Wake

It feels like I’ve long woken up from a dream and even if I shut my eyes, I can’t go back.

You all look like you did in my dream but you move differently now.

I take the photos down because the memories don’t feel real anymore. It’s too painful a reminder of a warmth and ease that no longer exist.

Sure, we still go places but it isn’t the same. Beneath the surface there is nothing but empty eyes and checking the time.

What did you fill my cup with?

Something doesn’t feel right.

There are more ghosts than ever. Poking around and staring at me.

Everything is bland, the colour isn’t as bright and feelings aren’t as strong. I’m tired.

Night falls. I lay in bed and once again close my eyes. Maybe this is all just a bad dream.

Dating since 11/21

Stream of conciousness style writing on my reflections of encounters on dating apps and with people I have met and interacted with since becoming single. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t matter what clothes someone puts on, what their pronouns are or which part of the city they live in – we say some pretty interesting things to eachother.

In isolation these comments may not mean much, but built up they take a toll. If this is a summarised version of my experience over nearly six months, imagine what other people must be getting. Doing this activity was both cathartic and confronting for me.

Reflections: Lots of cancellations, poor follow ups, lots of sex, amazing lessons in human interaction, behind anonymity people say some horrible things, people are really bad liars, people often like the idea of you, give it a week and they’ll have forgotten who you are, subtle flirtation is lost on way too many people, great book recommendations, people will come to you for recommendations but not want to hang out with you, people believe what they want to believe, people don’t often mean what they say, no one knows what they’re doing (me included). Never lose hope.

Hi
Hey
Expiring photo received
You’re back?
I haven’t seen you before!
Come over
His loss
I’m open to anything
Come over
Do you host?
Expiring photo received
I can’t believe you’re single
I’d love to see you again
Sweet dreams x
Come over
You’re fucking disgusting
When can I smash that?
How about a drink king?
You’re gorg
Long time no see
Your perm looks shit
I had a great time tonight.
When am I seeing you again?
You must be a real slut
How many other guys are you seeing?
Hey
We met before right?
Hi
Hi
Fuck you
How far off are you???
Take your time, no pressure x
Do you just feel sorry for me?
I’m used to guys throwing themselves at me so it really shakes my confidence when you don’t.
Hi
????
Expiring photo received
If I see you down the street I’m going to fuck you up you little cunt
You’re a really sweet guy but I’ve met someone else that I want to give it a go with
I’m bottom too…
Hey
Hey hi
Suck me
I’d rather have you bent over my bed though…
You free tonight?
I need you…
Looking?
Hey I just got my results and…
I just don’t trust guys who have discreet written on their profiles
You’re gonna break my heart
Where are you taking me tonight?
You’re so cold
Aww thanks, I’ll grab drinks next time x
Your whole narrative thing really fucked me up. That’s such a dark way of looking at the world.
Hey
Why didn’t you touch me?
Where r u?
Looking?
You don’t look queer
There was no connection between us. I hope you find what you’re looking for.
You’re close!
Ah – bit too far from Collingwood…
Come sit on my lap baby x
You’re in footscray right?
I wanna be inside you
Your body is ugly
About tomorrow, something’s come up
Tell me more about yourself
Can you be on all fours?
I would have asked you to come back but I was so tired x
I’m deleting this app soon so if you’re serious about talking to me gimme your details
Hey
When u gonna come to daddy?
Hi
Looking?
Muscle only
Can I eat your poo?
????
Fuck you
I’ll let you know cutie xx
You’re sitting at a café right?
What’s that bar you took me to?
I can see you
What you doing?
Hey big boy
My man
Hosting on spencer street
I’m always SO horn on here, hit me up on insta and we can have a coffee xx
I woke up this morning and I’m feeling like I have a bit of a cold
I promise I’ll make it up to you!
Hey u
Can you tell me a cute date spot?
You’re close
Host or travel?
Just ditch your friends so I can fuck you good
You look cute in those shorts
Expiring photo received
hey x
Ur a slutty one
This is a vibe
Where r u from?
I had a great time
Nice
Too far
Hi
Dialling now
Which level?
Nice
I don’t travel outside of fitzroy
What natio?
Slut
Got more pics?
Did you read my profile?
Liked your message
Last night was magical, thank you.
OH its you
Can we smoke a j together?
You are funny
Defs chat and cuddle
I don’t think I got it from you but…
My house mate came home sick
Slut
Likewise
You like being slutty don’t you???
lol
Hahaha
What do you think of this guy?
Can I use your mouth?
I’ll be in touch cutie x
Hi
What?
Hi
Looking?

