Star(tled)

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Adelaide, Australia. 2017.

I suppose it wasn’t that long ago when the star fell from the sky. He was surprised at how small it was. Some may describe it as tiny. Though tiny, he reminded himself, is a relative term. I mean compared to an average sized elephant he was tiny. But compared to his old skinny jeans he was not.
He frowned.
Anyway. The star, relative to him, was smaller than how big he imagined a star might be.
How curious.
Although small the star was indeed beautiful. Beautiful in the way that all bright lights are. Like when you step out of the shower and stare at a fluorescent until you feel it in the back of your skull. Beautiful like that one second you’re blinded by a passing car that accidentally left their high beams on.
He decided he was going to touch it.
Now he wasn’t a physicist, he didn’t study astrology and he barely went to school. But he had Google and an imagination and he believed that this gave him at least some claim to the nature of stars. At least enough that warranted a further exploration of the matter.
So yeah, he was going to touch it.
It was cold in the woods and his breath warped in front of him, blurring the fallen star light steaming in the snow. He could feel a comfortable warmth coming from the star, even through his gloves. It felt safe.
He smiled and with face lit up by the soft glow he reached out.
Nervous. Excited.
There was a soft push in his belly, like a gulp moving backwards. Like when someone meets the person they’ll marry. Like when parents hold their child for the first time. Like when a child meets Santa and asks for a wish. He touched the star.
And was instantly incinerated.
Turns out stars are relatively hot. Maybe not so much compared to even hotter stars, but definitely when compared to an average sized human being.
Ash fell in a pile. The star continued to glow.

Worth.

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New York, U.S.A. 2017. (Artist credit below)

His phone was dead and the dirt and rubble didn’t allow sunlight to reach him. How long had he been down here? Something hard and cold was impaled through his side and it was difficult to breathe. The ground above and below had him pinned looking down so his face was in the dirt and he couldn’t move.

He couldn’t move.

How long had he been down here?

He knew if he didn’t starve first he would bleed to death. Rock and broken glass was bunched up around his face, neck, ribs, stomach. His lungs and stomach were coated in a thick layer of dust, every inhale turning his insides into mud. Dust and dirt and rocks and glass. He was dissolving into the rubble from the inside out.
He was cold. He couldn’t think. He was cold. He couldn’t move. He had to do something.
He couldn’t think.
He was told in situations like this humans were supposed to gain some sort of inner magical strength. In the face of certain death his survival instincts were going to kick in more potent then ever before. Adrenaline would pump. Muscles would strain. An unstoppable force would fill him and destroy an immovable object.
But he had tried.
He had strained.
And he was still trapped.
He shouldn’t have been shocked. Getting out from underneath an entire office building was always going to be difficult and the earthquake had been thorough. He tried to remember how many floors were above his own when the building collapsed. Maybe if he knew he could figure out how deeply he was buried.
But he couldn’t. Think. Do. Move.
Blood from a cut on his forehead pooled at the sides of his eyes. Now that he had stopped crying the blood had hardened making his face tight. He struggled to keep his eyes open.
He never imagined much of a future but what he had hoped for was far better than this.
He shut his eyes.

Then.

A shift above him.

