Regression: Chapter Eight

(The Cosmic Microwave Background sound is heard for a few seconds before fading out.)

I’m Valentine. When Efrain told me about this feed, I decided to say something. I talk daily with Efrain, but we don’t see eye to eye, so I thought it incumbent to present my own perspective. I know that he’ll kindly bequeath this message to preterity and I hope that, in the process, he’ll get some new insight into my way of thinking.

I’ve been checking the watch the whole morning. It’s late, but for what? It feels too early; as if I could sleep a couple more hours with no consequence whatsoever. Life is such a simple thing; it all boils down to the economy of energy. Why do plants grow toward the sun? Why do we only have a pair of eyes and hands, one heart and brain? Why do we laugh? Why is there a division of labor? Why do we only live once? All leads to the same answer. Sometimes we give out flares of energy, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Like now, for instance, how long can I keep up with my euphoria? I’ll eventually go back to my psychological balance, no matter how lucky I get in life. That’s the thing about happiness: we can feel it clearly during these transient periods of ecstasy or also feel its absence during a deep melancholy, but generally, we aren’t aware of it, because it’s our natural state of psychological economy. The brain does so much work during sleep to clean up the messes we get into and provide us with a blank slate to start our new days, and yet we keep on filling those slates with emotions instead of realizing that they are just a detriment to the essence of happiness: emptiness. 

I’ve spent these morning hours of my idle life trying to come up with a letter for Milena. I feel the gap between us needs to be bridged. I know we have a strong connection, based on primeval attraction, but how to ease her qualms and quench the objections of society? First I thought of making a poem for her, but no one appreciates poems nowadays. She told me that they are the worst way of closing the deal, an inefficient expense of emotions, a waste of intellect and time. “To be with someone you need to be whole,” she said, “and not fractured into obscure sentiments. Showing someone your raw feelings is an abuse of intimacy. We’re responsible for our feelings, the same as we are for our actions; so we can’t just let them run wild, but we need to check them before we present them to others. Poems are for loners and not for people who mean to be happy.” I agree with her on that, but I still like feeling my heart swell with poetry. She says that this hypertrophy of the heart is unhealthy, just like other outdated habits, such as drinking or smoking tobacco. 

Today’s drugs are mere psychotropic enhancers with no secondary or withdrawal effects, and only for medicinal purposes. Depressants such as alcohol aren’t available almost anywhere, though once I drank a dose of sixty-five milliliters of distilled wine bought at a pharmacy. For a couple of minutes, it felt like dying; then I felt depressed, a mix of dark thoughts and apathy. But then, I got bolder, as if death didn’t matter anymore; as if I’d been reborn from the ashes of my previous, petty self. Now I understand why it is so addictive. I yearned for more of this life elixir to be poured in my mouth; to gulp it and be engulfed by it. But the pharmacist had emphatically advised me against it, so I let my thirst for life die and my body go limp. I had to lie down and snooze off for a while. Such grandiose experience denied to our generation. I understand the risks but don’t we all die after all? Milena said once that talks of death are a dead end, pun intended. She’s like a gleeful flower and I feel like inapt mud at her feet, gradually sapping her nutrients. I put all my efforts into turning off this darkness of mine while I’m with her, but I wish that Milena, like a swamp orchid, could thrive in the swampiness of my soul. I wish to bridge the abyss between us, and therefore I wrote a poem, an Ave imperator to salute her, just when I’m about to die. 

…And what’s a verse but a complaint of the soul? 

And a poem but a graceful deaf scream? 

If not you, another; if not to suffer, why were we even born? 

It’s not in you, but in me, that a wild heart has been lost. 

