THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS.
the tapes of the guilty
A summative project based on the rewriting of my former writing piece: house of mirrors.
The voices don’t lie. Why the voices are my friends! I used to press myself against the wall, the one in the hallway connecting to my mother’s bedroom, and lean my ear against the pale green walls of my home. I could hear the voices chattering, although my child-like mind could barely comprehend any words. It was useless, the stupidity of my childish actions to contact the voices. All it did was concern my poor, poor mother. She would drag me up by the collar and berate me for being so peculiar. It frustrated me as a child, the lack of understanding from a world that claims to be advanced; yet, I now accept the one simple factor of no one understanding me. Not even my mother, my flesh and blood, will ever understand me. No one understands me like the voices in the wall do.
We weren’t exactly well-off, my mother and I. She worked two jobs: morning shifts at the daycare centre and night shifts at some tacky 24-7 diner downtown. I used to come with her to the daycare of all places, probably sitting all miserable while children whined, cried, and sniffled around me. She didn’t trust me. I get it. I don’t trust much. You can assume how I felt when she finally decided to let me stay at home by myself on her shifts. I was joyous, ecstatic, over-the-moon! The walls were just as excited. I could feel the thrumming of their energy.
The voices were quiet for the first few days, which frustrated me to all ends. Believe me. I probably looked like a lunatic as I screamed at the top of my lungs at the wall of all things. They never replied. It kind of stung, you know? I truly thought I was special, considering that my mother barely heard a peep when the voices shouted in my ears like white noise. What? Well, you could say that I wanted their attention. I never got much, inconsiderate mother with two jobs and all. The voices practically raised me into the man I am today. I can’t think of a single thing my mother has done for me besides provide food on the dinner table.
What was that? Right. I was watching television in the living room – tv shows are mind-numbing, I swear. That’s when I heard it: a faint whisper from the hallway I mentioned earlier. It was around 8 pm; and, obviously, 12-year-old me was too spooked to go down a dimly lit hallway to hear whatever noises were calling for me. I went anyway. You know the quote, right? Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. You don’t understand how excited I was. I pressed my ear slowly against the wall, and I heard it: a raspy voice whispering my name over and over again like a prayer. The voice… I can’t describe it or bring it justice. It was… amazing… nothing I could ever experience again. I couldn’t believe it. When my mother came home, she found me dozing off cross-legged on the floor. I don’t remember much, but it was the first time I could truly understand the voices in the wall.
Would I go through it again…? Of course, I would. The voices in the walls could never compare to the voices in my head.
How has your day been, detective? What? Are you not a fan of questions? I’m just saying that you could provide a bit of heat in this place. I’m freezing in here trying to answer all of your questions, yet you won’t answer mine. Oh… alright. Thanks for turning the heat up. What was your question again?
By the time I was seventeen, I had full-fledged conversations with the voices in the walls. It was very one-sided on my part, I admit that, but I was grateful to have anybody that listened. My mother wouldn’t listen to my problems. She would probably blame me for everything. I remember that she caught me one time, talking animatedly while facing the corner of my bedroom wall, right in between my study desk and the wooden drawer. I think that was the moment for her. She has always assumed that her son has some loose screws, a nutjob that hit his head one too many times as a kid. How could she react when her son talked to the walls more than he talked to his own mother? I don’t understand how my mother, or women in general, can be so irrational and stupid.
Of course, I think she overreacted everything! She was probably jealous of the fact that the voices in the walls only allowed me to listen in on their secrets. My mother had no right to betray me like that. I did what I had to do-
Right. Sorry. Yeah. I’ll have a breather.
I woke up around midnight because the voices told me so. I can’t help but listen in on their orders. I trusted them immensely. Yes, I would even risk my life for them! They provided me with a sense of power that I’ve never felt before. It was addicting! Sorry detective, I’ll calm down. Right, well, the voices told me that I should go get a glass of water from the kitchen. I wasn’t particularly thirsty before they mentioned that, but I did feel the discomfort of a dry throat right after. I hated those; so, yes, I did exit my bedroom and walk down the hall, stopping at the light filtering through the open crack by the door of my mother’s bedroom.
She was crying. I’ve heard her cry before. Frankly, I could care less over what she cries over. I almost planned on walking right by, my toes tensing against the cold hardwood floor, but the voices told me to stop. I did. I realized, then, what exactly my mother was crying about.
