FUELLED BY CAFFEINE

Author: Ian Stewart

Date: 10/06/2018

Read Time: 6-7 minutes, 689 words

Archive: This author's other articles

-A Grenade Without a Pin-

I was driving along the motorway at around 70mph, give or take, as I overtook an arctic lorry. The rain was bouncing off the road as the storm worsened. I was trying to pass this thing, but the spray coming off its wheels blinded me. No matter how fast I turned up the wipers I couldn’t make sense of the road. Music was playing at a low volume, because when I need to focus I turn the volume down, but that wasn’t enough for me to make sense of the road and if that really was a bend up ahead. It may have taken me several seconds to get by, but I felt every second like they were forever. It had been a day where I had sensed that a change was coming, and that I could mark it on the calendar as a day of significance. There were signs everywhere that I looked, even when I wasn’t looking. I picked up a magazine with the title “Ghosts in the Machine” and laughed to myself, because all this shit started that day in San Antonio when a guy offered to perform an exorcism on my broken laptop. That was the beginning of it all, really. But here we were, thousands of miles from there, and things still weren’t the same.

When I saw the storm approaching, I knew that it was just an opportunity for me to make excuses and turn back. I’d made enough excuses in the past, so another one wouldn’t do any harm. There were no guarantees that I would find what I was looking for anyway. At no point did I feel as though this would be the day that I would die, but that feeling changed during that moment in the fast lane. As soon as I pass, the sun breaks through the clouds and I ask myself what the fuss was all about anyway.

I hadn’t seen him for several years and the last time we spoke I was in freefall. To say that I had caused problems between us in the past may have been an understatement. I was like a grenade without a pin, when I finally went off I destroyed myself entirely and hurt those in the immediate vicinity. Unfortunately for him, he had been standing by me, too close for too long.

The year following that was my lowest point. It’s only hindsight that gives me that kind of perspective because sometimes you don’t realise that you’re suffocating, sometimes you just slip off into a dream and the pain had disconnected itself to become that pillow over your face, or the noose around your neck. There were hands, not my own, that cut me down and pulled me back but breathing felt abnormal for a long time. Now I can look back and think – fuck, that was a close call. And then I thank her for everything she’s done for me.

Life was an adventure to find the pieces of my soul that I had lost, but most of the time I was ready to give up or decide that I had found enough, and I could survive this way, despite missing a few bits. The terrifying thing was knowing that this was something that I had to face alone. Nobody else can identify the things missing from your life like you can. It was in a room of old faces that I found a familiarity of forgotten, youthful dreams. Perhaps time does heal all wounds, but I’m grateful for empathy and love, because they played their part as well. There’s an element of sadness in facing the past and seeing that things will never be quite the way they once were, but acceptance is the best pain killer I’ve found. Although we still refer to each other as friends, there was a time when we were close enough to give the word meaning. Now, I can be happy to have shared part of an existence with him and found forgiveness without words.

I guess the point is to keep going.

Ian Stewart is on Twitter: @GutterKid101