"Several subtle handprints were seen on the screen of the television in contrast to the dust, far smaller than those of an adult, thus assumed that it was of a child."
All the frustration and anger that accumulated in Frank over the course of several days, months even, immediately flew out of his arms, wrists, and fingers as he lashed around the basement of his conservative but well kept and esteemed home. This was the only way he felt adequately better about himself, though in the end, the muscles in his arms and appendages of those, ached like they were screaming for relief. Every chord he struck echoed through the house, the noise booming from the amplifier and bouncing off every possible surface it could reach. Finally, after it seemed like he was playing for countless hours, his arms gave out, and the last hints of vibrating noise died away into the silence that always surrounded the suburbs he lived in. Attempting to rid of the ache, Frank shook out his arms and wrists, subsequently cracking each of his knuckles one by one. He sighed in alleviation. No matter the situation, music always made him forget about anything that burdened him, but unfortunately, it only stayed in the moment. Once leaving the barrier of sound, the thoughts of all things negative flooded back to him. After putting his one of many guitars back on the stand, he started up the stairs, and flipped the light switch off, leaving the basement in darkness, just as he tried the same with his memories.
It was late at night now, the whole neighborhood asleep, and Frank decided against eating dinner and started preparing for bed. As he turned off each light of his house, he felt his own energy drain, too. He always kept his house clean and orderly with fear that someone might show up at the door unexpectedly, but his room was a far different situation. Clothes, piles of dirty and clean were scattered over the floor and the bed was rarely made. The bathroom connected to it was significantly better, but still less sanitary than the rest of the house. Frank pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, threw open the bed covers, and fell onto the cold sheets. He covered himself with the thick layers of blankets and moved around to get comfortable. Finally, he was content and closed his eyes to go to sleep, only to open them again seconds later. Just as soon as he was ready to sleep, a pressured weight of heaviness fell on his chest. If he were to describe it, it wouldn’t be a physical pain, but more like the illusion of encumbrances weighing him down. The mental pain and loneliness he felt was severe enough for him to literally imagine a bodily hurting. He braced himself for more to come and exhaled heavily.
“Shit…” he muttered. It had been months since his depression was evident, and he was disappointing that it returned. When it appeared in his daily life, it never failed to dent his usual schedule and impair his motivation to even move himself off of the bed. He noted to himself to make an appointment with his psychiatrist, before forcing himself to relax and fall asleep.
Frank found himself in the middle of a tight room. It wasn’t very well kept, and the whole room was of a brown, dirtier hue. The furniture seemed over-used and near broken, and a small TV sat in the corner of the room collecting dust. Several subtle handprints were seen on the screen of the television in contrast to the dust, far smaller than those of an adult, thus assumed that it was of a child. Frank stood up and looked around the room. Everything seemed slightly larger than he was used to, and it made him nervous. Finally, he realized where he was: his childhood living room. He looked down at his hands to see small chubby ones, no traces of tattoos like his hands at his adult age. His walked around the carpeted floor with his small and somewhat incapable legs. With each passing second, the eerie silence and uncanny recalling of his old life made him grow more and more paranoid and increased the desire to leave the dream he was in. He walked around the room picking up and putting down old objects that he barely remembered, surprised that his brain even recalled such detailed, specific memories. From somewhere in the house, Frank heard some clattering, followed by heavy rushed footsteps nearing the living room where he stood. Suddenly, it dawned upon him why he felt so unsettled: his mother was coming. He moved his short legs as fast as he possibly could to attempt to escape the room through the front door on the opposite side of the living room. Just as soon as he placed his palm on the cold metal doorknob, he felt a hands grip the back of his small head, making his heart jump, and slam it against the hard wooden door in front of him. Frank collapsed to the ground, holding his forehead; he slid against the door, leaning on his back, and looked up at the assailant: his mother. Her looming figure stood rigidly above him, her face full of rage and bitterness. She raised her foot and struck little Frank in the stomach with unadulterated force. He doubled over; his back arched outwards, knees and hands on the ground. The agony was too much for a little eight year old with such a small pain threshold. He let out a squeal; even though he knew that a response always raised the incentive for more abuse. He simply wasn’t strong enough to take that amount of anguish. But she did not relent.
“You piece of shit…” she growled. Little Frank was crying now, his sobs shaking his whole body, tears landing on the ground noiselessly. Once again, she lifted her foot and forcefully brought it down on her small child’s back.
Frank burst awake from his dream in a desperate gasp for air, just before his mother’s foot made contact with his back. The anticipation of the pain left a tingling sensation through his spine. He was breathing hard, frequently interrupted with sobs, and along with the shock of anticipation, his stomach, the area where she struck him with her foot, ached just as if he were hit in real life. His forehead throbbed from the dream as well, from when she smashed it against the door. Frank stumbled out of bed and made his way to the bathroom, his head spinning. He leaned forward on the sink to see himself in the mirror and gingerly brought his fingers to his forehead to feel them. From what he could see, there was no evidence of any injury at all, but once he touched it, he winced in pain. He squinted into the mirror, trying to make out some trace of bruise or cut, but found nothing. He felt dizzy now, from what, he didn’t know, but decided to sit down on the bathroom floor with his back against the wall. He felt too weak, physically and emotionally, to stand. For years since he was taken away by social services when he was ten, he tried to suppress the memory of his mother, who had abused him from when he was a mere kindergartener. He almost always refused to talk about any of it afterwards, and eventually, after pushing the memories back for years on end, they became a rare thought. That was, until now. Frank brought his knees up to his chest wished he could stop replaying the dream in his head. Each time he recalled his head slamming against the wood, he felt a shock of pain there. The same went for his stomach. But, after telling himself that it was all in his mind, the pain and all, he strained to pick himself off the ground and started to walk towards his kitchen. Frank knew he wouldn’t be able to back to sleep that night anyway, so he decided that a cup of coffee might ease his nerves.
He flipped the switch to his compact but functional little kitchen and opened one of the pantries for a packet of Starbucks ground coffee. He filled the coffee maker he had received as a present from one of his fellow band members for his birthday with the ground beans and poured in the water to each of their respective places. He pressed the tiny button, which lit up, indicating that the water would start to heat. Frank glanced at the clock above the kitchen doorway and saw that it was almost four in the morning. He slumped back onto a kitchen stool and closed his eyes momentarily to try and rid of the heaviness of sleep, but not wanting to fall into unconsciousness in fear that he might experience a recurrence of the dream he just had. Finally, the coffee was ready. Frank stood up from his seat and rubbed his eyes. Closing them only emulating the act of sleeping, making him even more tired than before. He let out a sigh with an accidental hint of a whimper coming out with it. He still felt uneasy from the dream and as much as he tried to ignore it, the pain from his head and stomach would not relent. After pouring the hot, brown liquid into a white mug, Frank settled himself on the living room couch and brought his knees up to his chest again, cradling the cup of coffee with both hands as he stared out the bay window directly in front of him. It wasn’t late enough for the sun to be making even a glimpse of an appearance, but Frank sat and watched anyway; the only thing visible being the outside lights the neighbors kept on throughout each night. He was still paranoid from the night terror, and felt eerily exposed in the silence of the house. Every occasional creak from the house made him jump and his heart start to race. So, to feign the company of people, Frank turned the television on to a news channel, which was mostly the repeating of traffic and weather. It didn’t matter to Frank what they were talking about; all he cared about was that the silence was filled by something. He gripped the hot mug with his hands, savoring the heat emanating from it, but not once bringing it to his mouth. He sat completely unmoving with the cup in his hands, staring out the window until the sky brightened, birds sang, and neighbors’ sprinkler systems sputtered to life.