A Letter

Just a little timed piece. Mainly doing practice writing in the down time to a larger project I am working on. I’ll mostly be putting up this kind of thing for a while in lieu of silence.

 

I don’t know how long I’ve been awake at this point, nor how many times I’ve read the letter I am holding. There must be a limit; a moment when I start to make meaning from it, when I know what the hell I am supposed to do next. That direction is just not arriving. Every reading just leaves me with another question, and by now I just don’t know if they will ever be answered, and that’s a thought that makes me nauseous. I pour myself another drink. I rarely drink my scotch neat, but now seems like the time to start.

It’s the bottle your parents got me last year for my birthday. The thirty-year aged stuff. You would have loved it. I was saving it for a joyful occasion, but I don’t see one of those rolling around any time soon, and besides, it seemed like the most bittersweet choice given the circumstances. I take a sip, but swallow more than half the glass at once. I lay the glass back down on the table. Next to your ring. It’s been right there since the moment I got home. I read the letter but I couldn’t move the ring. I couldn’t bring myself to touch it.

Where did it all go wrong? I get extracts of explanation from sections of your letter but I won’t accept it. It’s not right, and it’s not fair. Everyone fights. We could have stood up to it. Why did you run away from this? There’s a line I keep reading over, the line I obsess and wrestle with;

I am sorry, but there was nothing I could do

                You could have done anything – anything but this. You can’t throw in the towel like this. You promised me that we would persevere through anything that came along. Do you remember the night we made that promise? Sure, we were drunk, but we knew the gravity of what we shared. You can’t just change your mind. You can’t just take that back.

There was nothing I could do; some love just fails.

Every time I read that. Every time you tell me that the most stable thing I’d ever had in my life was something that failed – I’m at a different stage entirely. At first I wanted to shout. I wanted to scream my lungs raw, tear piece from piece from the house we loved. Shatter every piece of the dining set my mother gave us on our wedding day. Shatter every reminder that I was never prepared for this. I didn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. I wanted to cry – I wanted to break down into an infantile wreck and sob for days, I wanted to feel every single emotion all at once, but I just couldn’t do that either. You’d joke about that kind of thing – saying you’d never once seen me shed a tear. Well that guise was shattered when we saw your sisters new-born. You knew that was what I wanted – a family – but you tore that apart before it had the chance to materialise. You didn’t expect me to break down, you didn’t think I would shed a tear. I am just living up to your expectations, at least in this.

I finish the rest of the scotch in the glass, and pour myself another. Was it my drinking? Christ, you were a mean drunk, but that didn’t bother me. I got used to it, it was just – it was one of the things that made you, you. I knew you never meant the things you said –

I mean, I guess I thought I did. Were you being honest all those times. All those nights you would get too drunk too quickly, and the things you said – well, you apologised in the morning. You always did. You always told me you loved me, told me you didn’t mean a single word of it. Told me you still have some unresolved feelings from the past. Told me things still confuse you. You would want to know what you said to me, but I never wanted to tell you. You could always force it out of me though. It brought you to tears when I told you the words you said to me. I used to think it was out of regret, that you didn’t mean it. Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe they were just truths I wasn’t supposed to hear.

There was nothing I could do –

I hate myself for wanting to believe you. For getting a sense that this is my fault. That you just needed a way out. You had a way out. You could have been honest. Maybe it’s easier to just pack up and leave, but you’re running away. I don’t expect you to stay and fight if you’re unhappy, but at least be fucking honest about it. I feel myself getting angrier, and I try and close my eyes. Breath through it. Slowly. No –

Fuck that. You ripped my fucking world to shreds without so much as a goodbye. You left me a letter and a goddamn ring, like you didn’t think that would kill me to see. You always were one for dramatics, but this isn’t a goddamn play. This is our lives – my life – and what you’ve done is cruel. I gave so much to make this work. Sure, things lapse. Sometimes I couldn’t be there when you needed me. Sometimes I have other priorities. That’s life. I couldn’t have made more time for you

