Twilight

She asked me which point I felt like I was at in my life. I sat there for a moment and thought about everything. I was only going to get as much out of these sessions depending on how honest I was with myself.

I opened my mouth and started speaking,

I’m stuck between two places. On the one hand I acknowledge that I’m fortunate and incredibly lucky to be where I am right now. I’m both comforted and pacified by my current place in life.

So, while there is something stirring within me telling me that I’m destined for so much more, the comforts I have and my own insecurities keep me right where I am.

She’s nodding as she types something on her laptop. Rapid tapping is all there is to bridge the silence.

I continue,

Let’s put it this way, I feel like I’ve taken an afternoon nap, it’s been an amazing nap but I’m starting to wake up. In my state of twilight a part of me wants to go back to sleep because sleep seems ideal. Truth be told I have no recollection of how sleep actually feels but I tell myself that feel good because I instantly seek to return to that state as begin to wake up from it.

But then, there is another part of me, it’s this voice telling me to wake up because if I continue to sleep then what happens later on when I eventually do wake up. Sleeping way beyond what I should have.

This is the tension I feel now, the decision to be made.

Do I go back to sleep or do I wake up?

A brief pause, then the sound of typing. She looks directly at me now and opens her mouth to speak.

Big Boy

Debbie remembered when she first noticed the crappy, homemade, inkjet printed paper signs clumsily sticky taped to the wooden light poles around Moonee Ponds.

HAVE YOU SEEN OUR CAT?

There was a photo of a black cat perched on what could have been the arm of an outdoor chair. There was grass in the background. Possibly even a hills hoist. 

He’s a big black cat, very friendly and responds to “Big Boy”

Please contact us on XXXX XXX XXX if you find him.

She probably made a joke about it to Audrey a few times because they both lived in the area and they were a bit more on the cynical side. They loved animals and everything but there was something sublimely suburban about the whole lost pet and the home made sign situation that made her chuckle whenever she saw it. She stopped herself whenever she started to think it was pathetic. Too far Debbie, too far. 

It must have been at least two years since she first started seeing the signs and there were still some around.

The particular one she walked past that prompted this whole recall had a chunk missing from the bottom left corner. The paper was warped from rain, sun and then some more rain.  Debbie was surprised that the ink hadn’t run off the paper and completely disappeared in this time.

She pulled out her phone, took a photo and sent it to Audrey.

Do you think they ever found Big Boy?

Debbie kept walking and wondered if the cute guy would be at the cafe today. He wasn’t her normal type but he had these piercing blue eyes and maintained strong eye contact whenever she ordered from him. Debbie unimaginatively called him Coffee Boy because she didn’t know his real name nor did she have the confidence to ask.

Just past the entrance to the station she could see the cafe come into view so she went by the window and peaked in – it was confirmed, Coffee Boy was squirting out his brew today. 

Debbie definitely needed a coffee now. Glimpsing him at work from the window, she felt something rise up within her that made her whole body tremble for an instant.  

As Debbie walked in he was already looking her way and grinned, “Weren’t sure if you wanted a coffee or not?” 

Debbie felt a pang in her chest. If he’d seen her today then he probably saw her every other time she has been looking in like a creep. She went right through his greeting and got down to business, “Hey, have you ever seen that missing cat sign around the area?” 

He tilted his head, “You mean big boy?” 

“Yeah!” Debbie had successfully steered him away from her creeping indiscretions to this more pressing matter. 

“What about him though? Your cat?” He didn’t seem terribly interested but it was probably the kind of conversation he would be used to while he passed the time with takeaway customers. 

“Nah, but I always see the sign around and wondered if they ever found him.” Debbie fiddled with some local business cards on the shelf near the counter and added, “Oh I’ll get a flat white by the way.”

Just as she finished her sentence, his eyes thinned slightly as they remained locked on hers and he placed the takeaway coffee on the counter, “Here you go, it’s already done. That’ll be 4.70.” 

Debbie raised and eyebrow, “Oh, how did you know?” she tried to add a hint of flirtation into her question/. 

Coffee Guy raised an eyebrow, “It’s what you always get. You’re hardly going to change to a mocha all of a sudden. Am I right?”

