ONE BIG SUNFLOWER

Category: Stories

People Who Don’t Want Saving.

by retrodiction

Seconds tick by like a metronome of monotony. The white of the sun is harsh against the backdrop of black that surrounds Amy, and she wishes– more than anything– for the black to be literal, for the sun to shine a little less bright, for the contrast to not be so daunting. It seems unfair, that in the moment her life is to be so irrevocably changed, the world is simply moving on; it spins, still, on its axis without a care for her world.

 

Faintly, Amy registers the distant hum of voices– varying cadences of platitudinous uttering. But the ticks and tocks are overwhelming. They mock her, scorn her, scream out to her: wretched wastefulness! I am slipping, unstoppable, through your fingers; molten seconds disappearing into crevices of blackness. She blinks once, twice, seeing now more red and black than white. She feels the tickle of warm liquid caressing the side of  her head, down the sensitive skin of her neck. She watches the world upside down. In her predicament, stretching her fingers in time to the rhythmic ticking is all she can do– reaching out, as she best can, for something tangible to hold on to. Something aside from the black that threatens to engulf her.

 

“We’re… coming to..” — black.

 

“Open… open your eyes.” — black.

 

“It’s… going… okay?” She opens her mouth to ask — black.

 

She imagines how ridiculous she must look to the owner of that hopeful voice. Her gaping mouth, conveying with escaped breaths all she feared, all she loved and all she no longer lived for– her entire life story, encompassed in the sparse gasps of air– like a fish out of water. Imagining is tiring. She much prefers the black.

 

This time, more consciously, she registers a scream. Shrill and piercing, tapering off into a gurgle. She struggles to breathe, wondering how she could possibly be drowning on dry land. Maybe in this inverted world she swallowed a mouthful too much of air, and it’s choking her alive. Through the crack of her eyelids she sees, more silhouette than features, dishevelled hair and an immature beard looking down at her; grateful for the temporary reprieve from the glaring white that is stolen away far too soon.

 

For a moment she forgets being submerged in an imaginary ocean, forgets how to work her lungs and breathe in life; she could almost feel the peace of the black that she welcomes. But then hands, too close, too intimate for her liking are on her chest. She doesn’t understand, can’t comprehend how her own alien body is working against her. As her once-upon-a-time hero makes the incision along her throat, sticking a tube in, she watches obliviously as colour begins to seep into her world. When she feels her lungs expanding again, taking in oxygen, giving her life, Amy starts to sob. Painfully, because the tube can’t take in enough air to allow for her convulsive gasps. Desperately, because the tube doesn’t allow her to say what she hopelessly needs to get out. Mournfully, because the tube has stolen away the black.

 

The hardwood floor has never before felt as cold beneath her skin, as if freezing every pore of her being to staying grounded in this world. As Amy tilts her head further upwards, in the periphery the world is upside down, but all she takes in is the taut circle of rope, swaying in its show of contempt. And she sobs, vacantly, because the tube has robbed her of her way out of her horrific labyrinth.

 

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We Could Talk In Morse Codes

by retrodiction

When I told you it was fine, I was hoping you wouldn’t believe me. When I told you that you needn’t worry about me, I never expected you to really do it. So when I stopped saying anything at all, the last thing I thought you would ever do is try to claim to know me so well.

There are no logical reasons for these lies that I have told. I’ve sown a mask to my face, that now have melted into my skin, so I can no longer tell where it ends and I begin. It’s like looking in a mirror but never really seeing, because what I’d need is a scalpel just to peel away this film that’s coated my entire being. Imagine gold, imagine greatness, imagine something special that lies beneath this plastic skin; but when I unzip my veins all that flows is a dull red. And nothing scares me more than being simply…  average.

I’ve lost several words through the course of my brief life. “Happy” was the first to go, but to be honest, I still haven’t truly felt it’s impact. “Sad”, though, was a word that’s hard to live without. So I’d stutter, with my speech impaired, trying to find a way about. I devised all sorts of cryptic ways to convey this one emotion— as if the world gave out prizes to whomever who could find the most immense ocean of ineffable puzzles in which one could drown. I lost “no,” and “help,” and “stay,” almost concurrently. I lost “hello,” and “pain,” and “family”. And then I lost “me”. So all I’ve ended up saying is “please,” and “thank you,” and “sorry”— Please look at I; thank you for looking at I; sorry you had to look at I— no one understands an impaired speech.

Later on I found out that I felt less like choking if, to I, the words didn’t have a meaning. Instead of inhaling all that salt underwater, I could keep, at the very least, my head above the surface. My lungs were lighter anchors. Now you see, a lie is ten times easier to keep afloat. I haven’t just stopped saying what I mean out of fear; I found, above all, a new life buoy.

These lies… they keep I from being simply average.

