A Depressing Short Story about a Selfish Woman and an Uncaring Man

Sally was drunk again. She had to hide the bottle from her husband, who was asleep in the next room. It hadn’t always been like this. Not very long ago she had been a normal person. But now all she felt were feelings of remorse and regret. The more he told her not to drink, the more she felt the need to disobey him. “Who did he think he was, my father?” Sally would tell herself.

The room swayed and the light outside surged a bleary white. Leaves on the trees blending into each other. Sally drank because she hated him. Hated the man he was. Hated him for not loving her more. She hated him for being imperfect and for realising her own imperfections.

Yesterday they had a fight. For the first time in over a year he said he would take her to lunch and pay for it too. Sally had not even had that treatment on her birthday. He took her to a cheap Chinese restaurant; all the tables were empty and he spoke in the most imposing, racist and irritating tones to the waiter, who was just as local as they were. Her husband’s voice made her shudder.

By the time their meals arrived things had soured between them. He started to tell her all about this girl he used to know. “She was oh-so pretty and oh-so-sexy” and Sally was getting angry. Her husband had not made love to her for over a week now. He punished her in this way when she had been ‘bad’ by sleeping on the couch and telling her that he couldn’t stand to be near her. The longer the days of no-contact ran, the worse Sally’s mood got and the more he started to talk about other girls.

And she told him so.

He shot back at her, telling her to shut up and eat her lunch, the lunch he was buying for her. His lack of sympathy made her feel angry. He wasn’t listening. He kept on going, telling her she was always like this, so jealous, so unreasonable. He was making her so mad…

Sally tried to take a deep breath.

She tried to calm herself down.

She tried to talk and he interrupted her again. Sally became so frustrated that she slammed her chopsticks down on the plate and she fled out the door. Walking a few paces away from the restaurant, she realised that she didn’t have the keys to the apartment, so she had to go back – and grovel for them. When she got to the restaurant and looked at her plate, she noticed that her chopsticks had broken. They had snapped perfectly in half on the plate, leaving everything else in perfect order, the plate totally unchipped and the food not even spilled. “There must have been a weak point” she thought to herself.

All things have a weak point.

He leapt to his feet and paid the bill, with Sally looking sheepish behind him in the empty restaurant. Sally asked for the keys to the apartment and instead of giving them to her, he started to run up the street, away from her. Sally yelled for him to “Come back, come back!” in the crowded street but he had gone. And she was embarrassed. She walked home alone. She don’t know how she’d get in.

And they tried to have a nice day together. But the hurt and the pain between them was too great. The pain could not be stopped.

So today Sally has been drinking. Tomorrow she will do the same. He won’t leave, he won’t love her. He just remains in limbo, here in this stuffy, dark apartment. Sometimes Sally thinks about killing herself. But she knows that it wouldn’t do any good.

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The Awful Truth About A Woman’s Obsession

You just cannot enter into an obsession lightheartedly. Obsession begins as an interest and escalates into an all-consuming heat that encases all the flesh in hot, winding flashes of uncontrollable desire. At least, that is what obsession meant to Carmen. Life was debased to simply delving between her obsessions, and there was no going back now. How could she ever go back to the days before she was addicted? Addicted to him?

He was the cause of this all. His defying indifference made it all the worse. Every morning she imagined him; she pretended that he dressed and went to work to build a life for the two of them. This was her fantasy. Her Angel would one day rise up from his vast ambivalence and confirm to her that life was worth living. Her existence was pale by contrast. He was all that mattered.

It would seem ridiculous to most, so she did not reveal her feelings to anyone at all. There was no need to receive commentary on what she already had decided in her heart. She was his, therefore, he must be hers. Simple.

Seeing Angel exit the front door of the apartment, Carmen hurried herself to her local delicatessen as she had just then decided to get some smallgoods. There was no obsession, it had gone way beyond that. She didn’t admit to herself that she was following him, so she felt no guilt. Carmen bustled out the door, taking little time to even make sure that she had her keys and her purse. Her life didn’t matter. She felt romantic, passionate, full and in bloom when she thought of him. She had raised her pursuit of him to a crusade; a worthy adventure, for which she would suffer anything or do anything in order to gain his approval.

The door of the apartment building next to Angel’s swung closed and a lone figure in a black coat began her pursuit down the street. The wind blew strongly across the pavement and Carmen struggled to keep her coat shut, holding it together with one had and she fished for her dark sunglasses with the other.

This was no game to her. It was a way of life. These days it was easy to be obsessed. She knew his phone number, yet she had never called (actually, she had called but she’d never spoken). She knew his bank details, she knew which internet sites he visited, (shopping network, international soccer and others less savoury), she knew him and knew of his life as if she had some part of it…well after all, she did.

Underneath the black coat there was a normal woman with an unhealthy mind. The flesh over her bones was white and delicate, strong and supple, but no one saw the little things. No one sees what we do to our bodies in private. The freckles and sunspots from sunbaking at 13, the stretch marks and bad teeth from bingeing and purging at 15, the STD from unprotected sex at 19 and of course; the gentle scars that riddled her arms from forays into ‘cutting’ and self mutilation at 25. Her body was a temple, and it bore the scars of her obsessions with life.

