Does time heal all wounds? I dunno. I dunno whether time can change hurt that feels as raw as a slaughter-house floor. The first thrust of the knife. The knife’s long gone now, but still the hurt remains. Such savage hurt. That’s all I want: for the hurt to change, not go away—which is impossible—but simply to change. From a piercing agony to a dull ache, would be nice. What would you do if you could help? Would you lick the wound, offer up your bodily fluids in the vain hope of assistance? You should. It was you who caused the wound, drove a deep cavity within me, void of hope for regeneration.
‘I have to end it,’ were your words, recalled vividly after all these years despite my notoriously bad memory. A full moon that night, and those words slide ‘cross my eyes like subtitles every full-moon gaze since. The true tragedy of heartbreak: anything associated with it is tarnished. Now I hate the full-moon. The glowing orb mocks me and raises the tides ‘til I fear the rivers will flood and drown not my lungs, but my heart; blessed though the earthly departure would be to my gaping wound.
‘This is like something from a sad movie,’ came my immature reply, but what of it? Why should my reply in the face of devastation not be equal in ignorance to my poverty of life experience? The fact I spoke at all belied the reality of my delayed reaction, and struggle with acceptance.
But the years twisted away, as they do, into the future, without anything close to the control we believe we have over them. Our lives are like snakes dipped in oil: you can hold them and feel them move through your fingers, yet you’ve not a hope in the world of directing them. And if you completely lose control, the fangs, death.
I’m awake now, my eyes’ve fluttered open and I’m acutely aware of the thin foam mattress under my arse, separated only by sweat-soaked linen. The fan is doing its frantic work above me, and I realise it’d probably remind me of ‘Nam, had I been old enough to ’ave gone, but it certainly reminds me of the movies. Some of the most wonderful rock music of all-time; set to the backdrop of millions of young lives ending. Shocking to go from dreams of heartbreak and death-by-snake, to thoughts of mass murder by the establishment. Makes sense though. I start work in half-an-hour. It’s 5.30am on Saturday morning. Everyone else is either asleep or still partying. Lucky bastards, all. I could have a shower, I could have breakfast, I could brush my teeth . . . I could also visit my parents more and try talking to God again, but it ain’t gonna happen, so I take a quick swig of water from the tap, and silently—I don’t know why, when my housemate wouldn’t return the favour—close the front door behind me.
It’s freezing cold, being—shock horror!—the middle of winter, but at least it’s not raining. I actually don’t mind riding in the rain, but I prefer it on the way back from work. Feels good to indulge in the anti-glamour of riding home through icy, pin pricks of liquid while even truck-drivers pass by in better conditions. Feels good to know that the pain and humiliation may someday be replaced by comfort and respect. Jeez, I’m probably delirious from the sleep deprivation. The sun’s up, but it’s blocked by ominous clouds which make for a gloomy morning, appropriately. There’s not many people out-and-about and I wonder just what those who are, are up to.
I’ll spare you the mundane details of my five-hours enduring the soul crushing mediocrity of working at Coles. If you’ve ever been tortured for information, you’d understand: you’re tortured and tortured and tortured, until your eyes bulge from your skull and every nerve in your body burns as if molten rock courses through it. But you remain silent, give away nothing. I fly out of there on my bike like that guy from ‘The Great Escape’ over the fence of the POW camp. If I collide face-first with a car now, its metal-work’d have a nice, neat set of grinning teeth marks in it. Halfway home, it starts raining.
The letterbox speaks to me as I ride past: ‘If I’ve got important mail, it’ll be completely ruined in a few hours.’ He’s right, he’s a completely useless—despite his oratory skills—mailbox the real estate replaced the old, dependable brick one with. What happened to old dependable? Some junkie drove her car straight through it one morning, spewing brick and mortar (and junk mail) over the front yard and into the garage roller-door. I swear, the noise she made, it sounded like the world was coming to an end. Though I might’ve been killed, I wish I had’ve seen it. I lock my bike to the metal railing out the front, and saunter back to Mr Mouth the mailbox, comforted by the fact my mobile phone is safely wrapped up in a cheap plastic bag. I sigh with a strong, upwards exhalation at the disappointment of there not being any mail, which sprays water past my eyes. Stupid mailbox is messin’ with me.
