Life

His Skull

I left him staring into the eyes of his own skull and went to make some tea. Nothing special, but loose-leaf for the occasion. Brought it back on a tray with the sugar pot, and the strainer. Neither of us take milk.

He didn’t seem too interested in the tea when I laid it down at first, but eventually decided to come and investigate. The both of us have always seen tea as a bit of a comfort, and considering the situation I think it is fair to say we both needed it at the time.

He poured his, then I poured mine while he added an obscene amount of sugar – he’s always liked his sugar. He says sometimes that at least he died before he got diabetes. I tell him that’s the wrong attitude to have.

“That’s my skull?” he said looking over his shoulder at the yellowing object. The bone dome stood silently, teeth stretched in a never-changing grin. Looking its own way.

“Mm.”

“… God.”

I nodded. I wish I’d brought in a bit of cold water. Just to make the tea… drinkable. Far too hot as it is. And leaving it makes it stew. Or is that just if you leave the leaves in? I suppose that’s one reason why people take milk – just so they can drink it before their company has to leave.

“Why haven’t I seen it until now?”

“Why?”

“Yeah. Why.”

I frowned at him, “Well… the meat had to decompose. It was suspicious enough having to dig your bones back up.”

“You buried me on a hill.”

“I buried you out the way.”

He snorted, “Out the way, on a hill. Was a cemetery too much to ask? Didn’t a new one just open a few months ago? You could’ve put me there.”

I shook my head, “It opened about a year ago,” I said. “And besides, I wasn’t going to sneak into a cemetery to dig you up. Much easier just burying you on a secluded hill where no one goes. Made my job easier. Besides – you didn’t even stay in the ground.”

He didn’t seem happy, even though he couldn’t deny the logic of my decision. I’m rather surprised he cared that much. Honestly, I thought he wouldn’t care where he was buried. He never cared about much anyway. Why would he be so defensive about this?

Silence fell around us. I did my best to not feel too uncomfortable, though the way both of us left our tea to cool definitely gave the room a bit of an awkward feeling. And although I tried my best to come up with conversation, nothing seemed to flow at the time. You can’t ask a dead man how he’s doing. Or what he’s been doing lately. It’d be pointless.

I found out it was pointless after I asked him. I said, “What’ve you been up to lately?” as any friend would. And he just looked sideways at me and said, “Stupid question?”

That happened the last time we met, but at least conversation happened, no matter how much of a fool I looked.

“Hard to check if your skull was free of meat,” I said, attempting a bit of humour.

“Free of… meat? Why the hell are you calling it ‘meat’? That was me. That was my brain in there.”

“What? But you died.”

“So? Still my brain, even if it’s not working. Or wasn’t. I suppose it’s animal crap now.”

This is why it’s hard to talk to him.

“Um…” I said, trying to save face. “I’m certain it’s free of your brain. Or your flesh. It’s been in the ground… a good nine or ten months. And I cleaned it. And I bleached it in the sun for a few days. I put it on the shed roof.”

“Christ.”

“No one noticed, I swear.”

He sat back, his arms folded over his chest. His seemed to avoid looking at me, or anywhere near me. I was used to this. I wasn’t fazed by his attitude. He was always like this, even before he died. Equally standoffish, equally gloomy.

But he looked at me eventually, “Where’s the rest of me then?”

I shrugged one shoulder and tested if my tea was cooled with my top lip, “Black bag – ow.”

“Black–”

“I’m kidding,” that made me smile, despite my hurting lip. Didn’t make him smile though. Unsurprisingly. “Everything’s in a box in the shed. It took hours for me to sort it all out. I tried to put all the leg bones together, all the arm bones, all the ribs… that sort of thing. Not sure why. I mean, what am I supposed to do with it?”

He didn’t say a word. Just sat there with his arms folded. The same as he was before. He looked identical now to how he did before he died. Same hair parting, same bags under his eyes, same remnants of that skin condition on the back of his left thumb. Apparently it was a stress-related skin condition. I always thought otherwise; I always thought it was his skin reacting to the washing-up liquid. Because it always flared up after he did the dishes. He insisted it was stress though.

I scratched at my temple, “Do I just keep it all in a box in the shed? Bones in my shed? Human bones?”

“Fucking bury them again if it’s a problem. Sorry to be a burden on you.”

I sighed, “Not a burden, I just… what does one do with human bones? Honestly, if someone finds out, I’ll probably be arrested.”

“And being arrested isn’t a burden.”

“Well. I mean, it is. But… well what do you want me to say? Your dead body is a bloody nightmare to look after?”

He shrugged, “If you want to say that. It’s not even my problem.”

I sighed again. Same insufferable attitude. Plus my tea was still too hot. But at least it was cooling.

“It was so fucking creepy digging you up.”

“You don’t say.”

Despite his obvious disinterest, I decided to press on with my point. I wasn’t going to let his attitude deprive me of a conversation, “I mean, on the one hand you did ask me to last time you were here. So at least I had the peace of mind that you wanted me to dig you up. But on the other hand… I can’t tell whether seeing you made it more or less creepy. Because if I hadn’t seen you again, I’d just be digging up the bones of someone I’d spent years of my life around. Which is creepy on its own… but seeing you again, then digging up your bones is weird. Because maybe I don’t see those bones as yours? I can’t tell. But you’re welcome with the skull anyway.”

