during duvet days
and nights when teeth gnash against one another
like broken splinters in your mouth
tasting blood and
legs restlessly walking their way across the bed
when blankets wrap around too tight
thrown off in the heat of the night
then reclaimed when the cold becomes something more personal
more intimate and hurtful
when you feel more alone than you’ve ever felt
and breathing seems so foreign and like a chore rather than a prize
i want you to know
i am here
i am here
and i will fight every demon
and i will sit by your side
your hand in mine
and i will sing with a broken voice
which dips too low and cracks too high
and i will sing to you until the sun rises
until your eyelids begin to droop
and i will be your dream catcher
i will fight it all for you
i want you to know that
i will fight the worst of it
because i may be small and i may be weak
but you make me strong and
you give me something worth fighting for
“You know you’ll never fuck me, right?” She says carefully, her tone light but her face serious.
“I never – ” I begin.
“I know, you never thought about it. It’s what every boy says. But I wanted you to know. Because people – people don’t always understand. They have an idea in their head, of me, of what I am and what I do. And I need you to know, I don’t do that. I don’t fuck around with people,” she’s serious now, every ‘fuck’ rolling off her tongue like a blunt instrument falling to the ground.
“I wouldn’t,” I say.
“Wouldn’t you?” She smiles slightly, sadly.
“Never,” I say, lying through my teeth. Of course I would, in a second, yes, I would, if only she liked me the way I liked her.
“Don’t make a liar of yourself. It’s a sad way to live a life,” she says.
“Then don’t ask me impossible questions,” I say.
“Isn’t that what I’m here for?” She asks, and I begin to wonder if she’s not entirely right about that.
Afterwards, I found her at the bar. I didn’t want to approach, I just wanted to observe. She sat there, in her messy splendour, one finger swirling the contents of her drink, moving the ice cubes back and forth in the glass, before lifting that same finger to her ruby red lips and sucking it clean. I looked around and it seemed as though everyone else was equally drawn to that simple movement, and that she was utterly unaware of it. She returned her hand to the glass, and fished out an ice cube, popped it between her lips, her eyes widening at the cold of it, before crunching down hard. She smiled, and I felt half the bar wince. So, she did know.
She started a club – of course she did. A collection of people connected by an invisible string that bound them together. She called it the Last Tuesday Club, though actually believing that the world began on the most recent Tuesday wasn’t a prerequisite for joining, more of a guideline. All theories were accepted there – and argued over in low tones and sometimes more heated debates. She’d collected a bunch of people who otherwise would go days without saying a word, and had given them a forum to speak in front of. I asked her, did she really believe it, that the world had begun last Tuesday?
“It’s not last Tuesday any more. It’s Tuesday, the twelfth of January, 2016. And yes.”
“But isn’t that a bit ridiculous? All the fossil records, everything historians have ever recorded, are you saying all that’s wrong?”
“No, not at all!” She said excitedly. “You don’t understand. Just because something is old, doesn’t mean it isn’t brand new. The same way people paint new furniture, to make it cracked and peeling, the same way our universe is still in its infancy, all jumbled together and confused. That’s why nothing makes sense.”
“But lots of things do make sense.”
“Perhaps. Or perhaps there is more than we can imagine, and we’re just struggling along, half blind, trying to make sense of it all. Everything still happened, in a way, after a fashion, it just happened more recently, and all at once.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. How can you believe that?”
“You can believe anything if you want to.”
“I am more than just a symptom of my illness.”
She sings with a voice too high for the song she’s chosen, breaking at the chorus. Instead of sounding foolish though, it sounds brave, and more sincere still than it would have done had she hit all the right notes. She holds the microphone with both hands, like a prayer, the harsh intake of her breath resonating around the small bar as she forces the lyrics out of her small body. She is not the greatest singer, nor a particularly good one, but she feels the song, and her body sways with the emotion of it, all nervous energy and deep, deep caring swept up into one unconscious action. She is beautiful on the stage, and as the song ends, she apologises, and steps down, her hands out as though steadying herself, and though I watch her, she still disappears into the crowd.
She danced as if everyone was watching, every movement calculated to maximum effect, yet somehow seamless, practised and precise. To an outsider, it looked careless, the way she ran her hands through her hair or down the sides of her dress, but to me, I could tell when one routine merged into the next, from the way her eyes flicked from person to person, to the way her head dropped backwards and her eyes closed completely, as though consumed by the music. It was all a beautiful act. But what wasn’t, with her?
Horatio Nelson was a man slowly whittled away by life.
“You talk about writing as though it were something sacred, but it’s not, it’s just words on a page.”