The Darkness

I wrote this based on a personal experience I myself had experienced. It was a narrative exercise that we had to do in my AS English Language Course.

They were all looking at us… To be more exact they were looking at him… I faced the scene unfolding in front of me and watched in disbelief. Just by hearing him you would think he was five, the way he was shouting.  Throwing whatever was in near sight. It looked odd. I know it did and I hated it. I hated the looks and the stares of shock people threw at him. Mostly I hated the looks of pity. Nobody should pity him. He couldn’t control what he was doing. The toys lay in a heap pile in front of him next to the baking aisle in the supermarket.

I glanced quickly at my daughter and closed my eyes. She was hovering behind the crowd with her head hidden underneath her coat. I could see her wringing her hands nervously as she held her breath and stared at her brother. They were close. They would spend every second of the day together playing games they created on the spur of the moment. But she hated when he did this. She looked at me, almost ashamed to be embarrassed about it.  It wasn’t uncommon for this to happen to us. We were used to it. But it didn’t make it any easier.

He was still holding onto that train set. That stupid train set that he wouldn’t leave without. I sighed to myself and walked towards him. I placed the box into my trolley, grabbed my son’s hand and with my head held high, we walked out.

It could be the smallest thing that set him off. He can’t deal with emotions well. In fact he can’t deal with emotions at all. Trying to be happy at all times is tiring but it’s worth it if it keeps him calm.

I was stupid to take him to the supermarket on a Saturday morning. Hundreds of people in Qatar go shopping on a Saturday due to there being no work and it being easier to get there. I didn’t need to look back to see if my daughter was following us. I knew she would.

I yanked open the door of my car and stuffed my son into the back seat and closed it. Remembering I had put a child lock on the car door last week I turned to wait for my daughter. I sometimes admire how strong she is about all this. Being only ten she has had to deal with so much more than the average ten year old has to.

*****

I remember one night about two years ago when I was 8 almost as if it was happening right now. My grandmother had bought my older brother and I identical toys in the shape of dogs. They were both black and white and when pressed, a high-pitched electronic bark would come out from the speakers on they’re bellies.  You wouldn’t be able to notice the difference. My brother and I loved these toys so much. We each had our own and pretended they were real. We’d always wanted to have a dog but due to our mother being allergic we never got the chance. So one night I grabbed one of the dogs and started to play with it. Immediately my brother snatched it from me and exclaimed, “That’s mine!” I angrily shouted back saying it wasn’t. I was a hundred percent sure I’d put mine on the left.

Hearing the racket my mother walked into the living room and looked at the both of us screaming at each other. I was stronger than my brother then so she wasn’t as panicked about him injuring me as she is now.

“Okay, okay what’s going on here?” she asked yanking us apart and placing us on the sofa either side of her. Instantly we both started talking loudly at the same time into her ear. She put a finger to her dry lips indicating she wanted us to be quiet. She pointed to me first, “What happened?” I told my mother how my brother had shouted at me for taking my dog, mistaking it for his own. She turned to my brother and said, “It doesn’t really matter right honey? They’re both exactly the same.” But he just shook his head quickly.

“Why not?” She asked him. The reply he gave her was one that I will probably remember for the rest of my life. We were so taken aback by it. How could he have realized this?

“My dog’s bark is higher then hers,” he replied.

It turns out it was.

*****

I need them to stop looking at me.
Eyes going left to right.
Too much noise.
I can’t do this.
I can’t do this.
Sister’s humming that tune again.
Annoying.
She never gets the ending right.
Why do people keep staring at us?
Need to look at something.
Need something to distract me.
Supermarket stinks.
Raw meat.
Somebody chopping on a board.
A loud high-pitched sound.
Is something burning?
Somebody touches my shoulder.
Don’t like it.
They touched me.
They touched my shoulder.
Don’t like when people touch me.
Too many people.
All there…walking towards us.
A stampede.
I see it.
The train.
I need it.
I need that train.
I want it.
Nearly my birthday.
I should get it.
I need to have it.
“No.”
No?
Why not?
All we need to do is go to the machine with that plastic card and take out money right?
No?
Too much anger.
I can’t handle it.
I need to get out of here.
Take me out of here.
I need to get out.
I want to go home.
Why can’t we go home?
It’s starting up again.
Something is about to happen.
I can feel the darkness begin to overcome me.
“Oh, great…” sister mumbles.
Great?
This isn’t great.
This is horrible.
I begin slip away into a deep abyss.
It’s dark.
I’m scared.
I want to get out of here.
“Get in the car,” a voice exclaims.
I try to follow the voice.
I can’t see anything.
Where am I?
“Oh just get into the car!” the voice shouts.
I tumble forward into the backseat of our car.
The door slammed behind me.
I tremble in the corner.
I look out the door.
Mother is leaning against it.
I could see a tear escape from her eye.
Why was she crying?
Was she sick?
I remembered the train.
I could feel it starting up again.
I lost myself to the darkness.

*****

He’d always been my best friend. My brother I mean. We told each other everything. From our crushes to our ‘deepest secrets’, which we mostly made up due to the fact we were only little. I always liked to be in control. I created the games we played and the names of the character. My favorite game of all time was ‘prince and princess’. We pretended the Emir of Qatar was our Grandfather and his son was our father and we were secretly the heir and heiress to being the Emir of Qatar. Sometimes when I’m in bed I wish that it were true.

I might wish we could have changed our life but I wouldn’t wish to change my brother even if I had the choice. I love him in spite of everything. He is normal to me.

*****

Leaning against the door I paused to think about when the doctor diagnosed my son. I hadn’t been able to process it for months.

“Well it seems to me your son seems to have characteristics from a child with Asperger and Autism.” He tried to say as cheerfully as possible. I just sat there frozen. Unable to speak, I glanced at my husband who was sitting still staring at my son. “Exc-c-c-use me?” I stuttered. This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening to me.  “Look I understand this may be hard for you to hear but-“ The doctor began.
“No. You’ve made some sort of mistake.” I exclaimed loudly before getting up quickly. I grabbed my son’s arm and marched out of the room leaving behind the echoing words the doctor had said before.
It was that way with every doctor. “Autistic”, “Asperger” they just kept labeling him with a different name each time. I soon just gave in. I couldn’t keep resisting the truth. I had to just give in. My husband had stopped coming to all the appointments and I slowly realized he’d just allowed it to be and eventually so had I.

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