grids and patterns

This happened.

This was when I lived in Maine, I think. Alex was visiting for the summer (this is before things fell apart), and it was one of those perfect nights in July or August when the sky was clear and the stars were burning so terrifyingly bright and--anyway, we spent the night outside just watching the stars come in, and eventually I found my eyes drifting closed.

I couldn't sleep, though. At this point I noticed a little red and black grid pattern when I closed my eyes. Which was weird, but I could have ignored it. Then there were these vivid images floating through my imagination.

It's hard to explain how weird that is to most people, but my visual imagination has never worked--certainly not with the intensity at which it now burned. Suddenly my mind was working in a way it never had before, and I hadn't had so much as a drink to explain it.

I panicked. What else could I do? I was no longer who I always thought I'd been. And every time I tell this story I say that Alex helped me calm down, reminded me who I was, but that's a lie. I was too paralyzed to move. By the time I could even will my eyes open and look over at her, she had fallen asleep. I was alone under the canopy of stars, which had changed since I'd closed my eyes. How long had I been frozen there under the grip of panic?

I took her hand in mine and finally found sleep, with that reminder that someone was there. We slept until the storm rolled in the next day. It came with flooding and thunder, and we ran inside, thoroughly drenched, and as we sat there laughing I told her about my attack. It's easier when you're already laughing. That way you can pretend you can laugh about that.

I've never seen the black-and-red grid pattern again, nor the strange vivid images that accompanied it. But that night I was certain I would wake and find that I was a completely different person, and sometimes, when it's late and I'm tired and the evening feels just so, I worry that I did, and I wonder who I used to be, if there's anything left of that former self, maybe in a clearing in Maine, forever trapped in the perfect stars.

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