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.

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.

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.

Egg Dream 1

I don’t know what day it is but I’m in the kitchen cracking pepper on my eggs again at the bench. I look out the window briefly – it’s an overcast day and I can see the central city standing tall in the distance with trees and terracotta suburban rooftops like waves in the foreground. 

I’m lost in thoughts of memories of all the places that fall within my view, pepper cracker inactive in my hands. That’s when I notice a presence behind me. 

There is someone else in the kitchen. I turn around to see Shae sitting on the kitchen floor behind me. 

I’m a little bit confused. 

What is she doing here? 

Shae is a girl I went to primary school with. We also attended the same high school for a short time. She grew up in Essendon too so until I moved out of home I would see her at different points and stages in my life. Down the street, at the tram stop and at IGA with her mother. 

To be honest, I can’t say I’ve ever really spoken to her but she’s always been around. Though, there is one thing I can’t get out of my head every time I see Shae; the horrible things I heard other kids at school did to her because she had Down’s Syndrome. Kids would lure her to the oval under the pretence of wanting to hang out or be her friend and then jab her with their cigarettes or make her do humiliating things to win their approval.  

It made me sick to my stomach. While I did get bullied quite a bit through the end of primary school and early high school, it was nothing like that. 

The train of thoughts are leading me to dark places and it’s the last thing I need right now so I shake my head back into reality and focus on the situation before me. 

Shae doesn’t seem to notice I’m here in the same room with her and I also notice she’s still a child. Shae is older than me and while this doesn’t really make sense I kind of just go along with it. 

She’s even wearing the primary school dress with its blue and white checkers. Shae is distracted as she plays with some unseen object on the floor, humming a tune to herself. Tears start welling up in my eyes and I don’t know why suddenly I feel so emotional. My eyes sting and a stiffness takes hold in my throat. 

I don’t need to be getting like this now, I’ve got things to do. 

Get it together.

Turning back and looking back down at my work, my eyes fix on the bowl with the eggs. The white is flecked with little black unevenly sized chunks. A few of them fall off and it looks like they’re moving. I smile to myself and focus a little more. 

The hairs on the back of my neck stand up as I see a few more pieces move, but this time they’re moving sporadically as if by their own volition. My face moves closer to the eggs in the bowl, now they look less like eggs and more like smooth, white alien planets with little people crawling on the surface – rushing around to nowhere in particular. 

People running blind through life until they fall off the edge. Watching the eye in the sky watching them. 

As I keep focusing I can’t help but think how the cracked pepper almost looks like ants from where my I stand.  

A sick, cool-warm rush comes over me and a jolt of shock climbs up from my stomach up into my throat. 

They are ants. 

There are ants on the eggs. 

Crawling all over the eggs, drowning in the condensation, along the sides of the bowl and making their way up my arms. My skin itches in a hundred places at once as the ants walk in every direction. There are too many to count. 

Where did they come from?

I stumble back and drop the pepper cracker, the thing smashes on the floor next to me with a black mass of ants oozing out before crawling in every direction.

My knees feel weak and I fall to the ground. 

There’s a dull pain in both knees and I look to see all the ants are gone. 

Fuck. What’s wrong with me? 

That’s when I remember Shae is behind me. My knees still have a dull pain as I use my hands to pivot myself in Shae’s direction.

She hasn’t noticed me. 

I still can’t quite make out what she’s playing around with so I focus a little more.  

That’s when I see them, there are ants on her legs walking really slowly. They stroll over her pale, nearly translucent skin with the veins like a network of roads for the ants. 

Shae stops moving and goes quiet. And then so do the ants. 

Time stops, the birds outside are frozen mid-flight, the trees do not rustle in the wind. 

The world around me is quiet and I wonder if I’m frozen too. 

Then everything starts again. 

The ants spring into motion at this frenzied pace and Shae starts to scream. She’s scratching at her legs to get the ants off but more of them keep coming. 

Her legs are turning red with scratch marks. 

I can’t help her. 

My mouth opens to scream out to her but nothing comes out, just saliva which starts dribbling down my chin and onto the ground. 

That’s when I smell this sickly sweet meat stench in the air. 

Her screaming grows louder and the pitch is insufferable. I stumble back and I’m against the kitchen cupboards under the bench not able to escape any further. Not even putting my hands over my ears blocks the screaming. 

I’m going to be sick. 

I grab my stomach as I feel the contents churning and attempting to escape from me. 

My mouth wrenches open by reflex and at first that pre-vomit saliva comes out. 

Shae is still screaming but I can’t see her anymore.

Something is moving up my throat now. 

First a belch followed by some smooth form that comes up into my mouth and into the floor.

I stare in disbelief.  

It’s one of the peeled hard boiled eggs. 

Then another. 

And another. 

I can’t stop, one after the other the eggs keep pouring out of my mouth covered by slimy saliva.

Soon the floor is covered with eggs and I find myself slipping in my own saliva unable to keep myself up.

And as I’m lying on the ground, the eggs just keep coming out of my mouth and onto the floor around me.  

Shae’s screaming is louder than ever and I just can’t stop vomiting these goddamn peeled, hard boiled eggs. 

I wake up.