|February 9, 2012||Posted by Jess Kadow under creative writing|
A dark room appears from behind the slow, creaking swing of the door. Dull, yellow light illuminates a small portion of the wall on one side, emanating weakly from a faded lampshade, the original colour of which is unknown. Dirty, bare walls. No nostalgic, framed photographs of old memories or beloved family members. No cork boards littered with scraps of the past, no mirrors to reflect light around the room. Darkness prevails. In defiance, the ground lies cluttered with slivers of faded white: pages from ragged books, smashed glass glittering in the corners, splinters of white-washed wood. Scattered paper, torn at the edges, floats ghost-like across the dusty floor, disturbed by the breeze of fresh air from the outside.
It was the beginning of autumn when it happened. I look out from behind my grubby glass window to see people shuffling about slowly, collars turned up to escape the wind and flying leaves. The blustery mornings blow the scent of decay and damp into the house, allowing me no retreat from the outside. The season doesn’t tempt me into the cold; I find solace in hot cups of coffee or a sneaky pinch of vodka to calm my nerves. I sit and watch the outside whirling past, scribbling down disjointed thoughts on scraps of paper, trying to release them. I used to love this weather, going out into the country to run sleeveless down hills, leaping over fences and terrorising animals, to feel the tingling sensation in my limbs from the cold. Now I cringe away from it all, preferring to be indoors, alone, completing my routines with relish but a sense that a meaning has been lost. It’s this feeling of meaninglessness that engulfs me. I haven’t shaken it yet.
A desk looms into view, leaning hopelessly against the wall, its top slanting downwards like a frown. It carries a selection of more crumpled paper; ballpoint pens leaking their ink across the unspoilt white page; crumbs from clumsily eaten meals. Old books with tattered covers lie strewn across the disorganised mess. Envelopes hide under them, the aged paper aggressively torn open; the neat print and crisp, new stamps adorning the front appearing sad and dejected. In contrast, angry letters in a bold, official typeface glare out from the waste paper bin on the floor, thick red words demanding money and acknowledgement. A creased page of notepaper rolls in a ball towards the front of the desk.
An invitation came. I skim-read it reluctantly with bloodshot eyes, and tossed it onto an increasing pile of thoughts in my mind. I gave it no more attention until the ring of an angry telephone woke me and demanded that I didn’t neglect my loved ones any longer. My family. Why did they have to butt in on my business? I have much better things to do. But I went.
Why did I go? They fussed over me, tugging at my jacket, shoving glasses of lurid red wine under my nose until I took some, probing me with questions. I sat uncomfortably on the lumpy sofa, giving monosyllabic answers and occasionally grunting, but even that felt too much. During the meal, food turned to ash in my mouth, I had to resist the urge to spit it out and run. I could sense their eyes, boring into me, searching for some clarification that they were helping, a smile or nod of gratitude. I refused to give them anything. Not even a glance at those pathetic faces, contorted by their fake smiles, stretching their skin tight with a false sense of hope. It repulsed me.
The curtains hang helplessly, ominous in a sea of destruction. They waft weakly in the currents of musty air whirling through the door, their deep blue shade absorbing the light, forming a gaping dark hole in the wall. Below the remains of an oak dining table, fractured down the middle, are sprawled across the floor; the result of a flurry of anger and destruction. The remains of fragile crockery and glasses lie scattered in top of the wood; curved sections and sharp shards detailing the story of the scene.
I don’t feel myself anymore. I’m trapped and all my limbs drag behind me when I try to move. Everything is such an effort and I don’t know why. I retreat further into myself, hoping to find a cause. But there is nothing. I just sink into the depths of my thoughts and want to stay there, like a corpse. No movement, no problems, trying to hide the pain away. But it’s started to climb into my vision now. I can see it.
The signs of life are huddled in the corners, shrinking away from the broken objects of the room. A dusty telephone, untouched in some time, sitting neglected on a small end table. An old clock with its delicate hands reaching towards quarter past eleven, a bundle of cables twisting into black snakes on the floor, an upturned plant pot which all the soil has exploded out of. Other luckier items hide themselves in dark cupboards crawling with spiders. An old, worn-out coat slumps over the back of an upturned chair, creased and dusty, its arms reaching towards something invisible.
I see black fronds creep towards me across every room, waiting for their opportunity to strike me down and make me helpless, vulnerable as I kick and scream on the ground. I watch them carefully, trying to wish them away with my mind, but they find me. I find myself drawing them, trying to make them nothing more than an image, but they melt down the sides of the walls, covering the faded blue wallpaper, blocking out light. They ooze across the floor, covering me in sweat. It’s claustrophobic. I can smell them coming, taste them in the air. They suffocate me until I gasp and have to lie down, fighting them off with a pillow pressed over my head. It’s killing me.
