She sat there. Alone. In the dark. Her captors somewhere beyond, somewhere...evil. She whispered just above her breath, "Lemon." Light came flooding in, her captors were standing in the doorway with smug looks on their face. That would be her worst mistake. A grave mistake. But also, her last mistake. They knew the secret. They knew it all. One word was enough. The war would end, but not in her favor. All because she said 'Lemon'. Sour is right.
Run, run, run, put me behind you
a line of ghosts leading
into the horizon
I am the mistake you made
I will not allow a retake
Run, run, run, put me behind you
I am etched forever on your skin
a vibrant red map of ‘it’s too late’
a dark foreboding shadow
following your trail in zig zags
Run, run, run, put me behind you
am I really the mistake
or are you the real illusion?
leading the way to no redemption
a two step tripping into the fog
Run, run, run, put me behind you
where no one will notice me
but you cannot escape
I remember what you did
you can never wash me off!
Is dead they say.
She won’t be the first ghost I’ve seen
Just the first I’d fear.
A Grave Mistake
"Charley, how much longer do we have to do this?"
"Until we get what we were paid to get, bloke."
"Okay, but it doesn't seem right to me."
"Doesn't matter what is right or not, Carver. We were paid to get the job finished and that's what we're gonna do."
Charley is a big strapping of a man, muscles that bulge and quiver under his shirt and has many a scar on his face and body from many a fight, none of which he ever lost. Charley was always one for making a few extra dollars no matter what it might be. The money would then be spent on whiskey and women and if he had any left over, he would pay his rent and purchase food at the local outdoor markets.
On the other side of the coin, Carver is a small man, thin and barely 10 stones in weight, but he had stamina. The only reason he is doing what he is, the offer by Charley to help him with a debt he has owed for some time. Once that was paid, his life would again be his own without having to answer to anyone.
It was nearing four in the dark night with a covered moon of shifting black clouds. The wagon they drove in on, sat but a few paces away from where they were. And the wagon was filled almost to overflowing.
"Just three more, Carver, then we'll have the numbers wanted and we can get out of here."
"Good. The stench is killing me. The maggots are all over the place and it's really starting to make me feel poorly!"
"Three more, then your debt is taken care of and you'll be a free man. Keep that in mind. A free man."
"It's all I ever think about, but you said they would pay you a thousand pounds of sterling? Seems like for all we're doing, it should be more."
"Does it matter? You get four-hundred and then you can go anyplace you like. So stop bellyaching and keep at it."
The next hour grinded away, until finally, after much sweat and toil, they finally finished getting the number required.
As Charley had settled the last of them in the wagon, Carver came up behind him and drove the edge of the shovel into the back of Charley's neck, where Charely gave out a piercing cry no one but Carver and the night heard. Upon the pain and the blood seeping out of him, he straightened, turned, and looked at Carver with both anger and surprise.
With what strength he could muster, he uttered, "You knew, didn't you? I was never gonna pay you and leave you in one of them ...."
Carver then shoved the shovel into the front of Charley's neck before Charely could stop him. Charley fell to the ground, bleeding like a stuck pig before he finally gave out a last gasp of air. Carver grabbed his ankles and dragged him to an open grave and rolled Charley into a four foot hole.
"They won't be needing you, Charley. Blimey, you sure were a trusting bastard. Now, I'll not only get out of my servitude but I can start a new life. You. You would have wasted the money, but not me, no siree. They say America is a place where a man can make it rich and that's what I intend to do."
For the next ten minutes, Carver covered over Charley's dead body and then went to the wagon and directed the horses to the hospital.
Carver had no clue what the doctors wanted so many dead bodies for, and didn't care.
He whistled a tune and smiled as he made his way to the future.
The smell – what was that god-awful smell?
