Air Conditioner
rating: +32+x

I keep my room at a cool 62 degrees.

Heat has never been “the thing” for me. I can’t sit on the beach unless I’m under an umbrella. Walking around in any weather higher than 75 means I need to pack an extra shirt.

My high school held a practice run of our graduation ceremony in the late-Spring heat and I made the mistake of wearing a light grey, long sleeve shirt for the four hour trial run. It ended as expected — or even worse, as I got to see the girl I liked for the first time since my school closed for Covid.

I had actually asked her to prom and she initially agreed. She became standoffish with me the rest of that week, culminating in her texting me that Friday saying she wanted to go to the party with “her friends.” Then the world shut down, so no one got to go to prom. Whether or not I won in the end is up to you.

There’s a type of heat I enjoy: the metaphorical heat. Pressure and adversity.


I come from a broken home. My father was a drug addicted lunatic for a majority of my life, unbeknownst to me. The only time I ever pissed myself was after he hit my mom and physically lifted me off the ground by my shirt and yelled at me. I was 8 years old. I still went with him to hockey practice 10 minutes later.

The day he left — the day he was kicked to the street — was an interesting one. My parents had been arguing for the entire day. At around 8 o’ clock that night I was called by my mom for help. My father had locked himself in their bedroom and refused to come out. I was tasked with coaxing him out.

It didn’t work.

After that, my worry was that he would fire his shotgun, which he slept next to, through the door, myself, and my mother. I was 14. I called his dad, my grandfather, to help us out.


Paradoxically, my favorite animal happens to be the African Elephant, an animal known for living and thriving in an extremely hot climate. I don’t know why, but ever since I was little I latched onto that creature. I hated Indian Elephants because they looked weird to child-me. You could imagine my sadness and anger when I found out that the Elephants normally rideable to the public were the Indian ones.

When I was around 2 years old, my parents bought me a very large Elephant plush doll. When I say very large, I mean it was probably the size of a small baby elephant. I named it Ellie. Ellie stayed in what became my father’s office in my house — a large alcove that acted as an indoor balcony over our living room on the floor below my parents’ bedroom.


My grandfather arrived at my house around 10 minutes after my call. He talked to my mom for a few minutes as I paced around my house. I had enough awareness to know that there was no coming back from this. I’d seen enough incidents of abuse over the last 5 years to realize this was the final straw.

I took a Ralph Lauren duffel bag I got for Christmas that past year and filled it with two days worth of clothes for myself and my brother and hid it under my kitchen table. My grandfather went upstairs in an attempt to reason with my dad. As far as I know, he didn’t get any response. My grandfather came back down stairs and talked with my mother and I.

We heard steps from above us. I saw Ellie be thrown off the balcony. I heard my father threaten to kill me for getting his dad to the house. I heard my mother scream.

We left the house.


I sleep with a fan pointed directly at my face every night. I can’t sleep without my fan.


The next week or so was a blur. I stayed at my mom’s mom’s place. I remember having a mental breakdown because I was wearing the same underwear for three days straight.

I found out that my dad had to be extracted from my house by a SWAT team. They found stashes of various weaponry, ranging from live explosives to the materials to make Molotov cocktails. I remember during the weeks leading up to the final incident he was rambling about defending the house from ANTIFA. Later on, I snooped on his computer and found the TOR browser, where I assume he either bought meth, weapons, or a combination of both.

My mom managed to convince him that if he went to rehab he’d get a second (sixth, maybe seventh in reality) chance. This, thankfully, was a bold-faced lie. He earned supervised visitation rights for one day a month, mainly because my mom wanted my brother and I to have as much normalcy as possible.

This arrangement collapsed after a few months when my dad started losing his shit over having to be supervised, threatening to kill himself to my 13-year-old brother, telling my mom “fuck you and those kids,” and then sending her a picture of a dead rat.

I haven’t seen him since.


Pressure and adversity have become my bread and butter. I don’t know why, but I handle it well. I think it’s a defense mechanism. I left high school with a 3.9 cumulative GPA (this is really good for you non-Americans). I got an almost full-ride scholarship to a college within my top 5.

The last thing words my father said in reference to me have lingered. “Fuck you and those kids.” I was always a thing to him. I came to find out this last month that he emancipated me the second I graduated high school.

Despite all of this — all of the hatred he has for me, all of the loathing he holds due to the fact I didn’t cave to him, the complete lack of any love — I can’t help but prove him wrong.

I have my air conditioner to keep me focused on that goal. It’s been the one constant life I can depend on. No matter what, my room will be 62 degrees. The cold keeps me locked in. The cold makes me succeed. If I can’t succeed, what was the point of it all? I can only sleep with the cold. I can only live with the cold.


It’s been 6 years last week since the initial incident and breakdown of my family.

The college I go to has a program where we can get internships during the school year. I’m a STEM major with a 3.7 GPA, so I have a very solid internship. I called my mom, as I do every morning and we talked about our plans for the day. I texted my girlfriend I loved her. I walked out of my house with my friends to grab breakfast sandwiches from a local food truck.

When 8:50 hit, I headed back to my room where I powered my computer on to start my workday. I put on a nicer shirt and listened to the symphony of rattles my air conditioner serenaded me with. A cool 62. Just how I liked it for the last 6 years.

I sat in my sweat shorts and collared T-shirt on the uncomfortable, laminated wooden chair my university provides. As I scanned a report, my leg began to shake. It was slow, then it became a fast, rapid, uncontrollable vibration.

I was shivering.

I attempted to ignore it, but that freezing feeling crept slowly up my body to my arms, hands, and fingers. My typing felt strained. My teeth chattered.

I was cold.

I got up, walked over to my window, and turned my air conditioner off.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License