An old magician once told me that the essence of obsession is to be kept in small quantities on the top shelf. Its potency means it is to be used sparingly, else it will drag you right to the epicentre of your personal myth, where all semblance of the here and now will be lost.
“Beware the fool.” he said. “It has been known to reduce people to a pool of nonsense with their soul detached and roaming. In such cases the hope of connecting an antidote is almost non existent, and I’m sorry to say total implosion is the most likely outcome. But, if it works well, you will experience a creative boost for about three days after swallowing it. You will see the removal of your blockages and the fruition of your potential.”
I took a tiny vial of the essence from him that day, and put it on a shelf above my bed. I named it ‘Alexander’ after you, and put a label around its neck.
I didn’t take the warnings lightly. I’d roll it around in my fingers sometimes, dreaming of the difference it could make to my life. But not until the day I received an eviction notice for non payment of rent did I seriously think of using it. Blank pages had stared me in the face for weeks on end, and Mr Brown had had enough.
* * * * *
My therapist said i wasn’t to think of you anymore. I had to break the cycle or break my mind, she said, and she showed me how to reject the thoughts that contained you.
I loved you because you paid my bills and called me Empress. It’s just a shame you were a devil. You used to beat me stupid, see. You used to pour liquid wax over me and make tiny cuts on my arm and grip my throat so I couldn’t breathe. You used to scream until I shook and then tell me it never happened.
They took you away, but I never agreed to erase you entirely. My therapist protested. She said it wouldn’t be healthy to merely blur your face: pixelation would only protect your identity and I would scratch at the scrambled squares like they were scabs. What use could that ever do?
* * * * *
G l u g
“Rip out those stitches
Re-open my wounds
Tear another hole
In my heart
I don’t want to see the world
Through frosted plastic
And fat bandages.
I want raw”
Cried the Fool.
“But never fully immerse!”
Warned the Magician.
“There’s a sweet spot
And that is
where the art is”
“Just enough pain to inspire
Just enough sense
To turn it into something
That won’t destroy me”
Reasoned the Empress.
S w a l l o w
* * * * *
My heart beat harder,
and images burst into my mind,
and a vein in my arm opened up,
and words began to squeeze their way out.
Then faster and faster they poured out so that I could no longer keep up with what they were saying. First clinging to my skin and then dropping down onto the carpet making a heap at my feet. I sank down to sit on my heels and examined them in handfuls. I rubbed my face in them. But there was no time, for my tiny room was quickly filling up, and I had to open a window so that I wouldn’t drown.
The inflow of air was like a blank page. I was carried right out with the words on a wave, landing softly in the garden. Rising to my feet I kicked through them like they were autumn leaves, and became giggling drunk on the euphoric air they were exuding.
Mr Brown came out to see what the commotion was. I expect he thought I had cracked up or was high on drugs, but when he saw the mountain of words on the lawn his jaw dropped. At first he picked one up and examined it as though it were a gentle snowflake, then started grabbing at more and more like they were £50 notes. I’m quite sure he saw them that way, because if I could sell them I would finally be able to pay up.
There’d be months of editing ahead of me now though, trying to put all of those pesky words into the places they could shine brightest. I put up a meta grid around the house where I could post them into slots and rearrange them again and again until they bonded. And I put you back on the top shelf for a while.
Fragments of Heart is an illustrated, hand bound zine, compiling short bursts of creative writing about love and obsession.