The ArsonistI am Dilpreet.
I write things. I made robots once a year, for four years of high school, which immeasurably changed my life.
Lead Design and Build for Team 1259, Paradigm Shift, 2013.
And I wouldn't have had it any other way.
"Stay another fifteen minutes?"
"I can’t, I have to sleep."
"What’s another fifteen minutes?"
I remember sophomore year, I needed a ride home from school, and robotics. My family was unstable with that sort of thing and more often or not I found myself hanging up the phone, unsure of how I’d get to my house that was so far out of the way for everyone else in robotics.
One of the many times that occurred, I asked Ana, a friend of mine from robotics. She is a year older than me, and at the time I saw her often enough that I knew she wouldn’t lie and not take me home simply because she didn’t want to go out of her way.
Well, I asked, and she did go out of her way. On the way, I apologized (perhaps a bit too much) for having her go out of her way. She waved a hand in her air, turned with a smile and said a sentence that I’ll probably never forget.
"Don’t worry about it, you’re worth it."
I honestly don’t know how exactly she meant that. Worth what? What was “it”? The trouble of having to drive fifteen minutes out of the way? Worth the fifteen minutes of conversation? I won’t know, but if I had to choose one I think she just thought I was a good friend and a good person, neither of which I can confirm (that would be conceited).
Either way, it’s something that stuck with me. It made me really happy, for obvious reasons. Someone thought I was worth doing something minutely troublesome for. Someone thought I was worth 15 more minutes that they would end up spending doing something that made me happy (or safely home, in that case).
Whenever I get the chance to tell someone that I think they’re worth the trouble of whatever I might be doing for them or with them, I say it.
A sentence; fifteen minutes that meant nothing but the world.
Who else would understand but him?
The being who had always been?
It was no longer a being.Nor had it been for some time.
Flames at his heels, burning.
One hundred and eighty eight days, it’s been.
One hundred and eighty eight days since I lost my grip and fell. A cacophony of painful phone calls, a harmonic discord of infuriated cries, with the broken shards of humanity falling just as fast as the building did. Years of work, gone, at the behest of the nighttime’s monsters that used to lie under the bed. The cracks began to show in our little foundation, and eventually everything crashed around me and I had no option but to keep building despite everything fall around me; it’s all I know to do. My greatest skill, creation. Used jokingly to infer that I have an air of a godlike entity about me, when it’s really just the only thing I know how to do.
Putting the phone down and calmly walking out of the lecture hall, albeit at a brisk pace, waving to a friend, explaining that I needed to rush down to University Street before my next class to meet my sister. A smile and a wave back, confirming we’d meet at our next class soon. To him, he must’ve seen me as I usually was, a calm and reassuring voice that minutes before had suppressed his anxiety for an upcoming test, when my mind was an ordered disorder of thoughts that somehow make sense to me when I’m in a panic.
Meeting her, seeing her break apart. Infuriating. Despite an intense dislike for who my sister has become, I will never stop wanting to put an end to everything that hurts her. Choked voice, teary eyes, she explained it all to me. In between the panicked gasps for air and the shaky explanation, I pieced together what had happened. It hurt, but a certain part of me woke up again, his lips whet by the prospect of a challenge, ready to devour it whole.
I thrive in that chaos. The greatest things I’ve ever created were in the midst of a disarrayed amalgamation of pain and anger and a burning desire to exceed expectations. It’s a cursed blade. Pretty much all of my achievements were because of that tempest of negative emotions spurring a yearning for success. I give everything to my passions, my great temptations, I can’t help it.
One hundred and eighty eight days, it’s been.
This time last year, I was a little sad, a little scared, but confident. Loss was a feeling I knew all too well. An alcoholic father made me want to excel. Financial troubles my entire life made me desire for something better whilst giving me the appreciation of having nothing. Everything I have ever faced down left me stronger, yearning for a bigger test, challenging the universe to throw everything at me, to rain fire upon my mind just so I could turn around and use that fire to fuel my ascent to an improved life. I had spent so much time crawling inch by inch, viciously clawing at everything in my sight that I grew used to the climb. I began to take it for granted. The climb was all there was.
Each swing of my arms forward, each time I sunk my fingers into the rich dirt of the mountains of success and progress, became something I expected. Each roadblock was nothing more than a mere obstacle. I either ripped it apart, viciously and without any hesitation, or moved around it, ignoring it as I passed it and moved forward. Falling was a feeling I had not felt in a long time, and so when everything fell apart, my fall was long, and the impact large, damning, infinitely painful.
