Cut.

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Adelaide, Australia. 2017.

Everything is foggy.
Why am I so.
Foggy.
There is a cut just under the knuckle of my left thumb and I don’t know when it got there or how but it has been there at least the last few days and it is not like it is bleeding or there is a scab just a small flap of skin that folds back when you play with it and I couldn’t sleep this morning and I was tugging on that flap of skin this morning and it was raining outside and the sun was still faded outside and I could hear dogs barking outside when under my grip the cut gave way.
The flap of skin pulls back. And I keep pulling.
The skin peels back as one whole layer. I wait for it to break but it holds together. I feel my stomach push itself up my throat as I watch myself skin myself. A thin translucent and bloodless layer, soft in an awful way rolls
past my knuckle,
down the back of my hand
past wrist,
past elbow.
I reach my shoulder and pass out.

I wake up next to someone I don’t recognise and my eyes are blurry and I am freezing I am warm. I can’t move. There is a cocoon of air around my body and it is invisible and sinister holding me tightly and I want to get up I want to get out but I can’t move I can’t move my mouth and it is open and I try to say something but I can’t speak I can’t move.
My eyes focus. The someone next to me isn’t a someone at all. It is human shaped with a full head of hair, elbows, arms, legs, but without body without flesh without bones.
Completely flat.
Empty holes replace eyes and mouth.
Completely
It is then I realise that the someone is not a someone but a something that belongs to me. Belonged to me. I lay paralysed next to my own shed skin.
Tears fall from my eyes and I feel all of them. The moisture, the salt, the lingering trail it leaves as it falls down my cheek. I can feel, everything. And it hurts. My lips shake as I try to, if not say something, at least shut my mouth. My teeth are moving in my gums and oh god I can feel them moving. Waving in the smallest possible way, shaking from side to side. I can feel them.
I can feel,
everything.
There’s a breeze coming in from under the door and I can feel the dust that has been carried on it from the front door to here. The mattress underneath me is a desert of glass with each granule of sand a hair from my head or dirt I have brought here before. They cut into me. I am freezing, I am warm.
I can feel
Why am I so
Everything is
I am terrified.
I stare open eyed next to half of myself and I want nothing more than to be unconscious again. Unaware. Disconnect myself from this reality and remain in the safety of isolation. I force blackness into my skull and wait for it to overwhelm me.
But something stops me.
But something runs over my hips.
But something pushes the black away.
Soft, smooth, safe. Hands and arms that are not my own run reassuringly across my stomach, up ribs, along my throat and push against my chin. They close my mouth. Arms, of which I can feel every imperfection, every pore, every hair, close a loop around my waist. Warmth runs down my spine, curls down to my knees and around my ankles as legs entwine my own. A mouth moves itself to my ear and whispers.
“You are okay.”
Words spiral down to my brain, like water down a gutter. They splash down and crash carefully against the walls of my skull.
“You are okay.”
I can move again. I lift my hands to my face and see someone completely new. Pale and blurred around the edges. No scars, no acne, no wrinkles, freckles, tan-lines. They are new. I am new. I see someone new and I am not scared. I am okay.
My skin is clarity and my mind is reflected in it.
My hands move down and I fold my fingers between those wrapped around my middle. I shut my eyes and feel content.

Everything settles.

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14/7

Glass in my fist.
Thighs wrists and ribs.
Red lines next to white lines.

Stealer’s Wheel “Stuck In The Middle With You” is playing loud enough that we have to repeat everything twice to each other in order to get the message across. I’m drunk enough that I can’t drive but not enough that I’m going to stop drinking. We’re half an hour into the hour and a half $3 schooner special when you rock up. You’re somehow louder than the music already and I don’t know how anyone else interprets it but your smile is forced and your laughter even more so. Immediately you’re complaining because you thought we were drinking on the other side of town. Immediately I can’t stand you.
I make some shitty and unnecessary comment to you about not being ‘real’ whatever the fuck that means. Your hurt is warranted but I glare at you anyway, finish my drink and lie loudly, saying I’m going to the bathroom.
Instead I walk down the stairs out of the pub and down the street. I chuck in my headphones and play something angry and dumb. I’m only halfway to my bus stop when you call me.
I answer.
You ask me where I’ve gone. You tell me to come back. You say you’ll find me.
I tell you to shut up and leave me alone. Don’t follow me, I want to go home.
I hang up and wait for my bus. It doesn’t take long and I’m about to step on when my pocket vibrates. There’s a paved quadrangle behind the bus stop and it’s with dread that I turn around and see you on the other side of it. I step off the bus.
I should have got on but I was so angry at you. I asked you not to follow me, I asked you to leave me alone. I guess I needed you to know how mad I was.

I want to be junkie thin
without the scars.
No stars in the sky tonight.