My mother, my goddamn mother, wanted to send me away. She was sitting on the edge of her bed while crying on the phone to one of her stupid daycare buddies. I could hear them taunting me, making fun of my gift. Why I could practically hear my mother disguise her joy with her hunched back and pathetic cries. She thought that she could dispose of me like I’m gum stuck under her shoe. She could have some sympathy for me, her own son, over the gift of hearing. But no one understands me like the voices do. It always ends like this, you see, with the poor, forgotten, and misunderstood soul being left behind.
Oh, trust me, I wanted to be understood. I will make the whole world understand just what I’m exactly capable of doing.
Cutting right to the chase, aren’t we? You look a little tense.
Well, you can guess how my relationship with my mother was after the inevitable. I couldn’t even look at her; but, I guess it went both ways since she rarely looked me in the eye. She seemed like a ghost of what she used to be – empty and forgotten. It was a nice change. I liked that she felt guilty about what she was doing to her poor son. She deserved it. She deserved everything that was coming for her.
She wasn’t cooking anymore; and, while I enjoyed the guilty act she was playing, I hated how useless she became because of it. She was pathetic and couldn’t even cook a meal for me. I rarely yell, or even grow a temper, but her weak attempts at being a mother had crossed a line for me. I did what I had to do. I looked her right in the eyes, at her cowering figure cleaning the dinner table I was sitting at with a wet tablecloth, and told her to stop. She did. The voices praised me for it.
What happened next? Well, you see-
Her fragile, shaking hand gripped tightly onto the tablecloth, daring not to move an inch. He smiled a raw, stretched-out smile that left his mother’s eyes widening with an unknown emotion. He leaned closer to her, mockingly, and she remained planted in her stance over the dinner table.
“What’s with the pale face, mother? What has got you all worked up?” He loved the way she tensed up as if he was hinting at the one secret that her poor son was never supposed to find out. He loved the anxiousness radiating off of her in waves. The voices in the wall once loved it too, but now they remain silent and watchful. He wanted to make them proud.
“Isn’t this nice, mother?” He rested his cheek on his palm, “Just like the old days, right? We used to eat at the same dinner table while you shared your stories from work. I would listen. I wonder what happened for that dynamic to change.”
There was a pause. His mother was now staring straight forward. Her face was as pale as the kitchen countertops. He followed her gaze and focused on the very wall that he first heard the voices from many years ago. He smiled.
“What happened, mother?”
She suddenly sprang upwards, and with one haphazard glance, walked away from him and into her bedroom. The door slammed shut. He grabbed the forgotten tablecloth and squeezed, watching the water drip down his hand and onto the hardwood floor.
I don’t remember much that happened. Sorry, detective.
…Can we end it here?
The voices don’t follow me. They don’t follow me, and I hate it. I feel so alone at night without their comforts and reassurances. Can I go home?
Right, I’m sorry, you won’t let me. You promised me that I could go home if I helped with these stupid tapes, but do you think I’m that ignorant? I’m not like my mother. I know a foolish bargain when I hear one.
But you want to leave, right?
I don’t understand you. I don’t get what you mean.
You want to leave.
Sorry, I blanked out. Ask your question, detective.
My mother found this hidden hatch in the storage closet a few days later. Honestly, we never knew much about the home. She bought it because it was cheap and closer to downtown. I didn’t mind the area, since I rarely left the house anyway. I wasn’t an exploring type of kid. The voices occupied me plenty. Even if I did try to explore, I would always feel a thrumming sort of energy that bothered me enough to get rid of the idea of exploration entirely.
As a kid, I always felt that energy by the storage closet. I hated going in there, even if my mother asked me to get something from inside, like an extra winter coat or a scarf. Yet, miraculously, I barely felt anything unusual when she showed me the hidden hatch. I almost felt drawn to it, like the moment in my youth where the voices called my name for the first time. I was the first person to go down the hatch.
There wasn’t anything exciting down there. I believe it could’ve passed off for a basement, at least with the barren gray walls and concrete flooring. The concrete left me shivering in the summertime. I didn’t hate it, exactly, but it was dull and without a purpose. My mother refused to go down there, cowardly as always. At that moment, I didn’t judge her for it. I felt out-of-place in a room so widened and vast. The voices in the walls were muffled, and I couldn’t hear a thing. I hated it. I immediately climbed out.
