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.’

Grid

You’re not next to me but you’re with me.

I know that, I swear I do.

It’s a Saturday night isolated but I know I’m not alone. I know I’m loved. Especially by you.

Despite this, I can no longer focus on whatever I put on the TV that I thought would distract me enough. I look down to that grid. I’m scanning the grid knowing you wont be there. My brain and my heart are telling me to stop looking but as if by some phantom habit, my body now moves on it’s own.

This search also turns up nothing.

I don’t feel relieved.

I feel empty,

I feel dark,

I feel uncomfortable.

My eyes close, I reset and open up to find the grid is gone.

I’m pacified for now but I know I have to be stronger next time, I know I can’t go on like this.

I’m praying for strength and most of all I’m praying for faith.

Gravity

We’re tangled on the sofa watching something. The movie doesn’t matter so much, just this moment, the afternoon sun streaming through into the room and the comfort your warmth gives to me. How long have we been sitting here? Minutes? Hours? Who even picked the movie? I don’t know and I don’t care.
Despite trying to ignore the feeling, I can’t ignore the fact that I have to go to the toilet and dread to break this moment but I get up to do it anyway.
As I start to rise, I’m pulled back onto the couch, gently, so gently. Maybe I didn’t give myself enough push going up? I look at you, half expecting you to meet my gaze but your face is focused on the movie and you don’t look at me. For the briefest of moments you smile the most secret, quiet smile that only I can see and hear.

That’s when I know it’s you.

You’re the gravity that keeps me from floating away.

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?

Beep Beep Beep

It’s late afternoon and the faint smell of the foccacia I baked lingers in the air. Sesame is on the bed out of my sight probably sleeping or looking out the window and through the open balcony door in my living room I can hear the symphony of construction machines beeping as they move around.

My eyes sting with a lack of sleep coating my lids like some residue I can’t lift. My dreams were violent last night and the guided meditation before bed made it worse. Rika popped up in my dream at some stage; she didn’t look well and had scabs around her mouth. I wasn’t happy to see this but I wasn’t sad either. We didn’t interact but she was always around, mouthlessly wording things at no one in particular.

I don’t know if it’s a headache or just the drain of dumping my mental state on my new psychologist just now but I pop two painkillers. It’s a packet I picked up in transit at Hong Kong Airport on my way home from Bangkok last year.
I travelled nearly 7 times last year but today international travel has been banned and my predictions of societal collapse seem to be happening a lot more sooner than even I thought they would.

Can I fit in a nap before heading to family dinner?
Honestly, I’ll need to so I can function and not breakdown crying in front of everyone.

The beeping of the vehicles is less frequent now but there is some other power tool, the bang of a hammer periodically. Another lot of instruments have taken over but the symphony continues.

Congratulations

It’s Friday morning and I’m walking from the station to work when I pass Norma’s Drycleaning as I do every other weekday. Out of the corner of my eye I can still see the dress that’s been there since we moved into the new building nearly four years ago now.

I’m going to say it’s an African dress of some sort but I could be wrong and I have little reference to go off other than the colours and the patterns.
The dress is wrapped in plastic, hanging with the other clothes except that it’s positioned facing the street. Facing me.
I pass the store and it leaves my sight but today something makes me stop in my tracks. The thought of another day of a strict routine in a job that I hate is too much to handle so I start acting out of my routine like I’m about to do.
Instead of walking toward work, I’m walking backwards V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y as if unsure of what I’m doing but now I’m more sure than ever…I think.

I peek the pattern of green, yellow and red lines streaming out of the black circle in the chest of the dress like the rays of some other wordly sun. Entering the store I notice there is no one at the counter and I just stand there unsure of what to do next.

A man comes out from the back and looks at me with tired eyes, “Yes?” He’s balding and has a weak nest of salt and pepper hair around the bald crown poking out like some disappointing egg.
I raise my arm and point to the dress behind him, “I’m here to…pick that up.” comes out in a stammer.
The man’s tired eyes sharpen as he looks into me before turning to look back at the dress and back to me again. “Are you sure that’s what you want?” He says.
“Yes.” I’m sure of it now.
It’s at this time that I notice that the store is quiet, so quiet it’s almost as if we’re in a vacuum. Another dimension so far from the one I usually inhabit.
The only sound I hear is the light crunch of the plastic surrounding the dress that he’s now bringing over to me. In fact, I can’t even hear the sound of my blood pumping violently through my body, I can only feel it.
He hands over the dress and I take it into my hands.
The lights start to grow dim before completely darkening. Now, I can’t see the man, the dress or even my own hands.
Then just like that, the lights grow dim and come back to full brightness. The man is looking at me, but the dress that was just in my hands is gone.
He’s smiling, “Congratulations, you’ve found the key and you can move on to the next stage.”
I blink.
I blink again.
Without another word, he turns around and walks to the back of the store, disappearing from site in amongst the other clothes waiting to be collected.
I back out from the store to the outside world.
Everything is the same but also quite different.
There are doors where there weren’t doors before and new things in place of old things.

