Free Sample of Chapter One: Once Upon A Time
THUD! My back slammed against the cold concrete floor. I sat up, bracing myself with quivering arms. Staring at a painting, unaware of what I had created: An intimate portrait, yet a distant stranger. A blanket of blind emotion covered me. Tiny sparkles closed my eyes as they faded into the midnight sky. Weak body silently fell into deep slumber of denial, numbing my heart. It was a simple logic; I felt empty and fed myself with more emptiness. That distortion was just the beginning of the crazy wonderland maze that consumed me for the next five to six years.
I confess, I certainly hope this book ends with a happily ever after. The traditional plot where the prince rescues the princess, they fall in love and get married. Giggling as I spin around dancing with my pillow. Eyes widen with blissful hope as daydreams of being swept off my feet dance in my imagination. An old soul lives within these eyes of childlike joy. In the middle of daydreaming, a tsunami wave crept from behind me. I gazed up as the shadows of the wave covered me. Before the thought of running had an opportunity t0 appear in my mind, a darkness of depression, shame, addiction, and fear consumed me. I floated within the strength of the water, struggling to cry out for help. I began to wonder if I would ever be free.
How does one tell a story with a missing voice? In my hand glowed a ruby red apple. Enchanted by its magic spell, I placed its cool skin against my lips. I bit into the apple as it's sweet juice bled upon my lips; causing me to enter into a deep slumber. Truthfully, instead of an apple, I ate an orange. The sweet sun-kissed poison triggered the downward spiral into my Wonderland. That moment with the orange, a canvas and paint inside a studio is engraved in my memory. A transformation happened as I felt my body frantically floating down a long tunnel. Aware it was not possible, I reached out grabbing air to save me. A presence took my voice and replaced it with a paintbrush, stranded on a foreign beach with no voice. Fiery red blanket wrapped around my naked body. Strange to have a blanket woven with hair, yet it was a soft comfort. Straining to stand on my weak legs, they quivered causing the muscles to lose control. My body clasped and slammed against the rough grain of the sand. Oblivious to the truth and tempted by the high of bold hues, I escaped into the swirls of paint. The canvas became my voice; it is in that moment I became an artist.
During the summer of nineteen-ninety-seven, I was preparing to begin my first year of college. I came home from a long day of building and painting sets. I needed to shower after splattering my skin with various colors of paint and working in the hot sun. The tub of clean steamy water felt welcoming as I longed to melt my muscles in its warmth. I placed my right foot in the tub, followed by my left foot. Soft gasp cried from my lips as heated pain rushed through my body. OUCH! HOT! I leaped out! Surprised confusion I stood by the tub as my left foot cooled. I tested the water with my right foot to confirm if what happened really happened. No sensation of heat. A long slow-motion pause of weird surreal complexity perplexed me. I concluded to ignore the lack of sensation in hopes that it would disappear. With my forgetaboutit determination, I tested the water with my left foot. Satisfied with the temperature I soaked into the tub, melting my concerns.
Sigh, if only the numbness itself also melted into elimination. Cool crisp wind brushed against my cheeks, leaving a slight pinkish watercolor imprint. I stood outside of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) taking in the season change of the falling leaves. The vibrant material of my long wrap-skirt was embraced with warm hues of green, blue and purple lines intersecting one another. Inspired by the wind, the material brushed against my legs, causing a distraction of abstract discomfort. I knew the fabric was touching my right leg, but lacked the sensation of texture, temperature and pressure. Simultaneously I felt the gentle cotton material, the cool rush of the wind and the slight rhythmic slapping against my left leg. In anxious confusion, I lifted my left foot and proceeded to step on my right toes in hope that the wedges of the flip-flop would trigger some kind of sensation. This indescribable numbness was spreading like a crack in a window that started with a tiny circumference till the lines of its spiral spider web traveled. The cracked lines engraved its journey in between the material of the hard, transparent glass texture; vines that slowly travel up a wall till suddenly, the texture of the wall is consumed by nature's blanket. All tangible evidence of the wall has disappeared, but the topcoat of vines reveals the shape of the wall. That was the numbness- my right leg was fully functional and tangible, yet lacked communication. I felt my fear growing as this scene faded into black by shadows of haunted entrapment.