“What do you mean, ‘you’re welcome’. I never thanked you.”

“No I… I did what you asked.”

“Yeah, you dug my body up. Didn’t ask for you to display my head in your fucking house. Who wants that?”

I found myself truly glowering at him. Talking to him was getting me nowhere. It was just ending up annoying me. Still – I’d promised to take tea with him. Not that a promise meant much to him anyway. He never honoured his. Still doesn’t.

“Shall I take it down then?”

“Your house.”

I didn’t answer this. I just tried my tea again. Drinkable. A little hot, but not scalding. And perhaps the heat of the tea would quench the heat of my forehead. He was truly annoying me. And yet I felt awful being annoyed at him.

I’d mourned him. For months. And then… six months after he’d died, I heard a knock on my bedroom door and in he walked. In the flesh. Physical, nothing ethereal or see-through. I had a panic attack over it to which he stood there, scowling a little at me, but didn’t try to explain or help me. He just waited.

Waiting in the room probably helped, I admit. Probably helped me to come to terms with the fact that he was there. Unthreatening and… normal. Because I had missed him. A man made almost entirely of flaws, and I missed that? Apparently. Somewhere I cherished him, I admired him, I was amused by him. It felt strange to like someone like that, or to want him around… and, as I sat with my teacup at my lips, I wondered what I had missed. Had I missed the way he annoyed me, his blunt and unorchestral voice? What exactly had I lost with his death? Nothing much.

I’d actually gained a bit of positivity. I laughed a lot louder when I laughed during the understated healing process. When I wasn’t thinking about him, when he wasn’t on my mind. If I was amused, I was properly allowed to laugh… I was probably a bit happier.

Staring at him, I put down the teacup.

“What.”

“Nothing.”

“It’s cool?”

“I guess so. A bit hot but…” He was talking about the tea. He’d looked down at it when he’d asked. Tea came first. Insultingly enough.

He, with his new information, tried the tea. Then he complained he’d added too much sugar. So he added more tea. Then he complained it was too hot. So he put it down again. I watched. I didn’t say anything.

“You know something,” he said, unaffected by my silence.

“What’s that.”

“I discovered a lot about myself. When I died. It’s like… all the things I should have known, or maybe I did know them… all the things buried deep in my brain all were so clear. Whispers of thoughts were suddenly spoken properly, and facts were shouted. I realised a lot. It felt huge at the time. Just feels normal now.”

“Really?”

He snorted, “There, that perked you up, didn’t it.”

It had.

“Shut up. What did you… find out? Was it all about you?”

“Most of it. Some of it was about other people, some of it was about other places and things, most of it isn’t important. Perhaps I’d go and tell people things but… yeah they all think I’m dead so what’s the point?”

“I thought you were dead.”

He shrugged.

“Am I different?” I asked, with trepidation.

He just shrugged again.

Which annoyed me. But I tried not to let it show.

“What did you find out.”

“A fair bit,” he said. Then he kept me waiting by trying his tea again. Not to be put out, I drank some of my own. But when I put my cup down, he was huffing and adding a splash more tea and a lot more sugar. Apparently a dead man can’t make a decent cup of tea for himself.

I playfully asked if he needed any help – he declined less-than-playfully.

“Tell me what you found.”

“God, fine. I found out, well… this all might be a little surprising to you too. But I found out more about my actual family, I found out my actual name, and I found–”

“Hold up, your actual name?”

He nodded slowly. As if I was stupid.

“What parent calls their child Lull?” he said. “When their other children are called Rhesus and Lois? Why the hell would you think my real name was Lull?”

“I…”

“I know it’s what I told you, but I didn’t know I had a real name until I died. So. And yeah, I’ve apparently got an older brother called Rhesus. I didn’t even know that. Unless I did and it was just buried somewhere in my mind. Death pulled it out maybe.”

“Right?”

“You don’t sound all that surprised,” he said. Flatly.

I tilted my head, “Should I be? I mean, yes, you have an older brother, that’s new. But I don’t know him do I? Probably never will. Where is he?”

“How the fuck should I know?”

“Fine,” I said. “You don’t know. And I’m not that surprised. I’m more surprised about your name, though you’ve got a point about it… I suppose no parent would call their kid Lull would they.”

“No.”

“So what is it?”

And he smirked. In all the time I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him smirk. I don’t know if I’d ever seen his teeth, to be honest, that’s how little he ever smiled.

“What makes you think I want to tell you?”

“Um, the fact you brought it up? Is it really embarrassing?”

“Quite embarrassing, yeah.”

“Are you going to tell me…?”

He shrugged. “Ahh… yeah. I mean, what are you going to do. Tease, worse case.”

“I could tell Lois.”

He frowned. Darkly.

I blinked, “Or… not tell Lois? You could tell her yourself…? Actually, that’s a good point – why haven’t you appeared to her? I want the answer to that question first please, before your name.”

“Appeared? Hah. I’m not a spirit.”

“Alright, why haven’t you gone to her then?”

