No matter how many times you write some sentences, they keep sounding wrong. You can’t stop thinking about the grammar. You change the syntax so many times that you can’t even remember what your first words looked like. But you fail with every effort. Something seems so amiss with your writing that your eyes can never reach the full stop of your only sentence.

You give up. And ignore the blank page. Your summer was “chill,” “good,” “fun,” “productive”; you are doing “well.” You smile and continue walking. To class, to work, to parties, to your room. But when your door closes behind you, it hits you again. You run to your notebook, and through your tears you rewrite that fucking sentence.

Your tears have stopped. Your pain has stopped. Your heart seems to have stopped.

Your body turns stiff and you are overwhelmed by a narcissism, so unprecedented, you cannot even recognize what it is. It’s suddenly so obvious to you why it never sounded right. It must be a lie. And you must be such a fine liar. The tears drying up on your notebook’s pages are your proof. Of course it is a lie. The voice inside you can’t even say these words without sounding different. You grab your pen from the floor and put the sentence in quotation marks. Oddly satisfied, you quickly close the notebook and put it on your desk.

Delusional, you no longer find it hard to say anything. You even start joking about your lie. Without even flinching. People who know you tell you that you are so strong, but you don’t really know why. This is all a story for you. A narrative taken out of a quite boring, but emotionally impactful and well-written book. The words of your ever expanding fake little story become your shield to pain, to love, to sadness, to happiness, to every feeling named or unnamed. Living in autopilot is not difficult — it’s actually very comfortable. Mechanical reactions get you through the day: coffee to wake up, study to do well in class, smile/talk/compliment so people like you, work to make money. Everything is fine.

But in a moment, everything collapses. ’Cause mechanically you reach for your phone. And you press her number. And the walls of your lie are torn down with each and every tune of the line not responding. A silent tear wets your cheek. The little mechanic life you’ve built stops making sense to you. You may be at the library, at an audition or even on a date. And the silence hurts you; ’cause you’d give anything to listen to that voice. To get advice, to share news, to joke, to yell at. But all you get is silence. And you know that it’s impossible to lie silently.

Again you rush to your room. You’re not fucking strong. You are weak. And, on top of that, you are a liar. You pick the notebook up, and tear the page apart. And, it does calm you down. Your heartbeat lowers.

You are done with the illusions. Autopilot did not include autodirection. So much energy wasted to end up nowhere. Free fall off the plane, straight into the ocean; but you barely know how to swim.

Dressing up to go out that night, you are scared. Very carefully you wage your every step into the night. And the night treats you well. To the point that you are actually having fun. You are what others call “happy.”

You check your phone. Something’s wrong. A loved one’s hurt. Your heart skips a beat. You put your phone in your pocket and, for a second, you continue dancing. But you can’t really. You decide to run away. You start heading back home, long steps, but your head’s down. You stop.

You are so used to pretending to be dead. But pretending to be dead won’t save you from the waters that are not longer calm. Awake after months, you make a U-turn. And you let yourself love. And you let yourself hurt. And you let yourself live. And maybe you die in the seastorm; but it’s not because you pretended to be dead in the first place.

That night you go back to your room. You pick up your notebook and your pen. You press the head of the pen against the page. And then you go to sleep. In the morning, dressing up, you take a glimpse at your desk. Your open notebook in front of your eyes. And in bold letters you read: My mom died this summer.

Viktor Dimas | viktor.dimas@yale.edu .