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I could only hear them whisper. After all, whisper is all they could do.
“Celestine”, “Ceellestiine”, “CELestine”, “CELESTINE”.
Sometimes, the whispers would sound like screeches, screams, yells, yet they were still whispers. All saying the same thing. My name.
“CELESTINE”, “CelesTINE”, “CELESTINE CELESTINE CELESTINE!!!!” They would scream. Sometimes their screams would sound like five people all dying, screaming bloody murder, but instead of normal screams, screams of extending the letter A they would be screaming my name instead. It started out calm, just normal whispers, I thought that people were calling to me from a distance, or right next to me trying to whisper in my ear, but there was nobody. I didn’t care at first, it had no effect on me. But after years went by I felt like I was going insane. I could hardly sleep. Yet the voices only grew.
“Celestine”. The first time I heard them I was about six years old. Back then, I believed in things like fairies, mermaids, the boogie man, magical things like that. I believed in gods and leaders and powerful beings. Once I realized nobody was calling my name, I thought that I had been “the chosen one” or something crazy like that. As I grew the voices didn’t get any louder, I just heard them more and more often. I sometimes couldn’t tell if someone was actually speaking to me or if it was the voices. I tried to ignore them, lock them somewhere in my mind where I wouldn’t think of them, and I would forget about them. That is until they began to come more and more often. I thought I was losing my mind. They would come every day, they would consume my mind, consume my thoughts, they slowly started to take over my world. I couldn’t focus on school, homework, friends, teachers, my family, anything. I spent all my time looking off into nowhere, listening to them scream, screech, shriek, wail, die. It was like I was being dragged into hell. The only thing that let me claw my way back to reality was my vision. The only thing I had left of this already shitty world was what I could see. I could see the sidewalk on my way to the bus. I could see the horrified, worried, depressing looks on my parents faces. The scared, disgusted faces of my peers and old friends. The blank math tests. The pages of books I could no longer read. The nearly empty tray of cafeteria food. I was losing sanity, reality, family, friends, my future. I was losing it all over the voices in my head. I was getting closer to hell every day I woke up with air in my lungs.
When I fell asleep the only thing I would dream about was hell. And hell was the worst thing anybody could possibly imagine. I dreamed about the voices as if they were people. I could see their agony, their horrified faces, the faces of dying people. People who are lost. People who have no idea what is happening to them. Every morning I would wake up thinking I was still dreaming, hoping with every ounce of hope I had left that I would wake up from the horrible nightmare that was my life and it would all be over, wishing that I could hear the loving voices of my parents and younger brother one last time before I fucking killed myself. Once the voices took over my mind there was no point in going to school if I couldn’t hear or focus on anything. I spent all my time in my bed, listening to the voices. The only thought that the left room for in my head was the thought that I wanted to die. The only sensation that felt normal was feeling of be covered by my sheets and blankets, staring blankly at my ceiling, not being able to process anything.
“Celestine!” My mom called. She was inside the house making my favorite meal, homemade mac and cheese. This was a special occasion, she hardly ever makes mac and cheese, but that day was my 5th birthday. Five years from that day, at 2:12, I had been born. My birthday was always so much fun, my friends would come over and we would all go to the park and play, my mom would make mac and cheese for dinner, we would all enjoy some of her amazing angel cake. Back then it all seemed so normal, I hadn’t been exposed to the real world, everything was so innocent to me.
My favorite thing to do was walk over to the park with my parents or some friends and climb on the play structure. I would pretend I was monkey venturing in the wild, or a knight slaying a dragon, or an adventurer climbing up a mountain.
On my birthday something strange happened, once everyone left something inconceivable occurred. I had no clue what was happening when it started. I was drawing at my desk, a desk that was covered in dragon stickers, and then all of a sudden everything went dim. All the lights in my room turned off, but only in my room. Immediately after, it started to rain, then a crash of lightning. My parents were in the other room watching a movie, they hadn’t noticed that the lights in my room went out, and I used to love thunderstorms, so they didn’t worry about me getting scared. The world seemed as if it was unfolding, light was shedding in and pouring out, my world shifted, turned, lost all gravity. I felt as if I was floating in the air, hot, thin air. I began breathing slower, inhaling warm air every 10 seconds, time slowed down and everything around me was dark and light at the same time. The world continued unfolding, blooming like a flower during a summer evening. Then all of a sudden it all stopped at once, the lights turned back on, and I felt normal. It's as if I had a memory of something that didn’t happen. And then I heard my name, quiet but clear, “Celestine” I ran into the living room where my parents were watching their movie, I was panicked, sweating. “Mom? Dad? Did one of you call my name?”. They looked at me with concerning eyes. “No, are you ok Cel, you look like you just saw a ghost?” My dad said. I crawled up in between my parents and snuggled up, they unpaused the movie they were watching and I fell asleep there on the couch with them.
The next day everything was normal, I had trouble sleeping the next few nights, but I managed. I went to preschool, excited to see my friends, and tell them what happened, thinking they would be amazed. “There's no way that happened” my best friend Malcolm said to me. Malcolm had been my best friend since the first day of school, I had walked into the classroom holding my lunch box, wearing my favorite camo jacket, red leggings and blue t-shirt. I began to walk over to the lago box and so did he, we immediately became best friends. I couldn’t believe he thought I was making that up.
“But it did happen! It was CRAZY!” I said back to him. “Mal, you have to believe me, I nearly threw up! And I heard my parents call my name, and when the room did that weird thing, it felt like I was flying! FLYING MAL!”
“Come on Cel, we play pretend all the time, but the stuff we pretend can’t actually happen.” I couldn’t believe my best friend, who I trust more than anyone, didn’t believe me.
For the next couple of days things went back to normal, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened in the room. All I could think about was that weird feeling I had, like my stomach was in knots, my brain was mush, and it seemed like the world was about to swallow me hole. After a couple days I heard it again. “Celestine”. That whispy voice left me curious and scared. Every day since that night in the room I have hated thunder storms, even when the voices took over my life and I could hear nothing but them, it’s as if I could still sense the lightning and thunder outside my window. I got the feeling of knotted up guts and a brain of mush every time there was a storm.
I guess I was around the age of 14 when the voices got out of control, I stayed home at least once a week, sometimes I would miss four weeks in a row at the same time, but there was nothing else I could do. I couldn’t focus during class, I never got any work done, my parents tried sending me to a therapist but the only words I could ever get out were, “they are saying my name. It won't stop. I think they want something from me”. By the age of 15 me and my parents gave up, the whispers where all I could hear, those devastating, haunting, screaming whispers.
One night I woke up, dizzy and lightheaded as usual. I walked into the kitchen. It was my first time on both feet in two years. I began crying as my parents raced into the kitchen, I fell into their arms and weakly asked for a glass of water and bowl of ice cream. My mom filled a large mason jar of water and sat me down on the couch to help me drink it. My dad walked over a couple minutes late with my favorite flavor of ice cream, mudslide. I stared into the bowl, then I looked up. My parents were both sobbing trying to talk to me. I weeped with them. I could see their mouths moving but all I could here was my name being whispered to me. “I can’t hear anything. All I can hear is them. They won’t stop saying it”. I began shoving the ice cream in my mouth, once I finished I chugged the glass of water down as my parents screamed at me. I launched my self into their arms, then ran into the bathroom and locked the door.