His eyes narrowed, and he developed some subtle snarl. Both combined contorted his features into something quite ferocious, and I regretted asking the question. It was a fair enough question too – Lois was his sister, his little sister, the girl he took care of even before she could walk.

“Why the fuck would I want to screw up her grieving process?” he growled. “She’s mourning, or she has mourned. If I showed myself to her… bang, whole thing screwed up. Whole thing pointless. There’ll be a point where you won’t see me again either, so if Lois knew I was here… well look at Lois. She’s a stupid little girl, she’d latch onto me again. Pretend I wasn’t ever dead and her head would make her believe that. Out of denial.”

“Alright, alright. Good point.”

“Then when I vanish forever, she’ll have to start all over again. You think that won’t be more damaging?”

I tapped the side of my teacup once and shook my head. I felt like I was getting scolded, like I was stupid. Because he had a good – better than good – point. He was right. Dying, going away seemingly forever, then coming back into Lois’ life wouldn’t be good. I’d never call her a “stupid little girl” but… he was right. He was. She’d start believing he never died.

Lois relied almost exclusively on me after her brother died. Perhaps because she thought I was closest to him, I was reliable like him. And I am reliable, I will call myself that, but I’m a lot softer than he ever was. If she pissed him off, he’d let her know. If he needed space from her, he’d physically push her away. I could never do that. I let her close to me, I held her when she cried, I talked about him with her, I smelled her tears and she smelled mine.

Something we both… realised… was that we felt as if he had never existed. It wasn’t long either. The denial was strongest, and scariest. As if he had just gone away on a trip somewhere and he would be back before long. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised I was waiting. I was waiting beside a door that he would never come through. I would buy cigarettes for him and only remember no one was going to smoke them when I was halfway out the shop door. I would prepare the sugarbowl when I made tea just in case he wanted any, before realising he’d never be there to take sugar again.

That was the denial. And it hit both me and Lois hard… but it affected her more. I was my own person, I looked after myself, but he looked after her. If I was waiting by the door, she was pressed up against it. With her nose at the letterbox. As if trying to use any sense she had to find him.

The belief that he never existed came soon after that, and Lois was indeed a wreck. I’d lost a friend, but Lois had lost a brother who was more of a father than a sibling. Not a good father, but a guardian nevertheless. So to believe he didn’t exist terrified her.

A year, and she is only just healing properly. She can go through his CD collection now. She can’t play any of them. But she can look at the boxes without weeping. Most of them.

 

“No. You’re right. Don’t go to her.”

“No.”

“I could tell her your real name. If you like.”

“Also no. What would that help?”

“Comfort?”

He sat back again. No longer as vicious. “Yeah. To reveal that her brother’s name wasn’t ever his real name? Lovely.”

“Fine, not that either.”

“Just… keep this to yourself. Honestly, it’s better if no one else knows. They’ll only ask questions about how you know. I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it.”

I scowled, “You can trust me, you know. I know when to keep my mouth shut.”

“Alright,” he sighed. “I know. You’re not stupid.”

“I don’t think I am. At all. Come on. What’s your real name?”

“Arby.”

I found myself smiling, trying not to chuckle. Arby? The man sat before me, who I’ve known as Lull, is called Arby.

“Short for anything?”

“Probably. Stop laughing.”

“I’m really not.”

He busied himself with his tea. Taking mouthful after mouthful. Until he had drained the teacup. I politely offered to pour him more, but he declined.

“Yeah, no more tea. I’ll be going in a few minutes. Back to the void of fucking nothingness.”

“Is that really what it’s like? To be dead?”

He shrugged. “Honestly I’m just speculating. I don’t remember a thing while I’m there unless it’s more subconscious revelations made conscious. Death is death. Nothing is nothing. Just how it is.”

“How much longer have you got?”

“How long has it been?”

“Not long, actually. Probably a couple of hours.”

“Mm. About as long as last time.”

I smiled, “Last time you were here for twenty minutes.”

He frowned.

“I suspected this for a while now – your perception of time is completely thrown off. Like you thought the cemetery opened a few months ago? It opened before you died, you know?”

“Shit. I remember. That’s annoying.”

“It’s alright. You just going to vanish again?”

“Most likely.”

“How do you know you’re going?”

He looked to one side. Perhaps thinking of the answer. Then he looked down at his hands. “I’m not… sure. It’s like an alarm clock in my head. Or something. I just suddenly realise I’m going to go. I don’t have long. Even if my perception of time is fucked.”

“When are you going to come back?”

“Might not. I can’t say.”

I felt suddenly vulnerable. My question, a child-like question, an innocent question. “When are you going to come back?” As if my happiness, my enjoyment in life, my purpose, relies on him… Even though I know that, if he never did return, I’d be okay. I’m logical enough – I hope – to avoid mourning too hard a second time. I know he’s dead, I remind myself of that fact every time he vanishes again. I remind myself that he’s dead, that he probably won’t come back. Ever.

But still. Asking that question, allowing that slice of childishness into my tone… it’s made me a little melancholic about the entire situation. I know I’d give up a lot to just spend a few hours more with him. And that’s proof I’ve not healed. Much. At all.

“Ah well. I’ll put the kettle on if you do come back. In the meantime, is there actually anything you want me to do with your bones?”

