The Year I Went Insane

The north coast of Nova Scotia is somewhere between the middle of nowhere and God’s country.

Somehow, I was still there when I was 18, and she’d been dead for 7 years. I would still look for her whenever I was in a crowd of people. Straining searching. Imagining that she had faked her death to get away from me. My mother. By the fall of 1977, I guess I figured she was really dead. All of this I kept to myself. Winding wrapped tight. In my tiny bedroom on a twin bed in a mobile trailer on an acre of land at the edge of Deception River is where the nightmare began…

I ripped out the window screen at the foot of the bed one night and the screen at the head of the bed the next. Screaming some nonsensical rage about “I’ll get you! You motherfuckers!” The next morning the fingernails were torn and bloodied from ripping out screens. Both windows smashed.

I could hear the breathing coming from something somewhere. I held my breath and lay still on my bed, making sure it wasn’t me. I looked under the bed and under the trailer. Nothing. I was alone… except for whatever was breathing. It felt like it was coming from inside me. I had never been so terrified. I forgot to pray. I forgot God.

After a few days and nights of this, I realized that I had to leave that bed, that bedroom,that trailer, that acre, that river.

I left and never returned…

Dennis Mantin


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