Jack had never counted his sense of smell as one of the most acute of his five senses. He had excellent eyesight, twenty-twenty vision if he were to believe all that his optometrist told him at his last eye exam, and he could still read the fine print on any illegal download site. He was proud of his sense of taste, his ability to discern the key ingredients in any gourmet dish despite having no clue as to what the chef may have used in his recipe. Jack’s hearing was also sublime, sure to rival that of the keenest-eared retriever. And his sense of touch? Oh, ho, ho, don’t get him started on touch. Just ask any of the women, or men for that matter, that he’d dallied with over the years and they’d be happy to confirm his abundantly finger-some talents. However, he’d never had the sharpest sense of smell. Not that it bothered him too much – in fact, it was often rather handy, especially when making use of the more dubious of public restrooms.
He sniffed again, tasting the damp air with his nostrils. He hadn’t opened his eyes yet, hadn’t pulled himself together enough to start his engine and roll back his eyelids. The smell that had awakened him seemed to have temporarily frozen him, glued him into a half-awake state where nothing else existed save for that odorous stench. He racked his brain, attempting to match the smell with a fragrance he’d come across previously during his life-long wanderings. Something rotten… fish? No, rotten fish always enveloped itself in the throat-gagging stench of ammonia. This was… meatier. Rancid and pungent, almost edible in its foulness. The closest he could find to it in his box of brain files was the horrific stink of the mouse that once crawled inside his computer and fried itself on a host of electronic what-nots. Death by cyber-attack. He’d had to throw the computer out, which had annoyed him no end at the time. He’d lost his folder of special photos along with it as he daren’t ask the man in the IT store to try and recover them. That would never do, just in case the man took it upon his nosey, impertinent self to steal a peek. It was a cruel blow, a low blow, a rodent of a blow, but Jack had managed to rebuild his collection over the years. The dark net had helped, that underworld and secret place where anything a man’s black heart desired was available at a price.
Satisfied that the potent whiff of incinerated mouse was the smell that surrounded him now, he cautiously reached out his hand for his water glass. He hadn’t opened his eyes yet, didn’t yet care too. Aside from the stench, and an odd pinched feeling in his lower back, he was certain that everything would be as it was when he went to sleep. The stark hospital room would look exactly as it had the evening before; the sad, wilting bouquet of service station flowers that Esme had brought him would still be eyeing him accusingly from the bedside cabinet, and the frumpy, broad-bosomed nurse assigned to his case would still be glowering at him from her chair in the corner. He was still miffed about that nurse. Upon hearing of his need for urgent admission, Jack had feasted on the thought of a young, nubile nurse with thrusting, perky breasts who bent sympathetically over him while he lay back against the pillows. He’d conjured up many a pleasant daydream of exactly what he would say when she asked if there was anything she could do for him. Oh, ho, ho, she could do plenty for him.
The water glass wasn’t there. Before his hand had completed the right amount of stretch necessary to reach the bedside cabinet, it came jarringly up against something rigid and unforgiving. A wall of some sort. Thinking that perhaps Nurse Morticia had moved his bed closer to the cabinet while he slept, he tried again. No, still no luck. He experimentally made his hand into a fist and rapped once, twice against the hard wall, listening with detached interest to the curiously wooden echo.
He really should open his eyes but his thoughts of the nubile, perky nurse who’d never eventuated had raised a perky response in himself. He waggled his hand down the familiar pathway of his belly and was surprised to find that there was no thin hospital sheet offering him even a modicum of privacy. His desire wilted immediately. Jack was no showman. He preferred the shadows to the light when indulging in his myriad of fantasies.
He licked his lips, tasting brine and … ugh. Something metallic and nasty. Something that the dentist might give a person after telling them this wouldn’t hurt a bit. He turned his head to the side and spat, hoping to rid his mouth of the yuck. As he did so, he heard a strange rustling noise that seemed to echo back at him, climbing into his ears and reverberating through his head. It wasn’t the sound of hospital issue pillows and in fact, he’d just noticed that his head was lying utterly flat. His soft pillows had gone, only to be replaced by an uncomfortably firm mattress. The silence was also unexpected, although he’d only just noticed that, too. An intense, heavy silence without the constant bleep, blip, and blonk of hospital machines or the carefully measured footsteps of hurrying nurses. The only visible sound was his own laboured, panting breath. On top of that, it was very hot.
