Words. Letters. Words are simply letters sewn together to create a tapestry that pulls from us emotions, and reaction. When done correctly, they have the ability to unify thousands, or, divide them irreparably. For me, the words you read on this screen are merely a representation, a physical incarnation of the slow and continuous bleed escaping from my mind. They are spoken from my soul, and released through my fingertips. They plant themselves to this screen the very same as they once did to my very being. Only they weren’t just words then. Nor are they to me now. They were the realities of experience and duty. They crafted who I am today.
To you, these are words on a screen that tell a story. To me, it is the only way I can release the horrors of past experience without screaming at the top of my voice. For if I were to do that, people would just cover their ears, and I would remain unheard. I cannot cover my ears from the sounds I hear. I cannot blind my eyes from the sights that I have seen. I am unable to calm my mind of all the trauma once endured. And I cannot scream. All I can do, is sew letters together in hopes that it will tell my story. Their story. I suppose more appropriately, our story.
Like the story of the man on the floor. A man bloated and beached. A man of many colors. All of which were bleak and different shades of black, blue and grey. A man who no longer smelled human but rather, of rot and decay. An odor not soon to be forgotten.
This man lay on the floor, seeping into the carpet beneath him. My gloved hand, over my mouth and nose, did little to quell the noxious fumes surrounding him. Emanating from him. This man lay at my feet. Dead and swollen from time. Forgotten by the outside world. Only when his stench caused from consequence, began intruding to his neighbours, did they care. That is when we were called. The dichotomy of a life saver, and a life unable to be saved now filled his apartment. I, the paramedic, stood above him. Looking down at this barely human figure, hating every second of it.
A few feet away from this man, on a counter, a piece of paper. A note inked by hopelessness. A note saying that he wanted to die, and a decaying body to prove he was serious in his intention.
His note contained letters sewn together to create a somber tale told by a sad man.
I often chose not to read the notes but, I chose to read his. I will not go into detail about what it said. Not because I do not think you are worthy of reading it but, more so because it doesn’t really make a lick of difference – he’s dead. Thing is though, with words, and what I have been saying about them, is that although I never knew this man, never met him before, after reading his scribbled lexicon of despair, I feel I at least knew his sadness. Words are a powerful thing. Just imagine what he could have achieved had he written from help, as opposed to asking for forgiveness.
The only thing that I have kept from that day is the memory. The uniform I was wearing was discarded immediately. There was not ridding the fabric of that stench. The same can be said for my mind. However, I cannot rid myself of that. So, the stench is remembered. As are his words. All I can hope for, is that each time I sew mine together, it will become a little easier. Painting a beginning. A middle. And an end. Maybe one day, just as I throw words to a screen, my mind will throw the memory. Or, at the very least, that God awful smell. The one I smell right now…
These are my letters. These are my words. This was my story. His story. A tapestry I would like to just as soon forget.
Hopefully, as I have said before, to you, these are just words to a screen. Either way, thanks for listening to me scream…
Thank you for sharing your story, Matthew. The bloated, rotting, sad, lonely death that you describe, is not seen by the general public. Our stories are different, but reading yours brought back vivid memories of the lonely bodies that I retrieved as a medic, that were once living, breathing people. What impacted me was the colour, the fluids, and on occasions when the person must have died in agony, the awful facial contortions. We don’t know each other, but I’m glad we have been able to share together, unhindered by distance or time. I was a Medic back in the 1970s. My memories and reactions seem to dwell in a timeless “now”. Best wishes to you my unseen colleague.
Thank you my brother. Thank you for reading and for your kind words. I know all too well what you mean by “timeless now”.
I’m always around if you need an ear.