Was he mocking her? Was he trying to tell her that he remembered her and disguised it in the same kind of way a little boy throws sand at the girl he likes to profess his feelings for her? 

“Gee…yeah okay. Take my money then.” Her card made contact with the little white square. 

Beep.

“Look, you might change milk types? How’s that? Maybe you’re not that predictable.” Coffee Guy added in with a wink before starting on another coffee order. 

Debbie turned around towards the door and gave him a little wave holding the coffee cup in her hand. 

She looked left and then right, which way was she going to go? 

She pulled out her phone and noticed that there was a message from Audrey.

Yeah I hope so…kind of sad right?

Debbie turned left, walked straight and then took a few more turns before she found herself away from the station and in the midst of suburbia. Big houses, little houses, large developments and signs outside quaint houses opposing development. Oh yes, this was middle-ring Melbourne all right. 

The sky was relatively cloudless apart from a few thin pieces scattered throughout the vast blue expanse. Debbie’s eyes went from the sky to the tree tops and then the rooftops with wooden electricity poles here and there. Further down and oh – another sign for Big Boy. 

She walked over to the sign and looked again. Unlike the one earlier, this one looked newer and the whole thing was intact.

Was it new? The text seemed to be jumping out at Debbie. 

The numbers were almost vibrating with energy on the page. A lawnmower in the distance, birds chirping somewhere in a tree, the constant sound of the windless air started fading as she stood transfixed. With little thought, Debbie pulled out her phone and dialled the numbers she saw before her.

Dial tone.
Dial tone.
Dial tone.
Click.

Silence.

Debbie stammered, heart beating in her chest, “Hello?” 

There was only a grainy silence but there was definitely someone on the other end of the line. Then a voice, “Have you seen Big Boy?” 

Debbie was frozen where she stood, transfixed on the image of Big Boy in front of her. 

“Uhh…no. I just wanted to know if you found him.” She realised how pathetic she sounded but the words had already left her mouth. 

“Where’s Big Boy?” The voice sounded ancient and scratchy. Debbie wasn’t sure if the voice was male or female. 

“Uh…I-I’m looking for him.” She lied. 

“Then why are you just standing there?” The voice replied.

Debbie’s neck prickled and she looked around her frantically. The street was deserted yet it sounded so busy. Birds chirped unseen, a child was laughing behind a tall fence somewhere and the dog repeatedly barked. Debbie felt completely alone.

She quickly hung up the phone and went to get back home. Debbie was getting the sense that someone was coming for her.
Her heart started jumping around and her hands became clammy.  The coffee dropped to the ground and she nearly screamed from the shock of it. 

What street was she on? She couldn’t make it out. She felt frantic as she became aware of everything around her.

Get out, just get home. 

Debbie broke into a run and turned into another street hoping to find some other people. If only someone else could see her then she would be safe. But this street was deserted too. Sounds of safety and comfort were all around but there was no one in sight. 

As she continued to run, looking in every direction she could she increasingly felt like a trapped mouse running through a maze.

Just the unseen eyes watching her inaction.  

Debbie was sweating now, she couldn’t seem to find her way back to the station or the cafe. Every street she ran into looked like the one before it. 

The houses all looked the same.
No one was around.
“Help me! Someone, please!” She was screaming out now. 

The lawnmower was whirring in the distance.
A child was crying in a backyard somewhere.
Birds chirping in a tree.
A girl running hysterically down a street not noticing them waiting for the moment she passed so they could pull her behind the fence and through a door which would close tight.  

The street was quiet now, only silent eyes peering from behind flyscreen doors curious about a scream they thought they heard but not concerned enough to leave their houses and check. 

The posters remained on the poles here and there throughout the streets. 

Big Boy was yet to be found. 

 

Genesis

Genesis by Grimes comes on and I close my eyes to find myself back in my apartment in Hanegi one evening during the week nearly five years ago. I’ve finished work and I’m sitting there on my beige coloured ikea sofa with the red throw on it.

I can see a seven eleven dinner plastic tray with a trace of food I just ate from it lying open on the coffee table in front of me. Disposable wooden chopsticks are sitting on top and a thin rubber band is a short distance away.

