55. The Information

I CONFESS I REGRET it now. I should never have said anything. But it was a moment of weakness – I wasn’t feeling myself and some of the information leaked out of me, setting in train everything that has happened since. You have to keep up the pretense all the time, I know that now – I knew it then. But sometimes the information is just too much – too big and too strong. It wants to be free. And it’s such a strain to keep it from escaping. For all these years, I have had to be on my guard, in a state of constant vigilance. I wish I could just give you the information now, but obviously I can’t. I never will. It will die with me, that part of it at least that I didn't spill. I know it's hard to understand, but the information has great power – the power to destroy lives – and I am its custodian. Sometimes the responsibility is more than I can bear, and I want to purge myself of the information and be done with it once and for all. But most of the time I know this is a pipe dream. It is my fate to have been given responsibility for the information. Everywhere I look I see people who have no such responsibility. I know that everyone has their own problems, but sometimes I can’t help but feel jealous. They're not living a lie like I am. They do not have to pretend at every waking moment. I didn’t ask to be given the information. It was thrust upon me, for what reason I can’t say, because it’s not like I’m the ideal candidate. Sometimes I get weak – I wilt. Like last winter, when I got so sick they had to take me to hospital. Between all those kind nurses and knowledgeable doctors and inquisitive psychologists and caring social workers, in my weakened state I was bound to succumb, bound to let something slip, to drop a trail of breadcrumbs leading directly to the information. Of course being highly trained professionals they’re always on the lookout for the smallest clue, and once they’ve cottoned on to something you can see the change that comes over them, like a bloodhound with the scent of blood. They have all kinds of devious ways of teasing it out of you: they make you feel like they’re doing you a favour, feeding you all kinds of fantasies, like the truth will set you free. They don't tell you the truth can destroy you. You have to discover that for yourself. I was lucky in a way, I pulled myself up – shut myself down – in the nick of time. I didn’t give them anything specific, nothing they could act on. I was hoping that was the end of that. But even so they decided to notify the police. They didn’t tell me that, of course, but I know they did, and I told them so. They assured me over and over they'd done no such thing, but I began to see all kinds of signs. They assigned me a new room on my own, away from the ward, for one thing. It was full of gadgets and wires, any number of which could have been surveillance equipment masquerading as medical technology. The first night, I checked the room thoroughly over and over but I didn't know what to look for. Then they told me Doctor Jónsdóttir was ill and I would be placed under a new doctor, Doctor Einarsson. I missed Doctor Jónsdóttir, her kind manner and gentle ways. Doctor Einarsson was stricter and more taciturn. Of course every day I continued to receive visits from my mother and sister. When I started to tell them what was happening, the look of horror on their faces was such that I knew it was pointless to tell them everything. They weren’t as strong as me. They were still innocent. They kept telling me there was nothing to fear, and I knew from the look on their faces that they were telling the truth, their truth, and I so wanted to enter into their innocence and make it mine. But their innocence was of no help to me. If anything it only gave me the added burden of trying to protect them too. It made things more complicated. I knew they were talking to the nurses and doctors, and the nurses and doctors were telling them the same thing they were telling me – that I was sick, that I needed to be sectioned for my own good. At times between the lot of them they managed to convince me that I was dreaming the whole thing up – that I was crazy, that I had a mental illness. As sad as it is when you realise you’re crazy, it’s better than the other option, which is that your name is on a secret list of marked people, people who must be monitored and, if necessary, destroyed. And so now, as a result of what I said, my life is so much harder than it was when all I had to do was to be the custodian of the information. Now, on top of that, I have to pretend that I know I am sick, and that I want to be cured. I have to talk to psychologists and psychiatrists. I have to take pills I know are at best doing nothing for me, at worst are intended to destroy me. And each time I take the easy route, each time I convince myself that I am sick, that I do need treatment, the signs always return. I can never manage to ignore the signs for very long. They're always there, unavoidable, incontrovertible, telling me that, somewhere in the shadows, somewhere in the deep, someone or something is keeping watch over me, a kind of dark and knowing angel singing to me, singing songs from a realm higher and deeper than I will ever know, calling me to that place beyond every sky and below every sea.