Hi, I said I was going to upload some of my old short stories and so I thought I’d start with this one. It was one of the first I ever wrote. Things tend to stick in my mind a lot and sometimes a story emerges.
This one is called “The Girl” and it was inspired by a song by Placebo called “Song to Say Goodbye”. Placebo are my favourite band and when I saw the video to this song, the story jumped into my mind and so I wrote it. I thought, since I’m off to Brum to see the band in December, just before my birthday, that I would get it out, dust it off and let people read it.
I hope you like it.
My alarm goes off at 7am, the same time as usual, but I feel so much more tired today. I don’t want to get up and I don’t want to go to work. I haven’t for a long while. There’s no point, it’s not like it matters, and it’s cold. I can’t seem to get warm. I dreamt I was on ice, sliding fast, I tried to hold on but my hands wouldn’t move. The flakes tore at my skin and then scraped my bones to shards. The pain woke me and I couldn’t nod off after that. I feel sick but I’ll get through the day. I always do. One more time today and then one more time tomorrow. Lying here in the morning darkness scares me. My head aches and the bleeping hurts, but if I press snooze, I know I’ll drop off and be late again. I want to be asleep all the time, even if I do find it hard to get there. That just makes it more appealing. It crosses my mind for the first time today that I could save myself from all this right now and, for a moment, everything is better. I’m relieved, but then reality sets in and I know I’ll never do it.
I roll over and fling my arm at the clock, the sound stops. I promise myself I’ll try harder, and then she walks in and puts her little arms around my neck. She kisses my cheek and tells me she loves me. She asks why I’m sad and I tell her it’s because I don’t want to have to go off and leave her alone all day. I want to stay at home and play but I can’t. She smiles, tugs at my arm and encourages me to get out of bed. I drag myself to my feet, close my eyes, let my singed vision return to normal and wait for the dizziness to fade.
I take her hand, put one foot in front of the other and follow her, my brain buzzing as I go. I hold back, stop to catch my breath, she turns to me and grins before yanking hard on my fingers. I thrust forward. I can’t stop myself, her zest is potent. She ignites and goes off like gunpowder blasting through my brain. I let it happen. I want it to happen. I want her to blow away the memories. Now I can do it, for her, I can do it. She leads me from the bedroom onto the landing. I pull her up into my arms and she giggles. I carry her down the stairs, my neck stretching higher with every step lower. She rests her head on my shoulder, her hair is soft and her breath is sweet, and for the following thirteen seconds, I am at peace. I hold her tightly when we reach the bottom, wring out the warmth of her skin, holding off the chills that that are waiting. I know they are there, leering, ready to pick at the crust.
“Hi, I won’t be in today, I don’t feel well.”
My alarm goes off at 7am, the same time as usual, but I feel so much more tired today than I did yesterday. I can’t eat breakfast, I feel too sick, and I sense that I’m coming down with a cold or something. I go to the bathroom, clean my teeth and gargle with mouthwash in the hopes of rinsing away the foul taste. Stewed liver. I don’t eat offal, but if I did, I reckon this is how it’d taste. I have to get rid of it before I puke. Fuck washing, I couldn’t really care whether I’m clean or not, it’s not as if anyone comes near me anyway. Three swills and it’s still there. It’s me. It’s the taste of me.
I suppose I need to dress now. I grab last week’s work clothes from the back of the chair and smell them. Nothing. They will be just fine for today. I trudge back downstairs, walk into the kitchen and open the cupboard. It’s empty but for one slice of bread. I pick it up, rub it across my face and then fling it aside. I rest my head in my hands and my mind transports back in time. This is where it happened, the first time, so long ago now. I would have forgiven you but you, but you left anyway, why did you do that. I slide to the floor and sob. I know it’s time to go.
