Chase

At Monument, where Embarrassing Bodies was, a HEALING flag does a kite flap. I consider asking what they’d do a doctor couldn’t, but I knew people whose job it was to convince a cross-section eternity’s a blessing away. If a hand was enough to relay my skin like an underfloor heating improvement had just been made, I’d be BFFs with Jesus (if that’s totes not inappropriate). But medicine doesn’t work and vitamins are a temp temp pep up and exercise is a therapy I can’t 12 months sign up for. And I think that’s a full stop.

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What all the fuss is about

I don’t know if people have timelines but Facebook leads me to believe everyone’s set on something, has a wish list, collection of targets, that they’re getting by 30, 5 or 7. I enjoy nodding when someone says something totally egotistical like it’s fact, like you’d be fucking ridiculous to not just have a kid at the earliest opportunity or buy a house if you’re offered deposits. You should be the type of person that commits willingly, instantly, eradicating doubt like a Christian, convincing the vicar before they’ve convinced themselves that Baptism’s what they want. This is what you want. This is it.

But I call bullshit. The moments I knew what I wanted, I forget most of them, and the ones I remember are inconsequential; when my heart and decision-making abilities were in someone else’s rental and their cut-off policy of whether to be or not be together was a television switch and they chose another channel.

And if we’re all on the same playing board, even if directions are different, and dice rolls can crisscross as much as they’re linear, then I must be under the fucking board, and I see what everyone’s doing, and every single picture posted about it on Twitter. I can hear the dug paths over head, but in the almost dark, I don’t remember which direction my playing piece was going in and why. Why is the worst, the unanswerable, part.

I dream about you most when we don’t speak. And I like the dreams. It’s the closest we’ve been in a long time. I don’t know what it means, and any guess is pieced from a Dawson’s monologue. And all that Sex and the City watching is only helpful in knowing life’s a mess, and the questions asked each episode contradict the next. A difference in opinion is helpful in the sifting. A barrage-like deciding factor.

I carried you like the chronicity I didn’t know I had for five years, fifteen, ten, or less. I buried you best I could. Like a patio grave even the rain can dislodge. And I knew, honestly, I did, one day I’d deal with it. When I saw you across the street, or in a shop, down a different aisle, I knew I’d deal one day. Just not that day.

And these timelines. Do you have one? What’s on it? Do you ever wish you could shop it, donate it with things which don’t fit, frames you don’t have photos for, now? That you could get off board, just for a while, shut that noise like expensive earplugs almost do? Because I wish all the time. But wish is a lot like prayer, isn’t it? Wasted thought, statuses without any likes. Ha, you know how that is.

There’s no timeline. Not a rational one, anyway. Nothing worth sharing anywhere, with anyone, not without raising an eyebrow chain across all people I’d ever met. And you’d met. Friend.

5 years

H.E.

I regret unregrettable things, like when I asked you to come after work to the cinema and you said no. I can’t change your answer, however many times I go over the word in memory with a blue Bic.

Memory is a shitstorm, makes me understand lobotomisation, because clean slate. I wish my perpetual state was not knowing you, to never have known you to the millimetre, the tailorable inch.

If you ate hearts, I’d be okay with it. I’d be meat, then, sustenance, have made a difference to energy levels, made your synapses fire like one time. But you don’t eat them. You don’t even excavate them fully. You’re a blind operator, using your lighter to torch-guide, and your fingers to detach ventricles, unsterilised. I don’t have a number to ask you why.

Butcher. Come back. Finish what you started. Marry me.

Hollywood Ending

Guest Post by Calum Kerr: Two-Lane Blacktop

It was dark and Billy was walking. He hadn’t been walking long, only about fifteen words so far.

Moonlight flared on the fighter’s smile of the white line: Morse dashes floating in the oily black of the road. Billy expected his boots to make sucking, slurping noises as he walked, but all he heard was the clump-slide, clump-slide, clump-slide of one whole and one broken heel.

He looked back, but all was in darkness. He wondered where he had come from but could remember nothing beyond the last two paragraphs. All he could remember was walking.

There were no lights up ahead, either, and no signs to tell him where he was. He could be anywhere, in any black segment of imagination, he couldn’t tell.

