The prompt was originally to "write for five minutes about a time when you took out anger or frustration violently." I did this and produced about six sentences. Then, we were told to turn it into a memoir, a short story piece.I would love critiques and criticisms. This is only a first draft and I will be working with it and developing it throughout second quarter.Author's note:After reading this piece, please don't think that I'm crazy. A normal day. Everything in its place. Run through the routine. Get out of my clean bed and pull out a perfectly folded shirt. Get dressed in the middle of my uncluttered floor. Brush every tooth. Not a hair out of place. Walk down nine steps, two at a time. Jump over the last three and land squarely on both feet. Eat the usual breakfast and pack the usual lunch. Drive to school in the Camry, parked on the left side of the garage, and take the same route as yesterday. Lather, rinse, repeat. I am sick. That’s what they tell me. I have an illness. That’s why I’m miserable. That’s why I have stress that no one else has, and that I can’t explain. It’s why I stayed awake all night with a disturbing amount of frequency as a child, uncontrollably captivated by the fear – no, the certainty – that the house was going to catch fire and devour my family, home, and most treasured possessions. I wish they had realized it when I was a kid. If they had, they could have helped me and told me it wasn’t my fault. They could have saved me years of trauma and embarrassed silence. But no one knew. How could they know? I never told. I thought it would come off as a long set of obnoxious complaints listed off by a spoiled little girl who couldn’t stand when things didn’t go her way. I wish I had known enough to be able to tell them: “Mom. Dad. Someone. I think I’m obsessive-compulsive.” Maybe it’s because it had been a tough day at school. I don’t know. I was a scared little sophomore, struggling to make neat A’s down my report card, and it wasn’t looking good. Maybe it’s because I was tired. Maybe it was a subconscious cry for attention. Whatever the case, the foundation had been laid. I was in a poor state, for an unknown reason, to come home to a freshly-dusted bedroom. I am allergic to dust, and my overprotective, over-loving nanny can only bear to let me live in a dust-filled room for so long. When she has a chance, usually when I’m at school and unable to protest, she dusts every inch of my small room. What child would not appreciate such a favor? “A spoiled brat,” my mother would scold as I whimpered. “But mom, she moved everything…” I would stammer, my throat twisting with anxiety. “So put it all back,” she would respond firmly. “Your room has to be dusted.” I felt awful for treating my nanny’s kind help that way, but I had a deep nauseous feeling when I looked at my dust-free room in which hardly a single thing was where I had wanted it. The scene unsettled me in ways I could not articulate. It made me nervous, and I could not sit down and do the schoolwork I so desperately need to unless I had put every possession back in its place. I knew I couldn’t because I had tried many times before. I could never prevent my focus from locking on to the disorder. The disorder in my room disorder in my mind, and the more I tried to ignore the growing anxiety, the more I obsessed. The obsession then slowly consumed me, the awareness of the disorder looming darker until I had turned it into a situation of crisis. It happened every time, and it terrified me. So I set to work rebuilding my environment. The piece I always left for last was my favorite part of the room, a small shelf – only about a foot square – that held a dozen or two glass and ceramic figurines. It was a mix-matched collection, small pieces I had bought as souvenirs on favorite vacations or little presents family and friends had given me just because they knew I liked them. I loved them, in fact. Treasured them, gave them their own space of honor in my room – a shelf on which I had painstakingly arranged them, perfectly spaced and balanced so that each was visible. I had asked that this shelf not be cleaned. There was no possible way that I would ever be able to put my tiny treasures back as flawlessly as I had before. That day, I could still feel the stress from the mess in the rest of the room rebuilding as I approached the shelf, praying that it was untouched. The figures were pushed out of their neat rows, crowded into the left half of the shelf. Each one gleamed with their thin coating of dust removed, but I hardly noticed. They shined like new, cleanly reflecting the sunlight from my bedroom window on the opposite wall. I couldn’t appreciate it, though. All I saw was a mess. A mess of pretty things, a mess I could not clean up. My heart rate spiked and the panic set in. Tension built in my neck, back