But –

If you walked through the door this very second I know I would forgive you in an instant. I’m trying to be irrational, but I’m struggling. I’m watching the door, waiting for the miracle that isn’t going to come. I top up the scotch. I dread the idea of sleep right now. Going into the bedroom. Seeing the extent of the damages. Seeing what is left, if there is anything to salvage. I don’t care about what was taken – I’m haunted by what is left. I tease at the ring off my finger. It’s become tighter since you put it on. I’m holding it between my thumb and forefinger and there’s a jarring moment. A moment of reality, of gravity, and that what is severed cannot be undone. This is no longer just a bad night. This is my life now. I place the ring on the table. Next to yours.

I brace myself for rock bottom. If I’m not crying now, it’ll never happen.

And it never does.

Takotsubo

Takotsubo – you won’t find this words definition in any English dictionary. Find yourself a medical dictionary however and you’ll be lead to Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy – a very rare, and often misdiagnosed, heart condition. The word itself is Japanese – it was named after a type of octopus trap which resembles a clay pot. It was named as such by Dr Hikaru Sato in 1991, as the heart ventricle tended to misshape and resemble a takotsubo octopus pot.

I first encountered the term working in an IRCU unit of a hospital, that’s the interventional radiology and cardiology unit, pronounced – ‘urkoo’. I was a clerical imaging officer, essentially a glorified administrator. I had come across most terms and diagnosis’ before, however when a diagnosis report came back for a patient with ‘TAKOTSUBO CARDIO?’ written by a consultant, I went out of my way to work it what it meant. I had never looked through a medical dictionary before and I haven’t since. I seemed to think that it would speak in layman’s terms, and in hindsight it was probably not surprising that very few of the definitions made sense to me. It is a consultant’s reference book after all. Undeterred I took to the internet – which likely should have been my first option at the time – and I found a trove of definitions and descriptions of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy for the common man. Something struck me quite profoundly. Most medical syndromes tend to have a common name, and Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy had two;

The first: stunted heart syndrome, and the second: broken heart syndrome. I remember at the time finding this profoundly poetic. I also distinctly remember trying to force myself not to romanticise something that was slowly killing a patient, but that didn’t happen. With broken heart syndrome, the weakening of the ventricle, which in turn gives it the octopus pot shape, can often be triggered by emotional stress – a lover’s death, a family member perishing, or maybe a life of frequent anxiety.

This was something I found unsettling, but oddly moving. The times I had heard that old cliché ‘they died of a broken heart’, I had passed it off and rolled my eyes. Yet there I was, reading medical proof that you can in fact die from a broken heart.

I’ve often found that when a discovery like this is made, it’s often our knee jerk reaction to put this in relation to ourselves. It is, at its core, a selfish reaction, but what are we if not selfish? I had stopped thinking about the patient with broken heart syndrome by this point and I was playing over my fragmented family tree in my head. My family had two things in abundance; heart conditions, and emotional instability. At the time this made me laugh. It still makes me laugh today. It’s like dousing a time bomb in kerosene and configuring the timer to go off at an unknown time. As I am one to do, I tried to think about this rationally and see if there is any actual correlation in this. There was my great aunt who drowned herself in her bathtub – her husband suffered with various heart problems after that. In my lifetime, there was my uncle who died from heart disease, and he was a widower for several years. Right on my doorstep, my father had a heart attack a few years after my mother’s death. Three is the magic number, so I concluded that my family had some sort of curse. The tragic Walker / Davies paradigm.

This all should have been pretty eye opening, and given my hereditary disposition to heart problems and emotional conditions, it should have been the turning point for several habits. You often hear about people realising the severity of something, something like this, and they stop smoking, or drinking, or taking drugs, but I didn’t do any of that, not even after I found out my own heart beat was irregular. I just accepted it, and gave a little sigh to mean ‘well, I’m fucked’. One of the factors which acted as the catalyst to this thinking was my new-found intrigue with Albert Camus and this notion of absurdism. With a Sisyphean state of mind, I decided that rather than trying to derive some sort of meaning, or maybe look to have faith that it could turn out another way (philosophical suicide as Camus called it – that phrase always made me smile), I just accepted it, and carried on as usual.

