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[title undecided]

Frenetic fireflies glinted behind her eyes that summer. I didn't know what had changed her, but she swung her arms freely, wore loose hemp bracelets with colored beads, drew wild birds with marker in the crooks of her elbows: I never knew till then she was ambidextrous. Electricity crackled and sparked between us like lightning kissing telephone wires in a midsummer storm. I kept hoping her straw-colored hair was wild and dry enough to light a fire in, but all summer long we smiled and laughed and smiled; she thirsted too much to drive her closed eyelids into the rain, so I indulged it all, glad, at least, for her presence.

Once, at school, I snuck up behind her during lunchtime as she stared intently into her white computer screen at an empty table beside the wall. As I reached out to poke her in the ribs my eyes glanced across text and the blinking cursor: Pond water festers in my veins and my heart has stopped trying to turn it into blood. I have been trying to forget myself before anyone else remembers me. I backtracked, stepped quietly away, but sometimes when she looks me in the eyes and asks me where the thunder's gone I wonder whether she heard me breathing behind her, then.

She vowed, one spring night under the stars, after hours clinging so hard to a boy's stomach as his motorbike screamed down a deserted Minnesota highway that the imprint of her clenched fists took three days to fade from his skin, to exist. This I learned after her death, after that summer, when the boy came up to the funeral podium holding a battered piece of paper that held only aimless sketches of her eyes and crumpled against it. After he left her, the only way she knew how to hold onto him was by expanding in her promise to live, and so she did wildly, desperately, swallowing soil and sunshine into her open throat to grow wildflowers out of each of her orifices. After that summer was over, they told her she had to let go. So she let autumn dry the auburn leaves and pressed her wildflowers between the pages of her journal, and as one by one the foliage fell, she let go.

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One Chance

In a city of seven million, what were the chances that you and I would meet again?


It was a question I found myself asking on the night bus home. I even tried doing the calculations to soothe my head- but would it be as simple as 1:7 million? Or would it be double, or half? And what about all the other factors to be taken into account? I’m no mathematician, but the outlook wasn’t good.


I had been working some kind of introductions evening at the Museum of London that night, pouring champagne for pre-drunk and overexcited young lawyers (or something along those lines) whose firm were so kindly throwing them a welcome party to celebrate the life of alternating hard work and hedonism that surely lay ahead. Luckily, I was on the “early” shift, so at 12 I promptly put down my bottle of Moët, signed out and left my poor colleagues to deal with the dirty entrails of the night.


A cool rain was falling when I got outside, mixing with the city smog and dusting the streetlamps gold. I walked a little way until I found an overhanging roof offering just enough space to light the cigarette I had been gasping for all evening. The smoke rose slowly through the drizzle to the grey, cloudy sky, as if it were going home.


The circle line ran until 12.30, so I took one of the last trains eastbound from Barbican. The carriage was empty but for one navy-suited man who sat staring at a single page of the Evening Standard until I got off at Embankment. Only the lost and lonely wander between midnight and 4am. The sleepers are already sleeping, the drinkers still drinking. The few of us that remain aren’t headed anywhere.


I certainly wasn’t in any hurry to get home; only desperate to be free.


I came out of the station and past Charing Cross to find that I had just missed a bus, and the next wouldn’t arrive for at least 40 minutes. But it was of no bother to me: like I say, time moves differently during these strange hours.


There was an all-night cafe around the corner from the bus stop, where I often found myself after long shifts, so I entered the familiar womb of fluorescent lighting and paid for a cup of tea and somewhere slightly warmer to sit, along the front window. Outside, the rain continued to fall, drumming a pleasing plush-plush rhythm into the pavement.


In a matter of hours the cafe would be flooded with drunken revellers (and a couple of heartbroken sods) ordering chips and talking loudly about their love for life. (I knew, for I had been one of those people myself.) For now, though, it was almost silent: only the hum of the dormant deep-fat frier, the dull beat of the rain outside, an occasional crackle from the overhead lighting, and somewhere - at the back of my head - a metallic, percussive sound. I looked around, recognising worn-out faces of those coming off or about to start night shifts, either half-asleep or half-alive.


Then, you.


The rain had settled like dew across your hair, despite the umbrella chucked under the table, and droplets hung, glistening, on the host of silver bracelets furnishing your bare wrists, which crashed together as you scribbled intently in black ink on a wide sheet of paper.


Thus the symphony of scattered sounds was complete.


I thought about how, were I an entirely different person, I might go over and sit down across from you, ask what you were working on, and see if your eyes shone illuminate gold as I imagined they must. Time would slip by and I’d offer you another coffee and we’d stay, talking, or maybe quiet, until dawn; two strangers finding peace in an unforgiving city.


The fantasy disintegrated as I heard the screech of a chair across the floor. Sketchbook under one arm, canvas bag slung across the other, you walked slowly to the door, paused- as if to measure quite how badly you had damaged the silence- then turned, to look at me.


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Waiting.

