Monday, June 30, 2008
The hospital swallows me. Pins my feet to the floor so it can magnify my insignificance and burn me dry under the bright fluorescent lights. There are people rushing all around me. It stinks of ammonia and hidden death. There's a man pushing a gas tank around so that he can breathe and there's a woman leaning against the wall with one arm and her gown is almost open I can see her thighs as I listen to her cough and spit and no one seems to want to help her. She takes a moment and keeps hobbling down the corridor and out of sight. I just stand in the middle of the room. There are three televisions hanging on the wall to the right and a smattering of patients and relatives hold each other and laugh as they lounge together on the chairs. I think of what's left of my family and we seem like dry and wrinkled fruit, barely growing on the branches of a dying tree.
My heart is a beat that echoes around the room and lights signal fires down the corridors and I hear hers reply in kind. Boom boom, boom boom. Two hearts drum the same rhythm. But hers is fading and soon will be but the echo of mine.
My life is the echo of yours. Your life is the echo of mine.
I hope not.
Jodi is with the nurse who is touching her on the shoulder gently and shaking her head. I can't look at that. Instead I try to focus on the television. Sports. There's a score. Someone is winning and someone is losing and oh god, mum, is this fucking for real? Do you remember when we were kids how I wrote you that story? You were out in the garden planting tomatoes and I wanted to make you happy so I took a pen and some paper and wrote you a story called Tommy the Tomato. And that night I sat on your lap as you typed it up for me and stuck it to the fridge and I was the smartest boy in the world and you and Jodi were the most beautiful ladies, both telling me that someday I would be a great writer. I always thought things would be different than this. I protected you back then. After Dad left. I would watch you from my bedroom with the door slightly open as you sat on the couch and cried yourself to sleep. I would try and keep myself awake so that once the wine had its hold on you I could pad softly into the room and brush the wet hair out of your eyes and wipe the mascara from your cheeks and take the empty wine glass out of your hand and kiss your forehead goodnight and I would tell you it was all going to be okay. Because I always believed we deserved a happy ending. I wanted a happy ending for us. For you.
I can barely hear the reply.
Jodi waves me over.
"We can't see her right now. She's with the doctor."
I want to say how the nurse's eyes say she is already gone.
Instead I say, "Okay."
The nurse touches me. "Why don't you two go get something to eat. There's a pub just over the road. Overlooking the water. You'll like it. And I'll know where you are if I need to find you."
Jodi and I look into each other's eyes and nod. Yes. Pub. I throw myself into a deafening vaccuum of emotion. The only thing that exists is nothing. Everything is nothing.
So I stand at the centre of it all and become nothing too.
We walk out the door, past the security guard who leans against the bricks and lazily smokes and eyes the patients with disgust. We hold hands as we cross the street. It's so bright and colourful and there are signs for everything good. Ice creams, holidays, movies, cameras, moments, a future, a facade, a life you never had, a life you'll never ever fucking have Mathew but it's all around you, everyone is having it, everyone is happy, this is the world, this is what's real, what you want, what everyone has, a chance, some hope, a dream within a dream, a reality bathed in light, that's right, you are in paradise baby, but don't touch and don't feel, you can't have it, because you are in paradise now Mathew, and paradise is your Hell.
"Will you buy me a beer?" I ask.
"Of course, Matty."
"Thanks." I squeeze her hand.
Girls walk past me in swim suits. They're laughing. I try to focus on their stomach or their shoulders or the vulnerable loneliness below the neck. I try to see their skin but I can't. I try to smell their honey but I can't. I can only see blind white and I can only smell empty and false. Around us tall buildings fang from the earth, bleached and hollow, forcing us into the dark, Jodi and I, the tiny bacteria trying to survive as best we can when everything seems to want us removed. Wants us out. Wants this whole earth cleansed and sterilised and packaged and shaped and tooled and modelled and not a hair out of place and not a mark on your skin and don't complain little boy, just take it like the nothing that you are, you penniless joke, you slot machine, you wide eyed waste of skin, you sperm bank, you dreamer, you loser, you are nothing, you hear me? Nothing. Your dreams are nothing. There is only might. There is only white. There is only me.
Get out of my head.
You boy, you think you can dream the world away. You think you can run from the rules. That you can escape from your responsibilities, that you can drift through life, and write, or paint, or play guitar. That you can know love. You think that boy? That you will know love? I'll show you love, boy. Love is pain and here is my love. Love tears you open. Love forces its way in. Love leaves you weak and vulnerable, boy. Love is a loser's game. Love is a drug for people like you, boy so that you can tune out, drop out, and leave the hard work to people like me. So take it, boy. Bend over and drug yourself with my fucking love. Open up boy and I'll inject you. Your mother, your sister and you. Every last one of you. And all you damn lovers can dream yourself away while I hold the world in my fist and smash and crash my own future. Build my castle high on the dreamy clouds of all you lost and lonely lovers.