Scared now, he blinked his eyes open then blinked them again, perplexed as to why no bright nor even dim light met his eager, searching gaze. Instead, he saw nothing but black. This was a darkness he could almost touch, a thick blanket of black that appeared to cover his head and body in its entirety. He lay very still, listening to that panicked breathing sound, as he scrabbled his fingers once more on the strangeness that surrounded him. He found through his desperate searching that the hard wall was also above him, and to the other side. His panic began to rise, refusing to stop and plateau as it rapidly surged and increased. He couldn’t sit himself up; it was impossible. Where the devil was he? What on earth could have happened to him in the time between eating his hospital dinner and awakening in this smelly, cramped, hot space?
No. The horrendous truth dawned agonizingly slowly as his brain simply refused to process it. No! The shouted word was breathy and heavy with spittle and the low roof above his head forced his refusal back into his face. A thousand undead nightmares rampaged across his consciousness on pointy, vicious hooves. He was trapped inside his own coffin! Some addle-brained wretch had made the ultimate error and Jack was the one now paying the ultimate price. As his bowels involuntarily released, serving only to increase the cloying rotten mouse stench that clung with the rapacity of an unwanted lover to his last resting place, he opened his mouth to scream a wholly unheard scream.
Jack's panicked shriek, a lunatic sound that would never reach any ears but his own, would eventually hoarsen his throat and die to a whimper as the sparse air that remained within his final earthly prison thinned, became scarcer, and finally vanished altogether.
But Jack didn’t know that yet. For as long as Jack screamed, Jack still had hope.
The Perfect Wife
She stared into the mirror at her beautifully painted face. Her perfect features enhanced by expertly applied makeup. The elegant dress she wore was so tight...too tight. She struggled to breath. That was all she really wanted, to be able to breath again. Was that so much to ask?
Her husband would be expecting her downstairs soon, to be the perfect hostess to their guests. His guests. After the dinner, and hours of their numblingly mindless chatter, he would almost certainly berate her for something she’d done wrong. She’d eaten too much. She hadn’t been engaged enough with their guests. She wasn’t being friendly enough. She was being too friendly...
God she just wanted to breath! In the mirror, a single black,wet streak stained the cheek of her otherwise immaculate face. She walked to her window and opened it to a burst of wonderfully fresh, crisp air. Gazing at the pavement far below her, she drew in a deep, magnificent breath.
Falling weightlessly, the wind in her hair, peace washed over her. She smiled. She was finally, truly free.
The Second Life of Umberto Burn
The funeral, like many others, had been a sad affair. Until the apparition appeared, that is. For Umberto Burn had not been a serious man in life, and he could hardly be expected to become more so in death, after having slipped his mortal coil.
The attendance was more than fair at the wake of the great magician, which was of course held in his own house, and his wife and two grown sons felt proud that so many had come to pay tribute to the man that they had so loved. The jeweler was there, his wife’s claw-like hand sparkling with rings. The doctor had come with her fair daughter, whose blush rose up her comely neck when Umberto’s older son smiled and thanked her for coming. And honor of honors, the town mayor appeared, strolling into the small, white-walled sitting room, midnight-blue waistcoat struggling to contain his not inconsiderable stomach.
Umberto’s remarkably lifelike remains were of course the focal point of the room, and his coffin was positioned against the south wall, the chairs arranged to face it. His skin was unlined in spite of his white hair, and his pencil mustache was as perfectly waxed as ever. The red bowtie he had only ever worn while performing persuaded some of the younger children that the magician was about to sit up and tell them all that his sudden and unexplained death had been yet another trick. Of course, however, this did not happen.
