“Trauma” — Excerpt from “The Dying of the Light”
TRAUMA is an insidious thing. It slips under one’s skin at the faintest touch, like an infection, but the body doesn’t fight it. It joins the body, the skin, the sinew, the very blood. The trauma courses through the body, latent, until the brain, unknowing, dredges it up to the surface. The unwanted thoughts play through the mind like a haphazardly spliced film running through a faulty projector. The thoughts are ephemeral and, like morning mist, cannot be grasped; they leave a physical anxiety behind — a nervousness that settles in the pit of the stomach like a rock. There is the constant and overwhelming dread of nothing in particular, and moments where the mind regresses to the incident of the trauma. Sometimes the trauma boils and consumes its victim, body and mind: the vessel becomes the thing. The fear and dread and anger erase the person feeling it. The person is fear, is dread, is anger. Trauma is an enrapturing thing, seeped into the pores of its host. It is a parasitic thing that feeds and multiplies autonomous and forces one to stare off the cliff where two choices then present themselves: one must expunge the trauma to walk away from the cliff, or one must escape the trauma and leap from the cliff.
Daniel Larsson sits on his bed. It is snowing outside. He is staring at the wall across from him, how plain it is. He is fiddling with his phone, a toy to placate a compulsion for motion.
He found out that the young girl’s name was Emily while she begged to be returned to the whorehouse. She had no family, nowhere else to go. And before that, he had watched his friend die, the last anguished breaths seeping from his mouth like a gas leak. Just the image of the body on the floor, bleeding onto the steel — it is branded into him. The slightest touch of trauma becomes an infection.
There is a storm in Daniel. There is a dissociation from things. Awakening, he feels out of place in the world, as though his eyes are opening in the wrong universe, the wrong reality.
He sits on his bed. He is starving, but unwilling to move. He is chained to the bed, his back against a pillow and the wall. The room is quiet. Suffering is a silent and solitary state.
The phone in his hand begins to alert him of a call. It is tactical and he is being called in for a job. He mutes the device and sets it on the nightstand beside him. He reaches for the lamp on the nightstand and, unflinching, hurls it against the wall and screams to break the silence. He screams and thrashes about and begins to cry and he grasps at the blankets on the otherwise empty bed and there isn’t a soul in the world to hear his agony.