It was one of those nights, where nothing went as it was supposed to and everything managed to cut him to the quick. Where every passing emotion burned his skin and even the rain sliding down his collar didn’t help take away the sorrow, the pain, the desperation or the heartache. It was one of the rare nights when Joseph Beckerman felt emotions, and he didn’t like it at all.
In the beginning, he had tried to hide. He thought that, if he got away from people and their roiling feelings, he could keep his sanity. He was wrong. Even tucked away in the middle of a Canadian forest, he still felt the intrusive auras invade his body and mind. So he stopped trying to hide and just tried to make it all go away.
Alcohol helped, to some extent. It numbed his mind to the depression and my-God-my-God-why-have-you-abandoned-me thoughts that liked to run marathons around his synapses. The alcohol didn’t help his body though, and for a long time he still felt the tears. He learned that heartache was a very physical pain and that fear did have cold, clammy fingers. He learned that despair could make you sick and that sadness tightened your throat like a hangman’s noose.
And then one night, it rained. And the rain, and the cold, and the wind made his body numb, at least a little. It helped. The longer he stayed in it, the less he felt, and for that, he was thankful. He didn’t want to feel anything. Anything at all.
But then there were nights like tonight, where the alcohol just burned his throat and the rain just made him cold and he wasn’t numb like he wanted to be. These were the nights he felt everything, when he could honestly say to every person passing by, “I feel your pain” because he did. He hated it, and the best part was that none of them knew.
Sure, perhaps they noticed that they felt better around him, or that he tended to lift their spirits without ever saying a word, but they didn’t know that he was absorbing their troubles, taking them away without leaving a trace.
Joseph was an accidental project, an experiment gone wrong. He, the person, was never supposed to have existed. From what he’d heard, he was supposed to have been a drug, an elixir of happiness. As he sat on the bench in the pouring rain, smelling of whiskey but stone-sober, the irony didn’t escape him. What was supposed to have made the entire world care-free had made him the most miserable man to ever walk it.
Somewhere above him, thunder crashed. A jolt of fear that didn’t belong to him coursed through his body, clenching his stomach and curling his fingers into fists.
It was one of those nights, when pain made him its own personal sanctuary. And all he could do was wait for the morning.