It's all there, still. It sits inside me, coiled up like a snake. It blends in, forgotten, camouflaged so I forget it's there; I forget until the wrong thought brings me too close. Then I can hear it, rattling its tail. Warning me to turn back to more mundane thoughts. I never do though. Maybe that's why I've done so much better than most. I keep going, I replay the moments, one after another, in order. I try to remember every sensation, every sight and sound and smell. Sometimes I picture it from the eyes of one of the others, opening the wounds in a brand new way as I try to step into their own unique suffering.
I follow it through every time and every time it sinks its teeth into me, filling me with its darkness. Sometimes it's a sadness, welling up as if those tears I choked back so long ago had fallen inside of me and never stopped. Other times it's a rage, sudden and powerful; at myself for perceived, irrational failings, at Robert for never wearing his god-damned chin strap, at the army for discharging me; I want to break something, something beautiful, something functional, something to make people fear what might be inside me. It circulates within me, filling me with longing and regret and ridiculous thoughts of somehow returning to the military to get back there and complete some unfinished task I can't quite remember.
It consumes me until the most curious thing happens: my mind wanders on to something else. Between violent images and heroic re-imaginings I remember that I'm out of milk. I stress slightly over my lack of work hours and wonder if my leftovers are still good. I try to hang on to the darkness but it dissipates. The color returns to the world and I'm myself again.
It's all there, still. It sits inside me and waits guarding that dark corner of my heart; but it can't hurt me, and as long as I'm not afraid to keep walking when I hear that rattle, it can never control me.