December 1, 2010
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I am calmly standing over the body of the late Doloras Lear. There are scissors in her back and blood flows onto the carpet of the Excel office building. Yet, I stand there, looking over the body… an odd feeling of detachment fills me. But… something seems wrong. The death seems distant, almost nonexistent, the screaming of office workers is remote, but something else something small… just a tingling in the back of my brain feels that something is wrong. I am breathing faster now; the calm of the situation is gone. I am scared, but I am not aware of what frightens me. And the small ember of doubt and worry in the back of my brain sparks and grows until it is a raging inferno devouring the whole of my mind. I am breathing heavily, unable to stop, eyes wide open and mouth unhinged; hanging limply. And the fear I am feeling grows and grows, an irrational fear of nothing that consumes my entire body until… I am remembering.
I am remembering holding the scissors and calling Doloras to my desk. I am remembering an all consuming rage filling my body until it burst out like steam from a kettle. I am remembering hate for Doloras; yet for all its intensity it is a hate born of nothing. I am remembering her screaming as I drive the scissors into her again and again and again and again. Though she stops screaming I am still driving the scissors into her body relieving the hate and anger that I have not felt until minutes ago. The memory is screaming at me, “YOU ARE A MURDERER!”
I feel as if I am in a dream and though I know my coworkers scream for help I do not hear them. The memory I have of murder is wrong… a lie. For I feel my mind splitting under the immense pressure of the concept… of the mere thought that I am a murderer. Searching through the recesses of my mind, through the half not consumed by madness I find a second memory and I remember this also for it too happened. I am remembering I see a man running through the building. A bad man. And he has scissors. Why does a bad man have scissors? But my mind rejects the thought as I am filled with abject horror. Doloras is in the way, and Doloras is being stabbed, and Doloras is dying all before my eyes. And then the bad man is off through the office, gone as suddenly as he came. This is also what I am remembering.
My mind is split into two halves, two warring parties campaigning for dominance, each one claiming its right and yet one is deceiving. “MURDERER” “WITNESS” “GUILTY” “INNOCENT” My ruptured mind is splitting and cracking more and more with the pressure these two memories bestow upon me. Blinding pain fills my mind as it wars against itself, and so I am leaving the office, the building, to escape the scene to forget what happened and let my mind meld with its self, to discard the memories driving me mad and become whole once again.

I am walking to the elevator. I am not thinking, only moving. Forgetting is the only answer. And I will not forget in the Excel office building where I either witnessed a death or caused it. The elevator is going down and I am relieved. I do not want to know which voice is right for the one that lies may the one filled with hope… hope that I am not a murderer… hope that I have done nothing wrong. But that hope, that memory, may be a lie and that frightens me. I can’t explain why I killed Doloras, yet part of me thinks I did. I am thinking and the voices are screaming again. My mind is filled with unbearable agony at the possibility of two existences of a timeline, where the twine has become unraveled and split.

I am at the bottom floor of my Excel office building and I begin walking at first out into the bright Chicago air. I am consumed by panic, irrational fear, of the thoughts within my own head. The ones that drive to madness. The ones that drive to insanity. And these thoughts were born into my mind at the building. The Excel building. The building where I killed Doloras. No, I didn’t kill Doloras. Yes, I did. And as these thought torment my subconscious, where I think of things without thinking them, my panic begins to manifest a physical form. I run away from that building, trying to outrun memories only minutes old.

Wind whips across my face as I cut my way through the crowds of Chicago. Running from nothing to nothing. Not thinking of anything. Just running. And as I run I begin to feel free from the memories. Maybe I can block them, stop them from invading and destroying my sanity. Doloras never died I am thinking. She couldn’t have died. No reason for anyone to kill her. No reason for me to kill her. I think to myself that the thread of my memory is made of twine three threads strong and only two have unraveled.

I laugh out loud to the world as I think to myself how the two memories filled with death and murder are liars. And my third memory has hung back, waiting for me to find it and grasp onto it. And in this memory there is no death. Everyone is fine. Doloras is sitting at her desk happily type, type, typing away at her keyboard.