Carmen was a normal woman today as she rushed through the streets. She could not have been more ‘normal’ if she tried. Even obsession was normal. Even not being normal was ‘normal’.

She caught a quick glimpse of his flaxen hair. There he was! From the corner of her mind, a voice told Carmen, that a goal had been reached, a triumph had occurred. Keeping at a safe distance from her angel, she let delicious thoughts enter her head that circled in the blood-red of her mind. The love she felt for this man rushed and pulsed into her subconscious, she felt giddy with his presence, drunk on his divine love.

She had caught another fleeting glance of her hero and she began to close in on her target. With steely eyes she watched as the graceful figure swung the door of the deli closed; she waited until someone else had entered and she stopped and pretended to search through her purse. Waiting for just the right moment, she pushed the door open with one palm and noted the familiar jingle of the deli door chimes.

There he was. Resplendent in his blue shirt and neat haircut he seemed to be the only thing of value in the dim light of the suburban shop. She watched with bated breath as he worked his way through the place, stopping to sample this and that; lifting a ripe tomato to his lips, fondling a selection of packaged coffees and then exquisite chocolates from a faraway place. He was a sensory pleasure to her, he was a sample of purest heaven! Even being this close to him sent waves of electricity down her spine and smelling the clean, manly scent on his neck drove her into passions that had never been matched.

She had replayed this moment in her mind a million times. He turns to her as if looking to a forgotten face, he smiles, he searches her eyes deeply. In a moment of recognition he speaks to her, soft words, beautiful syllables. That’s only in her dream, that’s not her reality, although it might as well be for Carmen; the woman obsessed.

He was the nominative recognition of her life’s focus. The dream had been created, there was no thought of a reprieve. Her skin was down and dirty with the guilts of her day and her brain throbbed with the hurt of times forgotten and past. He passes to the counter and …what he glances toward his laudatory suitor.

A flash of fear electrified Carmen’s heart. There was no place for lassitude, there was no sacrifice for this moment. He began the agonizing pace towards her, crossing the small boundary of vacant air that had kept them separated until this moment. “Not now!!” Her confused mind leapt with the guilt and fear of what was so obviously laid out for the world to see…she had been watching him, maybe he knows. He was so beautiful and so special and probably so important; she was just pitiful in comparison. No chance. When she looked at him, she saw no human components, no bad teeth or mismatched clothes, no inappropriate family or crappy job. When Carmen stared at this man, as she had done for the past eight months of her life, she saw lust itself.

She could only see his beautiful jaw line and how she longed to kiss it. She could only see herself stroking his hair and loving him so much. She would become his pleasure. She was made for him. She saw herself making him happy and becoming his wife, his lover and she saw herself captured forever as part of his life.

She saw them making passionate love; that’s the only thing that would keep her satisfied, taking all of his wonderful energy for herself, becoming a whole person by the completion of one man’s love. All she wanted was a worthy man, and he was this…all and more!

Unbelievably he came towards her, inescapably, she was trapped near a corner. He paused a step, just a single step from her form and he reached up, up to a space that was just above her head.

“Excuse me…” he said, curtly as their eyes locked for a second. He looked at her without the warm and embracing manner that she had wished for, but with a quick, confused flash of unfamiliarity, that almost mocked her superior pursuit of pleasure.

Her mouth opened in an uncontrollable gape of mortification. She stared blankly at him for a second and ducked, rather ungracefully, underneath his outstretched arm, brushing past him as she fled out the door.

She quickened her pace after she had covered the first block away from the little delicatessen. This was a disaster! In halting, chicken-legged steps covered in black stockings, she whimpered pathetically to herself as she rode the lift back up to her apartment. Failure. Ruin!

Carmen loped back up to her apartment and sat on the couch, still in her coat. She sighed a pathetic sigh and thought about Angel. Soon her thoughts drifted from the embarrassment of what had just happened to the potential of what still could be. Carmen got up. She felt drunk on something even though she was sober. Her hands drifted up to her breasts, covered by her ugly, cheap dress, she felt a flush of warmth inside.

Two steps and she was in her bedroom, lying on the bed, stockings around her knees and her dirty fingers between her legs, the whole time entertaining thoughts of Angel, Angel.

In her fantasy he bursts through the door of her small apartment. He doesn’t say a word but strides towards her confidently, knowing without words that she is ready for him. He doesn’t say a word as he pulls her tights smoothly off her white legs and cups her entire mound of Venus in his manly palm.

He wants her.

He breathes lustily in her ear. “Oh Carmen,” he says, “Be mine. Be mine.” Angel tears off his shirt and with no more words to say he is hers. In her fantasy Carmen is his equal, not his stalker, his pet, his minion. In Carmen’s fantasy she knows he loves her. The wave of warmth washes over her like a cloud of chloroform, making her mute and dumb for one minute of pure heaven.

But then she opens her eyes.

Oh shit.

She’s still alone. She felt a moment of horror and shame once the emotions and sexual desire had passed, she didn’t know what to do. Carmen needed to mask her feelings, otherwise they would leap out of her chest and beat her to death! How could she control these awful feelings that were building up inside her? Her breath quickened, her pulse started to race. She felt hot all over her face and prickles formed at the back of her neck. Her clothes felt itchy, she felt as if she wanted to run at a million miles an hour or sleep for a hundred years in a deep, coma-sleep; she didn’t know which.

