It took me almost three weeks to write this short story. It is my first attempt at a relatively long piece. It is a manifestation of raw emotion and experience...
Another night passed by while he's locked in this dreadful room. He can only wish and dream to get out of this god awful place one day. "I did this to myself, I can't really blame him" he said out loud in a sad yet convincing tone. "It was my fault to let him in initially". He lay there on a bed in this room, staring at the ceiling wishing that one day he runs out of thought. For it was thought that was killing him and nothing else. When you spend too much time in the same place and the same mental state, thought becomes you're worst enemy. The room was poorly lit, as only a weak bulb hung from the ceiling. The room was part of a cabin in the middle of the woods. The walls of the room were consisted of vertical wood logs, their brown color was faded and they were cracked. Time has taken its toll on the walls of the room, just as it has on him. The room was cold and almost dark, a typical "4 walled" room. In one wall stood an ever locked door, opposite to which lay a wooden bed with white sheets and covers. On either of the other two walls was a mirror and on the other wall a window. The mirror was nothing but a rectangular piece of glass with several brown spots marking the beginning of the demise of the reflecting object. On the opposite wall the window looked on the woods outside, yet the vision was imperfect due to a combination of dust and morning mist added up through time. He got up from the bed and started towards the mirror, he took yet another look at his ever aging figure. He was a young man, yet by the current look of him all what could be seen is a man weighed down by sorrow. His eyes were almost shut, with dark halos under them, his beard untrimmed and his brown hair was a mess. The man looked simply sick. He stared at his reflection for what seemed to be ages, remembering the way he looked when he was happy. He grinned at himself in sarcasm and disgust, and walked away towards the window. Through the window he could see an endless stack of trees, yet he knew that beyond those trees stood the place where he first found happiness. If only he could go there again. He went back to his bed, sat on its side for a couple of seconds then reached under the pillow for the object he held dearest. A photo album, he took it in his hands feeling its leather covering softly. He was almost afraid to open it, for he knew the kind of pain the memories in it would cause. Nevertheless those memories were all he had left, they were what reminded him that he was alive one day, that he controlled his own destiny… not "him". I am just like a werewolf now, I let this beast come out with no sense or control over what it is going to do to my life. The pain and misery drove "him" out, to lock me in this place with the walls closing in on my soul one day after the other.
His agonizing flood of thought was interrupted by a knock on the door.
"Hey buddy, you still hanging in there?" said his detainer.
"Fuck off!" the hurting man snapped back at him with clear disdain.
"You're awfully angry today, a bit more than usual. What's wrong? Do you want a soda? Hehe..." his coarse sarcastic laughter crept in the cold room.
"Do you even know what you're doing out there anymore, you're just ruining our life" came the reply from inside the room.
"Buddy don't get started with this again, you know I'm only doing this to protect you. I'll let you out when the time is right". Boy did he hear this before.
"Puh, you really don't know what's going on anymore. Looks like you're a prisoner of your own mind yourself man" the prisoner said with another disgusted grin on his face now.
"Say whatever you want buddy, at least I'm keeping you from becoming the idiot you once were. Do you remember how disappointed and hurt you once were because of your idiocy? I didn't bring this upon us, you did. Deal with it. Being here in this room is a lot better for you, trust me." he started walking away from the door.
"Wait! Don't walk away! This is not over! I was not an idiot you hear me! I was not an idiot!" he hadn't realized that he was punching the door with both fists until he felt the pain from his bloody knuckles. He looked at his shaking hands with tears rolling down his cheeks. He dropped to his knees. He was yet again in another state of shock and pain. He reached for the photo album and opened it flipping through its pages, in a frantic manner. It was as if he was going to reach something by the end of the album, like a man finding a lake in the middle of the desert only to realize it is a mere mirage. He stopped at a photo, the photo. It was the photo of the beginning of his happiness. He passed his bloody fingers on the images in the photo with despair, and he smiled a sad smile through the tears. He wished he can turn back time to go back and change it all, to give this beginning a happy ending. In the midst of his pain and fatigue, he passed out on the floor. He woke up in the middle of the night, tired and disoriented from disturbing dreams. This time however, he decided to find a way out of this place. Nobody knew he even existed in this room, all what people could see was "him" and this wrecked cabin and that of course ruined whatever was left of their lives. He recalls when this cabin was piece of art, when music bounced off its walls throughout the day; he recalled how people marveled at its beauty. Everybody envied what he had, this cabin and how he came to build, for it was not without effort. He remembers the days before the cracks found their way to the cabin's walls. The days before the storm. He also remembered the storm.