and shoulders. My eyes grew hot and I felt searing tears growing against my lower eyelid. Reason eluded me. Dusting my room was a favor, but still the frustration swelled in my clenched fists. They had been perfect – evenly distributed. Now in their small clump, my beautiful keepsakes looked ugly. They stood out in my immaculate room like a lump of black coal. It was shameful – a symbol of all I had failed to keep right in my world. A crisis. The worst part was that as I stared at each figure’s little face, staring at me from a new and absolutely wrong angle, I hated them. They were laughing at me because I did not know how to place them back where I wanted them, how to line them back up and restore order to the rebellious shelf. I thought about walking away, about just letting it go and walking out of the room. It’s only a shelf. It’s trivial in every sense of the word. The shelf, however, was almost finished with its consumption of my conscious mind. I obsessed about it. I panicked. I thought I would never be able to remember where they went, and I did not want to try for fear of the even more crushing misery of failure. I trembled, gently at first as my nails dug into my palms inside my fists. The whole world, except for the shelf and me, had dissolved. It was a war, and the enemies were standing on the battleground facing off, each waiting for the other to make the first move. The laugh of the figures grew louder and echoed relentlessly. Go on, they taunted. Just you try. The pressure closing in on me from every part of my mind was so intense that I couldn’t take it. The trembling turned to shaking, the shaking caused my mind to rupture and I could feel fractures in my psyche growing ever larger into huge cracks until… …it shattered. I screamed with the deepest, most painful power I had pent up in the depths of my lungs. As I let out the scream, the burning tears came pouring forth and I released my fists – straight at my precious treasures. I knocked the smaller ones to the back, and swept my open palms forward, sending them all crashing to the floor. The heavier glass pieces bounced hard against the carpet but settled unscathed. However, I watched in horror as the delicate porcelain cracked and broke apart. I sat sniffling, staring at the pile of ruined possessions, an awful depiction of my ruined mind. Control. I had lost control. Collapsing into my misery I curled into a ball, slowly rolling back on my spine into the floor, sinking lower and lower. Normal kids don’t do that, I thought, feeling isolated and irrational. It sickened me that looking at the bare shelf looked so much more right. It was pure. It was how I had made it. But the sad, broken figures on the ground cried and begged me to help them. I wanted to walk away, but I couldn’t redirect my focus, so I just lay helplessly, smashed against my own “rock bottom.” Ashamed, I picked up all the treasured figures, whole or otherwise, and placed them delicately – respectfully, almost ceremoniously – in a basket, pushing it to the back corner of the closet where I could hide my disgraceful actions. I exchanged them for a fluffy, clean teddy bear to place neatly in the center of the newly-bare shelf. I hoped no one would ask about the rare change I had made in my room’s décor. How would I explain? I ran the scenario in my head over and over. I imagined the shocked looks on the faces of dozens of people who could possibly inquire about the new placement of the bear. In the scenarios, I always sputtered out the apologetic and embarrassing story, desperate to make them all understand. But how could they? The explanation, though fiercely honest, sounded insane even to me. I was vaguely aware in some deep part of my mind that my hands stung. It was a real sting, not my imagination. I turned them over, carefully, and stared at them, palms staring back. My hands were already dry and cracked from constant, compulsive washing. Now, amid the cracks were half a dozen little cuts, each red with newly-oxygenated blood. My mother was standing beside me, but I had not even noticed her entering the room. I looked up at her, eyes begging for forgiveness and welling once again with tears. That was it. This was the moment. She was going to ask me the dreaded, shaming question. I couldn’t escape it. “What did you do…?” she asked quietly. I was silent and motionless as I remained locked in eye contact with the tears flowing persistently. I was dumbfounded, because truly I couldn’t answer. I didn’t know. And though I couldn’t push the words through my lips, the whole time I wanted to cry out to her: There’s something wrong with me. Help me, Mom. Please. I need your help. What have I done?
I love your writings. They just seem soaked with so much emotion and you have a really good way of getting that through to the reader. I love you, Amy!