Short Stories: The Mattress Factory (part 1)

An allegorical account of the tragic and gradual death of autonomy and love, repression, pain and dissociation from reality.

Short Stories: The Mattress Factory (part 1)

There's a special takeout in martial arts where you can destabilize your opponent with minimal effort. It's a technique commonly taught in the SAS. It needs zero strength, and will work on any size opponent. A vulnerability of the human form, perhaps. You can likely do it from a wheelchair. If you're fast, nobody will even notice.
Bang, on the ground.
They'll get up and look around, to find only a lone traveler in a wheelchair. Unlikely cause, they'll think.

"What happened?", they utter, still recovering from the profound burst of adrenaline afforded by the spontaneous fall of their entire body to the earth.

They continue their commute to the mattress factory, where they work, bewildered by the experience. It's as if they were touched by some invisible force that will continue to inhabit their thoughts as they live out their remaining days in this world.

Everyone has one of these, some great ordeal they never quite got over, or got their head around. Something that sneaks into their dreams some nights, never expected, but always understood. Something to be murmured in passing when they're drunk, but never sober. As if to be a long-forgotten semblance of a life that could have been, but a life they couldn't achieve. A fragment of a future not yet here.

They come home to their spouse, with whom they'd had issues, they want to mention the experience. They want to talk about it, connect like they used to, talking all night about random things, connecting on levels they didn't know they had.

But not feeling heard or wanted, he decides to keep it to himself. "It's better this way", he thinks. He's realised recently that his life is quite a bit better without his spouse. Any shared activity seems to be so unavoidably draining, he'd always find himself wishing somehow to experience it on his own. It's funny, he can know all this, yet be so utterly powerless to instill change.

Death of autonomy isn't anything anyone wishes for, but we often get it more than we would like. It isn't a sudden thing. It's a personal kind of hell, and it comes in slow stages. A small doubt which you overlook, which leads you to do the same, again and again. Endless nights of justifications and explanations, stuck in thoughts, unwilling to accept the emotions. You become a master at numbing the part of yourself that doubts. So much so that you think you're right, that it's gone. He knew from the first moment how his relationship would go, but still he doubts. He knows it's over, but they're both tirelessly clinging to a love long forgotten. A love that was never meant to be. And yet they cling, like small animals to their mother, to the frail fabric of attachment. The impossibility of separation plagues their nightmares, so completely paralysed by the thought of letting go, lest something worse come along.

It takes a special kind of butchery of one's conscience to get to this point. Slowly becoming so numb you don't even realise it happening after a while. Constantly doubting what is just over-sensitivity and what is you or another violating your boundaries. Have you ever wondered if you play an annoying noise quietly enough, and increase the volume slowly enough, if anyone would really notice?

Part 2 here.