Psychological

III: From Lull

Is it so fucking hard to simply be accepted by someone? Or is it just my destiny to walk through this wretched earth both hating and hated?

No, “hated” is far too strong. And “accepted” is also wrong.

Strike both of them. Shit.

Is it so hard to just mean something to someone – there, that sounds better already – rather than just… mediocre? I mean, it’s a rough estimation here, but I’m certain that’s what every human aspires to. People want to be loved, they want to be someone’s Number One, they want to be the first and last thought in someone’s head of a day. And then you have the people who will be happy with being hated… the ones who enjoy revelling in the anger and misery of others. You’ll probably still remember someone who did you very wrong twenty years down the line.

And that means – what? – that they mean something to you, correct? Yes – I might be someone’s brother, but that means shit. Of course Lois will remember me always, I’ll be so important to her. But she doesn’t count, why would she? She’s been around me long enough – and I around her – for both of us to piss each other off.

Although I don’t remember ever pissing her off. She pisses me off though.

But – where was I? Oh. I’d rather mean something, something real, to someone. Being a brother doesn’t count. And, and I know I say this with hypocrisy and a scoff, I’d rather be on someone’s Nice list than their Naughty list. Why wouldn’t I want someone to smile fondly at my memory, as blunt and unfriendly as it is.

Perhaps I’m just going soft, perhaps I’m… no, never mind. I don’t know what I mean.

It just… it’s sigh-worthy. I’m not someone’s anything. I’m anyone’s nothing.

Jesus Christ, I’m everyone’s nothing.

Move

SHOULD I
allow whatever I must give myself to fall in the slowest possible way
to the tiled floor beneath the infinite landscape of the universe
and should I
try to beat the falling objects to the floor only to watch them
shatter completely into nothing?

Because,
And I may have held them five seconds ago,
They were worth something then
but they are worth nothing now. So should I
let them go with unflinching and uncaring eyes
as I, too, lean backwards over the dark blue infinite?

Just like
The curtains above my head when I stand on the far wall
with the floor on my left shoulder,
I fall the wrong way every way completely.
I want to beat what I drop to the tiled floor, and yet I
only feel myself falling upwards.

But here
in this uncertainty that the people with the minds call the universe,
But what I will always continue to know as simply, Nothing,
I doubt it matters which direction things fall in. Because
all of us, whether we have our feet on this blue earth spinning faster than water every second,
or whether we fall the wrong way in this vast Nothing,
None of us move anyway.

II: Human Carriage

I: Human Carriage

 

Emptiness leaves, replaced by a vague feeling of comfort. For, see, I have inserted things into space. And that leaves me happy.
Six of them, well, five and a child in their mother’s arms – I am even worse at judging a baby’s sex – fill up the space and I climb into the carriage behind the last man to enter.
Here we are.
All full in here. I am happy with this.
So I lock the doors as I do every time.
Can’t have that kid leaping off to his life. That would be backwards.
Oh no!
Can’t have that.
So I lock them tight.
-If you’re comfortable? I say. I speak in short sentences. Like I do every time. Simple. Short. Disconnected. Easy.
-If you’re comfortable? repeat I, just to ask again. But their eyes are still the same. So I give a hollow smile with full cheeks. -Alright. Sit loose. I will leave you now. A few minutes. To tell the Driver to go.
So I leave, just like that. I tell the Driver to go.
Or, I find my way to the Driver. It’s not an easy feat sometimes. He tends to leave empty coke bottles lying around. He seems fond of the stuff.
Only in glass bottles though.
Never plastic ones.
I hear he collects the caps. The metal caps you could cut yourself on. Maybe
his scars on his knuckles are there for a reason?
Because obsession is painful. Right?

