The Panic Room

When I was a little girl I went to visit my uncle at his summer home in Ireland. It was a cute little beach house type cottage. It was a little farther than from the ocean however. It was more tucked away in the woods and I’d have to ask to visit the beach. On his good days, he’d take me holding my hand walking me through the paths to the beach through the forest. On his good days he’d smile down at me as if he was able to look at the sun by looking down. I had a difficult time understanding him as a child. Don’t get me wrong I know I was 5 and I didn’t have the capacity to understand him being a kid, but there was an unknown presence, that something was off. As a 5 year old it was easy to ignore it especially when I had so much to do visiting him and even more so on his good days.

I am 21 now. He died a month ago. I stopped visiting at 7. And I stopped talking to him at 12. But that’s all I can remember. I can’t tell you why we stopped talking or what happened because it is like my memory is gone from him. However it doesn’t feel like it’s my fault it feels more like someone took the ability away from me. The way it feels.

The only memory I can attain is the memories of being really happy with him on those days and walking down the beach. Also obvious things like his culture and his strong irish accent and his mangy blond hair. Then there are things like the color of his eyes that I can’t remember. But that theres something there. Something in them. It becomes frusterating and I wonder why I even care. I am 21. I’ve just heard news of his death, haven’t even bothered to ask how, but immediately think of him and start to remember. But why?

 

I visit my mother who has some of his things in a box at her house. As were going through them, I ask her “How did Uncle Tim die?”

 

She looks at me, turns to me, as if why haven’t you asked this question before and says blantly “He overdosed. Commited suicide”

 

But then I think to myself, he took pills? I shook my head. Can I remember him taking pills? I can’t. I can’t remember anything.

 

I pull out a wooden horse. Something that looks like it belongs in an attic. Dusty. Chipped red and white paint that’s barely there anymore along the body. Possibly a coat on the horse?

Mom doesn’t even notice that I’m holding the item. It’s almost like she doesn’t want me to. She leaves the room. She doesn’t say why. Now I decide to follow her. Now I decide to ask questions. About Uncle Tim. Questions I couldn’t ask before because… I don’t know why.

 

She turns to me in the livingroom and immediately screeches in my face like some horrific bird and I get suddenly scared and afraid and cower towards myself like a reflex. I turn to leave her to walk away even though it is slow how I move…

 

And there I am in front of mom and the box again holding the wooden horse. I realize I’ve slipped into some sort of ‘feeling’. I shake my head. I don’t know why that happened. Or why I saw that happen but mom hasn’t moved and I’m still holding the horse.

 

Two days later I have been home with the horse for 48 hours. I contemplate getting on a plane to Ireland. I can’t let them take his home away. I need to see it one last time… I need to remember one last time…

 

5 hours later I’m sitting on a plane by the window with a sudoko puzzle book on my lap and an ipod. I feel very wierd and I need distractions. I try to listen to music. Whatever the song is, I cannot fod the life of me hear it. I start to fall asleep unaware it’s been about 3 hours. It’s dark quiet and peaceful on the plane. But I am alone. I start dreaming about all the sand on the beach and walking on it, the footprints we made walking on it, into the sand. I almost see his eyes, almost, looking up. Is there green? It’s so piercing. It almost hurts me. But I’m still holding his hand. Clasped tight in his hand not letting go AT ALL. I wake up in Ireland. A woman is waking me up and it’s light out.

 

I get off. I get a coffee. I stir my coffee alone at a little round metal table. I can’t breathe now. It hurts in my chest. The beach is stuck in my mind. It is not impaired or severed as a memory. It’s unforgiving however and quite strong.

 

I get a ride to his house. Now I do remember the specific number and the address. 48 Pearl Shaw Avenue Crest by the Tide Beach and Mallow Forest. I get out of the car thank the driver give him his money and he leaves. I am alone now. Alone in front of a tiny yellow house on a hill. The sunlight is very obvious now basking down and being all around me and everything else.

 

I climb up the steps trying to take a deep breath. Now theres fire in my throat as I hold the wooden doorknob and creak the small door open to reveal a beautiful wooden tiny room with little light. I see a table and a recliner and a small black square tv. I see bookshelves with dusty cookbooks and many little yellow notes sticking out of them collecting dust. I almost laugh. He loved to cook. Yes he loved to cook. The memory is leaking into my brain. Seeping in like liquid.

