I am set adrift, a string of multicoloured Christmas lights tied to the stern of my tiny boat. It’s the rhythmic rocking of alcohol, the blurred vision. I lean my head against the wall and let my leg be trapped between his underneath the table. I play with the glass in my hand and he reaches over to fill it, catching my eye. I look away.
He’s supposed to be a friend. There are so many things about the situation that I would erase. White out. I ask him about his girl friend. He smiles and releases my leg. I’m boxed in the booth by another friend’s lanky frame. I lean back and let myself sink further down the vinyl. Would that I could be anywhere but here.
My nights are bottoms of beer. My days are queasy stomachs and pounding headaches. I get sick and then sicker and don’t care enough to medicate. I punish myself and then escape in wine glasses and drunken laughter. I have nothing and so I have nothing to lose. I am not sad. I experience nothing. My laughter is not my own. My smile is not my smile. I lay still inside my mind and watch the strings pull up a hand here, move a leg there; a puppet’s life.
Christmas passes in a blur. I live it without moving, without taking much in. There are few moments that break beneath my shiny veneer. I play the part convincingly and am not sad. I am shocked by my brother’s hands on my head as he stands behind my chair, palming me like a basketball. I want to curl up in his hands. I want him to crush me in his fist, grind me to dust and give me to the wind. I want to be particles that dance a distance and then settle on shoulders; on the bottoms of shoes; in gutters.
I want to be packed up and put away. But, the show must go on. The audience loves my painted tears, my half smile and half frown. Make me laugh, they say. Make me cry.
Make me feel something.
I carve stories for you from the muscle of my heart. I write the letters on my skin. I shed it all and am still shedding. There is always a layer underneath, always something more to tear into, something else to discard. A new part of me that bleeds.
I search for truth at the bottom of my glass and for hope in the lipstick smudges on the rim. I carry my weight like it’s already gone. I bail out my boat and wait to starve. I cup my hands and drink from the sea; waiting for the starless sky to swallow me up.
Waiting to see land. Waiting to feel sad. Waiting to feel something.
The Swell Season – Low Rising