It starts in the normal way. I’m yelling about the same stuff and you’re apologising for all the wrong things so I’m getting more annoyed and you’re getting more upset. But then I’m yelling more and it’s more and it’s more often than it’s been before. I don’t know how to stop it. I’m overwhelming myself and it’s taking over. I’m so scared. This is not like anything.
Frustration swallows me and spits me out in flashes of violence punctuated by black spaces.
My backpack with a bottle of rum my friend gave me is thrown across the square.
I hear the bottle smash but it’s not enough.
I grab the bag, swing it over my shoulder and into the cement floor.
It smashes again and again and again.
I throw my phone and watch it skid across the pavement.
I throw fingers in your face and I scream.
I fall to the ground and punch cracked pavers again and again and again.
I’m crying out of everywhere.

Tyres slipping
steering wheel twisting
reminds me of something past.

Violence and screaming faces fill me. Your face strongest of all courses under my skin. Teeth scratches bone and mouths tear against flesh. I’m so scared, I’m so scared of me. I’m so scared of you. I’m so scared of you. In the middle of this square in the CBD I scream. I yell, not words anymore, just guttural yelling and bashing of voice against building. It echoes up the edges of hotels where people are sleeping and across the street where people are staring. I want to disassociate, I want to separate myself like I usually do so I can see this situation and understand it from afar but I can’t, I just can’t get away, I’m trapped inside myself and for the first time ever this terrifies me. You won’t let me go, you won’t let me leave even when I ask you too.
When I asked you too.
On a metal bench I lay on my side because my body won’t let me do anything else. I thrash as you lay on top of me and try to hold me, trying to be kind but your body is the antithesis to my own, it’s bricks and walls collapsing against my chest as I try to keep myself from suffocating under my own ribcage and I’m telling you to fuck off to leave me alone to fuck off but I can’t move. I hit my head against the bench once, then twice and then fall onto the cement floor. I want to go, I want to get out of here but my body won’t run and you’ll only follow me and then there is no running because the problem isn’t this space it’s you.
It’s you.
It’s you.
It’s you.

Red lines next to white lines
next to red lines next to red lines.
I separate myself.

I separate myself.
Somehow it’s over. You bring me my backpack. It’s full of glass and alcohol. I take out my wallet and keys then throw the rest in the bin. Inside abandoned is my favourite beanie and a notebook full of poems and writing from the last few years that I don’t have recorded anywhere else. You try and pull it out of the bin but I tell you to leave it. Tomorrow when you drive through the city you go to see if it’s still there. I’m glad to hear then that it’s already been emptied. Not because I’ve lost everything but because you don’t get to feel like you’ve helped me.
I’ve had this backpack since high school. My girlfriend before you bought it for me. Friends drew on it for me. I needed it gone because if I didn’t destroy something vaguely important soon it was going to be something else far more necessary.
There’s no more buses. You say you’ll take me home. I know this means you’ll stay over. I know this means we’ll fuck and you’ll say you love me and I’ll have to kiss you goodnight. I don’t want to feel like this anymore and I can’t think of another way out. At least here I’m in control. I can say sorry and not mean it. I can ask if you’re okay and not care what the answer is.
I should have got on my bus.
I can’t tell if it’s caffeine or not but my hands are shaking so badly as I’m writing this. I can’t believe how much of this is my fault. I should have got a taxi home. Why did you follow me? Why didn’t you listen to me? I’ve never lost control of myself as much as I did that night. My body and my brain weren’t me.
At the time I remember saying to myself that my future self is going to hate that I’m doing this. My future self looks back on this memory and remembers that I thought this and it’s like I’m talking to myself across time. I was right. I do hate that I did that. I hate that I’m doing this. But I go home with her.

We fuck and you say you love me. I want to throw up. I know this is what you wanted but I also know this is not the way you wanted it. I don’t know if you’re aware of what this is. I was always so good at hiding how I felt.
You say you love me a second time and I roll on my side. I don’t kiss you goodnight.
Your skin makes mine ache when you wrap an arm around my stomach. I flinch and my body stiffens but somehow you don’t notice. Or if you do you pretend it didn’t happen. I don’t know what to do anymore. You hold me a little tighter.

Tangled in sheets. Morning breath.
Broken glass found in gum.
Red lines next to white lines.

Rock//Window

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Adelaide, Australia. 2017.

No one knew who’s fault it was when the rock fell in love with the window.
No one knew what to say as we watched them pace in the square. They’re staring.
Crowds watch the rock watch the window. He sees clarity in her chest. He sees himself.
The window stands transparent. Streaks run down her panes. Her eyes trace scratches in his cheeks.
Someone asks if we should stop them. No one replies.
There’s anger and tears and violence here. And behind it all a happiness that we can’t turn away from. A hope that it will be okay. A hope that it won’t.
They step forward.
Shattered glass is tasted on parted stone lips.
On red lined hips and bones against skin.
Lungs heave and breaths are kept short.
There’s violence and tears and anger here. And behind it all a selfishness that can’t be turned away from. How can it be okay. It won’t be okay.
The crowd is silent. No one dares to move. We watch the rock watch the window. He sees himself in her chest.
The rock runs forward and the window shuts her eyes.
She’s scratches traced against his cheek.
She’s broken glass in plastic bags.
No one knew who’s fault it was.

