Tag Archives: Prose

The Emptiness

I feel at home with shadows from ghosts of the living
I dance along to melodies as silent choirs sing
I’m sick of always giving when there’s nothing left to lose
That place we’re in is breaking, it’s trying to break me too…

~*~

Another day, another death.

I wake up, empty. Tired to the very bone, despite the fact that I slept for more than ten hours. The bed feels so cosy and comfortable, as rain serenades the windowsill and cold morning air nips at my feet, luring me back into a dull oblivion. As usual, I don’t want to live. I don’t want to get out of my bed and function mechanically, feeling nothing but nothing. But I have obligations. Responsibilities. Projects and procrastinated homework. So I get up sullenly and do what I can. Do what I should. Brace myself through the freezing shower. Dress up, scarf down breakfast, flag down a vehicle, go to school, socialise, do things, and try to make it through another day.

I started the day feeling shitty as usual, but halfway throughout it, things were looking up. I finished my crammed essays. I made some write-ups and started a story that I’ve been raring to write for ages. I got to catch up with my bands. I helped classmates out, actually recited, accomplished my quizzes and seatworks, actively participated in class. I finally got the thing I’ve been excited to receive the entire weekend. I ate great food and hung out and laughed with fine friends. For once, this was an honest to god day where I acted like a proficient human being, where I didn’t act up and was not my usual dysfunctional self. I did everything right.

So why does everything feel so fucking wrong?

I ended the day running halfway to my house, after having a complete breakdown in the middle of the public city and making people have to put up with the wreck that I am, and unnecessarily infecting them with whatever sad fucking irrational bullshit I was going through. I ended up nearly getting ran over by a bus, nearly missing my bus stop, fucking crying on a goddamn bus as guilt and goddamn pain internally ran me over. I ended up lusting for my vices for the millionth time, for a razor and a pill to infest my system, dying to relapse, living to die. I ended up empty, tired, and unfulfilled, the same way I wake up everyday, and the same way I am as I go to sleep.

I thought all this was supposed to make you feel stronger and make you desire for a greater life, not feeling vulnerable and washed out by the sun, sitting in your dark bedroom, anxious and wallowing, curled up in your own contrition and regretting everything, heaving emptily as everything drains the energy out of your existence. In the end, everything, all of it, writing, reading, songs, bands, fandoms, obsessions, friends, love, emotions, momentary bouts of faux happiness and vigilant but futile hope, it’s just mere distractions in the end. All just stupid petty little distractions to make it seem like there’s actually a chance to change. A chance for something better. A fighting chance for me.

But when all those distractions falter and fade away, I’m always left feeling ten, twenty, fifty times more miserable and pathetic than before; flooding at the gaps in my memory, making the permanent patches in my skin ache, intensifying the taste of the fucking bitter sick on my tongue. And I’m sorry. I want to be optimistic. I want to accept those butterfly pastel mantras and keep the faith. I want to keep on keeping on. I want to fight back and achieve something for myself. I want to make people proud, and make those who were thought I’d never be alter their perception. I want to see the glass-half full, not shatter it because I’m disgusted of my own reflection. I want to change. I want to believe.

I never wanted this. But somehow I can’t do jack shit about it. The only change I can see in myself now is that I’ve become more shameless, more degraded, and more screwed up than before. Anxiety, harder-hitting depression, cutting, drugs, invalid pain, panic attacks, mental breakdowns, bad decisions, I am a picture-perfect smorgasbord of everything that should never be put together. And now I don’t even bother hiding it anymore. I’ve given up trying to counter it. I’ve given up. I’ll always be cynical, and I’m screwed in the head and all fucked-up. Life feels like a constantly looming death sentence, and I want to be my own executioner. Nothing changes. Everything stays the same.

And if things went the way they were supposed to be, and I acted properly, did things right, played by the rules for once, and lived a normal, happy, fulfilling day, and the ultimate end of it all is feeling exactly the same as when I do the exact opposite, feeling that same crappy screw-all depression running through my failing system and ruining everything for me, then fuck it, what’s the point of even trying?

Why should I bother looking for something that isn’t even there?

~*~

I built these walls to keep the outside world from me
And I’ll fight to stay in the hell of my own mind
It’s safer on the inside, underneath where
You can’t ever get to me…

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Burying Nevus

It was a few steps forward, twice removed, seconds away from pulmonary distress. The rough patches of ocher blisters felt like frozen ice lodged in his windpipe, a cowardly conviction that he wouldn’t dare speak. His fault. His mistake. His responsibility. Him, a filthy traitor. The constricting bracelets felt like bleeding handcuffs, prosecuting him for his blithe misunderstanding. This was never my intention, yet why am I riddled with disorienting guilt? One voice asked in attrition. It’s not you to blame if you didn’t know. Awareness is key. Another reasoned out calmly. Ignorance is the enemy of reason. A third entity argued in hostility. Every choice made sense, thus, he told them all to shut up so he could think. He bit down on his raw cheek until bile flooded his throat and metastasised as an abrasive lump. The bloodied bruise tasted like a salty alibi in his mouth. He submerged his soberness in liquid regret until it drowned, and sunk in inebriation. After he could think no longer, he made his final decision. He carried through. He knew it was unfathomably wrong, fatally so. But it was warranted.

It was just another scar tissue he had to permanently hide.

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Blood Insurrection: A Nightmare Recollection

Please, don’t take this out on me
‘Cause you’re the only thing that’s keeping me alive
And I don’t wanna wait for the down-set date
Cause I would rather end it all tonight
And if I mean anything to you
I’m sorry, but I’ve made up my mind!

~*~

Last night, I dreamed of you.

I’m haunted by perpetual visions of your flayed skin, your mutilated flesh hanging off your pallid wrists and chest loosely, bloodshot eyes staring at me in a soundless remorseful discourse. Pieces of sempiternal agony peel off your body in shredded sinews and fall intrinsically on the stained floor, crashing in cascades of reverent disdain and charlatan confessions, colliding with concrete, ringing as loud as midnight bells at a funeral, suspended leaks of scarlet contrasting dramatically with your silver ring. Ivory-washed bones prodded itself from out your mangled shoulder blade in painful angles, compassed spine breaking audibly, and your excruciating anguish reverberated throughout the room, suffocating my lungs. You were broken. Injured, damaged and dilapidated at every possible recourse. Was I wrong to think that you looked goddamn beautiful?

Your sepia eyes seemed to suck me in. They hid invisible anathema, as your lightning-stricken lips spoke fervently of an ancient tale, a dawning disambiguation unlike this damned universe has ever strung together. I was overwhelmed by every calculated idea, every lusted bereavement, every betrayed rumination and endowed sensibility that pierced and tortured that exquisitely-lacerated mind of yours, resplendent writings and rancid words accidentally getting caught in the barbed wires of your entangled sable hair and never making it past the graffitied red brick wall, leaving only tattered pieces of a squandered afterthought fluttering like scrap paper or torn body bags, caught up in fences of rusted mesh, languid and waiting patiently to join the rueful waltz of the stubborn wind. Was it my treacherous mistake to try to put them back together, instead of setting them free?

You were screaming. Your swollen metal throat was rising and falling in explosive intonations of imminent detonation and wasteland reveries, sending chills crawling like aggravated insects down my backbone. It was a disastrous sanctuary, your blessed hell perilous below, while heaven enshrouds above us like a stagnant disorientation. Songs of chronic migraines and reconciling nightmares intertwining elaborately made me beg epileptically for more, yet you never surrendered. Your fluid voice appeared to tangibly cut through me like a raging maelstrom of blades and alcohol, each exiling raindrop lethally sharp, stinging, seething, sedating, the striking precipitation more painful than the last. I am admittedly and ashamedly sinful. I have only myself to atone for my scarred mentality. Was I the renegade soldier who pulled the pin from your heart, fettered like a hand grenade between my merciless fingers?