 

The Ultimate Multi-Taskers

by retrodiction

No, two things aren’t going on concurrently. Its three and four and five, fighting for the same head space. And in that claustrophobic finite space the noise is overwhelming.

Chaos, waxed lyrical, tugs at the neurones in my brain. Like an intricate dance it stretches my tendons, beautifully, it moves through my body; my arms and legs a sinuous liquid, gushing with a force I can’t control. But bodies weren’t made to take shapes of containers. It is cramp, and my limbs are bent in places that weren’t meant to be. So my bones start to grow at perpendicular angles and my inelastic bands of fibrous tissue. . . begin. . . to. . . snap.

My cells have rearranged— my hands are my feet, and my eyes are ears that can neither see nor hear— all flowing into the same head space. Every force is triggering the wrong reaction: my fists move in tandem with this whine in my chest; the ringing in my ears are harmonies to that rhythmic pounding in my head; those words tickling my vocal chords itches my heart. Direction has become an irrelevant concept because everywhere I look, the mess I see is all the same. A disarray of fetid liquid, stuck in a box, left to fester and rot. You see, tangent to my sanity is a normal that exists entirely on an imaginary plane. So in the real world, a push is no different from a pull. In the real world, no matter where I move, my position always stay the same. Air… What I need is air. And tangible space. I need warm hands to ground me. And a voice to guide me out of this box… Because my cells need to rearrange.

Each new anchor joins the rusted sunken ones in this tiny, tiny box. The ripples on the surface are negligible. Tearing through the liquid in its conquest to be buried deep; to rest at the bottom, dormant, where it’s too far down for the sunlight to reach. By the laws of nature that dictates all that shall come to pass, these foreign anchors and this box will, for certain, disintegrate.

But I doubt it would be in my time.

There have been others before me, and there will be many more after.

by retrodiction

“I am sad” sounds so silly. It sounds, so much, like a grown up with a paper cut, crying out for bandages. It sounds like that kid who cried wolf —except, being eaten alive might’ve hurt much less.

“I am sad” makes me sound like an imposter. Like if I could say it, then I couldn’t possibly mean it. Like talking about it means I couldn’t really be all that sad. Like I must endure in an unspoken oath of silence. As if I needed to prove my melancholic state. As if it’s perfectly acceptable for a complete stranger to sweep right in and pass judgement on how and why I feel what I feel.

“I am sad” sounds so infantile, so insincere, so repulsively desperate. But it also sounds a whole lot like three honest words I would never dare utter.

but above all, guard your heart.

by retrodiction

The string tied below my left rib, where my heart is, branches out and connects me to all the people who have left their indelible marks on my life’s path. But one by one, I hear the snips of a scissor. And like the glint from its cool metallic surface, i see the meaning of these connections reflected back to me. Weakness, it says. Dependence, it mocks. Vulnerable, I whisper. And nothing scares me more than leaving my ribs open, exposing my fragile heart. So my own bare hands will sever these strings, and toss them into fire. And with my own two eyes I will watch as they burn, never to be recovered. And within the cage of my own bones, I will bleed inwardly.

 

But the significance of the death of these relations is not yet over. The knot i would tie at the end of this string, dangling from my left rib, signifies the end of my self. nothing goes out just as nothing gets in. Now i am as free as any with a clogged heart can be.

So i say, this new me, will sweep you off your feet with a charismatic charm. And intrigue you with my aloofness that likens me, no less, to the cold surface of the blade that ended my being. And my enigma, is a congregation of dead knots you could never untie. Layer upon layer upon layer of dead ends. My cold detachment will let me rationalise like you never could: I will be whoever you wish for me to be; say whatever you need me to say; do whatever you want me to do— I am a mould that will never set.

And at the end of it all, I will hold whoever I wish in the palm of my hands. Because this game of life is a test of wits. And the one who cares least wins.

by retrodiction

When the tides came in lapping gently at its shores I mistook its foamy waters for healing balm to an aching soul. It came and went with such hypnotic trance. I was powerless. So I went along, and I let it wash me out to sea instead. And I was stranded out in deeper waters. And all I saw were endless stretches of blue and green and grey. But the calm I thought I knew was most untrue. I tried to trap the endless liquid between the spaces of my fingers. And I tried to keep my head above its surface, I did. But the weight of my being could not be held up by water.

When the waves made sea walls six feet tall, I braced myself to push right through. But the strength of my body I thought I knew was most untrue. It was like running into brick walls, thinking maybe all my broken pieces could diffuse right through its pores, thinking maybe I could emerge on the other side — whole.

When I found a buoyant to keep me afloat, the darker waters scared me less. I had a device to help me cope, a sense of hope. A kind of friend, to see me through to the end. But the hope I thought I knew was most untrue. It became no easier to hold on, but a lot harder to let go. The ceaseless illusion of soon finding shore, set me adrift burdening more.

