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Sedated With Time

Every day is consistently the same thing repeated. You wake up, eat, shit, and do all the work necessary to live a life that is cyclical, with the clock timing your movements; watching your life from beginning to end. Today, for me, was no ordinary day. Today I actually turned on my emotions; which for so long I had been great at keeping locked in a heart-shaped box, as everyone knew the persona that I created instead of the person who felt dead inside with the repetition of life.


I rented a boat for today, which happened to be Saturday. But I don’t know anymore, each day is the same. I rented it out for all of the week, as my work had given me paid leave. More importantly, it was my father’s funeral. He died peacefully of stage 4 cancer. When I had told my manager, I expected that I was going to miss it; but I still have a lot to learn about humans, it seems.


I did what I do every morning, like a hamster on a wheel: breakfast, cleaned my teeth, and relieved myself. My mornings haven’t changed since I was a toddler, as is life. I went out to meet the person who agreed to let me rent the boat. He was nice enough, experienced about the sea and made sure to give me the full rundown of what to do and not to do. I knew the basics, but I liked learning trivial facts. For that, I tipped him five percent extra than I originally planned, I think. He also let me know that the cheap beer he had brought was if I was seasick and needed to take the edge off.


So, I took to sea, going from my location near the water in France to near the water in Britain, but time was fleeting. I promised my immediate family: my mother, older brother and younger sister, that we could have a few drinks on the boat as long as we didn’t damage it.


During the trip, I couldn’t help but find myself bothered by the water constantly splashing on me, but I looked down and found peace in what I saw. The boat itself was a road builder, carving its own path through the world, leaving everyone and everything else in its wake. If only life was that simple. I was afraid to see my family again and extended family again, which felt odd, as my cyclical life means I’m constantly sedated with no emotions; if you want one, I’d say “acceptance.”


When I landed on the dock of where the funeral would take place, the clouds suddenly looked down at us with a sinister grin and gave a foreboding sign by blocking out the sun. I anchored the boat, and when I stepped out, I realized how odd it was to be here. My mom wanted the funeral to be at her and my dad’s wedding location because the only way she was able to deal with the grief of losing him was having him be in the happiest place of both their lives; married, before having us three. Once they saved up enough money, due to their shared business, which ended up doing very well in my younger years, they bought the place to forever honor their union. It became a historical home for them, for us it was our first taste of the idea of love. They started out in oil and owned many small oil refineries that people relied on during the second world war. They tried to get into steel, too, which worked, but the split in time meant they had to sell that possible asset and just grow their oil business.


I saw my mom, who, along with my older brother and younger sister were the only other people there. I froze in my tracks. I had been in minimal contact with them up to this point; not because we had a falling out, I just didn’t know what to talk about with them unless it was absolutely necessary. My relationship with them felt equivalent to that of my coworkers back beyond the water. Even if a part of me knew that it wasn’t true, I knew I didn’t know how to interact with them. I first approached my mom and hugged her. My older brother, the stoic he is, just shook my hand, which I was all right with. My younger sister gave me this awkward fist bump. So yeah, we all developed similarly, I guess.


It started to rain lightly. My mother took us inside, to where she would be hosting the feast for my dad and asked us if we had written speeches, as she wanted us to say something to commemorate our dad. The room felt dim, with these dark brown materials and marble that looked like used firewood selling themselves along the walls. My older brother and younger sister both took out paper proof. One was a speech written on a piece of paper and one was on flash cards. Not that it mattered, but my brother had used paper from his notebook while my sister specifically brought flashcards. I didn’t plan anything. I had a week in advance to prepare but to this moment I was still stuck on what to say. I loved my father, as I do my family, but writing a speech felt like too much. I was bad at holiday and birthday cards, as they too were uniquely the same messages reworded over the years. I knew I couldn’t do that for my father.


We had an interesting relationship. He was my hero, someone who as a child, I aspired to be, but for some reason we never understood each other. We loved each other, but in a more Batman-Robin way—a hero and a sidekick—than a father-son way. By the time I was 16, I knew I could never match my dad, so I tried to carve a life that compelled me. It was strange at first, carving my own identity. But really, I took my maximalist dreams and dwindled them to minimalist simplicity and mundanities, and I somehow ended up decently well for myself.


Anyway, it was 10:20 and I had to start writing the speech, as the funeral started at 2:00 officially. For the first time since I was 16, I poured my heart out, in this beautifully chaotic mess of emotions that looked, to me, like something Pollock would have painted. Which I didn’t like, felt too much like a sympathy thing though I knew every word to be true. My brother had lent me three pages from his notebook, and I covered those pages with words front to back. Even when we were young, he was neatly organized, always prepared. I wondered if his life ever got boring? As the middle child, I was originally the closest with everyone. But the light from my eyes disappeared over time, and now my family is a broken island of unity.


My extended family had come already, but I was stashed away near the bathroom of the dim room to write this speech. When I went outside, I just stood there, realizing how many people had come. I was supposed to help, but the rain bothered me. The constant tapping on the windows and shoes getting muddy. I went back inside and got a drink, and then another. I went out again to help, as I knew if I stayed inside I would be drunk; which in all honesty I wouldn’t mind. Being drunk is the only time in my adult life that I’ve had the illusion of a spiced-up life. But my old self was creeping back in, and so I cared enough not to be drunk.


