Sunrise, and I’m watching Time falling past my window like morning rain. Past my memory, past my outstretched fingers, past the anatomies of stars laced across the window pane is a street, deserted. The scene is grey and flickering, grained like an old movie, and there’s a silence spread thick, coated on the roof of my mouth like peanut butter. I’m waiting, and the world holds its breath.
Gradually, the colour begins to drain away, and the sky washes to violet, sepia, ash; crinkled like elephant skin. Around me the silence starts to hum and blur, like a television, disconnected. I am a jumble of abstract words. I am oscillating, iridescent, a daguerreotype of imperfections ever shifting in the light. I am losing touch.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, I am falling. Everything fades, and I feel myself slip under
.........................................................................................................into the dawn.
It’s dark, and I’m hiding between preternatural boundaries, fragmented in prison-bar existence. Silver penumbras dance at the edges of the pale light refracted off the glass that lines the walls. I graft a film of skin across the windowframe to shut out the sun, and watch the shadows seep across the floor.
Here, I am constant, locked tight in my own bone-white carapace. Cinereal, I hover, trailing fingertip tracks across the glass – old jam jars, milk bottles, miniature medicine vials – and marvel at the grime that has accumulated. Dust particles float through the air like tiny fairies, twinkling like ash. I hold my breath and stand back to admire the ghost factory, glinting ominously in the gloom.
This is the sanctuary of my intravenous demons; my litter of moons - for sheltered in the shadows of this filmic labyrinthine mind, I am growing ghosts in glass jars. Spectral faces fog the crystal walls of their containers like the glitter sores left by breath in cold weather. Each wraith is small and malformed-ugly like an imp (as if something of their faces had been lost in translation), with delicate ivory skulls like egg shells. Tiny limbs float free in dislocated fluidity, and skewed mouths gape a jarring language of pith and amnesiac dreams.
I come to the end of the line where the most recent addition to my factory shivers and tremors inside its tiny glass prison. It’s fresh enough to be more viscous than the cloud-like forms of its counterparts, being still bedaubed in a thick, deep red, but the contorted expression of anguish is distinct. I tap the glass, intrigued. The ghost clatters and chokes guttural, embryonic words, whilst its red skirts swish and swirl around its miniature form. It’s almost pitiful.
One day, my ghosts will learn that here they are safe, as if in utero, and will be able to sleep, curled-up, foetus-like. Then, maybe, I will get some peace.
But now the little ghost’s affliction is painfully wretched. It’s distressing its siblings, too. I can’t bear it much longer. Its screech is a child’s, pathetic and pure. Panicking, I grasp the jar, and hold it to my chest.
There’s a sharp pain in my abdomen, acute and knife-edged, as if my gut has been ripped open. I double over, back arched – the glass falls to the floor, shatters. The room begins to shake – I’m convulsing, reeling – the glass clatters like teeth, as one-by-one my ghosts smash to the floor. The noise hits me like a wave; a choking primal screech of asphyxiation as the factory is obliterated. Smoke-forms unfurl and swarm around me, a multitude of aborted faces and burgeoning screams. I’m drowning; being swept beneath the waves and feeling air and colour and time rush past me as I am dragged down, down. I’m heavy, full of so much sound, so many ghosts, and so much water in my lungs I could burst, and the light’s fading, the sky’s caving in and I’m so, so tired...
I lie on the floor; empty, holding my waist and trembling. Staring in the face of oblivion.
I am back in my room again, now flooded with the light of the pale winter sun, which has risen high, smooth and white like an egg. There are stains on the sheets; mottled crimson, maudlin.
And outside, it’s raining.
* * *
Why do these things never turn out quite how I want them to?
This took way longer than it should have done to write, and it still infuriates me. I think my brain may have short circuited.