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As He Lay Thinking
As Michael lay in his bed, staring at the ceiling, he tried to stop thinking. There in bed was the only time he could have some silence; the only time he could lay back and feel the simple softness of the mattress and the pillows under his head.
“This bed feels so much more safe,” he thought, “I like this right now, just laying here, better than everything else that’s going on. No, you know where this train of thought is going; don’t think about Dad, or Danielle, or any of that, just lay still and fall asleep.”
So there he was, still laying in bed and still staring at the ceiling and trying to sleep. Too much was on his mind for him to sleep, too much for him to think about.
He had gone to bed at 11:00 O’clock after a long talk with his mother about Dad’s sickness: the strange disease that the doctors could neither diagnose nor treat, only dismiss; but still Michael would not let that bother him. What did bother him was everybody he knew was trying to help him through it, like he needed somebody to hang on to or something. He didn’t need to hang on to anybody, the only thing he needed was his faith. Faith was the only thing that Michael held in his heart, but now even that was debatable. How could a loving God choose to kill Michael’s innocent dad? To call it confusing was an understatement. Michael was starting to doubt his faith. Maybe because he didn’t believe in God anymore, maybe he didn’t want to have any faith at all anymore... because right now his faith was telling him that Dad is going to die.
It was thoughts like these that kept Michael up at night. Michael could never wrap his head around things; any kind of painful experience that would crush another person would take days or years to hurt Michael. Call it emotional strength or fortitude or repression, he never let anything get to him; he was always a rock in front of people. For years he had been told over and over by his father "Real men don't cry.” this harsh lesson finally took hold of Michael when he was around 13. Thus, Michael was shaped into his current self. 3 years of trying to be a man created the person Michael was now, the staid teen who could not cry if he wanted too, not even at the sight of his pale and shriveled father coughing up blood.
“How could that happen to Dad? Why, out of all of the people on earth, did Dad have to get sick?” It didn’t seem fair.
Michael’s dad, although not a friend, was a more important influence than any other man in his life. No matter how much Michael convinced himself that nobody, including his father, was important to him, he could not escape the reality that his father’s death was going to hurt him like nothing else had for as long as he could remember.
“Don’t be a baby Michael,” He thought to himself while chucking his blanket on the floor, “You’re not the first person in the world to have their dad die, it’s not as big a deal as everybody is making it seem like. Just because he is important to you, and you know that it hurts… No! Stop making yourself sad! Stop thinking about it and just move on! Be strong for God’s sake!”
Michael sat up on his bed and hung his head down. He stared at the blackness of his room and considered how to make himself fall asleep.
“I can go eat something downstairs... no that’s stupid, and unhealthy, and besides I think Mom is asleep downstairs and I don’t feel like waking her up. Hmph… what about writing? I haven’t written in a while.”
Michael got up and crossed the room, reached deep into a drawer and pulled out from behind his pajama shorts a battered notebook, the one that he never even told anyone that he owned, the one that he wrote in on the rare occasion that he absolutely needed to let his emotions out.
“The last time I wrote in this,” Michael thought, “was when Danielle… no don’t think about her, you don’t need to think about stuff like that now.”
Michael skimmed through the dozen pages that had already been written on, being careful not to look at Danielle’s page. Then Michael sat at his desk, notebook in front of him, pencil in hand. He was more than ready to release his feelings and finally achieve gracious sleep, but now he had nothing to write.
“ARRGH! Just write and fall asleep you freaking idiot!” Michael had to force himself to not punch his desk, “don’t hit the desk, it’s too late and you’ll wake somebody up. That’s a stupid thing to do anyway,” he told himself.
He leaned back in his chair, and thought about Danielle again.
“At least you’re not still with Danielle; she would make your life a h*ll-hole of drama. Girls like her always cause drama, they come on to you and then, after you start to like them and chase after them a bit, they blow you off, what the h*ll? God, all she wanted was attention; she just wanted to make herself feel pretty. Stop Michael, you already know this, there’s no need to keep thinking about her, and nothing ever mattered between us. Just get over her; she was never into you anyway so now you don’t need to be into her anymore.”
Again Michael had to force himself not to look at Danielle’s page in his notebook. It was written 2 months ago and had never been read since. Why would he read it anyway? He felt like cr*p when he wrote it and since then he felt better. No need to bring back old memories, and besides, what if reading that reminded him of how bad he felt?
