“Man up, Temi.”

My night terrors are getting worse by the night; waking up pulsating, sweating and screaming. My worst fear is the dark as my nightmares come to life. The colour red triggers every fiber in my being; the colour red is a wish to be undone. Not an advocate for fantasy but never have I yearned for its reality — just a snap of my fingers and everything is undone; back to normal, back to that night, turning left instead of right. Her alarming screams drew me to her, I couldn’t help it. With every regrettable step taken, I could tell what was ahead without sight. I trembled running towards her voice without the resolve to ignore. There I was, there they were, not more than 10 feet apart, and she fighting for her dignity. Where was mine if I had turned back? Her cries for help more compelling than ever. The coward who suddenly had developed a hero complex crept towards them without a plan, thoughts unstable, hands trembling loud. Too many seconds too slow and I was discovered. Two huge men against a frail teenager; my defeat was earnest, death most surely.

“Get away from her,” My voice screaming fear.

They chuckled edging closer to me. She was free, mission accomplished. I thought to get on my heels and make a quick dash but they were just thoughts as fear had crippled my brain’s ability to process. They approached but it was just one man. One huge man against a frail teenager. The odds didn’t change; my death was certain. My throat was grabbed and I was lifted into the air.

Why? I repeatedly question myself. Why? I don’t even know who I’m dying for.

At least my life would protect another or so I thought but there she was, still crying for help, for me, for us. Her cries louder than a banshee’s yet no one but me came to her rescue.

Why?

Why just the loser who avoids confrontation? What did I hope to gain from it? The loser no one loved. Perhaps my personal agenda to be under the spotlight for once.

This is different, I consoled myself.

My death more evident than ever; the white light painting the end of my short lived life. Was I ready? My mental preparation didn’t suffice.

I noticed a gun on his waist when he dropped me, and during that brief moment of distraction his gun was mine. He didn’t think too much of me. My intention for the gun was merely to scare him but I was a bigger fool than the second I put S on my chest. The recoil of the gun when I pulled the trigger is forever fresh in my memory. Watching him drop like a fly. Those two seconds ingrained on loop.

I killed a man.

Every attempt to forget that night resulted in failure. Therapy never worked, sinking me into the abyss of my nightmares. The provoking questions of the therapist undoing months of hard work — red, red, red. I duck at the sound of every explosion, panicking, unable to breathe. Life became a nightmare.

I see her from time to time and whenever she tries to express gratitude my brain repays me for that night’s failure. She’s a vivid reminder of it all and whenever I get away from her, I am unable to think, balled up in a corner fighting tears for my sanity.

My fears had isolated me from the world. I see nothing, see no one but they all see me, watching and observing, seeing me shudder, tremble and cry. My classmates purposely cause loud bangs every time for a replay of my reaction. They laugh. I was their sport.

“Man up, Temi,” They repeated like a broken recorded.

Man up.

Trade of the year would be my dignity to repossess my sanity. The irony — I lost both that night.

Man up.

I took their advice. Middle of the night just about the same time as that night, I climbed a bridge overseeing a shallow river.

Man up.

The last time I did a life was lost.

man up

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2 thoughts on ““Man up, Temi.”

  1. Omg, this is stunningly sad. Well done.

    Like

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