New Beginnings

by Edward Liu

It was a troubling time. Seventeen years into life; too many left until the end of my days.

“Too many indeed.”

What was that voice?

“It’s me! You’ve known me for awhile now.”

What were those thoughts I didn’t want circulating through my head?

“I have feelings too, you know?”

What were those disheartening memories?

“She only broke up with you a few months ago! You couldn’t have already forgotten.”

I hadn’t forgotten, but I had tried to.

“I miss her.”

I missed her too, but I could not afford to miss her. I could not afford to think about her any longer.

“That’s impossible. We will practically see her everyday. With him.”

It didn’t matter. I had to work my way around it. I willed myself to,

“Yeah, okay. Good luck with that.”

I had to somehow make it through my final year of high school with two unwanted parties tagging along with me, holding me back. It was a difficult task, and I attempted to accomplish it through willpower alone for a small while.

“You tried your best for two months. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Two months was approximately how long into the school year I had held out before I began to lose control. All it took was one unlucky morning after a night of poor sleep. The first thought to circulate through my mind when I woke proved to have dire consequences.

“I’m so lonely.”

It had been several months, almost half a year even! It wasn’t like I had gone my entire life with a partner; I used to be on my own! Why couldn’t I handle being on my own then?

“It’s because I’m here. And she’s not.”

Indeed. It was all his fault. It was all my fault. Every morning became a dreadful reminder of my lonely situation. What did I have to look forward to?

“Nothing, nothing at all. It’s just you and me, partner.”

I had to shut him up, but how? I tried entering different worlds and living as another person unlike myself in several role-playing games, but it proved to be too time-consuming. I had my priorities out of order. In organizing and allocating time, there were three general categories to consider: work, sleep, and leisure. It was never a good idea to prioritize leisure over work and then work over sleep. The hour at which I went to bed progressively became later into the darkest hours of the night. The average number of hours I spent asleep each night was dropping again. I had experience with it before. Poor sleep equated to disorder within mental processes, nonexistent attention spans, uncontrollable thoughts, and many vivid reminders of the oh too recent devastation.

“She’s gone.”

Miraculously, my performance in school continued down its relatively stable course in comparison to the chaos ensuing within my mind. Alas, it too would soon be threatened by the drop.

“We can’t keep going like this.”

“Just a bit longer,” I told him. “We’ll tough it out until the two-week winter break.”

“Your willpower is wavering which is why we can’t keep up with the others in that class anymore. We are different from them.”

I knew he was right. There was a certain level of maintained pressure which came with being in that class, and I was growing weak.

“We can’t stay in there. We have to get out. Math is no longer our strength; it is our weakness. We’ll also get away from her.”

“We’ll push onward,” I thought. “Just a few more weeks.”

Those “few” weeks proved to stretch longer than I had expected them to, but finally, I crashed into the winter break.

“Well, we made it. What will you do now?”

My main priority was to get back on track by sleeping properly again. It proved to be easier said than done. I had two weeks, but I continued to sleep at late hours. I had had enough of dealing with the depressing trains of thought, the memories, the renewed loneliness. Near my wit’s end was when I stumbled across a possible solution.

“Why do I feel so…numb?”

Emotionally numb is what I started to feel when I woke in the morning, at least for the first few seconds. It took longer for the memories, for the loneliness, to set in, and it was all his doing.

Who was he? He was Wilbur and his title was “the Dealer.” Faceless is what Wilbur was, concealed under his hood. He always wore a dark gray hooded sweater, black pants, and dark coloured running shoes.

He was a mysterious figure and was thought to only exist in a separate plane. I met him on a still and quiet night at around one in the morning. School had started back up by then and I had piles of schoolwork to complete, but late at night is when the depressing thoughts were at their strongest. As I was wrestling with them in my head, moments before retreating to bed, he shined a light through my laptop’s screen and appeared; while it was powered off. True to his name, he dealt with drugs and he left one of his newest concoctions in my drawer; a gray pill which, unbeknownst to me, activated a mental process which he deemed, New Beginnings.

“Once taken, the pill’s effect will activate every time you deprive yourself of sleep, building strength with each successive night. When you wake up, the events of the day prior might become blurry.”

It sounded harmless enough with a beneficial effect which is why I ingested the pill before he could finish. In the beginning, the effects were barely noticeable. Then the early morning emotional numbness started.

“If you sleep poorly for two or more nights in a row, well, your memory may slowly become unstable, rendering it incapable of creating and retaining memories.”

This became increasingly evident as the school days continued. It became increasingly difficult to retain information. After a month, I couldn’t remember a word of what I was being taught, but there were more memory issues yet to occur.

“Worst case scenario, your past will become nonexistent in your mind…”

Throughout the months after the breakup, I had tried my best to forge onward and not look back. I could feel my past closing in on me the entire time. The larger the gap between it and myself, the less I remembered which meant the less I’d think about it. On the other hand, whenever it got close enough to be nipping at my heels, I remembered vividly. Then one day, I couldn’t feel its presence; the memories which haunted me, tormented me for months. I started to occasionally look back, and the gap between myself and the past grew increasingly larger until I could only see a small number of scattered memories, and few of them recent.

“…and each minute you live in the present will be erased as they go by.”

New Beginnings proved to be a memory manipulation process. It became difficult to recall anything at all as the records of my past either vanished or became deeply repressed into the darkest reaches of my mind. It felt as though my brain was automatically deleting or archiving everything it processed. The mental torment lightened until it ceased completely. I regularly woke in the mornings feeling numb and remembering nothing; I became a boy without a past.

My mornings from then on truly became new beginnings.