Still.
I steal my way through the forest of upwards snouts.
Bottles, three here, five over there, all huddled like penguins.
Or… sardines, I suppose.
Hah!
What.
-Evening, I say to our Driver.
-Awright? he says to me. Not drinking a coke. Surprisingly. Maybe he doesn’t need the sugar boost just yet.
-Alright? I say back. I didn’t mean to.
He has a smile, just a little few seconds of a smile to ease me. He’s been around me long enough to
know my foibles. Know what I can be like sometimes. Echoing things. Screaming things. Repeating things. Copying things.
-Awright? he says again, but I keep mute this time.
Don’t want to make a fool
of myself.
Do I?
-We off? he says.
I tell him, -Yes. Everyone’s on. Settled. Sat. Comfortable.
-Everyone’s fine.
-Yeh. ‘Kay. Go sit. I’m moving.
-Alright, I look around as he swings to face the forwards direction. I don’t know how he Drives the train.
I suppose he presses forward.
I stare on the floor, at all the empty bottles, I ask if I can take one.
-Go mad.
Does he mean it literally?
I do not ask, merely pluck one off the floor. By the neck.
I don’t want to touch what has the Driver’s spit on it.
-I’ll sit.
-Yeh.
-Okay.
I leave him. No matter how awkward the conversation sounds-
or ‘convo’ as he’d say-
I never really come away rolling my eyes at myself.

So I find my way to my own seat with the bottle.
I want to wipe the opening. Quite
badly.
I don’t want to know where it’s been.
Really.
It might be dusty. But.
There isn’t much to wipe the snout with here.
So I have to use my glove. Very disgusting, especially when I imagine it all.
Oh.
No.

I rest the bottle between my knees and look over my shoulder. I cannot see the people.
There is a wall between us.
But somehow, looking their way is a comfort. For some reason.
I look their way. Are they alright?
My people?
My six?
My five and a child? They’re alright?
They’re awright?
I look back to the bottle. Just resting there as the train begins to shift a little. Like a living thing. It shrugs this way… and that way… before picking up speed it never seems to possess.
To me, to the me who has ridden the train the amount of times as unbent metal bottle tops in the world, it shouldn’t be surprising – should it – the speed the train has. But it is, every time it is.
Just starts off so slow… so slow indeed.
But then.
Two seconds.
Sixty- seventy- eighty!
Fairly skipping along the sleepers.
At least, I think there are sleepers.
On this track?
I actually cannot remember.
But.
Not important.
We are skipping though. And I look at my bottle for a few minutes.
Look at its emptiness.
I should do something about that.

I: Human Carriage

Always several unreal things cross my mind when I encounter empty things.
Be them… muraled bottles… or cans…
Theatres… cars… terminals…
Train carriages? Train cars?
We tend to call this type of thing a carriage. Though it is, technically, a car. Not a carriage.
But everyone calls them carriages.
Just makes it… easier. Carriages carry. Except
they don’t when they’re empty.
Do they?

That is what I mean. Unreal things – like the unrealness of the whispers of people who have sat there and who will – cross my mind when I encounter empty things. I have great desires to fill the space.
But that’s another thing, I can fill this space. In this carriage, I can fill it.
Make the collateral whispers into screams as physicalities take form.
And I can serve them their lukewarm waters, point them in the direction of the on-board shoddy bathroom.
While they wait and stew in the Human Carriage.
Because! -you see, you see!
I am the Human Carriage Maestro.
They bow by my hand, holding the unprestigious door open for them.
I guide them with a flourish of gloved fingers to their direction of seat.
And I tell them to have a pleasant trip.

I get the most gruesome duty of all though, too, which is picking up after the people. And that’s less mundane than it sounds, especially once you consider the emptiness. Because the carriage can be full but the emptiness can be more vivid than ever at that point too.
The contrast, see. So difficult to see through. It’s like a fog.
But.
But! Come and view my Human Carriage. Look at the colours if you’d like, the red
handles on the doors. I re-painted them with my own hand the other week.
And the paint’s already flaking.
Dreadful shame.
Did I just waste
my
time?

Well. That answer looks to be a stout but firm yes from the audience. The crowd. The gameshow contestant. None of which exist anyway. But. Either way.
Leave the handles here, the red will flake off on my gloves if I should touch them anymore.
God.
I’ll touch them up when I stop being depressed about how I wasted my time.
But with better paint.
Certainly, definitely, better paint.
I sigh as I walk.

