Monday, December 3, 2012

"Moth": Lake (The Hole I)

A lot of time is spent in bathrooms, I explain. A lot of time. Sitting on the closed toilet lid; the lip of the tub; the counter; standing off to the side of the cramped 8’ x 4’ room right at the 4’ x 2’ mark, my pelvis pushed up against the front of the porcelain sink while I stare blankly into the mirror with my arms hanging limp at my sides, or while I pick incessantly at the stubborn blackheads on my nose/chin/temples until they become shiny and red and turn into scabs by the following morning.
            A lot—a lot—of time is spent in bathrooms.
       Hours of my day consumed lifting the hems of my shirts up to my neck, examining the hole that has been slowly, deliberately even, forming directly below my sternum like a ravenous spider bite; the skin dissolving and forming braided scars that create a cavernous pinch-bowl between my two nipples. It is so deep now that I can set small objects inside of it and they will stay there. Coins, breath mints, small rocks, lost earring-backs that I routinely discover glinting behind the toilet. I do not know what it is, this hole drilling itself through my person, but I love it. The lumpy, salvaged skin so soft and pink.
         It seeps, occasionally; mostly at night. I prefer to imagine that it is the hole itself weeping at the beauty of its unworldly conception. You can’t see it through my shirts—thank heavens!—the cloth covers it completely. Not even a shadow of the mystery buried in the middle of my ribs. I can almost see through it now, the skin between my front and back so thin.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Moth": Gray II (following "Gray's Friend")

In the dream, he was still alive when I walked in. He was hanging that way, upside-down, the blood and everything, but his eyes were open and rolling to meet mine. I was alone. Just me and him, the skateboard in my hand rather than leaning against the front porch, and his voice was still in use.
He told me:
                        “This is how it has to be.”
            His eyes fluttering, blinking away the sting of blood:
                        “They would have killed me otherwise.”
            The blood—there was so much blood outside of his body—“You are my best friend. There was nothing else I could do. They would have slaughtered me.”
            I have no idea how he hung himself this way.
Miriam stands back in the corner, her left hand plucking at her lips and her right hand supporting her left elbow. As far as I know, my friend isn’t into drugs; doesn’t have many enemies.
I have no idea what he is talking about.
“Just go,” he says, a collection of small red bubbles forming at the corners of his mouth. “I don’t want you to see me this way.” He grimaces, clenches shut his eyes. Is he in pain? Did he not take any pain-suppressants beforehand? Is that even a thing that people usually do? “Go skate,” is the last thing I hear him tell me. So I did. In my dream, I lifted the skateboard from the ground and walked away just as Miriam started to walk towards my friend’s upside-down, now lifeless body, gently placing her hands on either side of his face that is level with her small bosom, and stooped down to coldly kiss his forehead.
I do not look back, and I tell myself that I do not care.

"Where I Am": Everyone is Dying

Everyone is dying. Every miserable, measly minute spent on this rat’s nest of a planet is one minute inching closer to the end. The people I went to high school with, who I grew up with, are all dropping like flies. Charlie—not the ex—shot himself last September in his parent’s garage. Andy slit his own throat and hung himself upside-down in the guest bedroom of his stark white house. That boy who snatched up Tallulah’s little sister’s virginity, a few months ago his neck snapped backwards in a car wreck. Stephanie, a girl I knew in middle school, had a seizure during swim practice and drowned. I, for instance, am plummeting off a bridge. 
            You realize, now, that you are no different than a plant or even a pet dog. You begin to understand that living the way you are living is nothing more than rot. You, like everyone else, are wasting away as we speak. But you do not want to say that this is what you are thinking of, because you also realize that it is people like you putting these dismal thoughts into words that is poisoning society’s precious youth. It is chapters like these that inject small seeds of doubt in its reader’s heads, to sprout and infiltrate everything in them that is good. I am ruining people’s lives. Because see, the vast majority doesn’t know how to think for themselves. They do not possess the learned ability to come to their own conclusions using knowledge and logic, but rather hurl themselves onto the first thing that sounds even remotely intelligent. Me, with all of this depressing-as-hell word vomit gushing out from between my lips, I know when I am being narrow-minded. I have latched onto this putrid philosophy and will defend it until the bitter end… or until something better reveals its leering face. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Something Else Entirely": Eyes/Ears