The choice of what I was surrounding myself with at the time made my frame of mind seem quite logical. I never thought you could just experience a text and then be done with it. Every piece sets something in motion. Camus made me stop questioning life events, DeLillo made me concerned about the society we deem as normal, and Palahniuk made me cynical with a bleak sense of humour – and I read a lot of Palahniuk. It speaks volumes when I look at my initial reaction to that little event at work. It went from finding out a patient has a very rare life threatening disease, to me finding humour in my family’s discouraging correlation of passing. It’s a cover in truth, but I’m not even trying to lie to myself about that one. In truth; I find it poetic, and I find that to be more worrying than finding it humorous. I just couldn’t escape that name; Broken heart disease. It’s as if your whole body just seizes up, ceases to want to be when it knows it’s lost something important. It’s as if no matter how resilient you become, your heart can resort to this infantile tantrum phase when it can’t be with the one it loved.

As if it knew its purpose, and having done all it can do, and committed all the time it can to someone, it knows when to put its cards on the table and walk away. Every thought triggers two more, and the chain of events leaves me in stunned silence.  What brings me back is knowing that with every typical cynicism I have, how readily I can overlook conventional examples of what is ‘symbolic’, all it takes is the mention of one rare heart condition to leave me in a state of questioning hush.

Final blues for the bloodied youth

I started out watching from afar, the humiliation, the panic, the generational famine,
I wish I could con myself to identify as a flâneur, but the word sickens me,             leaves me
Stricken with the sense of observation without acting, as I’m watching others pounding the hard rock
With bloodied knuckles, repeating, repeating, leaving stain after stain for the sake of the action,
And I join in, and I let it strip at the flesh, leaving bruised bloodied knuckles to remind me of it,
And the act is there – but we aren’t doing shit, we’re persevering, surviving, waiting for
The night to roll around, shotgun, south bound, in the Argo of our own sort, wound up to hide
The scrapes and the dents and the cuts and the ruptures, and I miss my cue and we’re backseat, and hungry
And we’re looking for paradise lost, just waiting to get fucked by clean-cut strangers and pilgrims,
In the Sunday morning parade and I’m digging up old manuscripts, for the sole purpose of trying to fuck them back

And the driver – he’s a cunt and I wish I’d never met him, but he’s stuck with me out of convenience so I shouldn’t complain,
And the girl in the back seat, I never remembered her name, and it would become an issue when she’s yelling and screaming
About how I could forget – you never told me? – fuck yourself – I’m trying to be rational and get us out of this
But I am yelling at her right back – out of grandeur and of showmanship – out of making a scene – I shout  ‘it’s part of my charm’ –
She laughs – and I cover myself again in consistency and wry smiles for all I was in this for was a sense of helpless selfishness
I would happily be the villain, the brunt of it all, just for a purpose in a situation that matters to some

There’s the smell of sweat and ecstasy, there’s a vomit green transparency, a glaze
That coats the walls and makes us wonder why we ever came here at all?
Well that’s for lack of anything better to do – we’re the rubber slipper of this city
There’s a haze in one of their eyes, like mirrors splintered and left to die,
The voice asks me what I want and I reply ‘Climax –
and surprise me’
There are no scholars left in this cesspit, they litter the halls in rigor mortis
The soul can only afford so much abuse, and we aren’t honest enough to
Wear hearts on our sleeves, our own, and others, ill-perceived, not out of spite but out of greed
And when I couldn’t bring myself to grieve for a mangled friend and his Aprilia
I tried to write a poem, but it was shit, and I fucked him over one last time, I could have
Left it on any unmarked grave, it could have well have been any of the others suffocated by tides
of righteous perseverance