I open my front door and look around. The street is abandoned. I put my foot out and it bounces back inside as if on a spring. I realize I’m thirsty. I need a drink before I leave. It’s okay, I’ll think of something. I stretch out extra time for coffee. What does it matter if I’m a little late. I’ll be sacked eventually anyway, I don’t belong there, and besides, I’m replaceable. The things I need to do each day don’t matter, not to me, they don’t fill the cavities. I cry and then my panicky nature gets the better of me and the anger sets in as it always does. I don’t know what to do. It feels as though something ethereal is scraping at my mind, taunting me, keeping me from what I need. I can’t stop it, and, mercifully, it is now that her face appears in the doorway. The sight of her calms me, she’s beautiful and I love her with all my heart. She asks me if I would like her to drive me to work today and I collapse into myself and nod. I know it’s wrong and I feel pathetic.
She drives the long way round. I lie in the backseat and listen to her sing along to the radio. Her voice is melodious and her syrupy lullaby comforts me. Her joy is infectious. I feel now, more than ever, that I can’t leave her side. I have to be strong but how can I when all I want is to hold onto her forever. I know it’s an impossible notion but it’s my only desire. The filthy, rotten streets flash by and the sinful faces reflect in the window but they are only there for a second and then gone as she zooms along faster now. I close my eyes, drift away and enjoy the ride while it lasts.
We arrive. I open my eyes and everything makes sense again. She has restored me, given me courage to face the day ahead. She has healed my worries and made me understand. I force myself away from her, keep my head down and get on with things, but as the day goes on, I miss her more and more. Everyone at work hates me. I’m ugly. I represent everything they never want to be. I disgust them. I don’t care. I stopped giving value to what people thought of me a long time ago. I find my own ways to get through, just as they do, except their lives seem so much emptier than mine do. They reek of the world. They’ve donated their lives to endless, mind-bending conformity. Why be individual when you can belong to the sprawling, amorphous globule of snot that is society. Maybe it’s the illusion of belonging that makes them satisfied or maybe they just do a better job pretending than I do. I see them around though, the people like me, and I know them immediately. They turn from me. I turn from them. Mirrors.
At the day’s end, I drive myself home. I have forgotten to eat and drink all day and I feel I may pass out. My head hurts, my back hurts, and my legs hurt. As soon as I get inside the safety of home, I fall onto the sofa and sleep for what seems like hours but is barely minutes. I’m jolted awake and notice she is there, lying right next to me. My insides melt as I cuddle her. I pull her right in close to me. I feel her fluffy, pink blanket wrapped gently around the two of us and then, as if by magic, nothing matters anymore. I am ecstatic to be alive. She’s all I care about. I would be lost without her. I would do anything for her and she knows it.
I am glad of the weekend and somehow we get through it together, but then the weekend is over and I am sad again. I get up and prepare. I manage to get to work, just briefly this morning, and then somehow I am lost. I’m wandering through the town. All I know is that I’m searching frantically for something but I don’t know what. I have forgotten who I am and no matter how much I look around I can’t find anything to remind me. I sob, panicking as I sit down in the street. I try to remember something of my life but there isn’t anything. The songs that play constantly in my mind, the snippets of conversation, the liquid madness. All Gone. I don’t know how I got to be here and I don’t know what brought me here. I’m helpless. I lash out, shouting at anyone who comes near me, “I don’t need your fucking help.”
I scream into the air and then I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around and my anger turns to shame as I look into her face and see her bruises. I know it was me. I am the one who hurt her, but worse than that, I left her alone, how could I have. I vomit onto the street and people look at me as if I am infectious, but she’s there and so nothing else matters. I crawl away and manage to reach the public toilets. I feel safe in my cubicle, locked away from the world. I now remember who I am. I belong in this grimy dungeon. I have the same value as the mold and bacteria that decorates the walls. I call to her, begging her forgiveness. She runs her hand softly across my cheek. She helps me lean into the toilet bowl and refresh my spirit in the water’s crystal clarity. She smiles and I feel healed as she takes my hand, just as she has done so many times before, and lifts me away from this lowly place, to serenity once again. I know she has forgiven me, she always does. Her love for me is unconditional. She is the only one who has ever truly loved me, the only one who sees what I could have been, what I would have achieved, if only things had been different. Her compassion knows no limits and I don’t understand how she is the way she is but she knows me as if she is a part of me. She’s everything I would like to be, she’s my hero and I adore her.