Light switch flicked on. Florescent flickering glow lit up the whitewashed hallways. One year older yet, giddy with childlike glee. Transfixed on my face was a smile that gave my cheeks a workout as I loved every moment of the college experience. I, Missy-J, was inspired with determination to change the world through art. I felt goose bumps dreaming about the future. Walking down the hallway towards a class, suddenly a breeze of uneasy fear rushed through my body; surrounded by a dark forest with creepy trees poking me with their branches. I felt a heavy weight in my underwear and I realized, I soiled myself. My mind was sending emergency signals to stop, but my body didn't listen. Heat of red shame burst through my cheeks into my ears. Slow, quick breaths suffocated me with anxiety as I felt the weighted heat dripping down my pant legs. I willfully aimed for the nearest restroom. The sting from the sharp edges of the branches scraped against my arms increased my shame; water blurred my vision. Motivation as my engine and an added blessing of Ti'bell dust, I escaped the forest into the bathroom stall. My bags slammed against the floor as I released the heavy suffocation of shock. Slowly, I pulled down my pants, slightly hoping this was not real. As I saw my legs smeared in my own stool I began to pray. As I tell you the truth, I do not remember what I did. The vision of the small bathroom stall enfolded around me was captured by my photo memory, subconsciously printed and filed under trapped. Other than that picture, most of the memory is turned off; blocked and locked it in the dungeon.
Who would want to remember being trapped in a dungeon with the dragon, having being consumed by the flames; hopeless searching for a way out. Eventually, through some miracle and possibly an added dose of Ti'bell dust, I arrived back into my dorm. There I sat on the thin cold carpet while my shoulder blades embedded against the metal railing of my bed. Reflecting and trying to comprehend the scattered pieces of the surreal roller coaster ride in the forest. Unable to identify the foreign transcript of a language I was not trained to interpret: I felt no sensation telling me I needed to have a bowel movement, nor was I able to stop the process. SLAM! The iron-bar doors banged shut as the wind smacked my face. My surrealist soul melted in shame as I became trapped behind bars of fear, causing me to refrain from going out and eating. Limited by the laws of my own fear, I locked myself in the tower. I painted myself into the role of the black sheep, the outcast. With no friend to confide in, I believed I was helpless and alone.
Isolated by the hermit of my own depression, I entered back into the scene within the studio, with the orange, canvas and paint. I was still in my sophomore year. My body had changed. Unexpected and uncontrollable bowel movements were occurring frequently. Something was blocking the message between my mind and body: causing lack of sensation, control and understanding. The volume of my voice turned down to mute. A heavenly light entered into my studio creating a divine sanctuary. The enormous clean, white canvas invited me to come and pray. I sat on the concrete floor, listening to the wheezing music of my congested sinus. Weakness slowly drugged my muscles in quiet fatigue. I was living with suite-mates who smoked pot. Although they smoked with their window open, smoke has no guided navigator. It proceeded to sneak into my dorm-room through the small opening beneath my door, laughing in oblivious high as it triggered my asthma. The intensified breathing, aching muscles of my back, right leg numb of temperature and pressure sensation, and a bladder that simply forgot how to function absorbed my every thought. A peeled orange sat next to me with one slice missing. Ignored the growling and grumbling in my stomach. I accepted the canvas' invitation. Pencil in hand, my soul began to draw, then paint. Unfolded before me was a reflection of everything I didn't know how to describe with words. My emotions escaped into the weaving of the canvas, I glanced down at the half-eaten orange. In disgusted lack of desire, I threw the rest away.
End of Chapter One. Buy the book to venture forth on this Wonderland adventure!