Back in her youth she would have been able to cut her delicate skin to release all the feelings. But now as an adult woman of 35, she couldn’t succumb to the childish ways of times past; she had a professional job, an overbearing and elderly mother and a whole host of responsibilities and things that she needed to be present for. What was Carmen to do? She recognized her symptoms as the beginning of a panic attack. She sat up.

Still on the bed she pulled off her stockings and threw them on the floor. She unbuttoned her dress and drank a sip of water from the glass beside her. Carmen breathed deeply; one…two…one…two. It didn’t make her feel any better and she burst into tears; great hacking tears that fell in warm dollops across her heavy cheeks.

Stupid, stupid, stupid! She thought to herself. But Carmen could not face the facts. In her mind Angel knew her; he was coming for her someday. Someday soon. All she had to do was wait. Patiently and calmly. She might not have been able to cut, or purge but there was one salve that she still allowed herself; vodka. Carmen almost never drank, but unlike the pills her doctor gave her, unlike the breathing exercises her psychologist gave her, the alcohol worked every time, and quickly, to calm her down.

She went to her Angel drawer. In there she pulled out the bottle of nasty, cheap Russian vodka and poured a large slug into the water glass and chugged it all down in one go. Then she poured another and did the same. She felt woozy and dizzy, but better, much better all of a sudden. Drunk now, she looked inside her Angel drawer again and fingered the gathered contents, piece by piece: a discarded paper napkin with a doodle on it, drawn by his hand. A letter from his bank she found next to the rubbish bins at the bottom of the stairs. A photo she had (silently, carefully) taken of him while leaning out of her apartment window, and best of all, a small key to the top lock of his apartment, wrapped in one of his T shirts she had stolen off the washing line upstairs.

She held the key and remembered the day she got it. She remembered the locksmith that Angel had hired to fix his lock while he rushed off to work, paying the man for his time in advance. Carmen had met the locksmith at Angel’s door, and mentioned that she was Angel’s wife. She knew so many details it had been easy to pull off. She knew Angel’s first name and last name, where he worked, and she carefully and cunningly dropped these tidbits of information casually into the conversation so that the locksmith willfully and uneventfully gave her the key, which she then duly copied and replaced before Angel returned from work.

Pouring a final slug of vodka into the glass, Carmen fixed her stockings and dress and grabbed the key. She bounded out her door before she lost her nerve, her breath quickening with every second. Then she paused. She went back inside and absentmindedly grabbed a letter opener on the dresser. She wasn’t sure why; it was not a conscious thought. She exited again, quietly closing her door behind her.

She flung herself at the old staircase and descended the two flights to Angel’s level. Boldly she stomped right up towards his front door and stood there, panting and flushed. She reached into her pocket and took out the key and inserted it into the lock. Her blood was pumping loudly in her ears, she felt dizzy, she felt the room spin. Turning the key in the lock she gave the door an almighty shove, and as she flung it open she pointed the letter opener, tip-first at the waiting room and yelled at the top of her lungs.

“How could you betray me!?” she screamed at the small figure of a man who quietly sat at his kitchen table, eating a deli sandwich and drinking a black coffee. “How!?” She crumpled and buckled all at once on the floor of his apartment, shaking and shivering, her head bowed and the knife-edge of the letter opener still erect in her throbbing hand. She fell to the floor, a heaving, sobbing mess in awful clothes and stringy hair, never beautiful, never wanted by anyone. She’d show him, how could he do this to her, how?

Huge sobs emanated from this pathetic creature, wet, snotty tears ran to the floorboards as Carmen wiped her greasy nose. Angel was startled, shocked and confused.

“Are you OK?” he asked quietly, not really sure of what else to do. He stood up carefully and walked towards this pathetic creature, and once he was only half a foot from her, the figure burst back into life and lifted her head. She glared at him and grabbed the opener and held the weapon aloft again, shaking. She was like a small child throwing toys at her father, doing no damage but full of anger and unabashed rage. Angel wasn’t scared, but he was extremely confused. He thought he recognised this woman – wasn’t she the mousy little bird from downstairs?

“Hey, “he soothed. “Put that down OK?” He gently took the tiny weapon from her trembling hand and stroked her shoulders a little. She was obviously very upset. Carmen sobbed and sobbed, getting to her knees and throwing her arms around his manly neck, the tears coming thick and fast and the sounds of her crying sounding very indelicate. She was almost having an out of body experience. She was no longer in the room. She held the man as if he was someone else, her father, her teacher, a lover…

“Why doesn’t he love me?” she said to no one in particular, “Why doesn’t he know I exist? Oh God, I feel so sad… so sad. Do you know if he loves me?” Through tear stained cheeks, she looked up at him and became startled by what she saw. She didn’t recongise this man! Who was he? What was she doing here?

Like a frightened child she suddenly got up, and fled, leaving the key and the letter opener behind. She slammed her own front door and hid in the solace of her apartment – shocked at what had just happened. Had she really just done that? Carmen poured herself a hot bath and tried to forget what had just happened, letting the warm, soapy water wash over her body, taking all the traces of her shame away.