The flapping of dozens of pairs of wings. The hum of passing traffic. The heavy rumble of a train as it passes overhead. 

If you've never heard what a train sounds like from under a bridge, I wouldn't say I'd recommend it. Personally, it seems to resemble rolling thunder, if the thunder were sounding through a megaphone, mere inches from my ear. In my humble opinion, the ruckus is so anxiety inducing, it sends a shiver down my spine every time that I'm forced to hear it and I pray to any god willing to strain its ear through the static, to keep my soul intact.

In the moments before the train rolls by, I can feel it, the sound, building under my feet. In the moments after the train has stopped and the noise has paused, I take a deep breath and hold it. As the train bellows away, wheels screeching against the rails, cars click-clacking back and forth overhead, I exhale and shake it off.  

It's a noise so loud it burrows into skin and radiates through bone. A noise so loud I can taste it. Copper and dry mouth, like cotton stuffed under my lips and pennies stuck between my teeth...

 

I really can't stand waiting for the bus under here.  

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a c o n s c i o u s n e s s


smudges of pale blur develop familiar angles, grey becomes colour, demonic figures and discarded figments of imagination slowly morph into things; a lamp, a book, the leg of the bed... as diluted photons -tired, perhaps? it is a long way from the centre of the solar system; imagine over 170 thousand years of emission and fusion from and into ions and atoms just to be created, just to be ejected (alone) into the universe- seep through the pores of a hanging fabric to infinitely -or perhaps finitely- carry on 

 

materialisation; the coming into being (what is being?)

 

perhaps the universe is an energy

 

and it starts, the crossover; the transition from restless numbness as the photons bounce off inches of skin, as the nightly manifestations of the mind evaporate, as the life -merely hours ago- fluttering over an unconsciousness clasps and possesses... pain is it the head? the shoulders? the limbs? not sharp, not piercing: existent.

 

pain as the blood that circulates and mobilises, dull yet heavy like balls of lead that has long made a home out of the fingertips, the toes, and the heart


a synchronicity of connected-detached happenings; the waking of the world (but it never really goes to sleep) and that of the voices, the hollow within; it has a face and an existence, and sometimes it speaks through a once familiar vocal apparatus


perhaps it is a parallelism of things



in any way, whatever it is, however it may be, the stream of the indefinite continuous progress of existence brings forth yet another 'day'

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My best friend has fallen in love

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impressions

Fire extinguishes humming ocean, and cloud feeds writhing flame. Stars breathe again, and fill expanding lungs with pleasant white fumes. Wait. Stop. Blink. Collect your facts and history. Check them off, fold them up, blow a kiss, and let them burn.

“This is the edge of the earth, you know,” no one says, and wraps their cold arms around your waist from miles away and years ago. You shudder further into the touch you cannot feel, all trembling passionless bones in hot tissue, looking on.

“I should have buried them,” you decide, and of course it’s too late. No one smiles against your neck and kisses it.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s all dying.”

The stars nod. They blow hot smoke and ash at your feet, softening the earth to a bubbling, boiling paste. Fire extinguishes deafening, screaming ocean, and you begin to sink and dissolve.

And so, your world is ending. Are you frightened? Close your eyes. Think of no one. Disappear.

“Are you ready to know what nothing tastes like?”

Your body blends with the earth. “Yes. Stay with me?”

“Always. Never,” isn’t said.

There’s nothing left.

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Life Magic

It is said that shooting stars grant wishes

In truth, these lost souls trying to make their way back to Earth carry wishes of their own. Ancient wishes of love lost but not forgotten, for these stars once walked the land very much like we do.

It began a millennia ago when magic was as simple as a breath or a look, when spirits took shape and danced among the fledgling contours of what are now called mountains. The spirits enjoyed peace for an age, singing enchanting silken webs across the expanse of stone and dust.

All were happy

As the ghosts of life and birth spun their magic and created in the greatest feats of art ever known there grew a great darkness (for light cannot exist without its silent brother) and this darkness became Man. The spirits continued to revel in creation not knowing the threat to all they knew, for how can a soul know pain until after the first pinprick?

These wisps of purity twirled and dived, meeting each other in great bursts of light. Shining parts met to become a whole and as each joining was completed a new life was created. Tiger was called one. Willow another, yet more still as life borne of love was realized in the high magic of dawns beginnings.

Man as he grew through magic of his own, watched with jealous desire. Wishing to own the secret of creation. He schemed and contrived to steal the magic off these joyous beings so he could mold life to serve his own ends but there was one - named Woman - who listened at the mouth of Man’s lair as he plotted. Woman, though a creation of the same balancing magic that created Man, could not let the evil plan go ahead at the detriment of the unwary spirits curling around on ground and in sky, she must warn them.

And so she journeyed far and long, beseeching any who would know her warning to come near and take heed. But spirits speak not the tongue of tangible things and her cries fell on ears that did not exist in our fashion. And so she wept great salty tears that filled the low lying places for a thousand years until these canyons were full and her heart tender, at this the spirits took leave from their heady dance (those that were left, as they now only numbered in the millions) and descended upon weary Woman.

