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I wasn't going to say anything. I was just going to take a break for a month. But I can't. To not do this anymore, to not keep this little journal even for 30 days is like giving up, like letting myself die. Time's already running out. These little pockets I consider and enter everyday are tiny bubbles of air nurturing me as I lie on the muddy ocean floor, pinned down by the weight of human bones, litter and excrement. I can see the surface, the sparkling sapphire of the sunlight cast through it. It's all so far away.
Nothing but a thick black blanket. No sound, not even one heartbeat or a breath.
I must be dead. This is death. Something happened and I died. Now I am here. Nowhere.
Suddenly the room fell cold. The temperature plummeted as if sucked through the ground growing colder still until the air was almost freezing. The first noise I heard was the sharp shiver of my own breath as my body began to shudder in the frozen air. The second was the coarse rasp of a voice pressed against my ear.
"Don't try to move," it said. "Not yet."
"Who are you?" I shouted into the void.
"No one." The voice was cold like the air, bereft of feeling or emotion. Words tripped over its tongue like gravel scratched across stone.
"Where am I?" I continued.
"Why've you brought me here?"
"To save yourself."
"From myself?" I reached towards the voice with my closest arm, but felt nothing. My hand seemed to pass through air.
"I'm sorry,"the voice said. "We had to bleed the evil from you."
"Yes. We've cut off your left hand."
I tried to move my fingers. In the dark I'd no idea whether they moved or not. I reached out my right hand to clasp my left, but that wouldn't move either. In the freezing blackness, I began to panic.
"Don't worry," the voice said, "your other arm's merely restrained."
"Why did you cut off my hand?!"
"We had to. There was so much evil in you, so much hate, anger and bitterness. We removed the madness. We set you free."
"This is just a nightmare," I hissed. "I can wake up any time."
"You've already have," the voice said.
That was so deeply touching, trekking halfway and half-pregnant across London and back just to meet for half an hour. Just to meet me. Just to remind me, with one smile, who I was yesterday, and how lucky he was. I'll never have my own little tummy-bump. I'll never know how incredible it must feel to make life, simply from love. I'll never again know love. But I know you. I dread tomorrow. I just can't do this anymore. I'm not doing anything at all. Why's it so hard to live pursuing what we love? Why's fulfilment always so elusive?
I miss you. There's not really much else to say, so I might as well just repeat it again and again. I miss you I miss you I miss you. It's been seven months now, and I still think about you. Everyday. It would be so easy, so very difficult to just phone you, right now. I miss you. The most arbitrary things still remind me so strongly of you - black coffee, the number eleven, sunlight, an aeroplane, wool. You're everywhere. Are you happy? I hope you're happy. You deserve to be happy. I just miss you. So fucking much.
"If this isn't a dream then I must be somewhere."
"Yes," the voice croaked, a tone between serene and indifferent.
"So where am I?"
"Nowhere? Nowhere isn't an answer."
"No, 'nowhere' is never an answer. Nor is 'nothing' or 'no one'. You must always be something. You must always be someone, going somewhere."
"But I can't see anything. I'm in a dark room with a strange voice. I can't move. I feel nothing - I feel totally numb. No pain, no joy. What sort of place is this?"
"This is the bare, simple truth of it all, the voice replied."
Chapter 5's almost finished; a big fat pig at 15,000 words with 8 chapters to go. I remember reading most publishers/agents only go for 100,000 max from a new author, making me nervous. Then I remember Zadie Smith's White Teeth and I feel calmer. I always compare myself. I've never won a Jerusalem award or recorded a Big Finish audio. I've only done the Fringe once. But I'm writing. That's enough, isn't it? Suddenly I think of Mum. Still spending fortunes doing up the house so she can sell it, rather than just selling it as it is, right now.
Several things I've wanted to say to you:
1) Shut up.
2) Listen. Just for once.
3) Don't interrupt. It's insufferably rude.
5) Could you really do any better?
6) Oh do fuck off.
7) People in glass houses shouldn't call others late.
8) Excuse me?
9) Yes, I heard you the first time. And the third.
10) Grandmother. Eggs. Suck.
11) Stop stealing my fucking pens!
12) I really couldn't care less.
13) Sod off and let me do it then.
14) That's an abysmal idea. What are you, twelve?
15) CAN'T YOU SEE I'M ON THE FUCKING PHONE?
"Is this death?"
The voice remained silent.
"I thought this was, but then I heard you and thought I can't be dead if I can still hear. Now though, I'm not so sure."
"This isn't death," the voice said.
"Then where am I?"
"Nowhere," it repeated.
"You keep saying that. I must be somewhere. I must've been somewhere else and you brought me here."
"I brought you nowhere. I'm here because you're here, and you brought yourself here."
"Why do you always talk in riddles?" I asked the voice.
"Why do you always talk in riddles?" the voice asked me.
"I think you're not telling me the whole story."
"I do. I also think you're keeping me here."
"Yes. Why else would you have me in restraints?"
"I didn't put you in restraints."
"Who did? I suppose it was me."
