
When it wants to hurt you, it’ll hurt you.
Ask my Mother. Her eyes are as blank as the wall I’m staring at. Her mind cracked a long time ago. She spends her days climbing out of the rubble it leaves her in, and spends her nights being buried alive under it. She knows she’ll never get away from its power.
“Hell nothing’s goin’ on, look at yourself!” Chris wants to save me. He wants his best mate back. “I’m, I’m getting my Mum and we’re, man, we’re calling the police –“
He wants me to survive.
But I have other ideas.
I heave, and up comes my vomit.
It’s a rushing tidal wave of acid-eaten, half putrefied green breakfast, and it splashes against his Nikes already tinted by my blood. I fold over, starting to laugh. It’s the sort of laughter a crazy person whose cracked, laughs. Sometimes all a person’s got left, is their sense of humour.
Doesn’t he know the damage has already been done?
Doesn’t he know the police can’t do shit?
There’s an earthquake brewing.