The Hand of Darkness

The Hand of Darkness

“I tried to kill myself yesterday,” I say, just as I settle in my chair across him.

The words fall off my tongue fast, as if hot, and burning my tongue. I say these words fast, and I feel my spirit leaving my body, as if too afraid of the aftermath of these words. As if the weight of these words was the only thing that was keeping my feet on the ground.

It starts as nausea, first. As if something acidic is wringing my intestines. As if the ground beneath me is moving away, slowly, steadily, then fast, so that everything around me is spinning, slowly, steadily, then fast, faster, then the fastest I have ever experienced.

I beg my feet to stay still. I beg the ground to give me just one hour of stillness; just enough for me to take back my words, and retrace my steps back to my house, where I can, this time round, die forever.

Then it stops; this whirling of the world. This nausea that had climbed to my throat. This heavy breathing. These tears that were almost, almost, falling to my cheeks.

It stops, just as fast as my words had left my mouth.

It stops before he opens his mouth to ask why one of my eyes has a bandage over it. Why my walk has a visible, noticeable limp. Or why all my left toes do not have nails; in their place, hurriedly done white nail polish, spilling to the sides. Or why my left arm is in bandages, heavily, at the wrist. Or why there are droplets of dried blood all around my neck.

The whirling of the world stops just in time, just as fast as my words had left my mouth, before he gets the words to ask why I look disheveled. Why the hair on my head is a mess. Whether the hat on my head is a disguise; to hide the big bump on the left side of my head. Why the dark circles beneath my eyes keep growing larger as days go by. Why my heart is visibly racing. Why my hands are shaking. Why my lips are trembling. Why I am on the verge of tears. 

“How heavy have these words been on you?” he asks, calmly, his eyes on mine.

Then, as if on cue, the night of darkness flashes before me.

I trip against an extension cord in the hallway, lose balance, begin to fall, and in my attempt to hold myself together, I miscalculate and instead, the left side of my head bangs against the ceramic hand-wash sink, before my inevitable fall now ends in my body falling on my curled left leg, as my right hand lands on a pair of scissors I left lying on the floor.

It is small, tiny, almost unnoticeable, the cut that the scissors leave on my right arm. But the pain in my head amplifies everything else within me, and births even the things I never knew lay inside me; this rage. This anger. This desire to end everything, to bring an end to this pain I can never describe. This unease when I tell someone I am struggling to breathe, and when they ask why, I begin to fumble.

Because I have learnt ‘I do not know’ is not an acceptable answer. I see it in the way after I say it, all the listening stops, and the judgement begins. As if all these things I am battling are made up. As if none of these things keeping me awake at night matter. As if these things I keep running away from, these thoughts gnawing at my mind, are not good enough to make me struggle with breathing.

I see it in the way, after I say ‘I do not know’, all the worry shifts from people’s eyes, and slowly, surely, begins turning into resentment.

But how do you put words to the things in your head when you do not even know why they are there? When you lay awake, listening to these voices in your head, and knowing, eventually, that they will never leave. How do you say that you do not know what quiet feels like? That you have forgotten how to exist in solitary, so you only use people as an escape? How do you say all these things, without having a concrete answer, no visible wounds when they ask, “where does it hurt?”

So when the rage starts to course through me, I take the scissors in my right arms and pierce through every bit of flesh on me that is exposed. Once. Twice. Three times…then I lose count.

My left wrist. My upper right arms. My things. My feet. My neck. The blood spurts onto my neck, into my mouth, my eyes, and everything else around me, and I feel the dizziness begin to wrap itself around me. My right hand loses grip of the pair of scissors, and I start to feel the pain numbing, as darkness starts to smile upon me.

Death beckons at me, in the middle of the night, and I open my arms wide for it. It is enough; this fake-laughing. This smiling on the outside while my insides are on fire. This battling with my heart everyday. This always begging the voices in my head to leave. This wondering why, and how my body still remains intact through these storms. This surviving on autopilot, craving for nightfall, so darkness can hide these scars in my heart and soul.

Death beckons at me, but before I let it take me, I drag my deformed body on the floor towards my bed. I want them, whoever will find my body, to think that despite the blood, maybe I died softly, in my sleep. This remaining strength pushes me closer and closer to my bed, lifts my body off the floor, and just as I am about to slump into bed, I knock my left foot against the nightstand, the lamp crashing into pieces to the floor, alongside my body.

Then the final leg of rage and despair fills me, powered by my desire to never, ever see the light again. As if on cue, I empty all the medication on my nightstand onto my left hand, throw them, the close to thirty tablets into my mouth, chew softly, tenderly, as the darkness slowly, tenderly, takes me out.

“Do you know how heavy those words are?” He asks, and jolts me out of my reverie.

I want to tell him how they found me. How they had to break down my door after two days. When I did not return any calls made. When I did not answer any messages. When an order I had made a week prior was delivered and I didn’t pick it. When everyone, even the friends of my heart, was unable to say when was the last time I told them I was happy.

I want to tell him that I could hear them bringing down the door; their voices distant, and I wanted to just reach out for the pair of scissors and stab myself. I want to tell him that I was so sick, so tired of fighting, so afraid to have to look at their faces, these people who had come to my rescue. I was so tired, because I knew they were gong to ask, someday, “Why did you do it?”, and I was afraid my answer was still, “I do not know.”

I want to tell him so much more, this one person I agreed to talk to instead of going to therapy, but my world starts spinning again, fast, that it throws me off balance. I feel the vomit climbing into my mouth and before I can hold it back, it flies across the table and lands on his face. Then, as if on cue, my feet give way to the weight of my body, and I feel my body slumping off my chair, and I fall to the ground, face first.

If my body was a bottle of water, then the darkness begins to fill me from the feet, then my knees, thighs, waist, stomach, chest, neck, and just as it begins to fill my head, I hear feet rushing towards me, and his distant voice saying, “Please don’t do this to me.”

Then, everything goes dark and silent.

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Meet Eunniah Mbabazi
Eunniah Mbabazi is an Electrical and Electronic Engineer with a deep passion for books and literature. She has authored Breaking Down, an anthology of short stories and If My Bones Could Speak, a poetry collection. She also co-authored Kas Kazi (a novel) and When a Stranger Called (an anthology of short stories).

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