No matter how good you think you are, you will always be the villain in someone else’s story.
I live in a beautiful city.
Some even say it’s one of the most beautiful in the world but I think that depends on who is looking and where they are looking from.
There was a time when I would fly, wide-eyed around my city filled with buildings both old and new, streets lined with plane trees and cute little laneways, each turn filled with me wonder and excitement.
But recently something has changed. When I walk the streets, I’m alone and I can’t help but notice them.
They are scattered amongst the new people that pass me by.
The ghosts stare at me with their hollow eyes and shapeless mouths.
I try my best to ignore them but there seem to be more and more.
I enter an arcade that I would spend countless afternoons in all those years ago. One of the cafes in the arcade has this upstairs area where I would sit by the arched window watching the crowds filter trickle through for whole afternoons.
It was a sacred place.
But now, as part of the trickling crowd I look up to the arched window and see a ghost sitting at my table, mouth gaping open and staring at me.
I decide to walk another way.
Food tastes bland and powdery, the buildings look weathered. The world around me is becoming a tired amusement park, the rides haven’t changed and things are starting to break down.
I’m not making new memories like I used to.
No – surely not.
I look through my phone to convince myself otherwise but most of my photos are of food, buildings or myself. The smiles that occupy my older photos before this all started are filled with warmth and feeling. Something has changed, I have changed.
What have I done?
Where did I go wrong?
Whatever I did, wherever I went wrong, there are only ghosts following me around and standing in my way.
This is no longer the city I grew up in, the city that shaped me into who I am.
And when I look under the thin veil it is very much apparent that at some point I stopped living.
How long have I just barely been existing?
I don’t think I wanna do that.
Just be more open.
What the fuck are you doing?
You know you like it, you’re a slut.
I don’t like it when you spit on me.
Come on, it’s hot.
Please don’t hit me like that again
Don’t be so boring.
It really hurts.
Just a little longer baby, it feels so good. Please.
Please, I’m tired.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to do anything.
I’m not feeling it.
Fucking hell, what did you think we were gonna do?
Don’t leave any marks.
Why? You don’t want your other guys to know?
Arch your back. DOWN!
Did you take it off?
Come on baby, it feels so much better. Don’t you want my load?
No one’s really interested in me apart from a hook up.
You seem like the type who would cheat though.
Can we please use a condom?
What, you’re not clean? I am.
I couldn’t fucking breathe!
Sorry baby, I’m really sorry.
Yeah, I’m fine don’t worry about it.
Oh, you didn’t cum? I guess I can finish you off if you want.
We’d just had sex, relishing in the warmth of post orgasm cuddle play when he looked me in the eyes, “You know I really like you.”
My chest swelled with euphoria and fear and I smiled, “Me too!” But just as my reply reached his ears the sparkle disappeared from his eyes, his lips curled down ever so subtly – the post coitus warmth had dried up and my bed felt like winter.
“It’s okay, I know you don’t.” He said, the eye contact was broken now.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He was looking out the window, his thoughts were now as far as the mountain ranges in the distance. He started speaking, “You don’t want a relationship. You don’t want a boyfriend. You’re so lonely but you only want guys that are temporary but then when they are willing to stay in your life you back away because you’re so scared of getting close to someone.”
All I could do was nod. I didn’t know what to say but I couldn’t disagree.
He continued, “I feel sorry for you, I don’t know what happened to you but I’m really sorry that it happened. In all the time I’ve spent with you, I still have no idea who you are.”
Just like that it was gone, my jig was up. An act even I wasn’t actively conscious of up until that point.
Again, I just nodded and looked down at the messy linen sheets, really deep into the thread work and imperfections – speckles here and there, lumps and bumps.
Slowly I took my gaze up to my reflection in the mirror where I only saw myself. He was all but gone.
Rather than looking at my reflection, I was looking through myself in the reflection. My eyes glazed as I floated out from my body to imagine me viewing myself alone in the room watching myself look through my own reflection.
I felt so empty.
You never think the moon would crash into the earth but then one day you look up and you realise it’s about to happen.
I made this wall to keep the harm out, it has served me well but there is something else. After years behind the wall, I’m getting this growing sense that I am somehow missing out.
I see you and you see me but as we go to touch, something stops us.
The wall keeps you out too.
Now I sit here in my space where I used to feel so safe. But now, it’s not just that I’m missing out but something else – I feel something sinister here with me, invisible to my eyes as I look around.
It’s just me, there is nothing in here, what could it be?
That’s when I catch a glimpse in the reflection of the glass.
It is in me, it has been growing in me and changing me.
I realise now is the time to let down the walls. I’m not ready but I don’t think I will ever be.
All I know if I don’t I will cease to be me.
I’m a coward because anytime anyone has ever called either of you out has been willed out of existence with your over inflated sense of moral and intellectual superiority.
I’m a coward because I can’t count how many times you looked the other way as you walked past my room when I was crying and felt so alone in the world.
I’m a coward because when I gave you a present you never acknowledged it and left me to find it amongst rubbish in the garage.
I’m a coward because your circumstances are so unique they prevent anyone from questioning your behaviour.
I’m a coward because neither of you apply the same harsh rules to yourselves as you do to others.
I’m a coward because you turn on the charm offensive as soon as you sniff out the faintest hint of generosity like hungry ghouls only to disappear once what you came for is well and truly consumed.
I’m a coward because I would be threatened when I was at my most vulnerable if I ever spoke up.
I’m a coward because whenever anything went wrong you left me to fix it and never offered a helping hand unless it affected you directly.
I’m a coward because you’re both so damn deluded that you have no idea nearly everyone around you is thinking what I’m saying.
No, none of this is on you at all because I’m a coward.