A Post for the People We Were

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On the morning in question, his first thoughts were of butterflies.

Not the nervous kind; those were thoughts for another day. No, today he marvelled at the concept of starting again, and becoming something better, something prettier, something more elegant. As he willed his limbs to make their first movements, feeling the familiar linen soft against his skin, he smiled; his duvet was his cocoon, and today, he would learn to fly.

Yes, today would be a big day, and he knew that he had to prepare. Instant gratification was not something offered by Mother Nature, he knew, otherwise she would have bypassed caterpillars altogether. You do not appreciate something until you’ve spent half a lifetime tunnelling through mouldy fruit, he supposed, and it was this thought process that he followed through to the bathroom.

His question now was, which suit did he wear? Which face did he paint on, to better greet the day with? For today was definitely going to be a good day, that much he promised himself. Of course, he knew it wasn’t really what he looked like, but what was inside that counted, and like the caterpillar, his efforts were a means to an end of finding himself again.

He opened the cabinet, and cast an eye across his tools. Which one to choose? All had the capacity to make him fly, and he had spent so much time being carried on their wings that he had grown unaccustomed to the ground. Which one would it be? He couldn’t afford to do this wrong, to blow his chance of reaching the air and never coming down again. With this thought in his head, he made his choice.
Today was going to be a good day.
                          

  ***

On the morning in question, finally her thoughts were of leaving.

She turned her head and looked at the empty space beside her, and habitually turned her eyes towards the place that she knew that he stood. To her there was nothing more disconcerting than waking up each morning with a different person in her bathroom, a person that she still pretended she knew.

Because pretending was all either of them knew. But she couldn’t do it any longer. She couldn’t pretend that poisons were another word for personality, and that these pesticides hadn’t left a trail that she could no longer follow. The pills had become the person, and the mistakes had become the norm.

She cast another look towards the bathroom, and knew that today was going to be a bad day, but the first of a life still good.

She knew that he’d never stop chasing dragons.

 Instead, she would settle for butterflies.

Bring your subconscious to work day

Today I woke to the thought that anyone but me could probably live my life better. I’m not entirely sure why; perhaps it was the culmination of a weird year and a string of events that are too mundane to be really counted as bad, or the fact that I seem to trade missed opportunities for looking in empty beer bottles, in the hope that a fucking genie has relocated there as a result of the housing crisis. Sadly, Robin Williams has left that plot point hanging, proof that even the best of us have so many reasons to fall. 

At the same time, being greeted by such a thought was fairly out of my character, and I remain too vain in my nihilism for it to have much of an impact. If it’s proof of anything, it’s that revision keeps me cooped up like a battery hen in need of a battering ram to make any of my notes sink in. It’s only when I know I have to do one thing that I start to think about literally everything else, and I’ll be glad to feel a bit more like me when next Thursday comes around. 

The only reason I feel that I am writing these words is to refocus on a world outside my window, and remind myself that the universe probably doesn’t give a damn about my degree in the grand scheme of things (any more than I seem to anyway) and that I should probably be a bit less dramatic. It’s amazing how the biggest crisis we can encounter at university is the prospect of a bad grade, and there’s nothing like a bit of perspective to burst that bubble, albeit only briefly until I go back to forcefully introducing ink to a revision card. What’s particularly strange is that I’m not usually plagued by exam stress, but I think I’ve gone too far the other way and descended into a minor-case of apathy. So this post is a weird form of therapy, and I’m only upset that I don’t get the comfy chair or the pay cheque along with it. Or the credentials for that matter; I wouldn’t feel bad about writing this if I could diagnose procrastination as a physical ailment, as oppose to a guiding power with all the force of a planet rolling down a hill. 

On roller skates. 

With rocket boosters.

Sorry, I’m just trying to make this post take longer.

Obstacles 

Sorry to disturb you, is what I’d say if you took any notice, a breeze that passes you by every time another thought enters your head. Because bubbles will break upon any surface without discrimination; The tip of a lead tongue. The point of an argument. The edge of my wit.

But not yours.

Yours just keeps on forming. A bubble may break, but it’s hard to be scared of a fall when you’re expecting it, and with the frequency of these accidents I’d say there’s a part of you that relishes clinging to air. When bubbles are your armour, you can go into battle knowing that you can blame someone else when it pops with the first step upon even ground. The person who made it that way, not realising that a bad workman always makes his tools but doesn’t build anything with them. 

Or maybe, you’re hoping that you can just float the fuck away.

So tell me how it feels, to see everything through nettle tinted glasses, the images warped and reflecting back a world full of reasons to break. Because you can’t float away from that, not really. 

And maybe I’m wrong. I don’t see every time something breaks, and where you see a hazard I see just another bit of scenery that’s part of my day. 

And I’m not saying that waves break against rocks any less easily.

If you floated back down to earth, you’d know that.

Once More Round the Sun

“Tell me the story of a stranger”.

I blink, catching the words as they go past.

“I’m sorry?” I reply.

“Just tell me what you remember” said the voice, not unkindly, but I feel a pressure to comply regardless. It isn’t the question that makes me hesitate, nor what I’m afraid I’ll say; It’s the situation, the feeling of living in a fishbowl, of being looked at through a glass that will only ever reflect what people want to see anyway. Or, even worse, the possibility that what they do see will surprise them, and I think I hate that even more.

