dark

Spiral

     I wake up and my mouth is dry. My pillow cradles my heavy head and I can smell that my hair is dirty. Like, really dirty. I try to sink deeper into the little body groove in my mattress. I can’t squeeze my body down any further and my throat starts really killing me. Somehow I lift my blanket and dislodge myself from my quicksand bed. I stumble into the bathroom in the pajamas I wore yesterday and the previous three days before that. My throat feels like it’s on fire. I drink two glasses of water and it tastes so rusty I can barely swallow it.

     Somebody calls my phone and I answer it, ignoring the face on the screen. I can hear noises but I don’t know who it is because they sound like they are in a bubble and I feel like I’m in a bubble. I stare out to the trees beyond my window and as they sway in the wind I sway too. My vision blurs and a spiraling begins in my head. It starts like a pinprick in the middle of my brain and like a black hole grows larger sucking everything in. My knees buckle a little so I open my eyes again.

     There is a bird on a branch staring at me and I want it to go away. Then I remember I’m on the phone and the words sound like chirping and for a moment I think the bird is talking to me. There is a long silence and I realise I have been nodding in reply to the sounds I refuse to comprehend. I don’t really feel like talking anyway so I hang up and when it immediately rings again I turn my phone off.

     Back in the bathroom I mechanically brush my teeth wondering what the point is since I’m not going to smile today anyway. Not today or any other day for that matter. I collapse in a sullen heap and sit cross-legged on the cold bathroom tiles, an indignant protest to no one. My ass goes numb and I just start to enjoy the painful pins and needles in my feet and legs when someone taps lightly on the bathroom door. I hear my Dad’s voice say my name a few times before telling me I have 20 minutes. I don’t respond or even look at the door and when I know he is gone I drag myself over to the toilet and throw up.

     Rinsing out my mouth at the sink I catch my reflection. I barely even recognize myself. The dark bags, pale lips and hollow eyes all belong to a stranger. I’m a mess and I shouldn’t look like a mess. Not today. I quickly shower. I even wash my hair. I blow it dry very carefully. It takes me ages to do my makeup because I want it to be perfect but its not and I almost cry but then my mascara would run so I break my eye pencil in half instead.

     I stand in front of my closet for a long time. Door wide open I contemplate crawling inside but I know there is no Narnia in there or anywhere. Nothing in my wardrobe looks like it belongs to me and I wonder how someone else’s clothes got in there. I choose the darkest pieces of material I can find. My skirt feels strange and too short and it clings to me like a foreign object. In the mirror I look small and faded like a shadow. I can’t focus my eyes on my face.

     I hear my Dad’s footsteps coming up the stairs and he knocks on my door. I open my mouth but it is full of cobwebs and dead moths. He is standing in the doorway angry because I’m taking too long. Finding my voice I scream at him because I can’t find my hair clips. He screams back at me then immediately apologises with tears in his eyes. I apologise too and silently wish that Mum was still here but she isn’t and that is just tough shit. My Dad leaves and I hurry to get ready as fast as I can but the burning in my throat is back. I ignore it and go downstairs.

     My Dad is waiting on the footpath and I approach him with my head down. I’m wearing Mum’s coat and when he notices I don’t want to see his face. My eyes follow the asphalt all the way to his shoes and I have never seen them so shiny. For a second I remember that not too long ago my life was shiny too but not anymore. The big black hire car pulls around for us and my Dad reaches for my hand. I let him take it for once because the spiraling has started again and he squeezes it all the way to the cemetery.

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Once We Were Lovers

I need you
again
like it was
when it was golden

in my bed
in my lungs
curled up
deep and tight

before
forked tongues split
lies and hate
festered in our skulls

my heart
it is yours
in the darkness, alone
with my breath

rasping
my heart…

Remembering
feet thumping
doors slamming, hard
how could you be so hard?

Your words pounding
my fists pounding
my cheeks
no longer rosy

not like the day
we met by that wild ocean

in amongst the tall
elm trees and
ghostly apparitions
how I feared those strangers

you carried me
away on whispers
promises, kisses
no more

No longer mine
No, not anymore.

take my heart
I no longer want it
now that it is yours
and you are gone.

