Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Life With Synesthesia

My Life With Synesthesia – The First Instance

NOTE This is a series of individual stories related to a condition I have called synesthesia. Each post is its own separate story. You do not need to read the first post, although it certainly helps if you do.

Music has an incredible effect on our brains. It can release emotions, act as conditional stimulants, even bring two people together in love.
Music is a bit different for me. I have a rare neurological condition known as synesthesia. There are many different types of synesthesia, but ultimately it’s a condition where the use of one sense involuntarily triggers another sense. Some people will see letters and numbers as inherently colored. I met a man at a group once where he told me the letter “P” was always orange, but as soon as he drew a line from the loop and made the letter “R”, the color would change to blue.
Other people will taste colors, some smell sound.
For me, I see music. Sounds and melodies will produces colors and imagery. Sometimes they float through the air like a rainbow; sometimes the colors completely coat my surroundings. Each instrument typically has a color associated with it. When I hear a piano, I see a specific shade of blue. Electric guitar? That gives me a floating ball of a hundred coiling snakes made of purple neon tubing. The band Tool gives me the most vivid in auditory hallucinations. It might be because the guitarist, Adam Jones, has the same condition I do, but somehow the music creates beautiful imagery that other music doesn’t compare to.
I can even reach out and manipulate the colors like it was a painting, waving my hand in front of my body back and forth. I would look like a lunatic if you saw me doing it on the street, and if I tried to explain it to you, you’d probably think I was taking LSD. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them, or they’ll treat me like some sort of lab experiment and play music for me, then ask “What do you see?” So I mostly keep it to myself. I used to sing in a band, and my bandmates would always wonder why I was waving my hand through the air when I sang. My explanation was, “I’m just feeling the music.” Lame, I know.
It isn’t always beautiful, though. It can be a burden. Sometimes my visions are...unsettling.
The first time I had a bad experience was when I was a child. It was before I really knew what synesthesia was and I thought everyone was seeing what I was seeing. When I was little and I wanted to listen to a song, I would tell my mother “Play the orange song!”
“What ‘orange’ song?” she would ask.
“The one that turns everything orange!” She would look at me, bewildered.
After my cousin Joseph was born, we attended his christening at a local church. I must have been around 5 years old at the time. My family was not very religious, and I can’t recall ever being in a church before then, although I too was baptized, I just don’t remember it.
I recall immediately feeling uneasy about the church. I didn’t like it in there. I was staring at a large statue hanging above the altar of a half naked man with his hands and feet nailed to a cross. As a child, the statue was horrifying to me, and I didn’t understand it. Why were all these people sitting in a large room chanting and looking at a statue of a man being tortured? Were they going to put someone else on that cross?
Certainly now I know that’s not the case, but as a child, religion is terrifying and confusing. My mother had tried to educate me and read me some stories from the bible, so I had an idea of who Jesus and God was, but the scenery around me was nothing I had imagined.
My mother, sister and I attended together, sitting on a bench near a marble pillar in the back of the room. The church had scheduled multiple baptisms that day, and there were many family members of every child in the building to witness the event. I recognized some of my own family members sitting in the crowd, but the majority of the people were complete strangers to me.
“I don’t like it in here,” I remember telling my mother, pulling on her coat sleeve. “Can we go home?”
“In a little while sweetie.”
The ceremony began, people stood from their benches and the sound of church organs filled the air, traveling into my eardrums and creating...darkness. Pitch black darkness. The Organ was not an instrument I had heard before, and this darkness was something completely new to me. I had dark colors before, but not pitch black. I couldn’t see anything.
“Momma! I can’t see!” I was vigorously waving my hand in front of me from my seat, trying to wipe away the darkness that had absorbed my surroundings.
“What are you doing? Stop waving like that and stand up!” She thought I was playing some sort of game, but I was just trying to restore my vision.
“But momma! The song is black!”
I felt her grab my arm and lift me from my seat, then I heard her whisper angrily in my ear, “Don’t you dare!”
I didn’t know what I had done wrong. I was blind, and she was mad at me for it? “I didn’t do it momma, the person who played this song, they did it!”
She whispered in my ear again, more forceful. “If you insult the church one more time, you’re getting a spanking. Do you understand me?”
“But, I’m not being mean, I can’t….”
I understood her, but she didn’t understand me. I held back tears and kept quiet, afraid of angering my mother any further. Maybe this darkness was supposed to happen and I was overreacting. So I stood in the darkness, the church organs playing a frightening melody. I tried shaking my head discreetly to wipe away all the black, but nothing was working.
And then the choir came in. It was a group of sopranos singing words in unison that I didn’t recognize. Through the darkness, a small dot of white began to expand, releasing the darkness and slowly bringing everything back into focus.
I closed my eyes, waiting for all of the darkness to finally disappear. Then I heard lower toned male voices singing, tenors. When I opened my eyes, I started screaming.
The black and white colors had mixed together, the white color outlining a figure in the darkness that had been filled with red. It was a small creature in between the two isles of benches. It was on all fours and had two horns sticking out of the top of its head. The arms and legs were long and thin like a spider, and it stood immobile only a few feet from me. Once I started screaming, the creature turned its head and started walking towards me.
My mother snatched me from my position and dragged me outside the church, where the sounds from inside had faded, but were no longer piercing my ears. My vision had mostly returned to normal as my mother had begun reprimanding me for my outburst. I was in such a state of shock that my mother’s furious voice sounded muffled to me. I was grateful to be out of the church, outside in the fresh air and bright sun.
My mother shook me, realizing I wasn’t paying attention to her. “We are going back in and you are going to behave yourself!”
Before I could object, she was dragging me up the stone steps back towards the church. Through the glass in the front door, the creature was staring out at me. Its eyes shining white, its claws tapping on the window.