I let out a breath of relief.
After all this time, this is where it was.

I smile to myself.

Lopsided

We are in one of those public halls sitting on uncomfortable foldable chairs in a circle. Gloria next to me has just finished talking about her experience and I feel the anticipation of the facilitator introducing me to the group. In fact, I nearly jump the gun and a sound only audible to me comes up my throat, bounces around my mouth but doesn’t go any further than that.
Phew! That was close, I nearly let that one out. I smile to myself as I focus on the floorboards at my feet. Light beach in colourt, they would have been polished once but the money probably ran out.

“Tim, would you like to share your experience with us today?” The facilitator says as he looks towards me. The eyes of the rest of the group follow his gaze.
I’m feeling jumpy and excited. I was expecting this moment but I didn’t expect it now. Well…I did but I guess not like this.
I smile “Oh yes please.”
The group waits and looks on in silence. I like to leave a bit of a pause before I start because it calms me. I open my mouth and my story starts coming up my throat, through my mouth and out into the room.

So, I was at work, a typical Tuesday. You know, Monday has passed but you still have so much to do and the weekend still seems like an impossibility.
I’m sitting at my desk staring at the screen, it was about 10:15, no – actually it was 10:17, I remember because I looked at my phone and I saw a notification that made me head off to the toilet to open it in privacy. You know, one of those messaged. I used to get a lot of those.
I looked at the number seven and thought damn, that’s a bad luck number in some countries. It means death; kind of like our unlucky 13.
I got up, locked my screen and walked out of the office area and into the side hallway.
The disabled toilet was occupied so I just went to the regular toilet, entered one of the free cubilces and checked the message. The photo wasn’t even’t that bad, I could have looked at it at my desk but in hindsight I’m actually glad I didn’t because then I wouldn’t have realised that it was happening.
I left the cubicle and went into the next room to wash my hands. From there I looked up to check my hair. Hair was fine, so I started checking the rest of my face.
That’s when I first noticed it. Right then.
At first I thought maybe the mirror was warped – my face looked distorted. I got closer and looked at my features; one of my eyebrows had moved up close to my hairline and my right nostril was drooping.
No.
No.
No.
I moved to the next mirror, same thing – I recoiled and felt panicky.
Was it happening to me? It couldn’t be. I was sure I hadn’t come into physical contact with anyone who it happened to. But then, that’s what we thought at the time – we know now that it’s not spread like that.
I remember touching my face and feeling what I had seen in the mirror. As I felt my face, even more of it had moved and by that point I was too scared to look.

I knew I had to leave, but I didn’t know where I would go, if I went back into the office they would know. If I went onto the street I would surely be collected.
To be honest, I must have been so shocked I didn’t notice Russell walk out from the toilets. He must have seen me and alerted my team.
I was getting messages on my phone but I couldn’t respond to any of them.
The dinner that evening was no longer a possibility. In fact my life as I knew it was about to become an impossibility.
Then came the knock.
Knock.
Knock.
Knock.
“Tim, are you in there?” The voice belonged to Darren who was my senior.
“Yeah…” I remember responding.
No one knocks to enter the toilets. He knew.
“Everything okay in there?” He sounded worried. He knew.
“Oh…umm…yeah, I’ll be out in a sec.” I said as I looked back at the mirror. It was getting worse.
“Mate…I think you should stay in there. Russell saw you. Just stay there, we’re going to get you some help.”
That was it. I knew I was going to be collected.
“Oh…okay…” was all I could get out.
I couldn’t believe it. What would they all be saying? I bet everyone was talking about me now from the safety of their desks. 
That’s when I snapped.
You know something? I was always to nice to everyone. I put up with other people’s shit. I always followed the rules. Now that I had it, they were going to take me away. None of it mattered. 
They smiled at me everyday and had empty conversations with me but as soon as this started happening to me, they couldn’t wait to have me collected. Everything was a goddman joke. 

From there it got a little fuzzy but all I know is that disobeyed what Darren said and I ran right out of there. I made sure I touched him on the way out, and Russell too.
I don’t know how far I got but I eventually got collected.
How long was I locked up? Beats me! It could have been weeks, months or even years.

The collective spotlight of the groups gaze is still on me. A few others nod with their distorted features. Some eyes blink out of synch and saliva drips out of gaping mouths. “And thats when I became lopsided.” I finish off and wait for the applause as my eyes track down again to the shabby floor boards. They still don’t shine.

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.

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.