Leeches

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Adelaide, Australia. 2017.

“You know when you’ve got nothing and they take that too, what’s that called?”
“You’re so boring.”
“Fuck you.”
“Whatever Nietzsche.”
I punch him in the shoulder and he laughs so I punch him again. He ignores me and pushes between my knees, leaning his chest against mine. His weight presses me against the shower wall and I gasp because the tiles are cold. We made the water extra hot so it stayed warm by the time it reached us on the ground, but I can’t feel it with him in the way. He has to lift his feet up so he can fit laying down on the shower floor and now he looks like a seal.
“You look like a seal.” I say.
“I won’t clap for you.”
I try to push him off me, “A fat seal.”
He frowns but I’m grinning and I refuse to apologise. After some awkward slipping and sliding he moves himself off my body and stands, his back to me. I roll my eyes and he turns the tap off.
“Hey!”
“There’s a drought on.”
He opens the shower screen and doesn’t close it, letting all the cold air in. I groan. The water’s still warm on the floor and I let it spin around me as it drains away. My skin has goosebumps.
Without towelling myself off I run naked out of our ensuite and tackle him onto the bed. He’s clothed and manages a quick shout before I wrap my wet arms and legs around his belly and torso. He’s my branch and I’m a bedraggled sloth. He slaps my thigh hard enough to leave a mark.
“Get off.”
“No.”
“You suck so bad.”
I kiss the back of his neck.
“You love me.”
“No I don’t.”
He loosens in my grip. I kiss him again.
“Yeah you do.”
“Void.”
He links his fingers in mine and I bury my nose in his shoulder. It’s soft.
“Yeah. That’s it.”

It’s garbage night. Fuck, did we put the bins out? Mark’s wearing my new sweatshirt and I’m annoyed that it looks better on him than me. I take my frustration out on an innocent wheelie bin with a spinning ninja kick.
Mark doesn’t laugh, “Dick.”
“Did you put the bins out?”
“No, that’s your job.”
“Shit.”
I jog to catch up to his side. I loop my arm through his and lean my head against his shoulder. I can feel him stiffen and I pull away.
“Come on.”
“What?”
“It’s 2017, we’re fine.”
“Sorry, it’s just…I don’t know.”
“Whatever.”
“Don’t be like that. You’re drunk.”
“So are you.”
Mark stops walking and sighs. I force myself to keep moving. A voice says.
Don’t give in.
Now it’s his turn to catch up and he grabs my hand. I don’t look at him.
“I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to.”
“But I do want to.”
He grips my hand a little tighter. It’s sweaty and I slip my hand away.
“No you don’t.”
We walk the rest of the way in silence. I’m not sure why I’m angry anymore. I wish I remembered the bins.