We return home and I tell her I need to hide away from the world. She grins as if it’s all a game of hide and seek, and so I give in and play her games for a while and then, when she sees how tired I have become, she tucks me into bed. It’s okay, my guilt has subsided and my conscience allows me to do just as I wish. I permit her to keep me company for as long as I need her to be there. One day, I know she will leave me too, but for now, she is mine.
Days later, I emerge from my bedroom. There is no sign of the girl and for a time I am glad. I truly love her but her yoyo effect on my emotions makes me weary. I cannot bear it but this is not the only reason to be glad she’s not here. I am in one of those foul moods where I am likely to take my frustrations out on her. I fear that terrible side of me. I never knew I could get like that. I used to be so mellow. The burden of my actions over the years is cruel. I’m sorry for everything I have done but I can’t let go. I know she is sick of me and tired of my vindictive ways. She has started withdrawing from me, and chasing her is exhausting.
Work is now a memory. I know I have to face up to that, but not yet. I have no idea what I will do to pass my time, I hate everything, and nothing seems to be enough for me. The boredom of life is torture. I lie down again, and try to sleep, but when I can’t I get frightened. I weep, my head falling low, my rage turning to misery, I hear the creak of the door, I look up to see her stood before me, and I beg her to save me from the pain. She shouts at me and tells me I’m a pathetic loser. I don’t understand. Where is that sweet child who can charm my pain with a twinkle of her brown eyes. I scan the room, my blurry gaze finding her milky, white face. I focus in and see she is still my girl. I smile when I realize she is trying to help me. I get on my knees and ask her to make me better. I tell her I’m okay and, after a string of abuse, she cries and tells me she is sorry. She kneels in front of me. I cuddle her and calm washes over me.
This strange roller coaster of love and hate repeats over the coming months. As time passes, she holds my hand when I need her. I am unemployed, unloved and powerless to crawl out of the mess I’ve got myself into. I want things to be different. She wants them to stay the same. One afternoon, she says that nothing here matters anymore and we should leave. She looks different, her once pale face darkened by the flames of her hair. I don’t understand what she means. I tell her to shut up, that I’m fed up with her leading the way. I can make my own decisions. I run to the bathroom and lock the door, curling up in a ball on the floor and then suddenly she is there with me. She stoops over and scoops me up high into the air. The next thing I know, I have sprouted wings. She giggles as she pushes me away and I fly. It’s the most surreal sensation, entrancing, the best feeling of my life. She floats along beside me, takes me to all the places in the world I longed to see. I feel all the things I should have done. I am in rapture. I never want go back.
It can’t last. I twirl in ecstasy, swooping low and then up again to find she has vanished. My wings have disintegrated and I am now inside a plane. I run from end to end, feeling my way around as my vision blurs. I’m trapped high up in the sky. I look for the girl but she is gone. I gaze out of the window, but there is no view. I’m not soaring, I’m falling into nowhere. I cannot bear that she is gone. I need her. I pull open the door and jump out of the plane. I seem to fall for ages and I wonder whether I will ever stop. I turn around, look up and see the plane floating above me. I try to swim through the air to get back to it but I go nowhere. Its engines roar as it moves away from me. I scream out when I see that she has taken command, she is the pilot. I call out, beg her to rescue me, but she just smiles and continues on her way. She’s leaving me.
I fall hard into the playground my mother would take me to as a child, long before she died. Whenever I would run across the road to the pub, she would shout at me, tell me to go play with the other kids. I pull myself to my feet, stagger a few steps towards the bar and call to Mum. She doesn’t come, and once again I fall to the floor. I stay where I land and watch the urine-soaked toddlers playing, their noses running with snot as the cold air nips. They play innocently, completely unaware of the foreboding tower behind them and the malevolent eyes that lurk within it. The twitching net curtains of the decrepit hovels shift in unnatural ways. Eyes, eyes, eyes all watching and waiting to grasp evil opportunity. I must get away from here before they get me. I haul myself up by a rain-soaked, rusty swing-chain and stagger to the park gate. The people gathered around the tables stare at me. They begin to sing and dance and laugh. I close my eyes, relieved to exit the scene, as the kaleidoscope of faces gets closer.
