I sit in shock; the numbness has overwhelmed me. My thoughts, usually tumultuous and cluttered, have strangely left me empty. My mind drained of thoughts, my heart drained of strength, and my soul drained of all that is the will to live- hope, faith, and love. The smoke from the cigarette burns my throat and lungs. I cherish this pain, this physical manifestation of all that tortures my soul. I inhale deeply, willing the suffering to increase even enough to distract my mind from its incessant wanderings, to places which should be happy, yet are now strangely empty. I seek comfort from the bottle. To drink this magic potion which will deliver me to blackness, nothingness, and the sweet untroubled sleep of one who pretends to have no cares. It works but briefly, and I awaken to darkness and solitude, and a loneliness so deep it tears at me. For I am truly alone; no one knows me or my pain. And no one will know, for I have mastered the deception which makes life bearable. No one really wants to know how you feel, they merely ask of politeness. And so I reply in kind- "I am fine, thank you," and so the charade goes on, perpetuated by us all, soulless and lying, in our happy world where no one will truly know anyone else. And I lie here, by myself and to myself, hoping merely that the time will pass until I have the strength once again to pretend. Wishing for the sweet numbness that comes of the repression and denial of feelings and pain. When I too can tell everyone how fine things are, and even finally believe it myself. I am strong, somewhere, I must find that place, and remove myself from this torturous vortex of self pity and misery. But the ocean is not so easily escaped. Wave after wave batters me. The thick, oily pain covers me heavily, clinging to me, dragging me down. It coats my body and my very soul with the weight. It fills my mouth and lungs so that I can not even cry out in pain, but of what use that, for no one would hear, or care. I struggle vainly to reach the shore, where I can at least rest my weary spirit, but it looms so far, and the storms churn the water. Lightning splits the angry sky, and I see the rocks ahead. Suddenly I see where it all leads, as I am whirled closer and closer; the roar of the waves smashing upon the cliffs drowns out the thunder above. I see there is no hope, no shining light, no hand to save me from the terror which is myself. Why? I am dashed to the rocks, and yet there is no physical pain. It is merely added to the suffering in my head, as the waves continue to pound my fading body. The sun soon begins to rise, and I know I must go on. I must continue in the great play which is my life, living my greatest fear- to be alone. Surrounded by people, I am still alone. I smile my hollow smile, and behave as society has conditioned me. I must keep up the appearance of pleasantry. We must all look and feel alike, and shun those who are different. If I am already so alone, how can I let them shun me even more? At least now I can pretend. Then I could not, for no one would even wish to talk to me. And so I am trapped within myself, my prison. Free to walk, but never to love, to speak, to be known. Trapped. Alone. Nevermore.