It’s always been about symmetry for you. Equal halves, even numbers, pairs. Everything that could be evenly split, anything that wasn’t odd or didn’t mess with the system, your system. The system you had created in your head that pretty much determined how your entire life was run.

It was difficult at first, having to explain to someone that you had to tap them back because it wasn’t balanced if they only tapped you. Explaining to the teacher that you couldn’t focus in class because the boxes on the ceiling were 29 and not 30. That you ate slowly because you consciously rotated the sides of your teeth you used to chew.

It wasn’t like you’d die if you didn’t do any of these things. Although sometimes, it felt like something terrible would happen. But more often than not, it was just an obsession. Just a compulsion. Just a disorder.

Things got easier for you though. Your mother soon began to understand that if she kissed you on your left cheek, she had to kiss your right cheek, and then your forehead, and your chin. Symmetry. Your friends started to understand that if they shook your right hand, they would have to shake your left hand when it’s time to say goodbye. And your brain started to fix the things that lacked symmetry. Your classroom, your room, everywhere. Sometimes, you had a problem identifying what was real and what wasn’t. But I guess it didn’t matter. You panicked less when there was balance so the hallucinations were alright.

But you see, your obsession with symmetry grew into an obsession with balance. Balance is larger. Much more complex. Now, it was more than just equal halves and even numbers. Balance meant if someone hurt you, you had to hurt them back, even though it made you feel terrible. But the satisfaction you got from seeing them hurt soon overshadowed your sense of reasoning.

Balance now meant that if your mother hit you, you had to hit her back. But it hurt you to hit her. So, you had to do it over and over again to equalize just how much pain you were in. It never got even. You only stopped when she could no longer ward off your attacks.

You stared at her mangled body as it now resembled a mash of flesh and blood with bones sticking out of inappropriate places. The only person who really understood how much balance meant to you was gone now. Yet all you could think about was how it was still uneven. She was more hurt than you. There was no one else to hurt. Just you.

Your father had a gun. You took it. You had had enough.

You thought about the first time. It was your dog. It bit you so you used a metal rod on its head. You buried it and told everyone it ran away. The second time was your friend Aisha. She pushed you so you pushed her back. Only, it was over the balcony of the fifth floor in your school. You told everyone she jumped. Then there were other smaller animals and larger animals. You never thought it would be your mother.

You thought of the times she suggested therapy and treatment, but nothing was wrong with you, you’d always say. It was just about symmetry, balance.

You held the gun in your left hand and shot your right leg. Then you held it in your right hand and shot your left leg. Then you held it with both hands and shot your abdomen. Maybe something was wrong with you, you thought, as you lifted the gun with the last strength you had and shot your head, perfectly in the middle.

The police would later find your body and wonder if you were shot by someone else. But there was no sign of anyone else there. Just you and the unrecognizable body of your mother. You did it. You shot yourself.

They would talk about the precision of the shots. Perfectly balanced, they would say. And you would smile wherever you were.












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