Your calloused hands were bare and flaccid. They held no mellifluous instruments, only dead air and static asthenia. I desperately reached for them, the way I used to reach for unconscious stars but never quite make it past the horizon, yet my trembling nicotine-stained fingertips barely grazed the soles of your feet. Desire intervened with revulsion. Your liquid touch was rueful and bilious, and it clung to my papyrus skin like abrasive brier thorns on a shorn silk wedding dress. Your suspicious tears rose up in suffocating tendrils of pewter smoke, gasoline fluid flirting with pillars of a ravenous fire, and it burned words into my throat that I wouldn’t dare set loose past my tongue. The perdition was adamant and stern, glaring like a shot arrow past and through the ubiquitous veils, slashing horizontal lines and painting calamities all over my past wounds. I’ve fumbled for faith and I lost it. Is there any chance that these cicatrices would fade into discernible reality…is there any hope at all that I would recover at all?

You. You stood there silently in clashing bouts of disenchantment and contrition, staring at me hollowly, frozen in a resolute resignation, overlooking my ruinous devastation like a dystopian entity. I quailed at your omniscient presence as I huddled in cowardice in a corner, failing taciturnly in a blank stupor, vacillating on the verge of an oncoming breakdown. At that moment, time was evasive and irrelevant. You didn’t flinch. You didn’t try to stop me. You never moved. You didn’t merely murmured a sorrowful apology, your soft whisper barely audible against the clamour of the infuriated voices in my head, each interlaced butterfly letter striking me like a full metal jacket bullet and making me drop the blade out of pure shock at the impact; the one I was holding against my pulse so readily, ready to gnash its teeth through my lifeline. Death was kissing my hand flirtatiously, ready to take me in its graceless romance, yet somehow I still drew away unreasonably. My hurtling world is set on a tectonic plate, and it was set to drift apart in a crash collision, yet I’m unable to form undiscovered islands of a new beginning, for my dissolving pangaea is still arbitrarily constricted and tightly tethered to you, veering around your gravity’s reckless orbit. Your vicious disease is my apostle’s remedy, and your existence is a thread strung around my neck, needle embedded in my heart, keeping me hanging on, but barely. I’m shivering madly at your frigid soul. You’re so far away, you’re virtually a parallel dimension, yet you’re only inches away from my stuttering heartbeat. This is…this is arrogant madness. Don’t…please don’t try to save me. Why…why can’t you simply just let me go?

It is morning. I am not yet awake.

~*~

I’ve been having this dream that we can fly
So darling close your eyes
‘Cause you’re about to miss everything!
About to miss everything…

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Give the filthy pauper a gold crown

I don’t deserve this, any of this, all of this.

It’s been a spine-crushing, mental-breaking, emotionally-draining day, and I’ve been nothing but empty and depressed, emotionally compromised, and I’ve done a lot of idiotic, harmful things to myself that might get my body to god knows what state, and will surely get me shipped straight to a psychiatric facility if anyone in the nearby vicinity of the household found out. But nay, the troubles did not end there. They carried on all the way to tonight, where I proceeded to nearly give a friend instant myocardial infarction, and most likely ruined the rest of their day by not replying to them for 12 hours, when they probably already thought I was lying in the hospital unconscious, or worse, bleeding out and dead in my room.

I also somehow unintentionally forced another to shove the massive screaming elephant into a contained white room and fucking blow it up with fireworks, leaving a splattered mess of red everywhere that I can’t ignore or clean up. And what did clever old me do? Wallow ignorantly in the viscera and splash around it, as if I couldn’t exacerbate the damage any more than I already have, tasting acrid iron and bitter copper on my tongue, the metallic scent wafting overpoweringly strong, and pretended that the person who lit the fuse was not standing in front of me, and I’m getting guts and blood all over them, the very same guts they had in order to do such a sort of unprecedented thing. I acted like a coward and ran with my tail between my legs in the face of a braver light, and I’m not fucking proud of it.

Firstly, here’s a very much needed—yet all the same sincere—thank you for the scant number of people who know they damn well earned it. Thank you, a disgustingly-overused and horridly-cliché phrase that I could neither express eloquently nor enough. It helps, really, despite the fact that it goes against everything I usually say, about motivation, and fuck, they don’t even know how much it all means to me. It’s just always so fucking gratifying to find out just how much people care, or even just to know that there are people who care, and highly unsurprising to find out how many so-called “friends” simply don’t give a rat’s ass whether you tap dance your way off a building rooftop or contact incurable cholera and die a slow, painful death.

But then again, the fault has always lied in me. I was not built for a sense of human synergy, I have dysfunctional social relationships, somehow I’m too blinded and can never read the actual lines, and I’m too desensistised and incapable in sensing the signs and feeling the atmosphere. I’m not normal. I’m guarded, defensive, cynical, manipulative, a chronic liar, an absolute jerk, and I’m just listing off the least deprecating qualities of myself here. Unfortunately, with such traits, there are always those who I accidentally run over without stopping to see the red light, so it’s always a big revelation to me to discover that there are people who actually stick around with me despite my inane insufferableness.

So there, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I never speak about my problems and what’s bothering me because I don’t want to bother anyone else, then expect you to give a damn about my superficial issues and pathetic angsty dramaticness, like you don’t have enough of transgressions of your own already. I’m sorry I shut everything out when things get too sentimental. It’s not because I don’t want to show weakness and expect you to do the same, it’s not mainly because I don’t know how to handle it, but it’s because I just don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve your trust, your comfort, your honesty, your sympathetic words, I don’t deserve to see the deeper side of you that no one else has dared swam into. I’m total fucking arsehole, douchebag of the year awardee, and if I get abandoned, it’s not like it wasn’t coming for me anyways. You really don’t have to exert effort and emotion on someone that’s not worth your time. You have better things to do. You have other things to change. You have your own chaos to arrange. You didn’t have to. You shouldn’t have to.

Despite the outer façade of shallowest self-pity, I pray and repeal on the contrary. These are nothing but stupid little realisations and actualisations that I believe, assimilated and programmed in my clouded, shitfaced, oxygen-deprived brain after extensive hours of overthinking about it. I don’t deserve good friends. I don’t deserve cheering up and ice cream and bunnies and rainbows. I’m undeserving of absolution. The suffering, I was truly asking for it, but not even God should grant me the peace of mind I don’t deserve. I’m not meant to be fixed. I can’t be. That much, I know.

I’m too selfish to deserve selflessness.

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Post-traumatic, past traumatic

There’s a darkness inside of this crackheaded mind
Locked inside this asylum, I’m done
All my secrets are safe, so if you summon fate
Can you read through the lines on my tongue?

~*~

It’s idyllic now, this.

These last few hours have been nothing but stress and transgressions and fucking up constantly, sensibly, emotionally, physically, in everything I do and touch, there is no clear remedy for the disease that’s ravaging like a complete animal and destroying my veins. A sinking feeling in my stomach, a throbbing migraine in my temples and at the back of my head, a constant trembling that only gets worse when I try to stop it, general heaviness in the fucking everywhere of my anatomy, and a completely fucked-up mental status, like that was even possible for me at this point. I’ve been drowning myself in distractions, staying awake for the hell of it even though my neurotic mind is damn near killing me, doing foolish things and repeating the same idiocy again and again and fucking again, hoping that the third, or the fourth, or the millionth time’s a charm, and maybe life will cut me some goddamn slack already.

But no. It just keeps getting worse each time.

Perhaps that’s what I want. Perhaps I just love being miserable too much to even stop. Maybe I have always been the sick masochist I’ve always been jestingly accused of; the pain is my drug and the hallucination is reality. It makes me feel human to feel something, even if that something is the negative picture of paradise. I crave for the acrid sensations, I lust for the acidic vindications, I vain for the adamant desperation, and I hurt myself to feel desensitised, to feel the adrenaline and the dopamine that pollutes my mind with a hazy cloud, but my body keeps limiting the drip, so I have to cheat behind its back and increase my uptake. More wounds. More pain. More doing shit to make me feel like crap. Less thinking. More, more, more, more, more, much more self-torture.

I’m fucking avaricious. I’m asking for it, really, I am.

Funny to say, but it’s been a while since I truly and absolutely felt like this. Like I’m completely losing everything, every part of me that keeps me alive, I’m losing it all and I’m losing in life. It seems highly ironic, almost cruelly hilarious, and completely unbelievable now that only yesterday, I was hanging out alone by the stairwell, taking in the breathtaking sight of nature and basking in the cool zephyr of the balanced weather of sun and solace alike, singing whimsical bubbly songs to the wind that will carry it to no one, and soliloquising about my goals, my dreams, my ambitions, and my future, the way an innocent child speaks about jumping on a rocketship invention and reaching for the stars someday soon. I was so hopelessly happy for once, so tongue-numbingly happy, so, and I was so desperate to cling on to that rare shred of optimism, that fugacious taste of saccharine, that diamond in the coalmine, when I honestly and sincerely thought that I was going to get somewhere someday.

