That is how you start these things right? Dear Diary, Hello Diary. Or if you feel more interesting, then you might name it Jeff, or Tina. One trait of the human condition is giving inanimate objects names, or calling it ‘he’ or ‘she’ to give it a human feel. Given my situation now, I could do with some human contact so I may as well do the same. What do I call you, Diary? I’m thinking Daisy. Hmm…whatever I call you next time will be your name. If you don’t like it, tough. Not like you can complain, can you?
Anyway, my name is Matthew. Second names aren’t really important. I was born in April, 1992 so that makes me 24 at the time of me writing this. I write this for my own comfort but also to keep a record of the events over the last God knows many months. I lost track and with all electronic devices down, I can’t work it out. I think it is nearly October. It is getting quite cold outside so winter must be approaching. No snow yet. Thank God. I’m not looking forward to that. So yeah, I write for my sanity and in case things improve, somebody can pick this up and see how things broke down from the perspective of a well-educated (relatively) idiot.
So let me start this from the beginning. The very very beginning. One of my greatest characteristics is my memory. I can recall just about anything, even the banal. Especially the banal. To give you an idea of my impressive, yet selective memory, I used to like playing video games. Before everything electrical died. I had an Xbox, remember those? I certainly do. When I first got online some years ago, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities. You could play people from all over the world! But I still remember my very first game online, what map it was, who I was playing against, what characters they were. I won’t list it all here because it’s depressing me, but you follow my drift don’t you? You get the point. So essentially I may not understand everything that has happened since…since that day…but I remember it all. Unfortunately.
It started about a year ago. I was living in a flat with my then girlfriend, Maddy. Lovely girl, we were quite serious about things. Nobody had said the word ‘marriage’ but hey, it was in the back of my mind I tell you. We were smitten.
In the end though, it just didn’t work out. Three months down the line, she left without saying a word. Surprised me I tell you. She didn’t even take her DVD’s! I still have them but of course they aren’t worth anything now. I just like to look at the covers from time to time. As for Maddy, well I haven’t heard a word from her since she left. No idea what happened to her. I shouldn’t think about it, I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t help myself. I still loved her you know. Is she still around? Will we ever meet again? Chances are slim but…hope, hope is what keeps me going. Without that, what is the point?
Well that was a bit of a digression wasn’t it? I only wanted to say who she was to begin things (I wouldn’t want anybody to suddenly go ‘huh, who the hell is this chick?’) and here I am pouring my heart out. Back to the story, eh?
One Friday she was working but I had the day off. Now usually I use my time alone to just chill out. I’ll play some games, watch some TV, generally bum around the house. If Maddy was off too, that would be when we’d do something.
Anyway this Friday I felt like going for a walk. I don’t know what prompted it; it just seemed like the right thing to do. It was probably my subconscious telling me that I needed to exercise, as I’d been bingeing on Maddy’s amazing non calorie conscious cooking for weeks and my stomach was starting to show the strain.
However why I went out is irrelevant. The point is I did go out, and my life was forever changed by that decision. The path I took brought me to something that has been permanently etched onto my brain, never to be erased. At the time I didn’t realize, didn’t pay attention, but now, having seen everything that has happened, I can’t help but think about how things could have been different.
Would things have been better if I hadn’t gone for that walk? If I’d just decided to stay at the flat instead, and feed my expanded waistline with more of Maddy’s food? Or if I had gone out, went left instead of right…would I have been better off? Ignorant, like everybody else?
If, if if…it’s all I can think about. Why did I go out? Why did I take that route? Why didn’t I do something when I saw it? The guilt from my actions doesn’t go away. I didn’t know (how could I have done?) but that doesn’t absolve me, it doesn’t bring me redemption. I’ll forever be tormented by that moment, and the ‘what ifs’. The biggest one is indeed the worst one, the one that stops me from sleeping at night, the one that, if I do somehow manage to slip into unconsciousness, brings me back to reality, drenched in sweat and wishing that I could just go back and do something, anything other than what I did.
That question never goes away. It just plays on my mind, over and over and over again. You see, diary, it’s hard to forget when you’ve seen everything I’ve seen.
Could I have stopped all of this from happening?
I don’t know if I’ll ever know the answer to that, I can only imagine. It’s too late to find out. All I do know is that if I hadn’t taken that path, if I hadn’t gone for that walk, if I hadn’t glanced up when I heard that noise, I would be dead by now.
And the fact that I’m not, well that, that just might be my biggest regret.