He was afraid to go further with his memory, for fear of another agonizing mind trip. He decided that he would assume his way out of this hell hole first thing in the morning. It hurt him to think of this place with such negativity, but that is what it has become. "I'm going to change that tomorrow; it is all going to change. I will do what I should have done months ago". He got up and lay in his bed, waiting for the sun to rise, yet he couldn't get any sleep.
By the first ray of sunlight, he was up and waiting next to the door. Minutes later he heard "him" coming towards the door. "Hey man, I got you some nice breakfast. I thought this would cool you off, after our "incident" last night" the detainer yelled through the door.
"Thanks, but there is something else I'd like to ask of you man" he replied while taking the plate that was slid from under the doorway.
"What's that?" obvious curiosity can be detected in his tone of voice.
"Well you know I've been here for 5 months now alone and all, I thought why don't you come in and talk with me for a while" He told his detainer with hope.
"Ha! That's a first! No thanks buddy, we're fine talking the way we do" the prison owner replied in a sarcastic yet firm tone.
"Come on man! What's the problem with you coming in for only 5 minutes, I haven't seen people in so long! I have even forgotten what you looked like. Or are you afraid to show me what you look like now?" this was the last desperate attempt to convince him.
"You're hilarious you know that? I had forgotten you were so funny buddy! Why would I be afraid to show you myself? Get real man. However I am pretty curious what you look like now. You know what… I might just come in and have a little chat with you after all" he didn't know why he agreed on doing that, but he just did.
"Great!" the prisoner couldn't believe his amateur attempt was actually working.
The locks of the door started finally turning; the prisoner felt a glimpse of hope with every turn of those locks.
"You'd better not be setting up any funny business or I'll kick your ass man, you'll beg me to put you back in this room again" the prison holder shouted over the sound of the turning locks"Man, I neither have the tools nor the strength to pull anything off, I just want to talk really" he was completely honest saying that, he didn't have a specific exit strategy in mind.
The door finally opened, and the detainer walked in.
A cool winter breeze came in along with him; freshening up the old stagnant air in the room. The prison holder locked the door quickly behind him, and he turned to face his prisoner. Utter silence hit them both. They both stood there looking at each other in paralyzing silence.
"Holy shit!!" the prisoner yelped in surprise. "What happened to you man, did you get hit by a train?!" he could not hold his sarcastic surprise in; he was actually chuckling for the first time in so long.
The detainer could hardly reply, for he was actually hit by something. He was hit by confusion. "I don't understand…this isn't possible. You're not supposed to look like that".
"What are you talking about? Did you take a look at a mirror lately?! You look like shit man! You look even worse than I do, and I'm the one in captivity here!" for the first time, the prisoner felt in charge.
The detainer could do nothing but be silent. "I'm outta here…this was bad idea" he started for the door.
"Hell no! You're not going anywhere man, we've got a lot of talking to do!" the prisoner grabbed his detainer by the collar of his shirt and shoved him towards the bed on which he crumbled and assumed a seated position right away. "Now what you're going to do, is stay the fuck where you are and tell me what the heck is going on and what you're keeping from me" the prisoner was furious, 5 months of misery were manifested in the form of rage now. The detainer kept his eyes locked on the floor, for he realized he was a becoming the prisoner, he never looked this raging beast in the eyes so as not to further ignite his state of rage. He almost nodded in obedience to what was being said to him.
The angry man stood there admiring his former detainer; his hair was long covering his face, as was his beard; his sad eyes were the only thing visible of his face. His clothes were torn, and he was barefoot. He looked down in unspoken agony. "What happened to you?" the prisoner asked whispering in an angry tone mixed with pity.
"It really doesn't matter what happened, the bigger question is why do you look almost as bad as I do? This shouldn't be what you look like, this is not how I planned it" the detainer felt regret take over him.
They were both on the same wavelength now for the first time, as they were both confused. The former prisoner sat beside his former detainer on the bed. "I don't understand anything, you owe me an explanation. What did you plan, what was supposed to happen?" his questions were met only by silence. "Speak up man! Please."
"Ok, I just want you to understand that I did what I did only in good intentions, I thought that this would be for your own good" he said tentatively.
"Just tell me what's going on" the reply was swift and specific.
