Empty

I feel this… disconnection. It’s maddening and there’s no end in sight. You pick things up and know how objects feel and behave. They are constant and it’s crucial for any man to survive. But not me… not me.

I’m Jake. 27 years old. I know this because my driver’s identification said so. If I didn’t have this one small piece of my identity, my anchor, I would be lost in this sea of chaos.

 

What would you do if you lost your anchor in the middle of an ocean? I’ve lost track almost all things that typically keep men anchored. Time. Sanity. Love. Connection. People typically don’t pity the lost. You’re more of an inconvenience to them when you show up. Listening to people is probably one of the worst things I could have done. Take that advice and do what you will with it. 

You probably want to know what is wrong with me, right? You want to me to sit and share my feelings and let you Google my problem? Nothing a little WebMD can’t solve. 

That was mean. I am so sorry. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I should know better. I’ll tell you what is wrong with me.

All right. Imagine if you’re in a crowded mall. It’s the weekend… probably. It’s the afternoon. Or is it the evening? It doesn’t matter. What you need to know is that when I blink my eyes, people disappear. When I blink again, they come back. 

I’m sure you have loads of questions. I’m not going to answer any of them. These are the essentials things that I know: Yes, every blink it happens. Yes, because of this blink problem, other issues have manifested into life threatening cases that affect me and those around me. 

I’ve learned to manage it. Doctors are convinced that I’m psychotic. They may be right. When I close my eyes, they see me standing there, but when I blink, I end up in…

 

-the EMPTY place-

 

It’s the same place I was standing in before, but now it’s just me. No people. I can’t call out to the people I know we’re there before. Believe me. I tried. No one is there. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but after not blinking for a while, it would just make my whole situation worse. I trained myself not too blink for hours, sometimes, if I was good even days, to not blink. That never stopped to the other place from appearing. I would just wake up in the wide open EMPTY, without a sole to confide in.

My parents thought I was clinically insane. Prescription medication replaced what small relationships I had with addiction and destructive behaviors. My wake up call wasn’t when I went to jail again breaking and entering or aggravated assault. My wake up call is when my parents had all but resigned to their opinions that I was lying all this time.

“Enough Jake,” my father roared in the middle of our local grocery store. “Don’t you see your mother is tired of these… stories?”  

My father thought I was just making it up. I was seventeen when he said that to me. I just wanted to escape the EMPTY. I wanted to connect with my own parents. The ones that understood me more than I supposedly understood myself. I learned quick to gain any sense of peace, I would have to figure this all out on my own. So I left. That’s when I developed a whole slew of new problems. 

I was afraid to go to sleep at night. I would never know where I would end up. I bought a pair of handcuffs and locked myself down so I wouldn’t wander into a street intersection. For years I would pray, to be banished from the EMPTY, but if I had not followed a strict regimen, if I ever deviated from the course, then I could spend days in the EMPTY. I pray you never get stuck in a desolate place, you recognize as home but with no one you care about to fill in the empty space with. I had learned how to live my life with my affliction. I had leveled it out to spend one day in the land of people. The other day is spent in the EMPTY, devoid of life and love. 

But then, something new happened…

“Hey! Jake? You with us,” Todd asked, snapping his fingers in my face.

I adjusted to sit upright in my chair at the collaboration station. “Yeah, sorry,” I said. “I have a condition-“ 

“Yeah. You nodded off, you narcoleptic,” Todd said, lacking empathy. “Here’s the thing. Put your condition on hold when there’s a multimillion dollar deal on the line. Lives are on the line.” 

Did I mention I’m doing pretty well for myself? “I didn’t want this position,” I responded.

“Well for some reason boss thinks you’re fit for this job,” Todd bounced back.

“Well then you should trust your leader.”

“Where do you go to when you nod off, huh,” Todd asked with genuine sincerity, that lasted for a total of 3 seconds. It was replaced instant sarcasm.”Where? La la land? Paradise?”

“Hilarious.” 

“Lemme tell you something,” Todd said, leaning in with his pointer finger pressed squarely on the center of my chest.”When you sleep, you’re safe. But here, I’m your worst nightmare.” 

A warm smile grew across my cheeks. “Todd, I enjoy these little conversations we have.”

“Prick.”

“Have a nice day, Todd!” I had no idea what date was. I scrambled across the office to my desk to locate the date and time. I had never lost whole days before. What was happening to me? My desk… it was uncharacteristically messy. How long had I been like this?

I grabbed my calendar and notepad and scribbled down my last interaction.

“Jake,” Sophie, my work mate asked me cautiously.

“Yes,” I said, rifling through my drawers, looking for my stopwatch.

“Do you need help?”

The question made me laugh heartily on the inside. I stood up instantly with my prized find in my hand, when my eyelids came crashing down like the high tide. My knees gave way and I fell to the floor.

Something was very different here.

In all my years, I never felt the temperature of my eyelids cool me down as I blinked. I never felt weak in my knees. And I never saw ANYONE in the EMPTY. But that day, I rose to my feet, I realized all three had happened.

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