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I had the most terrible dream. I can't remember all of it. It's patchy, like a frayed jumper. Or like a text of foreign language where you only know a few words.
I can remember the worst parts. The most devastating scenes.
She had long, dirty blond hair. Whenever I used to picture dirty blond hair, I always imagined it was simply blond hair that had been dragged through mud. Hair that had lost its sheen. But after seeing her, I realised that I had been completely wrong.
Dirty blond hair is a colour in its own, beautiful right.
I cannot write poetry. I don't know why.
I just scour my brain for poetic phrases, peel them off the membranes of the neurones and throw them down onto the page, sew them all together in the hope of forming something that's whole, that's beautiful and real like the good Doctor picking the individually perfect body parts to create his masterpiece and in the end, despite his skill and knowledge and fine needlepoint all that's left at the end of the operation is a monster, a horrific, gargantuan monster that should bring shame, that should be burned burned burned.
I have the voice in my head that reads things for me and vocalises my thoughts.
It's not my voice. I don't know whose voice it is.
It's a mildly high, male voice. Quiet, soft. Slightly afraid.
I don't know why it's afraid. My thoughts aren't that bad.
I wonder whose voice it is? Where did it come from? Does it have its own inner voice to voice its own thoughts?
I've tried communicating with the voice but it doesn't seem to want to talk back. Maybe it's shy. Maybe it can't talk back. Why won't it talk?
Oscar had spent most of the formative years of his life as a strict Christian. So strict that he refused (or had been instructed to refuse) any worldly pleasures. His meals had consisted of water, chicken and vegetables that weren't too colourful. Parsnips, potatoes and cauliflowers.
He had once, when very little and visiting the house of a friend, accidentally eaten a carrot. It tasted wonderful. He was so afraid that of its loveliness that he immediately went to the bathroom and forced himself to throw up. He was still deeply worried. What if he had digested it?
What if his body had broken down some of the carrot and incorporated it into his muscle? What if it had become part of him? What would God have done?
He went to his Pastor and confessed his crime, and told him of his worries. The Pastor told him not to worry; God would punish him in the appropriate way and that would be that. His sins would be forgiven and it would be as if he had never transgressed against the will of God.
He thanked the Pastor and returned home to await his divine and just punishment.
Eventually he moved away to university and, for whatever reason, God didn't seem to follow. He discovered that punishments turned up at random intervals. Sometimes he would eat a carrot, and bad things would happen only months later. Perhaps God was busy with other things. Maybe there were more important people to punish.
It was almost as if his transgressions and punishments had no form of correlation at all.
One day, he decided to drink seven cup of coffee in one sitting, and soon became convinced that he could see time. He drew a rather nice picture of it.
That's right. I have grown a beard.
The changes to my life have been nothing short of phenomenal. Every time I pass a river, wild trout just jump into my hands.
I remember when I was younger, I used to think that you had to grow out your nose hair to get a beard. It would grow down from your nose, across your upper lip to make a moustache, and then shape its way around your chin, and then downwards, to form a fully functioning beard.
I now know, from personal experience, that this is not in fact the case.
I went to the dentist today.
They had taken down the poster where they politely ask you to refrain from participating in oral sex if you wish to avoid mouth cancer.
Apparently, I might need another filling. I know it's not true. All they want to do is insert another wireless tracking/communication device so that they know where I am and what I'm saying at all times. Well, they're not going to get me. My teeth can crumble like Ozymandias' statue for all I care. They're not going to pack me full of their machinery. I'll stay free forever.
Every year on my birthday, a stumpy troll comes out from under my bed.
I don't know where he lives for the rest of the year. I assume under my bed. If he does, then he is exceptionally quiet and reserved. I can't hear him breathing or eating or doing whatever else he needs to do in order to survive.
It was only on my 8th birthday that I noticed him. He stumbled over a book on the floor and fell against the wall. The noise woke me up. He stared at me for a moment, then ran off.
I only started to follow him when I was 15. Every other year since the first that I had noticed him, I would stay up all night and wait for him to appear. He always turned up at midnight and left my room. Occasionally he would wave or smile, but most of the time he left without a gesture.
On that birthday, I decided it was time to determine where it was he went. So I rolled out of bed despite tiredness tugging its hooks in to me and managed to pull myself up to my feet and start pursuing.
I followed the troll as he made his way out of my house. He didn't notice me, or if he did, he didn't seem to care.
