Sand – Part Two

short stories about ptsd, keyboard

Short Story

 

I’ve been getting more angry than usual. Ever since I got home, the tiniest little shit can manage to set me off like a firecracker. I vaguely remember being an easygoing kind of guy, but anything before my first tour just feels like a different person fucking around with my name attached to them. You can show me my high school photo, old videos, and even baby pictures, but all I’ve got to go on is your word that that kid is still me. I’ve still got memories and everything, but it’s like having memories of a movie you saw or a book you’ve been told about. After May 21st, everything before just went grayscale.

I bite my tongue and ball the bullet into my fist. A flashback itself is always mild, just the bare memories projecting against the backs of your eyelids. It isn’t until after that the emotions come in, like thunder after lightning. Everything you felt during the event comes back in full force. Best case scenario, I have to go somewhere quiet and shake for a while. Worst case, I might piss myself while crying. Dignified, it ain’t.

I fiddle the mouse on the computer and wait for the screen to light up in the dark. It helps to distract myself before anything heavy kicks in, but it doesn’t always work out. In any case, I click on the minimized windows and try to remember what I was doing. There’s a new email draft open with nothing written except the send address: [email protected] Maddy’s email. I must have just started writing before I blacked out. I know I wanted to tell her something, probably something important if I’d been using her work address, but I can’t remember a thing about it for the life of me.

The cursor on the screen starts to shake. I think it’s my eyes at first before I realize that it’s my hand. I let go of the bullet and try to will my fingers to stop twitching. That’s never worked before and it doesn’t work now. Like a wave in the ocean, it’s better to just hold your breath and let it carry you than to try fighting against it. Letting the computer sleep, I shuffle in the dark to my messy bed and collapse onto the pillow, pulling the blanket over my whole body. I try not to think of May 21st or Kabul. I try not to think of standing on that building with a rifle in my arms. I try my god damned hardest not to think of Lucas’ voice. It helps to distract yourself. I was writing an email, right? It was probably about yesterday. I can start there.

 

next: Sand – Part Three

previous: Sand – Part One

more by WILL HEMLEPP

photography by Kamil Kisiela

 

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