By September you built a shrine for your lover after she died due to a unexpected Cerebral Hemorrhage. You called yourself King Midas. You made a gold cast of her body and placed rings over her breakable statuesque fingers. The nightmares never ceased. You bent your wrist inwards when you slept since the age of three months. The pains in your wrist caused you to cry throughout the night. During winter the chill of the wind would embed itself between your muscles and your bones and your wrist would paralyze. Your father took you to doctors and tried to break you of the habit. Nothing seemed to aid or pacify you. The doctors assured your father that is was a phase similar to the sucking of a thumb. It was typical of you to have such an uncommon disorder. You had to make your own disorders and diseases. You once had mysterious bites across your back, accompanied by a bleeding side in which you called your ‘War Wounds’. No one knew were they came from or what they were. It was just another invented disease. Your father was scared of you. You were examining the infected stabs marks at your side and the crusted puss overlapping your wounds.
‘you’ve lost your faith again, haven’t you?’ your father asked in a queasy yet remarkably headstrong tone.
‘I’m afraid so. These are my war wounds and these are Satan’s teeth marks.’ you emphasized the bites by scratching at them until they were red. You began to finger the wounds at your side.
‘I’m Doubting Thomas. You can insert a finger into my body.’ You imagined yourself inside a Caravaggio painting.
‘I’m afraid if I did that, that would make me Doubting Thomas… and you…’ your fathers voice trailed off unable to marriage the thought comparing himself to Doubting Thomas and you to Jesus.
I waited for you to finish cleaning the dishes and sat on the edge of your bed. I stared into a cage locking eyes with the monkey inside. This was no ordinary monkey. His name was Victor and he was a taxidermy present from forgotten years ago. The shine in his eye reflected into a glass table we bought at a bargain shop last Tuesdays. I said I liked the table, I imagined all the books that once slept upon it. Books that had been opened closed and reopened from time to time when the owners felt the need to disappear for a short while. Your remarks were crude.
You inherited your anger from your father.
‘I doubt any books once laid upon that table. What a stupid fucking table. The glass is cracked and everything looks distorted.’
Every time I looked at the glass table the smudges blocked certain facial features according to were I stood. I liked it. I preferred to stand looking into the glass and seeing the smudges overlap my mouth.
‘it’s like glancing into the looking glass’ I murmured
‘what? speak a bit louder, you never make any sense’
‘nothing. I was just thinking’
‘thinking out loud? that’s not very healthy. gets you into all kinds of trouble’ you said with haste
The truth was, I never really felt like talking. I lacked the energy. i felt the words that wanted to escape my mouth clump between my cheeks and with gritted teeth and exasperated clenched jaw I always managed to squeeze a few incoherent words out.
‘it’s nothing really. I’m so exhausted today.’
‘you say this all the time. I swear i can tell what your going to say even before you say it. I could write a book of your words and not one person would care enough to buy it. It would be good use for wobbly legged tables or decoration for a bookshelf’
I laughed knowing this was true. The only response I could give any longer were short laughs.
‘you know how certain women look good in specific seasons?’ you asked
‘I’m not to sure what you mean’ i replied
‘ you know. how tan woman look good in white and how pale woman stand out in black’
‘No seasons suits you. The white from your un-impregnated belly causes confusion as to whether you are hungry by choice or reason.’
Then it happened. The psychosis kicked in and I tried to wash everything you can think of in bleach. I don’t mind the raw skin peeling off my fingers or the beach rubbing against my skin like sandpaper.
‘ I let everyone down, so I must bleach everything. ‘ I blacked out for 12 days and awoke to the smell of piss and vomit.
I had been confined to a hospital bed for seventeen days. You claimed it was for my own good. Doctors said I had severe influenza. When I awoke you told me I had been poorly quoting Revelations and speaking Latin.
‘I managed to translate some of the things you spoke. Would you like to hear?’
‘not particularly’ I said gazing at the ceiling.
‘what a cruel invented world. What a phantom universe this is. What a doomed creation. Imperial wounds. Culture womb. vehement refugee. Saint Lucia. Mother Vision. Mother Genocide. Mother Russia. Limerence. Reborn. The bruised belly and the vacant womb. or was it the occupied womb? I’m so worried. I don’t know what to do. All great women suffer. Does this ring any bells?’
I remembered nothing by choice.
*one of the many stories meant to be published in a ‘chapbook’ in the near future, in collaboration with the brilliantly extraordinary Mathew Bowness.