Becka walked the halls of latter elementary school like a cautionary tale about consciousness itself. If you don’t stay awake, this could be you. The fear was real. Flicka knew that state. When her mom began to downward spiral in the marriage, when her dad became too angry to show either her or her mom any joy, any sign of love, Flicka found refuge in blankness. The hours could pass. It didn’t feel good, it wasn’t an escape. It was the nothing. And the nothing was better than the utter helplessness she felt. The nothing was better than finding her mom crying on the kitchen floor in the fetal position. Nothing.
The fear came, the fear of the nothing, when there were things she wanted to be there for. Small things, and she found herself having trouble accessing…presence. She’d open her eyes wide and still at the same time, feel the pull downward or dispersed, both at the same time, dispersal in all directions. So she became serious about always being there, very there, always having a plan, a focus, an attack. She began writing lists in the morning, at night, in the day, crossing things off and moving them to other lists, an elaborate ongoing system to stay constantly engaged and aware of her state, of her behavior, of her actions. All the stranger, she thought, looking back that what she would eventually do was become completely unaware. This is what Chloe couldn’t handle finally. Couldn’t believe finally. That Flicka really wasn’t aware, the whole time, of what she was doing. Because she was the one who kept the tab, the debt, the grades, the scores, the pros, the cons, a running list of accomplishments, of data, of proof. How could she have possibly ever lost control, made a mistake, let go? She herself didn’t know how to answer the question. IT sent her running away. Now she was coming back, for the first time.