My Life With Synesthesia – The Second Instance

NOTE This is a series of individual stories related to a condition I have called synesthesia. Each post is its own separate story. You do not need to read the first post, although it certainly helps if you do.

I had fallen asleep in my apartment. It was a lazy Saturday on Thanksgiving weekend in 2008 and I was alone, both of my roommates had gone home for the weekend to be with their families. It wasn’t often that I had the place to myself, but I was enjoying the solitude. The weather wasn’t blistering cold outside, but cold enough where I just wanted to stay inside all day on my couch with a blanket watching movies and eating junk food.
I had dozed off after a couple of hours. Not a deep sleep, but a light nap. I love days like this.
Then the sound came from the hallway outside my front door. The sound woke me from my nap. It was the sound of church organs being played from a stereo. It woke me up, but everything was black and I couldn’t see. The synesthesia I had always produced various colors for different instruments, and for my entire life, the sound of organs made everything pitch black, blinding me.
There wasn’t anything I could do about it, assuming it was just the neighbors playing some music. It happened occasionally, and I knew that whenever the song was over my vision would be restored.
After a few seconds of sitting in the darkness, I heard keys rattling in my door. No one was supposed to come home until tomorrow and the sound startled me. I sat up on the couch as the door opened and I began hearing the footsteps of heavy boots walking across the floor, the sound of church organs becoming louder with every step.
“Who’s there?” I said out loud, unable to see anything. I stood up and held my arms out in front of me, making sure I didn’t bump into anything or anyone.
A male voice spoke, one I hadn’t recognized. “You’re right, he can’t see us.”
A burst of fear swept through me. I didn’t know this person. Someone had broken into my apartment. And somehow, this person knew my condition and was using it against me.
“I told you, he can’t see anything when he hears the organs.” A female voice. One I knew. It was Allison.
I was in trouble.
Allison and I were old friends from high school. We were very close, even after we graduated in 2002 and she went off to college in Boston and I stayed in New York, we still talked almost every day. We knew everything about each other and we shared everything. She was one of the few people I had shared my condition with, and the experience I had in church as a child. We were close enough to the point that a lot of our friends thought we were secretly a couple. Nothing physical ever happened between us, although I’d be lying if I said I never considered it. Allison was very attractive. But I knew we wouldn't make a good couple. I’d seen her treat the boys she dated horribly, lying to them and frequently cheating on them. We were best as two very good friends, and I didn't want to risk allowing romance to ruin what we had together.
The last year of her life had been a downward spiral with drugs. I watched her turn into a raggedy, unhealthy person from the beautiful girl she once was. Every time we saw each other she looked worse and worse. She lost too much weight and was practically skin and bones. Her skin, once smooth and clear, was always greasy and covered with acne. And her teeth had started rotting. It was a direct reflection of her current health.
Regardless of her appearance and her involvement with drugs, she was still my friend, and I cared for her. It pained me to watch her destroy herself. I had tried talking to her many times to express my concern for her well-being, but she would always ignore my pleading, saying I had nothing to worry about.
You can’t help those who aren't willing to help themselves.
Three months earlier, Allison had called me to tell me she was pregnant and needed money for an abortion. She never asked me for money before, and I didn’t like the idea of giving her money for something like that. I worried about the child she would be bringing into the world and what kind of life it would have. It was an internal, moral dilemma, but ultimately I agreed to give her the cash. I asked her to meet me at a diner close to where she lived and I would give her the money. $500, and I was treating her to lunch.
“Abortion is not birth control, Allison,” I said, sitting across from her in the booth.
She looked down at the table and mumbled, “I know.”
“I can’t tell you how to live your life. But I hope this experience really opens your eyes.” I placed an envelope on the table and slid it across the table to her. “Please don’t make me regret this.”