As I followed, I tried to figure out the right word to describe the way e walked. He was too short and stocky to saunter or stride. Too light-footed to shuffle. To serious to skip.
My brain took a slight detour to notice how many words to describe walking began with 's'. Then back to the task at hand.
I came to the conclusion that there were no adequate words to describe it.
'You know what I've discovered?'
'What've you discovered?'
'I've discovered, right...this is going to blow your mind.'
'My mind is preparing itself to be blown.'
'I've discovered that, like, the whole wide world. This whole beautiful wide beautiful word of ours. All the people in this beautiful whole whole wide beautiful whole...'
'If you could speed it up, my mind and I would appreciate it.'
'What I've discovered is that most of the world is focused, right, on telling you that you're not good enough, then selling you things to correct yourself.'
'Nary has my mind been so blown.'
'It works like this, see?'
'I can't see. You blew my mind, which includes my visual cortex.'
'It works like this. You start off as a kid and the people on TV tell you that you can't be having fun, not real proper fun like all the other kids are having, unless you buy this toy. So you buy the toy and now your're fixed, right? Wrong! Because, uh-oh, that toy's out of fashion and isn't fun any more, even if it is. So you get the new toy because that way you're having the right kind of fun.'
'And it just carries on, right?'
'I'm sure you are.'
'They tell you that you're not smart enough, so you need an education. But then that's not enough, you need to go to university. But then that's not enough, you need to get experience. And at the same time, they're telling you that you're too ugly, so buy this brand of face cream or whatever, or that you're too fat, so drink this energy smoothie filled to the fucking brim with anti-toxins, whatever those are.'
'And vitamins. They always contain copious amounts of various vitamins.'
'Damn right they do.'
- I've been doing some thinking.
- That's always dangerous.
- And I was thinking, do you think that God is just a terribly shy introvert?
- What do you mean?
- Well, I think it makes lots of things make sense. He's too shy to communicate with humanity, so He gets people to write His words down instead. He feels more comfortable expressing Himself in writing than he does speaking. Classic introvert.
- Makes sense, I suppose.
- And, right, when that doesn't work, He sends a much more charismatic person, Christ, to talk in His stead. I'm telling you, I'm convinced God is an introvert.
'I've never understood the phrase 'shake what your mamma gave you. How am I supposed to shake my crippling social anxiety?'
'I believe it's pronounced 'shake wha' ya' mamma' ga' ya'.'
'No, right, maybe, but you get it right?'
'Yes, I understand.'
'Yeah, right, but it works on two levels, right? Like, it works as in the subversion of expectations. And, right, listen...'
'Listen. It also works in that 'shake' can also mean 'to get rid of' as in, I've never figured out how to get rid of my social anxiety.'
'I get it.'
'It's good, right?'
I don't like it when people ask me what I do for fun. Because then I have to think about what I do for fun, and I realise that what I do for fun really doesn't sound like fun.
I think that inside of me there's a wild child who wants to inject himself with every known chemical substance, run through the streets naked and wake up in a basement surrounded by whips, splodges of cream and a rubber duck.
But then there's the sensible child in me who just wants to read a nice book and doesn't like loud noises.
Y'know, I fell from Heaven once, too. Not like that Satan kid, oh no. Don't get me wrong, he fell, but gave up when he hit the earth.
Not me, no sir. I just kept falling.
Fall past the earth, kept going down. All the way through galaxies and solar systems. I fell through a supernova, once. Felt like falling through a cloud brimmed with static electricity.
I kept falling all the way down. And you know what I find, right at the bottom?
Whole stack of the buggers. Little legs waving in space. They was kind of funny.
Y'know, sometimes I worry about what would happen if I started to fall faster than the universe kept expanding,
At the moment, we seem to be going at roughly the same speed. I can see the edge, almost touch it if I was inclined. The turtles like to swim up to it and bump it with their noses. Stupid buggers.
But I do worry. What's on the other side of the universe? Would I just come out the top and start falling all over again? Or would I fall into a new place entirely? Would I be back in Heaven?
'Imagine this, right? Imagine if you were a socially awkward extrovert. Like, you spent the majority of your childhood alone so you never really picked up on the social skills needed to be truly extroverted. Which means that you constantly tired and run down because you never see anyone, and you're really sad all the time. But when you go out, you try and talk to people, but you just can't. So while you're happy to be around people, you get frustrated because you can't join in. You're not a part of them. But you can't enjoy introversion, either. Hell.'