* * *

 A week later Carmen had a letter in her mail box.  She got inside her door and excitedly tore it open, sure that it was from him. Indeed it was, but it was not what she was expecting. At all. She read:

A Harassment Restraining Order is a court order forbidding the Respondent from harassing and/or making contact with the Petitioner: no contact with the Respondent (including via third person, phone, work, email etc.); no harassment; Respondent is to stay away from your home or workplace…”

Carmen calmly put the letter away, and took out her brand new letter opener and ran a hot bath. By next Tuesday, her workplace had become very concerned that Carmen had not shown up for work for the last four days in a row; it was very unlike her not to contact them.

But no one ever heard a single word from Carmen, ever again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does a Stripper Wear? A Very Short Story.

stripperThis morning I decided to go to the gym. There was this woman yelling at the top of her lungs. I think she was a stripper. How do I know? Tight abs. Terrible clothes. Like a lost hippy from 1998 who had forgotten that she’d gotten old. She was probably only late thirties, but she looked very old in the face – about a hundred.

Her hair was dyed pitch black and hung in rattails down her back. She was wearing a crop top with some lettering on it – like a very cheap top from a chain store (I have lots of them too). Her pants were brown jersey flares, like the type you see in Byron Bay. She would have looked better there, but she was in Kings Cross, where I live: the Red Light District.

She was wearing lots of cheap jewellery, cluttery and jangly. Lots of big silver rings and makeup that looked tattooed on her face. She was screaming at her boyfriend who I didn’t see. Last night I was screaming at my boyfriend too.

She seemed to be carrying everything she owned – in her hands were multiple plastic bags, all worn and ripped and full of clothes, spilling out on the concrete. She also carried a little pink ghetto blaster, it was old – circa late nineties, to go with her ensemble.

I finished at the gym and came out the way I came in. By now she had set the little ghetto blaster on the concrete outside the Eye Bar, which claims to be a restaurant, but must be a drug den or brothel… or both. All her plastic bags were strewn around, their shabby contents spilled onto the floor. Nothing looked like it was worth keeping or saving – it just looked like junk to me.

My house is full of clutter since my boyfriend moved in. He’s got heaps of music equipment, T shirts that are old and dying, jars full of screws and paint-splattered boots. I hate seeing all his stuff in my house, but when I’m in love with him, I tolerate it.

He leaves mess on every surface. He’s clean but he’s messy. The lady I saw today (who I think is a stripper) was not clean at all. The last I saw of her she was sucking hard on a ciggie, surrounded by the detritus of her life.

Her boyfriend had gone.

Photo by Cap’n Monky

100 word Short Story: She’s So Impulsive

“Stop being so impulsive!” he yelled at me with some urgency.

I clicked open my shoulder bag and reached far inside, preparing myself for a big fight.

“You’re always like this!” he tells me, “Always acting out, not caring about other people!”

He’s right, I think, he knows me well.

I straighten my skirt and smooth my hair. Taking a deep breath I push open the door.

His elderly mother stands there, looking confused. She doesn’t expect us.

“I’m pregnant!” I tell her.

She smiles.

“But it’s not your son’s, so I just wanted to return this book of yours.”

Photo by Spencereblake

Short Story of a Lost and Wretched Soul

The room seemed to close in as his blood was heating up. Leonard concentrated his eyes on the floor; an endless phalanx of boards stretched across the dusty view ahead of him. A pathway to nowhere. It was so hot in this room; it was so very stifling in this airless cabin.

The only noise was the constant rise and fall of his partner’s breath. The only break from the awful silence was this human cacophony of sounds, coupled with the repetitive slapping of the ocean against the side of the boat.

The two of them had set out for this journey not a day ago, or had it been longer? It seemed like forever. Time no longer sped past, but stood still, trapped under a cloud of constancy. Tensions set in early in Leonard’s own mind; differences between desire and duty had become apparent and had drawn the divide between men. The two remaining crewman sat, staring intently at each other on this still Sunday morning…far from sense or prayer, away from society and sinfulness.

Without atlas or accolade our two trawlerman continue onwards without cause. One man speaks, one man is silent. One man guides the boat, one man patiently waits. The sea lurches toward nowhere in a seemingly circular motion, taking the small boat backwards and forwards on the broad route to nowhere. Leonard was speaking in words of religion, of refinement, of salvation. He had the face of a madman; his eyes were shot with mercilessness and the pain of times past. He furrowed his brow and continued in his dialogue of the lost soul.

“Humans are wicked…they are the most shameless of all God’s creatures.” His words fell like empty confessions, occupying a place of satisfaction in his complacent mind.

The sea roared and churned beneath them as the tiny vessel drifted, unanchored with dubious navigation through the blackened sea. The waves were cold as they smacked the wooden helm and they carried with them all the urgency of the impending horror that was boiling up within the twisted confines of the small ship’s cabin.

No fish to catch today. The sea was too rough.

Woods was the silent helmsman. Woods possessed the inner tranquility that had hitherto been the most valuable asset on this doomed journey to eternity. He had no want for endless confession, he had no compassion for the pathetic. He had traveled these waters before. He sat in the quiet chamber and reflected on his life. It had been a good life, and he had not wanted to give it up. He could not recall how the two of them had met.