After we finished setting up, I wanted those sinister grinning clown clouds to go away, so I tried to find a private place to be. This was a very difficult task, so I gave up. I walked over to the most private place possible; the outside bathroom, gave the sky two giant middle fingers, hoping that I would either get struck by lightning or the rain would stop. Suddenly I heard this shrill yell. I thought it was a female at first, but it was an old man with spectacles and gray hair. He yelled at me, “Don’t do that! Don’t you know what curse you’ve just put on us all?!” Then he left.


My older brother came over; he looked stressed, as if he was trying to find someone. I quickly stuck my middle fingers in my pocket. When I looked at his eyes, I realized he saw everything. He looked at me with his brown eyes—because the allele runs in the family—and I think it was a mix of sadness and disappointment, but also this mischievous amusement that I never knew he had. “Grandpa, he didn’t mean anything by it. Here, come this way, our mom wants to talk to you.”


That guy was my grandpa? Man, I forgot. In my carelessness, I hadn’t considered that someone would use this outside bathroom, and my grandpa happened to be there. I wanted to feel something; guilt, laughter, anything. I just haven’t felt anything for a decade, so it was hard to feel something now.


My little sister then came up to me laughing and offered me a cigarette. We both just stood there, lit it, coughed for a couple seconds and lit it again. “Middle fingers to the sky scaring grandpa, huh? Man, ten years really did a lot on you, looks as if it’s been 20.”


I realized that both my siblings were looking for me, as my disappearance probably worried mom. My brother played damage control while my sister thought I was pulling a prank. In all honesty, it was neither of those things. I just wanted the sinister smile of those rain clouds to go away. I just nodded, now feeling awkward. Knowing my family, news of this incident was either going to travel fast or they’ll make a rumor of why I did it and it’ll stop traveling.


The sinister smile of the clouds remained as we smoked, but suddenly their eyes looked possessed, and my eyes started to burn. The sun had pathetically slid in between the sinister clouds as if it was being forced to apologize and bring us light again. Me and my sister smoked a bit more then put the cigarettes on the ground and they defused where they landed on the little grass family staring back at us. I wanted to stamp on them, like I did in France, but restrained myself.


We went back to the funeral, where everything was coming into form. Yet I couldn’t tell if it looked like a marriage ceremony or a funeral. My mother had anxiety over everything turning out okay, but now she looked alive, chatting with as many family members as humanly possible. I always wondered how people could do that? I was paralyzed, but my younger sister chuckled. She was always the most carefree out of all three of us. She looked at me seriously, which slightly surprised me. “But seriously, please don’t do any more middle finger to the sky stuff. No one knows why you stopped talking. But it built up your legacy as this good, golden child, so just for dad’s sake, let them have that?” I nodded again, awkwardly.


The funeral began. There’s not much to say about what happened. Dad was put in the ground, the same ground where he married my mom was where he was immortalized, with cards and flowers from family members, and we went to speeches from mom to my younger sister. I was the third to speak. The sea was calm nearby, and my father was around 250 feet away. After the funeral ended, we went inside into that dim room to have dinner. The food was as good as any other food I’ve eaten. There was a hotel a short walk away that the whole family had reserved. Felt a bit much, but I went to my room, and fell asleep, the only place where I feel at home.


My eyes opened as the sun, more confidently this time, shone through my window and woke me up. Not much later, my other family members were also awake. I left the hotel, walking as normally as I ever have, and just decided to look at the world from the rented boat. The water felt sedated at first, but the morning was still beginning. I was on that boat, just sitting there for what felt like five hours. It was probably only two hours. I was near where the funeral occurred, so when my mom, older brother, and younger sister came, I decided on a whim to invite them. They joined me to drink, which we did as silently as the calm ocean ahead of us. The crickets were louder than us drinking. These next six days were going to come and go. So before we got started we just hung out. My grandpa came up later and said, “God is always watching. Please, don’t curse at the sky.” I said something brief about how I wouldn’t, how I was sorry, and more.


Man is my persona boring. But if it keeps the peace instead of destroying everything I built in its wake then it’s worth it. I just live life as a lie, a persona constructed to please everyone around me. That’s life. Don’t bother anyone and you will succeed. Laissez-faire yes, but it hasn’t failed me yet.


The next six days came and went with a consistent ebb and flow, feeling slower than snails but moving as fast as cheetahs. In the aftermath of my dad’s funeral, I feel as I did before. Life keeps passing by. One day I will see him again, but until then I will continue to live cyclically, in my heart-shaped box. Everyone felt so sorry for me, but I was just existing, no need to feel sorry. I continued to wake up, eat, and shit, hoping that one day my dead acceptance of my own life and my present and future would suddenly become awakened like the Enlightenment. Instead, I feel as if I was buried deeper than my dad right now, and I would trade places with him rather than the mundanity of the cyclical life I am cursed constantly to live, and which constantly rolls up and down the weekdays and weekends.


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