I thought I was ready. I thought I could leave the house and not breakdown, but I was wrong.
I tried to go for a walk around my neighborhood this morning. I’d been up all night. I’m afraid to go to sleep. If I go to sleep, I’ll see it all over again- I’ll see Danny leaving me again, and I know I can’t handle it. So, I stayed awake. When I saw the sun coming in through the windows, I decided it would be the best time to try to go outside and clear my mind as best I could. It’s Monday so everyone going to work would have already walked their dogs and went on their morning jogs by then. School traffic hadn’t yet started- the kids were all just waking up if I remembered correctly from my high-school days. It was a rare time in my suburban neighborhood where the sidewalks were silent. I tried to take advantage of that.
I’ve lived in my house all my life, so there was nothing new for me to be distracted by while walking. That’s what I’ll blame for what happened. I walked in a daze for what felt like hours, but I’m sure it wasn’t. Time doesn’t move the same anymore without Danny. It’s cruel. Most days it slows down to a crawl, like today. When my thoughts became too much for me to bare any longer, I had no choice but to let it all out. I leaned against a tree for support as the poisonous tears poured from my eyes. When my body started to shake, I let myself crumble. I slid down the tree’s trunk and fell into a misshapen heap of sorrow at the bottom. I didn’t think anyone saw me. If I’m being honest, I forgot I was out in public all together. I was in my own world where the only thing I could see was my son’s soft, beautiful face. The only thing I could hear was his high, melodic laugh. And the scent of the crisp air and freshly cut grass was masked by the clean powdered smell of Danny’s curly blond hair. How else was I supposed to handle that? How could I have thought there would be a moment in my life when my senses would fail and leave me in peace?
There was a man on his porch watching my entire episode. He must have been waiting for a break in my sobs to say something, but when he realized there wasn’t going to be one he just went on ahead and interrupted. Of course, he was concerned. Maybe he thought I was crazy. If I saw someone else acting like I was, I would probably call the police, thinking there was something seriously wrong with them. Well, there was something seriously wrong with me, but I wasn’t dangerous. He asked if I was okay. Those words jerked me right out of the world I was in and my neighborhood came back into focus. I’d never seen this man before. I didn’t know everyone in my neighborhood, but I’d seen all of them around on atleast one occasion, but not him. He beckoned me over to join him on his porch swing. Normally I wouldn’t go to him. I would’ve made up some excuse to go home. I would’ve been beat red from embarrassment, but I wasn’t. It’s hard to feel anything anymore aside from my agonizing pain and despair. I sat down next to him on his swing, drifting back into my zombie-like state of depression while I waited for him to say more.
I don’t know what made me do it, but I told him, in very short, quick words, what happened to make me fall apart like I did. He didn’t say much, except that he read about it in the paper. He didn’t reach out to me to console me and didn’t bombard me with apologies. Those were the things that made what happened all too real for me. Instead he opened up to me about his own loss. He used to have a family. They lived in my neighborhood the whole time. Somehow they’d flown under my radar. I must have been too young to remember them. Don said they were murdered ten years ago. That’s his name- Don Vander. Apparently, they never found who murdered his wife and child, but he had his own ideas on who it was. I don’t know if he’s crazy or not. It’s completely possible and understandable after witnessing what he did, like I did. I sat there in silence, listening to him, wondering how long it would take for me to go entirely insane, like him. He told me his family was murdered, right before his very eyes, by a demon. When he said this, he looked at me with a straight face. There was no hint of a joke in his eyes or anything. I wasn’t sure what else to do except nod and stare back blankly. I didn’t get up and leave or tell him he was nuts. I didn’t even question him. I just let him talk.
His story was amazing, not because of its great improbability, but because of its resemblance to what I witnessed on the night of Danny’s murder. It was almost identical to what I’d seen. Suddenly, I wasn’t questioning his sanity, but hanging on his every word. I didn’t dare interject for fear of distracting him. When he was done he fell silent and continued to rock the swing we were sitting on back and forth slowly. I told him it was nice to meet him and thanked him for talking with me. I apologized for him having to see me in such a state. I don’t know why. I just felt like it was something I should say sorry for. I walked back home with a new fervor. I ran up the stairs past Cara, who was sipping on her morning coffee in the living room while she flipped through the morning paper before work. She hollered after me, but I ignored her. I slammed my bedroom door and leaned against it, heaving to catch my breath.
I couldn’t help questioning what I believed after hearing Don’s story. A demon. How could that be real? But then again, I’d been wondering how I could have really seen what I saw that night, too. Both seemed impossible. A demon. A demon? Really? I’m trying to write out my thoughts in hope that they’ll become more clear, but they’re not. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that what I saw in Danny’s bedroom that night was a demon.