Vertigo

            I wasn’t supposed to speak about it. That was the deal. But I could only refrain from doing so for so long, as everything built into a large heap within me, desperate to spill out of some orifice. From the stories similar to mine—of which I couldn’t stop looking up—were numerous commonalities and anomalies.

            The accounts of people like me described their one-off incident as hazy—difficult to recollect. I was so young then, I didn’t understand why that was the case. And, it made me feel icily alone, because every shred of that night I remembered with shrewd clarity.

            The draining of fervency from his wretched eyes, his clean slate of a brow—not stippled with even an inkling of sweat—and how tight his fingers curled. The off-white of the ceiling—so worn that the veiled beams could be seen as impressions—the dim yellowness of the light, and the starkness of those walls. I didn’t know where I was—where he’d lured me—but I could recall its organs shrewdly.

            Painfully.

            And to die was to be free—even at my meager age I thought this.

            I had no concept of what he did to me, even after it happened. But my heart would skip beats frantically in school when it didn’t use to. One time, because such an irregularity scared me, I gripped my pencil so hardly that it snapped in two. I got pulled from class, where my teacher asked me, “Is everything alright?”

            I thought of his javelin of a finger, buried in my sternum. What he told me in a violent warning.

            “Yes,” I said. “I was just fidgeting.”

            And at night, the shivers accompanied the visceral nightmares. Those dreams didn’t focus on him, per say, but rather that inherent milieu. They centralized the stark walls, yellow light, and worn ceiling. My subconscious could fill in the rest with morbid vividity.

            And, it wouldn’t inherently fill it in with conceivable images. No, it would incept my feelings as materials. As cryptic beasts that wandered that grossly lit room with dripping teeth and foaming lips. They’d recreate that scene’s noises below their black claws: the squealing of the mattress, the distantly whirring pool filter, and the whining ceiling fan.

            It would be an orchestra of dread.

            For many years, I stuffed it deeply away. Even the rippling effects into my future life were ignored by nobody else but me. I couldn’t bear to tell my parents at the age when I realistically debated doing so. For, their declining health and weakened minds would only falter at such devastation and incomprehensibility.

            They eventually passed, but he was still very well alive.

            And even though I hadn’t seen his face since that dreadful evening forty years prior, I knew those eyes when I laid my eyes upon them. I’d just sat down at my little breakfast bar with a cup of fragrant coffee when I heard the story through the television speakers.

            He’d been discovered.

            Who he truly was.

***

            I know that this will change nothing. Even as I await his inevitable arrival on the other side of this glass, I know it. You cannot defuse a bomb that has already emitted its blast, destroyed countless futures, and set everything aflame. But you can accept such destruction, even if its effects devastated nearly five decades ago.

            And as I watch him emerge with a hobbling pace, I swipe the glossy, black phone from its dock and wait for him to sit.

            He settles with a grimace in that chair, reaches for his phone and holds it to his ear.

            I don’t avert my gaze from his.

            “Who are you?” he asks.

            Everything is in those three words. Everything I will ever need.