That is, until the stars come crashing down around the naïve, unknowing child.

It’s strangely comforting somehow, feeling like this. I’ve always been astral projecting, an odd end floating around and taking everything in with barely a faint wispy touch and an evanescent lilt of my pen. But when the depression sets in, I feel solid. I feel like an actual corporeal matter, someone that has both eyes straight towards reality’s event horizon and both feet on the hard ground. That’s fucked-up, isn’t it? to only feel like you have a place in this world when you don’t want to take the place. But with it, there’s no more fucking around, no false optimism, no happy candy-cane dreams that turn out to be a complete disappointment like I am. I’ve never been more vulnerable, more gullible, more susceptible to the demonic little beings crawling inside my mind, pushing me to break and lead myself out of the cliff. Every bone in my body contracts against it, and my other self screams no, but my breaking point is only broken glass held together by bleeding hands. It’s already shattered. The demons can easily shatter through it.

Ironically, the fuckers get me more than anyone else. It’s working. It really is.

I’ve started out with frustration and anger. I’ve yelled and screamed out to whatever nonexistent god that’s listening and pounded on my fists on the wall until my fingers complain. I tried to retrieve what’s already eradicated, eliminated vanished completely into the aether, gone forever. I finally stopped when I discovered it’s no use, what’s done is done, and I turn into an uncaring, apathetic sociopath just sitting there on autopilot, taking everything in like I’ve just taken a shitload of Valium and it’s kicking in like the slow motion part in an old black and white movie. I just don’t give a fuck anymore. So I reach, I reach for the blade to feel, I write down a million words that get erased in a matter of seconds, I even consider taking tranquilising pills just so I could sedate myself. And then finally sets in the full, sinking burden of it all, when all the possibilities and consequences set in like an anchor in my stomach, and the tears begin to mix with blood. The crying, now that’s truly the most pathetic part of all.

And then I do it all over again. Good job, bellend.

It’s way past morning now. I still can’t sleep. I’m confused and paranoid. My neurotic mind is on overdrive. I’m overthinking about everything. I’m thinking about turning all those useless everythings into a single, voided, black hole nothing, more seriously than I ever have in any singular point in my fucking waste of a bad life. I know what I could do. I know what I shouldn’t do.  I know what I might do. I don’t know what to do. It’s all monochrome from here. All coin tosses, dividing lines, wrong or more wrong, it’s all up to me to fucking screw up once more. It’s oscillating. I have to get a grip. I have to lose hold. I have to forget. I have to regret. I have to decide. I have to ignore. I have to change. I have to stay still. I have to sleep. I have to wake up. I have to live. I have to die.

I have to. I have to.

~*~

Oh, it’s so traumatic!
I’ve got these secrets I keep
Is it obvious
They’ve got me down on my knees
Yeah, just let me go!
I keep reliving the scene
Oh, it’s so traumatic, traumatic…

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Adventures in Counseling

(Disclaimer: All accounts are purely fictional, highly dramatised, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the author. And anyone who says and believes otherwise is an idiot.)

~*~

It’s so exhausting, having to play pretend and act normal. Having to pretend to be mentally stable and mimic the actions of someone who’s having a ball of a time, as the smiling fucker, oh sorry, you meant counselor—honest mistake—grins as she dissects your brain with your fallible lies and a razor glint of her diabetes sweet teeth, faker than fucking plastic surgery. The wall clock ticks softly in excoriation, and with each tick you die a little inside, bit by bit, nerve by nerve, line for line.

You don’t know why you were called here in the first place, but shit, somehow it’s inevitable, and here you are now, caught up in the viscous web, sitting in the red plush couch of a pastel-drunk room with pleasant hues, looking at a hulking woman that looks like she’s going to bite your head off if you dare even move as much as twitch your eyeball to the left. This sucks bollocks. Now you have to have to act, smile, play nice, calculate your answers, and take precaution in every word and letter, because a single minor slip-up and congratulations, you’re fucking insane! You win an all-expenses paid trip to the asylum, and please take a complimentary straitjacket on your way out! Them’s the breaks, you mentally incompetent loser.

But despite everything else, you’re still trying to be as truthful as you can be, giving her a predisposed glimpse of your personality without showing the grotesque, starving, slobbering, hideous monsters that are itching to unsheathe its fatal claws and spring on her. Surreptitiously hiding and suppressing all the possible yet cunningly undiagnosed anxiety, depression, bipolar tendencies, borderline symptoms, insomnia, paranoia, apathy, psychopathy, insanity, and the mixed-up mental maelstrom that’s rampaging and crashing internal systems within you as you forcefully laugh along with her and lock your glassy dead eyes upon her taunting stare; judging, scrutinising, analysing, like a blinded omniscient deity, all-knowing but never truly seeing.

So, how are you today? I’m fine, thank you. How’s school? It’s okay. How’s life? I’m doing great. How about your family? Four siblings, one parent, we’re all good. You are? I am completely fan-fucking normal. You’re supposed to fill in the blanks but it’s all multiple choice. Nothing but lost question marks, rising intonations, spat inflections, blah, blah, blah, and all the other prompted scripted questions, cliche and well-practised, disgustingly clean. The interrogation is designed to intimidate, blasting and shot off like machine gun rounds, jarring your senses, making you duck, tattering you with bullet holes. The professional iciness sending shudders down your spine, chills through your nerves, and profanities ricocheting off the back of your gritted teeth and lips. It’s nothing but insipid, asinine, fatuous inquiries that make you want to answer badly with a mockingly loud tonsil-performance yawn and a crooked middle finger raised proudly like your personal country flag.

But no. That’s unacceptable. And frankly, doing what you believe to be right at this point will get your foot sinking further in the shit you stepped upon. So you smile, faker than the reality you’re facing right now. Flash, flash, flash, smiles colliding against smiles, expert lies rolling smoothly off your numbed tongue like honey, and she’s the childish bumblebee suckling on the pistils and unwittingly getting corrupted by the words, your parasite infestation transferring under her skin without her consent. It’s hilarious, almost enough for you to drop your charade, but you fumble, fix your mask, and regain aplomb and composure, continuing to answer her with a placid expression that tells all but gives away none.

You know you’re a fantastic fucking actor, but somehow you still can’t help occasionally avoiding gazes and being at a loss for words and substituting lame sceptical replies for rational answers that never present itself in your mind. You try in vain to stop yourself from impulsively raising your jumper’s sleeves in trepidation of the idiot in front of you spotting the crisscrossed scars on your arms that cover your skin like a sculpture design and declare you a threat to yourself and legally wacko. You nervously making frenetic titchy motions and fiddling with your hands in order to prevent an oncoming thermonuclear meltdown from dislodging itself out of your suffocating throat. Suck it up, you can get through this. Stay calm, and countdown. One, two, three…

After what seems like an eternity of awkward silence and a gazillion fucking questions and omitted details and convoluted conversations, she finally sets down her pen and her scribble-filled paper and ends it. That will be all for today, thank you. No, thank you, you reply automatically like the perfect little demon you are. You amble away and let the door hit your ass on your way out, but before you carry on, you come to a halt at the doorway, grip the doorknob into a crushed metal lump, crane your stiff neck backwards a-la Exorcist, and ironically grin back at her just one last time, shockingly faker than your fucking will to live, a derisive leer that screams a silent “fuck you bitch, I’ll see you in hell”, and you finally saunter out, feeling no better, feeling even worse.

So you slowly walk back to class, half an hour late, plagued with clashing negative emotions and cynical thoughts, feeling more vindictive, more depressed, more fucked-up than usual, and ultimately wishing badly to slit the throat of the tattletale asshole who ratted you out. You’re hating yourself for no particular reason again and at the same time congratulating yourself victoriously because you successfully managed to deceive and manipulate someone who deserved no less and even more. You smile, but this time a twisted, deranged, maniacal one, undecipherable as either a smile of jubilance or a grimace of agony, but unsurprisingly realer than all the smiles you’ve ever outputted combined. You can breathe easy now. you can breathe now. You fucking did it.