“Oh um… no. That is… you can bury them again if you want. Or you can keep them in your shed. Honestly, if I was you I’d keep them in your shed. Burying bones over and over might literally get you arrested.”

“Right… I’ll think about it. Perhaps I’ll invest in a big dog.”

“Charming.”

I managed to laugh.

 

He vanished not long after that. Fortunately, he wasn’t halfway through a sentence, or else it’d have felt even more abrupt. All that happened was that his teaspoon fell to the table. He had been fiddling with it slightly as he listened to me explaining what kind of dog I’d most want – my preference seems to fluctuate between one of those Russian bear dogs and an old English sheepdog – and then he’d –

He’d vanished. It was disconcerting, terribly so. To be looking at someone, chatting, and then they’re suddenly not there. No sound effect like in a cartoon, nor a flash of light. Simply, he was there, then he wasn’t. Instantaneously. No fade-out, no dissolve. Just vanished.

So the teaspoon clattered to the table and actually took a chip out of the teacup as its handle scraped past. I sat there for a while, still, not really moving at all. But I knew he’d not come back.

I cleaned up the table. Examined the chip in the teacup; nothing major, it wouldn’t cause a crack. So at least there was that.

After all that, I went back to the room and examined his skull. When he was sitting in front of me, the skull on the bookshelf behind him wasn’t weird. Now it was. I picked it up, and my fingertips didn’t like that. It felt too strange. Touching something which was, a year and a half ago, in the head of the man who’d been drinking tea with me…

Yeah, I put it down quite quickly. Simply too awkward for me to hold anymore. Even stranger to be in the same room with it after its owner had departed from the room so suddenly.

So I decided to leave the room too. Leave the room and call it a night. Tomorrow I’d feel differently about the skull – I’d be able to face it and feel comfortable with it. But looking at it now, looking at the teeth that, a year and a half ago, would have had held a cigarette while he lit it… it was scary. It made my head ask all those questions. The ones beginning with “how” and “why”.

I turned out the lights. All the lights downstairs. And I locked the front door. I stared through its window, my house dark behind me, and the streetlamp across the way glowing faintly, painting the surroundings in shades of brown and gold.

That hill he was originally buried on is a public bridleway. One I walked many a time either alone or with friends or family. It didn’t mean much to me then, it was only a bit of rough terrain with a few climbable trees… perhaps a dash of nostalgia here and there. I suppose it’ll mean something else now.

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As It Moves Itself

At last, at last, at last.

I can hear Silence.

It buzzes inside my cranium

and the lack of noise is nothing short of terrifying.

It slowly shifts through me,

Robbing me of my remaining senses.

Sight. gone. Ocular windows open but

dead. Touch. Gone. The tingling of deprivation is gone too.

Taste. Gone. The roof of my mouth is empty of taste.

Smell. Gone. And my head fills with a cold

freshness. Like a wave of spiralling

hands, the deadness moves through me,

mixing into my body and killing it slowly

and I decay like a weed free from soil,

And my soul is released into an

endless black void.

Where it, I, lies softly and silently,

Humming faintly with heat and inaudible sound,

But it, I, will not be alone for long.

For I shall take others with me with my mind’s spiralling

wave-hands that move like worms through the smallest cracks in others

and up, up, into their minds where they begin to unhinge as it,

I, covers the internal oval windows in their brains,

So they, too, feel the

buzzing of

complete Silence.

 

And when their soul becomes an it,

them, my own will grasp it softly, hands touching

without sense on either of their, our, souls.

Come with me.

And be free.

At last, you can know what it is to live forever,

At last, you can feel the deistic bliss only reserved for Gods,

At last, you can be sure that there is land

beyond this senseless and tingling wall of Death.

I’m Allowed To Be

IF
And I repeat, IF
I’ve been to the depths, I can
judge for myself the highs
and the lowest
darkest
hidden realities and turnaround cul-de-sacs of endless light for myself.
I am not a blind bat in the darkness, I have two eyes that work less-than-perfectly,
And
even if I’m not the most
well
if I’ll look behind and see someone –
And I saw them once before –
recognition of them is minimal by my eye. So
I’ll probably overlook some more vital infor
mation, maybe the importance. Of it all.
But-

Either way.
I am not a blind bat in the darkness, I have two eyes that work less-than-perfectly,
And
even if I’m not the most
watchful – perhaps? – I can still
notice enough to make up my mind.
I can still see enough down here in the depth to cover myself completely.
I will learn all even if I want to know none of it.
I will watch and listen and try to smile despite the writhing I feel inside myself.

Imagine a projector screen with
me in front of it
ebbing black pixels. Ebbing. Pushing, throbbing, pulsating. Any of the words that might de
scribe the action of the screen behind me – and my shadow,
Not obstructing anything,
Yet, but
then from the corners
fuchsia spikes. Because I know
genuinely
that pain and pleasure are one and the same.
Despite the opposite realities of each one.
Fuchsia spikes closing in
and I merely stand
and watch
and listen
and learn.
While the screen attacks me from behind and I close my eyes as the screen shines
pink into them, all into them, behind them and through them.
But they don’t kill me.

My shadow, down here, blocks them. My back is defended. And, if I
turn to face the screen,
My front will be defended also.