The scariest moments of my existence are the ones like these. On a cold day when the driveway is frosty, sky stained gray and rooftop damp, she will step barefoot out of the shower, wholly naked and new aside from the layer of water enveloping her skin and, one leg in front of the other, walk in front of the mirror. Right now I focus on her uneven knees as she absently wraps a towel around her head as a turban. I see the now swollen and soft ingrown toenail on her left foot. I see the pile of clothes that she discarded at the base of the toilet. Then, I see it:
            Only the faint, murky blur of her face in the mirror.
            Only a near invisible fragment of herself in the steam.
            In these moments, her breath catches slightly and for the longest, most agonizing second I am in complete belief that she has disappeared from this world altogether. Standing there, looking directly at what should be her beautiful, clean reflection and seeing nothing. A blank canvas. A figment of my imagination. In these scariest moments, I find myself wondering if she ever even existed at all. If she is only the creation of herself, a ghost of a false life.
            I wonder whether or not I am even alive.
            I feel the way that her eyelashes take root in the edge of her eyelids. I feel how I blink, the way that each of the short black hairs slightly tugs upon the other, but I don’t see it. There is no proof that I am me, that she is she.
            What scares me the most is the profound sense of calm that this instills.
            Then, wiping a face-sized circle of the glass dry with the fleshy side of her fist, she begins to speak.

She speaks only to hear the resonance of her own voice, to prove to the empty bathroom that she matters.
            “I have been waiting for you,” her voice says, staring emptily into her own eyes. “I knew you were coming; I have been having dreams about this moment night after night. You are going to kill me. It’s not a surprise. You think that you’re dominant just because you carry that gun in your hand? Please. I am ready for this. I am anxious to die. All that pain? It’s years in the past. Get over it. All that hurt, I’ve turned it into a book…”
            Here, she laughs.
            “…Four books, really. Fiction or nonfiction, it doesn’t matter. Each one carries the weight of my autobiography. My life, it’s everywhere. You can kill me, but you can’t eliminate my influence. In a way, I am immortalized…”
            Her voice, it is calm. Even. Deadpan.
            “…My hands, shaking? That’s only my body, not me. I have nothing to do with my body. I am beyond skin. I am beyond blood. Kill me; I am ready to die…”
            She talks to him, her nightmare. The one who haunts her at bedtime. The one who stalks the streets, who hides beneath her bed, in her closet, who lurks in the trunk of her car when the sun is down.
            She imagines the warm muzzle of a handgun pressed against her temple, imagines herself leaning into its weight.
            “...My voice, wavering? That’s only the adrenaline…”
            She pictures herself: sexy, collected, composed—the very corners of her mouth upturned as she dries her hair.
            “…I have been ready for a long, long time…
            “I am immortal,” she tells herself as she daubs on a clarifying facial toner. “I have been waiting for you,” she tells the heavy air as a washcloth gouges at the remnants of yesterday’s mascara.
            I don’t want to die, but I have accepted it.
            By now, layers over layers of moisturizers and creams brightening her face, the water vapor has cleared up almost completely. Her small breasts, pale aside from the occasional pink blemish, and the very top of her head are the last to be unveiled, the steam evaporating off the mirror from the inside-out.
            She imagines his hands, knobby and attached to the grip of his gun, his finger attached to the anxious trigger, the barrel attached to side of her head and the blast. A quick POP! like a snap, the middle finger hitting the palm, and then nothing. She imagines staring at his eyes when it happens, unable to attain any sort of deeper connection as if the rounds of his corneas were a brick wall rather than a window. Like staring flat at a cold slab of concrete. At nothing. Because that’s all it is, is nothing. Her fears, nothing. Silly. Asinine. She stares at the brick wall of herself in an unclear mirror and for a moment forgets where she is, what room, what planet, the hairbrush in her hand falling slack, her cat rubbing against her swaying calves in angst.
            “I can be,” she tells her reflection, “whoever I want to be.”