There was a grinding sound as rock moved against rock and he felt dust fall against his cheek. He opened his eyes and watched cracks of light split the darkness above him, gasping when moving rubble grazed his nose. The light that dripped through cracks now poured. Temporary blindness from the sudden light gave way to tears and then to a dust-choked,
“Thank god.”
Lifting his head was ecstasy. He couldn’t keep the grin from his face as he looked up, squinting as his pupils contracted and adjusted to what was in front of him. He could see a floodlight pointing down at him from far away. It was bright enough that he couldn’t see past it, couldn’t see the sky. At least not yet. And that was okay. Soon. He was safe, he was-
“Good evening.”
A black shape moved and blocked the light. His pupils widened. With the light behind the figure he couldn’t make out the features of who it was that was in front of him. He could make out shoulders, a neck and a head but that was it.
A silhouette.
He didn’t mind. He was safe, he was-
“Do you prefer sir or madam or other?”
He laughed, then groaned.
“You can call me whatever you want.”
“Sir or madam or other?”
He laughed, quieter.
“Sir is fine.”
The silhouette turned and pulled a transparent clipboard out from behind their back. On the surface of the clipboard swirled different colours. He watched dark purples and bright greens shift and change, mixing and separating seemingly at random. He could make out letters and numbers briefly but they disappeared as soon as they came. Whatever they were he didn’t care. He only wanted to know one thing.
“Can you get me out?”
“Yes.”
The silhouette ran a finger over the glass. Colours moved and he watched as two brighter swirls darkened and spun a little tighter.
“Perfect, let’s do it.”
“Depends.”
“Depends on what?”
The silhouette cleared its throat.
“How would you describe yourself in ten words or less?”
“What?”
“How would you describe yourself in ten words or less?”
His smile froze then fell.
“I don’t understand.”
“Do you have a family? Any children?”
“No I don’t. Please I think I’m badly hurt.”
“Age?”
“Twenty-seven.”
“And would you describe yourself as lower, middle or upper class?”
He stared at the silhouette, confused. He searched for a pair of eyes or a mouth, something to understand but he couldn’t see either. Black fingers spun across the board and colours spun with them.
“I don’t know. I’m losing a lot of blood.”
“Let me simplify that. What is your yearly income?”
“I-I’m on casual rates. I’m not sure. What is this?”
The silhouette made another mark against the clipboard. The colours respond, pooling to the corners of the screen. Their spinning slows.
“I need a hospital.”
“Where did you go to school?”
“What?”
“Where did you go to school?”
“What do you mean?”
“Was it a public or private institution?”
“What is this for?”
The silhouette tapped the centre of the board. His neck was hurting from looking upwards and for a moment he lets his head drop back to the dirt. When he lifted his head back he gasped as the movement shot pain up his side.
“What is your sex?”
“Get me out.”
“Answer the question. We don’t have much time.”
“Please.”
“Answer the question.”
“Male.”
“Gender?”
“Male?”
“Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. How would you describe your sexual orientation?”
“Please I need help. I think I’m dying.”
“Sir, the faster you answer the questions the sooner we can decide what we need to do.”
“We need to get me out of here.”
“Not until you answer these questions. We must determine your worth.”
“My worth?”
“How much society needs you sir.”
His chest tightened. He felt nauseous.
“Can we proceed?”
“I’m dying.”
“Can we proceed?”
“Get me the fuck out of here.”
Fingers tapped against the glass of the clipboard. Colour swirled and tightened.
“Are you religious? Muslim? Buddhist? Atheist?”
“Does it matter?”
“That’s up to you sir. Hot tip, the Pope has tweeted that he is ‘Praying for all the Catholics in the area’ which could boost your average.”
“My average what?”
The silhouette sighed.
“We can’t keep going over this. I have other people to save.”
“You’re not saving anyone at the moment.”
“Pro-life or pro-choice?”
He was crying again.
“Liberal or labour?”
“I don’t know. I don’t vote.”
The clipboard darkened.
He could feel himself slipping.
“Socialist or capitalist?”
“Whatever you want me to say I’ll say it. Just get me out of here please.”
His mind was foggy.
“Black or white?”
“Wh-white.”
The shadow paused and looked down before bringing out a torch and shining it in his eyes. It hurt.
“There is no point in lying sir, you’re only slowing things down.”
“I don’t. I don’t have long.”
“Where are your parents from?”
The silhouette’s voice was fading.
“What are your opinions on climate change?”
His eyes close.
“Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?”
His mouth falls open.
“A genocide occurs. Do you celebrate it?”
Spit dribbled out of his mouth and he could feel it. He could feel it drip warm over his lip. A singular blob slowly stretching as gravity forced it over the edge of his mouth and down towards his chin. He felt it cool and stick to his face, falling no further as it mixed with the dust in the air and became mud. Something shone in his face and his eyes opened.
“Sir we are almost done. Please watch this short video.”
His head droops forward. A hand lifts his head back up and his eyes meet the outstretched clipboard. An advertisement for the new half-chicken half-beef Maxi-Splosion burger from McDonalds plays.
“Sorry about this, it’ll be over in thirty seconds.”
The main video begins.