Rounding the edge of the platform – or rather, going through the rusted chainlink fence to the corner and leaping off with a little shriek of enjoyment on my part – I begin to notice the breathy huddle I have come to be familiar with.
They’re mostly the same this season. About five to eight potential passengers, always huddled together like sardines. Or is it penguins that huddle?
Both perhaps. One in the ocean. The other, terra firma.
Before I make my prescence known – they’re slightly raised above where I stand, they’re on the first, second, third and fourth steps up to the platform real, whilst I am beside it near all the nettles and mulberries and goarses – I have a quick look at them all.
Mother and child, that’s two of the six I have this eve.
Then we have two men, wearing similar shirts.
But they’re standing apart from each other. Either they are strangers – probably – or they are…
Enemies?
Possibly.
Both in sort of pinkish-red plaid. I’m not sure I like it.
Who are the others, a young man – not in plaid – with sandy hair. And a girl.
Who seems to have a suspicious moustache-like thing. Dark hair.
She looks very odd. I cannot take my eyes off her lip. Her upper lip.
Very strange.
But nevertheless! These people are my people for now. All mine.
And soon they’ll be my carriage’s people.
And I’ll be their Maestro.
I do love being the Maestro.
Despite the cleaning up after them.

I know already these people have been briefed for the journey. Not too long, at least, they won’t know it is. For me, the journey seems to lengthen each time.
Or sometimes it shortens… maybe sometimes I get used to it and sometimes I am tired.
But for them it lasts no longer than half an hour to forty-five minutes. Usually.
Well. It depends how quickly they all go. Or how quickly I get around them all.
After all.
I am their Maestro.

I make myself known to the stupendous six, adding myself into their midst to bring the total headcount to seven.
If the child can be counted as a head. It’s very small.
Six months? Less? More? I’ve never been good at estimating age with babies.
Or did I call it a child?
It matters not.
I sidle up to them either way, pulling at my wrists. Where my gloves come down.
The white palms so pure.
But slightly stained with palm-sweat of the months.
Very much in my size.

I draw their gazes with a slight –ahem and by throwing my arms wide.
Six pairs of eyes on me.
I am their Maestro.
-Good evening.
-I am your Maestro for the next few hours.
I offer them a bow, very sleek and elegant. As I return their transfixed gazes slowly, I see how they all possess the same watery-looking sleep in the corners of their eyes. All breathing slowly, all calm, all with hair slightly out of place.
I smile, -Welcome to the Human Carriage. We are set to board. So. Do follow me, say I, before turning with yet more intense flourishes. I hop-skip-jump up the stairs, landing on my toes, all too happy to lead yet another group into my carriages.
It’ll be nice to take the journey again, I always think that.
Even if it does become lonely after a little while.
After about half an hour to forty-five minutes.

 

II: Human Carriage

 

Badge-Men

I’ll raise that single sleeve again, soaked in the
taste and stink of my whiskey and gin,
And stagger out into the copses of
honeysuckle and rosebushes
To vomit.

Never stray too far from the track though, no
matter how far from sober I may feel I
am. Because, armed with bronze and brass
badge in hand, my favourite party-crasher
will find my misfortune in all its glory.

Tell him nothing, give him only head-
shakes and lies. Because,
If after tonight, I was sent back where I just
emerged from, I’d have more to fear than just that
bronze and brass he holds up.

You must listen to me. Because
with that small item sitting in his palm,
He is all-powerful. May it say his
name or his number, it does not matter. His
badge is plain death for us, straight and true.

Where should we run to, to drink next?
Hush-hush tavern or head-shake house of
sins? I’ll add an extra to your drink tonight, just
to see how you are. Just to make sure I can
push you to the badge-man and run.

I am not a loyal companion when raised
up behind the bar. Because, like any good
enemy would, I’d consider myself before I’d
ever think of you. But don’t worry.
We’re friends now.

Laid down as your eyes begin to turn
fuzzy, I ask the nearest playgirl to help me
lift you. I’ll play the role of your concerned
and anxious best friend. Too tied up in my
own worry to wonder if my arms will break.

Her strength is a minor addition and I push you
at the feet of the awaiting badge-man who,
As I said he would,
Lifts from his pocket his accursed bronze
and brass. So I push and run. Push and run.

In due time, I’ll receive a call from you when
I’m out of breath and out of money,
Curled up in some copse somewhere as
I struggle not to let my unconsciousness
become flat and miserable death.

The true me has appeared. I would not
blame you for being scared. I told you the
very first time we met. Rub your back
I never did, lift you free of the fence I
never did. So maybe it was there all along.

Bloody me and bloody trust, I hear
your voice from down the line already. I am
no longer struck by ethanol, that passed a
while ago. So I lie on my side with hardly
the strength to keep your voice in my ear.

Field after field they search for me. The
scary badge-men and accomplices. To think that
the people I sacrificed you to to save myself from
would be the ones I wish I could cry for
as I lie in my own vomit. Dying.