But inside, your acidic guts still churn like a heavy washing machine load, and you’re unable to pull the plug, so you short circuit and burn out, and you head straight to the bathroom to try to put out the fire that’s threatening to spread in your body. You grasp the porcelain sink, splash water in your face, heave once, twice, thrice, but nothing comes out, only spit and empty tears, but not from sorrow, rather only from triggering and abusing your gag reflex. Within the furthest reaches of your mentality, you’re still rational, but it’s all discordant, damaged, deranged. It will take a miracle and another universe to salvage what’s left in that chaos. “Guidance counseling”, yeah fucking right. More like 30 minutes stuck in purgatory, sleeping with your worst nightmare screwing you against your goddamn will.

Your heartbeat finally slows after a while, and ragged breaths resonate from the tiled walls of the solitary room that you’ve confined yourself in as a temporary solace. You raise your head, touch the cold glass of the mirror, and shut your eyes once to blink away the fear, before you finally have the courage to look at yourself in the stained mirror. What returns your stare is a hollow vessel, all skin and bones and muscle and no soul, devoid of life, nullified of any joy, pessimistic, sunken, washed-out, sleepless, depleted, useless, tired as all fucking hell, uncaring, pathetic, apathetic, lost, cliche, inhuman. You know you’re fucked-up, too far gone, you’re not and you’ll never be o-fucking-kay, you get that, and that’s exactly why you hate being psychoanalysed. You sigh in defeat. It’s exhausting, pretending to be human.

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Wild One

It’s been a year, kid.

I don’t have to constantly check up on you anymore, and be paranoid whether you are still breathing as you slumber, unknowing, naive, innocence in its most delicate form. I can only count your heartbeats, slow and steadily warm, whispering reassurances to me, making me believe still in a transient hope on a world so lost and pitifully dark. All the nights I’ve had to give up, interrupted sleep I’ve had to bide my tired mind by, the erstwhile activities and further indulgences I’ve had to forego to help in taking care of you, the stress, the weeping, the spewed bodily fluids, the horrid diapers, the sacrifices ventured and risks undertaken, everything and nothing all at once…I suppose it was all worth it in the end.

You’re still here, after all, breathing, laughing, crying. Living. One year in. It’s crazy to think just how much has changed, how everything has been elicited by insignificance, how everything slows down yet speeds up at the same time, nerves racing clockwork ticks, how much has changed, how far you have grown. It only feels like a trembling fingertip away when you were a newborn infant delivered from the hospital, and, lying there, ensconced in white silken sheets and resting with umber eyes wide shut, I saw a part of the universe that was apt with the stars in the sky. I basked in the warmth of someone who doesn’t have to be arrogant and jaded like the rest of the heartless horizons, a soul, that was a diamond moon, uncarved, pristine, an enigma. An incandescent light that catches the sparkle in every worthwhile heart. I left the room dazed that day, with ink all over my hands, holding a crumpled piece of paper, unsure of my own senses, pensive and ocean-deep.

Admittedly, I’m not the best babysitter. Sometimes I’m clumsy and end up panicking amid bloodstains and scarlet bumps. Sometimes I get vexed and irritated by your inability to act and your constant incessant shrieking, for heaven knows what reason. Sometimes I snap at you for your tantrums and for the things I know are not under your control. Most of the time I don’t know what the hell I’m even doing when I hold you. I know I’m a child-hating misanthrope that doesn’t take any shit from any other snot-nosed bratty brat that dare crosses my path, and I should be a choking hazard, kept fifty miles away from any person under 5 years old. But you are the exception.

Your shrieking laughter trumps all the crying and wailing I’ve endured from you. Your adorable cooing and chubby tottering alike, the fact that I was there for your initial steps, your first word (“Wa-ta.”), the numerous milestones that can’t be replaced by a million million-dollar paintings. The jubilance and uplift your cloudy childish curiosity banishes my demons temporarily and ties my emotions to a raspberry red balloon, sends me shimmering against your diamond moon, providing me an ephemeral glow, enough to get me though the day. You make me this incredibly maudlin and histrionic, hell, not everyone has the ability to do such a thing. And yes, I may have lost my room when you arrived, true enough, but I found a home in you.

To my sister’s chubby little child, stay wild and have fun, not only in your jungle themed party (which somehow has a clown?), but in this jungle of a life as well. True enough that your untainted whims may not last forever, but the memories remain like butterflies in my tongue, fluttering, tinting my lips with chromatic stained glass artworks, tasting of fairy dust and sweet sugary candy and an indistinguishable distinct bitter undertone, a hueful transfer with every cuddle and pinch and peck. You’ve got no reason to be sad, you need no reason to be happy, which is why you’re smiling all the time. You’ve got many people who love you unconditionally, so beat your chest and swing on the vines, you’ve got a lot to roar about. Don’t grow up too soon now. You deserve that much, at least.

Happy birthday, Gianni-ya.

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On Account of Accounting

Accounting lessons; 1:00 PM. There’s a dull humming invading every comatosed whim of my numbed-down senses, as my wandering stare loses its attention from the blackboard and stays to the harshly glaring rays of the stupor-inducing sunshine. Perspiration trickles solemnly down my neck, a steady saline river of liquid ennui, scribbling fluid retrospections on my scoliosis-slouch back. Nothing else makes much sense but senselessness. The discussion goes on, and the teacher, god bless her, but her voice is beginning to melt into the sound of the faceless grownups in a classic Peanuts movie, and I’m the exasperated Charlie Brown looking comically tired and uttering my disappointed interjection of ″Good grief.″ I sigh inwardly at the depressing thought. A speck of dirt flies past my jaded drooping eyes, almost taunting me as it basks in all its glorious and dignified freedom, and I can hear a squeaky voice at the back of my head blowing raspberries and chanting ″You’re stuck and forced to endure this torture and I’m not, suck it loser!″. I send it away with an aloof glare and a whiff of carbon dioxide from my dry cracked lips, and the high pitched voice trails away with an indignant Darth Vader yell of NOOOOOO, as the dirt speck finally disappears from my line of vision. Yes, I am seriously picking quarrels with infinitesimal matter. I am either very much insane, or have transcended all the limits of human boundaries and am, in fact, an omniscient god who can communicate with inanimate objects. An audible laugh accidentally escapes my throat in a choked hiss at such ludicrousness, and I hastily attempt to cover it up with a weak and pathetic cough. I clamped one heavily-doodled hand to my mouth to prevent any further unfortunate situations, as the teacher’s pupils (well, the ones on her eyes anyways, not the students) twitch in suspicion and scan the tepidly simmering room, ears perked up and nostrils slightly flared in alarm. I duck, scratch on my soaked neck awkwardly, and feint nonchalance by pretending to copy down notes in order to avoid her accusing eye contact, earnest visage etched on my face as I am actually writing this down. The sunlight tears against the glass panes more invasively than before. The room grows stuffier and unbearably hot, the students sliding into a gregarious and palpable grudge, the teacher’s voice sounding more and more like a drone of disturbed angry wasps, buzzing and incoherent. There is nothing else to do but further degringolade into the void of boredom as my neurone flickers off and commits suicide one by one. I hang my head back and absentmindedly gape at my besmirched hands, the vantablack Sharpie ink on my tanned skin shimmering as it separated itself from the dermis and began to float upwards like helium balloons, calligraphic band member names and splintered song lyrics dancing and fusing in an amalgamation of odd letters and incomprehensible symbols, right before my delirious hallucinating eyes. The sky grows temporarily dislimned as the vicious sun gets blocked off and hides behind a passing temperamental cloud. The students become a caricature tableaux of a cautionary cry for help, melting into human puddles along with their creaking plastic armchairs. The unknowing teacher rambles on, lost and deafened by her own static white noise. The cycle continues. It’s official: I am clearly very much insane.

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Fly Me To The Moon

12:35 AM. She took a long drag from her cigarette, Sinatra’s smooth timbre crooning about love in the background, as thunder rumbled heartily outside, accompanied by jagged flashes of sharp lightning that streaked the rainy midnight skies.

