Ever since finding out my condition, I have read everything I can find on Dissociative Identity Disorder, my research hampered by the fact that there is little available on the subject. But what I have read is troubling, made more so by the apparent omission that my mind will not reveal.
DID is typically caused by emotional trauma of some sort. Abuse, or a significant event, one the brain tries to hide, initially creating the first sub-personality as sort of a protective defense against the knowledge it doesn’t want the brain to have. The rare DID exceptions are brain damage, physical impairments that cause a shorting out of the cranial lobe from which idiosyncrasies result.
I haven’t had any physical damage, no hard blows to the head, no horrific accidents that would have caused multiple Brants to emerge. I also, with the exception of October 12th, haven’t had any traumatic events. And October 12th happened after – was a result of – my development of DID.
The obvious answer is that I must have had a traumatic experience and have psychologically hidden it. I’ve asked my parents and believe them when they claim ignorance of any triggering events. My curiosity isn’t worth contacting Jillian, my anger building into a grudge that won’t soon fade.
Dr. Terra has tried, in a roundabout way, to unearth this possibility. He forgets the man he is dealing with. I am an intelligent enough individual to attack a problem head on. I don’t need subtle pecks at the corners of my brain. I need to split my psyche open and dig at the root of my problem.
I can feel the incident. It nags at a part of me, like that errand you walked into a room to do and then forgot. It lies, just out of reach but at the corner of my mind, occasionally tapping at my brain matter when it wants to drive me bat-shit crazy. I need to unearth it. Need to open my past and find the key.
Now, for the 32nd evening in a row, I try. The chair beneath me creaks as I sit on the back veranda, my feet propped against the railing, the skies dark as a storm approaches. I can feel the air thicken, thunder clapping as lightening streaks the sky. I contemplate going inside, avoiding the rain, but the overhang will keep me dry. As the skies open up, rain tapping a staccato beat on the roof above me, I close my eyes and try to remember the past. Try to remember a summer twenty-seven years ago.
And then, listening to the familiar sound of rain against a roof, it comes to me.
Sheila Anderson had been beautiful. Half Cuban, she had tan skin, dark hair and eyes that gleamed when she laughed. I had never spoken to her. Only sat three seats behind and one seat over, and stared. I was nervous; I was awkward. She was untouchable.
When she left school, I followed. Always had. I had an excuse. She lived a street over; our paths home followed a logical route. So I followed, and I watched her hair bounce, and I stared some more. She was always with friends, she giggled, she whispered, she hummed, and I listened. Until the day that she cried, and my world broke in two.
A Wednesday. It rained. A big sloppy downpour, where one foot outside meant a plaster of clothing to skin, no ‘quick dash’ possible to keep yourself dry. I saw her standing, out front of the school, her steps tentative as she contemplated the initial step into the torrent. I stood beside her, offered a small smile to her friendly beam. We waited, together, till the moment that she ducked her head and ran, squealing, her hands covering her head.
So I followed. And it was just the two of us running across the parking lot. Through the church. Down the road with the fence. Past the house with the dog. We ran, and it poured unrelenting rain. Then she slowed, and I slowed and it came time for me to turn. I stopped. She continued on. Smiled. Waved through falling rain. I watched her until I could barely see her pink shirt. Then I glanced left, the sight of my mailbox barely visible through the rain, ducked my head against wet needles, and ran after her.
The man’s arm is one I have seen in a hundred nightmares and never understood its place. Thick and dark, not from the color of his birth, but from the tattoos. A sleeve of evil, skulls and snakes, the muscles of his arm jumping with the action of his ink. I was one house back when his arm shot out, grabbing the back of her as easily as one would pluck up a cat, the rain obscuring my view as I saw a blur of arms and legs, the heavy patter of rain muffling the cries. I slowed, unsure of what was happening as he pulled her against his chest and stepped away from the sidewalk, into the heavy shade of trees, ducking into the yard he had come from. I wiped at my face and moved closer, my chest heaving from exertion and something else – the tight feeling that something was wrong. The yard showed no sign of them, but I heard her. Screams muffled by something other than rain. I looked right and left, tried to see, find, something other than rain. An adult. I needed an adult.
Then I moved. Closer to the house. Picked my way over its stepping stones, one slick enough to put me in the grass, my hands skittering over the ground and coming up dirty as I pushed myself to my feet. I couldn’t hear her anymore and that scared me more than the screams. I hitched my backpack higher and wiped my hands on the front of my jeans. Looked at the front step of the house’s porch. Took a step up and left the rain behind.
It was strange to be covered. Quieter. Quiet enough that I heard something. I took the next two steps carefully and moved to the front door. Stared at it. The doorbell. It. The doorbell.
There was a noise from inside, and I bolted to the corner of the porch. Ducked into a ball behind a swing that creaked, bumped, gave away my position with the reaction of its body. I moved away from it, against the house, and was brave enough, for a brief moment, to kneel and peer into the window. Saw through the bare slit between two blue curtains. Saw a television. A rug. A beer can, on its side, a few feet from the trash. Then my eyes lifted, to the room beyond the can, and I saw Sheila Anderson.
I won’t share the horrors of what I saw, on my knees, on that porch. I know I closed my eyes too late. I know my hands fisted on either side of my head as I tried to drown out the soft sounds of her screams. I now know why I hate the sound of rain. I now know why, that afternoon in August, my mind broke into smaller pieces and locked that afternoon into a place where I was never to find it.
My foot falls off the railing as I push away, struggling to my feet, the image of that day imprinted on my mind. I stumble to the door wanting, at minimum, to escape the sound of rain. Opening the slider, I see Lana stand from her place on the couch, her eyes on me. “Did you remember?” she asks.
I nod, unable to say more, and open my arms to her as she steps forward and wraps me in a hug.