Do you see yet?
I don’t
I don’t
I don’t

need

anything. Not your eyes, not your skin not your
words in my ears, not your arteries, not
your praises, not anything. I just need myself.
To be,
To learn,
To grow.

I am deeper than you think. Every silence is wrought with
pain and all I want is someone to shine a torch in
to the dark and look after me.
But I am turning my back on that. Rely on no one, no one
will shine as well as I do.
I know where I hurt.
I know where to put the bandages.
I know where the edges are.
How they fall.
How they blunt every issue I have.
And how,
With a single moment,
I can ignore them all and heal myself.
I am deeper

so much deeper

than you think.

And wiser, I am wiser than you think. Find my number and remove all the numbers and replace them with letters, I will
Tell you the colours of them,
One
by
one. Because
I know more. I know so much more. I know myself and
I know everyone else. There is a reason for what I’ve
been called. And what people see me as,
And that I can be taken,
So easily,
As a fool. Because I am a fool.

Despite my wisdom.

I am a
fool. And even
if I think I am
strong, even
if
I think I can
lift something
either
Physical
or
Mental
I am most times wrong.

So.

IF. You think I’m happy,
I’m most not.
IF. You think I’m easy,
I’m most not.

BUT. I am deeper than
you might care to think about.
BUT. I am wiser than
you might care to think about.

That’s the issue.
Read me.
Ignore me.
Face me.
Block me.
Stab me.
Say things you know will hurt me.
I am more than that if I can turn my back,
Shine my own light onto the places that hurt,
Because I know that even if…
Even IF
I’m sad, I’m allowed to be.
I’m happy, I’m allowed to be.
I’m furious, I’m allowed to be.
I’m ill, I’m allowed to be.
I’m scarring, I’m allowed to be.
I’m different, I’m allowed to be.
I’m naked, I’m allowed to be.
I’m cast, I’m allowed to be.
I’m…

I’m allowed to be.

Always.

Always allowed to be.

XI: Scrawl

X: Scrawl

SCREAM ALL YOU WANT NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU.

SCREAM ALL YOU WANT.

NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU.

OR

SCREAM ALL YOU WANT NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOU.

WHICH ONE IS TRUE? I MEAN SCREAMS, EVEN SILENT ONES, ARE OBVIOUS.

THE PAINED BLUE EYES FROM SLEEPLESS NIGHTS AND THE RED RIMS FROM THE SALT, THAT’S A SCREAM.

THE CRACKED KNUCKLES AND SCARS FROM A CONSTANT AND HABITUAL BODILY-RAPE HOBBY, THAT’S A SCREAM.

THE IMPORTANT SUDDENLY GETTING TOSSED ASIDE AND RELOCATED ELSEWHERE, TO ROT AND FEEL EMPTY WITHOUT ANYONE’S INPUT, THAT’S A SCREAM.

AND PEOPLE SEE THEM.

THEY JUST DON’T WANT TO HEAR THEM.

X: Scrawl

IX: Scrawl

 

IT’S NO USE. NO USE CALLING. THOSE WHO I PRETEND LOVE ME ARE USELESS.

PLEASE, KILL ME IF YOU CAN, I WON’T STRUGGLE.

I WILL BE HAPPILY SHOT DOWN – IF I COULD STOP BREATHING FOR A MINUTE, AND ALLOW MY UNWELCOME SOUL TO PASS THROUGH MY HATING LIPS, I WOULD AND I WOULD NOT MISS IT.

GOD DAMN, SOMETIMES THE PAIN TAKES ME OVER COMPLETELY UNTIL WORTHLESSNESS SETS IN TO THE POINT WHERE ASKING FOR HELP IS POINTLESS. WHO WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME. WHO WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME. WHO WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME. WHO WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME. WHO WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME. WHO WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME. WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO.

TEARS RUST MY CHEEKS UNTIL I AM AS RED AND BROKEN AS DAYLIGHT.

WHO WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME.

I CANNOT SCREAM FOR FEAR OF BRINGING MORE UPON MYSELF.

I CANNOT LET IT OUT FOR FEAR OF BEING ALONE FOR FAR TOO LONG AGAIN.

I CANNOT TELL THOSE I DON’T KNOW BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T THE TIME NOR THE ENERGY.

WHO WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME.

I AM SAFER LIKE THIS.
LONELIER
BUT SAFER LIKE THIS.

I WILL HAPPILY DIE, ROT AND FEAST WITHIN THE EARTH.

JUST KILL ME.

JUST BURY ME.

IT’S WORTH IT TO BE FREE OF THIS.

JUST LET ME DIE.

WHO WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME.

HO WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME.

O WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME.

WOULD HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME.

HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME.

HELP A STREAK OF SHIT LIKE ME.

HELP ME.

HELP ME.

HELP ME.

HELP ME.

HELP ME.

IV: The True Freedom – Care [Lull]

III: The True Freedom – Need [Lull]

Caring – about people, about things, about life – is an act of maturity.
– Tracy McMillan

 

Truly passionate individual,

Whose own spirit drifts on unaccomplished,

By even the smallest of pinprick silences,

And whose eyes – forever glowing

from the heat of their unrewarded generosity and certainty –

will one day rot, just as all ours will, within the ground.