She took the money and thanked me. A week later, a mutual friend called and told me she was never pregnant, she just needed the money for drugs. I was never sure if that was true, but a part of me sort of knew it was.
Last week Allison called and again asked me for more money, saying she was renting an apartment and didn't have enough to cover the security deposit.
“How much do you need?” I asked.
I shook my head, holding the phone to my ear. "Allison, you’re one of my oldest friends. Be honest with me. Is this money for drugs?”
She was silent on the phone for a few seconds before finally answering the question. “I just...I need the money.”
“I’m sorry, Allison. I can’t fund your habits.”
I hung up the phone without waiting to hear an answer from her. Part of me was upset that she was lying and betraying my trust. Mostly, though, I was saddened by what her life had been reduced to. She had such a bright future ahead of her, and she was throwing it all away. I couldn't bear to hear another word from her. It pained me too much.
And now Allison was forcing her way into my apartment with some man, using the spare key she had.
“Should we tie him up?” I heard the man say, the sound of the organs still piercing my ears and blinding me.
“There’s no need to, he’s helpless right now,” Allison responded to the man. “Just make sure he doesn't draw any attention to us.”
The footsteps approached me through the darkness and I felt something press against the top of my head. “You feel that?” the man said. “Do you have any idea what that is?” I stayed silent. He grabbed my t-shirt and pulled me closer to him. “I asked you a question dipshit.” I could smell his breath in front of my face.
“It’s’s a gun, isn’t it?”
“Good. Now I know you haven’t lost the sense of touch.” He let go of my shirt, still keeping the gun pressed against my head. “Make any noises and I pull the trigger, do you understand?”
I nodded. “Please, just take what you want and….” BAM! I felt his balled fist collide with my stomach, smashing my entrails together like a rogue freight train. I fell to the floor, clutching my stomach in pain and gasping for air.
“I told you not to make any noises. That’s your first warning.”
I stayed on the floor, listening as Allison went into my bedroom and started tearing apart my dresser drawers. I knew exactly what she was looking for: my gold watch. It was handed down in my family, starting with my great grandfather, then my grandfather, then my father, then me. A few years ago I wore the watch to a wedding we were both in attendance for, and foolishly I told her it was worth a few thousand dollars.
“I got it!” she yelled from my bedroom. “Let’s get out of here.”
“We can’t just leave him here. He’ll turn us in.”
“We’re not hurting him.”
“Would you rather he calls the cops on us?”
“He won’t.”
“You might believe that, but I don’t know this guy. I can’t be sure he won’t go to the police.”
“I won’t tell anyone,” I tried pleading for my life.
“Shut the fuck up!” I heard one step towards me and then felt a swift blow to my head, hitting me directly across my face. He had kicked me. I had been hit in the face before, but never while I was completely blind from the synesthesia. Without my eyesight I was unable to brace myself for the impending blow, not knowing where it was coming from and making the pain doubly worse. My body was completely exposed, and I had no way to defend myself. I immediately felt blood flowing from my nose. “No speaking!”
“I told you, we’re not hurting him!” Allison yelled.
“I’m in charge here, not you!”
“It was my idea to come here!”
The two started arguing with each other, going back and forth about what to do with me. I didn't think I had much of a chance to survive. The man seemed pretty convinced I was a liability to him, and that I needed to be taken care of.
I was desperate, and I decided to try something I had never done before.
Knowing that music projects colors for me, I thought I could overpower the noise of the church organs by playing music in my head. Thinking of a song that I knew well still had the ability to project visions for me.
I tried to block out the music being played in the room, and in my head I played the most beautiful song I could think of, “Auf Dem Wasser Zu Singen” by Franz Schubert. It was a song I knew very well, having heard it originally in the Japanese movie “Battle Royale” and fell in love with it. I closed my eyes on concentrated on the song, ignoring the man with a gun standing just a few feet from me, and Allison, my friend. I tried to picture myself in the bright sun, standing in a wide open field. Everything illuminated. The beautiful song providing a soundtrack to my escape.
