A room with a small bed

I’m asleep. I think.

No, I’m in bed and I’m awake, but my eyes are closed.

No. I am above myself. Watching myself. One of me is asleep and one of me, the one above, is watching. The one below, starts moving. She’s being dragged, actually, by her feet.

No. I can’t see that. I can just see…She’s in the bed and then she’s on the floor. She’s moving into the corridor, the hallway, through the the front door into the night. But she isn’t walking. She is floating, levitating. And it’s like someone, something is dragging her along. Taking her somewhere.

But I’m with her. So it’s not like she can really go anywhere. Because I’m always watching.

It’s a metaphor. I get that now. At first I thought it was a dream, or a vision. Like my subconscious was trying to tell me something, show me something that I couldn’t see in the daylight, couldn’t see with my eyes.

But now I know, it wasn’t trying to show me something new. It was telling me something. I was telling myself something. I’m saying – You watch us. You police us. You won’t less us be free. Except the ‘you’ is me. I’m doing this to myself.


I was disjointed for a long time. There V and there was me. V was an extension, a creation. Polished, controlled, presented for whatever duties I was given. V planned the missions. V conducted the missions. V reported back. I was inside her, moving the arms and the legs but in all the ways that mattered, I was removed. I was removed in how I spoke, how I acted, how I thought. V seemed to be a whole other person, a separate entity who shared my features and my voice and my skills but used them differently. Used them wrong.

Until night.

Night was when the terrors came. The dreams, the memories. Night was when I heard my mother wail for me so loudly, I thought she was in the room with me. Hiding under the bed. In the cupboard. Hanging on the door, just out of sight. I looked some days. Tore the room apart but she wasn’t in there. She was never there. A few times, I called my dad to ask him where she was.

‘Baby, she’s gone.’ He’d say.

‘How do you know that for a fact?’

‘Because I cremated her body.’

It wasn’t enough to silence her voice, though. Sometimes it would simmer down, she’d be more of  murmur than scream. But it was always there at night. She was always asking me why I left her there.

There was only one person who could put my mind at ease. He would sit with me and say

‘What do you remember?’

‘She’s in a room, and she’s strapped to the bed’

‘That’s not a memory. What do you remember?’

And I would think, really think. Think about her hair and her smile. The feel of her hand on mine. Her nails. Her wedding ring.

‘She used to make my clothes. Cardigans and dresses and shorts and socks. She’d sit at the sewing machine and I’d watch her. She’d say

Baby, do you want to help? And I be to shy to say yes. But she’d scoot over in her chair and pat the space she’d made and I’d scoot in. She’d take my hand and put it on material.

Hold it steady now, she’d say. And her foot would start to pedal and the wheel would go round and the needle bob up and down and tug at the material and I would keep it straight.

Did I do a good job, mummy?

And the voice would stop. Gone back to wherever it dwelled. Tears would stream down my face and he’d smile his half smile. Not a joyful one, Not a sad one. Just his smile. The Gray smile.


I used to think the dream was about him. They had started before, but it was worse when we were separated. I used to think it was a warning about how he was leading me astray. Distracting me from aims. Distracting V from her duties. So at night my body, her body, our body was trying to return to its purpose.

Then as time went on and I was climbing the walls, I thought that it meant that our souls were tied. All those nights spent together, telling each other about our memories, we’d accidentally transferred a bit of ourselves into the other. In my sleep, the parts of him that were part of me were seeking him out.

But the more time I spent alone, the more I realised it was about me and V, he and V. About how I was always watching them. Always outside myself watching, the two of us.  I never enjoyed the experience. I just stayed locked in my head, watching him and her. Watching him helping her. Watching her spilling our secrets, willing her to stop. Wondering what his game was, what his angle was. When he was going to double cross, because he would eventually. They always did. It was just a matter of time. So I never relaxed, not until that last second, when my mind was quiet, closing down and he changed, before my weary eyes, from a man to an idea to a light. A night light.

And I would nestle into him, cling to his torso like an anchor to keep me rooted.

I never floated away when I was with him. Not once. I slept and did not dream. And in the morning, I’d wake up where I lay my head. And I took that for granted.

I think that’s what my dream is about. All the the things I took for granted.

 

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The Trip II

Later on that day, we all went out for drinks. Adam, the guy from earlier whose name I had finally learnt, was deliberately avoiding me. I went to the bar, took three whiskey shots and bought him a beer. I wanted to make amends or at least let him know that I had the potential to be better.

