(I See A Darkness - Johnny Cash)
Everything changed after I fell on the ice.
I shouldn’t have fallen, but I wasn’t watching where I was going because I was looking behind to see if I was going to beat the bus to the bus stop. We’d had a freeze that had lasted for a couple of months, but in the last two days the temperatures had lifted, and the drizzle had melted most of it, and now there were only the odd patches of ice where the shadows kept the sun away.
My foot hit this one, and my legs went in the air and as I fell back I spread my arms out, but not quick enough, not nearly quick enough, and I can remember the sickening thud when my head hit the pavement, I can still hear the noise now, but I can’t remember anything else, I can’t remember the operations to stop the bleed on the brain, I can’t remember when my brother travelled four hundred miles to be there because they thought I wasn’t going to make it through the night.
When they discharged me in the end, I was told what to expect. A headache for months. Disturbances to my vision. Dizziness and occasional nausea. Memory loss. And they weren’t wrong, but I kept going, and these things receded like the tide, and I had better days and bad days and eventually the better days came more often.
I went back to work, and everyone was very kind. I got through my first week better than I thought possible, and although I was tired beyond belief I joined the others for a quick drink after work. I cut it short though, because my eyes felt tired and twitchy and everything looked a bit wobbly, and when I went to order a drink a black cloud appeared in my vision, coiling and squirming around Jenny behind the bar, and I was scared that I might get worse visual disturbances before I could get to the safety of home.
I took it easy, and I came in to work on Monday to find out that Jenny had been attacked on her way home from work, taking a short cut through the park. She hadn’t made it out the other side, and her body was found by an early morning dog walker.
I was shocked and upset, but I didn’t join it all up until three months later when we sat in a staff meeting, and my eyes felt tired and twitchy and everything looked a bit wobbly, and a black cloud appeared in my vision, coiling and squirming around our head of accounts, and before the day was out he’d collapsed at his desk and was dead from a massive stroke before the paramedics even reached the building.
Now I wait for the next darkness to appear, and I pray that it is not around someone I love. I have often thought that I cannot live like this, and that I should end this constant fear, but then I stare at myself in the mirror, and I see myself bright and defined, and I know that I am not there. Not yet.