He resolutely put his pencil on the blank sheet of paper in his notebook and began to write away, not stopping, spellchecking, or anything. He just wrote and wrote everything that he felt until he didn’t want to write anymore. Time was a blur and he was oblivious to anything but the sound of his pencil on paper. And when the pencil finally left Michael’s fingers he felt like he was one thousand pounds lighter.
“Wow, I actually feel a bit better now.” Michael sat in his chair and thought his over and over again, being careful not to read what he had wrote for fear of feeling like cr*p again if he did.
Michael looked behind himself at the clock: 2:36.
“Good God I have to sleep.” He said to himself.
He picked up his notebook and put it back in his drawer, underneath the old gym shirt where nobody would ever read it. Before closing the drawer, however, he thought one last time of his dad, and how sick his dad was.
“Poor Dad, he looks like he’s starving and has a fever of one hundred and whatever, the doctors say its salmonella poisoning. Whatever they say, I don’t care, and they have no idea what they’re talking about. I have no idea what he has either, I’m not a doctor, but they should know. I saw how confused they were, they have no idea what he has. I heard them talking about his symptoms or something, and boy they are lost. They just wanted to get him out of the urgent care and go home. Freaking scumbags... Alright now Michael, stop talking cr*p. Get back to thinking about how much lighter you are. Yeah, haha, I should write more often if it takes away so much stress.”
As Michael lay in his bed, staring at the crack between the door and the wall, cuddling his blanket, he heard the bed squeaking across the hall in his parent’s room. Mom was downstairs, the brother and sister were down the hall, and just Dad was in there. Michael raised his head and cocked his eyebrow, then lowered his head back down to the pillow and assumed that Dad was up to use the toilet. He heard the footsteps go all around the room across the hall, bumping into furniture and hitting the wall.
“God, how sick is Dad that he can’t remember where the bathroom is?”
Michael tried to close his eyes and fall asleep but the noise kept him up. How is someone supposed to sleep with those loud footsteps? It’s creepy. The footsteps got louder then, and closer. Michael looked up at his door and saw it swing open, his Dad staggered into the room without hesitating or speaking.
Michael was startled at first, “Dad, what’s wrong?” He said in a hushed tone.
Dad took two slow, uneven steps toward Michael without stopping, without even slowing down.
“Dad!” Michael said firmly, but all he got in return was a moan, a moan like nothing he had ever heard before. They were now close enough together that Michael could see through the darkness in to his Dad’s face, which looked as if it were about to vomit. Dad came right up to the bed and fell onto Michael without stopping, and then Michael was wrestling to get out of his bed with his dad on top of him; pulling on his clothes and moaning, wait, Dad was biting Michael… ripping flesh away from Michael’s forearm.
“ AHH! DAD WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Michael managed to dive off of his bed onto the floor, tearing his forearm out of his father’s bloody mouth in the process. “AHHH!”
Michael shrieked at the sight of the flesh that had been ripped out of his arm. Blood spread over the floor and his shirt. Dad moaned and jumped back on top of Michael, leading with his jaws.
“DAD! DAD! STOP DAD PLEASE STOP!” Michael shouted over and over while trying to push his dads face away with his one good arm. Dad was relentless; was this even Dad anymore? More and more flesh was being ripped off of Michael’s arms and shoulders as Dad wrestled Michael to the floor and proceeded to feed on his very own son. “DAD! NO DAD NO!” Michael tried to shout, but losing breath, “Mom help me! Mom! Mom!” All of a sudden the world turned white, there was a woman’s shriek and the weight that was on top of Michael was lifted, was this the end of Michael’s life? Michael opened his eyes and the first thing he saw was his own arm, bloody with white bone exposed, and the red stained blanket next to him on the floor of his room. He lifted his head and turned it toward his door, it was difficult to see with the blinding light that had been turned on by the switch at the door. He looked over there, at the door. He didn’t have time to see much except for his mother, her mouth gaping open and tears flowing down her face.
The last thing that Michael ever saw was his mother tackled to the ground by his blood stained, cannibalistic, monster of a father. He could not see his mother anymore; she was down the hall somewhere. Michael put his head down because it was too heavy to hold up. He grimaced from the pain shooting up from his arms and shoulders and coughed up a warm sticky liquid, probably blood. Michael stopped breathing, put his head down, and relaxed. He tried not to think about anything except for how much lighter he felt after he had written away all of his feelings.