Girl on an airplane

                    Imagine you are on a plummeting airplane. Yellow plastic oxygen masks dangling from the ceiling, dripping from their nests, bouncing by their tubes, slapping you in the face. You are thirteen-years-old. A sweet little summer dress, a happy blue and orange striped cardigan. Everyone screaming, gurgling, howling. Everyone’s fingers turned to talons, clawing at the thinning air. A flight magazine in your lap, a black Sharpie in your hand, scribbling the words I love you twelve different times on a single page—an advertisement for shampoo or alcohol or anti-aging serum—and then ripping each one out, your chest fallen still and breath swallowed by the task, scraps of wrinkled and illegible declarations, hurriedly stuffing them into every crevice you are able. The shallow pockets of your sweater; the waistband of your heart-printed underpants; the toes of your flats; inside of your mouth; clumped in your fists; wrapped around the clip in your hair; folded in the cup of your bra; so that maybe at least one note might be recovered, regardless the condition of your body.
                    Your cheeks, bright and flushed; your naked eyes wide, buzzing, frantically searching… for what? What is there now to see? To absorb every splinter of information possible, scrambling to devour every fraction of beauty, of depth, of life, as the ocean roars closer and closer to the small square windows, double-paned for absolutely nothing, the rippling waves rapidly becoming tsunamis beneath you, these strangers who are all sharing with you this phenomenal experience. You are all one. There is no I, anymore.
                    Having lost the Sharpie in the scramble, you are forced to put an end to the frantic endeavor of immortalizing your message. You lean back, breathing slow and calm, ignoring the oxygen mask persistently bobbing in front of your face and ignoring the man sitting next to you who is chewing off the manicured ends of his nails and using the jagged remains to try to saw through the skin of his wrists, up and down and back and forth, down the street as well as across it, to no avail. You do not understand what he is attempting to do, all things considered. So you lean back here, breathing, your eyes closed, palms upturned and resting on your lap, and you accept the thing that is going to happen next. The dark, horrifying thing that no one has ever told you about but that you know is lurking in the water—so deep and cold and plummeting—pacing in the waves and gnashing its treacherous teeth, ready to swallow you whole. And you were almost home, too.
                    You recognize that everything about this moment is just that: things. This airplane is a thing, fabricated by things, designed by things; plunging into this wide, blue thing. You are a thing. The man next to you—still furiously sawing and releasing a blood-curdling howl, which you are ignoring—is nothing more than a thing. His scream, a thing. An intricate product of evolution and natural selection. An object. A tool. A theory. A cluster of atoms. A soft, pink circuit board.  
                    Now, rewind by four hours. You are still on land, sitting in an empty cardboard refrigerator box in the side yard of your mother’s house. You are probably too old for this. On the bottom of the box where you are sitting cross-legged are two lopsided circles, having been cut from the rest of the fort with an X-Acto knife to make two basketball-sized windows. The top and bottom flaps of the box’s end have been lobbed off and hacked up to create a shelf on which you’ve placed a small stack of books—including your notebook—mostly for ambiance as opposed to actual planned reading material, and on the remaining two side flaps, you have attached a makeshift sliding lock. A mauve daisy-looking flower is pinned to the wall with blue masking tape.
                    What you have here is a spaceship time machine.
                    You are extremely aware that, of course, you are not sitting in an actual spaceship time machine. You are aware that this dirty, discarded refrigerator box will not take you anywhere you want to be. It will not whizz off in a fiery blast, whisking you away from everything mortal.
                    Fast-forward. You recognize that everything about this moment is beautiful. This airplane is a gorgeous example of our innovation to succeed, to embrace all that the world has to offer on both land and in the sky; and its barreling reconnection with the vast ocean below us is a long-awaited homecoming. We are one. We are not dying or ending or ceasing—we are embracing. The man next to you—still furiously sawing and releasing a blood-curdling howl, which you are still ignoring—is profoundly gorgeous. An intricate product of evolution and natural selection. An object. A tool. A theory. A cluster of atoms. A soft, pink circuit board.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Moth": Dough