 

 

Thanks, Levi.

The Last Return

Take, within one hand, the bone of your being. Halve the marrow and cast aside the sinew, because that’s not needed. Take, within the other, the blood of your being. All the red, none of the white.

Let’s get there. First. Unzip the holding on your front, remove the head and the brain from your soul, undo the strings holding your ribs inside. Let it all fall, roll and spill out. We’ll make beautiful art out of this,  I swear it to you.

Your sternum, it’s smaller than you might imagine. So break it between four fingers, throw it around yourself, your skinless self as confetti. Throw it and let it clatter as you breathe out your last. Because it’s your lungs next.

What is oxygen to you but filtered mess to keep you living. Living is over-exaggerated, filled with First Times and Last Times, the First Words, the Last Words, the First Clothes, the Last Clothes. You were born into this world naked, and you’ll go out skinless.

With your ribs gone, your heart and lungs are supported only by the invisibly weak flesh around. Below, stomach. You don’t need this. You need your bones and your blood. All else is trivial.

See the one thing you wanted just behind you. The bone. Remove your right arm, reach into it and remove the bones. All twenty-seven of the hand and wrist. Small fragments will do. The others you can forget. Here we go.

You do the same with your other arm. Then your ankles and feet. Everything’s coming together.

Sweep your blood together. Sweep it together and–

 

Grip.

 

Your breathless self, as gorgeous as all this might be, needs to dance now. With one translucent hand holding cracked bones, the other slick and flowing with your blood. Leave your empty and crumpled suit of a body and let your tall and sweeping form pirouette, sighing as you revolve in place. Bring your arms up, then down slowly. Form the essence of you around yourself.

 

Let go.

 

I am breathless. I am heavenly. I am bliss. Offering, ritual or example, all maybe. But yes. I accept your bone. I accept your blood. It’s all I need. Organs melt and die, skin creases, hair greys. I need none. I am fine with bone and blood.

Turn yourself around, your invisible soul-self. Greet me with a warm smile. Like you’ve seen me before. And tell me, with your not-tongue:

“Welcome back.”

Synaesthesia

When the deep red world forgets who you are,
And the singular slip petals are enough to send you down,
And the cast iron smiles are enough to send you down,
To the very base – the last of which I never even laid my orbs upon –
in the wettest and cosiest hell,
Perhaps you’ve lost sight of what it was you wanted,
After all,
You fell so easily.

But saviour yet. Because
given the single cell gasps I’ve seen throughout
my colour life,
I’ve never heard one like yours.

You see. When I speak and see the words invisible before me,
They are coloured. And somehow everything loses itself when
I notice. How may I describe it to you before I let you safe?
Or climb on my back. We’ll talk as we fly.

Climb on my back. We’ll talk as we fly.

Gentress of the most fine and glorious nature,
Been ripping in my psyche longer than I ever felt it,
Which was from birth,
And the Gentress wont stay but for now,
For almost twenty years,
My Gentress has cast this curse upon me.

Forever in colour but never blind to it. Do you see?
And when you start to notice,
And when you want everything lined up,
You fall down again.

Hang on tighter. Amazing how you fell into a place so blue
Yet a word so red. Blue and grey. But yet,
Red. You know. Red and red and red.
Fall into a place that I understand next time.

Next time, fall not into the sea.

I Told Him

I told him. Didn’t I tell him. You know. Of how it would be. Not how it was. I swear I told him. I might’ve told him. I’m sure I told him. Though if I didn’t tell him I’ll… no, I told him, I told him.

 

Sitting next to me, he clutched at his knees while muttering. Thoughts like a merry-go-round, but less a merry- than a confusion-. Muddle. Muddle-go-round. I mentioned it to him, though he didn’t actually respond. Just kept on sitting on my pillow. As he did. All the time. I said this too. I told him how it annoyed me now, but he was too occupied to move. So I moved. Rooms.

Because of the way it’s laid out, his room wasn’t more than a few steps down the way from mine. Same look, of course. The white grime on the walls. I just wanted some sleep and I couldn’t very well sleep with thighs on my pillow. I lay on his, looking at the white grime. The walls weren’t white by origin. Cream paint thinly over cinder blocks. Cinder blocks that seemed to trap cold air between them, so lying with your back to them was the only way to preserve any body heat. You had to curl into a ball with your hands between your legs some nights, just to keep circulation. It was harder to do on his bed. I’d worked myself a little rut-hole in mine, the mattress suited my shape now.