They had been friends during secondary school. Good friends. And then they had moved away to university, and good friends became long-distance friends, which eventually turned into long-distance acquaintances. Social media only helped them exchange mutually detached pleasantries. They had tried writing letters, but it was so hard to find time from studying and drinking and sleeping to sit down and actually listens to your thoughts, plan and write something out...by hand. And stamps could be bloody expensive.
So it was a shock to see each other, on the street, in the flesh, rooted in real life.
Their eyes had met, and lingered. Lingered for too long to pretend that they hadn't seen each other, pretend that they were still surrounded by strangers as they crossed each other on the pavement.
She raised her arm awkwardly, a cross between a wave and salute.
She walked over to him, wondering what to do with her hands.
'You've grown a beard.'
He grinned in what he hoped was a rueful manner, scratching at his beard self-consciously.
'Yeah, I did. It's a metaphor for my character development.'
They both laughed as if following a stage direction in a script.
They both continued to act out their respective parts.
It certainly wasn't high quality acting. They tended to forget their lines and look to the wings for support. It was emotionless, bland, obviously under-rehearsed. But it offered a sort of morbid entertainment, like watching a dying man cough out his final dying breath.
They ended the act with the traditional line, an agreement to meet up for coffee some time in the future so that they could have a 'proper catch up, just like we used to'.
And then they left the stage, glad that they play was over.
I enjoy typing. I like the click clack sounds as my fingers hit the keys. Sometimes, if I hit them just right, it sounds like rain falling onto a pavement. When it rains really hard and they hit they pavement with such force that the raindrops can't help but jump up and back down again, as if they enjoyed the journey down so much that they want to recreate it again and again before they finally settle into their new home.
But the words always come to a close and the rain must stop. The storm passes as stories finish.
Sometimes I wonder whether I'm in my own version of the Truman Show.
I start thinking that maybe there are hidden cameras all around me, with thousands of people watching my every move. Watching me eat, sleep and interact with actors paid to be my friends, family and utter strangers.
Then I realise that that can't possibly be the case, because it would be far too boring a show. Most of it would be me sitting in front of a laptop, with highlights including going to the kitchen to eat.
That doesn't sound like a show anyone would like watching.
I've only just realised that I can write whatever I like. I can write anything.
I can write the word pineapple here. And there's nothing to stop me. So I will.
I don't have to obey any sort of rules. No laws of grammar or storytelling. I don't have to restrain myself. All the words in the world are at my disposal. Even words that don't exist in the world. Thrummgerny. Happlotion. Solia. Mombernatter.
I can do anything with these words. Fashion then how I will. Order mix the up. This is a brave new world, a new landscape.
I remember one of my friends telling me that the thought that I could one day raise a child is terrifying.
If I become a parent, I don't think that I'll screw up my children too badly. And if I do, I would say that they'll be screwed up in a quirky sense rather than a shoot-up-the-school sense.
I'm sure that they would turn out fine eventually. They would become fully functioning adults, able to traverse the depths of the real world. They could be able to live a normal life. But just with more interesting conversations.
These used to come so easily. So very easily.
I remember being able to sit down and type as if my fingers were guns and words bullets. Bamb bamb bamb! One hundred rounds, straight through the heart.
Now it all seems that much harder. The words no longer shoot out as quickly as they used to. Maybe I've accidentally left the safety catch on.
It feels like every word has to be drudged up from a swamp and cleaned and held up to the light and then and only then can it finally be written down to read.
It could be that I'm misremembering.
Maybe the words never came easily. Maybe they always had to be extracted from a swamp. Maybe I just used to never bother about cleaning them.
That could be it. I wasn't more energetic in my writing a few years ago. I was just more careless. Words would fly into my head and I'd let them fly onto the page without bothering to check or vet them, without thinking whether they were the right words or the best words or the words that deserved to be there.
I just used to write.
It's been a long time since I finished a batch.
I feel like this should be a momentous occasion. There should be flowers and banners and little tiny fireworks exploding on my computer screen when I hit submit.
Maybe there will be. There hasn't been in the past batches that I've completed. But that doesn't mean that there won't be this time. Maybe there's been some new coding going on whilst I've been away, a new gimmick to get more people to finish. Wouldn't that be nice?
I suppose I'll just have to submit and see.
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