A crowd of protestors chant something unheard then scatter abruptly as a van plows through the centre of them. A woman is struck and she is seen spiralling through the air, crashing into the camera. Smash cut to a man with a swastika tied around his arm, shouting in the face of a person in a large grey hoody. The person in the hoody throws out a fist and knocks the Nazi to the floor.

The silhouette chuckles.
In the dirt he shuts his eyes.
Without an audience the video continues.

A politician stands at a press pedestal and flips off the camera. A house is on fire. A family can be seen on the top floor staring out the window. A crucifix stands in the front yard and the family waves it goodbye.
Smash cut and the whole world can be seen as if from space.
It is on fire.

The silhouette chuckles again.
“I love that. Now you have a choice of four answers to give in response to this clip. Do you either A. Comment below, outraged. B. Report the vid-Sir? Sir are you paying attention?”
The silhouette moves their hand from the man’s chin to his neck. He doesn’t react. The man’s head is dropped, slumping into the dirt. The silhouette makes a note and the clipboard goes black.
The rubble is replaced.

She didn’t know how long she had been down there. Her chest ached. She couldn’t feel anything below her stomach and she was scared. Something shifted above.
Dust fell.
Light broke through.
A shadow of a face loomed over her, a colourful screen swirling next to it.

“Good evening.”

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Too Much Has Already Been Written About Storms

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Adelaide, Australia. 2017.

It was a once in a ten year storm. Catastrophic. Never before seen, heard or imagined. That’s what the media told us. In our current climate it felt like we had one of these almost every other week but we didn’t care,
not tonight.
Tonight felt like something special.
I chucked on an old shirt and my roommate’s thongs and flagged down my friend as she drove past. On the way to the beach we listened to Violent Soho’s ‘Slow Wave’ and I watched the sky, waiting for it to break apart.
The beach is the best place to be in a storm. The only thing between you and the sky is flesh and blood. The danger is electrifying and real. We were going to live forever and this is how we showed the world that we weren’t lying when we said that.
Half a bottle of red with ‘Medium Strength’ written along the side gets passed around the group. It wasn’t enough to get drunk but that was fine. We were fucked already.
Faces were grinning. Fingers tapped against thighs. We giggled and tripped over our own feet. Everyone could feel that tonight was something different.

The whites of our eyes reflected back in each other’s mad stares.

We ran down the sand screaming and yelling like we didn’t have jobs anymore,
we didn’t have houses anymore,
we didn’t have our selves anymore.

Me and my best mate waded out together, further than anyone else. We went so far the horizon stopped existing. The sea joined the sky seamlessly and nothing but blackness lay in front of us. He said the water looked as if it never had end and we wondered how far we could walk until we drowned.
Someone behind us told us to look out for crabs and we told them to get fucked. When something touched my leg I screamed and we splashed back to safety.
The storm didn’t come. That night I left my window open and listened to Violent Soho quiet enough hoping when it came I could hear the rain.

Flight & Fight

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Kill Devil Hills, U.S.A. 2017.