 

Just as mine will glaze with each step,

Concrete – to dirt – to concrete – to wasps’ nest –

Again and again –

Seeing the helpless and hungerful traveller,

His travel halted by the unquenchable hunger of starvation,

And I do not extend my hand,

My eyes will rot, just as all ours will, within the ground.

Just as the eyes with passion will.

 

So! -I hear. What, pray you tell, is the point?

To be so blunt and disfigured within yourself,

And to hold onto nothing more on your deathbed than the fact that

you were a Good Person on arrival. So

what? Go on your way, sitting patiently in the waiting room that is

Purgatory, a place you so drastically believed in, which,

of course,

is irrational.

I will continue on, isolated during my own tar-stricken death,

knowing I’ve done nothing but Ruin, and yet our fates are the same.

Cold, unflattering earth upon our round faces, bruised by death and patience.

 

So! -I hear. What, pray you tell, is the point?

Here is the point.

Be rid. I have spoken, often, to take away and never to give.

But to give is to do nothing. My sister is half of me.

To attempt, to even admit to trying to salvage some

goodness within herself, it is false. So, I urge her,

The words never leaving my head, never casting a bitter taste

to my grey tongue, Be rid. I’d whisper.

Follow your half. Learn to bask in yourself and to reject humility.

For no matter who winds up hating you

No one will hate you as much as yourself. And no

one will accept you as much as the earth to your body when you

inevitably fall from your rightful place in the Aurora and into

the fresh casket I will prepare for you. I will not die until you do.

 

Yes. I care, I care too much. Enough to destroy whole corners.

But you! -sweetness that you are, do not. Should not.

Begin when you awake. Cast yourself around the world

always stepping in the sunlight,

and never take your eyes off the moon. Beggars

will be invisible to you, corporations no more than

mere cancerous lumps as you sweep on by,

avoiding them. Like all. Twist yourself enough,

and leave me far below as you screw yourself in

like a jigsaw. This missing shade of navy,

Above,

Casting the most beautiful shadows on the hideous landscape

as you lie your serene head down on the velvet

not even whispering a good-night to your protector.

Then I will know I have succeeded.

 

Awake. Sister.

Cast yourself around the world.

Always stepping in the sunlight.

And never taking your eyes off the moon.

 

V: The True Freedom -Material [Lull]

III: The True Freedom – Need [Lull]

II: The True Freedom – Time [Lull]

 

They might not need me; but they might. I’ll let my head be just in sight;
a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity.

-Emily Dickinson

 

Basic humanity –

Conservative, but,

Without the main heat of the warm and

Fulfilling gaze of the Needee,

the Needy pushes on.

Priceless. Always and forever,

Searching for that same strand, hopeless tempt-

-ation of spirit and fortune, candle

with frozen wick, waiting for the flame.

As are we. Just breathing hard enough to

keep our heads above the tide, the wall, even,

Just for a chance to be given unflattering attention.

Let us ignore this. I’ll make her sturdy.

Un-reliant. On anybody. Let us be rid,

Completely,

Of Need.

 

We exist, and exist together – me and her – and

never does the time pass. We – me and her-

Both young,

Both old, simultaneously, Remembering nothing

of the forgotten riches of agony of memory,

So much so I’ve forgotten what her shoulder-blades

Look like.

I do not need to know. I raise her chin

as she sleeps and cast her face, at peace,

Into my wet concrete mind. Preserved. Not

remembered. But preserved, certainly.

To leave her now would be insanity.

I will remove all needs from her,

She will become more by becoming less,

Such as ice fills the space water could

never reach. I remove the shoulder of

her nightdress. I can be slow. No heat,

No softness, coarseness, no Need for the

suffocating pinkness of the cotton skin.

I can be slow. In this.

 

Soon. I will create a new woman.

A new woman will be created. Soon.

She will be a duchess of the sky, cast naked,

Young as blossom but old as granite,

Suspended between the constellations of the

astrologers’ imaginations and the astronomers’ charts,

She will both create and aspire,

And walk her own way around the dark lilac sky,

A dancing camellia on the rippling aurora surface,

As the midnight waterfalls of thunder give her something

to dance to.

A marchioness, champion. Visible in the perpetual twinning

of Night and Day, above and below the sky, below and above the earth,

My creation. My sister, my ultimate, my polished stone. Who wants

for nothing. Who needs nothing. Who desires nothing. Whose

morals are straight as a helix, whose regards and

appreciation is aimed only inwards, no need for

approval, no more, not now she is and is not the sky.

No need for a name, no need for the gaze of strangers,

No need for the warmth of others. She is the ultimate,

The queen,

Head of my pride,

Below the skin,

Un-relenting, Un-reliant, Un-unreal,

Dearest naked cherub,

Splendid absolution of perfection,

Girl beneath my palm.

 

IV: The True Freedom – Care [Lull]

IX: Scrawl

VIII: Scrawl

 

Found scrawlings from inside my grey and dying mind.

 

NOTHING IS ISOLATED.
EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED.
WHETHER BY A SINGLE MUSICAL NOTE, ECHOED CEASELESSLY AROUND THE SEALED CHAMBER WHICH IS THE VOID ALL THINGS EXIST IN.

