There’s a sort of constraint impressed upon you when you’re subjected to someone who’s out of control repeatedly, relentlessly, and at a young age. A sort of voluntary bondage. He wraps the rope around himself, winding it between otherwise loose and quivering limbs, binding them tightly so as not to lash out, and fastens the knot behind his head. He can’t look back now, or he’ll choke himself. No dwelling on the past, no stopping to process, there is only forward.
If he could control himself, control his life, control those around him, he would be safe. But people are difficult to control in general, and impossible for him. There are things in his life that he can’t change, no matter how hard he tries. (People, yes, but also random events, happenstances that threaten to spin him out since he’d thought everything was solidly under his tight grip). When he finally accepts his efforts are wasted on these fronts, he decides to focused only on himself. Never be angry (he’s always so angry), and always think your actions through (volunteering, a needle, a flash of green light…)
Well, Bruce had let everyone else down in his life. He might as well let himself down, too.
Whispered words, sometimes floating, other times deafening and all-consuming. Daddy had thought he was damned. Ironic, how someone so lacking in control would devour a religion centered around it. Still, that was the weapon his father had chosen, and so the scriptures had been repeated, then twisted into a small strip of rope. Other things would be added, of course, lengthening the rope until Bruce could tie himself with it.
There was something dark in him. Something beyond salvation. Violently green, bound to his soul (or was the green his soul?), stuck deep, deep down inside.
Bruce wonders if he’d simply pulled the rope too tight. Shattered, like bleeding glass, green surging forward once the pale flesh was stripped away. The bonds never stood a chance against his rage. In retrospect, it was pitiful that he’d assumed he could bind the demon inside him. Binding was never the issue. Binding was the entire issue. Ropes could fray and snap, control could be broken. The thing inside him was inseparable, a part of him as sure as his liver or his heart or his brain.
He’s a child no longer. A man, middle aged at that, who wakes up with screams stuck in his throat, drenched in sweat, no idea where he is (knowing it doesn’t matter where he is). The inability to cry is perhaps what sets him apart from those for whom salvation is achievable. From those with souls. In daily life, he’s cast off the notions of religion. The rope had shattered, it seemed that strip hadn’t survived, and the ones that had he’d been tying back together, using knots born of pain and anguish and guilt to remake a new rope, only for it to be broken every time the beast in his mind awakened. But at night, now that he no longer has the rope to keep his head from turning, from looking back, those old thoughts (fears) resurface.
If he’d had more control, could he have defeated the green thing? Could he have hung onto his soul? Could he have kept himself from becoming him?
“Daddy, no!” Shaking her. “Daddy, stop!” Her head on the pavement, blood splattered, her skull shattered, a haze, the courtroom, pain again, then alone. Safe. Rage. “I’ll never be angry like Daddy.” A broken promise. And now, whispered thoughts, pleas, almost sobs but never truly, “I’m not him, I’m not, I’m not, I’m not, I’m,” repeated endlessly, until eventually the broken, “I am.”
Bruce thought of his mother and didn’t cry.