I am me. I am me. I am me. No one else.
They can’t get me if I stay myself.
They stare out from the forgotten scene. The destroyed furniture, the small droplets of blood on the floor, the small, sharp implements that inflicted the wounds. And the drawings. Amongst the writing, black tentacles reach up from the savage scribbles of graphite. Huge and threatening, all the same.
They said I’m wrong on the inside. I have problems. I didn’t want to go and see these people, with their white coats and rooms that smelt of disinfectant. But my family are worried. They told me I’m depressed. That’s not what this feels like. I’ve been sad before but this is different. It’s like something evil living inside me that can’t get out. They gave me pills. They’re huge, white, circular things that clog up my throat each time I try to take one. It feels like I’m choking. The blackness stays strong. I’ve tried telling someone but they don’t understand me. They say it takes time. I don’t have time. Will this ever get any better?
The door to the living room stands wide open, a mouth open in a silent scream. The gush of wind from outside makes the hinges groan, filling the silence. A smell of rotting consumes the nostrils, as the hot air swirls and the images appear through the black. Two sofas, great mountains of dark material. A small, old-fashioned television set, wiring spilling out of the side and tumbling onto the floor. A large fireplace, carrying the remains of scorched paper, curled and blackened in the heat and soot.
I’m still shaking. Fear like that I’ve never felt before. Whirling darkness, huge calloused knuckles, blood flying through the air. It’s a film I’m watching, only seeing snapshots cut out and pasted in front of my eyes. I’m standing on the opposite pavement, just an onlooker, staring in shock at hulks of men towering over someone. They’ll break him. I can feel the horror seeping into me. My clothes are ripped, my wallet is gone. I’m covered in dirt from the floor, blood on my face, but I don’t know where it came from. Everything throbs. The darkness rears up to swallow me. This must be a dream, things can’t be this bad.
Ripped fabric covers the mound, crumpled on the floor in a pathetic bundle of limbs. A hand lies there, its fingers loose and floppy, no more than large stumps fitted clumsily onto the palm, smears of a dark stain across them. It joins to a pale arm, feeble and thin, covered in tiny scratches, tiny droplets of blood. In the dim light it looks like oil, congealing and crusting in the heavy air. The head is twisted sideways; a myriad of deep purples and greens creeping across the curvature of the brow, hair matted with small dark ribbons that have streamed gradually down the side of the face. The result of a mad charge at an unforgiving wall.
Stay inside. Hiding away from the cruel world out the window. Keeping the curtains closed to keep them out. It makes the house dark and musty. Door stays locked and bolted unless the bell rings. I hardly eat. I hardly sleep. I don’t want the nightmares, the hell that appears when I shut my eyes. It scares me. I have to wrench myself away, scratch myself to see blood and remind me I’m alive. I wish I wasn’t. Death creeps nearer. The darkness is coming.
Mustn’t panic. Calm down.
But it hurts, stabbing pains all over.
You can fight them. You are strong.
What if I can’t? I’m weak. I’m not me anymore.
The knife stares threateningly up from where it resides in the puddle, its glinting edge half obscured by the sticky, dark patch that has seeped into the fibres of the carpet. The room freezes around it; it becomes the centre. It points accusatively at its owner on the floor, its curved edge mimicking a smile at the damage it has caused. It sits near a foot. The foot is limp and unmoving, pale and ghostly as it protrudes from the end of the dark blue trouser leg. And then, appearing from the darkness, a hideous black gash lies there, open on the chest of the man, sections of his shredded clothing dragged inside the hole, sticking to the blackened edges. Hints of yellow and green creep across the ruined ribs, contaminating the dark beauty of the wound. Tubes, shreds, lumps and scraps of flesh spread over the gap; the knife showed no mercy. Below the glaring bruise, the blood spattered face wears a strange, twisted expression of pain, but also release, heavy lids squeezed closed and dark with shadow. The other hand, the clenched hand now fallen open, holds a creased, smudged letter.
I couldn’t explain, you wouldn’t understand. You could never understand. I couldn’t live like this anymore, I had to get away. Or it would get me. This is the only w
No words come. It’s like drowning, it hurts. I can’t cope. I’m bleeding on the inside. The darkness is here. It’ll be better when I’m de
It’s so hard. I hate life. I hate myself. I’m not me. I can’t wait for the end. They are coming. I don’t want