But Umberto’s ghost did make an appearance. Two old biddies were sitting in his plush red chairs, frizzy gray heads pushed together, talking about his body over their demitasses of punch.
“Odd to see him so quiet,” the one on his left said. “I don’t think I ever saw his mouth closed.” He stuck his head between theirs and with his famous wide smile, spoke.
“Why thank you,” he grinned, “I would consider myself a weak performer indeed if I did not always keep your attention.” The ladies jumped back, howling. The one who had spoken fell over in a dead faint, her companion moving with surprising alacrity until she was out of the house altogether, still howling.
“Ah, father,” his younger son spoke, “I was wondering if we should see you.” His wife stepped toward him.
“It is good to see you again, Umberto. I hope everything on the other side is to your liking?”
“Indeed, Marguerite, when your time comes we shall be very comfortable here. But I hear it is time for my burial. I have come to see it performed. When one gets the chance to attend one’s funeral, one does not miss it!”
The rest of the party stared at Umberto in various states of surprise. If there was a way to come back from the dead, they were not surprised that the renowned magician had discovered one. The butcher’s young son spoke up timidly.
“Mr. Burn, how did you do it? Come back, I mean?”
“Ah, young Jeremiah, you know I would never reveal my secrets!”
They made their way to the graveyard with aplomb, Umberto’s coffin carried solemnly by his chosen pallbearers and Umberto himself leading a conga line behind it. His wife’s hands kept sinking through his shoulders when she forgot that he was no longer solid, but he hardly minded. Through the cemetery, its white tombstones glowing pink in the vivid sunset, they wound their merry way. They lowered his coffin into the ground and the priest intoned over it, Umberto making faces behind his back with every mention of “resting in peace.” And when his body was safely in the ground, Umberto Burn went home with his family.
The next morning, a pounding on his front door woke Umberto. When his wife opened it, the postman stumbled in, sweat pouring down his red face.
“You –have to –come quick. Cemetery. Not good!”
With his wife, his sons, and the postman, Umberto rushed back to the graveyard, where he stopped dead in his tracks. For a moment, he thought there was a mirror leaning against the stone wall of the graveyard. It was then that he realized he was staring at his own body, propped against the wall, mouth lolling open.
“Well,” Umberto said, “the widows were right about my never closing my mouth.”
His sons hoisted his body between them, and they followed after him into the graveyard, his wife beside him and the forgotten postman forming the caboose of their little train. They tracked their way back through the graveyard, dew sparkling in the morning light. When they reached the oak tree beside which his grave stood, they paused. For there stood the coffin, on the grass beside the gigantic hole they had just seen the night before.
With Umberto’s instruction, his sons repositioned his body in the coffin and reclosed the lid. They would see the caretaker on the way out and have the coffin resealed and reburied. No one was very troubled. It was not unexpected that the body of such an excellent magician would still be playing tricks after death.
They were not worried until the process was repeated the next day. And the next. And the next. Every day, his body was found farther from its grave. Until finally, when his body was found two towns away exactly one week after his original burial, Umberto reached a conclusion. When he told his wife, she was unsurprisingly unhappy.
“Of course you can’t go back! Whyever would you go back when you can be here? With me?” As tears ran down her beautiful face, he remembered the first time he had ever seen her. She had been an orphan, seventeen to his twenty-four, when she had come to him and begged to be his assistant. And though he had had no money himself, he had known that he could not say no. Indeed, he could never deny her anything. Until now. He cradled her beloved face in his hands, though she could not feel them.
“My Marguerite. My pearl. I cannot stay here. I should never have come back. Indeed, I told Saint Peter I would be gone only for an hour, and it has been seven days. It was a mistake, my flower. We have had our time –more than our time. And one day, it will be our time again.”
“Then that day shall be tomorrow. I shall end myself the moment you leave!” He stepped away from her, horrified.
“You will do no such thing! For that would make a hell of my heaven! Besides,” he said more gently, “our sons need their mother.” She nodded sorrowfully. She had spoken in haste, and she knew he was right.