Like Fire

I forgot that I had loved you
With a love that must
have seeped away
Slinking like a wet cat
into a dark corner

On my door step
you covered my eyes
A tar black curtain,
thick and smoky
Choking my lungs

Crawling back into me
Cosy under my flesh
You nestled, warmly
Melded like concrete
set solid on my bones

Shake you off?
I mustn’t.

My lips are not my lips
They are moving
Quivering, on your fingertips
Pillows soft and pink, open
Pouting marionette

Your hands, clawing, gripping
My little puppet heart
spilling blood straining
Rhythmic sporadic seizures
Bleeding, pumping, forcing

The smell of you, unrelenting
Boots near my bed
Dark hair, spider legs
foreign and curly
in my basin, on my soap

Poisoned apple, indomitable
You fill the room, baneful
Toxic with your smile
Toxic with your lies
I swallow them wholeheartedly

There are no stars here now
You blew them out
Twisted candles on my cake
Do not wish upon them
Those charred soldiers are dead

I forgot that I had loved you
With a love that must have
fallen into memory filled cracks
Love filled floorboards,
filled with hate
and like fire.

The Trumpet Player

     It had been almost three months since we had said goodbye. There was crying and raging and my favourite vase got smashed. The nice blue one my mother gave me just before she died. It had all been too much. The late night jam sessions fuelled by booze that brought a black clouded mass to our white washed apartment. The filthy dishes piled up in the sink, the overflowing ashtrays, the empty syringes. You had me so trapped with those addictive poetic mumbles that spurt out your mouth into mine before travelling down to settle in my heart.

     Farewells are rarely forever and your sugar-laced voice still holds me tightly against the wall, your fingertips remain gently entwined around my wrists. “Just one more time” you promise me.

     Saturday night comes around quickly and I make my way downtown. The last glimpses of sun highlight the sky various shades of orange. I slip through a crack in the doorway and wander down the cement smeared corridor entering the dark intensity of the club. The walls are painted smoky shades and people are already seated three feet from the red and blue illuminated stage. The tables are small and candle lit. The naked flames dance away in the reflection of my eyes. I drink down the cool, clear sparkle of my vodka tonic in silent anticipation for all the players to take their places.

     It takes two shots of whisky and a flat, foreign beer before finally the trumpet player arrives. Slowly and gingerly, three men leave their drinks at the bar and make their quiet way to the platform. Each one is about forty and dressed in a bohemian array of old suede sneakers, faded black jeans and corduroy. They all have a fine shadow of stubble and their hair generously licked with grey. The trumpet player lifts himself up from his chair and stalks his way over to join the other musicians, a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Once positioned, he unwraps his instrument from her velvet shroud and runs his fingertips along her thin neck. Wetting his lips in anticipation, he tips his face towards the sky. Cautiously he begins to weave his humming breath and the crowd is suddenly charmed like cobras with taunting bursts of sharp melody. The kaleidoscopic judder hits the ceiling, fractures and scatters down greedily consumed.

     The supercharged drummer taps away furiously. An exotic explosion of tribal Moroccan beats reverberates around the room, moving bodies in seats and feet in empty spaces. Every now and then during one of these solo confessions the trumpet player crouches down on one knee. Cradling his instrument like a lover in his arms he looks down at her with a glimmer of contempt while nodding his head to the strong, bird wing flutter of the bongo drums. He takes a quick sip of a pink alcoholic mess of a drink and wipes sweat from his heavy brow. His glassy eyes flash a cold razorblade gaze through the soft naked flesh in front of him. This executioner raises his brass seductress back to his lips and breathes into her, bringing the world back to life. In the planned chaos, a complex fusion of deliberate composition and improvised verset resounds through the crowded floor space embedding dynamic vibrations in every open ear. An exquisite clamour in the lust speckled, spirit soaked room.

     When it is all over I am left supercharged, my body enticed, my blood churned. Then suddenly you are there surrounding me. Your sweet, electrifying touch envelops me and claws away at my senses. “Just this one more time” you whisper in my ear. We stumble out into the hazy night, sensually infused and ride in the back of the taxi seated like anxious lovers. Back in my den my blonde mistress prepares herself. She is eager and warm and ready to penetrate. The silver spoon already discarded I press the needle tip into my arm and I admire the way the light dances in her amber coloured tears. I slowly inject the yellow junk into my vein before leaning down and picking up my trumpet. As that familiar rush surges through me I place you gently against my lips and begin to play our song, one last time.

© JULIETTE GILLIES