Sitting alone on a tall creaky barstool and leaning by the countertop almost choreographically, cigarette held quaintly on one hand and poised with a radiating air of regality, the intriguing charm and the allure of the mysterious woman had an effect that made heads turn, eyes pop, and hearts beat out of their chambers. She had a stunning slim figure, the short black silk dress that she wore flattering her form breathtakingly, fabric glistening with water droplets that shimmered under the low sodium lights. Her usually cascading honey-blonde hair, now pulled back in a tight bun, dripped water onto the dirty black-and-white checkered linoleum floor; the occasional stray strands she blew away from her porcelain-smooth face. Her delicate hands were quaint and slender, her glinting sharp nails painted a perfect cherry-red. Her flawless lissome legs were crossed quite exquisitely, bright five-inch scarlet stilettos almost—but not quite—touching the floor.

With smoky grey eyelids, thin streaks of perfectly applied eyeliner that ended in a slight curl, and pencilled eyebrows arched ever so slightly in a manner of allusion, she observed with drooped caramel-coloured eyes, scanning heedlessly in a state of curious ennui, her sophisticatedly jaded gaze passing all throughout the small room, before returning to pay attention only to her cigarette and ignoring the simmering brewed coffee that sat on the marble countertop, waiting patiently in front of her.

The old dingy 24-hour diner, as the woman noted, was virtually empty, some worn-down plush red chairs and neon decorated vinyl booths that have already lost their colour occupied by a small motley crew of shady figures, nocturnal regulars, and one or two lost souls that got caught in the unpleasant weather and found no other roof to huddle under, simply waiting for the rain to pass. A green and yellow broken fluorescent sign flickered tepidly by the glass door, inviting everyone that might pass by the diner that the said establishment was “_PEN”.

The barkeep, a hairy overweight man in his late 50’s, with thin wispy hair and several balding spots, a gruff military demeanour, and a permanently stained white apron, was sitting hunched in a dimmer corner of the place, scratching his liver spots while absentmindedly flicking through a day-old newspaper. Occasionally, he would also chance to shoot the mysterious woman quick furtive glances, then he would resound a guttural harrumph from the back of his gravelly throat and resume turning the pages, as if she wouldn’t have noticed.

She merely disregarded the barkeep’s lewd pervading eyes, very much accustomed to the uncalled-for attention, and continued occupying herself with her cigarette, taking a prolonged drag, breathing in the fumes deeply, and, upon exhaling, blowing plumes of smoke out of her puckered ruby lips, the grey tendrils curling up and creating intricate abstract patterns before dissipating into thin air. She peered at them with daydream-gloss eyes, as if lost in a train of thoughts.

“Got caught in the rain, dintcha, hun?” A voice suddenly interrupted her convoluted reverie, a silky baritone voice, almost purring and sounding ever so close to her right ear. Alarmingly close.

Startled by the intrusion, she snapped out of her slight trance and swiveled her head towards the distraction, gossamer flaxen tresses fanning softly with loose strands of hair, chin tilting up haughtily in slow motion, welcoming the intruder with her finest chatoyant glare. What greeted her sight was a lanky and weather-beaten man with a comical wolfish grin, possibly in his mid-40’s, donning a grey flannel suit that was even more so drenched than she.

Strange, she thought warily. This man snuck up on me. She hadn’t noticed that he positioned himself next to her. Matter of fact, she didn’t even hear the rusty wind chime by the door tinkle to signify his entrance. She shook her head infinitesimally to clear her mind, and glanced at the man unsurely. He looked back at her with one brow raised and a half smile, as if expecting an answer.

“You did, dintcha? Caught in the rain, I mean?” He repeated.

“And so were you, my dear gentleman.” She pointedly replied, speaking for the first time since she entered that diner, her voice husky and sweet, like soft cream dissolving in hot coffee.

He simply laughed heartily, either failing to catch, or choosing not to notice, her indignant tone. “That obvious, huh?”

Setting his wet trilby hat on the countertop, the man ran a rough hand through his slicked-back salt-and-pepper hair, drops of water mixed with greasy hair product falling from the tips, and shook himself off like a newly-bathed dog. With that, he sat next to the woman, the barstool making a groan of protest under his heavy weight, and began telling a story that frankly, no one asked to hear.

“Yeah, we got some real nasty weather outside. Been livin’ round these parts for what, a year now?, and I haven’t this dammed town pour down like this in ages. And I was just coming home from business. Usually don’t stay out this long, god knows how terrible overtime can get, but that damn Andriacchi, ballsy as ever, took long strides that w’aint even in the contract, making it take far too long to seal the deal. Had to wait the entire thing out, nearly whacked Andre, as we called him in the office, several times, but he thank his God I didn’t, and by luck of all bad lucks, damn rain had caught me before I could even attempt to catch a bus.”

The woman smiled politely at his lengthy narration but said nothing in reply, looking down and pretending to be engrossed in her cherry-red nails.

But despite her blatantly-obvious disinterest to carry on the conversation, the man still persisted. “And how about you, my dear lady? What were you doing before this raging storm came to claim the land?”

The woman sighed inwardly. This man is becoming a bit too nosy for comfort, she thought. But she didn’t wish to come off as rude, so she decided to play along.

“Oh, I was waiting for someone. Nothing much in need of attention.” She replied, waving her hand with the cigar airily, fingers passing through silver smoke, her sultry voice slightly accentuated now. “My, I don’t have to tell the whole thing, do I?” She asked, placing a hand softly on her bosom and feigning slight horror at the discourse.

The man laughed his booming laugh once more, clearly amused with her little playact. “Not if you don’t want to, of course.”

The barkeep, who had been sneakily eavesdropping in their near one-sided conversation for a while now, set down his dogeared newspaper and decided to intervene. He set a meaty hand down forcefully on the countertop, rattling the cups and coasters placed on top of it, and brashly interrupted their chat. “Ey, look ‘ere man. Ye come ‘ere lookin’ fer pur’ty ladies te bother er ye gon’ order sometin’? If ya ain’t, then imma ‘ave ‘te kick ye out. I needa make ‘e livin’ here, an’ not simpl’y serve ‘es people’s glor’fied ‘mbrellas.”

The man raised his hands up in a sign of good faith and apologised in surrender. “Oh, I’m so sorry, my good man. I meant no harm, after all. I suppose I’ll have a cup of Joe, make that black. And nothing else at the moment, thanks very much.”

The disgruntled barkeep grumbled an undecipherable snarky retort in annoyance, mumbling profanities all the while, but grabbed a dusty chipped cup off the shelf and poured man some stale coffee anyways. Taking a brown-tinted towel that was hanging limply from his hulking shoulder, he started wiping the puddles of water off the countertop, very much tempted to knock off the man’s sodding hat onto the floor in the process, but he didn’t.

After pausing shortly to take a careful sip at the scalding black liquid, the man piped up once again, restarting his and the woman’s hanging small talk. “So…who’s this guy you’re waiting for? Someone special?” He smirked cheekily, as if thinking of insalubrious entendres, and teasingly suggested with a playful glint in his cold sapphire eyes, “Ah, your lover, perhaps?”

The woman nearly choked on the cigarette smoke at his brash rhetoric, but she managed to return to her insouciant composure. Exhaling trails of steam, she scornfully shook her head, perhaps a little too defensive in her denial, and blots of water flicked from her hair and dotted the recently-wiped countertop. The barkeep snorted disdainfully at this and roughly wiped off the quivering drams with a flick of the wrist, making his action prominent and loud and accompanied by more cussing under the breath and obnoxious muttering.

The woman ignored the irked barkeep and finally replied, “Oh no, no. Heavens, no. Nothing of that sort, thanks very much. Just an old relative who came to town, and I simply wanted to say hi. He wasn’t all too pleased with the prospect of seeing me though, and after a bit of bickering between us about petty things, we got into some exaggerated quarrel and a disagreement, and he hurried away to god knows where, leaving me to catch pneumonia in the rain.”

She said those last words lightly in jest, yet still with noticeable spite and suggestive bitter undertones between her gritted teeth.

Bindle stiff didn’t even give you a ride home. Pigheaded uncultured prick.” The man only replied, his tone surprisingly dark now, his reddened hands slowly clenching tightly, the initial cheery ebullience in his personality gone and replaced with a furious seething vendetta. “What gives him the nerve to be abandoning such a beautiful lady such as you to get caught in such a harsh rain? If I ever see that guy’s face here, hell, he better run for his life ‘fore I go give him a good taste of this.” And he punctuated his sentence with a strained fist slammed loudly on the counter.

