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].

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.

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.

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.

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 colour, 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 messages. 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 sync 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.

Me/You

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?

I’m exhausted.
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.

 

Wall

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.