And it came as a shock to us, the righteous, bruised and battered ones, the lovers and the fighters and the takers and the users,
And the strangers chatting shit, and the dealers peppering the mix and the cradlers, the painters, the poets, the bastards,
And the heathens and the wrathful ones, the seething mass of anxiousness, the dreamers, the scapegoats, the quarrellers, the murderers
And the players and the Argonauts, the distressers and their own distraught, the assholes, the junkies, the white-trash, and their heroes,
And the fragrant scent of disregard, the lonely fuckers playing parts, the unstable, the halo, the martyr and the saviour,
And we all are one and share ourselves, and we hated every sense of us, fragmented perspective, cut loose – undiscovered
What is there to take when it’s all been ravaged in the drought of our self-sufficient lack of morals, if there’s a god then let him show
The difference between our kind and others, we’re sick and tired and smothered bloody
and aching, and waiting for something to finally arrive
To take us away – Leave this all behind.

Husk

I’ve got one hour until my parents are back from the theatre.

I’m at my typically cluttered desk. Textbooks and notes bathed in the sickly glow from a budget mass produced lamp, designed especially to fit the Swedish specifications of a stylish and productive workspace.

There are only two things on my desk that are important right now. On the table is a photograph of me and my best friend, Hugh. It was taken a couple of years back. A school excursion, the typical outdoors experience that’s supposed to build character. It was a weekend of early mornings and shitty experiences, but we made the most of it. Hell, we made it fun.

To my left is a small plastic bag, containing a coarse white powder. Give it to a pharmacist or a chemist and they’ll identify it as ‘Desomorphine’. Show it to a kid my age, or a junkie down on their luck and they’ll tell you you’ve got a cheap shipment of Husk. It’s a drug that appealed to the latter for a few years. It was an alternative to heroin, but a tenth of the cost. There was a reason for this. You had your typical long term side effects; heart palpitations, stunted brain cell development, rabid gum disease, but that’s to be expected.

Husk had a much more obvious and worrying long term effect. Necrosis of the skin.

You can probably begin to imagine it, but I can tell you, it’s worse than that. It’s like a section of your body doesn’t get the memo that your heart is still beating and it just – gives up. It rots. The skin falls away and reveals the blighted muscle tissue and discoloured bone that the drug has got to and ruined. Deploy. Discover. Destroy. The drug follows every teaching of our founding fathers. So, you’re left with these stinking, rotting masses of flesh hanging off your body.

It’s unpleasant;

                                but I have no intention of getting to that point.

Another way the drug differs from typical opiates is the overdose. Take too much heroin for your little heart to manage and it’ll just give up on you. Husk won’t kill you however. It’ll just…change you. Reduce you to a blabbering fool for the rest of your life. Motor skills, language skills, sense of reasoning – out the window. Hell, you’ll be lucky if you can even pronounce your own name at the end of it. You’ll be reduced to the equivalent of an adult new born. A shell of your former self. Hence the name – Husk.

All this didn’t deter the most desperate people looking for a fix. It got big in the darker corners of Europe, and then made its way over to America. The authorities and the DEA didn’t pay it much attention until it started making its way into high schools. As soon as it threatened the suburban middle class, they mustered up a crusade to stop the blight. Hell, I’m saying this as someone from that world. My father’s a doctor, my mother a lawyer. They own their own house. I am the very embodiment of my own cynicisms.

So why do I have the drug? Well, I’m not looking for a fix, and I’ve never had an interest in getting high. I tease the picture of me and Hugh in my fingers.

He overdosed on Husk six weeks ago.

 When I found out, well there’s little that can prepare you for that. I knew him better than anyone, and I knew it wasn’t an accident. He was a smart guy, hell, one of the smartest people I’d ever met. He had been accepted into his first three colleges of choice. He was going to be a doctor, and a damn good one at that.

He wasn’t the first to overdose at my school, and he wasn’t the last. These weren’t copycat actions, and these weren’t the actions of followers.