Mind over matter.
The song starts with only a piano playing a simple, sad melody. The piano turned my vision of myself in the sun a light shade of blue. About twenty seconds into the song a female voice starts singing opera in German. The brightness and height of the voice goes through climaxes throughout the song in a spinto soprano tone, causing a light violet shade to mix with the blue brought on by the piano. In my head I’m looking at a grand, majestic scene that portrays refined tranquility.
I concentrated, hard. I needed to maintain this image. I needed it to carry over to reality.
And then I opened my eyes.
From my position on the floor, I saw everything. It was all still a shade of blue and violet, but I had my eyesight, and that's what mattered. The darkness was gone. I could see Allison, she looked extremely malnourished, and she was still arguing with the man. He was large, burly, and well built.
In his hand, I saw that he was holding a stapler, not a gun. He was tricking me.
I looked down and could see that my t-shirt was partially covered in the blood that had been running from my nose. My hands had blood entwined between my fingers from pressing my hand under my nostrils to try and stop the flow. I held my hand in front of my face and looked at it briefly.
“Are you sure he can’t see anything?” the man asked Allison. I had been studying my hand for too long and he had taken notice to my focus on the blood. The sound of the piano faded in my head and organs came back into focus, the two different instruments mixing together, creating a jumbled sound of off-timed music. The room started turning black again.
Focus, I told myself. Just listen to the music in your head.
The man walked over to me and waved his hand back and forth in front of my face, testing my eyesight. I stared straight ahead and pretended like I was still blind.
“How many times do I have to tell you…” Allison started. I blocked out her voice and allowed the sound of the piano and the opera singer to be the only thing I heard. The blackness started fading away again.
I needed a plan. Even though the man did not actually have a gun, it didn't mean he wasn't willing to kill me. Those large hands of his looked more than capable enough to strangle me. The two were still arguing, presumably about what to do with me. Listening to their words would cause me to listen to the organs. I had to ignore what they were saying, which meant I would have no idea what their plan would be. Eyesight, in this scenario, was better than hearing.
Attacking the man head on would be difficult. I had the upper hand, the element of surprise. He believed I was still blind. I needed to find a way to take advantage of his oblivion.
His back was turned to me as he faced Allison, arguing with her. She motioning to me with her hands, pleading her case. Frustrated, she turned around and walked back into my bedroom, out of eyesight. The man's didn't move, and his back was still turned to me.
This was my chance.
I got up, slowly. Not making any noise, my heart pounding in my chest. I grabbed the blanket I had been napping under just 15 minutes early from off the couch, then took slow, cautious steps towards him, the soprano singing loudly in my head.
And then I pounced. I flung the blanket over the mans head, disrupting his vision, and I wrapped my arms around him from behind, restraining his arms under my bear hug. The man immediately began contorting his body, trying to break free of my grasp.
“What are you going to do? Shoot me with a fucking stapler?” I said, mocking him.
He was strong, but I was strong enough to drag him closer to the exposed corner of two walls that connected the kitchen with the living room. Once I was close enough, I bent his body forward and thrust his head into the corner repeatedly, with every smash into the wall he struggled less and less. Allison stood in the doorway of my bedroom, watching helplessly, in shock as I used all of my might to inflict as much damage as possible on the man’s skull.
The room was turning all different colors. Black, blue, violet. My vision was like a tie-dye t-shirt. Blood had seeped through the blanket from underneath, and soon enough the man was no longer struggling. His body was limp, and after one last thrust into the wall, I released my grip on his body and he dropped to the floor with a loud thud, still wrapped in my blanket.
I stood there for a second, breathing heavily, adrenaline pumping. “Allison?”
She stood in the doorway still, frightened of me. “Y-yes?”
“Turn off those fucking organs!”

