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            She was walking along the same path as her mother on the dark alley of madness, slowly spiraling down into a psychotic being, barely still considered human, barely still considered at all.

 

            But she never spoke a word about it to anyone, even though she knew deep down inside that if she only dared to confess to someone, all of her misery would vanish instantly.

 

           That thought alone was unbearable, the simple idea of the words forming on her lips made her choke, she was paralyzed in fear, unable to move, her pale face would crisp in apprehension, while her whole body froze into a cold statue.

 

Since confession was impossible, only one option remained, self-destruction, obviously.

 

            The day after the incident, she stayed in bed, immobile, inert even. But awake, very awake as her brain raced at light speed, bouncing off her skull in a monstrous noise only she could hear. The office called many times that day, but she never heard the phone; the cacophony of her brain was too loud.

 

            The second day, she finally fell asleep, her brain had shut down, simply overloaded. She slept the whole day, once again the office called many times without answer. It was a critical time of the year, and so she got replaced.

            When she woke up the third day, she had regained enough strength to manage standing up. She stood by the bed and painfully walked to the window. Her back and neck were tensed, and her muscles sore from so much immobility and rigidity. She grasped for the curtains, but barely had the strength to pull them aside.

 

            The sun was setting on the buildings, casting smooth rays of pink light to bounce around windows everywhere, creating a warm myriad of shiny stars. She had always loved this view, but that day she did not see any of the beauty, she cried silently until the sun had disappeared behind the buildings.

 

            It is only by the middle of the second week that she went outside, her supplies had run out, and even though she had now gotten used to being depraved of food and sleep, she needed to stay alive.

           

            Self-destruction is a complex process with a mind of its own that sends the host in a downward spiral of fear, anxiety, sadness and despair, but like any form of torture, it requires a live subject.

 

And so, for the first time in many days, she got dressed and left her apartment.

 

            She didn't bother to lock the door, what could possibly happen to those useless objects she owned that could possibly reach her, through the storm of mental pain and suffering that hovered around her head and clouded her vision.

 

            She took the elevator down, well aware she would never be able to go through the stairs in her current condition. She didn’t hear the music, it was her favorite song, had she heard it, she might have danced all the way to the hall.

 

She did not.

 

            The sun was high, and its light very bright on that day. The cloudless sky was so blue, it seemed unreal, and everyone who stepped outside that day noticed how beautiful it was. Everyone except her.

 

She had put on a pair of dark sunglasses to prevent anybody from seeing what two weeks of emotional hell had done to her once beautiful eyes. The dark tint of the glasses metamorphosed the rich blues into depressing browns and the bright sunshine into dull light.

 

            She lived in a residential neighborhood, and the closest shop was a good walking distance away, so she slowly went down the stairs into the subway station. It is only then, that she realized how fragile she now felt. She used to walk with her eyes up, looking straight ahead, confident, walking an assured step, always knowing where she was headed.

 

            But right now, it felt like she crumbled to pieces every time a stranger brushed against her shoulders, her vision was blurred by watery eyes, her head bent down so far her chin almost made contact with her chest as she walked with difficulty through the crowd.

 

            She reached the track just as the noise announcing the imminent departure of the train started sounding, people surrounding her were running towards the doors, pushing her around from every side until the doors slammed shut and the train left.

 

            She stood there, immobile, unable to move, caught in such internal distress she had to catch her breath before she could move again. She walked a few steps and sat, waiting for the next train. Her head was throbbing, and she couldn't wrap her mind around what she had become, she felt guilty for being so weak. She cried until the train arrived, stood up and got in, still crying. Her wagon was filled beyond capacity and she couldn't breathe, she gasped for breath while tears still rolled down her cheeks.

 

            She could see the reflection of her face pressed against the door's window by the mass of people, but she didn't recognize herself. Her once beautiful hair was broken and dirty, falling like a dead animal down the side of her head to her cheeks, now shallow pockets of skin hanging from her bones. Her plump and slick lips had turned into a dry crescent covered in crevasses, and even though she couldn't see them through the dark glasses she wore, she knew her eyes would be worse again. All the tears and the rubbing had made them red and blood-injected while the lack of sleep carved deep circles so dark they seemed purple.

 

            The doors finally opened on her station and she felt intensely relieved to get out, even as she was pushed by the swarm of people in a perpetual hurry. As she climbed the stairs, she promised herself she would walk the long way back home to avoid the distress of the crowded subway.

 

            The weather outside had dramatically changed while she was underground, the sun was now declining, and from approaching gray clouds blew a cold wind from the east, dancing with the fallen leaves of the maple trees preparing for winter. She cursed this unstable season and headed for the store.

 

            She got in the giant supermarket, only to realize that she didn't in any shape or form have the energy to go back and forth in the aisles looking for the best deals and products like she would normally do. Two small tears of exasperation appeared at the corner of her eyes, while she wondered, ashamed, how she had turned into that powerless weakling.

 

            It was only a few days since it happened, but it felt like forever, like if somehow this event had dug itself a place of choice inside her head. It had since started mixing fluorescent cocktails of the worst emotions. She tried not to think about it too much, and traded her wheel cart for a small basket. Her shopping-spree had just suffered a severe downsize.

 

            Close to twenty minutes had elapsed before she completed her errand, completed being an exaggeration, and arrived at the cashier. She surprised herself by impulsively asking for a pack of red Marlboro's and a lighter.

 

            Cigarettes had not been part of her life since her early twenties, and she never imagined she would fall into this hazardous habit once again. But now, it seemed so appropriate. Even if smoking was a self-inflicted deadly disease, it felt so healing. She didn't repress her compulsive behavior and purchased the pack and lighter along with everything in her basket. The attendant bagged her products as she paid to the cashier and left thanking both of them, trying as best she could to keep a normal façade.

 

            The weather she had left half an hour ago had evolved into a storm. The sky was covered in dark clouds and a thick rain was falling down, pushed against the buildings by speeding winds. She almost grinned when she thought of how wonderful a day it was to start smoking.

 

It was the closest she had been to smiling in days, and she promptly lit her cigarette.

 

            The tobacco crackled as the flame kissed the tip of the stick she held tight between her lips. She pulled hard and inhaled the smoke in delight. She enjoyed the taste, bending her head back and blowing the smoke upward in gray spirals slowed to a standstill by the humidity.

           

            The walk ahead was long, and the weather threatening, but with nicotine pumping in her veins, she began her journey.

 

            The wind slashed her face in continual assaults of water, but it was no worse than how she already felt inside, so she kept walking with a newly found comfort.

 

            It was like when you feel everything is already at its worst and nothing bothers you, the sweet feeling of having hit rock bottom and not caring anymore, this fleeting invincibility of not caring.

 

            She surprised herself crying at this very moment, but the drops rolling down her skin to be swept away by the gushing winds had a totally different feel to them. They weren't tears of sadness, but tears of relief, each of them so small and yet carrying away a thousand tons of emotions.

 

            Every single time she blinked and another droplet fell, it felt like a spiritual renewal, and by the time she had reached home, she had recovered a little something of herself.

 

She knew she would be alright.