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.

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].

Bega

We’ve been driving forever.

Mum got sad and stopped talking when Ayla asked if we were there yet for the hundredth time. Sometimes the white noise from the radio stops and a few words come through.

Eva-

Do not-

Las-

Dad whistles half a tune every now and then.

White noise, gravel road and the rumble of the car. The sky is blue.

Ayla is fixated on something in the corner of the window near her seat. The windows are locked – we aren’t to wind them down.

Whenever we drive somewhere for the holidays it always takes so long and the last time we did I was sick and vomited on the seat. Even after we cleaned it there was still a smell but Dad got a new work car since then so I promised I would tell them if I felt sick so they could stop the car. I haven’t been sick yet and I think I won’t vomit the whole way.

Dad’s eyes are fixed on the road. Usually when I look into Dad’s eyes, they are bright like the sunlight bouncing off little puddles after the rain. Right now they look empty, like the eyes on one of Ayla’s stuffed toys.

A green sign passes but I can’t read it. The sky is grey-brown.

With a blink, Dad seems to come to life, “Guys! Only 20k’s to Bega!”. He glances around, beaming.
I don’t know what Bega is and I don’t know why we’re going there. We’ve been driving non-stop since last night I think. Mum and Dad woke us up at night and told us we were going on a holiday. We didn’t even get to pack our bags but they said we could buy things when we got to Bega.

God-

Mass-

Shel-

Mum looks back at us for a moment and smiles faintly. Her eyes are red, she looks past us a for a moment and her face changes. Eyes wide, I can see the red around the edges. Lip quivering. She quickly turns back and grabs Dad’s arm as he drives, her knuckles are white. Dad doesn’t say anything.
I want to look back but the last time Ayla and I tried to Mum and Dad both screamed at us. Dad never screams but I never saw him look so scared when he did.

Mum and Dad are looking at each other now, he’s not looking at the road anymore.
Mum’s crying and so is Dad. They both smile while they’re crying. I don’t know why.
How long has it been? I don’t know.
They both look back at us, “Only 15 k’s to Bega! Why don’t you two have a rest before we get there? We don’t want you napping when we’re walking around town.” Mum smiles through the tears. Her smile doesn’t seem real.  
The sky is a red-brown, it’s almost glowing and getting brighter like a weird sunset.

Ayla has stopped playing and is asleep.

Do- on the cor-
Ou- in t-e street
Willy and the – are playin’
Bring a ni-, ta- your feet-

Oh, it’s that song that used to be on the radio all the time when I was in prep. I remember how hot the summer was back then. It feels like it’s getting that hot now.

The glow is getting brighter as I close my eyes. I feel sleepy.

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.’

Split

It’s been nagging me for years since I came back. That feeling I left something of myself behind.

Because when I go back I feel so alive and I feel myself. Why is that? I could never figure it out.

But today during my session with the psychologist, it came out that perhaps I left a part of myself there, the part of myself I actually like.

So when I’m back there I’m whole again, when I leave I’m not.

If I’m not whole and the part of myself that I like and truly want to be is not here then what is it that came back?

Could it be that my shadow came back and forgot it was a shadow and just took my place? Meanwhile my true self is over there infinitely walking home from the station on a still autumn night in awe of everything around him not realising what has happened.

How do I make myself whole again?