‘Nobody loves you?’ comes the lilting, confident voice from behind me. I turn to see red-hair made auburn by the rain, fair skin turned red on the nose and cheekbones from the cold, a saturated green shirt and whitewashed jeans over a svelte figure and, that smirk, in the corner of her mouth, as she stands by her bike.
‘No news is good news,’ I return, with uncharacteristic wit.
‘Well, you’re obviously a man who doesn’t have bills rolling in,’ she says, maintaining that smirk, transfixing me with it. ‘But you don’t look as though you’ve got much cash rolling in, either,’ she eyes the ‘Coles’ logo on my drowned shirt. I look at the logo, and feel like vomiting.
‘Yes to both,’ I say while lifting my gaze, heroically, back to hers, ‘but . . . from next week’s cheese prices, to the latest suicide techniques, direct from the most depressing industry in existence . . . I can get you what you need.’
Her full-smile reaction warms me.
She didn’t even stay for breakfast. I’m a little disappointed. All that’s left is the smell of lavender, like I’m standing in a field of them, and a couple of crimson strands contrasted against the white pillow. A tragedy. I fell in love in front of the mailbox, and now, here I am again, feeling as though I’ve had my insides vacuum sealed by my skin. Well suck me dry and store me in a luggage compartment: she was just using me for sex. A new one, but I’m not happy. It’s typical, and hopefully not limited to males: we always want just exactly what we haven’t received. What if I’d poked my head out the door to see her red-mane flowing in the breeze of the fan, as she whipped me up some toast and coffee? Well, right now, I’d be relieved and happy. But is that how I’d actually feel, or is it simply in comparison to how I feel now, having been abandoned? A knock at my bedroom door.
‘Hey man,’ my housemate says in a low voice, ‘there’s a note out here for you.’
I drag myself out of bed with a groan, it being so close to the floor and all, put some pants on and venture out. The note’s on the bench, and I’m characteristically sceptical. ‘It’s probably a guilt-note ‘cause of the STI she was carrying,’ I should’ve thought, but say instead to my speechless housemate, ‘. . . or something,’ attempting to soften the dry-sarcasm. He scurries back to his room. I fold my arms lazily below the note, and begin to read:
‘John, stop thinking about it right now, please. . . .’
It’s like telling someone, ‘don’t think about the elephant’, then asking them what they’re thinking about . . . yeah.
‘ . . . Just enjoy it for what it was. I can’t stop you from thinking about it; what I mean is to not analyse it. I know you, ok, I’m not going to tell you how, but suffice to say you’re more deeply involved in social networks than your introverted mind would have you believe. I know you obsess, I know you neglect, I know you engage in self-destructive behaviour. But, I also know you’re beautiful and that I’m not the girl for you. . . .’
At least she’s being honest.
‘ . . . Do yourself a favour, please: be, in, the, moment. You were only comfortable with me yesterday because I surprised you, and even then I think I got lucky, pun intended. . . .’
Just my luck she’s not interested.
‘ . . . See, I bet you’re engaging in self-pity right now, aren’t you? Look, there’s nothing wrong with thinking, and you’re known as an intelligent guy. Just, stop thinking about things you can’t control. Just go with the flow. People like that; GIRLS like that. . . .’
Thanks for the emphasis.
‘ . . . So anyway, stop reading this note and get back to your life. Oh . . . and vacuum your bloody carpet!’
I process the note for the briefest of moments, then scrunch it up and pitch it into the trash. The housemate reappears, ‘What did it say?’ The cheeky bastard, as if he didn’t read it; I would’ve.
‘Doesn’t matter,’ I lie, ‘I’m heading down to Blockbuster for some dodgy entertainment.’ He nods. I may not be the wisest motherfucker, but when a strange, gorgeous redhead screws you, then gives you life-advice, you bloody-well listen.