My heart, I never feel

I never see

I never know.

I’m restless, I always have been.

My eyes close as I get to my feet and throw my body into some kind of mad dance. I’m doing this in my shoebox space.

Oh, heart

And then it falls

And then I fall

And then I know

I wish this song would never end. It always does and I know it but fuck, I wish it would go on forever.

My

My

My

Ever see, ever be, ever know my heart

Ever see, ever be, ever know my heart

I think I’ll be restless forever. A tear rolls down my cheek and slides into the space between my lips.

My dance becomes more erratic, violent jerks throw me into the walls and tripping over my coffee table.

Home and I know

Playing the deck above

It’s always different

I am the one in love

I bring myself to my feet and I keep going, unable to stop myself. I feel the blood dripping down my left shin and the sting of the scrape.

Ever see, ever be, ever know my heart

Ever see, ever be, ever know my heart

I run down the hallway now and throw the door to my apartment open. Through the entrance and out of my building into a humid autumn night with cicadas screaming to genesis, hidden from view.

I’m screaming in the darkness and no one can see or hear me.

It’s always different

I am the one in love

I disappear.

Egg Dream 1

I don’t know what day it is but I’m in the kitchen cracking pepper on my eggs again at the bench. I look out the window briefly – it’s an overcast day and I can see the central city standing tall in the distance with trees and terracotta suburban rooftops like waves in the foreground. 

I’m lost in thoughts of memories of all the places that fall within my view, pepper cracker inactive in my hands. That’s when I notice a presence behind me. 

There is someone else in the kitchen. I turn around to see Shae sitting on the kitchen floor behind me. 

I’m a little bit confused. 

What is she doing here? 

Shae is a girl I went to primary school with. We also attended the same high school for a short time. She grew up in Essendon too so until I moved out of home I would see her at different points and stages in my life. Down the street, at the tram stop and at IGA with her mother. 

To be honest, I can’t say I’ve ever really spoken to her but she’s always been around. Though, there is one thing I can’t get out of my head every time I see Shae; the horrible things I heard other kids at school did to her because she had Down’s Syndrome. Kids would lure her to the oval under the pretence of wanting to hang out or be her friend and then jab her with their cigarettes or make her do humiliating things to win their approval.  

It made me sick to my stomach. While I did get bullied quite a bit through the end of primary school and early high school, it was nothing like that. 

The train of thoughts are leading me to dark places and it’s the last thing I need right now so I shake my head back into reality and focus on the situation before me. 

Shae doesn’t seem to notice I’m here in the same room with her and I also notice she’s still a child. Shae is older than me and while this doesn’t really make sense I kind of just go along with it. 

She’s even wearing the primary school dress with its blue and white checkers. Shae is distracted as she plays with some unseen object on the floor, humming a tune to herself. Tears start welling up in my eyes and I don’t know why suddenly I feel so emotional. My eyes sting and a stiffness takes hold in my throat. 

I don’t need to be getting like this now, I’ve got things to do. 

Get it together.

Turning back and looking back down at my work, my eyes fix on the bowl with the eggs. The white is flecked with little black unevenly sized chunks. A few of them fall off and it looks like they’re moving. I smile to myself and focus a little more. 

The hairs on the back of my neck stand up as I see a few more pieces move, but this time they’re moving sporadically as if by their own volition. My face moves closer to the eggs in the bowl, now they look less like eggs and more like smooth, white alien planets with little people crawling on the surface – rushing around to nowhere in particular. 

People running blind through life until they fall off the edge. Watching the eye in the sky watching them. 

As I keep focusing I can’t help but think how the cracked pepper almost looks like ants from where my I stand.  

A sick, cool-warm rush comes over me and a jolt of shock climbs up from my stomach up into my throat. 

They are ants. 

There are ants on the eggs. 

Crawling all over the eggs, drowning in the condensation, along the sides of the bowl and making their way up my arms. My skin itches in a hundred places at once as the ants walk in every direction. There are too many to count. 

Where did they come from?

I stumble back and drop the pepper cracker, the thing smashes on the floor next to me with a black mass of ants oozing out before crawling in every direction.

My knees feel weak and I fall to the ground. 