 

WHETHER IN HARMONY

OR OUT OF BALANCE

WHETHER SEEMINGLY ALONE

OR WITH KNOWN ALLEGIANCES

ALL THINGS ARE CONNECTED.

 

A NAME. PERHAPS.
A NUMBER, OR A NAME, OR AN IDENTITY, OR A FACE.
DO NOT FORGET ANY SINGLE SHRED OF ANYTHING.
WALK BEHIND THE OLD MAN WITH THE STICK.
AND NOTICE. NOTICE THE FRAYED, DULL PLAID SCARF AROUND HIS NECK.
NOTICE THE TREAD OF HIS SHOES.
MENTALLY TRACE THE SHAPE OF HIS EYEBROWS IF HE TURNS TO LOOK AT YOU.
DON’T DISREGARD ANYTHING.
PARANOIA IS NO CURSE.

WHETHER IN HARMONY

OR OUT OF BALANCE

WHETHER SEEMINGLY ALONE

OR WITH KNOWN ALLEGIANCES

ALL THINGS ARE CONNECTED.

 

ESCAPING INTO A NOVEL IS NO LONGER A SEEMINGLY PEACEFUL BUSINESS.
DO NOT TREAT FICTION AS NEVER-HAPPENED OR NEVER-WILL-HAPPEN.
EVERYTHING IN THIS VOID IS CONNECTED AND NOTHING IS SEPARATE.
SOMEWHERE, STORIES LINK TO LIFE, LINK TO STORIES, LINK TO FURTHER STORIES, LINK TO FURTHER LIFE.
NOTE ANYTHING. RELATIONSHIPS THAT CHANGE. TREAT THEM ALL AS PEOPLE, EVERY CHARACTER, ANIMAL, OBJECT. REMEMBER THEY EXIST.
EVEN IF THEY’RE CHARACTERLESS CHARACTERS.
EVERYTHING LINKS.

WHETHER IN HARMONY

OR OUT OF BALANCE

WHETHER SEEMINGLY ALONE

OR WITH KNOWN ALLEGIANCES

ALL THINGS ARE CONNECTED.

 

WHETHER IT BE A CIRCUS PERFORMER WHO SCREAMS EVERY FIFTH WORD.
OR AN IMPOSSIBLE BEING THAT CONTORTS AND VANISHES.
OR A PERSON SOLELY ALIVE TO AID HIS SISTER BY DESTROYING EVERYTHING.
OR A DOOR THAT LEADS INTO A ROOM YOU WON’T LEAVE ALIVE.
EVERYTHING IS TRUE. ALL THINGS ARE CONNECTED. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS

FICTION.

Sitting at the Train Platform

Sitting at the train platform,
You’ve been there a while, waiting on
your two-way route to your mundane
and everyday location, just as
you do every day. With your mind on

Other things. Less than looking forward to the
nine hours of screen-staring, paper shuffling,
staring at the brunette you are too cowardly
to ask out for coffee. But today could be
the day for it. You take a peek at your

Watch. Then look towards the clock,
Unable to believe it’s been only two
minutes since you last looked. And yet
there are more people crowded around
you than you’ve seen so far today.

Businessmen in ties, shoes polished and
hair smoothed to perfection, giving the
sad impression they practice this every
single day, a faint belief that this is the day
their boss will recognise their achievements.

A cluster of young women, up early for a
day trip, mascara smudged over remnants
of sleep in the corners of their eyes. They
do their best to laugh despite having not seen
each other for months, though they promised to.

Train station labourers, brooms welded to their
hands, sweeping up the memories of yesterday’s
traingoers. Cigarette butts from under the
benches, a discarded aluminium can, and perhaps
a smudged napkin, all to earn their wages.

The newly-muddied shoes of a to-be-teen,
standing just far away from his mother to have
autonomy in this new place. Hair spiked to
a rebellious extent, ignoring his mother’s command
to step away from the yellow threshold.

And one man closer to the threshold than he,
his hands empty and clenched slightly, you
notice the solid way he holds himself, as if
ice has crept into his skin and frozen him in
place, a human-coloured statue on the platform.

Sitting at the train platform,
You once again check your watch,
Seeing that steady rhythm of the second
hand slicing your life away, one fragment at
a time. But you still have the day to do.

A rumble beneath your feet,
Gives away the surprise of the approaching
train. You know you can sit for a while longer,
Until everyone evacuates the sliding metal
jaws of the slick and powerful monster.

You see the businessmen adjust their shoulders.
You see the women’s hair catherine-wheel around their jaws.
You see the rebellious boy obey and step away from the gap.
You see the labourers glance up slightly, an act of respect.
You lean forward in your seat, ready to begin your day.

Your eye falls once again on the frozen man. His
elbows pinned to his waist, his head only slightly
tilted, and he is looking at the train. You lose
sight of him briefly, an old woman moving past you
to sit on your left. You nod slightly before rising.

There, again, but he’s moved. Forwards,
Ignoring direct orders to move away. And there is
a clearing around him, nothing too obvious, perhaps
only deep in their minds the waiters realise this
frozen man is not their kin, not their relation.