"Remember the storm? Remember how it destroyed this cabin, took its walls from their roots?" his counterpart just nodded. "When I came by and saw you outside the cabin, drained of your energy and passed out on the floor, I took a look at the cabin's fallen walls only to realize that your fate would be the same if I left you that way. The storm ruined everything and it almost ruined you. Since the moment you started building it, I thought that you gave it way to much effort and attention. I thought of you as an idiot, because nothing is worth so much. That cabin was all your life, and even when you got it well structured, you wouldn't stop decorating it nor would you ever go out just to see what the woods outside looked like. At a point I really believed that this cabin would be there for good, you had me convinced that something was actually worth all the effort. My skepticism quickly became newfound faith. However as soon as the storm hit, I realized that I was right all along. Despite all your tireless efforts to strengthen the cabin against any variables, the first storm that came along tore it apart. It all went to waste, and all that was left were bittersweet memories. And I knew that in your efforts to rebuild it, you would shrivel up and die, you would end up in self destruction. That's why I decided to intervene and help you out, and protect you from your own foolishness. I am stronger, colder and less emotional. I knew I could get you through this transition, and break your extreme affection to this place even after its destruction. It was this affection that would kill you; nostalgia would tear your soul apart. That is why when I offered to help; you were vulnerable enough to let me in. This is why I had to lock you in, to protect you from more disappointment; any further shock would be the end for you. I was ready to take more nostalgic stabs, more disappointment from failed attempts, but you were too soft. That is why I locked you in, to detach you from this place give you some strength and isolate you from your misery. Little did I know that my methods would actually set your worst demons against you, doing this to you…and me. I thought that by doing what I did, I'd be able to save you from becoming a mess like myself. You still did however, despite everything"
After what seemed like an eternity the shocked listener finally spoke "So you locked me in and put me through this shit just to protect me huh? You actually thought that you'd take all the pain and I'll be fine…"
"You son of a bitch! Do you know what you did to me?! Do you realize the amount of pain you caused me and the amount of people you hurt in the process?! That's why the place became deserted! People stopped visiting the cabin, because you were a cold jerk! The cabin is in even worse shape because of your lack of emotion and frigidness; I could have tried rebuilding it…"
"No you don't understand…" the confessor started.
"Shut up! Now it is my turn to do the talking, you're going to come with me to the lakes beyond the woods and we're going to get wood from there just like I did when I started building this cabin. We're going to bring this place to life again" the furious man stood up.
"But I just have one thing to say…" the seated now humble detainer tried to talk again.
"Save it! Now come on" he headed towards the door, the other guy just stood up and opened it for him, and they both walked out.
They both walked through the cabin towards the front door. "Holy shit…" the former prisoner whispered as he looked around. He didn't recall it to be this torn down and destroyed. They both walked out took one look at the worn down figure and started walking towards the woods.
A couple of hours later down the road through the woods the now guilty man started talking. "Are you calm now? Can I say something? All I wanted to do is to help you, at least let me say this last thing"
"I don't want to hear it, and I have nothing to say to you. Let's just get this over with" he actually was calm, and surprisingly better looking. All the ageing and darkness on his features seemed to have somehow faded away.
"Look man, I'm just going to say it anyway. You can plug your ears if you want I don't care. I have to say this. The only reason I locked you in the room and held you from attempting to rebuild the cabin, was because the storm shook the cabin's foundations eternally. It could not be rebuilt, it is not the same anymore and it would not handle anymore attempts to bringing it back to what it used to be. The grounds on which it stands are not the same anymore. You're going to get your heart broken again, trust me. However I've done my share of damage, I'll let you do whatever you please"
"Damn right I'll do whatever the hell I want. We've seen what your lewd theories have done. So just stay quiet till we get there" his voice was shockingly perseverant for a man who'd just broken down only hours earlier.
With every step of the way the hurt prisoner started remembering his happy days all over again, only this time with optimism and hope. He remembered his first trip to the lakes where he found strong wood logs, to build his beautiful cabin. The trees there were not like any others, not like the trees in the woods. They were stronger, larger and more durable. Or were they? Was it just because his former trip to this place was a life changing experience that he thought of anything coming from this place as superior and more special than its counterparts? Maybe.
He remembered his "first step on water", when he took a chance for the first time. When he decided to build this cabin, and spend the rest of his life in it. He found comfort in it; he knew who he was embraced by its walls. He remembered with a big smile on his face. He started humming.
"What's that you're singing?" his partner asked curiously.
"Nothing really, it's this song I used to listen to when I first came here" he looked down reminiscing.
They were close to reaching the lakes now, and the closer they got the weaker the ex-detainer got. On the other hand the now optimistic man is looking brighter and healthier than ever. He looked at his partner, who was now breathing heavily. "Are you okay? You're state has been deteriorating ever since we set foot on this road. What's wrong?"