Potential is such a weird thing. It’s like the future, the promise of something to come. Everyone has potential. Potential for greatness, for cruelty, for kindness, for love. Until you die. Then you just become the sum of your parts. Were you actually kind? Were you actually great? That’s all that matters. What you actually are. And at that point, I wanted Adam to look at me differently.

So I went up to him. He was sitting with my friend Monae’s new boyfriend, Max. I’m assuming Adam was his close friend, because as I approached, he stepped in between us.

‘Having a good night?’ He asked, looking past me. He didn’t care about the question. He was just trying to distract me. So, I said.

‘I ran into Ellis earlier.’

And by earlier, I meant the day I had picked up the pills from Ellis. But Max didn’t wait to clarify. He ducked out sheepishly.

I sat down next to Adam and offered him the pint.

‘No, thanks.’ He said, folding his arms.

‘Go on,’ I said, ‘I’ve paid for it now.’

‘You drink it, then.’

‘I got it for you.’

‘Why?’

‘I was rude earlier. I’m trying to show you that I’m not always like that.’

He took the pint.

‘Max says you are.’

‘Yeah, well. I think Max is a bit intimidated by me.’

‘Why’s that?’

‘Cos I know he was with Monae while she was still with Ellis.’

His eyes widened, and I realised I’d hooked him. That’s why I love secrets so much. If you reveal them at the right time, everything leading up to it is irrelevant.

He asked for details as he sipped his beer and I regaled him with a story that wasn’t mine to tell. I spoke in a whisper so he had to move closer. I looked at his lashes as he took it all in and I thought about how hypnotic it would be being fucked by him. Lying under him as he opened and close those big blue eyes with every thrust-

‘It’s not just Max, though.’ He said, when he’d finished his beer.

‘I know, it takes two to tango-‘

‘No, I mean it’s not just Max saying I should stay away from you.’

So we were back to this again.

‘People say stuff they don’t mean all the time. Like this afternoon, I didn’t mean to laugh-‘

‘They meant it.’

Under the table, I curled my hand into a fist.

‘I think you can tell that I’m sorry.’

‘But you haven’t actually said sorry.’

I dug my nails into my palms.

‘I bought you a drink.’

‘Yeah. Thanks. But you didn’t say sorry.’

His eyes bore into me. He was smirking. It was like he wanted me to be in the wrong. No. It was like he didn’t care who I was, like he’d seen enough. There was no use saying sorry because he’d made up his mind about me.

‘Well, if that’s how you feel.’

I got up from the table.

‘Enjoy the rest of your night.’

I picked up my coat before he could protest and marched for the door. He wasn’t going to get that apology. I was never going to apologize ever again.

Bracelet

He bought me a bracelet.

I looked at it. Lying in the box, glittering. Fancy, like. Expensive.

I looked at it and then I looked at him. He was looking at the bracelet, but his face was all red and he kept blinking like there was something in his eye.

I knew I had to say something but I didn’t know what to say. My hands were shaking and I thought that if I opened my mouth I might let out a sob, so I just started nodding.

So then, he started nodding.

And we both stood there nodding like that explained everything that was threatening to spill out of us and fill the room and drown us.

Nodding like two people who had just agreed on a very good deal. My heart in exchange for his.

Nodding and blinking and shaking and twinkling. Never saying any words.

To wrap up the year…

A friend of mine asked me on a whim if I could write something for four girls, where everyone had a distinct voice an could be made on a nonexistent budget. After two years, four drafts and two edits, it’s finally done. I’ve learnt a lot from it and since it, but nothing beats the feeling of knowing you helped make something. I’m proud. Check it out!

She Speaks – Saturday

Every single day is the same. Every single day. Every single one. The exact same. The words are different. Yes. The words are different, sometimes. Sometimes, the tone. But the feelings- The feelings. The feelings don’t change. The feelings are always, always the same. Same depth, same breadth, same place. I return to that same place, same bristling-

Even the clothes are the same. The steps I take in my shoes. Left, right. Left, right. Left, right, trip over own leg, right. Is that right? The exact same thing- everyday? Why are we here? Why am I here? What do I want? Why does this matter?

I don’t think any of this matters. I don’t think anything matters. We only care about the things we care about because…because they give us something. Meaning. Meaning? Is that what I mean? I don’t know. But I know that I don’t care about anything the way you do. I don’t think I know how. I don’t think I can let myself. Let myself feel-

Shush. Shush now. That was almost too much. You’re starting to feel…that was entirely too much.