With a pounding like a heartbeat, the rise and fall of the men’s’ breath was like the rise and fall of the ocean. The air grew thick with breathing, with the pulse of life, with the sickly constancy of the in and out. The endless, the forever, the eternal wave of life reflected in the unending stream of breath. Breath for life. Breath for sanity. Leonard still spoke in circles, an endless stream of chit-chat that drove his partner into a stupor.

“A man has no need for eternal life. Life is all we have here. Death comes but to the man who least warrants the kiss of the gloom. I wander through this life with a determined force driving me towards my eternal salvation.” A mess of words.

“How naïve is he,” thought Woods, the ever-silent, “How destined for disappointment. What a display of innocence.” It did not really matter what he thought, anyway. Woods was not the factor in this question. Leonard was the man who had designed this journey, after all. Even if he did not remember.

Through his stream of words Leonard was thinking to himself, he had been a good man, hadn’t he? He had done his best on earth to live as he should, why was he now lost at sea in this pale ocean, longing for recompense? He would do anything to save his skin now, anything for salvation! Without a warning, the pulse of paranoia was all Leonard had left. Trickling slowly, it flowed like a poisonous gas into the confined space and it circled above his head like a vulture waiting for a weak man to fall. One moment, two…

Leonard broke his stream of spoken confession and for the first time, addressed his partner; “Where do we sail today, my friend?” Leonard asked. No reply came.

He did not understand this turmoil. It seemed as if he had ferried forever on this vast ocean. The more he thought of his predicament, the more he could not remember how he had come to be here. How had life led him to this? He hung his head with despair. Only despair was left, only this remained. Only confusion, cloudiness.

Woods, the silent helmsman looked across at Leonard and saw a ghost. White and pale, the spectre who sat before him was not the man he had known for a lifetime. Leonard was no man. This man was death himself. Woods knew the answer to Leonard’s question, Woods steered the boat.

The air grew dark above the clouds, the sky opened up and poured a torrent of rain onto the seething seas below. The ship kept the surface afloat, the will of the two men being the driving force of the ocean and everything held within.

Leonard allowed himself to meet the gaze of the silent man who sat across from him. It was true to say he did not trust him. Woods seemed like a hollow being to Leonard, there was almost no humanity left behind those eyes, not an ounce of what once was. Who was this helmsman, so strangely familiar? Leonard was starting to forget…

Woods crossed Leonard’s eyes squarely against his own. He loathed him, this pathetic excuse for mankind. He saw many of them, lost souls on the way to eternity, this spectre had passed already from life to death. Still Woods remained silent.

Leonard shook in the small ship’s cabin. He was terrified of Woods because he knew that the man did not empathize with him anymore- he was no sailor, only a crazed beast, a chained dog waiting, tethered or not. He spoke again to his friend, his captor. “ How long ‘till we reach our destination, sailor? I have forgotten where we are headed.”

Breath, breath, breath. Still no answer came.

Leonard cried inwardly to himself. He tried to think of his family, his friends. He tried to spare a thought for his job and his responsibilities in life. He was not sure how this journey had come to be. He could not remember how time began, or how it had ended. Leonard’s thoughts were tortured. The water had swallowed him up, his ship, their souls….they lay only a few breaths away from certain desecration and Leonard had no sense left. He was beginning to think that life was the mere flicker of a flame, it passed in an instant from day in to night. The two men were like specks of light in a hungry ocean that sought to claim both lives, but would only claim one. Something seemed familiar to Leonard now, he was starting to remember…

His life had been so good once, and yet it had never seemed so special at the time. “How unforgiving are we, of the little things in life that burden us?” He thought, “A life is lived, and the past is remembered as only the good, the bad fades from memory unless it serves to be remembered.”

Leonard had been a good man, he tried to remember that. He was sure that he was a fine and just being that was powered by good motivations…he wondered how he had come to be here, so lost at sea in his own ocean? This water had guided him for so long with welcoming arms, with calm seas. The sea was too calm now. He could not quite remember his life in full, he needed reassurance that he had been good and just in life. He found none, his memory was no longer clear.

Hours passed and the two men sat. Days passed and the thoughts remained the same, lurching like hollow syllables in the empty confines of Leonard’s mind. “No way back…”, “No way home…” Lost on an endless sea.

It could be evening now, Woods was not sure. He sat in silence and waited for the sunset. One more time.

In the distance, a light was seen. Neither warm nor welcoming, it held a kind of misty intrigue; at the same time comforting and terrible. It was storming. The shoreline was near, the rocky cliffs ahead were waiting. Leonard at that instant knew that that was where they were headed, and instantly that he did not want to arrive. His mind shifted back into focus and he winced at the thought of a distant memory. He remembered a time not too long ago: sharp, sharp red and white, a pain had pulsed through him, then a numbness, a blackness, a light, just like the light that now lay ahead. Neither warm, nor welcoming, at that time he had drifted towards what had seemed like…death. And here he was again.

Imploring his companion once again, Leonard made one final attempt to hear the answer to his question; “Where are we headed today? Why will you not answer my question!!?”

The silent Woods looked up to face his captor and crewmate. With a wizened face he frowned slightly and reached out for Leonard. He took Leonard’s hand in an unexpected gesture of humanity, and yet the fingers that held Leonard’s own were not soft and warm with the pulse of life, they were cold and stiff, yet familiar.