"No, don't worry about me. I knew this would happen, I'm not really built for this kind of "atmosphere" you know, all the optimism, good memories and happiness are not really where I function" he gasped between words.
"Yeah, I figured. You're built to handle pain, and you suck even at that buddy if I may say" he was actually joking with the person who screwed him over. "Nevertheless man, you're getting there with me. Let me give you a taste of gleefulness, then you can go back and to whatever floats your boat" he continued while reaching out for his weak partner to help him walk.
Almost an hour later they reached the lakes. The staggering man crumbled to the ground, and lay against a tree trying to catch is breath. His now joyful friend was jumping all over the place. "Yeah! We're here again man! Let's make this happen"
For the following period of time, he was collecting wood from all over the place tirelessly, carefully selecting every log and branch. His friend was almost unconscious laying against a tree.
After the process was over, and the ambitious man had collected all the wood he could need. He took his shirt off.
"What…what are you...doing?" his friend managed to ask.
"You can't come to the lakes and not take a dip man! Come on! Join me, you're gonna love this I promise" he shouted out. "I'm going to walk on water…again" he whispered to himself with a content silent smile on his face.
He jumped in. The cool water felt really good on his dry skin. He was absorbing its energy, it was rejuvenating him. He was starting to live again, he had no doubt in his mind that this was the beginning of his life all over again.
After a while, he got out of the lake. He looked towards his weary partner. "Why didn't you jump in?" He asked, his partner looked like an old man now.
"I can't. You've seen what being here did to me. You know what jumping in this water would do to me" he looked his friend in the eye while telling him that.
"Oh. I see. Well let's head back, I'm all done here" he said nervously
"You know I can't go back, my purpose is over. You've proved me wrong, you don't need me. I never had any faith or trust, and it made a mess of me as well as you. I made enough damage to your life and your surroundings. Had you not kept all the faith inside you, you would've perished. You're a stronger man now, no thanks to me. I watched you all along the road; the way you got stronger and more determined showed me that there is no place for the likes of me in the lives of the likes of you. Go back ahead and put your life back together. You already did just by coming here; the rest is just extra. Take care."
"What are you going to do?" he asked with tearing eyes
"I'm going to stay here with all your memories, that is where I belong" he said
"Okay, I want to tell you that despite everything, I won't forget you" he said while stretching his hand for the weak perishing man
"Neither will I old friend, I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me" he stretched his hand faintly
"Don't worry about it" they shook hands firmly.
He started walking away towards the woods again, alone this time. He was alone and fully in charge for the first time in so long. He didn't have to hear voices anymore. He had tears in his eyes, he didn't know why. But the thought of letting go of someone was torturous, regardless of what he did.
A few steps down the road he heard a loud splash coming from the lakes…
Three hours later he was standing back at the foot of his cabin, yet again. This time he was alone…liberated. He stood there overcome by bittersweet exhaustion. He stood staring at the torn down cabin for a while, he didn't realize he'd been standing there for so long till night started pushing day out of the sky. He was shaken out of his endless gaze by a bluish white beam, the moon. He looked at the almost full moon and smiled. "Tomorrow I start, and by the rise of the full moon my cabin will be what it once was. Moon light shall reflect off my cabin in glamour once more. I trust in the full moon" he said to himself in calm self comfort. He walked towards the cabin, entered through the front door, walked back to his cell and collapsed on his bed.
By early dawn he was wide awake; he shaved and cleaned up for the first time in so long. He was full of faith and optimism; he stepped outside and breathed in cool early morning air. He smiled a very wide smile and started gathering the wood and equipment to begin his erroneous yet satisfactory day. He started working with one goal in mind; to get his life back together. He wanted to vanquish the demons that once invaded his mind; he wanted to be happy again. He knew what he wanted. He had no doubt in his mind that this would go exactly as planned, that he'd pull this off and re-arrange the pieces of his life's puzzle once more.
Tirelessly he worked putting the old pieces back in place, adding new ones and fixing the ones that were already there. He was in a race against time; he wanted to be ready before the full moon visited. It was as if he wanted to make the moon proud. For it was the full moon that witnessed the erection of this cabin a couple of years back, it was the full moon that saw this cabin thrive. It came to visit once every month, just to behold it glow under its light. He wanted the moon to see this cabin in beauty once more, just like it was when it first visited. He hummed his song again while re-bringing about the cabin's life…
A little before sunset he was done, almost at the same timing he had finished building it a couple of years earlier. He took a quick look at it. "Now, all I do is wait for the logs to dry from paint and glue. Now I wait for the full moon" he said while getting on his hands and knees beside the renovated structure. His body gave away and he slipped into deep sleep…
He had a blurry dream, he saw someone holding his hand and taking him somewhere he's never been. He couldn't make out the person or the place to which he was taken.
