Brandon Saulter

October 18, 1990 - California
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... am I?

I woke up in this place. It's dark, I can't see. I don't know where I am.
I call out for help. Can anyone hear me? I don't think they can.
Fear sets in. I freeze.
My breath gets shallow and I drop to my knees.
Are my eyes closed? Are they open? Why can't I see?
What is going on? I need to stop and to breathe.
I breathe in. I breathe out. I breathe in. And out.
Is this a dream? Am I dead? What's this about?
My heart is pounding. Like it wants out of my chest.
I can feel it, so I'm real. But what about the rest?
I look around. There's nothing. Not a thing in sight.
Nothing up. Nothing down. Nothing left. Nothing right.
I'm on my knees, but on what am I kneeling?
Am I floating? Am I falling? Do I have any feeling?
I'm alone. I'm afraid. I don't know what to do.
With each passing second, the panic grew.
I try to sprint, only to trip and fall.
I go down, but hit nothing at all.
Are physics no more? Am I floating in space?
Is it really just me? Nothing else in this place?
I begin to flail. I kick and I scream.
What the hell is this? What the hell does it mean?
I can't move. I can't see. I'm unable to think.
The more that I try, the more my heart sinks.
Not knowing what to do, what to think or what else to try,
I curl into a ball and begin to cry.

How long has passed? Minutes? Months? Years?
Has it been long enough? Have I outlived my fears?
I try to open my eyes, to see if I can see.
But they don't budge. They refuse. Like they no longer listen to me.
They are MY eyes. They BELONG to ME. They MUST obey.
I get angry. My body is mine. How can it not do as I say?
Anger outweighing fear, I force myself blindly to my feet.
But immediately, a wave of nausea and pain forces me to a seat.
Wait. A seat on what? Is this solid ground?
I reach out my hands and begin to feel around.
I can feel it. The ground is there. It's real. But is there anything else?
I need to focus. I need to breathe and gather myself.
I breathe in. I breathe out. I breathe in. And out.
Again I try to open my eyes, but still they refuse. I begin to shout.
“What is this?! Where am I?! Why am I here?!
Is there someone there?! Listening?! Watching?! Enjoying my fear?!”
Now I'm furious. Increased by the silence. I'm enraged.
My blood is boiling. A wild beast in a cage.
Fueled by anger. Pushed by fear. I force myself to stand.
Again, the nausea and the pain. But using adrenaline I ran and I ran.
I knew I was moving, I could feel the ground beneath my feet.
Though I knew not where. I still could not see.
But it was something. I'm moving. Better than a helpless, sobbing ball.
And there is ground to move on. Better than the unreal, endless fall.
And just as I find this hope and it begins to grow,
Something in the darkness manages to clip my toe.
I trip and I fall. I land right on my face.
Blood filling my mouth with that bitter, metallic taste.
Face numb. Head throbbing. Unable to breathe.
I resign myself, knowing I'll never leave.
I let it all go. All the fear, the anger, the hope, the pain.
And all the other things that I cling to in vain.
As I let go, the darkness folds itself nice and neat
Like a blanket, tucking me in as I fall into a deep and dreamless sleep.

How long this time? How long was I out?
I lift up my head and spit the blood out of my mouth.
As I roll to my back, my bones all creak.
I feel like an old man. I feel so weak.
I lay there, eyes closed, remembering where I am.
The darkness. My eyes. My heart begins to slam.
I breathe out. I breathe in. I breathe out. And in.
I try to calm myself before I begin.
My body relaxes, and my heart slows until it's steady.
I'm calm. I'm relaxed. I think I might be ready.
A few more breaths and I force myself to sit.
My head pounds. My joints pop. My teeth grit.
Have I aged 20 years? Did I fall asleep and wake up an old man?
Do I even have it in me, enough strength to stand?
And then I felt it. Something touched my hand!
What was that?! It almost felt wet. It was cold to the touch.
It just barely touched me. It was more of a brush.
There it is again. I feel it everywhere. My hands. My chest. My face.
What is this? What the hell? My heart begins to race.
All at once I realize and I begin to grin.
I feel so embarrassed. So stupid… It was just the wind.
I let it wash over me. Let it run through my hair.
How was I so dumb, to be afraid of air?
It's gentle. It caresses. Embraces my body as a whole.
Not just my body. But also my soul.
I lay back down. Still feeling tired and weak.
Again I drift away, into another dreamless sleep.

Conscious again. Still on my back, I try to open my eyes.
But what did I expect? I'll give myself a few minutes before more tries.
I begin to think. What is really going on? This is absolutely crazy.
Do I even know who I am? I try to remember, but it's all hazy.
All my memories from before… this… feel just out of reach.
My mind almost held back, by some imaginary leash.
I grab at the memories, but anytime I get near, they drift away like smoke.
And then I see a memory of someone. My chest tightens. I begin to choke.
I rush for it. I'm frantic. For a moment, nothing else mattered. Only this.
I get there. I grab it. It dissolves to nothing. Not even a wisp.
How can someone not know who they are? I can't even remember my name.
None of this makes any sense. I try and try to remember, but nothing came?
Am I in a coma? Did I maybe somehow hit my head?
Or even worse. Maybe I don't know it, but I'm already dead.
It's all just terrifying. It's lonely and it’s strange.
It's like most of me was removed. And the rest rearranged.
Do I even exist? I am conscious of myself. I can perceive “I”.
But how can I figure it out when my thoughts just pass by?
I can't hold onto any of them. Nothing sticks. Nothing stays.
I don't even know how long it's been. Minutes? Eons? Years? Days?
No sense of time. No sense of reality. Just this basic concept of self.
Even this, when picked apart, begins to melt.
Who am I? But as soon as I think this, an unseen hand smacks it away.
I don't understand why, but I almost feel chastised. A sense of dismay.
I realize it doesn't matter. Having memories won't help me right now.
If who I am doesn't matter, what does? The question furrowed my brow.
I lay there and ponder. Contemplating what to think about.
Planting the seeds for that one right thought to sprout.
Who am I? Where am I? Why am I here? Smack. Smack. Smack.
These questions keep returning only to be pushed back.
And then I see it. That’s the question. No way to deny.
The important question is not who but “What am I?”.
I begin to think. Trying to define what I am.
The thoughts begin flooding. Now my mind is crammed.
So many concepts and ideas, but all in bits and pieces.
A dam has broken. A tide approaches. A rumbling increases.
I watch the approaching wave with a strange sense of bliss.
And then it hits me. Sweeping me away, into the abyss.
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