I thought I was being chained to a sinking ship, but really, it was the stone in my heart.

 

by retrodiction

In the dead of night, what jarring silence render futile all attempts at laying my head to rest. Though as silent as the world could be, the cacophony of fiends in my mind never seem to cease. Loud and clear they scream, such devilish things, only made more so by the quiet that enables it.

Yet to be rid of these static noises would be the equivalent of removing from me, a limb, an arm, a finger, a foot — a part of me most indispensable. These fiends are an extension of me, each one extrapolated from an undesirable trait, an unpleasant memory, an irksome emotion, tempting in me the most revolting of thoughts and actions. Except these thoughts that encourages my actions have become not so much repulsive as they are condoling. I pine for the end of each day, for my solitude and dark, dark ways.

At first, I supposed i could, if i had given greater effort, banish these bumbling voices that have overtime grown in strength and potent eloquence. With such fiery i had fought, and so it seemed that not all hope was lost. Yet it is most evident that i remain still, in this endless loop of shame, and guilt, and wanton self-destruction. It is an unchanging dance, practised to perfection, fluent in its execution and each sway, or leap, or twirl, enervates me to no end. Hope, is such a strange, strange thing. It hurts me more than my decaying heart. Had i had none to begin with… There are no words for desperate hopelessness. Had i had none, no longer would there be, every morning, my melancholic sight of the sun.

I have clamoured “Tired!” and “Enough!” and “Stop!” more times than i can count; but only, as always, only in my mind.

If my eyes are the windows to my soul, i wonder if any has peered in, deep and down below. And if so, can they see the emptiness  grow; the nothingness that is to be, a life, a heart, a whole of me.

Barely Breathing

by retrodiction

Occasionally, I get into one of these moods, where everything upsets me, and I want to punch somebody in the face. Then I want to spontaneously burst into tears for absolutely no reason at all — except, I can’t. I just can’t. My tear ducts just will not comply. And then I will watch Captain America (or whatever else happens to be on TV) and I will feel my heart ache, and my eyes will well up with tears, just because I find the movie so damn ridiculous. 

I mean, who runs a mile a minute with nothing but a shield and never, absolutely never, gets shot. Not even once. Those German soldiers must be one hell a bunch of rejects.

So this silly movie will make me feel thousands of negative emotions, and I won’t be able to focus on anything for the day (in fact, for days to come). But the best I can do, is only to recognise that I’m feeling these negative emotions. Negative representing a big umbrella of emotions I cannot even begin to describe. Not because I don’t want to, or that I can’t find the words for them, but mostly because I don’t recognise them.

I cannot tell frustration from sadness, or disappointment, or loneliness, or hurt. All I ever do is swing from anger to numbness with the snap of a finger. And if I’m lucky enough for it to be a good day, I overflow with joy. Like, “non-stop giggling, endless jokes and high on 10 cans of Red Bull” joy. The worst part of it all, is that I don’t even know what made a ‘good day’ good, and a ‘bad day’ bad. I cannot predict how I am going to feel the next morning, hell I don’t even know how I’m going to feel in the next ten minutes.

So right now, I’m somewhere between hopeless and numb. I woke up this way and it’s barely mid-afternoon but already, I can’t wait for the sun to set. Except, I have an endless list of important things to do, but I don’t feel the urgency for any of it. In fact, if it were up to me, I would probably curl up in bed for the next 7 days and hibernate. But then again, I wouldn’t be able to do anything but lie there, tossing and turning. The silence that fills my senses isn’t enough to drown out the noise inside my head — or the numbness inside my heart.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone has felt any these things before, (of course there is, silly me) where my heart feels hollow and heavy, and it weighs on my ribcage and my lungs. And if I imagine— figuratively— what my heart looked like, I picture this organ the size of my fist; dull red like the colour of dried blood; fragile like the sun-dried leaf. It is frayed at the edges, and each crack is a vein that has long ran dry. And this overworked machine is an easily crumpled heart, falling in flakes like ashes in the wind. Ironic how something that feels so heavy, seems so weak and so light.

Yet this description is the epitome of my entire being.

I am sum of all my contradictions. My strengths are my weaknesses, and what I love, I also absolutely hate. I posses what I don’t want, and I want what I have left behind, threw away, abandoned.

I do not believe in wishes upon stars, or the eyelash I blew away. I much less believe in praying to a higher power for what I want. But today, like every other day, I will believe that I deserve to feel happy. That one day, I will stop single-handedly ruining my own life.

And until that day, I will believe that I can hold on.

Pictorial: Leaves, Bricks & Cobblestones

by retrodiction

pictorial - leaves bricks and cobblestones

All of life is a puzzle— The roots that feed the trees to fit the leaves on winding branches; The multitude of bricks so similar yet uniquely different, stacks a castle in thin air; The cobblestones beneath your feet fixes a path out of nowhere, promising only to lead you somewhere, anywhere—  The world and I.

