Watkinson School’s Literary and Visual Arts Showcase

I Remember

Charles T.

Class of 2025

When I write, I try to make sure that every motif I include contributes to the story. My stories are meant to provoke thoughts and questions rather than answers. In doing this, I allow readers to think theoretically and symbolically as they progress through my pieces. In short, I always strive to have my text convey a deeper message hidden below the surface. I believe stories that pique one’s curiosity are the most exciting.

I woke up, my eyes revealing nothing more than pitch black. The Darkness was
devoid of any detail or features, free of any inhabitants that lurked in it — simply the
Darkness. I tried to move my head but my body was paralyzed. Instead, I was stuck
staring straight forward, into the Darkness, as if I looked at a blank canvas, except this
one was insubstantial, nothing more than an endless void. My ears caught a muffled
noise hidden in the Darkness. It happened with an unpredictable rhythm and continued
at random durations. The anticipation was enough to torture my puzzled mind.
Eventually, I decided to blink in an attempt to escape this enigmatic existence.

As my eyes opened again, I stared up at the vent above my bed that returned my
gaze. Soon, I realized that the once faint noise was but a small fly, taking off and
landing, frantically dancing around the vent. Suddenly, the fly dropped from the vent,
landing on my nose, its narrow needles of legs tickling my skin. I reacted almost
instantaneously, swatting the insect from my nose, sending its fragile body into the
beige walls. I wasn’t fond of insects. I was worried that my sudden movements may have
awoken my wife. She always slept so peacefully. If I woke up from a nightmare, I would
sometimes catch her smile from the sweet dreams she had. It gave me the strength to go
back to sleep again. In the morning, her skin would glisten under the sun’s rays that
entered through the windows, with her long layers blonde hair. I rolled over to check on
my wife, but she wasn’t there. Whenever she wasn’t there the hypnotizing fragrance of
her hairspray would linger along the sheets and pillow. I didn’t smell anything. I glanced
back up at the vent where the fly dropped from. I was struck with a nagging feeling. The
feeling that someone usually is struck with when their mind insists that they forgot
something. I was forgetting something. I woke up in pitch black, a fly landed on my
nose, I swatted the fly, I rolled over, and my wife wasn’t next to me. Eventually, I got out
of bed, thinking of the shameful look my boss would give me if I were late again.

Walking down the stairs wasn’t like any other time I’d done it. With every
placement of my foot, I could feel my bones rattle, my knees shaking violently, even as I
lifted my feet in the air to take another step. As I descended closer to the floor, my mind
and body became disjointed. I was a puppet under my master’s control, my limbs
moving according to the strings being pulled. I couldn’t even angle my head to fearfully
glance down at my enslaved body, or look up at the individual who waived the rights to
it. My right foot was positioned on the floor below the last step, the strings were then
cut, and my body fell to the floor. The bones in my body were present again, so I jolted
from the floor, ignoring the throbbing agony that my elbows and knees were in. My
heart raced as I stared at the staircase in frightful perplexity, questioning if I was even
awake. After five minutes of standing with wide eyes, I checked my watch. I must have
been standing for longer because the time exceeded my presumption. Before that
incident on the staircase, I had planned to make myself a cup of coffee, but I decided I’d
rather go without it than stay in my house for another minute.

After I mentally situated myself, I put on my shoes and left the house. As I
stepped out, I was greeted with soothing weather and blue skies that eased my stress.
However, the incident on the staircase lingered in my mind. It was a chore to attempt to
put the pieces together. Was it supposed to be a message? That nagging feeling of
neglect and forgetfulness struck me again. I retraced my steps: I woke up in pitch black,
a fly landed on my nose, I swatted the fly, I rolled over, my wife wasn’t next to me, my
bones rattled, my knees shook violently, mind and body were disjointed, my limbs
moved according to the strings, the strings were cut, and I fell to the ground. I did my
best to push the thought out of my head, getting in my car at last, and driving to my job.

The highway wasn’t in my favor, cars surrounded me from every angle and it took
at least two minutes for me to move an inch forward. The baking sun didn’t help either,
turning the inside of my car into a furnace. On the brink of passing out, I turned on the
radio, scrolling through the channels, even though the smart screen was hot to the
touch. I arrived at a station called “Oldies Ballads”, my wife’s favorite. She never liked
the new age stuff and told me that it keeps her connected to her grandmother. The song
that played was “In the Good Old Summertime” by the Andrew Sisters. Ironic, because
summer didn’t feel too good when I was stuck in traffic. My wife would always joyfully
hum along to the lyrics. Our daughter, Penny, would often join her, and I couldn’t
explain the happiness I felt listening to them in passionate unison.