Aware that I have to say something, I begin, letting the words form themselves.

“I remember…a home. Not the walls, not the ceiling, not the garden. In fact, I remember very little about the world in which I existed. But I still remember a home. I remember music, and books, and bedtime stories. I remember riding a bike, and going to school, and mucking around. I remember gathering crayons, and drawing on walls, and video-games I wasn’t old enough to play. I remember laughing, and crying, and wishing I was older the moment I reached my next birthday. I remember custard slices, without the icing. I remember a home”.

A pause, and the voice replies.

“That doesn’t sound like the story of a stranger”.

“Well, there’s a lot I remember after”.

Another pause, longer this time. I know the voice is going to speak again, and I know what it’s going to say.

“So tell me” the voice says, in the exact way I knew that it would, “when did this story end?”

I’m not even sure I can be bothered to reply.

“It hasn’t”.

I get up, and leave the room.

Hoping for rain.

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It’s just another change in the weather, 

Held back by the curtains we’ve closed.


Thankful of light from this fire,


That’s slowly consuming our home.


I know if it’s cold it can’t bite me,


Sure footing through melting the snow.


No need for a sun that may blind me,


Still casting old shadows I know.


No, 


It’s just another change in the weather,


As strange as night turning to day.


Our clocks are kept turned back regardless,


Because we can can sleep easy that way.


And it really is warm by this fire,


That’s only made stronger by rain.


Each drop that it drinks sends it higher,


A safety flare, guiding;


our flame.


I hoped you’d be changed by the weather.


And fuck, I predicted a storm.


There’s things to be built from mere rubble,


Set plans by the time she was born.


And I hoped you’d be burned by the fire,


Act as moths drawn to her flame.


But the bed that you’ve made is a pyre,


I’ve watched burn from out in the rain.



















A trail of crumbs

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There it is: the daily reminder of how hard it is to keep me on the inside. I turn the tap and send it on its way, looking up from the sink and daring my reflection to say something.

It didn’t.
 

It never does. So why do I keep looking at it?

My reflection seems as confused as me, so I turn my attention back to the water and run my hands beneath the stream. I hate this moment just afterwards, and mirrors always make it worse. It’s only a flicker of something, like my expression moving between channels , but whatever it is I’m getting sick of the reruns. And judging from people’s reactions, I think I’m not the only one. 
The water is cold, and I realise my hands are going numb. It’s odd to consider that these are my closest connection to sensation, and yet there are so many ways that they can be cheated. I’ve burnt them on dishes, and cut them on knives. I’ve scraped them on brickwork and blistered them to callouses on guitar strings. I’ve run them across warm skin to tangle in soft hair, and drawn outlines of some of my fondest memories. 

And here they are, useless.

I realise that these are all odd thoughts to have, but then again I guess it’s also odd to leave bits of yourself everywhere you go just because your body won’t keep them.
I gather together the bits of me I have left, and cast one last look in the mirror. 

I see myself staring back.

Even if I’m different every time

These Words Must Mean Something.

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Years of waiting and worry have been captured in styrofoam, etched by fingernails holding onto moments they were likely to forgot. Or, in worse cases, moments they wish that they could. For some reason, it never seems to matter that the liquid inside holds all the appeal of industrial fertiliser, and only offers refreshment in the sense that the next thing consumed will taste like a gourmet orgy in comparison; these are the times when no one complains.

So thinking, he drained his cup.

The last traces of the coffee clung to his tastebuds jealously, staying with him as he crumpled the cup in his hands and realised that he had nowhere to put the debris. With a sigh, he broke them up smaller and put them into his pocket, a souvenir for later that he was sure would leak out a few final reminders of his visit onto his clothing. Not that he would need such a prompt; the after taste and stains were at least only physical. It was with some effort that he reminded himself that, as always, he had chosen to come here.

***
He had not chosen to be here.

He looked at her through the glass, his eyes mapping her face and following the lines to every destination, every feature that stood as landmark of the woman he knew so well. Those eyes had been a beginning, a glance that could so easily have gone unnoticed. Those lips had moved them forward, with words spoken as softly as they would eventually feel upon his own. Her features and what they meant did not stir anything complex in him, instead remaining as markers for memories that he was so often reliving. He remembered the days they had spent with the rain hammering on the windows, ricocheting like bullets fired from a world outside, beyond their care or concern. In remembering he also had to accept the reality that, outside of his head, it was similar glass that was now keeping them apart.

“How have you been?” he said, or similar words to that effect. He felt a distance when speaking now, both of them covering less ground every time. As much as he tried, the words that came out of his mouth never resonated with what he’d planned in his head. He heard her reply, and offered something else in response; something trivial, no doubt, without any meaningful recognition of what had come before. And so the conversation continued, with each party throwing something else lamely against the glass in an effort to hold back the dead air, the inevitable full stop to a sentence never properly uttered. With each blow that hit, his thoughts unraveled, searching for markers and memories already lived, anything so that he wouldn’t have to grab at the threads fraying in front of him. He wanted desperately to pick them up and tie them together, a driving force that had kept him coming back here so often. But today was as kind as every other day, and even he couldn’t miss when the volley had stopped.

The dead air.

He looked at her face, eyes cast downward as she reached and put a hand against the glass. He moved to mirror her, as he had done a thousand times before, and was caught off guard when the eyes sprang back up to meet him.

“We aren’t happy, are we?”.