Daisy Thompson – she was published in several student literary collectives – she overdosed eight weeks ago,

Paul Erikkson – he could have got a sporting scholarship to any college of his choosing – he overdosed five weeks ago, 

Holly Davies – I sat behind her in my further mathematics class and she overdosed just six days ago.

The brightest minds, the most charismatic and prosperous individuals were dropping like flies. This wasn’t suicide, but it was their escape. I didn’t want to believe it, but you can’t just ignore a correlation like that. They all had a lot ahead of them, but sometimes you got to think, is that what they really wanted? We’re barely learning to think for ourselves, and we’re already sizing up the mountain we are going to have to climb for the rest of our life.

I understand why they did it. I wouldn’t have bought the drug if I didn’t.

Being constantly told what you’re going to amount to, being reminded about your bright future, it’s merely a constant reminder that you have expectations to fulfil. It’s hard to be happy when you’re constantly sizing up your next step, as well as the distance of the fall if you miss it.

Human nature is simple; we just want to be happy.

I mean real happiness. Not the fleeting kind we get day to day – going shopping, watching your team win, watching a film you like – this isn’t it. These little anomalies of content will always be tarnished by the next little dilemma to come along.

I mean pure, unadulterated, unconditional happiness.

The kind I saw last week, in Hugh’s face.

He was sat in the canteen, spooning yoghurt out a bowl with one hand and throwing it onto the floor, his other hand playing with his genitals. People don’t die when they take husk – this was the equivalent of an adult new born.

Never in my ten years of knowing him had I ever seen him laugh so hard, or seen him as care free as he was that lunchtime, painting his strawberry flavoured masterpiece with his dick in his hand.

He doesn’t even recognise me anymore, but that doesn’t change a thing for him.

Maybe the first was an accident. Allen Jones – he always had troubles with what he was going to do after high school. He didn’t have the grades to go where he wanted, and I guess he just wanted a release. When he came back to school – well it was strange to see. Always smiling, always content, always at peace. He used to have panic attacks like clockwork. Now he just sits around sticking the pages of books together with glue. Every single kid in that school, from the honour students to the kids who’d huff solvents in the toilets after school, every single one is the middle child of history. There’s no more American dream to strive for, and the concept of correcting the instabilities left by it is too far off.

We are just filler. We are the commercials for European sports-cars and male impotency medication that crawls through the early morning television schedule.

When you think of it like that, I’m not surprised all the kids did it, and I’m not surprised Hugh did it. He was setting out to spend half of his life in Med school, and then the other half to follow would be there to pay it off. You don’t get a break in this world. The only time when you aren’t plagued by responsibility is as an infant, or when you finally cash in your twilight years, slowly dying but out of your mind on medication.

I’m not trying to say what these kids did, what I intend to do, is right. I don’t need to justify my actions.

It’s just easier –

                                And things seldom come easily.

 I’m pinching the bag in between my forearm and thumb, and looking at the picture of Hugh. He’s never coming back, so I may as well join him.

The substance should be dissolved in water. I’d seen it a million times in films. I never thought I’d be at this point, but hell, life’s full of surprises like this.

I’m holding a lighter under a spoon with water and the husk. Too much for a first-time user. Enough to overdose on. What I didn’t understand from when I saw this in films is that when you’re doing it for real, it’s a much slower process. I flick on the television I have next to my desk. The news flashes on the screen and they’re showing a report on Husk. It’s strange to watch it whilst I’m dissolving a fix in one of my parent’s silver spoons. These anti-husk reports are on every couple of days.

But, this isn’t that.

It’s live footage, from an airport. I let go of the gas compression on the lighter and move closer.

The whole airport is in lockdown. Apparently, there’s a kid – he’s locked himself in one of the bathrooms, and he’s threatening to overdose.

