Aurora over Texas

Image by Hans Braxmeier

I'm not a guy with answers. I barely understand the question. Right? I don't know what you're going to get out of me.

Is that thing on?

So, anyway, the guy was my roommate on the 4th floor. That's what we called it. Well, I called it. The mental ward, the crazy bin, the loony house, what-have-you. I was in there for depression, of course, which you can see clearly by the cuts and chart there. They call the shallow cuts ones "hesitation" marks, but for me a whole bunch are from my cat. I named him Gary. Well before that cartoon with the Gary cat snail character. He always got my legs worse. You wanna see? No. Oh. OK. Open invite.

Not me, right. Not me. Anyway, the guy, my roommate. He was crazy. Not crazy like me but like seriously crazy. He's what you wanted to talk about, right? One of those crazy quiet ones. I think he hated me because I have a hard time stopping talking. And I think he hated me because I think everyone hates me. Nevermind. Well, well now maybe he didn't hate me but you --not you but I--I got this feeling he just wanted me to be quiet. I guess he did keep telling me to shut up.

Aside from the noise thing--misophonia I think it's what you types call it--he had a problem with mirrors. Mirrors and noise. The noise was one thing. You could see him wince at the noise. Like physically. But if he had to, which sometimes you just do, he could take it. The mirrors? Even the plastic one in the bathroom so nobody can cut themselves, ya know. That one. In the first few minutes. The bathroom reserved for the handicapped: pulled everything out of there. Covered all shiny chrome with masking tape in all the bathrooms. Even the handle had the tape wrapped around it carefully, like those movies with hair over boobs in movies so they can get a PG-13 rating.

He hated his face. His body, too, I guess. That's dude's problem. Don't know why. I thought he looked fine enough. But what can you say that will make someone like that feel better? Nothing. I'm pretty sure.

Yeah so I already said he was quiet but he talked in group once. You ever do group therapy? Because when I try to help someone I get yelled at and the other fools around the circle are always wondering why you need to talk about your problems when they got their own problems.

When he talked the one time, we all shut up. We all knew that was weird and we had to fugre out what the in the what was going on with him. When he talked, he stared at the ground, as if the splatters in the tiles were words he was reading from a textbook.

"I know there is no reason for it, but I cannot stand myself." He goes, "For a long time, I thought it was because I looked like my father, but I don't. And that would be no real reason, anyway. He didn't beat me, or yell. Not any more than my friends' dads. Less than some, more than others, I guess. I know this is me. I know this because not everyone is running in horror. Most of you may be stupid, but not all of you. I am the source of my feelings. It is not an objective truth. I am not paranoid. I am rational. I know it is me.

"Every day, whenever I catch a vision of myself it looks foreign. An alien of a not human variety."

I started to say something about how he looked human to me but the counselor cut me off and asked, "When did this start?"

"Start? It's always been there," he says. "My earliest memory it's there. The aurora over my parent's farm in Texas. I was little, maybe 4 or 5. Shimmering green and black in the night sky like clean water shimmers blue and white when you look through it to daylight. I thought that was the top of the air and we were running out. I ran in the house to tell Mother to hold her breath because the air was going away. But, she was in the bathroom, and I couldn't go in there to tell her and she couldn't hear well through the heavy door. Not that I wasn't allowed to, but I just couldn't."

But that was really the last time I heard him talk. A word here, a sentence or two. He didn't talk to me in our room any more than "Lights?" because he wanted to turn them off so he could sleep.

That's enough there? No? You want to know about that night? The night he woke me up with his cutting?

I understand this is a disposition, deposition, whatever. Okay okay.

It was a Sunday night, which I remember because the shows I liked to watch were...cancelled because some sport or something. Is that important? I know you've got it in your notes, but I'm just trying to bring it up for myself. In my head. Ya know.

It was just like any other night. He went to bed at 9:00 I guess. I got back in from the TV room at 11 or so and as far as I could see he was asleep.

I guess a few hours later, which you've got the right time in your notes I guess, I woke up. I don't know why. I sleep on my left side so I was already facing him, watching him. I heard small rips and steady and deep breathing. I saw a small metal thing in his hand, a razor--which I guess he broke off of a disposable like I would do--because the light reflected on it from the annoying street lights outside that always shined down the center of our room. He noticed that I was awake, and leaned forward into that beam of light.

Now, you ever see those surgery shows on the TV where they do any surgery on the person's face? It wasn't quite like that, but that's the best way I can describe it. Bloodier, though. A lot bloodier. And he was awake, which was weird enough. He had cut along where his hair is and pulled down and I could see his skull and his lidless eyes and down past his nose down to where that divot under your nose is--it's called a philtrum. I read that on the Internet.

That was awful. But that's not it. There was blood everywhere, yes yes, I told you that, but there were fat clean lines down from the corners of his eyes down to where the skin still hung on his face. He was crying, quietly. Those lines, that's what I remember more than the blood, those fat clean bone white lines from his tears.

He asked me, he goes, "I am human, right?"

And I said, "Yes. You are."

"Do you have a mirror?"

And I did, so I got into my bag and gave him the little mirror that I'm not supposed to have and gave it to him. He looked at his own skull and gave me back the thing, covered in his blood. It slipped out of my hand and fell under his bed--can I get that back?

Then I asked him, "Do you want me to get someone to put it back on?"

And he nodded. He pushed the skin flap back up and his face hanged loosely on the skull. His mouth was turned up in a huge smile. He was hugging himself and grinning and making quiet noises and rocking and laughing like a little boy.