The voices tried to tell me something. I regret not listening to them sooner.
Either way, I grew to love the basement hidden under our house. My mother never questioned its existence, and neither did I.
What do you mean? I didn’t break the walls in the basement. The voices broke them. I admit that I was the first to carve a hole through the wall, but it was small and barely noticeable. The voices told me to do so, a test of sorts. Of course, I listened. I would spend hours down there, watching the walls unravel. The voices thanked me immensely for my hard work. You don’t understand, detective. The voices loved me more than anything. They took pride in me. Isn’t that all a person wants?
The voices punctured the walls from the inside. Then, it would slowly unravel until a decent-sized hole would appear. There were tons of holes in the wall by the time my mother found me. It reminded me of a spider’s web, with the centre amassing a hole almost the same height as me. I wasn’t scared of the voices’ doing. I was fascinated. I wanted to obey.
I knew my time was coming to an end. The voices would whisper that to me in the nighttime, that the end is only just the beginning. Mother was going to send me away soon. I could tell by her long glances at me. She seemed more at ease knowing I would be leaving soon. She wanted me gone from the start. I realize that now more than ever.
My mother hated this house. She wanted to move away, somewhere safe and comfortable. I couldn’t stand it – her ignorance towards the voices. I couldn’t bear the idea of leaving the voices forever. How will I live? How will I survive? She’s a selfish, conniving, and evil woman that only cares about herself, not the voices and I. The voices in the walls and I were one. She ruined everything the moment she stepped down that hatch and screamed bloody murder.
She screamed. She screamed at the walls. She screamed at me.
She accused me of doing all of this, for wrecking the house – why did you do this (?). I didn’t do anything, I’ve said this multiple times, yet she wouldn’t understand me. If you didn’t do this, who did? Oh, I can’t take this anymore. No one understands me. I shouted at the voices in the wall to come forward and tell the truth, once louder than ever, yet they remained silent. My mother stood there, shocked.
She broke down into tears – told the silence that she was sorry for her son. I couldn’t stand it. I hated her. I never wanted to see her again.
What did I do? I did what the voices told me to do.
“You aren’t my son anymore.”
The silence was heavy between the two. He was stunned by the confession. His mother was breathing heavily by the ladder to the hatch, her hands waving frantically around the area.
“This-!” She gestured towards the walls of his ruin, “This isn’t normal! There are no voices. There is no one down here but yourself. I should’ve done something sooner, but you need help. I can’t turn away from you and your conversations towards nothingness any longer.”
“No… no. Mother- wait.” He inched closer towards his mother, and she backed away with her eyes widening in fear.
“Oh my god. What happened to your hands…?”
He looked down at his knuckles, bruised and bloodied. He didn’t remember doing anything to cause such wounds. He was down here the whole time, sitting cross-legged on the concrete floor as the voices rambled on and on about sanctuary and sacrifice. He stared down in genuine confusion, and his mother’s cries only grew louder.
“You- You did this. You ruined this family, this house – everything!” She sobbed into her hands.
“It wasn’t me, mother.” The world was shaking in his vision as he tried to refocus, “It was the voices. I swear, mother. They want you to listen to them. Once you hear them, you’ll understand.”
“No…” His mother collided with the wall behind her and she gasped, wide-eyed. He reached closer, close enough to touch, and rubbed a bloodied knuckle against the smoothness of her face. He wiped away a tear, and she shivered.
He heard it: white noise. The voices were all around him, whispering, chanting, and calling for his name. His hands started shaking. His eyes widened in realization. He was invincible. There was only one way to prove to his mother of his innocence.
“I’m sorry, mother, but it’s for your own good.” He whispered. She could only stare as his fist swung back with rejuvenated power.
He collided with her face again and again and again and again-
Until his breath was labored and her face was an unrecognizable, bloody pulp, he let it fall to the floor in a disgraceful tangle of limbs. He felt satisfied. The voices rumbled around him with an energy he has never experienced before. He held his bloody fist up to eye-level, and he smiled – raw. He made the voices proud. It was all that mattered to him.
He picked up the broken body and headed towards the hole in the centre of the wall, the perfect fit for a body beyond repair. He placed it inside and watched as the holes in the walls closed around her.
Now, his mother will finally understand the voices.
After all, the voices don’t lie.