“Your third memory is a delusion. A defense against reality. You‘re afraid of what you remember so you conjure up fantasies where no one‘s dead. But you‘ll always know, no matter how hard you coach yourself, something happened in that office room.” I hear the faintest whisper in my mind. Saying there is no third memory. Saying I just created it so I wouldn’t have to face the truth of this mad world. And that in itself makes me insane.

“I’m not insane.” I am saying aloud to no one in particular.

All insane men deny their own insanity.

I have stopped running. My legs are numb. I feel nothing. The faint glimmer of hope I have created is leaving me and is being replaced by fear once more. I am looking up at the apartment building I have stopped in front of. It is mine. I enter it.

I am walking through the door of my apartment building. I see my wife on the sofa, our five month old son sitting on her lap. She is alive just like Doloras. Unlike Doloras. I am now in the living room with her, hugging her and my son tightly. She’s smiling and so beautiful. And I love her, just as much as when I first met her at the ballroom dance ten years ago. Still as beautiful as then. I am smiling at her, as I always am. Staring into her the pools of her blue eyes while she and the baby smile back. She asks me, “Why are you home so early?”

I am now standing outside of our apartment with a key in hand. The key to the storage space my wife and I rent. I am picking something up there. I can’t remember what. So I am now running there. Why I am once again running I don’t know, yet I run nonetheless.

I am now inside the storage closet, a rented out space on the sixth story of an apartment building. The place is small and full of useless boxes, furniture, and office supplies. I am unsure why I am here. I look around the small storage closet until I stop suddenly. I remember.

I reply to my wife that I just needed to get ink for the printer at work. She does not believe me but gives me the keys to the apartment. I kiss her. I tickle my son and he laughs. I love the little guy. My little Tom. Always smiling. And little Tim’s laughter makes my wife smile. She knows I am lying, that I don’t need ink, but she smiles anyway. I walk out the door, telling her and Tom that I love them. I do.

My intentions, however, are to open the box marked “Christmas”. Inside this is a necklace I bought for my wife a week ago, because I love her and I am a good father, not a murderer.

I smile at this. A good memory unlike killing Doloras. Unlike watching her die in front of me. My head begins to sear. I did not kill Doloras and I did not watch her die. Neither happened. Doloras is alive. I keep telling this to myself again and again and again. Until the pain passes.

But the pain of knowing of the possibility of murder, of watching you secretary stabbed until her screams turn to gurgles and then she makes the worse sound of all: silence, it pales in comparison to the pain I feel when I remember. I did not come here for a necklace. I came for gloves.

I tell my wife I need to get some lunch really quick since the cafeteria was sold out of pizza. I walk into the kitchen and scan it until I see what I am looking for. Scissors. I take them and walk casually up to my wife. She does not realize, wouldn’t be able to comprehend what I am about to do. And so she looks at me smiling, a smile that for some reason fills me with hate and disgust. And though I loved her mere moments ago, I now hate her. Hate everything about her.

As I walk up to her I give her a false smile and then I raise the scissors and kill her. There is no scream, there is no struggle. One moment she is standing there full of love, of life, of possibilities of a bright future and the next she is nothing more than a mass of flesh on the floor, cold and dead. Tom is crying. I leave the house. I need gloves, this mess won‘t clean itself.

I have collapsed on the floor, crying. “I did not kill my wife,” I say to myself in a whisper. This memory is a lie. But at the same time I feel there is no lie in it. My wife’s body is on the floor of my apartment. I killed her. “NO I DID NOT!” I scream to myself out loud. I am standing up, my body quivering. The torment of these memories strikes me as if with a hammer, an indescribable pain courses through my body. There is one way to see what I am, to either put aside the false thoughts of pain and murder or have the comforting image of my wife standing before me, alive and smiling ripped from me and tossed away.

A shiver coils its way across my body, its tendrils reaching all the way to my bones. I am walking out of the apartment, slowly turning the knob on the door. I am giving myself a weary smile as I walk down the hallway, out of the building to discover whether or not I am a killer. I am no longer sure which one I am.

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