The plangent bang of his terse hand, accompanied by the clangorous rattling of their disturbed coffee cups, rang clear and sharp throughout the small space of the diner, throwing the midnight’s peace off its momentum, making everyone stop with their static chatter and grow suddenly quiet.

“Oi! Watch ‘de mahog’ny!” The barkeep scowled, waving the besmirched towel at the man threateningly. “Unless ye plan ‘te pay fer it, dun’ break it, ye snot-faced bast’erd.″ Some off-put onlookers glared at the man disdainfully and huffed rather condescendingly before going back to their meals and drinks.

The woman snuffed out her cigarette, faint traces of ashes adhering to her exquisite fingertips, and stared at the angry man almost frightfully. “Oh, dear me. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m quite fine, really.” She said softly, her sultry voice dropping an octave, barely above an audible whisper.

The sound of her hushed tone immediately relaxed the man’s rage and pounding heart, and his sudden burst of anger died down. Removing his agitated fist from the countertop, he shot a sincere apologetic glance at the glaring barkeep, who was wiping some crystal glasses and muttering spitefully about the man (“Bad enuf’ ye’ swagger ‘ere an’ only order coffe’, naw, but ye gotta break sumthin’ too…”), before turning to look at the woman.

″I guess I should explain.″ The man said in an equally quiet voice. He sighed heavily, cleared his throat, and began to relay another tale again. And this time around, she decided to listen.

“I didn’t mean to—I, um, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have lost control. It’s just, my wife, she, uh, she recently…um, how’d you say this politely…right, she just recently passed away. And I was a wild man back then, I’d left her alone until the dawn breaks, but she’d keep waiting for me, waiting while I went on drinkin’ and having the time of my life with my buddies and messing around with chicks and all that. She was persistent, Katherine was. Waiting, waiting outside, peerin’ and lookin’ and starin’ out the windows hopefully to see me return, until one day, well, hah, one day, she were home alone, and some damn burglars burst in. Those thieving sons of bitches took everything. Even her life. And the bastards didn’t even leave her untouched.”

The man swallowed hard at the final word, his steady booming voice finally cracking and choking him up. The dark implications quickly dawned on the woman, the staggering impact of his story rendering her dumbfounded for once. He merely looked down at his coffee in shame, trying to hide his pained tears unsuccessfully, as she stared at him in surprise upon the revelation, her scarlet mouth slightly gaped, her almond-shaped eyes now rounder than an orange.

“And at the very end of it all, I was the one that was left waitin’.” He scoffed hollowly, sneering at his own morbid joke. “Karma, huh.”

“But it wasn’t…it wasn’t your fault.” The shocked woman tried vainly to console him, but he only buried his etched stone face deeper in the shadows and shook his head stubbornly, refusing to look at the woman’s glistening umber eyes.

“No. No matter how hard you try’n to spin it, it’s still all my fault, miss. I left her alone. I let her die. I let her wait forever. I let her be desecrated and killed by some filthy ten-cent thieves.”

The woman fell silent as he recovered from his despair and slowly straightened up, looking outside the windows, into the clashing darkness and water of the distant fallen night, remorseful regret replaced with newfound determination. “And now I swore to myself that I would protect any lady that I could, no matter what it takes. And I ain’t leaving no one waitin’ anymore.”

The woman finally managed to purse her hanging mouth closed, and she bit on her lower lip as she gazed at him with pitying yet understanding eyes. “That’s…tragic. It’s not much, but I’m very touched. Really, I am. I’m very sorry for your loss.” She didn’t know what quite to do, so she reached out a hesitant porcelain hand and patted his back comfortingly.

“I’m afraid to say though, that you can’t protect me anymore. It’s quite a bit too late for that, now. And you can’t be everyone’s avenging angel, you know. But that’s okay. You’re a noble man with a noble cause, that’s for sure.” She sincerely assured, then paused to consider. “If not coming off as a little nosy at times, that is.″

The man burst into a warm chuckle at her little chide, and the woman, glad to have lightened his spirits, smiled brightly in return, her ruby lips splitting open, showing him her perfect row of gleaming white teeth, smoky eyelined lids softly winking in assurance.

With that, the high-strung tension that initially enveloped the atmosphere was instantly broken, the casual background ambiance of the diner quickly returning again, with the pattering rain, amicably chattering costumers, and the hissing sizzle of the greasy grill accompanied by the starting drumbeats of Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon.

“Oh, I absolutely adore this song.” The woman gushed sultrily in awe, as she closed her eyes and started humming and swaying her head along to the jazzy tune, her comely countenance wistful as she listened intently, lost in the haze of the blaring trumpet notes.

The man smirked in affirmation. “I agree. Lemme tell you something, this Frank guy, everyone thought he wasn’t gonna be nothing, but now he definitely got his steppin’ stones on stardom out there. And he deserves it too, oh yes. Ol’ blue eyes’ voice is simply absolutely great, and what’s even better is that all the ladies love him.″ He stopped his tirade momentarily, derailed by an amusing thought. ″Y’know, tell you what, I could actually sing too.”

The woman only looked at him with coalescing disbelief and challenging eyes, a hint of a smile playing on her carmine lips. Without a moment’s hesitation, the man stood up and cleared his throat grandiosely to get the small crowd’s attention. Heads turned and watched as modulated his voice in faux preparation, placed his soaked trilby hat back on his head and tipped it angularly for an added jaunt and flair, and he gently took her elegant hands in his, suave as he gazed at her meaningfully and winked. The flustered woman couldn’t help but blush, her usually pale cheeks now a pleasant shade of tickled pink.

And with that buildup, the man opened his mouth and finally began to sing along.

“Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars…let me see what spring is like, on Jupiter and Mars…in other words, hold my hand…in other words, baby, kiss me…”

And indeed the man sang. Horribly off-key. Trying absurdly hard to imitate Sinatra’s sonorous smooth melodies, but utterly failing to do so, and instead ending up wailing like an insufferable beached whale, and once again causing a slight disturbance among the diner, not for the first and the last time in that rainy night.

The quick-tempered barkeep, vexingly exasperated and finally done in with the man’s bamboozling antics, heaved the dirty towel directly at the man’s face and, shaking a threatening meaty fist, hissed indignantly at him to “Pipe ‘de ‘ell down, will ya?!”. Several straying onlookers laughed under their breaths at the comical scene, welcome at the break from monotony, and more amused than annoyed.

The woman could only giggle at the man’s poor attempts to sing, and she laughed even harder at his slapstick attempts at removing the disgusting towel from his face. She pulled her hand away from his grasp to nudge him scoldingly as he stumbled backwards and nearly tripped, still partially blinded by the foul-smelling cloth.

“It was absolutely perfect until you opened your mouth. How could you do such a terrible thing to such a good song?” She chastised playfully, tutting disappointedly and wagging one painted finger at the man.

He joined in with her mirth and let out a small cheer as he finally managed to remove the antagonising towel from his visage, the woman clapping jestingly at his mini success. He tossed it away onto the counter, accepted her offer of a crumpled tissue, and wiped his face thoroughly with it, before returning to his seat and finally settling down. “Hey, I did say I could sing. I didn’t say could sing great.” He quipped.

With nothing else left to say, and lulled by the song’s instrumental interlude, they sat taciturn for several minutes, letting the song continue to play in peace, her eyes closed in contemplation and tapping her long cherry nails on the counter, him whistling along to the tune merrily as he drained his coffee cup to the very last drop and asked for a refill from the disgruntled barkeep. Finally, the woman decided to break the comfortable silence, and grazed the man on the shoulder.

“Here. Keep this for me, would you?” She requested, removing a simple golden ring from her hand and dropping it on his palm. “It was my grandma’s. I inherited it from her, and I was very dear with her, so this quite special to me. But well…call me absolutely mad for giving it away so easily, and to a complete stranger too, but somehow…I just really want you to have it.”

The man gaped blankly at the ring flashing back at him on his palm, unable to digest the news. “But…I can’t…I can’t accept this. What—what’s it for?” He blanched, trying to return the ring to her. She simply waved away his futile endeavour and took his calloused hand with the ring, balling it into a tight fist and patting it in finality.