I refresh the page again. Blue and white stares back at me. No red. Everything sucks. Mark’s asleep at the other end of the couch and his legs are on my lap. I throw a pillow at him but he doesn’t move.
I refresh the page again. I change my cover photo. I delete it. I put it up again then log myself out and shut my laptop. Three minutes later I open my phone and delete it. I grab my coat from the armrest and stand quickly enough to push Mark’s feet to the floor. He snorts then mumbles.
“Where are you going?”
“For a walk.”
“Can I come?”
“No.”
I tell myself not to slam the door. I do it anyway. There’s broken glass on the pavement and it crunches satisfyingly underneath my shoes. The train tracks are close by and I head towards them. A car drives past and for a moment I see myself step in front of it. In my mind it clips my shoulder and hip, throwing me to the kerb. It’s not a hard enough collision to be fatal but I can still swing some sympathy votes online and a few days off work which is tempting. I just don’t want it to hurt. I faint at the sight of blood but I bruise well.
The car goes past and I walk forward unscathed.
No trains at this hour so I take a seat on one of the slats. It’s uncomfortable and my back hurts but I know I look brooding and mysterious so I sit here anyway. With this in mind I light a cigarette then immediately start coughing. Hope no one saw that. I hold the smoke far enough away from me that I can’t smell it. Gross.
I put my phone on the track next to me and play ‘Leeches’ by Velociraptor. It’s good. I get the lyrics wrong but pretend I don’t. Something crunches through the glass behind me and I twist around. I sigh. There’s palm sized rocks between each of the slats and I pick one up, gripping it hard enough to hurt.
“You’re looking particularly gloomy.”
“I want to be alone.”
“You slammed the door.”
“I want to be alone.”
“Are you mad at me?”
I sigh again.
“No.”
“What’s going on?”
I don’t answer. I hear Mark walk closer but I don’t look at him. A voice says.
Don’t give in.
I look at the ground.
Don’t give in.
Sitting like this folds my belly in half. I think about my fat rolls and feel the urge to vomit. I throw the cigarette away. That car is sounding more appealing.
“Come back.”
“No.”
“You’re a child.”
“Fuck you.”
I’m acutely aware that there’s only enough room on this slat for one person and I don’t move over. Mark mutters something under his breath.
“I’m sorry?”
“I said fuck this.”
“Whatever.”
Mark groans violently and pulls at his hair before exhaling. I don’t show it but he scares me when he gets angry like this. I keep looking down and scratch the rock in my hand against another on the ground. The noise it makes reminds me of the curb-stomp scene in American History X.
“Holy shit.”
He stumbles back from me and falls over. I look up at him, eyes already rolling.
“You’re such a dickhead.”
But he’s not looking at me. He’s looking at the sky. He’s looking behind me. There’s a glow in his eyes, a growing glow that spreads across his face down his body and then everywhere. It reflects off the rocks, the tracks and the glass behind us. I’m confused and scared and don’t want to turn around so I focus on Mark, who’s face is splitting open as his mouth yawns wider and wider in horror. The glow spreads viciously and from behind me there’s a crackling noise mixed with a whining, like someone screaming has been thrown into a fire. It keeps getting louder and louder and louder and I try to yell something to Mark but even I can’t hear what I’m saying. The light becomes so bright it hurts and I shut my eyes and twist to the tracks in a ball, throwing my head to the ground. Even with my arms over my face and my eyelids screwed shut I can still feel the immense glow burn into my eyeballs. I scream and get thrown into the fire.
There’s impact. Then silence.
When I open my eyes, I can only see white light. It’s burnt into my skull. For a full minute I weep and yell, thinking I’ve lost my sight. Slowly darkness creeps back in. I blink and try to push myself up but I’m only stable on all fours. The ground feels hot and I feel weak. The metal tracks are the first things that come into focus. I breathe out, then in and attempt to stand. I’m shaking.
“Mark?”
I can’t hear anything.
“Mark?”
I can’t. Hear. Anything.
“Mark?”
Something brushes my shoulder and I twist around in panic.
“Mark.”
I grab his shoulders and hold him to me, pressing his body hard against mine because if I let go I’d fall back down again. He feels warm and is shaking too. We stay like this for what could have been an hour before he carefully pushes me away. I loop my hand in his and he holds it tight. With the other he points to the other side of the tracks.
Where there was once a crop of bushes and gum trees there was now a hole. And while the darkness of the night had returned, from the hole beamed a floodlight of yellows. At its core a brilliant white.
“What is it?”
“I don’t know.”
My shins feel like splinters but hand in hand, we stepped forward.
“Should we be doing this?”
“I don’t know.”
We shouldn’t have been. I knew we shouldn’t. Logic raged inside me, told me to run. It bashed its head against my brain and screamed danger, screamed escape. But the light was so alluring, so wonderfully spectacular and we are moths, and we are deers. We are frightened animals wandering towards something we don’t understand. It was overwhelming and it drew us in.
We teeter on the edge. The heat from below dries my mouth so I have to roll my tongue around my teeth before repeating.
“What is it?”
“It came from the sky.”
“What is it?”
“I think. I think it’s a star.”
He grips my hand tighter and I grip his back. We are hurting each other because we need to. It’s the only way to stay present without losing our minds. To be able to comprehend the pureness of what we were staring at. There was no discernible shape, just blinding beautiful pain and the most glorious light. My eyes ache and I gasp. I do not look away. I cannot. I will not.
Mark shifts next to me and I feel him wobble, I feel it as he falls to his knees, my hand still fused to his.
“What are you doing?”
He is crying and so am I. The tears barely make it out of my eyes before they evaporate straight off my cheeks. Everything is drying out. I can feel the dead layers of skin on my body cracking. The only sweat is between our palms and we are slipping.
Mark’s grip loosens and when he falls forward he slips from my grasp. I don’t leap to catch him. I don’t move at all. Only watch as his body falls to the light.
I watch as he floats down. Floating. Like the light is carrying him gently downwards. Supporting his body and cradling his spine and neck. He twists so he’s facing up to me, and he’s smiling. And I’m smiling. His mouth opens and he says something I can neither hear or interpret. I sit down on the edge of the hole and watch his body drift ever so softly into the light.
I close my eyes but I can still see. A voice says.
Give in.

And I fall.

I don’t want to be fooled by you.
I just want to be turned to stone with you.

‘Leeches’ – Velociraptor