My Life With Synesthesia – The Third Instance

NOTE This is a series of individual stories related to a condition I have called synesthesia. Each post is its own separate story. You do not need to read the other posts, although it certainly helps if you do.

Am I a horrible person? Is it strange that sometimes sounds of horror make me see beautiful, happy colors? Does it mean I'm evil?
The sound of a chainsaw, for example, looks almost like flowers. It makes me see yellow and purple and bright red, depending on whether the tool is being revved or not. A chainsaw is a machine that’s built to completely rip something apart and cut it in half. If it’s used in a horror movie to torture someone, all I can think about is how peaceful the colors are. In front of me there’s an actor or actress being dismembered and murdered, screaming for their lives, and I’m in this completely calm state. I know what I’m seeing is horrible, but it doesn’t bother me much.
When I was younger, my grandparents on my father’s side had a small farm. It was about 4 acres of land that I spent a lot of my childhood exploring and playing in. There was one section of the property that had a beautiful apple orchard. In my teenage years, I would ride my dirtbike through the orchard, my grandmother standing outside yelling at me to slow down because it was tearing up the grass. I had fond memories of that place.
Another area on the property was a barn that housed a number of different animals. It was located in the far back corner of the property, about a 2 minute walk from the main house. They had horses, a cow, chickens, and lambs. Not a lot of them, but enough to provide food for the family.
Today the property is nearly lifeless. Both of my grandparents have passed away, and as eastern Long Island developed more and shopping malls and grocery stores were built and the population increased, there was no need to have animals anymore. When my grandfather built the house and the barn, owning property had value, not necessarily the house itself. Today, the land is almost useless and empty. The barn sits, empty, dilapidated and falling apart.
I spent some weekends of my childhood at that house. I loved it there. It was a place where a kid could really just be a kid.
One night when I was around 8 years old I had awoken in the middle of the night. It was roughly 1:00 in the morning, I was disoriented from being half asleep, but a faint sound from the barn had raised me from my rest. It was one of the animals, surely. But I had never heard them make a sound like this. It was a loud wailing in the distance, traveling through the night air and into the house.
I got up from bed, put on my shoes, and headed towards the backyard to investigate. As soon I slid the back door open, the sound became louder, and my surroundings became coated in a light salmon color. Outside was pitch black, but all I could see was a dazzling display of what looked like a gorgeous sunset. It was breathtaking. I started walking through the backyard towards the barn and the louder the noise became, the more intense the colors were.
Whatever was making the animals screech the way they were, it left me in awe of the imagery it produced for me. Like a drug, I needed more of it.
The sky was clear and the absence of artificial lighting illuminated the stars. I walked through the orchard and tall grass and approached the large, red barn door, the sounds from inside now piercing my ears. From under the door I could see a light was on, shining on the dirt ground I stood on. The lock on the door was undone. Someone was inside. Who could possibly be in the barn in the middle of the night?
I cracked the door open just enough to expose the room. I instantly noticed two lambs laying on the floor just in front of me. Their eyes stared straight ahead, not focusing on anything. Beneath them was a small amount of blood.
Beyond the lambs was my grandfather. His back was turned to the door and he was knelt down on his knees, using rope to tie one lamb’s back legs together. He wrapped the rope around its legs, fastening its grasp with a tight knot. The lamb was wailing, crying.
He walked to the other side of the barn and pulled the other end of the rope. It was flung over a wooden beam near the ceiling and as he pulled, the lamb was suspended in the air upside down. It struggled and tried to wiggle free, thrashing its body around in mid air.
My grandfather secured the rope on a hook against the wall, bent down and picked up a long blade. He walked over to the lamb, grabbed its head in one hand, and slit its throat with the knife. I watched in horror as a waterfall of blood spewed from the lamb's neck, splashing on the ground below.
I quickly closed the door and sat on the ground outside. The site had shaken me up and frightened me. But after a moment, I was ignoring what I had just witnessed. The images were put in the back of mind.
The lambs continued to wail as they were murdered on the other side of the door. I sat in the dirt, listening to their screams and admiring the beauty.

