Wk6: Lightumination (A short story inspired by Ariel Maldonado ceramic work “Talk to Strangers”)

Talk to strangers

Ariel Maldonado




CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery East


Light. That was all I recall seeing two months ago. Just big white flashing lights. It felt like a trucker’s headlights as he’s driving the opposite direction of me at 2 in the morning. My mother still cries herself to sleep everyday blaming herself for what happened, constantly telling my father she shouldn’t have forced me to drive back that night. My father drinks constantly barely listening to my mother’s rants. My little brother became muted, he barely utters a word to anyone, I guess he got traumatized the most, even more than me. I have a boyfriend, during the time of the accident he became very distant, probably too shock to apprehend what had just happened to it. At that time, though, is when he also slept with my best friend. He left me when he thought I wasn’t coming back. He didn’t want to be sad. He didn’t want to be lonely. I don’t blame him and I don’t blame her. It was a horrible crisis in their lives and my accident brought them closer together.

It’s two months now, and my memory has returned. My now former boyfriend and best friend are still together, they check up on me every now and then but they have moved on with their lives. My dad still drinks, but is trying to stop. My mother, while she doesn’t cry herself to sleep anymore, still blames herself for the accident and has fallen into a spiral of depression. My brother is still mute. He speaks with a speech specialist every day and he’s slowly gaining his voice back. I’m back at school now after being out for 2 months. I have a lot to catch up on but luckily my teachers felt pity for me and aren’t forcing me to make up work. Everyone looks at me now like something tragic as happened to me, like I have lost my life. I don’t feel like I have. Doctors told me I was lucky I was able to fully gain back my memory and that my body should heal back to normal. They told me I should have been grateful because I had another chance at life. That made me angry, angry to the point I broke down in tears screaming and yelling how uneducated they are and how they didn’t know what really happened. They simply walked out the room and the nurses gave me sedatives to calm me down.

One day, I woke up and I had just remembered everything. I remember driving home in the middle of the night because my mother had called hysterical because my brother had gotten a bad fever and he was to be rushed to the E.R. My mother does not do good in these type of situations. I was two towns over, at a party hosted by a potential college I was thinking about. I didn’t really drink that night so I figured it was safe to drive home. On the drive home I should have realized it, but I didn’t. A boy had been following me from the party. He was stalking me the whole time at the party and when he saw I was leaving, followed me. I got back to into my town and to my house. I stepped out and began making my way to the front door. Before I could even approach the door I heard a loud bang. He had hit me in the head with a tire iron. I was dragged into his truck. As I was laying in his trunk, all I saw was light, illuminating.

He held me in his tool-shed house for 4 days before I was found. In that span, he had forcefully raped me, tasered me when I didn’t comply to his wants and even branded me with a branding iron. He told me I would be his forever and I was never to leave. I was dehydrated and starving. I couldn’t scream, and even if I could have, no one would have heard me. For the most part he had always duct taped my mouth and had my hands and feet tied. I would just lay on the ground for hours in the dark. I remember that only thing that kept me going was thoughts of seeing my family and friends again. I’m not sure how they found me but I remember one night as he was in there about to pull his pants down for “another night of fun” as he said it, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I kept begging him to stop with the little voice I had left. This made him angry. He brought out a gun, said he had enough of me and that I was too used for him. That it was time to find a replacement. I knew this was the end of the road to me. Memories of my life began flashing before my eyes. He pointed the gun at me and just as he was about to shoot, the police barged in, but it was too late. He had shot me, which led to one of the police officers shooting him and him dying right there. They had rushed me to the hospital. I was told I was under surgery for 15 hours. Because of my starvation and dehydration my organs and immune systems were also failing. He had shot me in the head, one more inch to the right and I would have died instantly.

My mother told me when I woke up from the surgery I didn’t remember anything. I spent a whole month in the hospital because of the gunshot. They brought me home and had told me that I was just eating one day and suddenly I remembered again. I remembered my old life, but unfortunately so much had changed that it felt like I was in a new parallel universe of my life. It’s weird to say this, but I remember the exact moment my memory came back. I saw lights illuminating, peaking out through my mind and suddenly everything just came back. I was me again.




It has now been 4 months, and there is still tension at home. My brother is finally speaking and my dad is rarely drinking. Mom began taking meds for her depression. My former boyfriend and best friend are still together and no longer try to keep in contact with me anymore. They said it’s too hard and too much has happened, I call bullshit, but that’s life. I sometimes wake up in sweat from screaming in my nightmares. I get that a lot, night scares. I see a therapist now. I’ll be going to college next year and I plan to study abroad, I think I just need to get out of this place. I need to be far away. My life is no longer the same here. I’ve already finalized everything, I will be going to school in Europe and it’ll be a great escape. At night, I daze out at the night sky a lot, just looking at all the stars. It helps calm me down, looking at all the lights, illuminate.


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