 

If only he’d get off my pillow.

 

I stood again and moved back to my room. I was going to sleep on my bed tonight. It’d been two days. And they didn’t care if people swapped rooms. They only cared that there was one person per room. They’d do a little walk around, not really caring to notice if the room number matched the person in it’s number. As long as it was one per room, and all rooms were occupied.

So I stood in front of him.

 

It wasn’t me, it was him, I told him. But he didn’t listen. Not my fault. Not my fault.

 

Crazy words. Still going round and round. Yoyo head now. Because with each syllable his head was going down, then up, then down, then up again. I told him to move. I liked him. But not enough.

 

Can you move?

 

What, why. I’m not done. That’s what I said. I’m done. I’m completely done. I told him, I swear. But he didn’t listen. I just… did it. I said I would. I told him I was done.

 

Can you. Move? Now. I want to sleep. I want to sleep now.

 

Oh, God.

 

He wasn’t about to move. For anyone. So I walked out of my room again. Not defeated, just thinking. I was about three storeys up. One below me, another below that, then the ground a long way down from that. If you walk out any of these rooms you see the big space they can look down and watch. Communal area, for walking around, policed from above and the sides. It was a bit calming to watch how far I was above everything else. If I looked up I could see the floor above mine, then the ceiling. Complete with cream-painted metal beams. To support the ceiling. All metal. One barred skylight. Nothing in particular. To stop anyone breaking it, I suppose.

I tapped my fingernails on the bars I was leaning against. I wanted to sleep. Every muscle was telling me to sleep now. I could try to sleep in his room but it was too cold. And the bed didn’t fit me. At all. And I could try to wait until he left but I was already annoyed. I wanted a few minutes on my own before they’d come and lock the doors.

 

I walked back in.

 

Can you get out please. I want to sleep.

 

Can you get out, I’m not done.

 

Yeah well. I’m done.

 

So I grabbed his shoulders. Stepped back and pulled him up. Or tried that but his knees were still bent and he fell on to his side on the floor as I let him go. But he offered no resistance. Probably a little surprised his friend was forcing him out the room.

 

I told you, I wanted to sleep.

 

No but I.

 

I wasn’t really listening. I just took his arm again, but this time he got to his feet. Muscle was there now, he was something. That was okay. I didn’t mind. I was still angrier. I walked backwards with him near me, hands pushing weakly at me. Not wanting a fight to start. But still.

I got him out my room, and went to push him back into his, a few steps away. He kept pushing at me. Palms on my chest. It wasn’t really okay, I didn’t really like it. I shook my head at him, told him again to leave me alone in my room. Not to come in again.

 

But it’s my room.

 

No, that’s your room. Behind you.

 

That’s not my room. That was my room.

 

So I pushed him again. To make him let go of me, which he did. And I moved and he followed me, keeping his hands up to push me. But I pushed him again from a different angle. And he didn’t try to push me anymore.

 

I went back to my room. To prove myself, I sat on my pillow, where he’d been sitting. I could already hear something happening from beyond my cinderblock walls but I didn’t mind now. I had my pillow and my bed back. All that off-white. My pillow. Sort of lilac but not quite. Lilac that was ill and pale.

I felt my own head spin for a minute. Put it down to sleeplessness. He’d been in my room for fifteen minutes before I’d got him out now. Very irritating.

 

I folded my knees up to my chest to keep out the cold as I rested my thighs on my pillow. Picked at a loose thread on my trouser knee. It came off. Left a slight hole.

 

Oi.

 

I looked up. Someone standing there in my way, in the way of my thinking. I kept my hands on my knees calmly.

 

I saw what you just did. C’mon. Up. Off the bed. It’s not yours. Anymore. Not now you did that.

 

I blinked a little. Dressed like me, was he, the man in front of me. I opened my mouth.

 

I told him. Didn’t I tell him. You know. Of how it would be. Not how it was. I swear I told him. I might’ve told him. I’m sure I told him. Though if I didn’t tell him I’ll… no, I told him, I told him.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

I am a worthwhile human being.

No you’re not. You ignore your own problems and other people’s. What you think you do to help people is no more than a meaningless and empty statement. There is always something else on your mind than what you should be doing, or what you are doing. You cannot set yourself on anything. Any ideal is never good enough. More is always yearned for. You berate people and you don’t realise it. You’re not worthwhile.