“Who are you?” Pleaded Leonard. “What is my journey here all about? Why won’t you speak to me and why can’t I remember my life’s actions. Tell me if I’m so close to the end- have I always been fair and just? Have I led a good life, sir?”

The cliffs drew ever closer. The sky trembled with thunder. The ocean seemed to melt away behind the boat, leaving nothing, no trace or past. There was only what lay ahead. Sunset was falling.

Woods lifted his head and spoke in a trembling voice that had not spoken for centuries. He spoke as if there was a finality to his words, an inevitable end. “It’s your time to go now.” He said.

The panic raced around Leonard like a shock to his skin. It sunk into his heart quickly, blackly, completely. A realization dawned on Leonard that had not been seen before. It was too late, it was all too late! So much time had been wasted thinking, rather than living the last few precious moments of life. The end was here now, life’s journey was at an end. What lay beyond those black cliffs was the afterlife, the new beyond, the great unknown. Leonard was suddenly overcome with fear at all the time wasted and all the memories forgotten. He was scared, he knew the answer to his question.

Woods the silent helmsman spoke again, and for the last time. “The Styx has ended now…what lies beyond, I cannot say. Over the cliffs, we see what we want to see…as we do in life.”

Leonard looked up to the sky. The clouds swirled above and droplets of rain fell down towards his face, cleansing him. He returned to face his helmsman.

Woods was suddenly nowhere to be seen. The ship’s deck lay before Leonard in an eerie cloud of fog and mist. There was no rain out here! The weather had produced an effect altogether unanticipated…the rays of the sun now fell within a niche of the boat that had previously been thrown into a deep shade, and a rising mist surrounded Leonard’s feet. Silence.

Silence resounded, his memory was returning.

Leonard glanced for a second into the vast ocean beyond. Facing up to the bleakness of his existence he envisioned a pool of water, clear and welcoming, warm and still. There he was, a good man for all he was worth. Neither all good nor all wicked, he was only a grain of sand along a massive beach. He had fulfilled his destiny, he had created a harmony. He saw in his mind’s eye a passageway of water that flowed from the helm of his boat in a clear path to the beyond. There was calm. Leonard was mesmerized by the beauty and astounded by the flickering light of the sun as it danced over the still conduit of water. Eternity was the only place that he longed to be.

Sunset.

With a gentle step he pushed his full weight onto the railing of the port side. Climbing over he cast one lonesome glance back at the deserted boat that had floated aimlessly for so long.

He would not allow himself to reach those cliffs and be judged, he could not return to where he had come from. He hoped that he had been a good man and he put faith in himself to believe it was true. He had only one chance, after all.

Leonard shut his eyes and cast himself into the great unknown. The winds howled and the rain seized over this poor excuse for humanity. His limp body plunged down, down into the open, grey depths of the endless sea. Forever gone.

The lifeless boat circled endlessly on. Without atlas or accolade no crewmen remained to steer its course. Tomorrow there would be more boats, and more men, and more questions that had no answers. What we believe to be true, is. What we want to remember, we do. We can only throw ourselves into life believing that what we have done is good, and we pray to be recognized.
Photo by Ash

Posted using Tinydesk blog app

Eating Disorder – A Short Story (not about me!)

I picked up the orange segment delicately and sliced into it with my knife. I divided it cleanly and precisely into four more pieces and then set about removing every single trace of white pith from the outside of my snack.

Actually it wasn’t really a snack. This was supposed to be my lunch; 10 calories. That’s all I could afford today. You’d think that with such scientific and methodical precision I’d be able to whittle down my body more than I had, but I was grossly overweight, revoltingly fat. The hatred and anger I felt towards myself was so crippling that some days, I could barely look in the mirror.

But I did.

Each day I stood naked in front of my full length mirror, hating every inch of my awful flesh, every dimple, every freckle, every fold and every crease. I hated myself. I hated myself so passionately that I knew I didn’t deserve anything in this life.

“Greedy,” I said to myself. “You’re so revoltingly greedy. Greedy guts. Fat greedy guts.”

I had a disease, at least that’s what they called it in the ‘meetings’ I attended to help me cope with my eating disorder. They gave me books and told me to share my tales of woe, all the really nasty, disgusting things I did to my hateful body in the privacy of my own home. They said I would never recover, and that my ‘disease’ was like a hereditary illness. I could only learn to ‘manage’ my appetites, my desires to binge and purge. They told me a cure was impossible, all I could do was work on my ‘recovery’ day by day.

I secretly resented all the pathetic people in the room with me, but that didn’t stop me from attending my three or four 90-minute meetings each week. I sat there and listened to them talk, with pure, unadulterated venom inside me, thinking as I sat there silently, “Greedy, greedy, greedy.” They were all revoltingly greedy, just like me.

There was the South African woman who was thin now but used to be fat. Very fat. She had lost almost half her body weight and now she sat there in slim fitting jeans and dangly earrings, talking about the holiday back home she had planned.

“I have a very strict eating plan now,” she explained (even though we’d all heard her story before), “and I don’t want to go off track when I go back home to Johannesburg. My program is so important to me now; I don’t want to go back to what I was! I have researched supermarkets online close to my hotel so I can buy healthy food and prepare it myself, so I’ll stay in control of my eating. I’ve promised myself I won’t eat in restaurants with all their fatty, greasy food. I won’t allow myself to go off track or get anxious when I’m away. My program is the most important thing to me.”

