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“The life of every man is a way to himself, an attempt at a way, the suggestion of a path.”
Hermann Hesse

The Boy Slips Out of Himself

The Boy is walking down the hallway. He is walking away from his family. He takes a right turn into his bedroom and closes the door, quietly. With his ear to the keyhole, he listens for signs of whether he has been watched or followed. It seems that he has walked out of sight, out of mind, into his underground life. He knows that he is in sight now and then. He is not sure, though, whether he is on their minds ever just as he is. He is wanted for what they see in him but not welcome for who he feels to be.

He is thinking of running away which is why he is packing a suitcase when the Sister comes in. He tells her what he is doing. She cries and begs him not to run away. He is fascinated by her strong emotion. It affects him in this strange way that he is familiar with. He can still feel himself but it’s now buried underneath the experience of the Sister’s distress. Something compels him to unpack his suitcase again to make her feel better. He tells himself that he didn’t know where to go anyway. Then the rage comes over him again, curdling away in his gut, crawling away under his skin. He is shedding the wrong skin to climb into the wrong self. But he does not yet understand that.


He walks down the hallway again, drawn by the quiet, half-dark of his room. He is trying to slip back out of the False Self and into Himself. The Boy tries to keep the two separate.

The half-dark where he can breathe is also secret and underground. It is forbidden. It is not the half-dark or the quiet that is forbidden. What is forbidden is what he brings there.
He brings to this space his own way of being which he hides from others. But it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes, the rage takes hold of him, right there in front of people. The rage which he bottles up tightly so that it can’t escape but the more he bottles the more it wants out.

He likes those times when he is on his own when nobody intrudes. When he is safe. When he can let go of observing himself, his behaviour, his words, his thoughts. Where he can be his way without interference, without adjustment.

He likes to get up early in the morning when the light pours in through the cracks in the curtains, when everyone else is still asleep. He moves freely, with quiet joy, careful not to wake anyone as he makes himself breakfast. It is a disappointment when others wake. He wants to carry on existing just by himself.
It is not that he doesn’t like other people or their company. It wears him out because he feels their scrutiny, their expectations, their judgements.


There is this strange thing when he walks up and down the hallway that he can hear the Mother and the Father talking behind their closed bedroom door, with strong cutting words, muffled by their bedding. They are talking about others again as they always do. They know how other people could live their lives better. They always feel upset and offended by other people.

The Boy can hear the Mother and the Father talking like that even when they are not there. He fears they are talking about him but in that they are talking about him he also knows he exists. It charges him with strange current that screams within him and makes his head spin.

Then, he has those waking dreams when the giant scissors come from the starry sky above and they cut off big chunks of flesh from his thighs over and over again, and he jumps off the balcony of their fourth floor apartment to fly down to the playground – but it’s not flying. It’s falling.

Everyone seems asleep. He can’t sleep.
The room door is ajar just the right amount. The light from the bathroom comes to him though the hallway passed the dog in her basket under the telephone on the marble table. He can her deep breathing and his brothers deep sleep.
He needs to go but he can’t because he is petrified by the ghosts and the monsters in the darkness between his bed and the faint light from the bathroom. He sees them reaching their arms out to grab him, rolling their eyes and thrusting their heads out with gnashing teeth to take chunks out of him.
He lies there for hours like this unable to move, fighting with himself until eventually he manages to go, one small step at a time, the monsters moving with him, maintaining the same distance throughout. No monsters touch him.

He sits for a long time on the loo in his special way of squatting with his feet on the toilet seat. This is before they find him sit that way and laugh at him which stops him from doing it again.
Then, he goes back to bed, pleased with himself for having the courage to overcome the monsters.

He slides back into bed and puts the duvet between his legs and he rocks to and fro until he goes to sleep.

Maybe he can be himself again in the early morning if no one else gets up before him.

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