His uncle is there outside the bathroom, distraught, begging the kid to come out. There are passengers, pilots, baggage staff, air hosts and hostess’, all watching. All waiting. Every single close-up shot of the crowd reveals a face so heavy with empathy. The reporter is talking to a woman slumped on a chair, crying. I assume it’s the kid’s mother, but it isn’t. The woman chokes out that her daughter overdosed a couple of months ago, and then she creases in on herself, crying frantically.

There isn’t a single shot of the crowd where there isn’t someone as distraught as this.

There isn’t a single shot which doesn’t have someone who’s whole life was torn apart by this drug.

The reporter is rushing over to the airport bathroom. The kid came out. He didn’t do it. He’s crying. He’s shaking. His uncle rushes over and hugs him.

And everyone’s clapping for this kid. They’re smiling through tears.

How must this feel for those whose kids went through it?

I can’t even begin to imagine, and the logical step would be to think about my parents. For them to come home and I’ve –

I can’t even think about it.

I throw the spoon in the bin, the lighter, the bag, the syringe. Everything.

I pick up the picture of Hugh again. I look at his goofy smile.

After the overdose, he can’t use a mobile phone. I doubt he’ll ever wrap his head around it again.

I reach over to my phone and address a text to him. I tell him he’s an idiot, and then I tell him I miss him.

What I just wanted to say at 4AM

I always said
that wine after 4am is a bad idea.
I instinctively mean
red.
Who drinks anything else anymore?
We’re discussing all those supernatural times
we spent, mixing cheap bourbon
with ketamine, or whatever amphetamines
we could get our hands on.
I’ve been sober for over a year now,
but this isn’t the time to mention that.
You always saw me more attractively
when my willpower was stunted.
We’re pivoting in circles,
round perspectives which we have committed
years of our time to.

I think it is time for you to move on.

I gain as little from this place as you,
and I shan’t stay for long.
I don’t know where I will go,
or when,
or even so much as why,
but I do know I won’t say a word
when I do go.

I’ve spent four years
right here
chasing my inept sense of romance;
helplessness
in the face of a paragon.
Shining a torch on every detail,
derailing every thought
that didn’t match my imaginative belief.

Oh, how I wish I could fall in love with a ghost.

I just wanted to say that
I am sorry, my dear,
that I took your heart away from you.
You weren’t using it,
and,
it was just so easy.

Ojciec

I asked
‘what could possibly make it worth it’
She replied
‘It’s love’
Was it out of love that he disappeared
Fell off the earth for three days into the arms of
the witch at the corner of the woods
or when he stole that car
Drove through the night and ploughed it
through the railing and off the bridge
Do you laugh about that in time?
Does that become an amusing dinner time story?
Along with the stories of how he would
come back with a belt wrapped around his wrist
ready to feel a sense of purpose
the designated family martyr
would step up to her father
and feel the wrath
striking
night after night
She still shudders when she’s touched.
Do you tell visitors
About your new beginning celebrations
When he went on a rampage
He smashed all of your possessions
And closed his hands around your throat
And never even thought to blame it on
Whatever it was he was drinking.
You say he’s still here
Because it’s love
Does love throw you down the stairs?
Does love hurl you to the floor?
Does love seek out the infant child
with blood boiling, stop me if I’m wrong,
but does love mean that when he bursts through the door,
throws a bottle and wedding ring and
swings a punch at his first born,
That you pretend his descending into madness
Is a justified affair.
I wouldn’t even call it madness
Nor strife
Nor recklessness
Nor negligence
Nor neglect
Nor addiction
Nor hate
Nor war
Nor fear
Nor disgust
Nor anger.
There are no words
That could describe him
and how far that is
from love.

Critical Distance

You’re insisting that this right here
is the critical distance,
the perfect place to reside.
The absolute zero on a
canvas of reactions,
‘This is peace’
you’re repeating
over and over
again and again.
This is tranquil.
This is tedium.
I always told you that security
is our greatest enemy.
It prepares us for somewhere
we’ve already been
with somebody else.
You’re happy here,
but who needs happiness?
I want to cast it all,
strip at the stone and pull at the flesh
that lies beneath it.
In here we come to life,
and I cannot wait
for birth,
for the first time I can stare at those spotlights
without being blinded.
Leave me stranded in security
and show me a candle dim in the distance
That’s the life I want for me.
Nothing is ever easy,
I have told you time and time again,
but we get there,
ravaged and time-worn,
with stigmata
blooming like a childhood summer.