She emphasised program as if she was speaking about her god, her religion. Madness. Sheer madness! This is the length that these ‘recovered’ food addicts went to remain ‘abstinent’ from food and to continue ‘working their program’ through all events and milestones in their life. You call this living? I thought to myself. This is not living – this is misery.

Another hateful loser stood, the young man in his early twenties whose self-designed eating plan involved never snacking between meals; snacking on food would be like taking a slug of vodka for an alcoholic, he says. He reveals his ‘moment of weakness’ that week when he was making himself a black coffee and he (like the addict he was) ate a spoonful of peanut butter from another staffer’s jar, when they weren’t looking. He chastised himself for ‘stealing’ for a full ten minutes, telling our group that his eating disorder had taken him to the very depths of his soul.

“It was then that I realised how far from full recovery I truly am,” he explained, “To eat anything between meals makes me very nervous, because I never want to go back to being as out of control as I once was.”

Not all the people at the meeting were thin, some were quite overweight, some very fat indeed. Lots of people had been trying for years to gain control over their eating, some successfully, some not. No one in today’s meeting was as fat as me; as truly, revoltingly, greedily fat as me. I had been coming to these horrid meetings for years now; weeks and weeks of listening for hours to other people’s lives, torments, flaws and faults, all in the name of self improvement. I had not improved much at all, in fact, if I really told myself the truth, these meetings were actually making me feel more hopeless, helpless and distraught. No one ever had perfect control over their eating, no one ever recovered fully. We were all there to simply comfort each other, to remind each other that we weren’t the only ones out there who struggled with food.

“Greedy. Greedy. Greedy!”

The words echoed though my head as I felt down to my thighs. Enormous, I had certainly gained weight since this morning, I could feel it. My pants felt tighter already, and I’d deliberately worn the stretchy ones so that I could be seated comfortably for the hour and a half.

I hated myself. I hated myself for having no control; I hated being such a bad girl, so useless, loveless, helpless and pathetic. No body would ever love me. No body could love someone as overweight as I was, such a revolting, fat mound of hateful, disgusting flesh, and I hated all the losers in my meeting groups, and I knew that part of me only went to gawk at them and hear their equally pathetic and stupid stories, which made me feel momentarily better about myself.

“Fat greedy guts.”

The voices in my head continued while I unlocked my car, and heaved my huge body into the driver’s seat. I caught a glimpse of my puffy, swollen cheeks in the rear view mirror and burst into tears. I would never be thin enough. I could never lose enough weight. I would always be this hatefully fat, this revoltingly greedy and out of control. I hated myself from the depths of my very being, cursing my existence. My heart filled with such immense dread now that I was finally alone that my body wracked with a shock of instant tears and I sobbed, uncontrollably in my car.

What if someone saw me?

The thought flashed into my mind. The voices started again.

“Don’t let anyone see you cry, you weak, pathetic, fat loser. They’ll know what you’re really crying about. They all know it’s because you’re a fat, disgusting pig who no one could ever love; a greedy, revoltingly, fat girl.”

Sobering up for just a minute, I reached into the glove compartment and pulled out a snack; a sugary, pre-wrapped, chocolate mousse cake, it was at least four hundred calories. I stuffed the entire thing in my mouth without a thought, without chewing, without tasting. My mind quietened. The voices stopped. I felt a rush of calm flood over my enraged mind, soothing my fleshy body.

I managed to make it all the way home, and once inside the voices continued.

“You’ve blown it now, you disgusting, fat pig. No one will ever love you.”

I fled to the kitchen cupboards and pulled out a box of cereal, another packet of biscuits and an old fruit cake I’d had stashed in the back since December. I opened the fridge and pulled out a litre of milk, a block of butter and a jar of cheap, sugary jam. I floated to the kitchen table where I stuffed biscuit after biscuit into my mouth, as if in a trance. I then took great slathers of butter and jam, spreading them thickly on the fruit cake, before stuffing each piece untasted, into my waiting gob. Bowls of sugary cereal followed, until there was not one bite left and my stomach was so full, I felt like it was going to burst.

If there was ever a more loathsome creature on the face of the earth, I hadn’t met them. Once the feasting had stopped the awful moment of truth finally dawned on me. The moment of punishment. The time to see just how bad, how out of control, how utterly fat I had become.

It was time to get on the scales.

My stomach distended to faux pregnancy size, I waddled over to the scales and dropped my clothes to the floor. I felt my enormous fleshy body, my strained stomach and sickeningly stretched thighs. I stood on the scales in my underpants and bra, and closed my eyes.

Forty one kilos.

I couldn’t believe it – that was nearly 3 kilos more than this morning. I was such a disgusting, fat, greedy pig. I knew that I would have to starve myself for the rest of the week to get back down to my ‘safe’ weight of thirty eight kilos.

Greedy pig. Greedy, greedy greedy.

They’d told me I had anorexia, but I didn’t believe them. Anorexics were thin. Not fat like me.

The Metatext of a (near) Maniac

It could only be described as the end. It had to be! All true fatalists eventually delve into that psychic-seeming sector of the brain and realize that the time is nigh.

And now has come the time to tell the tale of the great fuck-up of my life. The end. The absolute end of all imaginable ends.

