Socks

“Hey Miz, you’re late! Socks is waiting.” Sachi’s eyes were boring into me while she sucked on a rolled cigarette. She always did her own. One thing about Sachi and her cigarettes was that she rolled them thick and clean. They would lie neatly in the case like chalk they used to use back before whiteboards were a thing.
One elegant puff out, the smooth rush of the smoke passed her lips, forking in two directions before diffusing throughout the low-lit reception.
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t say that too loud. He’ll lose it if he hears we call him that.” I say, my cheeks flushing.
Socks was one my regulars. A bit of a lump, he was balding but really generous. He would usually tip way more than the base fee and whenever he travelled for work he’d bring me a trinket from a place he’d been. Socks knew I never got to leave the big city and it was sweet how he would do that just for me.
He got the name Socks because his request was that we both left our socks on during. As far as kinks went, it was on the easy side. I wore white socks, and he usually wore his black business ones. I bet his draw was filled with hundreds of the same type and colour.
Socks was married and I didn’t know his real name or where he lived but sometimes he would talk about his wife. After she got three kids out of him, she wouldn’t even touch him let alone look at him and so he started coming to our little establishment. There’d been a few times over the years we got raided but our client books with the real details were kept elsewhere. The cops knew what we were doing but they could never prove it. If they got too close then we’d send our boys from down the road to make sure they knew not to get any closer. We didn’t pay our yearly local neighbourhood protection fee for nothing y’know?

I quickly slid out of my day clothes, patted my self down with a moist towelette and slipped my bedroom socks on. I knocked twice before opening the door.
Socks was lying on the bed, completely naked except for his black business socks. He smiled at me, “There’s my Miz.”
“I missed you.”
“Sorry baby. Business. But I got you something.”
I ran over and sidled up with Socks on the bed, his feet tangling with mine. Different sock materials causing an erotic friction. I didn’t find him physically attractive but there was something about his touch that made me feel so safe. He smelled like herbal soap and was impeccably clean. He also finished quickly.
Afterwards, I nestled into him, kissing his arm gently as his breathing slowed back to normal.
“So, what’s my present?” I said with another kiss.
He smiled and whispered into my ear. I giggled and kissed his arm again.

Letterbox

I peek inside my letterbox everyday, even on a weekend and hope I’ll find a letter from you.

You’re gone, I know that.

You aren’t coming back, I know that.

At first it’s like you never existed but all I have to do is scratch the surface and it’s all there. We are there, that time.

The good times were good and the bad times were bad. Ups and downs like a rocky sea on a stormy night.

I can’t forget your smell and the comfort it gave me but I also can’t forget how I felt like I was fading the longer I was with you. Was that your fault? I don’t know, probably not.

Now I’m free and floating without a tether. I’m free but am I in control?

A glimpse of a face in the crowd, a profile with no face. Is it you? Do I want it to be you? What if it is? Then what? Nothing.

Another ghost, another day.

Who is poking around on my balcony under the light of the moon?

When I open the door, is that your cooking I smell?

You know I still put the ear plugs in at night? I tell people it’s because I sleep better but to be honest it’s because I sometimes still hear your snoring even though you aren’t there. I had the worst sleep while we were together. Now I sleep like the dead and I don’t know myself.

Sometimes I can talk about you and sometimes I can’t without crying but that’s life. It couldn’t have been any other way.

I peek inside the letterbox and I know there is nothing in there but I unlock it and check anyway. Maybe tomorrow.

Window

In the mornings when I swim, before I get into the pool I look up at the apartments around me. Crowding around like still giants.

Sometimes I sit there for who knows how long and I pick a window, even though I can’t see much of what or who is inside I imagine their world and their life.

Each window has a story. It’s always morning and someone is going to work.

They use the same lights I do but they probably have a toaster which I don’t have. I use the grill, too much clutter with a toaster.