It is hot. It is bright. I left my sunnies in the car and my head hurts. There is a pimple on my neck and I scratch it idly. I turn to my cousin who is a cunt.
“Hey can I borrow your sunnies?”
“No.”
Cunt.
I squint up at the monolith in front of me. All cement and words that I can’t read in this sunlight, the Wright Brother Memorial didn’t seem like much. At least not enough to make me care about the first manned flight and blah blah blah etc. The only reason I had come was the dickhead next to me. I tried glaring at him but that didn’t add much to my existing squint.
“Amazing.” He whispered to himself.
“Is it?”
He ignores me. My nail catches the tip of my pimple and nicks the top.
“Ow fuck.”
“Shouldn’t do that.”
“Why not dickhead.”
“Pop a pimple, tug a mole. Turn into a big black hole.”
“What the fuck is that?”
“Something mum used to say.”
“Your mum’s an idiot.”
He turns away from me and I rub the side of my neck. I watch him staring up at the memorial like he’d never seen stone before. I wish I had my sunnies. Fuck this place. I want to go back to the beach. They have two metal busts of the Wright brothers facing towards us and I flip one off. I sigh and lean forward, resting my elbows on my knees. Gotta cut this trip short and being obviously annoyed isn’t helping. Different tactic.
“I heard they were massive creeps.”
Even in the sun I can see my cousin twitch. Perfect.
“Total loners. And from what I hear it was completely by choice. Two brothers with that sort of fame and they couldn’t even use it to get some poon? They must have been fucking each other.”
“Ugh.”
Houston we have liftoff.
“What? It’s fact. Two bachelors, tucked away in a tent in the middle of nowhere. You choose that kind of isolation for a reason.”
“You’re disgusting.”
“I have heard they had a sister too,” I leaned into his ear, “Do you think they took turns, or was it a ménage a trios sort of situation?”
He shuffled uncomfortably away from me. “No one asked you to come.”
I leant in closer. “Your mum did. She really loves you you know. You must be pretty close what with the two of you, tucked away in those woods all alone. Pretty romantic I’d say.”
My cousin stood up abruptly. Even in this light I could see how red his face was. His hands are now fists and I laugh.
“What are you going to do shitface?”
He mutters something quietly.
“What was that?”
He sits down. I lean over and snatch the sunnies off his face.
“Ah sweet darkness.”
I lean back and stare up at the monolith in front of me properly for the first time.
“Actually it’s not that bad. For a pair of sister fuc-ow, what was that?”
The side of my neck is stinging. I turn and my cousin is staring at me but he looks different. His eyes are red and he is whispering something fast and indistinct under his breath. I can see a small amount of pus and blood on his outstretched thumb and index finger. I reach up to my neck where my pimple once was and my hand falls through nothing.
“What did you do?”
“Go fuck yourself.”
He pulls the sunnies off my face and puts them on before standing up. I watch him walk away as my body collapses under itself. I go to scream but the sound disappears into the black hole where I once stood.

The Fifes Go On Holiday

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Florida, U.S.A. 2017.

“Kids, your mother and I have something we need to tell you.”
Peter paused. He relished the tension reflected in the eyes of his three children and forced himself not to grin as he took a deliberate sip of tea. Susan, his wife, sighed and squeezed his shoulder.
“Come on Peter, you’re being cruel.”
“Yeah papa!”
“Yeah, what’s going on?”
Peter giggled as his youngest child Frank frowned up at him. He patted his son’s head and Frank responded by kicking him in the shins. Peter’s smile didn’t shift as he knelt down and grabbed the back of  Frank’s head, pressing their noses together.
Without breaking eye contact with Frank he said “Kids. We’re going on holiday.”
Frank gasped. Susan grinned. Martha, the eldest, spoke quietly, “Wh-where are we going pa?”
Peter looked up at his daughter.
“Oh. I think you know.”
A penny dropped and the kitchen exploded. Martha screamed and shoved her fist in her mouth. Sally, the middle child, squealed then slammed her head into the dining table. She immediately fell to the floor. Frank gently placed his hands on either side of his father’s face and kissed his forehead.
“Thank you father.”
Peter nodded solemnly then stood back up. His wife, leaning against the sink, wiped a tear from her eye. Peter smiled at her, she smiled back and they embraced. Their lips locked and tongues slipped happily into each other’s mouths. They stayed this way until the room fell silent once again.
Sally stood back up, wobbling slightly. There was a slip of blood down the side of her forehead and she was smiling.
Peter sat down at the head of the table and gestured for his children to do the same. Susan turned to the sink and on her tip toes pulled a small velvet pouch from the cupboard above it. She opened the bag and placed three thin black objects into her husband’s waiting hand. If there was any excitement left in the room it immediately dissipated. Tension returned and Martha whined.
“Ma this is no fair, I was up last time.”
“It is fair young lady, you know this is how we do it. We are all equal.”
Martha crossed her arms and frowned. Peter slammed his fist on the table and threw her an accusatory finger.
“None of that attitude miss. I mean it.”
Martha uncrossed her arms and shoved them in her pockets. Peter did not put down his finger. He pointed to each of his children in turn.
“We are a family. One unit. One body.”
The children in unison repeated, “One unit. One body.”
“Exactly.”
Peter put down his hand. Carefully, so the children couldn’t see what he was doing, he covered the three objects with his fist, leaving only their top halves exposed.
“Alright children. Everyone choose a straw.”

