The earth smells so deep, I feel as though I could drown in it. I’ve spent so long avoiding those strange noises that threaten to drag me back – a pigeon coo, the strike of metal on metal, soft dirt underfoot and cruncy gravel. I hadn’t considered all the senses. So I crouch inside this bush for no good reason that I can think of right now and a hook bursts out from the foliage in front of me, plunges into my chest and grabs me around the ribcage. Then I’m dragged away, kicking and scrambling, screaming and crying, my mouth frothing with blood, my lungs hyper-inflating and pressing two deep purple wings against the remains of the skin.
I never wake up. I just trip myself from one living dream to another. I look down my shirt and my pale body slides effortlessly away in the dark. No purple wings, just a red rash from bites that I cannot stop scratching.
The hollow hums with gentle music. Perhaps it is the red suns rays passing through the leaves, to a lower frequency than the silver wind that whistles. The patter of rain is always black. I’m not allowed outside when it rains, so on wet days I lean out of my window as far as I dare – thirty storeys up – and watch as the skin on my extended arm turns into that of a leopard. Here though there is not even a cloud to threaten my existence. The sky is juicy and flooded, the sun an unknowable keyhole. Below me, I can feel the planet vibrating.
I take a handfull of loose earth and allow the dust to run between my fingers. There’s no greater currency like the ground. I grab handfulls of it whenever I can, I throw it high into the air and I throw great clods of it at the windows of passing cars, poking my head out from my hiding places just long enough to see the explosion. There’s nothing artificial that interests me, even fire.
I climb a few branches and poke my head out from the canopy of the bush. All the sensations that felt concentrated in my little cell now overflow and threaten to engulf. Sometimes I dream about having wings. In my fantasy, the wings grow excruciatingly painfully, agonisingly from my shoulder-blades, so that I never overuse them. It’s this reverence for pain that makes me drag my hands inside holly bushes as I walk past, so my palms are left pricked with little galaxies of tiny red stars. I force nails and pieces of barbed wire through the webs on my fingers and then I clench until the blood runs down the deltas of my knuckles and follows the valleys between the bones in my fingers. I don’t really see the point in being clean on the outside. Infections are just challenges to the soul. Squeeze out the pus and remove all the wrongs from that day – an admiring glance at a building or showing any kind of respect for traffic, other people.
The world around me is falling out of lethargy and into convulsion, wired and translucent. It’s intimidating but I fix it with a hard stare. Sinking back down below the canopy, I take in the stale air around me. I will probably sleep here tonight. I’ll imagine leaping from my window and being caught by the souls of all those people I know who are lost, who have been abandoned by their spirits whom now swirl around the concrete fortresses they’ve put up.
When I do sleep, I dream about the girl with no face, pushing me in front of a fast train, and I wake up scared that the springs in my bed are actually the sharp ballast between the rails.
Time to settle down now. I don’t like insects, but I force myself to lay still when they crawl over me; ants feasting on my wrists and ankles, centipedes crawling across my shoulders, the occassional spider ambling towards me with trepidation and scuttling away when I involuntarily twitch with fear. To rest my mind I’ll imagine those wings, bursting through my flesh, the pain shooting down both arms and down my spine, causing my legs to buckle, before that moment when they unfurl and the wind catches underneath them and I don’t need legs anymore because I am light as helium, drifting up into that vast sea.
I lay down, and the smells of the earth blanket me across my shoulders as the sun respectfully slides away, casting her long shadows and hiding me from the rest of this artificial world.