Nor is he yours. While you wait on the platform,
And scour the surroundings of the platform,
As you do every day, and you watch the clock,
And clock time on your watch, and tap your fingers
On your knee if the train is late, he does not.

While you wait impatiently to begin your day,
Knowing the brunette will pass by you several times,
With you uttering no words of desire to her,
You at least know there will be another lunchtime,
Another work day, another opportunity.

Another day after today. A day, perhaps, where you will
wait in for furniture that won’t be delivered until the next
day. A day, perhaps, where the tracks of the bin
lorry will wake you early, and you hope they’ve emptied the bin
this week. A day, perhaps, but a day, certainly.

But the frozen man is not of your kin either. While you blend
with each other type of toe-tapper on the platform, he blends
with no one. He stands in his clearing, stark, alone,
With the heels of his shoes on the yellow threshold,
Waiting for the rumbling wheels of the train.

No destination will consume him. No tempting relish
of a mate will attract his gaze. No plans has he made for
lunchtime, or any lunchtimes after. This is the only time
you will ever see him. No yesterday. Only today. No tomorrow
when you will once again be sitting at the train platform.

I: Sad

The anomalies hit me much faster than I was ever used to. Instead of arising from sleep with a head filled with sand and a crick in my neck, feeling stiff as a twig, I instead found myself unable to shut off vision as soon as it returned to me. Eyes glistening with the many miles of stars stretched far above me, and I took in the light string by string. As I noticed each star and counted each moving flashing light high within the twilight velvet sky, I noticed the second anomaly. Although my nose has always been damaged, a defect of my creation, even it picked up the scent of blood on the wind. Air carried it through me, into my mouth where it soaked into the back of my tongue, within my sand-filled head. A heightened state of awareness, perhaps caused by the rush of adrenaline as the iron liquid filled me. And gripping grass between each one of my slender fingers, so tight the muscles could break the slim bones at any moment. I am alert and ready for a sound.

A sound, within the still night. This is calmly normal for me; I expect no noise at the best of times, lying out here in the secluded brush of the landscape. Every insect footstep on every leaf of every tree, nothing would be lost upon me. My ears, hidden though they are, sense the very smallest sounds. Especially now in the silence. My mind struggles so much to determine whether anything I hear is a product of the world or my own imagination. Is the creaking from my bones, or from elsewhere?

I hold myself steady. A third anomaly has become apparent. Shadows, so thin I almost missed them, reach across my body. And the places the shadows flee from is a stunning silvery blue. My own shadow darkens the grass as the light, lethargic, but with intention, moves closer to me. Slow strides, almost completely silent, I realize are coming from the world and not my head. Without a movement nor a sound, I lock myself completely onto the light and the noise. Friend. Foe. Or Neutral?

It will take me less than a second to scatter myself away from the noise if it is cruel. I will scamper, and I will fight. Beside my right hand, my fingers numb to its feel, is my companion. The two sticks, a cross on the grass, and strings confining it. When I touch it, it talks for me. If I cannot tell what the intentions of the noise are, I will let it know I live, that I am in its way.

The light is so close now, so bright and reflecting off my eyes, I can barely see the stars. What was once a sequined cloth crafted by a godly hand, laid over the resting world has become a void, the only shimmering light the one scattering warmth onto the side of my face. This in itself is strange as the night never promises comfort. The night is calm and quiet, but with that comes the frigid temperatures of a world without life, and that world is getting colder. To feel warmth now is close enough to blasphemy that it almost angers me. My fingers silently pull my companion’s sticks into my palm. I grip them – I feel the connection between us form instantly almost feel a heartbeat through the sticks that pulses with mine. A heart that pumps through grey stuffing, but a heart that beats nevertheless. Its mouth is mine, and it will speak for me.

With the light that approaches, I notice our shadows. Mine and my companion’s. There I am, stretched tight on the grass, a shocking darkness against the white light that seems to come straight down from the sky. And the mound beside my shadow is my companion’s. Joined at the hip, we are congealed into a singular mass, so strong with ourselves and our hearts so combined it knows what I need to say, and what I want to hear. Its shadow stretches into mine, and mine into its, a combination borne of the shyness of the light. And a sharp outline of the sticks, raised a little way above our bodies. Rubbed smooth by my fingers over years of attention and necessity. Indents, catches and marks are the scars of our time together, from where my anger was too great, from where I dropped my companion in the brambles once too often. Similar, the stitchings on its body. Thorns tear thought cloth, through the polka dot blue fabric I used to patch the previous hole to reveal the same one, where stuffing will be pushed out by the aching heart within its chest. And that heart aches with mine.

The fabric is even more illuminated by the light approaching us, and I have still not moved. I have not judged whether this stranger is a friend or foe yet. Or Neutral. I have merely stayed completely still, a cat trying to hide in its own darkness. Trying to decide whether to run or to stay resting. To wonder if the light will try to touch me, or lie down next to me to hear my companion tell it all about the stars we will both be looking at. The stars I am currently lying under. The stars they are currently standing under.

I silently grip my companion’s sticks, as I hear the half-quiet rustling of the stranger halt just behind my head. I daren’t move, so I listen, and I look. My eyes readjust and I see the stars spark back to life, as well as notice the new life currently tilting their head down at me.

 

II: Sad