My Life With Synesthesia – The Fourth Instance

NOTE This is a series of individual stories related to a condition I have called synesthesia. Each post is its own separate story. You do not need to read the other posts, although it certainly helps if you do.

What the hell is that noise?
The noise persisted in one perpetual tone that never wavered or changed pitch. I turned over in my bed and folded the pillow over my ears, trying to muffle the sound of a piercing beeping noise filling the house. It was so loud. I had never heard anything like it before.
The pillow was doing nothing to alleviate the noise. I turned over again and struggled to open my eyes. They felt as though there were 50 lb weights hanging on each of my eyelids.
Through my initial blurred vision of being woken in my sleep, I saw red. Blood red. It covered the walls as though it had been falling from the ceiling. Various objects in the room had been covered in the murky color.
I blinked a few times expecting the color surrounding me to fade, but it didn’t. Was this reality, or was my synesthesia projecting this color? I had grown up with synesthesia, frequently seeing colors that others couldn’t. I had learned to distinguish the difference between projection and reality, but for some reason, I couldn’t figure out if what I was seeing was real. Were the walls actually covered in blood?
I looked over at the clock on the wall. 4:30am. How long had this noise been going off? Where was it coming from? Why was it so loud?
Aside from me, the house was empty. I had come home from my apartment in Manhattan to visit some family. My father spent most nights at his girlfriend’s house, he would be returning in the morning, and my sister had recently moved in with her boyfriend. I arrived late the night previously and let myself in, quickly settling myself and ransacking the cupboards for a snack before falling asleep in my old bedroom. I lived in this house for many years, but lately, hardly anyone uses the house anymore. My father had been talking about renting the house out since the only time he ever actually came there was to pick up things. Until then, though, I essentially had my own house whenever I came to visit.
I pulled the blankets off of myself and prepared to exit the bedroom to investigate the sound. As I sat up, the room spun in circles around me. For some reason I was incredibly dizzy. I stood up and immediately stumbled over my own legs and fell to the floor. I was lightheaded, dizzy, and felt sick to my stomach. I had a pounding headache that was exacerbating my current disoriented state.
The noise wasn’t helping. Aside from it causing me to see blood on my walls and on other objects, it was so incredibly loud that my vision remained cloudy and blurred. I felt as though a snake had crawled its way into my brain through my ears and was rattling things around inside my skull.
Slowly I got up and caught my balance. It took every ounce of strength I had to pull open the door to my bedroom, and as soon as the door opened, the noise grew even louder. I covered my ears with my hands and walked down the hallway. I was so disoriented that I couldn’t quite detect where the noise was coming from. Every time I approached the door to another bedroom, the sound appeared to grow louder, then somehow softer.
I walked into the kitchen and looked up at the ceiling at the smoke detector. A fire? I sniffed the air, but there was no scent of smoke. Maybe it was malfunctioning. I reached up and ripped the circular detector from the ceiling, turned it over and removed the battery.
The sound persisted. The blood on the walls running more wildly. I was in a house of horror.
“STOP IT! STOP IT!” I screamed in desperation. But nothing changed.