“I will be with you, though you will no longer see me. I never really left. You will see one day how you can exist in two worlds at once. I have been straddling a line, which I can no longer do. But,” he winked at her, “I will stick my head over every once in a while.”
After saying his final goodbyes (again), Umberto Burn walked out of his house. He made his way to the graveyard. And this time, he, too, got into his coffin before it was lowered into the ground one final time.
Marguerite Burn was the most joyous widow the town had ever known. She cradled her grandchildren and laughed with her sons. She adored the wife of her elder son, who had once been the blushing girl at his father’s funeral, and the husband of her younger son, whose circus brought as much joy to the town as Umberto himself once had.
When Marguerite died twenty years after her husband, the town was somewhat disappointed that she did not reappear as he had. But on quiet evenings during particularly spectacular sunsets, the Burn grandchildren stared out at the graveyard and marveled. For sometimes, they would swear that they could see two figures dancing in a conga line, waiting for others to join them.
No one is going to jail
"Ok...get it together."
He was 24 years old and it was first month on the police beat. He was in disbelief. He was numb but his partner kept talking.
"Look, let's just wait for the Captian."
He looked up at the news headline, Police shoot and kill unarmed man. His partner attempted to turn of the television. "Keep it on. I can't run from this."
"No Pete, we have options."
"It isn't we. It was we when we got the 211, but when I pulled the trigger it became I. You have options."
This partner was restless, pacing the office while his partner sat somber. "Look it was dark, that guy came out running and you asked him to stop and he didn't. Simple as that."
"Did I, did I ask him to stop?," Pete asked.
"Pete, don't get into your head," his partner Nick walked over to him and lifted Pete's head. "We are going to get through this."
Pete shook his head acknowleding his partner's empathy but in his head he said, no I'm not.
This wasn't suppose to happen to him. He arrived at the academy with tours in both Afganistan and Iraq with a comendation as a Marine. He had a graduated with a degree in criminal justice. Lastly, police was in his blood. He was a third generation cop, with the spirit of grandfather still permanting at the station.
"Turn it up," Pete finally spoke.
"Turn it up." and Nick turned the volume on the television.
A young African-American male was shot by the police tonight. Reports are saying the young man was unramed. It happened on the corner of 54th Street in the downtown area. We have a reporter live. Thomas can you...
"Enough of this shit," Nick muted the television off. "Look your not the first cop to have fired a weapon at somone.
"Did I kill him?," Pete said in shock.
"I don't know, but that's not the point."
"What...that is the point. If I killed him..."
"Serious, Pete. Stop this. This isn't going to help you." Nick kneeled next to Pete and looked at him. He was gathering his thoughts.
"Ok.," Nick spoke carefully holding his emotions. "We don't know if the guy you shot is dead. We don't know. Look rook, this is what is going to happen. They are going to investigate this, you will get our union rep to come over. Don't say a God damn thing, let them coach you through this. You will be on admin leave and knowing who you know you will be out of sight from the press and it will cool off."
"I could go to jail," Pete said with his eyes closed.
"No one is going to jail," Nick said.
"Son listen to him," came from a tall man with authority in front of the door. Pete and Nick didn't notice him come in. Nick got up and his anxiety returned.
The Captain walked over to the television and turned it off.
"Captain, I have been with him throughout. We split up when we came to the business store front but I was quick..."
"Nick you did fine. I got this. Why don't you get some decaf and get a nap. You are making me anxious and I am not an anxious man."
Nick said nothing and obeyed. He closed the door.
"Get up," he ordered Pete.
Pete was helpless. He found strengh and got up.
"We are going to get through this...but I need you to be strong."
"Is he dead?" Pete hoped it wasn't so.
Pete placed his hands over his face in anguish.
"This is going to sound horrible but it is true. It is better he is dead than alive. Others speak for the dead, but the living can tell their own story."
