I Miss, Therefore I Am

I want to believe in God, but I doubt He’d believe in me if I were to make Him up again. I’ve been staring into space for so long now and not once have I had the feeling that we may get on good terms, even if I allowed Him to exist again out of sheer desperation. It wouldn’t be like when I was little and He was bigger than the world, which, even for an imaginative child, was hard to picture. Hell no. It’d probably be more like "ok, you can come out of the bottle now, I’ve got my three wishes, you ready?" I shake my head – in disbelief, may I add – and laugh to myself, and it rattles something awake inside me. It's bittersweet to let myself feel something, no matter how small. I remain loyal to my tendency to shut down in moments of crisis. It’s just that I’m not sure this, too, shall pass. How do I manage, then? Simple. I disconnect. Thinking requires too much efficiency, and efficiency burns you out. The reality of now is merely a window I poke my head in and out of between daydreams. Memories like slow-moving tropical fish swim through my mind, some real, some slightly fictionalised by my loneliness, boredom, and need to up my bad-ass-ity here and there to better the stories. Most of them are about a man I met at the end of my life. Five months before the end, to be precise. [...]

Getting Ready to Meet the Devil

Towns at rest, people going home, intermittent patches of glitter and dark everywhere – life, dear life was happening all around her, dancing restlessly through her lashes. Head leaning against the car window, Kara felt wide awake with fear and curiosity. Houses rolled past her like a tracking shot in a film, blurring and disappearing from view the very next moment, as if reminding her not to bother because everything was difficult, and everything was also fleeting. The houses didn’t hold her interest for long. The passenger seat – the safe haven, and speed – a delicious break from the reality of the moment, were half-assing their jobs too. On the other side of the car Tomás kept giving sighs of helpless irritation, distracting her from her attempt to stay distracted. "Damn you," she mouthed silently to herself, and buried her face in her coat. He wouldn’t look at her. Driving fast without saying a word, his eyes were nothing like silence. Bright and alert, like a small animal that just realised a much bigger one is close, his mind was racing around her. Now she knew, and she wouldn’t keep quiet. [...]

In Praise of Blood and Noise

He smiled; she didn’t. He fell for it, hard. How she seemed to believe her own fantasies eliminated all noise and blocked all escape routes. He knew he’d hold the image in his head for a long time after the moment had passed, like an object you already know that you love dearly and grow too fond of it to ever put it away again. "I like your stories," he said, flickering through it. She weaved words like a vivid tapestry in her stories, the kind one thinks of when it’s breakfast and they’re standing in the shower for over an hour, bar of soap in their hand, soaking in the light, wishing they could crawl inside a second skin and relive them reborn, wild-eyes, free. "Good, you’ll likely be in one," she replied, struggling up, smiling strangely. She looked like the edge of a map, the place where things are uncertain and dangerous and make little sense. Here be dragons her face read, and he wanted to be in her every town, on her every street. Alive. Alive was what she was, with her running, gushing, swirling blood, and amongst all the noises of the world. [...]

On Fire, But Not Burning

Most of the time Melanie’s expression said I am still here but I am already gone. Some found her mysterious and provocative and learned to like that stare, like a dark hint. Others found her gentle-souled but didn’t take her stare for a hint; there was nothing behind it. No inner force of the mind shaking the thunder from the skies, no creative courage of the young heart, no play in her eyes, no fire; just dry logs. Poetic as it might seem in retrospect, in the moment it was just ugly and exhausting to be Melanie. The tiredness only made room for more of the same. She wanted to detach herself from her body often, fast and loud, like a car crash. Run out of her skin and bones and muscles and fat and nerves and let it all fall out on the floor like a piece of clothing she’d been waiting to take off, fold up and never put on again, so rough it felt and so badly she wanted to scratch it off. Most people looked comfortable with how they’d turned out, but Melanie’s body felt like a strange thing she seemed to have picked up in a hurry on her way to becoming, in the wrong size and dullest colour. [...]

No Matter How Many of My Cells are Replaced

"Pull up a chair, I’ll pour you a cup of coffee. You don’t have to disappear to prove that you are there," I said right before she burnt to ashes in front of my eyes. She was a figment of the most clever, ingenious, but incomplete imagination. I shouted her names from balconies and rooftops, I whispered it in pillows and in my sleep, I scrawled it in ink on the back of photographs, and I knew I will never slid over and put my arms around her sleep-warmed body or stretch across her lap again. In my mind, she will always have all the names I tried to call her back, in the light, in the dark, on the side of the bus, sour and delicious, secret and unrepeatable, names forgotten and reinvented, names forbidden or overused, all the names Siken wrote about but didn't work for either of us. [...]

Badland

"Don’t let others tell you who you are. And if you do, at least don’t believe them," was her grandmother’s secret advice for her. Up there, as a child, she learned about the monstrous things that the humanity took part in, and silent terror descended on her mind every night as she recalled them. Unable to sleep, she used the books she read as kindling and her imagination as the fire starter to fall in love with her own monsters night after night. She made up stories that went on and on long after her grandmother and her books were no longer around. The parents of the New World never mentioned the monsters under the bed to their children, but in her Kara’s case, they would have seemed completely harmless compared to the ones living inside her. She was grateful, but only for her grandmother who furnished her formative years with books, and for the little girl who hungrily opened her eyes to a world far from her sight. She lost her grandmother early, but she would never lose the little girl. [...]

A Thunderous Mind

"Tell me everything," he says. It’s getting darker outside, and his room feels colder. "Like what?" "I don’t know. Everything, from the beginning." I smile and bury my head in his pillow, imagining the love that could grow in his heart for the baby I was before I became his baby. "I have memories from the age of two." "That’s ok. Start there. I crave your beginnings too." I laugh nervously, thinking of what to say this time. Then all I feel is sadness. I realise he is asking me who I am. My laughter is extensity, it’s terror. If I wasn’t laughing, I’d be asking myself the same thing. I can't stop tracking was my veins, like travelling backwards to the speed of light on a roadmap of scars, remembering every time I got bruised, every time I got back on track. He puts his hand over mine. [...]