The rules were simple:
- The lights must be flicked on and off a total of 67 times or they both die.
- The process starts when the light is on, never when the light is off.
- It must be done every day before sleeping.
- Only the living room lights count, no other lights matter.
I’ve stuck to these rules since before I had the cognizance to recognize them as rules. The reason I wasn’t caught for so long was that; even though I didn’t have the rationale to not invoke this ritual, I somehow knew enough to hide the compulsion to enact it.
It was only recently — when I was caught, that I put together the list, first in words — with the therapist, then in writing per his instructions. I thought they were overexaggerating by sending me to Dr. Matthews, but I can only blame myself. Telling them if I stopped at 20 they would both die can’t have helped the already strange image of their son flickering their living room lights at 3:00am in the morning.
Frankly, I really shouldn’t have gotten caught, they both come home late, and I sleep in early — not because I want to, but because that’s the safest way. Only this time, they came home a lot earlier than usual, sleeping only at 2:50am. I was way too tired for the hour-long interrogation that came after but hey ho.
Apparently I have OCD, which of course stands for Obsessive Cleaning Disor — I mean Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. I always thought OCD was this niche description of people who like things clean or orderly, but the therapist threw around a few fancy-sounding words that kinda made sense.
I lost all respect for him near the end though, when he said he wanted me to start shaving off the number of times I flicked off the lights and see if it helps. I’m not so sure about this OCD thing and he sounds like a smart dude; but when the rules clearly state 67 times or my parents will die, even one number fewer isn’t an option. Idiot.