Today, this guy is going to work, he’s eating dry toast and watching the news while he drinks a milky coffee. The apartment smells like toast. The TV volume is low and the bedroom door is closed- someone is still sleeping.

Who is it? Maybe it’s his wife or boyfriend. What if he’s divorced and this is the day he has custody of his daughter?

Shouldn’t she be getting up for school though? Maybe it’s school holidays. Is it? I can’t even remember.

He looks out the window and thinks about his day ahead. All those meetings to get through until the end of the day.

I wonder if his job is stressful? Does it pay well?

The guy takes a swig of coffee and another bite of the crunchy toast. He’s dressed a bit more nicely than usual because he’s going out after work. I wonder where he’s going?

Would he give me a second look if he passed me in the street? Have we ridden the elevator at the same time before?

I turn my attention back to the room and see the bedroom door opening slowly. An older woman comes out in a nightie. He looks up and says one word but I can’t make it out. He doesn’t smile.

Is that his mother? Or is he just into older women? Could even be his sister. Not everything has to be sexual.

She frowns at him but still heavy with sleep doesn’t have the energy to do much more.

The toast smell is going into the bedroom now with the door wide open. The older woman shuffles over to the kitchen before grabbing a white mug, starts making herself a coffee but stops short of pouring the hot water and milk in.

She pauses for a moment, looking up and sighs before shuffling back into the bedroom and closing the door.

Did they have a fight? They seem to be going through something awkward. I hope he isn’t hitting her.

The man leaves his plate, mug with some coffee at the table. Does he really expect her to clean it up? Typical.

He puts on his shoes, picks up a sorry looking leather suitcase before walking out the door. I hear the slam and it seems signify the end of this little story.

They real occupants will never know that I was imagining their lives and I’ll never know what their real lives are like.

I come back into myself and blank for a moment. I’m exhausted. Looking up at the window once more. I can’t physically see any of what I just saw in my mind.

I need to swim.

I don’t hesitate a moment longer and slip into the cool, calm water.

A Ghost Story

Azz is in the shower and I’m lying on her bed before we go out.
Despite the lack of air-conditioning, the house is surprisingly cool. The light breeze of the ceiling fan is enough for me in this heat.  
The others are in the living room working away but I came in here to just lie down and take a moment. The energy of the house is peaceful, there are spirits around but they’re completely harmless.

Something about Brisbane heat makes me sleepy all the time. In a rare moment, I put my phone away from me and face it down.
Dark wood, off white walls and a pressed ceiling. The detail is a wonder to look at. Are they leaves and plants with the odd flower?
Or is it something else?
Maybe it depends on who is looking.
 
A metal bird circling rhythmically with the fan. I focus on it. The t-shirts and clothes stacked in the shelves floor to ceiling slowly melt away and I feel the cotton bed cover on one side of my face, my arms and legs. I breathe in the comforting smell of home as I watch the bird complete each cycle untiringly – perfect each time.
Soon, more parts of the room fall away until it’s just the bird, me on the bed floating through space.  
But there’s something else – I don’t move but I see the door behind the bedroom door is still present. Doesn’t matter.

I’m focusing on the bird again. Harder than before. It seems to be slowing down or maybe I’m slowing down.
My heartbeat slows and so does the bird. Each cycle complete makes a slow whoosh.
Whoosh
Whoosh
The bedroom door moves slightly and the door behind it opens too.
Whoosh
Whoosh
A hand rests on my cheek and brushes me ever so slightly like the way my mum would have done to me as a child when she found me napping.
My heart bounces and starts beating rapidly, my eyes open wide and for a split second I can’t move. I can’t adjust my gaze to see who has their hand on my face.
My breath quickens and I get up with a start. Was I breathing? It felt like I’d been holding my breath.