Conversation between brothers

— (Just a little bit of dialogue practice, experimenting with direct and indirect dialogue, as well as playing with intersecting speech and narration)

I sidestep a neutral encounter and make my way to the bar. He’s sitting awkwardly on the corner. He’s edging the glass with his index finger and thumb, causing faint clatters of the ice cube.

He catches me in his peripheral, holding a sideways gaze on me in acknowledgement. He puts two fingers up to the bartender, who in turn brings over two glasses. As I take a seat next to him, he gently slides it over to me. I lift it to my nose. It’s scotch. Single malt. A bit too much ice for my liking.

‘I thought I would find you here.’
He barely acknowledges my words.
He lifts the glass up to his lips and delays it there.
‘Did you speak to dad?’
He nods. He says that they had a talk earlier. They were outside having a smoke about an hour ago, but he hasn’t seen him since.
‘And you’ve been at this bar since?’

He lets the breath out through his nose.
He always did that in lieu of laughing.

‘It’s your brother’s wedding, Mark.’

His eyes finally meet mine as I say this. His glass lowers and he hovers it above the bar.
‘Are you not happy for him?’
He finishes the scotch left in the glass. He signals to the bartender for two more.
 I’ve barely touched mine.

‘Sure. I’m happy for him.’

I had prepared myself for whatever answer he would give, but this still stumped me.
‘You know this is weird. I shouldn’t be here.’
I guess I do know it. I try and think of something to say. The silence is heavy. Before I can formulate anything, I start rambling about family. I make clumsy points about turning a new leaf.

‘What happened didn’t affect you. You were too young. We are okay, Luke, just leave this be.’

 I am stunted. He’s right.

I flick the side of my glass softly, watching the ripples reverberate and intersect. The way they collide with the slivers of ice, the way they’d reflect in a way that didn’t make complete sense to the observer. How does that happen? I’m sure it had a simple enough explanation. I ask Mark.

‘What?’
I ask him again why there are ripples around the ice when I touch the glass.
‘It’s just the way that the waves –‘
He trails off.

He looks and me intently.
He asks me why I came over.

‘I know being here –‘

I drum my fingers softly on the bar as I choose my words precisely.

‘I know it’s difficult, being here. You’ve had a rough few years.’

I steady myself, overtly conscious of every word I say.
‘What happened to Jane, I mean –‘

His eyes watch me with meticulous ferocity.
‘I’m sorry, Mark.’

 He brings his hand over to cover his eyes, and rubs them in a slow movement.
He still wears the wedding ring.

‘You don’t know what you’re talking about. This was years ago, you were still a kid.’
‘But I’m not any more, Mark.’

Whatever he was about to say evaporates. I look him in the eye.
‘No one will talk about what happened. But you’re still my brother, Mark. I never got the chance to grow up with you. But you’re back, and I’m glad your back.’

He reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a leather wallet. It’s initialled M.W.
He pulls out three twenties and places them under his glass. He fires a nod to the barkeep, and using the bar as an anchor, he lifts himself to his feet.

‘We all miss Jane.’

As I say this he rests a hand on my shoulder.
He’s fumbling around in his pocket with his other hand.

‘Did I ever tell you ‘
He pulls a packet of cigarettes from his pocket.

‘about the time she refused to come to my work dinner’
He ushers me with his hand, and waves people out the way with his other.

‘Jane just hated the people I worked with. Said they were stuck up’
There’s a smile on his face. He looks tired.

‘An hour before we’re about to go we have this argument. I can’t find her anywhere.’
He lets out a long breath through his nose. The kind he does in lieu of laughing.