“Oh no, don’t worry too much about it. I have no more use for this ring, honestly. And it’s highly possible that we never cross paths again, so I give to you as a present, as a memento, from the girl that you saved, to my avenging angel.” She said with a curious wink of her mocha eye. “Just trust me on this one, okay?”

Before the confused man could muster out a reply of thanks, the door of the diner suddenly opened with a prominent tinkling sound, interrupting their conversation.

Both heads turned to look as a stern-looking elderly man wearing a brown suit stepped in, tossing his soaked tweed jacket on the coat rack carelessly and placing his wet umbrella by the side of the doorway. His brown oak walking cane, lined with a streak of affluent gold at the side, made a rough tap-tap-tap sound as he walked briskly, impatiently making his way towards a nearby formica table, as if even the tiniest milliseconds of time was something he did not wish to waste.

But as soon as the old man spotted the woman staring at him very intently, he immediately stopped walking, his black beady eyes widening and threatening to pop out of their sockets, his wrinkled face turning deathly white, his austere personality morphing and revealing his vulnerability, as if he had seen a ghost.

The man noticed his startling expression in contrast the woman’s equally-terrified one, and his breath hitched at his windpipe at the realisation. He cleared his throat quietly, as if wishing to dislodge the growing hard lump in his throat, and leaned in closer to the riveted woman.

“…Is that him? The man who stood you up?” He asked cautiously, his voice low and urgent. The woman could only nod stiffly in reply, skin quivering faintly as her worried eyes were still locked upon the old man’s glare.

The old man’s cane made a startling clattering noise as it fell on the floor, resonating hollowly and juddering every patron’s soul. This sound seemed to give the old man a start, as he mustered up enough courage—or foolishness—to make use of his voice. “You…! But-but how could this possibly be—?!” The old man stuttered out. He pointed an accusing tremulous finger at the woman. “You’re supposed to be dead!”

The barkeep, whose mind was on automatic and had been rather engrossed in carrying on with his torpid tasks, finally took notice of the disturbance and stopped rearranging the newly-washed plates. He glowered in irritation at the old man. “Wossa big idea’r, eh?!” He snapped angrily. “Get de’ ‘ell outta ‘ere an’ bother some’un else, ya nasty geezer!”

Ignoring the frazzled barkeep’s immediate demands, the old man hastily reached for his back pocket, pulled out a .45 calibre gun, and pointed it directly towards the woman, trembling and continuously babbling some undecipherable chants, occasionally mumbling a more coherent death threat like “Dead!!! The dead should stay dead…” in a fit of insanity.

The usually-tough barkeep stepped back in alarming surprise at the procurement of the weapon, accidentally dropping a newly-washed plate, which shattered loudly on the linoleum floor.

The sound jolted the entire diner into action. Commotion and panic immediately arose. A morbidly obese woman wearing fake jewelry pearls clutched her purse and shrieked in fear. A worn-looking businessman snatched his briefcase from the floor and held it defensively. Someone, in their haste to try escaping from the madman, accidentally bumped into the still-playing jukebox, ceasing Sinatra’s croons at “Fill my heart with—”.

As the delirious shivering old man cocked the gun and fumbled with one unsteady hand to clutch the trigger, something in the man’s mind instantly snapped, and he stood up and fearlessly faced the armed old man with his chest puffed out, filled with a mélange of sheer bravado and unadulterated rage.

“Dead?! I’ll show you dead, you disgusting old creep!” He yelled out boldly, advancing aggressively towards the old man. With a strength he didn’t know he possessed, the man harshly pushed the gun’s muzzle away from his face, which, fortunately, was quite easy enough, for the old man was so severely shaken that he had trouble gripping it tightly. The man then pulled for the gun and yanked it out of the old man’s hands, dropped it cautiously on the floor, and kicked it away. He grabbed the insensible old man by his collar forcefully, lifted him a couple inches off the ground with one hand, and with a final burst of power, knocked him down to the ground with one swift powerful punch straight to the jaw using the other.

The old man lay there unconscious, and didn’t stir for quite some time.

The man, rubbing his sore knuckles gingerly, turned away from the knocked-out fellow and saw that the woman was already gone. Hearing the backdoor slam open, he impulsively grabbed at his pocket and threw a couple dimes at the countertop, grabbed for his still heavily-soaked tan trenchcoat—which made the coat rack fall loudly and spill its contents, and ran towards the sound to find her, ignoring the other fleeing customers’ frantic discordant shouts and pushing past the shocked barkeep, who was reaching with a visible shaky hand for the telephone to call the police.

His boiling blood was rushing wildly, his panicked heart was pounding deafeningly in his ears, his coursing adrenaline working its way to his body and legs as he ran against the frigid hurricane winds and the stinging blades of the raindrops, resolutely fighting against the chasm of the hysterical storm. He wanted to shout out to her, to call out her name, but much to his deep chagrin, he realised that he never asked her for it, nor was it given to him.

“Where are you?!” He bellowed in a fit of desperation, rain blurring and impairing his vision and seeing only occasional flashes and glimpses of the woman’s black dress, or her blonde hair, or her red shoes, teasing him, tossing him, taunting him to deliria, as he twisted left and right, darted down the abandoned streets, and crossed through dirty suspicious alleyways relentlessly.

After what seemed like hours of chasing mere spectres and thin air, the man finally came to a literal screeching stop, nearly slamming headfirst upon a tall graffiti-infested wall, and found himself standing in front of a dead end, quite literally. Mottled hairy rats scuttled about the blind alley harriedly, bits of trash and dust blew everywhere as they were caught in precipitous winds and torrents of flooding water alike, and a conglomeration of filthy skittering cockroaches were congregating by a soggy pizza box.

Panting, frustrated, drenched, worn-out, and severely tired, the man can only groan disappointedly in defeat, carelessly leaning his hand against the grimy wall to catch his breath and rest. But in doing so, he accidentally kicked aside a pile of waterlogged newspapers, and something that was just a little harder than paper.

Looking down at his ruined muddy pennyloafers, he saw shreds of torn paper, an empty plastic bag from a local grocery store…and a withering slender hand with a pale circular ring mark on one finger, long nails painted a perfect cherry-red, and fingers clutching a snuffed-out cigarette, sticking gracelessly out of yesterday’s headlines.

He threw his head back and screamed in consternation. The rats squealed. The cockroaches scattered. Thunder boomed angrily overhead. Shrill police sirens abruptly pierced through the soft pattering of the dripping water, as the dying rain slowly came to a tranquil stop, leaving only the echoing howls of both man and shearing wind.

~*~

And indeed, the dead woman who had been found under day-old headlines had become the new headline for the newspapers the very next day. WOMAN FOUND MURDERED IN AN ALLEYWAY, they all announced in bold and bright red uppercase letters, baiting for curious attention from the rushing passersby, tabloids and reliable sources alike propped up on newsstands and magazine stalls on every busy street that morning.

Supplying the specifics, the tawdry detail for detail articles mentioned that the victim’s name was Christine Emica Evans, 30 years old, an out-of-work actress from lower downtown. She was brutally raped before being finally murdered by her own uncle from her father’s side, Thomas Elcott. Elcott, 67 years old, was a ruthless and renowned businessman, infamous around the city and, according to several unaccounted rumours, a suspected honorary member of the Mafia. The dry monotone narration included snippets of quotes from the police, including one that stated the assumed reason for the crime was that Christine’s deceased father supposedly owed Thomas a huge sum of debt and she was not able to pay it under the given deadline, and they failed to talk it out and settle on a peaceful negotiation, instead getting on each others’ nerves and having a fallout.

Forensics estimated that she had been dead for about five hours before she was found. She was instantly killed by a bullet that entered her frontal cranium, passed through her brain, and exited the back of her head, at about 11:30 PM on Sunday. The suspect was found also dead inside Good Joe’s Diner in 6th Avenue, leaning against a wall, with a broken jaw, a .45 gun clutched limply in his left hand, and a bullet in his head. Several reliable witnesses attested that it was suicide, carried out by Thomas in a fit of madness after rousing into consciousness, only several moments after the anonymous man who broke his jaw fled from the scene.