My reminiscence was enough to wait out the traffic until it cleared. However, my
inner peace was interrupted when that dreaded feeling of forgetfulness hit me. My
daughter Penny is usually still in bed when I wake up to go to work, but she always
leaves one of her bobblehead toys on the floor, undermining my consistent chastisement
of it. Every time I walked in the hallway, one of her dolls would always find its way
underneath my foot. I hadn’t felt anything today. Was she still in her room? I didn’t see
my wife’s car in the driveway, so I assumed that she took Penny to school. Maybe I
should have checked Penny’s room before I left, but I was already in a hurry. I was about
ready to bang my head on the wheel and do anything to avert my focus, but I couldn’t
help it, I was forgetting something. For the third time, I retraced my steps: I woke up in
pitch black, a fly landed on my nose, I swatted the fly, I rolled over, my wife wasn’t next
to me, I left my room, I didn’t step on any toys, I didn’t check on my daughter, my bones
rattled, my knees shook violently, my mind and body were disjointed, my limbs moved
according to the strings, the strings were cut, I fell to the ground, I got in the car and I
turned on the radio, I reminisced about the cherishable moments with my family.
Finally, I arrived at my job, with a prepared excuse for my tardiness to explain to my
boss. I probably should’ve called ahead.

The elevator took an eternity to reach my floor and the jazz music that played
from the speakers began to blister my ears. I must have zoned out because the bell that
rang when I reached my floor managed to startle me. The elevator doors opened and I
stepped into the room. It was a typical Wednesday, all my colleagues were locked in
their cubicles, and the only sounds present were the clacking of keyboards and the
ticking of an old clock that oversaw everything from its perch on the far wall. I made my
way to my cubicle, surveying my colleagues as I passed by, suspicious if they were being
productive with their time. I sat down in my chair, mentally preparing myself for the
hours of aimless typing on the keyboard.

I wasn’t keeping track of time, but it had to be a few hours later. My colleague,
Solomon, rested his arm on the cubicle wall, cautiously glancing over to see if I was
there. I responded with an irritated sigh, I didn’t like being pestered, especially when I
felt comfortable in privacy.

“Something you need, Solomon?” I whispered but tried to make it evident in my
voice that I didn’t want to be bothered.

“Boss wants to see you,” he responded in a wavering high-pitched voice, like an
anxious teenage intern. “he says it’s important.”

If I knew one thing about the workforce, the word “important” usually means
you’ll either get threatened or offered a more time-consuming role. It was quite obvious
based on the lack of effort that I put into work that my job was about to get threatened.
With a deep intake of breath, I stood up from my chair and took the walk of shame to
my boss’s office. The clock’s ticks matched the rhythm of my steps as I approached the
glass door ahead. Through the glass, I could see my boss viciously scribbling away at a
piece of paper, followed by a laptop that he typed vigorously on. I lowered my head,
praying to myself as my mind ranted different reasons not to turn the doorknob. Afraid
my boss‘s mood would worsen after seeing me stand outside his office, I turned the
doorknob. I entered his office staring at the ground, with my fingers interlocked behind
my back, the typical apologetic employee stance.

“You asked to see me, sir?” I managed to speak while my thoughts continued to
nag me, expecting the worst.

“Yes, take a seat, please.” his bellowing tenor voice was enough to make anyone
check their posture.

Slowly, and with my eyes still leveled on the ground, I approached the chair on
the other side of his desk and sat down. As I landed in the chair, I gathered myself,
trying my hardest to push my concerns out of my head. When I built the courage to lift
my head, my fear soon turned into bewilderment. My boss, a bald man with a thick
brown beard that dressed the lower half of his face, was a cockroach. Not figuratively, he
was a cockroach, but enlarged to a human size. The sclera of his eyes were black and his
once bright-green irises were gone. His long narrow legs caressed the desk where we sat.
The movement on the surface sounded like fingernails being dragged across plastic. The
most disturbing sight was his sharp mandibles that yearned for prey.

I wasn’t fond of insects. In fact, I was revolted, nauseated, afraid of them. I
couldn’t hear a word that my boss spoke to me. My eyes were enslaved to the monster’s
gaze before me, no matter the effort I exerted to avert them. His gaze held me in place. It
seized my very mind, and my nagging thoughts were now conflicted about whether I
should stay or run. The monster wouldn’t release me. Even though it didn’t have pupils,
I knew it was still looking at me. If I had sat there for any longer I would’ve never been
able to leave that room. I got up from my chair and was immediately met with a hostile
hiss. The monster leaned forward, climbed on the desk, and approached me with vile
intent. Something clicked in my head, be it primitive instinct or a higher power, and I
fled from the office like a startled mouse. I darted past my colleagues, ignoring the
worried looks that were shot at me. Rushing into the elevator, I repeatedly pushed the
button to the lobby while praying that the monster would reach me. The doors to the
elevator closed, but my guard was still up, I wouldn’t feel safe until I reached my car. As
the elevator doors parted, I sprinted to the exit as if the monster was close behind me.
Shoving open two glass doors, my legs carried me into the night, towards my car. I
fumbled with my car keys as I fished for them in my pocket, not at one point slowing
down my pace. I was a few feet away as I unlocked my car, yanked the door open, and
dove into the driver’s seat. I sped out of the parking lot, not even bothering to check
behind me.