He was awakened yet again by the same enchanting bluish white light. The full moon was back…
He jumped to his feet and looked towards the sky, and there it was again. He smiled and looked back towards the cabin. He felt as if he got stabbed by a dagger. He dropped to his knees in astonishment and pain. His shocked gaze was locked on the cabin. The cabin didn't look the same…
His mind was going around in circles, he didn't understand. "This is not right, something is not right. I don't get this. I did everything right, I did what I could. Why is this happening?!" he murmured in disbelief. "He was right, I am an idiot…he was right to lock me in. I am an idiot."
The cabin didn't glow in the moonlight anymore.
He stayed there for a while, he couldn't even cry anymore. His shock paralyzed all his emotions. He stayed on his knees trying to wish this nightmare away, trying to wish the cabin to what he hoped it to become.
"Get up" a firm yet comforting voice called on to him.
He looked behind to see someone standing there in the shadows. It appears that he had come from the woods. "Who are you?" the unfortunate man asked in agony.
"It is a shame you don't remember me" the stranger replied.
The exhausted man got up to his feet and approached the mysterious person. He took a look at his moon lit face. He was dressed in a white shirt and light blue faded jeans. "You!" he cried out in happiness.
"There you go" the stranger smiled.
"How did you find me? I've been wishing for you to come back ever since you left" he could hardly believe what was happening.
"You're a smart guy; I thought you'd know that on your own. When you came back this morning to get wood to rebuild your cabin, you brought me back with you. I followed you back. Ever since you came the first time to find wood for your cabin I knew you were a man of belief, and that's why I stayed with you. But when the storm hit, and you let our dark friend in the cabin giving him a chance to control your life, I had to go back. I wanted you to find your own way, and it seems to me that you did my friend."
"I don't think I did. Look at the cabin. It is not the same. He was right. I am a fool" his reply was heaved down by sadness.
"No he wasn't, don't let that get to you. I'll tell you what he was right about however. The cabin lost its soul during the storm; it lost its essence and faith. However you would have never known that if you'd stayed in your cell. You went out and fought this one last battle to bring this cabin back, and you succeeded beautifully. You brought back its external layer, the surface shell. But you could never bring back its spirit. You are no fool my friend, in fact you now know what you want. You left no chance for speculation, nor did you leave a chance for regret. Regret is the most lethal emotion. You should know by now that this cabin is not what it once was, and it never will be. It will never be what it was to you before the storm. You know deep down that pursuing your life in this place would tear you apart. It will become your worst enemy after it had been your refuge. Move on, restart and by time you'll be able to build a new life. From this moment on, I'll be there to guide you again now that you've found your way back to me." the old friend spoke wise words of truth. Words of closure.
The torn man stood up, he heard what he needed to hear. He knows that what his friend said was true, he wants to be liberated. Liberated from what this cabin has become, and what it would do to him. It will be hard abandoning this place, the reminiscence of the feeling it once gave him and the memories he had in its comfort. Those memories are not enough anymore however. This is not the place he had come to love, nor was it the place he wanted to live in. It was now soulless. It lost faith, while he kept his. He had to leave. Maybe he would come someday to bring back its soul, and re-establish the grounds on which it once stood, but not today. Not now.
He realized that within his pursuit of happiness, he found himself again. This was his silver lining, his actual success. He actually did this for himself.
"I just need to take one last look at it, and then we can leave" he said that while heading towards the cabin. He circled the cabin, seeing images of the past. He had a smile on his face, and tears rolling down his cheeks. He walked in the cabin, looked around observing every wall and inch. He visited every room, till he reached his room. His cell. He walked in, passing his fingers over its corners and objects. He looked out the window one last time, stared at himself in the mirror one last time and sat on his bed one last time. He sat there for a few minutes, mustering up the courage to walk out. A brown object under the pillow beside him caught his eye, he reached out for it. It was the photo album. He held it, feeling its leather covering. It had every memory he once had in this place. He was reluctant and hesitant for a few seconds, but he laid it back under the pillow. He walked to the door, looked back one more time towards the room and the album, and walked out …
The Song: Storm - Lifehouse