My mate Jerry is off on a fast-paced wild goose chase with his mind. Seriously man, he’s really going for it this time, grappling with any scrap of information he comes across like its a key to the holy grail. I’m just sat over here on the hill having a smoke, watching him dig deeper underground and burn out all that crazy energy. It’s quite entertaining to be honest, and it’ll pass the time ‘til Sheila comes round later. I’ll have a bath before then probably, if there’s any hot water, and maybe have a tidy round the flat. I’m gonna cook for her: pasta and cheese. I don’t cook for just anyone mind, but I reckon she’s worth more than a packet of 10p noodles, you know? She’s used to being wined and dined, and her Dad’s in the Air Force, so I’ll have to make a bit of an effort or I don’t fancy my chances of seeing her again.
“I love the sculptures are they yours?”
Wow. This is why Emily was special. Not one other person had noticed my sculptures and I had put a lot of effort into them. I buzzed with excitement.
“You look beautiful.”
She had always glowed at my compliments, but refused to take them. “Still a charmer, hey? I know you say that to all the girls.”
“Of course, but it’s true with you.”
How could I make her see I meant it? I wanted to ask her if she still felt the chemistry between us.
“It’s still there isn’t it?”
“It’ll always be there,” she assured me.
I watched her deep purple lips as she said it, banking the moment and the words into permanent memory. Her hair was caught in her earring, an oversized pewter black rose, and I reached to untangle it for her. She stiffened and looked nervously towards the door. The door through which her new boyfriend would soon emerge and crush all my hopes of getting her back.
I took a bathroom cubicle shortly after that, where I could let my pure panic out by punching the cistern until I bled. Things started getting weird then, and I don’t know, maybe I blacked out for a little while because what I remember next is very loud and very close and tequila
and tequila Continue reading “Hearts Can’t Catch”
She lies on her bed thinking of him and what they could have been. He was cruel to her, she knows, but she admires the reason why. She longs to tell him that the life he chose was what she wanted all along; to be released from norms and social expectations, to roam as free as a bird with no connections and only the present moment to worry about. He was no good for her, he had said, he would lead her astray. But she wanted to be led astray. She wanted the excuse to experience colour and exhilaration instead of greyish and uniform. Take me with you, she had begged, I understand, I do.
He rides faster and faster on his bike, thrilled by the roar of the engine beneath him and the sensation that everything is moving quickly through him. It takes the pain away. Pain can’t travel at 100mph like he can. If he were to slow down he’d be stuck with that thought yet again, that she is only ‘the one that got away’ because he pushed her. He longs to tell her that the life she chose was what he wanted all along; to be accepted by society, to settle in one place long enough to establish a true sense of self, to have a past and a future worth caring about.
In their separate dreams she and he will live, building new castles from the ghosts that haunt them, their silent screams resonating until the end when the tide catches up and takes them both for its own.
You have to build your difference, they say.
You are divided for love.
But I don’t know who you are.
Do you know who I am?
I can feel your fingers reaching out to me,
so close to having material form it hurts
like an unstruck sound in my heart.
You are surely a reflection,
but when I look for you in the mirror
the only me there is I.
I project the idea onto all of my lovers,
trying to understand the shape of you,
then when they are gone, I retract you
back into the darkness of shadow.
I saw you in the theatre last night.
Three stages, three shows, three facets of you.
I danced with each in my dreams.
You had raw, bleeding knees from the crawl;
an attempt to save yourself from fiction, no doubt.
But one tug on my necklace, one cry from within
and I knew the fall was real.
My psychiatrist is trying to kill me. I mean, it’s only a matter of time before these increasingly bizarre combinations of pills he prescribes (so painful are the side effects) do the job anyway, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
He has at least three henchmen that follow me around, watching my every move. Hounds of Hell, I have named them affectionately, because they phase in and out as though they are not from this world. I know they are there though; I can feel them in my bones.
The psychiatrist in question, Dr Pascal he is called, doesn’t know I’ve seen the hounds. At least, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. I haven’t told him. Then again, maybe the little sneer he makes with the corner of his mouth is an indication that he does know, and is daring me to confront him about it so he can add delusions and hallucinations to the list of symptoms he collects in a list beneath my name. I swear he gets a handsome bonus every time he adds new one. His designer tie collection certainly goes to support that theory.
Anyway, what he definitely doesn’t know is that I wear a mask for each and every interaction. That’s right, the real Jeremiah Holm who writes this journal resides way beneath the surface, hidden away from those who may harm him. He is protected by a sometimes arrogant, always flirtatious version of himself. So if Dr Pascal were to succeed in his wicked plan, I am confident he would only destroy my window display, and I can make a new one of those quicker than he can slap on a straitjacket.
I’d be lying if I said the hounds didn’t worry me though. If they are not of this world they may be able sense the things beyond. If they were to find my hiding place, I’d face total implosion, of that there’s no doubt. And that, my friend, is a fate worse than death.
