Trauma: A Series of Flashbacks

by Emily Khym '23

(A watercolor painting illustrates the inside of a factory or repair shop while also looking out onto the street.)

          Pink petals, blue petals, aging petals, fresh petals. He stood there through all of it. Sons marching by, daughters carrying their textbooks to school, he witnessed it all. Autumn, winter, spring, summer. Day by day, month by month, year by year, he stood there. Watching. Observing. Sympathetic glares were passed around, apathetic hugs showered on him. He stood in that flimsy, broken down shop, repairing object by object, fixing the time away. He made tombstones for each person who passed by him. Yet, he stayed until the end. Looking out, into the darkness.


          All she heard was darkness. Pitch darkness. She couldn’t hear the tools rattling nearby, the candle blowing out, and the rough sound of mice chewing on the carpet. She couldn’t hear the sizzle of the pot or the curtains rustling from the windy day. Her soul yearned to listen to anything. To listen to anything other than darkness. A crackle. A hiss. The light dropped and set fire to the cutting machine. She didn’t notice until she smelled it. She made an abrupt turn and stared in shock at the glowing flame. Silent words dropped from her mouth. She made shaky moves, slowly turning around in the empty shop. The old man she always saw near the window was nonexistent. She made hesitant steps, away from the rising orange glow, toward the slightly ajar window. Looking out, into the darkness.  


          Words were thrown at him. Words that shouldn’t be reaching a child. He was the humiliation of their family. Hidden, withdrawn from society. He was constantly reminded of his crippled self, the constant murmur of pity taking him, wave by wave, to the nearest island. But he never reached one, and instead barely stayed adrift, looking for that last chance of hope. He never looked at himself after the first time he went out, and even then he was reminded of it everyday. Numerous times did he sit on that burnt stool in the shop, watching the town boys play. He would be drowned in his own endless thoughts. Looking out, into the darkness.