Vertigo

It starts with a rumble, in some places a loud boom.  Before you know it, everything around you is violently shaking.

It seems to last for hours, but really it’s only 30-40 seconds.  Dozens of aftershocks follow, strong, but not as big as the first one.

It’s the middle of the night, sleep wants to claim you but the fear keeps you awake.  Socks still settle against the soles of your feet, waiting in case of a midnight dash.

And it happens.

You sit up, phone clutched in your hand as your world begins to tilt.  How strong is it going to be?  Bigger than the one yesterday?

You get to your feet and bam, the whole apartment starts to sway.  Everything is a jumbled mess.  Things you had picked up from the first earthquake are back on the floor, strewn about in a wild mess.

Your head finds the edge of the table, knocking you senseless but not  unconscious.  You can hear everyone’s voices in your head: Get to the table, Get to the door.

Where do you go?  Everything is fuzzy now, all you know is that you need to get out of there.  You make your move to the door, forgetting the bag you packed only an hour before.  Thankfully, the lights are still on.

Everything around you is vibrating, you can’t stay on your feet… Your head hurts so bad you’re sure that it’s bleeding… now you’re just waiting for the blood to drip into your vision.

Somehow, you reach the doorway, but not unscathed.  Days later, you won’t remember the details, everything has a dark haze around it.  You think the bathroom door handle gave you the wicked bruise on your hip.  Maybe it was the box by the doorway that got your foot.  But your arm, with the giant bruise and shredded muscles, that you have absolutely no recollection of.

In the doorway, you dare a glance back into your home.  Everything is moving, you can see the doorway twisting and turning.  Everything is flying around like some sort of Tasmanian devil has entered your apartment.

The lights go out, and you know, more than anything, that darkness terrifies you.  Somehow you manage to grab your shoes, so many people have told you over the last day to get closed toe shoes and to be careful of glass, and race out the door.  The initial quake has stopped, but the ground is already gearing up for a nasty aftershock.  With speed you didn’t know you had, you race to your co-workers door.  You’re screaming and crying, worried about their safety and afraid for your own life.

After what feels like an agonizing wait, he wrenches the door open and throws you under the table.  For the first time since it happened, you feel safe.  But then the reality of the situation hits you.  Everything hurts, the world won’t stop shaking and before it happened, this uncontrollable fear gripped your heart.  If you had listened to it, had gone and stayed with someone else, you wouldn’t have been alone and you probably wouldn’t have gotten injured.  Looking back in hindsight, you’re terrified and angry at yourself for being so vulnerable and unprepared.

Even a week later, you’re still terrified, even though you’re in another city and the aftershocks don’t always reach you here.  But when they do, that terror grips your body and brings back every memory.  You can’t be alone at night.  You have trouble even being alone during the door.  Every time you’re alone, you have to fight back the tears.  You remember the feeling, the shaking, the terror that gripped you and won’t let go, even now.  Sometimes, in the dark of the night, while he slumbers peacefully next to you, the throbbing of your own heart sends you into a fit of terror.  Every thing feels like it’s moving and you wonder if maybe one day every thing will stop, or if this is the new normal.  You’re life is now a constant vertigo.

I wasn’t going to post this here, as you know I have a creative writing blog.  But this is something really important to me.  One day, I’ll post the full story, maybe when it’s not so painful for me to remember, because even now it terrifies me. 

But I was in the Kumamoto Earthquakes 2016.  I did survive.  I was injured and have been dealing with the resulting concussion and the PTSD that it brings afterwards.  I am terrified to go back to the city I had been falling in loving with.  But I will find the courage and strength to go back

Everything I own is covered in dust

It’s 3 a.m., I should be in bed, not up writing.  I just finished my glass of milk, I feel like a child again.  I want to tuck myself in, but my mind won’t shut off.

Getting back to the roots, back to the reason I started in the first place, creative expression.  Here we go again.  Headphones on, lights off, let’s do it.

 

When I look in your direction I don’t know what to think.  In the beginning it was easy, you were just another person.  I don’t know what happened, I don’t know how it happened, and I definitely can’t explain how it happened… but it did.  And I can’t control it now and that terrifies me.  So I put up the walls, push you away as viciously as I can… a part of me doesn’t want you here… but the majority of me does.  Prove me wrong, show me that you care.  Do you care?  I wish you would give me a concrete answer.