Where I am is in a drug store. A Pharmacy, as the large block letters bolted five feet above the door outside declare. And what I am doing is hunching over the office supplies, digging into packages of ballpoint pens, unscrewing their caps, shaking loose their ink barrels, and sucking out the black, red, and blue ink like fetid honey straws. My tongue and lips and hands stained purple. Dark violet smudges of finger-prints decorating the gray metal shelving and empty cardboard boxes that are now flattened and shoved behind stacks of college-ruled notebooks and spiral-bound day planners.
                              Monday –  Overdose
                              Tuesday –  Drowning
                              Wednesday –  Electrocution
                              Thursday –  Poisoning
              I am getting creative in my desperation to expire.
              Listen to me! I shout at the horrified teenage clerk who walks around the corner, my voice muffled and clogged with a mouthful of viscous black sludge, my teeth thirty-two dripping tombstones jutting out from my gelatinous gums, profoundly mauve in color and terribly gleaming. The boy’s eyes go wide and a dry, terrified squawk escapes his throat as he escapes on his heels just as fast as he had first come around the corner, a fluid hairpin exchange that nearly sends him face first to the floor. This is my cue to leave.   
              I am not insane. I am honest.
              I am the reality behind what we truly are.
              I am the embodiment of all your negativity, anger, dispassion. The withering sense of self; the gritting lust to yank the steering wheel into the retaining wall that is the only thing separating your vehicle from the plummeting mountainside; the lengthy, brutal conversations between yourself and your reflection in the bathroom mirror when you’re home alone and you just need to relieve yourself of those goddamn curbed opinions; the tingle on your skin when there’s nothing even there; the traveling downtown only to turn around and drive all the way back home because you just can’t convince yourself to get out of the damn car and face the fellow humanity.
            I wipe my dripping mouth with the back of my forearm; long, viscid clotheslines of violet drool trailing out from my mouth as I pull my arm away. I slurp it back in, coughing and spitting onto the sidewalk, freckling my shoes with purple, wet polka-dots. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Something Else Entirely": Eyes

She is driving and there is a man in the backseat. He is carefully seated with his legs crossed gingerly at the ankles, his hands folded neatly in his trousered lap, in the chair behind the passenger side. I stare straight at the road and block out my peripherals so that I don’t have to look back and see him. Her neck is stiff and sore and locked up tight so that she won’t turn around, won’t see his wide, grinning mouth, bigger than the width of his actual face, all filled with gray and grayer teeth like empty tombstones, like a shriveled-up, humanized Cheshire cat. His eyes are large and round the size of dull, brown plums, sitting hugely at the base of his dried-out sockets like pool balls, as if they would roll out if she ran over a rock in the orange-lit street. His graveyard grin overtakes his entire face, wrapping wide around his skull and pressing against the windows, the sound of stone scraping against glass, his arms stretched out to either side pressing wetly on the panes and leaning forward with his toothy head bent sideways and pushing towards me, coming closer with his dull, brown, plum eyes peeling apart and glistening in the light of the outside lampposts and his grin growing bigger and bigger and bigger and swallowing his entire body whole and it opens, opens, opens and reaches towards me and I close myself as tight as I can and when I open back up to watch the road, he’s gone, having consumed himself entirely.  
              Flying down the pale black road, steering wide around a bend, I picture letting go of the wheel, letting it slip out of control through her fingers, and sailing through the steel and wood guardrails into the starry sky. What would happen? Would she die? Her hands loosen up the slightest bit, allowing the knots of the steering wheel to slide one at a time beneath her knuckles, only to steer it straight at the last possible moment, gasping at her unsightly brush with the unknown. I close briefly, imagining the collision with the barricade; the heart-stopping plummet to the clusters of pine trees below; the thrill of the ride.
               Instead of bushes dotted along the freeway, I glimpse knobby old men, distorted and groaning with their mouths open in wet, glowing sneers. She grips the wheel in fear, her chest tightening as she strains for breath. The road is lava. The sky is whizzing to the ground in blazing chunks. Broken, bleeding old men crawl out from the sidelines, covered in snapped branches and dead leaves. The backseat is a cave, dripping with humidity and echoing through the cab. Bats squeal. Claws scrape. Voices whisper. I open and close, open and close, open and close, batting out the false images, eliminating the irrational.
             She thinks: I have problems; and I blink in accord.