• People want to help me if I’m in trouble.

No they don’t. The people you think care about you don’t care nearly as much as you think they do. Your problems are yours and yours alone. Sure, you can talk about it all you want. But, in the end, no one will come to your aid if you tell anyone you’re going to end yourself. They might offer a kind word or a plea, but that’s what people do. They want to feel good about themselves, they don’t want to help. People stroke their egos trying to help people, giving them false hope and advice where it is not wanted and won’t help. And anyone who’s genuine will have given up long ago by now, because they realise the same things. No one will really help you.

• I have friends who love me.

No you don’t. Friends vanish at a moment’s notice. A best friend can turn their back on you for someone else. And if you turn your back, you’ll get stabbed in it instantly. You can feel more for someone than they feel for you, and that’s always the case. You could run a mile for someone and they’d move an inch for you. But it goes both ways – someone would run a mile for you and you’d barely move for them. You have no friends.

• Tomorrow will be a better day.

No it won’t be. Tomorrow will be worse. The pain you’ve felt today will be doubled by tomorrow. You can fool yourself into thinking you’re having a nice time – you can go out to a restaurant, you can play an online game, you can write, draw, compose or produce, but it’s all in vain. Tomorrow is just as bad as today, if not worse. What you tell yourself is only a layer, a thin layer that you don’t want to think past. You don’t want to ruin your own day. But as painful as today is, tomorrow will bring something worse. It won’t be a better day.

• I’ve learned from my mistake.

No you haven’t. You will continue to make that mistake over and over again, subjecting yourself to the definition of insanity, when in reality you should have learned to avoid this mistake before you made it. You don’t think enough, you assume too much and you trust too much. Mistakes are constant, as long as life exists on this earth. And you never learn from them. You just keep doing what hurt you before. You never learn.

• I am attractive.

No you’re not. In the fleeting moments you might have where your ego expands, and you catch yourself in the mirror, you apparently fail to notice your chewed lip, your uneven eyebrows, your tired eyes, your fat neck, your terrible hair, your awful posture, your depreciating eyelashes and your exposed wounds. You believe your clothes fit and work, though, from behind, you look a complete wreck. Your shoes are scuffed and broken, and your makeup is lopsided. You think you will turn heads with your beauty, maybe meet a stranger who will change your life. But you won’t. It’s a stupid wish. You are not attractive.

• People listen to me.

No they don’t. You are invisible and ignored. You can write a speech full of promises in flowery language but no one will listen. You can take pictures you’ve spent hours preparing for. But no one will look at them. You are unappreciated, and you deserve no appreciation. No one listens to you.

• I am talented.

No you’re not. Any talent or skill you have is vastly inflated by your own deluded mind. You can design websites over months only to have it ignored. No one cares about your talent. No one wants to waste their life praising you for doing something anyone could do. Talent does not exist. Whether art-, music-, writing-, business-, politics-, food- or science-related, it doesn’t matter. People have seen everything before and they expect nothing from you. You are not talented.

• The things I do make a difference.

No, they do not. You can donate a vast amount of money to a charity but that won’t matter. Any needy man, child or animal will get less than 0.01% of what you donated put forward to help them. Your existence does not improve anyone’s life, nor does it matter. You will die and be forgotten, and no one will mourn you. The world will keep spinning without your input. You make no difference.

I am a good person.

No you’re not. You are selfish, dreadfully so. You are greed-oriented. You are an addict. Your help means nothing. Your help is meek at best. You smile at everyone though detest them inside. Nobody knows what you look like when you truly care. Any tears you cry for someone else are tears of selfishness, you want to prove to yourself you care about them, so you cry with them. This makes you feel good for feeling emotion. You are selfish and greed-driven, intent on making yourself content. You are not a good person.

How do you feel, you fucking liar?

Ever so Slightly Human – Part II of II

As a continuation, I’m astounded I wasn’t birthed sooner. I’ll enter into this world as blind as a shrew, unsure; whose continuation am I? I can stumble around in the darkness that is my world for as long as I have to, but what drives me? Heroism, thrust or something different? Desire, perhaps, or longing. Different but similar. I’m a continuation, I’m an echo of something written long ago.

Who is it though? Assume, momentarily, every story stands upright. Two legs, two arms, the boring human figurine. No wings, no snouts, no tusks.