There’s a dull pain in both knees and I look to see all the ants are gone. 

Fuck. What’s wrong with me? 

That’s when I remember Shae is behind me. My knees still have a dull pain as I use my hands to pivot myself in Shae’s direction.

She hasn’t noticed me. 

I still can’t quite make out what she’s playing around with so I focus a little more.  

That’s when I see them, there are ants on her legs walking really slowly. They stroll over her pale, nearly translucent skin with the veins like a network of roads for the ants. 

Shae stops moving and goes quiet. And then so do the ants. 

Time stops, the birds outside are frozen mid-flight, the trees do not rustle in the wind. 

The world around me is quiet and I wonder if I’m frozen too. 

Then everything starts again. 

The ants spring into motion at this frenzied pace and Shae starts to scream. She’s scratching at her legs to get the ants off but more of them keep coming. 

Her legs are turning red with scratch marks. 

I can’t help her. 

My mouth opens to scream out to her but nothing comes out, just saliva which starts dribbling down my chin and onto the ground. 

That’s when I smell this sickly sweet meat stench in the air. 

Her screaming grows louder and the pitch is insufferable. I stumble back and I’m against the kitchen cupboards under the bench not able to escape any further. Not even putting my hands over my ears blocks the screaming. 

I’m going to be sick. 

I grab my stomach as I feel the contents churning and attempting to escape from me. 

My mouth wrenches open by reflex and at first that pre-vomit saliva comes out. 

Shae is still screaming but I can’t see her anymore.

Something is moving up my throat now. 

First a belch followed by some smooth form that comes up into my mouth and into the floor.

I stare in disbelief.  

It’s one of the peeled hard boiled eggs. 

Then another. 

And another. 

I can’t stop, one after the other the eggs keep pouring out of my mouth covered by slimy saliva.

Soon the floor is covered with eggs and I find myself slipping in my own saliva unable to keep myself up.

And as I’m lying on the ground, the eggs just keep coming out of my mouth and onto the floor around me.  

Shae’s screaming is louder than ever and I just can’t stop vomiting these goddamn peeled, hard boiled eggs. 

I wake up. 

Where I’m not meant to be

I’m writing to think about something else that isn’t thinking about social media and dating which numb my mind. To not think about the place where I spend most of my week sitting in, I want to write even more and I want to be where I’m meant to be.

I think about people who have a passion and then succeed at it and I imagine them staying up late at night burning the candle at both ends until they free themselves because there is no gain without struggle or freedom without a fight. Those who succeed only get there with struggle right? You have to endure tears and pain to get it right. Right?

And then I wonder if I just float through life as I am, not devastated and relatively comfortable, can I live with this feeling that follows me around like some masked menace? And while sometimes I forget he’s there, as soon as I turn around he’s poking around and smirking at me like some smug asshole.

I know I don’t fit, that much is obvious and it’s pointed out to me everyday. I used to think it was socially but recently I’m realising that it’s more to do with what my place is in the world. Those around me, like the characters in a dream are very much aware of an outsider – they turn to me and say, “Why are you doing this? You know you’re meant to be doing something else right?” All I can reply is by using humour to deflect the fact that I know but I don’t know where.

My world falls quiet and everyone stops moving, speaking and expressing. They turn to me and each and every one of them holds up a sign that reads, WRONG WAY.

What am I? An imposter? A wolf in sheep’s clothing? A cuckoo or a Lyrebird? Possibly a chameleon? Sitting and waiting, planning, or just copying because mirroring is all I know.

You take a left step so I take a left step too.

You reach for coffee so I reach for coffee too.

You suggest this a holiday so I suggest that very same holiday.

Your eyes thin slightly in suspicion and so do mine.

You laugh and then I laugh.

I even express the slight discomfort that comes across one’s face when they feel they are being mirrored. Or is it you that is mirroring me? Deep down you know but you’re not sure enough to say anything and that’s all I need.

Now the train tells me I’m at where I’m not meant to be and I get off one more time. For another day I tell myself that maybe I take life a little too seriously and think a little too much. I see what’s ahead and I can’t stop chewing the inside of my mouth. At this very moment when no one is watching, I’m not copying anyone.