Get the fuck out of my head.
We're outside the pub. I'm standing in the doorway.
"You want to sit outside? I'll bring you a beer."
His voice still rumbles inside my head. A vomit of volcanic anger oozing out of the Him that lives inside me. I fight him as best I can.
I do believe in love. I do believe in hope.
I have to.
I take a seat facing away from the sands as the bright sun is painfully reflective. And as I sit down I see the nurse rush in and look around and she sees Jodi standing at the bar holding two drinks and they are talking and the drinks are falling and everything is in slow motion and I can see the spray of beer twirling, fanning, ferris wheeling, down and around in the air and I can see the shatter of glass, diamonds and stars and the birth of the universe in a broken moment, a mistake, we are all a mistake, a second chance, we were never meant to be. I was never meant to be. Why am I me?
Jodi is crying I can tell.
The nurse is touching her arm.
Jodi is waving me over.
My feet are taking me through the door.
I'm running through the door.
I'm running through the door.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
You can't love everyone,
and love me too.
I want to be special,
And I tried to tell you,
you are special.
I love you.
And you replied,
But you love everyone.
So I went quiet.
I thought about it
for hours, days, weeks,
months and years.
And in the end
I had no answer
as you walked away
into the night.
So I just kept on loving everyone.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Some ducks live there. Some people too, but more ducks than people.
If you walk around the lake you get to this bridge and if you cross the bridge then you get to this house and in the house is where I sit most of the time, waiting for strangers like you.
You'll know when you're getting close because you'll smell fresh bread or maybe scones though I was never one for cooking a good scone, more one for eating it. Still, you'll smell something when you come by and I guarantee it'll be good. If you want to pick up some wine then that'll be okay with me.
There's a porch we can sit on, it's pretty good for sitting, and you can see the lake and the ducks and you don't have to stretch your neck or anything. It's just there. And in the mornings, in winter mostly, the fog thickens out over the water and tries to make it up the hill to cover my house but it only ever makes it to the porch. And it's like they kiss. The fog and the porch. Kiss each other good morning and then go about their own business.
Usually I'll have a fire going.
And I'll sit at my desk and you'll go through my papers and ask me, what's this? And I'll say, that's my book, and you'll say, can I read it?
Yes, I'll say. Yes, you can. After lunch.
I'll look at your legs the way they swing off the desk and you'll see me looking and we'll both smile and if I'm lucky you'll wink at me and say,
Yes. Yes, you can. After lunch.
You might stay a few days. I guess you've got things to do back in the city, ladders to climb, ambitions, social occasions and what not.
Anyway, I'll be here if you want to come back.
I'll watch the way you move when you walk away, back down over the bridge and past the lake and I'll think, you're so beautiful, and I'll think, maybe next time...
And I'll scratch the dog behind the ear as you disappear. And the cold nose of the dog will bring me back to life. And I'll put some more wood on the fire, and maybe boil the kettle, and set myself back down at the desk.
See, what I'm trying to do is write a book so magical, that you will never want to leave me again.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The best is when he kicks her in the face.
That’s a pretty good one.
He uses that one a lot.
He also likes...
dragging her across the floor,
by the hair, so that her bleeding face
leaves a long red streak
across the tiles.
And then he makes her clean it up in the morning.
I wonder if that’s part of it.
She’ll come at him for the first few minutes.
Her eyes go wild
and the woman I know
scratches and hisses and swears and bites and kicks
and anything she can
but he’ll just stand
over her and wait until he’s had enough.
A prize fighter watching an over zealous child.
Then he’ll start in.
Bang. To the stomach.
And she’ll drop.
Slap. To the face.
Her nose will bleed
and she’ll swear
one more time.
And then he’ll start for real.
I used to call the police.
And I would watch through the curtains
as they joked with him outside
and told him to keep the noise down
and consider the neighbours and
goodnight then, sir.
And they didn’t see her
lying on the stairs inside.
Inching her way upstairs
to the bathroom
to wash the bloody shame off her face.
And I would touch
the glass of the window
and whisper, please.
But no one would hear me.
I stopped calling the police after a while.
I started just watching
from down the hall,
or through the door,
as invisible as I could be,
making sure he didn’t see me,
and making my eyes real wide
and child like so that if he did,
he might think to stop.
Or not to come after me.
After a while I stopped watching.
I’d just go to my room,
switch my light out and
put a pillow over my head
to drown out the sounds of her screams.
Just like the rest of the world.