"Look, this is a lot for you. We are going to get you home and your going to let your brothers in blue take care of this."
"It was a mistake..." Pete started to cry.
"I know Pete..." the Captain got close and put his hands on his shoulder. "Listen, your a good cop just like Nick and the others serving our community. I need you to look at me and focus on this one thing..."
Pete wiped his tears, took a breathe and found his resolve.
"Pete, your a good cop and you will have a great future as a cop."
"What...if I go to jail?"
The Captian bit his lip. "No one is going to jail. Look Pete, your a good cop." He leaned in close and slowly said, "Your a good cop and you were scared for your life and you made a split decision."
"No buts," the Captain squeezed Pete's shoulderand leanded in, "You were scared for your life and your life was being threatened."
Pete shook his head "I can't say that."
"What...this isn't Afghanistan, where shoot some habbib in the desert, that one cares about. This is a young man shot in a black community an the press with their news vans are feeding a narrative. Not the truth."
"But...I made a mistake."
"You didn't made a mistake. This police station doesn't make a mistake and we don't make mistakes."
With those words, Pete was silent and just shook his head in agreement.
"I am going to take care of this. Nick will take you to your home."
The Captain walked to the door to leave.
The Captain turned around to acknowledge Pete.
"Thank you, Dad"
"Your welcome son."
Pete was then left alone.
It was with an almost lackadaisical sense of doom that I sensed the quiet. Where had the quiet come from? When had it begun? What had become of the singing and laughter that had pervaded the afternoon stillness only moments ago? And exactly how many moments had it been?
I could not say. I could not recall last hearing them, those happy sounds, replaced now with this dreadful quiet. I closed my eyes, listening intently for a direction, but the only sounds were the low, steady hum of the air conditioning unit at the side of the house and the steady lap of water against the floating dock at the far end of the yard.
I sat up to my full height, fastening the bikini top with one hand while the other shaded wide eyes, eyes that followed the sloping yard down to the water’s edge, searching the already green, April lawn for blond curls. They were not to be seen. My eyes drifted outward to the water, its thousands of tiny waves bedazzled with gold. Nothing on the shore. Nothing on the dock.
I resisted the panic, but it was prying in, pushing its way in, and it was strong, very, very strong. This could not be what the panic was saying that it might be. Not enough time had passed for that. Stay calm. Push down the panic. It had only been a moment, and she was playing right here beside the deck. A quick text was all. I had taken my eyes off of her long enough to read a text. Andy wanted to come over. My dreams at night were of Andy Beard. He was so cute, and he wanted to come over to see me. Imagine that! And I had texted back, “ok,” but it had only been a moment, a moment was all I had needed to recall his cute smile, with its white teeth, and those bottomless brown eyes that sucked in every girl who chanced a peak inside. It had only been a moment before he texted back, “be there in thirty!” He was on his way! And then had come that dreadful quiet.
My heart pulsed unbelievably loud, pounding my ears. This was not happening! Where was she! Jesus Christ where was she? “Libby!” It came out a whisper. I forced a breath and pushed the air out, the panic inside now, and angry. “Libby?” And louder, “Libby!” And still louder yet, “Libb-AYYY!”
I let the thought out, the one hiding behind the trap-door I had been so fiercely holding down. It came out in a heave of breath like vomit, “She’s in the water!” The panic had won! The panic was dancing inside me now, an Indian victory dance, taking over. I screamed at it, a bloody, terrible, frightened scream. A scream for a life more dear than my own. The tears started, the panic danced, and I was dead, too.
Across the lake a man working in his yard looked up. He saw me, and he waved. He ran to the water’s edge, but he was too far. I went in, not noticing how cold, nor caring. I walked in, hands low, elbows under, feeling beneath the murky top, chin floating on top, and crying, the lip shaking against the elastic surface. A breath and I went under, and out. Where to go, in all this water? Which way to dive? “Where are you, Neicy?” I yelled it below, her pet name, and the water surged in like panic, choking, cruel, emotionless water.
