A short story (fiction)
Written by Monica Ng
Zap. Zap. Zap. Nothing but the sound of static. An incessant buzzing replaces the thoughts in my mind. Looking around my room – it looks different. The colour has vanished from it. The walls have eyes and ears – watching and listening. Nowhere is safe. I fumble for the glass of water on my bedside table. The glass shakes in my trembling hand as I bring it close to my mouth. Water splashes all over my shirt and pants but barely touches my parched lips. Drinking, I realize, is futile. Instead, I dip my fingers into the glass and use some water to splash my face. Wake up. Get a hold of yourself, I tell myself.
Blinding. The lights in my room are too bright. It’s making me see things that weren’t there before. A woman materializes from a shadow in the corner of my room. She’s smiling and holding something in her hands. Her presence makes me uncomfortable. Her smile is malicious, not warm. The lady edges closer to me. Her smile not fading. I sit helplessly on my bed as she binds my wrists with whatever she was holding. It’s something shiny. Struggling with all my might, I can’t move my hands. All control is lost. Bending over me, she lays me down on the bed. I can see the woman’s sharp pointy yellow-tinged teeth. Her eyeballs are black with no white space. Don’t move. You’ll only make things worse, she says in a mechanical and hollow voice. I plea to her with my eyes, I don’t deserve this. None of it. Don’t take away my freedom. But the woman doesn’t care. Instead she stares at me blankly, tugging at my restraints. When she’s satisfied that I can’t move nor escape, she turns around and walks toward the balcony door. She opens the door and her black outline stands on the balcony for a moment. A second later she disappears underneath it.
The light flickers off by itself now. I can feel myself fade into the darkness.
Author’s Commentary: This story is inspired by my dad’s health scare back in 2020. As background, my dad had a life-changing stroke about seven years ago. He always had issues with my mom (mainly my mom’s control over him), but the impact of their problems was magnified post-stroke because of the changes in my dad’s brain and partial physical paralysis.
One night, my mother called me and told me that my dad went “crazy”. When I saw him for myself, he was ranting and raving in his mother tongue (which I don’t really understand) about not deserving the treatment that he got from “the lady”. His behaviour was erratic and odd, and he was confused about many things. He definitely wasn’t himself, so I took him to the hospital to get checked out. The doctor found that his sodium levels were dangerously low, which he explained could cause confusion.
For my dad, he was restrained in the hospital for his own safety. During his slow recovery, he told me about the torment caused by the evil lady who restrained him frequently back at his condo. She left him without an ounce of freedom and human dignity. To make matters worse, she lived for free under their balcony (a balcony that doesn’t exist).
I know that my mom was likely yelling at him again and he had a traumatic breakdown when he reached his breaking point. Mental health is so important. Something like this can happen to anyone at any time. No one is immune. Talk to someone you trust before you reach your breaking point.