Detectives interviewed all the scant customers and the shaken barkeep thoroughly. The barkeep, who was brought in for further questioning, recalled an unknown grey-suited man coming inside for some coffee, slamming his fist on his “preshu’s mahog’ny an’ marble count’er”, and singing rather horribly. He also gave the whole story of the incident, starting with Thomas entering the premises, pulling out a gun, the anonymous man punching Thomas in the face, Thomas falling unconscious, and the man paying for his drink before running away. He also conjured up some other distorted hazy recollections of “sumthin’ ’bout ‘e cigarette ‘er ‘e black dress, I t’ink, I ain’t sher”, and nothing more.

~*~

6:00 AM. A lone unnoticed figure was lingering around the recently-discovered crime scene, hunched behind a corner, a burning cigarette dangling loosely from the side of his cracked lips, peeking out by the side of the wall occasionally.

He silently watched and smoked from afar as the police worked at the cul-de-sac, taking notes, searching for further evidence, poking and prodding and taking photos of Christine’s cold lifeless body before carrying her away in a gurney unceremoniously. After several minutes of staring blankly, he finally managed to tear his eyes away from the grotesque scene, and, blowing smoke from out his nostrils, gazed down melancholically at the muddy tarnished golden ring that he was clutching in his hand.

Words failed to find themselves in his tongue, and he stood there silently, contemplating, assessing the ring with utmost concentration like a pawnbroker, until he managed to conjure up what he thought was a decent farewell.

“Well, I may not have saved your life…but I sure damn well avenged you. I reckon that’s enough.”

“Don’t you come waitin’ for me now.” He said, and with those final parting words, he dropped the cigarette and stepped on it, stuffed the ring carefully into his trenchcoat pocket, tipped back his trilby hat ever so slightly, and slowly walked onto the taut horizon’s languidly rising sunlight, peeking out from under the gloom, the faint intrusive police lights dissipating into the cool wind, a faint giggling voice—husky and sweet like soft cream dissolving in hot coffee—echoing at the back of his mind, and his quiet voice mournfully whistling out the last coda of Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon.

“In other words, please be true—In other words…I love you.”

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I wanna be the tattoo ink that swims down through the needle in your skin

I wish I was poisonous
Like a bottomless sound
Like a violent drug
Do you remember the knife I kept?
The sharper it got, the more
You wanted me to use it…

~*~

The night sings in slow motion, a stagnant riot of a melancholy latin church chorus resonating past the intricate stained glass windows, the flourishing finale guitar lick of a spanish melody that makes one’s heart leap past the curtains of complete composure. It was a rare opportunity to pause from life and a welcoming silence to embrace, and I was taciturn and brooding as I rested leisurely by the window ledge, smoking a Cuban cigar and contemplating panoply discussions rather thoughtfully. The breeze pushed past my weaning figure roughly like an impatient passerby, and for a moment, I appeared to teeter like a child on a seesaw, yet the fall at the other end never arrives to weigh down and elevate me back into several tangible seconds of an innocent bliss. There was no avoirdupois balance to bring my poised dangling toes back to touching the soft cool earth, apart from my own sanity, which always felt to me as gossamer as Arachne’s bone-white sumptuous silken hair.

And that’s all it takes for me to fall.

You weren’t there. You were never there. Last night you awoke in a disgusting bathroom stall on the underground tube, heaving your guts out to the non-too-catchy tune of the robotic announcer’s grumbles of ″Mind the gap.″ blaring through ancient dusty static speakers. Today you clutched a lock of your chewed trichobezoar hair along with a half-full bottle of Smirnoff and fell asleep under the kitchen table, next to the cupboards containing the jar of my uningested sleeping pills and your used ammonia and muriatic acid. But I was there. I was always there. I was the one who drove all night to find you and ran through four red lights to get you to the emergency room, and I was the one who spent several nights in a filthy cell at the police precinct, and paid in cash for both hospital bill and bail alike. Tonight, I’m the one who delicately carried you up a flight of spiral stairs and tucked you in meticulously on the cool bed that I fixed, and cleaned up the mess you made on the checkered linoleum tiles downstairs. You wrecked, I repaired. We cancelled each other out.

Just another usual midnight scene in this household.

I took a long drag and blew a sophisticated whorl of hazy plumes in spiced smoke, as the stars behind their screen of fumes appeared to shimmer a faltering skeletal grey, like a waning spectral hallucination. I always pondered dear, why our tongues, once a tangled and byzantine affair wherewithal, akin to the finest spool of golden thread, are now mondegreen against silver blades, screeching as it collides with the other, unpleasant and tinnitus-inducing. I was a halcyon sun. You were a hedonistic black hole. Prayers against passion, felicity to furtive, love over lust, gambol or glamour, inspiring despotically versus indulging decadently. It was always imbrications of forbearance, an insalubrious provocation of two people on the opposite side of the boxing ring, fists clenched, knuckles raised, prepared to throw the first punch with a ring of the bell. I wondered why I was so attracted to a dangerous force. I wonder now if I am a magnet, repelled by the same force, gravitating towards my polar opposite, difficult to leave once it pulls me into its charms and mysterious allures.

…No more shall I be fettered to you.

With a lassitude I wasn’t quite aware I possessed, I senselessly bit down on the tattoo of your flowery name embedded into my dermis, tearing with crooked dull stares onto the unflinching moon and gnashed dull teeth tearing numbly at the surface. I kept at the insane task until all that’s left are rancid shreds of muscle and skin, a rusty stormed bleeding out of oxidised scarlet dissolving against indelible black, the wound gaping wide like a mouth frozen in a scream. I didn’t flinch nor whimper, neither yelled nor reacted, throughout the immense pain of it all. I may have cried, but only because the winds were getting pervasive against my trophy eyes, and every droplet of tears that fell on the raw savaged cut stung badly like the astringent words you slurred to me before you passed out. With every bite I tore out of my maimed arm, it felt like an absolution, the atonement of your sins on my understudy role. My redolence was always an envious fragrance, but somehow your alcohol breath and sultry sweat manages to linger chokingly, stubbornly sticking in my skin like this godforsaken tattoo. It was all for you, all for you and more, do you understand?

But not everything is permanent, sweetheart. Not this night, not your name writ in pain…not my blinded sentiments for you.

I finally ceased with my thermonuclear breakdown, quit rending myself apart, physically and emotionally-wise. It was no use, yet I felt strangely cathartic. The effect was a chill down my spine that jolted lightning and candy-coloured breaths through my frosted oxygen, a shudder of a bittersweet one-night stand under the deathless Vegas lights, a morbid fascination of an angel standing solemnly in the morgue. The searing pain began to settle tauntingly in my tattered nerves, and it seethed as I wiped the blood off my lips, quite familiar to the taste of it all, reverting the vibrant colour of my mouth into its usual sickly pale pallor, creating an eerie Rorschach test of a splattered heart imprinted on my ivory-washed sleeves. These wounds I inflicted on myself shall heal. This ragged white shirt you bought for me on my birthday two years ago, I can drown in chlorine and detergent to get rid of the stains. The scar tissue that will be left, I can learn to tolerate, to ignore, to simply accept and live with. I am, at the best of the optimistic prospects despite my elsewhere wayward actions, free.

So why does the thought of you still fucking hurt?

But no. You were still resting in my bed, corporeal and very much concatenated to reality, and I can’t erase you like I did so to your inked name ever so brutally. You looked so goddamn beautiful as you slept through everything cozily, soundly dreaming of a million raining halo lights of neon glow in oblivion; and I was bloodied, jaded, and sunken as I watched the remaining shards of my waxen mutilated skin flutter downwards like grotesque snowflakes in dessication. I leaned in closer for a better view, almost losing my hold on the ledge and falling, as the scintilla pieces of a fractal violence and shorn sadism began billowing downwards elegantly and dispersed murmurously into the open salty breeze. Soon it shall waft out and travel farther than I’ve ever been, to a faraway fantasy land where some foolish child will stick their quivering tongue out and catch the puzzle pieces of the letters of your name between their grinning teeth, a poetic crassness. Fragments of you, that’s all that remains.

And that’s all that’s sempiternal.

~*~

I was lying to you
But you were lying too
So what’s left to do, what’s left to say?
Stop making friends, just us
I’ll decompose with you…

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