‘I go into the bathroom and she’s just lying in the bath. No water. She’s fully clothed. Her arms crossed’.
I show an endearing smile, I look him in the eyes and asked him what he did.

‘I just laughed. We never went to that dinner. We just stayed in, sat in the bathroom, all dressed up.’

He leads me through the door and flicks the bottom of the packet of cigarettes.

I don’t tell him that I don’t smoke.
I take the protruding cigarette. He lights them both up. I tell him that I want to hear more about her. The good times.

He smiles and twists the ring around his finger.

‘So a couple of years after we met, we were driving up Colwyn bay…’

Busy times.

My posts and pieces will be scarce and inconsistent over the next few weeks (even more so than usual). I have a number of projects and writing pieces due for various things, as well as a website re-launch going live in a few weeks, so whilst I will try and put up what I can on here, I will be a bit shit.

I am however currently working on my final fiction piece for my degree. It’s very dark, weird and frantic. I will put it up on here once it’s been submitted, and I’m currently working on adapting it to a visual form so if all goes well I should have something to show for that as well.

The Reservoir – Finale

So here we are. That’s my confession. Well. Some of it at least.

The truth about that time at the reservoir never got out, who could believe a snot nosed little underachiever like me was capable of such things. My own mediocrity was a blessing sometimes. And that was the first time I tasted the possibility of something greater than what we really are, well, when you taste the prospect, it’s impossible to not try and reach that point again.

    Dawn was the first.

        But there were many others like her.

            And I missed every single one of those fucking moments.

    And I’m just merely seconds away from the end.

        Maybe this is it.

    My name is called, and that’s my cue.

Dawn was the awakening, and the others were the replications of that birth. There have been nine since Dawn. I remember every single build up, yet never the great departure.

And as I’m trudging down the corridor, I wonder if they reached the pinnacle. If they got what I was striving for. I do hope so.

At the end of the corridor, there is an open doorway leading to a dim room, and in the centre is a chair. My throne.

———

 

 

 

I’m sat in my chair, and praying that this is the moment I’ve been searching for all these years.

    I gaze at the doorway and in walks a figure.

    Her name is Anya.

    But I call her Dawn.

    I met Dawn again 3 years after that night when I visited Atlanta. I tried to deliver us, but I missed it.

I met Dawn again 2 years after that when I moved to New York. I tried to return us to that that night at the reservoir, but I missed it.

I met Dawn a year after that, then again 2 years later, then again 6 months after that. I met her time and time again in different worlds and in different clothes. They all had different faces, different names, and different lives.

But they all had that smile. And they all had those eyes. The eyes that let you see into a soul and just know that they are your salvation.

I saw Dawn in every single one of them. I saw deliverance in every single one of them.

And with every single one of them I was left behind. I never remembered the divine moment, but I always remembered their bodies once their spirit had evacuated. It wasn’t the right time. All in due course.

Whenever a stray flicker of light catches her I can see her perfect figure. Her encapsulating eyes. Her succulent lips. She approaches me, leans over, and kisses me.

    And I kiss her back.

    I feel the rising obsession creep in as her lips caress mine.

    I stand up and gently motion her to take my seat. I walk behind her and wrap a scarf around her eyes. I kiss her neck 3 times and I can feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

    “I love you Dawn” I whisper in her ear.

    I take off her blindfold, and I am eye to eye with her.

        Her eyes are like mirrors for a midnight sky.

    And then…

 

 

Then I’m standing in front of another blood-red work of art.

    I’d missed it.

        Again.

    I’d missed her deliverance, and my own.

        Another chance at eternity, another chance to soar, and I was off somewhere else, missing it.

    Jesus fucking Christ.

    I still don’t feel holy.

    But I’ve come too far to stop seeking salvation now.

    Everyone seems to find the light at the very brink of desolation.

    And I’m getting pretty worn out from this expectation.

    But I still have hope.

    I’ll find heaven one of these days.

    Just like it was, that evening at the reservoir.