To find it, to hold on to it tight, 

or let it beat out its tunes… 

I was born with regression, a rare condition; not fun at all. They say my brain is built differently, the old-fashion way. My way of thinking is interesting to people; they find no fault in it, but I’m a little of a freak show. They get it, the same as they get why cats are naturally afraid of water, but they rarely make an emotional connection with me. I must confess that I, on the other hand, don’t understand some of the logic behind their actions, and the homogeneity of values and behavior in society scares me. I know it didn’t use to be like this. Values were subjective and society was partially kept together by conformism. But there’s no conformism today, only communion of thoughts and feelings. It’s as if humans had evolved towards a beehive. In evolutionary theory, this doesn’t even make sense. Species evolve towards specificity and societies evolve towards division of labor and specialization. I would’ve thought that different professions would have different worldviews, but no; we all share a common core, as if joined by a telepathic force. 

Unfortunately, I’m unplugged from this core, so I’m an outcast. There are some things I strongly disagree with and other things I simply don’t understand. I also see things that no one else sees, but all these things are considered irrelevant by society. I’m unfocused, like a spectator who, during a football match, pays more attention to the players that aren’t in possession of the ball. I know it’s odd and even useless, but I can’t help being futile. I’m not a bee; I can’t see a clear purpose in my life, so why be efficient? I don’t care who wins or loses the match; sometimes I don’t enjoy football at all.

I live in isolation because I’m too antisocial for the rest of the people. I’m an extrovert, but I behave in a way that most people consider antisocial. After all, social consensus defines what’s social and what’s not, and I’m simply out of the spectrum. Although society concurs that I’m the odd one, to me the world is topsy-turvy and not I. I’m myself and can’t deny my existence, nor conform to other people’s reality. I simply see differently. I have a recurrent dream of being kidnapped. Someone breaks into my house and menacingly asks me to follow him or her. I can’t know for sure because they are wearing a whole black suit with a metal helmet covering their whole face and even a cape. The figure is well built, but I can notice that shoulder pads contribute to that effect and I have no idea what’s underneath the suit. The metallic voice has obviously been altered beyond recognition, or maybe it’s just the nature of the dream that doesn’t allow me to focus more on this detail. The more I want to know whether it’s a man or a woman, the more indistinct it becomes, as if blurring into a unisex voice. It’s very relevant to me whether I’m kidnapped by a man or a woman, but my dream disagrees with me and it makes me enjoy my kidnap. “It’s Stockholm syndrome,” I want to shout, but the dream doesn’t allow it. It just shows me how meticulously planned my kidnap was; how conscientious my kidnapper is. Yes, this person has an ultimately selfish goal, but I know nothing about it. Isn’t that the same with every person? Don’t we all have selfish goals that subconsciously drive our actions? Call them instincts or perversions, we’re mostly guided by them. So what’s Stockholm syndrome but emotional retribution towards someone who’s boosted our egos with their extra attention? My insignificant self takes new dimensions with this kidnap. I become someone’s center of attention; my behavior is relevant now, and not only my thoughts. This person only exists for me now, and I only exist for them. Oddly enough, I’m not tied up or even locked in my room. The door is sometimes even treacherously ajar and I close it so I don’t have any chance to escape. I feel that if I leave it open, society will force me to leave the room and break my tacit agreement with the kidnapper: that this person trusts I won’t escape. I feel them outside, asking themselves why this person kidnapped me, and I shout: “Goddammit! None of your business!” My kidnapper is unmoved by all the commotion and fills me with calmness. I’ve watched this person move gently but assertively around me, irradiating affection and care. I’m entranced, looking at their every move as if watching a choreography performed only for me. I feel even obliged to watch it all, out of gratefulness. This is when I realize that this person needs me as much as I need them. We’re our karma and we don’t need society to intervene with its mad rules about motives and purposes. Now I see clearly, when this person looks at me in the eye, that they’re simply existing by my side; that the whole kidnapping thing was just a ruse to deceive others, but not me. I see through it all. 


Read more: Chapter Nine



I'm a writer born in Argentina, but currently living in Poland. I work as an English and French teacher, translator and copywriter.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.