Yellowing for years to come, occasionally dusted and admired from afar. No, no hands. No touching. No changes to be made. There is only one way to complete this puzzle, only one path I can take, and when it’s done, it’ll be the perfect picture of a life that I have made. Then I’ll hang it on a wall, without meaning or purpose, but still I’ll take pride, because it is something that I made.

For far too long, unconsciously, that was how I have lived my life. For single purposes, and lists to adhere to, and places I must be, things I must do, words I must say, and endless endless streams of goals to achieve. It is, of course then, with no surprise, that I admit that satisfaction was not a feeling I could relate to. Ever the over-achiever, failure was never far from my sight, when really, there was nothing for me to fail at. Because in not living a life I could love, I have never really succeeded to begin with.

My place in this world begins and ends with a word that, unfortunately, still dominates my life: Money.

Money makes the world go round. There is nothing money can’t solve. Money buys happiness.

Misconception, misconception, downright delusional.

Surely, life has not been just that for you? You must think. And of course it wasn’t. Young, free-spirited children have no care for money. I cared about that blanket fort I built with my sister. I cared about my scraped knee and bleeding fingers. I cared about imagining places that don’t exist. And in those places I was anyone I wanted to be, doing only things that I loved. And my place in this world, was the bedroom that yesterday, was a castle; today, is a volcano; tomorrow, might be the moon.

But the blanket forts turned to tables and computers, scraped knees paled in comparison to sleepless nights, and the bedroom— has but one practical use anymore.

These were the pieces to my puzzle for a “prefect” life.

The world is as static as I am unchanging, and this puzzle is all but a permanent fixture on an otherwise dull wall.

Clear-Headed

by retrodiction

Moments of clarity like these seldom come to me anymore. The world may have gone quiet, but there’s a noise inside my head that just can’t be silenced. And if even all the quiet in the world can’t give me peace— well, then i don’t quite know what to do anymore.

There is— and god hope not literally— multiple parts of myself. While i know it’s only normal as humans to have multi-faceted characters, it still doesn’t quite soothe my heart when that one repetitive argument inside my mind rages all over again, for all intents and purposes, to break my resolve. There isn’t a way out and there most certainly isn’t an escape route, because all of this, it is solely of my own doing.

My mind, brilliant as i might wish it, in so far has only been capable of constructing a world plucked entirely from the most hideous of experiences. It has pinned onto me incredulous expectations and god-awful hopes and dreams that even in the clearest of minds— as i am now— can’t wrap my head around. It is simple, my wish, yet also simply impossible. Just as i cannot will myself to change, i am no more capable of changing another. But there is no stopping the ever-growing pining.

If it is love you speculate what i am now writing about to be, well, you are most certainly right. But it is not the kind of love you think, or i think, i know of.

What i have known to be love is non-exhaustive lists of obligations and expectations. It is not a feeling, so much as it is a job. Love is what happens when it’s the “right thing to do”, not the thing you wish you could do. I have hoped that this was not the case, but all that i have experienced has glaringly showed me that “love” renders my capacity to feel nose-diving from 10,000 feet above the ground— without a parachute to cushion my landing. And only in doing what i do, can i find those sparse few moments of quiet.

It is deceptively quick, how i accelerate from 0 to 50 to my very own terminal velocity. It slyly slicks through the cracks in my defences, it pushes and pulls in all the ways that feel so right when it really— should be so wrong. Then in tandem with everything else that just isn’t good enough, my strength slips right into place.

For these few glorious moments of my everyday, i can pretend that i am not falling. That i am not gravitating towards the cold, hard cement. That i am weightless. It makes my “love” a whole lot easier to bear. But that is all that it is and ever will be— pretend.

I know this, and i know it only because halfway through this accelerating bliss, i come to terms that i am in actual fact falling to my death. Then i will realise that this is no swift death. It is long. Drawn out to be made deliberately painful. Ironic, in and of itself, to make me feel so good it hurts. Ironic, that i would never let anyone do such a thing to me, but myself. And each realisation slaps fear in my face with a force that send me reeling off-course. Or rather, back on course. The right course— no matter how temporary.

I would, more than anything, love to love myself enough to save my life. But facts are facts, and the fact here is: I don’t have a parachute. So i’ll watch you pretend to not see me falling. And i’ll hear the silence from none of your screaming. And maybe soon enough, before i crash and burn at 320km/h, your inaction will no longer unsettle my heart.

Because this cycle, is as deadly as it is repetitive. And i have died 365 times a year for as long as anyone should remember. And this is fear, seeping straight from my pores because no realisation has been as raw as this— 320km/h might be too long a wait.