Losing the house wasn’t the worst part. The irony of it being a fire wasn’t the worst part. The fact that I saw the burnt outlets weeks before and didn’t think it could be a problem wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was everything that came as a result. A reminder that no matter how far I will go, there will always be my origin to haunt me; that I’d lost every pet within a year, something I still can’t bring myself to talk about much at the risk of showing emotions I never want to show; that my parents both love and hate one another—I’m damned if they separate, and damned if they don’t; what I used to have still hurts in its absence, friends now long gone, people so far removed from my life that when I see their name I don’t feel anything anymore. A reminder of pains long forgotten, resurfacing now, all at the same time.
One hundred and eighty eight days, it’s been.
The climb is all there is.
Go now, doomed.
I don’t know that this is the right place for it but I’m hurting so bad all the time and every time I try to say I’m not okay with what’s going on I end up feeling worse, like I’m just pushing everyone away.
I feel so stupid, and lost, and _______. I felt so lonely this week, locked in my head and the only person who knows probably wants nothing to do with me right now.
Today I had a conversation that just made me feel like an ungrateful fuck because I don’t appreciate the small good things in my life enough, but that’s so hard when all bad that happens is complicated, damaging, and actually threatening to my future, if that’s even still there.
I am terrified I will end up losing all the people who made me think having close relationships with others is worth it. I am terrified I will lose her because loss is all I know, and it shows in the way I act.
Chicago’s a weird city to me. I’ve really wanted to go down there for a couple years now and just spend the day there.
Well, the first time I was going to go, I dumped the person I had planned to go with. Needless to say, didn’t happen.
Then, on my birthday or the day after, I think, I was going to go with a close friend, but they weren’t able to. Don’t remember why, doesn’t matter anymore. April 2013 sucked ass anyways.
Since then I’ve sort of given up. Any time I try to go there my plans fall through, it’s a bummer. Maybe I’ll just go alone.
Odd, how that works. Feel forgotten a bit, lately.
I’m going to get better, I’m going to stay angry, and fuck off if you want to get in the way of that.
I’m sick of this feeling.
waking up hungry, thirsty, with a head ache you’ve had since before you went to sleep, and feeling shitty about the happenings of yesterday is fucking demoralizing.
Here we are, again, dear friend. It’s been some time, hasn’t it? I don’t quite remember when the last time we sat together was. I guess that’s the nature of our dichotomy, our little arrangement, our fucked contract. I need you like you need me, Arsonist, and I don’t see that changing anytime in the future. Whether we like it or not, we’re stuck, and every time either of us tries to get past it, the world will remind us that we are not to leave one another for too long.
Pain is an odd thing. It’s always a different feeling. At first, it was dull, flat, bland. Pain was bad, and that was it. I remember that. I hated it, I did, but I didn’t know anything worse. I wish I could go back to that, go back to that innocent stupidity that governed my actions and existence. Stupidity is bliss—you don’t know any better. When you’re stupid—which is to say, when you’ve experienced nothing, nothing at all to show you how the gears run and the clocks tick—nothing matters the way things do now.
It turned pretty dark pretty quick. Pain wasn’t flat, it was a shape that kept changing every time I tried to get a handle on it. As soon as I realized it was cyclical in nature, it turned into a pyramid scheme where the further I got in figuring it out, the more I realized how fucked up it was. I remember that too, pretty well. It was right around the time everything with my dad peaked.
Soon after that, the pain manifested itself as the Arsonist. The shapes solidified and remained consistent, and I decided to put all that hurt, all the wounds and gouges, ripped skin and bandages towards creating a part of myself that was made up only of the pain. I was him and he was me, and there was no in between. All that pain turned into fire and I would’ve done anything to keep those fires burning, all the time.
I was on point then, merciless, unbelievably stubborn and inconceivably arrogant. Nothing was going to stop me, and nothing did. Anyone who stood in my way did not stay there long. That energy pulled me through high school. Towards the end, right after robotics ended, the Arsonist and I took a breath together, for the first time. It was an odd feeling, that. I finally felt a little more in control, rather than just letting that primal rage consume me and take over. A little more directed, a little more controlled. A tool now, not a last resort. That’s what pain was, then. A tool.
And now, it’s different. It’s still a tool…but now there’s something else. A plunging feeling in my throat, a knife through my mind, twisted ninety degrees clockwise. Irreparable. The taste of blood leaks into my mouth, and I want to lash out and hurt something. Now, I feel attacked and at risk more than I ever have. Every time I feel this pain, something is responsible and I want nothing more than to kill it, rip it to shreds and leave no trace that it ever existed.
Fuck, it makes me so uncomfortable. I have to wait, and bide my time, and wait for the perfect opportunity to do everything I wan-that I need to. I don’t think I could ever ask anyone else for help. It’s just me and myself, a tale of two beings, the _______ and the Arsonist.
A good feeling is when you’re in a bad mood and someone stops talking to you cold turkey when they knew you were in a bad mood
if it wasn’t fucking obvious, the above paragraph is sarcasm