Cry of the Heart
This is what it’s like to go insane.
How do I say it? Not really possible not at all possible because it’s not really real not really real not really real because it’s not possible not possible because it wasn’t possible last night and it wasn’t possible this morning and it’s not possible now but now it seems real and still can’t be possible and I know I have to say it can’t say it have to say it how do I say it?
Crazy crazy crazy. Crazy crazy crazy. Crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy not crazy not crazy very real but can’t be real doesn’t feel real the images don’t fit together. Toast this morning, cold to the touch because I got up late but toast this morning with butter sitting hard on top like a corpse. Like a corpse? How the hell can I say like a corpse? A corpse? Not a corpse, it’s butter, dumbass, and toast but the toast was cold because I didn’t get up with the alarm and there’s a schedule to keep places to go people to see things to do and so it’s all about that cold toast with the dead butter lying flat on top like… like… So it can’t be real, but the cold toast was definitely real this morning it was real, really real like all the little things before have been really real because they sometimes leave a bad taste in the mouth like cold toast washed down with coffee sitting too long in a cup. Bitter bitter bitter bitter way too bitter to wash down something that hard needed something warmer something softer like hair to make it taste better. Like hair? Not hair to wash it down that’s stupid but hair that’s soft to the touch and real, really real like all the little things that connect you to a single moment, a special moment, even if that moment’s happened a bazillion times before because there’s hair right now and the promise of cold toast and coffee tomorrow morning if I wake up late.
Up on time up on time never up on time and she’s always waiting, waiting waiting waiting and what the hell was I waiting for? No harm in waking up late should have gotten up on time what’s the problem with getting up on time I had plenty of sleep last night no dreams but got up late because I’m lazy. Just a fat lazy bastard with no reason to stay asleep but just needed those ten extra minutes just ten extra minutes ‘Just another ten minutes’ like I have all the time in the world to spend breathing into a damn pillow with my fat gut hanging out of my shirt when I could’ve been up I could’ve been should’ve been up and now those ten minutes are gone completely wasted absolutely spent never coming back because I just needed ten more minutes of sleep for no damned reason whatsoever. Dumb dumb dumb stupid dumb lazy fatass needs ten minutes to get up won’t even get up to the smell of hot coffee and warm toast and who knows what else after she was waiting if I’d only dragged my ass out of bed just ten minutes sooner.
Just another morning just another morning it was just another morning and how do they expect me to get through it all the doctors in white coats and nurses looking at me like ‘Why isn’t it you?’ when they should really be asking ‘Why isn’t it you?’ Not the way they’re thinking it but I can’t control that can’t control that lost all control not in control no control it was taken from me the moment they gave that idiot a cell phone and a license to drive and I just needed ten more minutes to wake up wake up wake up oh, please God just wake up.
But still the nurses are looking at me and the doctors shuffle around pretending they know what to do when there’s no way in hell any right-thinking person would have any idea what to do because it’s too much it’s too much it’s all got to be too much if it’s too much for me why isn’t it too much for them? How can I say this I can’t say this they expect me to say this but they shouldn’t be done yet I know they shouldn’t be done yet there’s no way they could be done yet and they all deserve to have their heads cut off for walking away like that chop chop chop chop chop because they’re done too soon and they don’t care like I care like I care with an ache in my marrow they should care more like I do like I do and they don’t. They work and they work but not long enough not nearly long enough and they don’t care like I care and they fling pretend words at each other in a made-up language that only doctors and morons can understand so they can all pretend they have access to some secret store of knowledge the rest of us don’t and all the while they’re just thinking ‘holy shit holy shit holy shit’ because the images aren’t possible not possible but it all seems so possible from a distance, all the blood and the slackness and the bones poking like broken wet sticks through flesh that isn’t perfect but is perfect was made perfect it was perfect and how the hell am I supposed to say this there’s no possible way I can say this because there was cold toast this morning and a slab not a slab not a slab never say the word slab again of butter sitting lifeless and salty on top of a crust that didn’t want it and coffee who the hell decided coffee was good for breakfast that stuff’s way too bitter and the whole freaking world knows it that’s why we need so much crap to make it taste better and that’s the first thing we want to drink in the morning? Taste taste taste I can still taste the blood in my mouth because there’s still blood in my mouth and the nurses are watching me like it’s my turn next and the cut in my mouth is all I’ve got I’m lucky lucky lucky just one lucky little cut in my mouth and the taste of blood and cold toast and coffee and the doctors have already moved on because there’s nothing left to do but the paperwork and the memory of hair on a pillow and the lucky little cut lining my tongue with blood.