For a moment I look around – confused and startled. The fan spins, the bird cycles and everything is just how it was.
I look behind me and notice the door behind the bedroom door. The bedroom door is open, and the other door closed behind it. There’s a painting of some flowers hanging on some string, gently knocking against the wall from the breeze of the fan.  
For now, I’m alone in the room again but something was in here just a moment ago. They’ve gone somewhere else now.
I’m calm again and plop my head back on the bed.
There’s definitely something about that Brisbane heat.

Journal 13/01/2022

The reflection of the fan blades on the dark screen of my phone. Is it a [BLANK]? It definitely isn’t but I check anyway.

Trying to break a [BLANK] I don’t wanna break deep down.

I wonder if everyone spends as much time [BLANK] to work as I do. What else would they be doing?

Telling myself once I get through the ones left on my [BLANK] I’ll settle down and be content.

That’s what I call telling myself a goddamn [BLANK]. They say, to be a good [BLANK, you need to first convince yourself of your own [BLANK].

Do you think [BLANK] knows?

When [BLANK] looks at me when we [BLANK] do you think he wants to [BLANK] me?

To be honest I feel like deep down everyone wants to [BLANK] me one way or another.

Yeah, I know – I’m a real [BLANK]. You don’t need to tell me what I already know.

Bored with [BLANK] when I have it but yearning for [BLANK] when I don’t have it. I’m a classic [BLANK]!

Do you follow [BLANK]?

Oh, no I don’t use [BLANK].

Oh…[BLANK]!

I think I’m gonna [BLANK] before I [BLANK].

Week 2


It’s been a weird week.

I’m sitting on my balcony at 10:05pm, 23̊c and 64% humidity. Someone is smoking weed above, below, left or right of me. Maybe they all are, maybe I am too – maybe no one is and I’m that person at the bar who asks if anyone can smell weed but really there is no weed but then everyone thinks they can smell it too.

This week makes me feel like someone has taken everyone I know and love out of Melbourne and replaced them with complete strangers. Things are open but they’re not, no one is anywhere. Radio silence.

I think she’s isolating, maybe she’s got it?
He definitely has it, I can’t believe he turned up to work with symptoms.
They’re escaping because it’s all too depressing.
Didn’t you go away anywhere?
Are you sure you don’t have symptoms?

The weed smell has gone and now I can smell the donut place down the street on the corner. I love their donuts, but I hate waiting in there because the smell of the oil soaks into my clothes and hair. A high price to pay for high calories. The guy who runs the place is a bit of a hottie, but I wonder if he permanently has that smell because he’s there all the time.

The streets below are quiet again. No people running and yelling down the street to get more drinks at a bar or drink outside. Just the hum of the air-conditioning fan and a cough in the distance.
Do you think he has it?

I realised recently how deeply uncomfortable it is to be called perfect.
How stressful it is to be over-complimented.
When you put someone up on a pedestal, they will eventually fall off and you will walk away because they aren’t good enough to keep any more. You feel betrayed by the stranger in front of you who only looks somewhat like the fantasy you’ve created by filling in the gaps as you please.

The weed smell is back. I wonder where the breeze is carrying it from. Some laughter comes from somewhere, a gathering unseen. Aside from a car driving under the streetlight below and the leaves quivering in the light breeze around me, I see no one. It’s just me.

Sometimes when I come home, I half expect to see you there. When I walk alone along a busy street, I expect to meet your eyes. I know it won’t happen right now, or maybe even ever because that is how it’s meant to be. But I do feel sad. I do feel loss even though it wasn’t meant to be. I guess I don’t have it together as everyone thinks.
Sometimes, I’m a fool too.

The oil fryer smell is back, I need to take my melatonin and go to bed.

Night

I don’t know what his name was but it was a great time.

Would I go there again? Probably not.

Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

My watch tells me I’ve beat my previous exercise record. Yeah, you’re telling me!

Flinders is further than Southern Cross but I decide I can make the train from Flinders. This part of Flinders Street is weird, there are four or five kebab stores right next to each other, some crappy hotels and on the other side some apartments and two rail bridges blocking clear line of site to the Yarra.