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Lights Off, Headphones On | Daily Prompt

The train station isn’t dirty.  They never are.

Each step takes me closer to my destination and further from my comfort zone.  My skin starts to crawl and I can feel the sweat as it rolls slowly between my shoulder blades.  But my footsteps never waver, and with every inch I feel my chin rise.  I let the music flood into my ears, bringing new emotions with every thump of bass.

I walk for ages, twisting and turning down different tunnels until I finally find myself in the subway, and I can just make out the finish line up ahead.  My pace quickens, my heart starting to race.  I’ve wanted to do this for ages and finally my chance has come.

My eyes light up when I see the spot I picked out two weeks ago when I first found this place.  I hesitate, for just a second, my feet doing the shuffle I learned in my marching band days.  But, before I allow my feet to plant, I push myself forward, my courage and pride swelling as I think about the task I am about to undertake.

I feel the music  swell, reaching an ear-drum splitting note, and then everything falls quiet.  To my right, I feel the train before I see it.  The gust from the train whips loose strands of my hair up into my eyes and as the wheels grind to a halt I can feel the vibrations running up through the soles of my feet.  When the doors of the train open, I finally reach my position, and stop.

The next song begins; a very slow intro lilting through the speakers against my ears, before it picks up into a storm of bass and screams.

When I look over, all I can see is a sea of people.  Moving, pushing, rushing, strolling.  People with places to be and people with nowhere to be.  Thousands of people descend upon me, and I feel the smile grow on my face.  I close my eyes and don’t move, feeling, rather than seeing, the crowd.  Their energy sparks against mine, mixing in a battle of wills.  I remain resolute, standing firm in-between three columns, and open my eyes once more.

Every once in a while someone will glance in my direction.  I like to think it’s because they can tell there is one person here who doesn’t belong, but it is probably due to the volume of my music.  The bass threatens to shred my skin, each beat sending shivers down my spine.  I can feel those eyes, the ones that look up briefly, look away and then return.  They burn into my soul, leaving a lingering impression that clears with every strike of thunder between my ears.

Everyone else just ignores me, more important and interesting things on their mind.

I soak in the moment for what feels like hours, but in reality is only five minutes.  As the last few stragglers rush to meet up with their groups, or hurry home to loved ones, I slowly lower the headphones.  Everything is quiet again, though I’m sure it’s only because of the non-stop ringing in my head.  The damage to my ears was a welcome assault, one that I’ll gladly repeat.  Each beat of the bass, word uttered and every chorus sung let’s me know that I’m alive.  I can feel the music echoing deep in my bones, every vibration a reminder that I live to enjoy another day.  A privilege many do not have.

And one that I’ll treasure until I move on, joining those who have gone before me.

For this today’s Daily Prompt I wanted to start with a story, before getting into my superpower.  This really happened, and these were the real emotions I had.

When I studied abroad in Osaka in 2009 I went to a Hanshin Tigers game.  Two weeks later I found myself in the same Subway, all alone.  I put the volume on my iPod to max, stood in one spot and just felt the moment.  It was one of the most breath-taking moments I’ve ever had in my life.  It’s really hard to describe the feelings I had in that moment without getting long and wordy, so I thought maybe a story would do it better.

Now, the reason I chose this moment is because if I had to choose one superpower it would be ‘the ability to speak and understand any language.’

If you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m currently living and working in Japan.  I know enough Japanese to order food, go shopping and get around, but having a conversation outside of basic stuff is really difficult.  So naturally, I would love to be able to speak and understand any language.  It would make traveling so much easier, considering I would like to go to Korea, Italy and Poland at some point in the next 10 years.

That moment is what sticks out to me the most, because in those five minutes that I stood there, I was the only American person in a sea of Japanese people.  It may not seem significant to anyone else, but to me, in that moment, it really helped me to understand where I was, who I was and what I wanted to gain from my experiences in Japan.

To say it was an eye-opening experience would be an understatement.  I would probably describe it as ‘soul-shattering.’  It left such an impression on me, that after it was over, I had to turn my music off.  I always listen to music, but after this experience I put my headphones in my bag, and returned to my dormitory in silence, analyzing and trying to understand all the emotions I had felt.

Today’s Daily Prompt:

 

You get to choose one superpower. Pick one of these, and explain your choice:

  • the ability to speak and understand any language
  • the ability to travel through time
  • the ability to make any two people agree with each other

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