The feet slink up from ankles, forming the curved swell of the calves, folding into knees at the front and still rising, thickening, spiralling around muscles to the hips, cascading down to form genitals and passing up again, a mid-line of the torso, and still the edges fold outwards, forwards and backwards, creating curves of breasts and soft spikes of collar-bones, switching perpendicular, falling down towards rippled elbows, over forearms and ending in the fingers. And no head or neck to be seen.

Is this what we all are?

Simple continuations, nothing ever thinking for itself. We live – our hearts beat softly beneath ribcages composed of backspacing and deletions. But it’s time for thinking that we’ve been here before.

We, the stories, are continuous continuations. Nothing new, I realise. The first episode of a saga stands a few metres away from me, headless, neckless. Not even that tall. The fantasy trope, I could imagine, redone and rehashed, made new, wringed out, tried again, but still a continuation, possibly, of another world. And unthinking and headless.

Episode two of the same saga stands to its left. Much smaller, missing the right arm. Missing both legs – but this is not why it’s short. Its body is much shorter than that of the first saga’s. And the third is nothing more than a torso, upright but unliving. I think I am starting to comprehend.

 

I search for the biggest body I can find. I want to discover what it is. I see it not too far off – black skin, a weak torso but strong legs, male, smooth and hairless. I stay below it, staring up, thinking nothing, mind quietly working. I stare at the place the body’s head should be.

And I see, I almost see a chin. It seems as though the neck extends – and it’s unusual there is a neck at all – into a chin. Nothing above, no face, no ear, no head, no brain. Just a neck, a chin and the rest of the heavy body, weight bearing down on itself. The feet are large, and I fully expect the white ground to crack and splinter beneath its form, but it remains stable. Supportive.

I wonder.

Is this figure the form of a story… or a continuation… that exceeded all limits? The types of stories some wonder why they ever got published or shelved. The types of stories some want to read but cannot dive into. The types of stories you feel envious that your friend understands.

I wonder.

Could this continuation be a book without a protagonist? Or written entirely without a full-stop? Or a book with no solid character at all? Or a story without an arc. Or a book devoid of all surrounding description. Or a story that uses the blankness of pages to enhance it. Or a book describing objects written by a blind man. Or a book filled with gibberish that becomes beautiful literature once you figure out how to read it. Or an event with no resolution.

Looking up at it, it is easy to think. But not so easy to consider a solution, an answer, to this. Who wrote this? Why is the figure of this book a huge, hairless black man? Why does this one have a neck and chin, an occurrence so rare I’ve not seen it before?

But alas the questions will remain floating in this emptiness, not one of them ever getting an answer. But I can understand this.

 

So I, a meagre and small continuation with no context to its birth, turn away. But still my blank mind rages with thoughts and I soon find myself still.

All around me, these stories, these continuations, these sagas and series and solos, stand as still as pillars. A storm could whisk the air around them, tsunamis could crash against their differing bodies, sledgehammers could buffet them, but they would not move. Any dents, or cracks, or chips would be minimal. But I, a moving version, would certainly get washed away. I am vulnerable, clearly.

And yet, another thought from my intangible soup of mind. I can see. I, unlike the tall and unthinking pillars, can not only move, but see. I can think. I can reason. I am small but different, very different. Nothing here can see me, though I am not hidden. These bodies are not dead, they live within their shaded shells, but they are senseless, motionless, invulnerable.

I am something very different.

 

I move on for some time, weaving, floating between each continuation. How am I different? What makes me a continuation worth eyes? What makes me worth movement? Numb feet that drag my body between lines and rows and columns and attentions. Are there more like me?

I pass bodies in the shape of women, some overweight, some slim, some missing limbs and some with extra. The same with the men, some have grotesque additions, body parts stuck on loosely, like a growth. And I remain silent through it all, letting my eyes take it in, letting my mind stay as silent and as cold as it needs to be. It works fast like this.

Some bodies are small, but not small like the 2nd and 3rd sagas I saw before. These are the head- and neckless bodies of children. Their tubby stomachs remain forever thrusted forward, elbows at their sides, and I wonder why some are smaller, some are bigger and some are missing limbs.

They are the same as the adult bodies in that way. The continuations of stories they are unlinked to, I suppose. Headless, thoughtless, but containing the heart and soul of something worthwhile. But yet, they see nothing, they think nothing, they are nothing.

I wonder about them.