After thirty minutes of panicked driving, I arrived at my house. I noticed that my
wife’s car was still absent from the driveway. Panting from my escape, I rested my head
on the steering wheel. Tears began to cascade down my face. I wept in confusion, like a
prisoner who had been wrongly incarcerated. I had no idea why all of these events were
happening to me. The existence of insects had ruined my life and made me live in fear
from when I was young. They took my life, my sanity, and sometimes even my will to

I remembered when I was only seven years old, my parents and I went on a
camping trip. My eyes were getting heavier, so I went back into my tent while my
parents stayed out by the fire. I was in a groggy state, barely aware of my surroundings,
when I screamed from the sudden jolt of pain on my forearm. A black widow spider had
sunk its fangs into my flesh. I was too afraid to swat the insect from my arm, so I cried
and frantically flailed my arms as if I dangled above a bottomless pit. My parents rushed
me to the emergency room.

We were far out from urban areas, so the drive took about thirty minutes. By
then, the agony from the arm spread to my entire body; I could barely move my finger
without whaling in distress. The doctors said I was lucky to survive at such a young age,
but I didn’t feel lucky at all. I would’ve preferred to die that day. Ever since then, I
cowered from the little ant that curiously wanders across the wall, the spider that plays
on its web in the corner, the fly that buzzes in people’s ears. Nothing could fix me. Many
have tried, but they never got anywhere, and neither did I.

I missed my wife and daughter. All I wanted to do was see them again, but I
didn’t know where they were. My emotions broke free from their restraints and I
continued to weep into the leather skin of the steering wheel. The nagging feeling struck
me again. I wanted to smash my head against the car window, anything to suppress this
feeling that plagued my mind. However, this one wasn’t clouded like the ones before, it
was clear. I remembered now. I remembered the fly, the fear, the isolation, the
diagnosis, the pain. I remembered the schizophrenia pills I knocked over, the tears of
my loved ones, and the two insects that I killed. I remembered the mistake that I made.

My tears only got worse as I realized what I had done. Leaping out of the car, I
dashed to the front door, unlocked it, and stepped in. Immediately as I entered, I was
greeted with a putrid odor that made me gag in disgust.

I remembered now. I remembered the night that I came home from a therapy
session, frustrated by the lack of progress I was making. When I arrived, I approached
the front door, but what I heard nearly gave me a heart attack. There was a faint buzzing
noise that was on the other side of the door. I was fed up with the hallucinations I was
experiencing. Frustration turned into anger as I barged through the door, storming into
the kitchen. Two abnormally large flies playfully flew in circles around each other. They
were too big to be killed by a shoe, so I drew a large knife from the utensil drawer. Rage
fueled my body as I viscously attacked the monsters. I slashed and stabbed until they
were lifeless on the floor. I remember dropping the knife and running upstairs to check
on my wife and my daughter. To my shock, none of them were in their rooms.

I flashed back to the present, reluctant to enter the house any further. My heart
pounded in my chest, my breathing pace was frantic, and my feet were apprehensive to
move. I felt the color fade from my skin as I reluctantly crept inside, my eyes partially
closed to brace myself from the sight of horror. Time stood still, waiting for me to
witness my mistake. I placed my hand over my eyes, extending my other to touch the
wall, and feeling my way to the kitchen. Soon, my hand felt the cold stainless steel of my
kitchen counter. The reeking odor of decay was at its worst, my eyes watered despite
them being tightly shut. I whimpered as I anticipated the image of my terrible mistake.
My eyes felt soar from my previous breakdown, as well as being shut for so long. I
opened my eyes. My wife and my daughter, Penny, were dead on the kitchen floor, the
knife that I had used that night rested by their feet. All the air in my body escaped my
lungs, my vision became blurry, and then my balance became weak.

I woke up, my eyes revealing nothing more than pitch black. The Darkness was
devoid of any detail or features, free of any inhabitants that lurked in it — simply the
Darkness. I tried to move my head but my body was paralyzed. Instead, I was stuck
staring straight forward, into the Darkness, as if I looked at a blank canvas, except this
one was insubstantial, nothing more than an endless void. As I stared for longer, I could
see light in the form of a small rectangle. The darkness became clearer; I could see walls,
a toilet, and a sink. The surface I laid on was solid and discomforting to my shoulders. I
sat up, realizing that I had the same dream for the third time. However, unlike other
dreams, this one was real. I was in jail for the murder of my wife and daughter. I wasn’t
fond of insects.