I could see the panel on the opposite wall of the house alarm. It didn’t look as though it had gone off, but I made my way over to the panel and punched in the disarm code. Again, nothing changed.
My investigation was going nowhere, and I felt so weak I could hardly stand. Redness was engulfing every inch of my surroundings, suffocating and distorting my vision.
I just need to sleep through this, I thought to myself. Whatever this was, whether it was supernatural or not, it was something I was sure would eventually resolve itself on its own. Sometimes, sleep is the best medicine.
The hallway seemed much longer than before. From where I stood in the living room it looked as though it had been stretched like silly putty, the walls blurred from distortion, red as blood. My bedroom was only 10 feet away from me, but it looked like a mile. I took one step towards my bedroom and then I felt a rising sensation in the back of my throat. My mouth suddenly had an acidic taste inside and I was feeling even more dizzy than I was before. I fell to my knees, leaned forward, and threw up on my living room carpet.
“Ugh….ugh…” My loud moans of pain seemed to echo off the walls, reminding me that I was on my own. No one was here to help me. “Please stop….please stop….” Nobody answered. I was all alone.
It took me a few minutes to stand up. Every time I was firmly planted on both feet, I would take one step and stumble over. Eventually, I gave up walking and started crawling. Just get into bed and everything will be alright, I motivated myself.
As I passed the door to my father's room, the sound seemed to get louder again. I pointed my ear towards the opening between the door and the wood floor, and again, the sound grew louder. Once I found the strength to reach up, turn the doorknob and open the door, the sound hit me like a punch in the face. It was definitely coming from in here. The room, it was an entire pool of blood. Like someone had filled it with a hose, and I was swimming along the bottom, desperate for air, suffocating.
I crawled to the middle of the room and studied the walls. What could possibly be creating this noise?
Next to my father’s bed, hanging on the wall, I noticed what looked like another smoke detector, only instead of the circular one in the kitchen, this one was rectangular. I crawled closer, intending to inspect the device. The closer I got, the more I thought I was going to die from the piercing noise. I inched closer and read what was written on the device.
Reading the words was like having an epiphany. I finally understood, and it all made sense.
But my epiphany was short-lived. I realized that this sound meant I was poisoned. I was dying.
I had two options: crawling out of the house, or reaching the phone and calling for help. The closest door leading to the fresh, night air was much further than the closest phone, and I did not think I had enough strength in me to reach the front door. I crawled out my father’s room, slowly inching my way to my bedroom through the pool of blood. Each movement bringing me closer to death.
Just a little farther I thought. You’re almost there
Through the hall and into my bedroom I crawled, struggling to hang on to consciousness. I was parallel with my bed, laying on the floor. My phone was just inches away, resting peacefully on my nightstand. I reached up, grabbed the phone, and dialed 9-1-1.
And then, everything went dark.

I woke up in the hospital with a ventilator strapped to my mouth. I was unaware of what happened, and for a moment I thought I was dead. My eyes darted around the room, concerned, scared. And then I saw my family come into focus. My father, sitting on the chair next to me, stood up once he realized I was awake. He walked over and put his hand on my head. He smiled with tears in his eyes.
“Everything will be alright.”

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