"And then cut off my own hand too."
"No. I cut off your hand." Anger, violation and loss suddenly surged through me.
"You're angry," the voice said.
"I am," I growled through clenched teeth.
"Then we have failed. We didn't drain all the evil from you. We should cut off your left foot as well."
I'm not Catholic: never been, never will.
But when Jean-Paul II died, something inside stilled.
We're in Paris then, branding memories:
sipping coffee beneath April's breeze;
Shakespeare's sonnet shared beside the dead
brought tombs screaming metaphors deep into our heads.
I intend to die a Catholic,
though I never could live as one.
"This'll remind me of you," you whispered as you sung.
I didn't get a sonnet, just coffee and cold air,
a pope and long-dead voices, still singing life unfair.
I got all of Paris. Almost everything.
I never got you, never could change my state with kings.
Judgemental, supercilious and impatient. This is me. Disgust, irritation and frustration come much easier than warmth. No pity, nor indifference. Like hatred (love's sour grapes) I'm a creature of feeling, maybe feeling gone sour. I want life to be better, people to try harder. With one combined push everyone could change the world. Instead it's left impossibly to the few.
When I got home I defrosted the freezer. It took ages, using a knife, hot water and gloves. Did my flatmate notice? Of course not. But I didn't do it for praise. It just needed to be done.
"You're very chop-happy aren't you?"
"We have to preserve as much of you as possible. Something's eating away at you inside, like a cancer."
"So you're a doctor?"
"I'm a doctor," the voice replied, wearing the statement like ill-fitting clothes.
"Why won't you tell me why I'm here?"
"Because you haven't asked that yet."
"Well I'm asking now!"
"You had to be somewhere safe."
"To stop you from killing yourself."
"I'd never try to kill myself. I'm past that foolishness now."
"But you have been trying to kill yourself. You've been trying, and succeeding, bit by bit everyday."
It seems like years since you've been here. I could smell your perfume as I walked uphill towards home. I could hear you singing. Somehow everything makes sense when you come to stay. I don't know why I'm so much happier whenever you're around. Maybe it's because you're just so very youthful yourself. Your very name conjures promises of days spent lounging in parks, on lawns and sun-drenched benches, of laughter and optimism and not letting those little things drag you down or hold you back. Please stay a little longer this year. Don't turn the leaves brown too soon.
Today's lunchbreak chatter addressed serial killers, specifically Dennis Nielsen, during which I discovered he ate his victims' flesh. I'd a vague recollection of him once boiling someone's head, but didn't realise he was that little step beyond garden-variety sociopathy.
"Why have sex with a dead body hours afterwards?" my boss wondered aloud, reading a website on Nielsen's antics. "Just after killing them is more understandable, isn't it? At least they'd still be warm."
"In my experience with men," I replied sullenly, "it seldom makes much difference."
A wary silence followed. My reputation's clearly been upgraded from misanthrope to psychopath. Result.
Yesterday was a blur of holistic joy. I should've written it all down then. Little
and profundities all gelled into one perfect breath; that certainty of sunshine behind the clouds, beyond the dark; the springy mesh of everything binding together, spreading warmth with one tug. Like a reassuring hammock you know you're secure. Threads stretch as one. Everything is good. These are the times for dipping fingers into the pool, the light between atoms. My own swell as I breathe, filled with the universe. I touch everything with clumsy human fingers, not knowing the strength with which I push.
I could feel the room grow colder still, yet at the same time I did not feel the cold. I did not shiver. I could not feel the wound at the end of my arm, or the bed upon which I apparently lay.
"I've been here before haven't I?"
"This all seems so familiar."
"You said I woke up. You said I'd been dreaming."
"How long have I been awake?"
"Who can say? Some times you're awake, but never for very long. Never long enough."
"Then how long have I been asleep?"
"A long, long time."
I feel like I can't do this anymore. I feel like life's a game I can no longer be bothered to play, lines I haven't bothered to learn. Nothing brings any real joy anymore. Everything's a new ingenious way of wasting time. I know where I went wrong, but my arrogance refuses to believe it's so simple, something of mere flesh. I doubt everything that should matter. I doubt my friends, my family. I doubt love. I doubt feeling. I feel nothing. They're divorced. Detached. I feel a failure. I feel I have failed to become this person I created.
It beamed out with genuine sincerity from a brown-paper parcel half-shoved through my letterbox; a thermometer in a chattering child's mouth, origins half-swallowed by my home:
I REALLY LIKE MULTICOLOURED CATERPILLARS, A LOT!
I'd seen it from the corridor, puzzling over it. I wasn't expecting anything. A quick read, a look at the time taken to wrap it brought instant certainty who it's for, and who from. I'm really lucky. Not just because I know someone who sends me advance pre-release copies of novels by one of my favourite authors, but simply that I know someone who does these things.
The darkness hung in the air like a veil, a blindfold over everything I needed to know. I wanted to look at my arm, or whatever was left of it, to see if what this voice said was true. Sight was truth, and I had lost that.
"Who are you?"