 

I walk through the rooms. I round the corner to see a kitchen. I see fruit in a basket. Although everything is dusty. I get excited. I remember him cutting the bannana up into slices for me! He put it on a plate with peanut butter and I watched cartoons and it was Saturday and raining and he put the white paper plate down before me as I was wearing a little pink dress and underwear underneath although you could practically see them the position I was sitting in with my legs proped up. I was 5. I had asked to go to the beach again THAT day. He had said no. He was sad again. Although he couldn’t tell me why.

I raced upstairs. Oh my god how the blood in my viens were hot and on fire and so real. Pumping underneath my skin! Being blood!

I could SO feel it.

I knew where to go now, and as I did I pushed open his bedroom door and revealed the same little green room with the pastel bedsheets wrinkled with the light on them.

 

I went into his closet pushed aside the shirts  Everything was the same. I put in the code 4468. I twisted a silver knob and pried open the heavy duty door as hard as I could. It took everything I had. My eyes searched frantically around for what I suddenly realized what was.

My heart rushed up to my throat and clung hanging in it. I wanted to scream. So I did. I screamed an intolerable scream. And I felt so stupid! SO stupid for letting me do this to myself!

 

The little tiny white room, with nothing else inside was our panic room.

At 5 he was losing his mind. He found a little white room. It was magic he had told me. “Magic?” I had asked, amazed. His eyes held mine.

 

“Yes, sweetie. Magic.”

When he bought the house I was 1. He lived here for 4 years before he discovered the room, he told me. When he went into the room because he’d stumbled across it his mind went ablaze. There was sheer nothing and his thoughts went awry. He was now gone but very willing for that room.

 

When he soon regained consciousness of his own mental state only minutes later he realized it was a battle. And he became afraid. Unknowing of what to do. And yet he could tell me this. All that time he had been living with the beast inside his head and playing his games like he had requested.

 

And when his niece visits, because that’s what families do, a niece left all alone at her uncles because she just simply wants to visit would inspire him.

 

To show her a room. A room he tells her, however, is the panic room.

I began to cry on the floor of the panic room.

 

“In this room is a special place. A magical world” His eyes were black.

“You go in here to get away from the rest of the world. We have to panic because nothing else IS right”

I nodded. I was 5 years old, wearing a little white dress and I was holding his fingers with my little fingers and aggreeing. I understood then. Then for forever.

I closed the door on myself. I was in there and I WAS away from the rest of the world. Wether the room wanted me to know or not I DID know that it was a room that possessed magic powers that controlled the mind. I’d forget again but I didn’t care. I was tired but I didn’t care, still. I would know again later.

 

I remembered he took pills mom said. He pushed me away at 7. “GET OUT OF HERE DONT YOU EVER COME BACK!”

 

Calling my mother claiming no he did not have a panic attack and lash out at a 7 year old and he really really needed to see her.

 

All that time in my life at school. In the hallways. With my friends. It had been apparant a piece of my life was missing. And something was needed. The room. The place. The comfort of the sheer insanity!

 

I layed down and curled into a ball. I knew I was going to die. I took in a deep breath. I was willing to go like this. I wasn’t when I would remember. But I stayed in one place, forgetting as hard as I could war at the very ideas.

The room was locked. No one would ever hear me. I would NOT scream. I did not care to. And I WOULD think. I would think for myself for a while. But give me a week. I’ll die of starvation and I won’t care to scream for help. Nah I’ll keep to myself. Because I’m in the f*****g room.

 

I am not panicking however. I am trying very hard to gain composure here. So how is it I know my uncle is in a bathtub passed out in 3 inches of water wearing a dirty brown plaid shirt? Straight underneath me through a floor? Magic. He wasn’t lying, I mean a magical world would be something nice to hear as a little kid. Nevertheless this specific spot on earth posssesed qualities of the inhuman. Although I would not call it good.

 

Nor would he.

I felt him with all of my heart as I told myself to go to sleep in the panic room. I felt my uncle asleep now dead for good with what he had felt and done in the bathtub. Our souls well maybe just my soul reached out to his to touch it. Comfort. His heart.

 

I cried myself till I did fall asleep. I liked being trapped in here.

 

***

 

7 days later she died. A couple moved into the house and found the body and began on a simmilair path. Into mental destruction. What was fun and wasn’t fun. The beach was always there for the activities to do during the day.