Poetry and Prose from the Center for Writers
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by JAMES CURTIS
Total darkness. That’s what he called it.
What followed was a complete and utter blackout. Eyes dart frantically in all directions seeking a source of light to fix upon, never finding even the tiniest specter. The mind triggers a small panic that lasts only a second, while the rest of the senses elevate exponentially to compensate for absolute sightlessness. A small projector cuts a white slice across the pupils as a film about the “Wonders of God” begins to play.
I turn my head to look at a collection of moist, dripping, stalactites instead. He notices, and frowns. But I smile. I smile because I know, and he doesn’t. He doesn’t know that this is nothing more than a few, fleeting moments of sensory deprivation. This is not total darkness…
Total darkness is the place where the memories are all forgotten and the friends have all gone. It’s the place where you find yourself naked and bleeding in a porcelain tomb. It’s the place in which you take this small, plastic bottle, then that one, and then another, pour the entire contents down your throat...and smile, feeling the surrender, the release. It’s the place where your new friend (the bullet) finds its way through your temple. It’s the place where you find yourself staring into the bathroom mirror screaming UGLY UGLY UGLY before shearing off your own hair with a pair of kitchen scissors and then using the cold, dull blade to make the sixth scar on your inner thigh.
Total darkness is the space where the heart stops and so do the feelings. The persistence of the numb. The apathetic prison—the one you don’t even care to escape from. The space where the drug keeps you in chains—in tarry, black shackles—and you can’t remember where you put the key, or if there was ever one to begin with. The space where the white powder, the yellow powder, the orange powder, and the blue powder burns its way into your nostrils, floods into your system, and makes you lovehatekillfuck the world.
James M. Curtis is a doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi, currently pursuing a PhD in literature (with an emphasis in children's fantasy fiction). In addition to producing academic works, he is currently working on a children's novel based largely around Celtic mythos.