"I'm your doctor," said the voice, now sounding comfortable in this role.
"But there's something familiar about you too."
"There's something familiar about this place."
"This place is nowhere."
"And yet I know it from somewhere."
"It's so cold."
"Yes," the voice replied. "Empty places are always cold."
"Your eyes should be getting used to the darkness now."
I squinted in the blackness, trying to make out something, anything - a shape or a shadow. But still there was nothing. Just pure and endless nothingness.
"Do you see this?" I could hear the clink and rattle of him holding something up in front of my face.
"What is it?"
"This is everything you need to see." I strained once more, desperately forcing my eyes to discern anything about whatever he held.
"No, I can't see anything."
"No," the voice replied, sadly. "No, I don't believe you can."
Nothing betrayed any evidence of existence in the room. No light penetrated the thick blackness, nor any sound echoed in its ear-numbing silence, except for the voices of myself, and whomever this was standing with me - this dubious guardian or 'doctor'.
I could feel the darkness closing in, tightening all around me like the slow and considered determination of a fist, cold, heavy and oppressive. I was not being deceived by anyone in this place - neither others nor myself, but this was not truth. Nothing could happen to me here, but this was not safety.
This was stagnation.
Somehow hangovers sharpen your senses, your memories. Life develops this profound perception of everything within it, every sound and scent, every movement. London was a sympathetic grey as I stepped into a soothing morning mist that washed my face and grass alike. On the busy tube (I was running late) I bathed in a handsome young blond man's aftershave as he quietly read his newspaper. At the office gate I smelt bacon, freshly grilled. Memories of mornings at his Camden flat surfaced, sinful aromas of the greasy-spoon cafe nextdoor seeping through the window as I lay day-dreaming in the bath.
"I want to leave."
"You can't. You're not ready yet."
"I'm doing nothing here."
"Yes. This is nothing."
"Well I want to do something."
"Now? Why do you want to do something now? You have never done anything. This is who you are. This is the truth of it. This is where you belong. This is the purity you've sought. You are no one, in nothing, nowhere."
"I am not no one."
"Then why aren't you someone? Why aren't you somewhere?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know when you are safe."
"Safe? Safe from what?"
But the voice said nothing.
"I'm tired of this."
"Then sleep. Return to your nightmares. You'll be back."
"No. I won't." The room fell silent, the cold hanging in the air like the morning of an execution.
"You want to remain asleep?" The voice hissed bitterly. "In endless meaningless comfort? A place where self-awareness falls to daydreams in dull warmth bought with money?"
"I want to be in control."
"You never will be. Not there."
"I have to try."
"So be it, fool."
I awoke to see shadows hanging balanced by artificial light, and my left hand, reattached, gripping neither a pen nor another's hand.
You let me in, not noticing my eyes and hair have both drastically changed, that I'm too thin or my skin is almost white. I'm wearing a grey coat that looks like the one I own now. Silently you lead me upstairs. Bookcases now line its walls, armchairs and sofas in new locations. And my picture of you is gone. I tell you I'm leaving, but I wanted to say goodbye. You say okay, and that's it. Goodbye. I leave. That's how it will be, the last time I see the you that exists. Not the you I'll always remember.
Rain falls from a grey sky, again painting from my mood. But this wasn't clean rain, no granted wish for cleansing or refreshment. This was just wet and heavy weather. I woke up to it and instantly knew I deserved it. This is solace denied. There are depths of flesh even holy water cannot cleanse. I carried this filth all day, this loathing and this sickness. By evening, the sky had swollen into a distant thunderstorm beyond the high glass, and I could only sit beetle-like under its bell jar as its fingertips caressed the earth and stone beyond, denied.
There's nothing like a brief change of scene for realising what a bland routine my life is. Work's become so entirely empty and utterly incompatible with any notion of who I am that I almost want to burst out laughing. Or crying. Why are some people able to live their lives doing what they want to do, and others are not? Are those people more determined? More lucky? More simple? I'm bored with my job, frustrated with my homelife, disillusioned with my ambitions, let down by my friends and detached entirely from any prospect of love. Why am I here?
I know what you're doing. You fucked him, didn't you? Or he fucked you, the dynamics really aren't the issue. The issue's that you're a filthy, sleazy, repugnant, predictable, bestial chunk of disappointing human flesh. What is it with queers? Why can't they keep their dicks in their trousers for anything beyond a minute? Why have they no true sense of decency or loyalty? Why have they no compassion? Why is everything just about cock? About fucking? What is everything always ultimately about sex? What a crass and vulgar herd of flesh-eating carnivores you repugnant scavengers are. Stay far away.
I don't have many friends. I've just culled two of them, and may lose contact with those attached as a result. I doubt they'll really notice, so it's no issue. I do, hoever, have people I can trust. I have Romana, Little One, Janatan, Jonio, Mr. B, Mr. Anderson and now I have Andrew again, back from the dead. I know they are far more likely than anyone else in my life to be there for me should I need them, and that's better than any bottom-feeding parasite. That's better than putting undeserved faith in those who only abuse it.
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