I am in limbo, unable to wake up. I lie back and watch the nightmares go by. The ghosts will lead me where I am supposed to go. I am no longer her passenger but theirs, and I must ride the ghost train. I glance out of the window and catch sight of her. She is renovating the bridge that leads to the other side. Each time I cross it, I see her working. She doesn’t even look up. Over I go, each time expecting to reach the other side and then finding myself back at the beginning again. It must be a thousand times that I cross that bridge, and every time she is busy working away beneath me. I’m stuck in a loop and it is only once she has replaced the last rivet that I realize what’s happened. My old bridge, the direct line to the landscape that was my future, now replaced, stolen little by little, swept away from under me. My old, rickety, sun-tinged, bridge has gone and what is left in its place is this stony, shadowy structure. I look out to where it will lead and I fear the dark tunnel ahead. I am powerless. I don’t have the strength to rebuild. I’m sure I don’t have the strength. I immerse myself in the shade of the clouds and await the tunnel.
I make it over the bridge, but for some reason stop short of the tunnel. The doors fly open at the station stop just before. It’s as if they’re waiting for me to get off. I obey the command. I dash out as fast as I can, taking care not to be caught in the gap as I jump. The breeze hits me hard in the face and sends a rush of adrenaline through me as I depart at the station gates. I tread the streets, my illusions disappearing as I go. My surroundings melt away as I feel awake for the first time in ages. My eyes are open and I’m lying down, tightly wrapped in a crisp sheet and stiff woolen blanket. It feels wonderful to be here.
The staff are very good to me. I’m grateful. They help me get healthy again, and then when I am ready, they free me from incarceration. I’ve never been happier to be rid of those oh so wonderfully kind people. They mean well, but they have no idea what life is all about. All I want is to do is see her and ask why she abandoned me so cruelly. When I get home, she isn’t there and so I drag my rake-like form around the streets until I find her at the playground looking for me. A shiver runs through me as I remember what she did. I sit next to her on the bench. She tells me she has a new family now and, despite my jealousy, I know she is deceiving me again. I drag her away and she pulls against me. She was strong before but is now weak. I turn to her and promise I’ll be good if she will stay and look after me like she used to do.
I lied to her. In the end, I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew what was happening, she wasn’t going to leave me, not ever, she loved me too much. It was I, who had found something else. I looked into her beautiful face and deceived her. She smiled and nodded, totally convinced of my intentions. She willingly took my hand, happy to come along at first, only panicking when she realized we weren’t heading home. I tightened my grip and dragged her through the streets with everyone watching me. I didn’t care anymore. When we arrived at our destination, she hung onto the doorframe but I managed to prise her dirty, little fingers away. I’d never noticed she was filthy before. Her hair was matted and her clothes stained. She smelt as if she had been rolling around in a rubbish tip. I guess the putrid stench of squalor from my home had seeped into her pores. I knew I had to stay strong no matter how much she cried. She had to go, I had to get rid of her.
Once inside, I was asked to take a seat and that’s when I noticed some of the other people in the waiting room. They were not alone either. Some were with girls and some were with boys. These little people all shared the same fate, and the other adults, I realized, were the only ones who understood how I felt to be letting go of something so perfect and precious. I was summoned to the front desk and asked to sign a form to be allowed to stay. I let go of the girl’s hand but she did not try to escape, she knew it was pointless. I forgot her name and so instead signed my own. They cruelly chained my girl’s hand to the wall. I began to walk away and stopped, turned around for one last look at her beautiful face. It was then that I could see that the other people were not with children at all. Instead, they were perched on the floor with demons clawed firmly into their shoulders. I shuddered. I knew I must run and save the girl. I started after her. She slipped the chains and charged towards me, her contorted, evil, demon face boring its eyes deep into my soul. I knew her mission was to take me back into her chemical clutches. I closed my eyes and waited for her to consume me. It didn’t happen.
Now, two years later, she is gone forever. I am alone and I am content.
Thanks for reading