The Fife’s basement was as large as it was clean. Which is not to suggest either. Most of the area was shut off due to a flooding earlier that year, except for a raised tiled island in its centre. Above that dangled a lightbulb and below it a flat metal bed. There Frank lay with his father standing beside him. Peter was in front of a wooden bench, rearranging objects unseen to Frank.
“Can’t I just do this next time, I’ll be bigger then.”
“I’m sorry Frank, you drew the short straw.”
“Are you sure?”
Peter chuckled. “Of course I’m sure.”
The basement echoed with the sound of metal scratching against wood. Frank wriggled restlessly.
“Can I have the oxy Dad?”
“No son.”
“But please.”
Peter sighed and turned to his son, “I’m sorry Frankie but we’re almost out. We have to save at least a little for the trip.”
“Aw come on, just a bit.”
Peter placed a hand on his little boy’s cheek. Frank pouted and Peter chuckled.
“God forgive me I can’t say no to a face like that. Here you go son.”
Peter pulled a small glass vial filled with white powder from his shirt pocket. Frank grabbed it greedily, twisted off the top and carefully tapped a pile onto the wooden bench. As he bent over to rail the line his father laughed and tousled his hair.
“That’s enough now son. Let’s get this sorted or we’re going to be late.”
Frank turned back to his dad. His eyes were half closed, his mouth smiling and his nose powdered. He laid his head back down on the headrest behind him.
“We’re going to have fun aren’t we Dad?”
“We sure are son, we sure are.”
Little Frankie closed his eyes and his father lifted his right leg. He placed a two-by-four underneath his son’s shin and from the bench behind him he pulled a claw hammer.
“I love you son.”
“I love you too Dad.”
Peter pushed a stray hair behind Frank’s ear, leant down and kissed his forehead. He looked so much like his mother, he thought to himself before reaching over and flicking on a nearby radio. ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee filled the room.
Peter sighed and rolled his shoulder’s back. He smiled.
Upstairs Susan, Martha and Sally sat around the kitchen table. Sally was six spaces away from the end of Chutes & Ladders and things were tense. The three tapped their feet along to the beat coming from downstairs.

When little Frankie woke up, it was to paradise. ‘Despacito’ thumped loudly but there was no basement anymore, only sunshine. His head felt heavy and though it was an effort he tried to lift himself. A large soft palm pushed him back down and Frank welcomed his father’s smiling face into his vision.
“Morning Pa.”
“We’re here Frankie.”
Frank blinked and his eyes focused. Bright colours and blurry shapes became roller coasters, became people, became music, fun and happiness. A disembodied mouse’s head leered down at him from every available surface.
They had made it.
Frank laughed without meaning to. He could see his sisters running ahead, his mother chasing gleefully after them. He was moving forward. No. He was rolling forward.
Peter pushed along his wheelchair bound son with care. He slowed down as a group of children ran in front of them and took time to avoid any cracks in the pavement. When they reached the first line for the first ride the pair looked at each other and scoffed. Peter’s wife put an arm in the crook of her husband’s and one of Frank’s sisters sat on his lap. Together the Fife family laughed and laughed and moved straight to the express lane for the disabled.
Little Frankie smiled and fell back into unconsciousness.

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.

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.