Dr Pascal says things like ‘how does that diagnosis feel to you?’ And ‘do you want to know what I think?’. I don’t.
Honestly I just long for the days of seeing the university therapist. She taught me some simple breathing techniques to use in times of panic or darkness that actually did some good, and the whole experience felt friendly and gentle.
Compared to the days that came with the fog, those memories are all sunshine and rainbows and girls in summer dresses. Don’t get me wrong, I love girls who wear black and I never wear any other colour myself. But there’s still something about a lightweight floral cloth that smells like happiness.
To this day I use the exercises the counsellor taught me, even though she betrayed me and sent me to Dr Pascal in the end. “I’m afraid there’s no more I can do for you,” she said. The ones you trust always leave though. Every fucking time.
This is a short excerpt from my current long form fiction project.
Remember when we learned Duvessa was dead? We were sitting on a park bench smoking spliffs in the purple rain.
We tried to make light of it; recalling the time the three of us got locked out and spent the night under the stars drinking cheap martini and telling stories in an empty fishing boat. And the time she almost had us convinced we could be the next big rap metal crossover band when she got us a gig at the local pub. And all those times we
just couldn’t breathe
for laughing at the most basic of sitcom jokes. They were good times mate, good times.
But then her heart became enchanted by a monster of a man who kept her in a cell under 24 hour surveillance. He would throw things at her and steal from her and coerce her into commiting lewd acts, while publicly declaring her a slut and a liar and a thief. He would roar at her until tears streamed down her face, making the inner flame we adored sputter and make strange shadows on the wall. He eventually succeeded in extinguishing her fire altogether leaving nothing but a blackened wick.
You’d rescue me, you said, maybe together we could bring her back. Your voice was full of doubt though, and I needed certainty. So when the monster called my name from the other side of the hedge having realised I’d escaped, whoever it was I had become trotted obediently back to his side.
On days like this I begin to feel that even those who I considered to be my kin are set against me. I look into their eyes and I see snakes coiled up and ready to bite. I have no choice in this case but to retract into myself, to find solace on my own beach of calm. I must soothe myself, heal the wounds imagined and real, and rebuild my tower of strength from within.
He is here, on the beach, as the waves lap gently at the sand. He is crafting a crown for me, smoothing out its imperfections and dents. There is no doubt in his mind that I should wear it, that I am worthy. In fact, he sees no other possibility.
“You can rule,” he says, “or you can lay down on the ground and turn to ash.”
I sit down on a lone deck chair beside him, closing my eyes momentarily and taking in a deep breath of cool sea air.
“When all seems misaligned,” he goes on, “it is madness to expect the rhythm of all that is beyond you to change. That is like swimming against the current and you will drown for sure. Better to take stock of your own beat. Take back control of your own frequency.”
He wears spectacles today, and clothes akin to rags. I wriggle my feet in the sand, watching as he polishes the metal and jewels on my headpiece.
Remember the periphery, I think to myself. I have been storming ahead with my focus, I have been bullish. But there is another landscape on the edge of consciousness that never ceases to exist; that opens up a whole universe of possibilities and versions of this. I just have to relax into it.
He looks up and smiles kindly, sensing my realisation.
“It is no use staring at the sun, you see. Not only will you risk becoming blind but you will surely miss the beauty in the shadows.”
He stands and stretches out his arms to admire his handiwork before passing it to me. “Here, try this.”
Before I found my will I was always sleepy and covered in dust. It made me sneeze and i couldn’t see where I was going. Instead I just saw piles and piles of where I had been.
There are millions of others, just the same. Unchanging, unmoving, still people. Gathering layers of waste fibres and allowing something else to live through them. But they are still people.
And then I begin to regret not pushing myself further over the last couple of weeks to write raw poetry and short stories. But when I was on the other side it just wasn’t an option. I made a few key phrases that I can someday weave into a sensible formation, but at the time I could barely fasten my shoes to be honest. I was inside out, raw and unprotected on the outside. My mind was a gaping wound and my body was standing on a precipice. Every thought I had was like pouring alcohol onto an incision. No mind was the only place to be when this happened, like I was hiding out in a cupboard waiting for the monster to give up and go away. Unresponsive stupor.
And now, here I am back in the coffee shop with you. Your face so warm and familiar, like you are an extension of me. All else remains cold and harsh, and makes me wince upon interaction with it. It will yet be a while before I can complete a creation again, because the link between the depths of my soul and the material is not yet fully repaired. I see that now. But what if I didn’t have to complete something? What if the only thing that mattered was for me to reach out and put a mark on a page, what if that in itself could forge the reconnection? You smile at me (your knowing smile) and take a sip of coffee. And then you place down your cup in its saucer, and pass me a napkin and a Bic medium. The pen feels alien in my sore hands, but I can grip it now at least. Forget about the confines of structure, you say. There doesn’t have to be a contrived beginning any more than there needs to be an end.