The man had been mine, why do all horror stories start that way? My golden angel, he drifted into my life like sweet ether dripping onto a clean, virgin cloth. I was very in love with this small excuse for a man…I was so adept at covering up his little nuances. His late forays into the dead of night to ‘walk’, or the early arrivals on a Sunday morning, boots off and back into bed as if he had never left my side.

I knew his type.

They were hard to pick and were not usually how you’d expect them to look. He was a non-descript type of person, a waifish man with smart clothes and a stubbly chin. A scent seemed to pursue him everywhere and that’s what I noticed first, this musty smell that followed through the air behind him.

(I was) Always behind him.

Grace worked upstairs. She was a real bird-like woman with a nervous disposition, a mane of black silk hair and bulging eyes. An innocent. She was as skinny as a twig, until she got pregnant. At work she liked her margins exactly three centimeters apart and she liked her invoices in black-ink-only, so how would she cope with the indignities of a pregnancy? Everyday I had to watch her climb those stairs that separated her shop from mine. Everyday I had to watch her waddle with the determination that only a new mother could muster. I had to watch her grow and grow, a symbol of the unstoppable tirade of circumstance.

And I know who did it to her.

And now I know that this is the end. I don’t believe in choice in life, I don’t believe in trying to go against fate. Life is too beautiful to be random, life is too perfect to be unplanned. There is a plan to things and I am but a piece in the puzzle. The unconquerable hand of circumstance has circumnavigated my best intentions and has arrived fully in view. It seems that even in utter pain there is beauty, in pure chaos there is a sacrifice to order.

I was always what you would describe as a ‘good’ person. I never had to doubt my own intentions and people always trusted me. It’s funny, because in life it’s always the untrustworthy people who get all the attention, it’s always the one who makes the fuss that gets remembered at the end of the day… I was sick of being forgotten by this crappy little life. We can all do something bold once in a while, we can all receive the opportunity to break out of our shells.

So to sacrifice myself to beauty is easy. I can just slip away into the scheme of things and present myself as an angel. I can ensure my place in the memories of those concerned as a lost soldier, a wounded animal, as an unselfish brother or a caring teacher. My memory will explain my actions. My fate will take me home.

My lover really was a bastard, you know. The worst thing about people like him, this non-descript type, is that they seem so lovely to everyone else. Charming and considerate, polite and humble, he graced the presence of every room with his masculine control and his designer clothes.

He seemed sophisticated, he seemed worldly, but he was actually from the country and a country boy at heart meant old-fashioned values, old-school opinions. He tried to seem new age and was the epitome of charm in most circumstances, but beneath this veneer he was awash with notions of negativity, homophobia, racism and domestic violence.

Yep, a real bastard.

You wouldn’t want to know what he did to me, mentally and physically, and I don’t care to think what he’ll do to her. Eventually. I wore my scars with dignity and pride, just as I wear all my achievements and faults. I am not a perfect person, even nice people can cause a fuss.

It was Grace who told me in the end. Like a friend she came to me in the evening and outlaid all her problems and placed them in my lap. I wanted to do it then. I wanted to do something drastic to explain my emotions to the world. I didn’t need to feel any anger or disdain for her, I knew that fate would take care of it. You can’t escape fate.

So I let him leave, and I watched her grow, rounder and fuller. Happy and glowing. I didn’t want to look too sad, I didn’t want to say too much. Their lives were now intertwined and that was all that mattered. My life meant nothing and my time was up. I decided then at that point that circumstance revealed only one thing for me. I realised my way out.

And that’s why this is the end. It’s a cold day and it’s a long life and I no longer have the energy to come out from the shadows.

I sit with a pen in one hand and a key in the other. I can feel my heart beating in slow methodical bursts of blood. The pulse of life is killing me, the world will not stop so that I can look around and get my bearings. With a shaky hand I place the key in the lock and turn. The drawer slides out as if I did not even touch it and the silver, shiny object that is suddenly in my hand floats to my temple as if guided by some unknown force.

Not yet. (someone may see me)

I run the metal across my skin, I indulge in the coldness and the harshness of my fate. As it runs across my lips I shudder and wince, my hands begin to shake as I open the drawer again.

Not now. (someone could hear it)

Why me? I ask. Why do I deserve this outcome? Why did I need fate to hold me up against a wall and slap me in the face? It didn’t matter anyway, I did not begrudge them their existence. I was willing to make amends in the only way I knew how. I look at the drawer again, I look at the pen in my hand and I scan the room. Is this a crazy idea? I am a bit afraid that I’ll regret this tomorrow…if there is a tomorrow. But it’s now or never, fate has made the call.

I reach into the drawer for the last time, and I hold the cold, metal object in both my hands. It’s large for a baby’s rattle. I give it a shake and delight in the hollow little noise it makes. Shake, shake, shake. How could anyone resist this as a Christening present?

I tie a blue ribbon around it and sign the little card. I leave it on her desk at work and grab my bag from the hallway. Today is my last day…actually my first day on the road, living life as I always should have lived it…free.

Free Free

Fate spoke to me. Finally I had my answer to life. As I stride out of the front door I imagine that some might say that I’m taking this well, that the little present is too much… but I have always believed that circumstance cannot be changed, but doing something nice for someone can never hurt…

After all, I believe in karma as well.