Thump. Hair on my hands on her pillow. Thump-thump. Hair over her eyes as I cup her face. Thump-thump, thump, thump. Last night was a moment, wasn’t it? One of those special moments that’s happened a bazillion times before but was special because it’s happened a bazillion times before even though there was nothing special just the touch of her hair and her smile as I kissed her goodnight. Something simple something simple so very common it’s unique to us and our friends laugh at it and strangers smile at it and our kids are embarrassed by it but who gives a damn I’ll kiss her whenever I want to whenever I want to I’ll kiss her and kiss her and kiss her because we want to and to hell with the rest of you. So, so, so simple but we never forget to do it first thing in the morning last thing at night ‘always kiss me goodnight’ it says above our bedroom door, a plaque we bought to remind us to love each other even when we don’t want to love each other and maybe that’s how I can say it? Is that how I can say it?
Just give her a kiss goodnight?
It shouldn’t be real but it is and I don’t know how to say it but it needs to be said and we were just running errands and now it’s done it’s all done and there’s nothing left to do but wait my turn if there’s any mercy in You it’ll be my turn soon and how do I say it? I can’t say it but there’s the proof lying there on the bed and my hand through the hair that’s still so soft but everything else is cold so very cold and all I feel is a terrible heat I can’t purge it won’t purge I’m alone now and there’s nothing left to cool me off I’ve got to say it just say it figure out a way to say it because I’m going to hate myself for the rest of my life if I don’t say it so just freaking say it just swallow no swallow again that lump won’t go away can’t breathe past the lump so swallow again I’m blubbering like a damned schoolgirl I must look ridiculous and now no one’s looking at me at all and I’m really really standing here so just say it.
So now I say it. I say it and stroke the hair and remember this is real because the proof is here and they shouldn’t have stopped working but the proof is here and I can’t ignore it can’t ignore it can’t bear to look at it because all I want to do is look at it and see her for her with that smile and the wagging finger as I finally drag myself into the kitchen and she tells me it’s too late I’m too late and all I get now is cold toast and coffee unless I make something for myself and I haven’t got any idea how to do anything for myself and now I’m going to have to do everything myself everything everything everything and there’s half of me lying stiff as cold butter on a slab because I was too lazy to get up and get it while it’s hot.
“Goodbye, baby.” A whisper not a scream just a hoarse whisper not a scream it’s almost a scream I’m going to scream if I keep standing here keep standing here can’t leave keep standing here and ten minutes is ten minutes is ten minutes is forever now it’s forever I’ll never get those ten minutes back and who knows what might have been after cold toast and coffee. Now give her a kiss just one last kiss and maybe she’ll wake up again there could be a spark in the stories there’s always a spark and maybe this time there’ll be a spark and later some time to heal so it won’t be the last kiss but just another kiss goodnight and there’s no way to say goodnight but maybe this kiss will spark and she’ll wake up again and I can have forever back and where is the spark where is the spark isn’t there supposed to be a spark? If anyone has a spark she’s got a spark and she had a spark there’s always a spark and now there’s no spark so hate myself go ahead hate myself I’ve earned the right to hate myself hate myself hate myself hate myself. Forever.
This is what it’s like to go insane.