Soon enough that lightening bolt building comes up. It’s all black and has a lightening bolt on it. I don’t know what it is but this guy is standing in front of it. The very guy who tapped me before online. We look at each other and he looks away quickly. He’s got a real romper stomper vibe about him, but it’s all aesthetic. All bark and no bite. He’s scrolling on his phone but it’s just the Home Screen.

I play some songs on repeat as I bound towards Flinders Street.

Thinking about a lot of things.

Thinking about how when you have music in your ears that you’d life feels like a music video. Even when a homeless person says something to you as you walk past but when you’ll look, the only words coming out of their mouth are the lyrics to the song.

Thinking about how I feel flexing my freedom.

Thinking about how I get random threats on the app from someone who knows way more about me than a stranger should.

I’m thinking about what lies ahead and I really don’t know.

It’s more of the same but better.

Through the ticket barriers and past a station man helping someone with their myki.

Down the steps and I see an emaciated woman in a loose fitting tatty pink dress peeing on the wall and screaming. But the words coming out of her mouth are the lyrics to the song.

My heart is pounding in my chest.

Up the stairs and look at that, two minutes to spare.

Journal

Always tired but can’t sleep. That melatonin couldn’t arrive soon enough. It’s not like I need sleeping pills, I just need something that lets me rest continuously for whatever length of sleep I need so I don’t feel tired. I went through a sample pack a few weeks back, damn it was good.

When I’m not alone, I want to be alone so I can do my thing, but when I’m alone yearn for human contact and end up fidgeting or jumping between twenty menial tasks. Everything except the thing I said I needed to be alone to do.

During my disrupted sleep, I wake up at around 3 am and go to the toilet. That’s not the weird part though, when I get back into bed, I start thinking the worst thoughts. I become resolute in undoing things and completely detaching from everyone. I piece together gaps in my understanding of my world with the most negative thoughts. I hate it but I can’t stop myself. Then just like that I fall asleep and wake up feeling totally fine. I laugh at how ridiculous it all was and feel thankful for all I’ve achieved up until this point.
Though, in the back of my mind I know that I’ll have one of these episodes again.
Am I dreaming when I have them?
Or am I awake?

Do you ever wonder if sleeping on your side makes your face more asymmetrical than it was in the first place? I wish I could sleep on my back, but I really can’t. If I’m having a nap I fall asleep on my right side like it’s no one’s business. If it’s night time then I can only sleep on my left side. Definitely not on my back.

Word keeps telling me to use more concise language for my reader.
Word can fuck right off.

Good night.

Enemy

This unseen enemy is wearing me down,

Eating away at the corners of my colourful dreams little by little like silverfish at paper.

At first I didn’t even notice and I felt like it was no match for me. I danced around it confidently thinking I was to win but here’s the thing, the whole time it laughed at me and I simply could not see.

Now my dreams are fast fading and my world is looking grey. I’m cold and alone while others dance and play.

I’m shut in and it feels like so many things have been taken away.

One Way Street

I’m running down this one way street towards you with everything in my arms.

I’m running toward you like some desperate fool even though I know it’s not going to be good for me.

In front of me I see your heart so full and fresh but when I look behind me and I see mine a little wilted and depressed.

The sweat is running down my face and I’m started to pant real hard. My chest is tingling but I cannot stop and rest.

I can see you smiling in the distance, not too far now I tell myself.

Then I drop to my knees, I can’t anymore. I’m sorry, I’m sorry I couldn’t give you everything I wanted to give you. My head hangs in shame. The world is dark and I’m alone.

For a time there is silence, isolation and nothing but my shame.

I feel a hand pat my head from above and I look up to see you. You’re laughing at me. Tears are streaming down my eyes, I’m confused and I don’t know what to say.

You laugh even more and so much so that your eyes disappear before you say ‘Hey, you’ve been running down this one way street all along but you’ve gotta let me meet you half way.’