Friday, November 18, 2005

An hour of walking

Boy stood on the pavement, holding a clipboard to his chest. He was dancing away in front of me, trying to attract my attention.

Stupid. Idiot.

I left him in a pool of his own blood, my spit and the shrieks of a thousand passers-by. Fingers pointing, I ducked into a doorway to light a cigarette.

...flickflickflick of the lighter wheel. The nicotine flooded into my system. I felt better; I almost went back to apologise, sign the form on his board, give up my bank details for some charity that prevented the torturing of dormice

of cats, dogs, whales, tuna fish, vulnerable children, disaster victims.

But I couldn't bear his girlish squeals. Hood pulled up, I rejoined the throng on the street, vanishing into the crush of Christmas shoppers, melting into the myriad bags, shirts, jackets, iPod headphones that litter every high street.

Step around last night's vomit. I stop for a second, see what pictures I can make out in the collection of dried pavement pizza. I turn away from the desiccated sweetcorntomatobeer combo, suddenly losing my appetite for food. Only for food, mind.

For pain it's insatiable.

I saw a psychiatrist once; he said I was using others' pain as a way of pushing my own deeper inside. His eyes widened when I cackled at his comment. It took me a full five minutes to stop. He didn't see me again. Wouldn't see me. Actually.

Somewhere lies a tape on which he recorded me describing the death of my parents. I stole a copy. Even I'm amazed at the lack of emotion. Not one single tear, not a sob, not a pause. Just matter-of-fact story-telling. Start to finish, barely pausing for breath.

Door slams. Hi honey, I'm home. Only the echo of my voice on the stairwell answering me with the same question.

If you asked me if I was lonely, the honest answer would be that I am. The shame of it is, I can't make relationships work. I'm too - what do the authorities refer to it as? I'm way too fucked up for that. If people manage to escape, they never return.

If they manage to escape.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

My final words

[Please record your message after the beep]

I can see it coming in through the low clouds. I marvel at how it hangs, almost weightless.

Suddenly, I’m reminded of how she tasted like strawberry yoghurt; how she moved in my arms. The faintness of her smile haunts me now. Her laughter follows me like a shadow, a stalker.

There is a roar. I am brought back to the now, the present situation. I know I’m going to die, I’ve accepted it. It comes to us all. I just never expected it now: I’m only 30.

It’s not as if someone has warned me, picked up the phone or ushered me into a wood-panelled office. Sat me in a leather chair and looked down at their hands while they construct the sentence in their head: I’m sorry to tell you [insert your name here], but you’ve got

inoperable heart disease
yellow fever

and there is no known cure.

I am watching my own death approaching. I can taste the noxious breath of death as I kiss her full on the lips. I have inserted my tongue.

I hear the screams above the roar. I see people fling themselves to – and here I laugh at my own thoughts – certain death.

Turning around I see that breakfast hasn’t been touched. Croissants, homemade jam, butter that has melted in the first rays of the morning sun; it’s all laid out on a white cloth that flutters in the breeze. I shiver, even though it’s not cold on this September day.

I could take the stairs, make a run for it. But I don’t.
I stay.
I watch.

I feel the urge to pray, although I’ve never believed in a God and now, well, it seems churlish to start believing. Even if He existed, would He save me? Would I save Him if our roles were reversed?

I think not.

The ground shakes as the plane hits. I feel the heat rising around the top of the building. I hear

glass shatter
people scream
sirens wail

And I can smell the burning flesh.

There is so much paper.

The shaking is getting worse. I don’t think there can be much time left.

Remember that I…

Thursday, November 03, 2005


The sound: grinding. That’s what stuck in his head for months afterwards.

The sucking, the whine; the screaming.

Remembered how the sun was high in the sky; clouds drifted and he described the shapes to keep himself conscious. Dog, plane, horse, a crab. His father. Amazed at his own imagination, his ability to project imagery.

He’d chewed the inside of his cheek. Blood flowed. Metallic taste; like a filling at the dentist, aged nine.

There was music playing in his head. A melody from long ago. Jazz. Off-beat timing. His foot tapped along. His head nodded. The wind whistled through the trees. Leaves rustled as they floated to the ground. It sounded like rain to the untrained ear. To city folk. To kids that had never seen cattle. Who thought grass was something you smoked to get high.

Eyes screwed tight. Lashes dripping tears; cheeks wet inside and out. Blood and salt.

Lying there, praying that he’d be found by humans, not the coyotes that roamed through the woods at night. Prayed to be out, darkened, when it came to feeding time.

But, this was all hours in front. It wasn’t now, that moment, distinct from all others. Hardened like a memory. Like arteries.

Thought: how hot it is in the sun when you can’t move. How relentless.

And still it was grinding, whining, sucking. Still he was screaming.