Heat was radiating off the blacktop. He must be somewhere hot.

He carried on walking. He could do nothing else.

He wondered about his destination. Did he even have one? Or would he just keep walking forever.

None of it mattered, all there was lay beneath his feet, metered out in slide-clump, slide-clump, slide-clump.

The word ‘blacktop’ tickled through his brain. Blacktop…

America. He must be in America.

That was something, at least.

And as the thought came to him his vista widened. The scrub of desert appeared on either side, pale grey in the moonlight. The line of the road snaked out into the distance, linking his walking feet to the horizon.

He felt a weight lift inside him. He still didn’t really know where he was, but he now knew that he had a path. That was enough for him.

A faint noise came from behind him and conjured a headlight-cast shadow on the road. The car slowed as it reached him, and the window slid down.

“Going far?” asked a woman’s voice.

“About forty words,” replied Billy. His accent sounded mid-Western in his ears.

“What?”

“I don’t know where I’m going,” he said.

“My kinda guy,” the woman said. “Get in.”

Billy climbed into the car and it set off at speed, driving straight out of the story.

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What If I’m Wrong?

They say steel. But I want to know what’s thicker, and could convince the questionable amongst you. Nelly Furtado says she knew she’d be famous, enviaged it, had premonitions of it, but how many is that true for? She’s just lucky it worked out, and every sad fucker with the same dream is a crisis-broadcast, plastic-wrapper, sweating their insides out, sure that breaks are lottery wins whose odds are as easy as adverts make it.

I saw my future, but I’ll never say what I saw in it.

Back Yourself

If you back yourself, I’ll back you, stand next to the yet to resurrect version of you which makes for super good television. Because my words aren’t criticism, they’re nigh on gospel, and if you savour each syllable, let my sentences set like hand print cement or jello or Botox you’ll find higher levels and I don’t mean Mario, although I don’t sleep much either.

If I tell you your fatness is cured, I’ve cured it, because I never told a lie in my life, but when I did, I found it unswallowable, and time is a series of do and not do, of back-track mistakes and dreaming you look like a Clooney, fuck like a Pitt.

And if you believe me, that in three months you’re standing, my side to your doubled up belt, then I’ve a religion started, I’m head of a brand new estate.

The Window Display is Lovely

I dressed the mannequins from the shins up, sure their struggle, wobbling from the pit of each hand, would tree-topple. But they kept upright, and I passed the knees simply like they weren’t there, and the waist was a wrong measurement which I cured with a belt. Not a placebo, nor a fix either, just a quick fix. And the exert was more than a usual Wednesday so I sat on the shop window floor watching shoppers pass, deciphering what I was wearing and whether they could buy it inside and how much I was hourly, in a different context, one you can’t imagine, really. Everything I wear is stock, uniform, bobbling.

The shirt was a difficult pick and I tried four, five, before the fit was a stiff contour-follower, until the button-doing was a tingle I wouldn’t admit to. And accessories were an easy after and the second mannequin watched as the first one finished, and it knew, I think, that second is better, as you know more second time round.

I imagined hair shapes and colour, and stared at empty space eyes and wondered how workable a mannequin’s mouth is. I don’t mind surface. I can handle dry. But that’s another night, when staff stay late but patrons don’t. For now I’m stuck with staff, talking about prison dads and bathroom fucks and failed careers everywhere else they went. The CVs don’t surprise me, and the stories either made up or simple: an affair, an over, and girlfriends who aren’t ones but whose family ties make the whole thing worth it, sort of, for another 3 years or 4.

As a Little Child

I figure when people have secrets, but I can’t figure the secrets out, what they are, which I guess is why I haven’t been recruited by a specialist government agency, why I never know a disaster’s going down when it is. I assess after, am an aftermath-wallower, understand the intracacies of disengaged looks, feel tension like frission between people’s lips. My job title could be ‘Eye-Fucking Expert’ but instead I settle for the minimum-wage sorts of fall-into jobs we own since the Millennium turned, which was a bad New Year for me, if the eve’s an indication of the coming year, of every coming there will be. And god knows, we’ve all predicted wrong.