Unable to explain the fate that would surely befall them Woman felt she had no option, she must show them what was to become of them should they not protect their magic.

She swallowed one.

At this the spirits suddenly understood pain and using their magic flew off and away in every direction, leaving the Earth unfinished and Woman alone. But there was one still who remained, that inside of Woman. At the sudden silence Man became enraged as he had finally devised a way to steal life energy by swallowing it (for as all spirits understood pain as one of theirs learned, so too did Man learn at the same time as Woman felt life inside her)

Leaping from his lair, Man let out an awful scream and all the world as far as could be seen in every direction became dark. But lo! as darkness spread and took root on the horizons, Man and Woman both stared skyward for there above them where all the spirits who had fled. Sparkling out of reach in the firmament, longing to rescue their abandoned Sister

Man grew to let go of his thirst for magic, though darkness still takes root in his heart

Woman grew to embrace the life-magic within and carries the secret to this day

Star spirits still fly through the darkness from time to time, longing to finish their magic and collect their fallen Sister

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fragments

Refuse to be labeled, tell them, tell the mirror that your value is intrinsic; it stems from you.

 

All she wanted was days when air didn't feel like sharp knives cutting through her lungs; days when she felt existent, unblurred, alive. 

 

I want to effervesce away into the wind.

 

But if time were to halt, if the earth were to stop its calculated spinning, if the universe were to pause today, all that would be left of me are those half-finished thoughts, those half-finished paintings; those unlived lives.

 

-dreams are visual manifestations of buried nostalgia; the subconscious's house of mirrors. They hold no meaning- "I saw her last night", she would say, and something inside of her would stir; acid corroding reason, dissolving logic. "You're the only one she visits", the acid would reply. "She comes for you, she blames me for your anxiety"... and the acid would morph into something heavy, as if crystallised into rocks of guilt. 

 

"We are born free", they say, not noticing the bell jar under which they were trapped, millions of years ago, before conception, before everything, an entrapment as ancient as the humankind; a snow globe of 'factors', geography, culture, language, history, connotations, your eyes, your hair, the shape of your nose, the texture of your skin, classifications, categories, politics, what's 'right' and what's 'wrong'. Hell, Heaven, Nothing. We are a continuity, born into bell jars into which the world has blown its stale breath... Walls, invisible mental blocks behind which lies non-regurgitated air; 'freedom'.

 

Don't you want to walk barefoot and feel something?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful Disaster

My mind holds a prodigious amount of unsaid words.  Descriptive sentences, recited on pages stored in dusty files or cramped quarters of my subconscious.  I do little with aggression other than to run it off, or punch a bag. No one wants to hear the whines or cockamamie stories, when they themselves live in a world of garbage piled so high you’d need a ladder to climb to the top.

My eyes have been trained to listen. I listen for those whose minds have been erased, but have forgotten how to speak.  I am cursed and blessed, you see. I am blessed with the ability to read between your lines, but cursed, because no one can read me. 

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Rain

     Her shoes finally soak through and the water is dripping in the space behind her ears from the hair. She runs her fingers through it to get it out of her eyes. As she pulled away, a single piece of it clung to her fingers and she examines it quietly as we walk along. She looks so peaceful just now. Not that she ever looks anything other than that. But I guess I’d say she was always still, rather that peaceful. The two are not the same.
     I told her that, that peaceful and still are not the same and she glances at me, and though her face really doesn’t move, I can see the softness in her eyes. She likes the rain. I remember her telling me once about the smell of rain and the way it makes her spine tingle, like something is coming, without the anxiety of it arriving. I’d laughed at the time. It was exactly the sort of thing she’d say, reverent and unaware of its eloquence. I couldn’t laugh now, just admire the fleeting softness and the way she was dripping in the downpour. Her feet make squelching noises in her shoes and her clothes are hanging heavily from her body. She looks so thin and I suggest that we should grab some dinner while we’re out, but she doesn’t really seem to like the idea. I say that  we’ve come all this way and weathered the rain, we deserve an award, but her only response is to finger the end of the sleeves of her sweatshirt, where the ribbing is stretched and the elastic rendered useless from age. It’s a ratty old sweatshirt and I think she should throw it away, but she wears it so often that I don’t say anything to her about it aloud.
     It wouldn’t be worth it. Not now, when the rain is falling so directly upon us and her eyes are all softness, despite how much she blinks to keep the water out of her eyes. Her hair is in strands and I can see the hair that she pulled still caught between her fingers. I say that I think that the rain will never let up and that I think that I too shall become a puddle if it does not relent and her eyes soften. I think if she were to speak, she would tell me that a puddle would be an excellent state of existence, filling up and then evaporating, to later become a puddle once more. I tell her that to be a puddle would be an excellent state of existence and I think that she finds the assertion trite, but not so strongly as that, perhaps.
     Her shoes are soaked through and her feet squelch within them. Her fingers push the hair behind her ears, sopping up the rain that collects and cascades there.