I’m so tired. I shamble over the ridge, looking down at the town below – faded pink and yellow lights, and the distant shrieks and cries of people passing through an hour’s worth of inebriated contentment with the world. Heels, frocks and stockings. I knew them all once, threw them aside with abandon, fishnets simmering and smoking over a naked lamp. I knew cherry lipstick, greasy hair and morning breath that tasted so sweet to a loser. Now, the words weigh heavy on my eyelids. There’s too many to say and not enough to write. So I turn my back on the town and stumble under a black sea.
I sit down on a lump of stone and look across at a sepia photograph of a landscape I once knew, where wingless birds flitted and buzzed over our heads and you got grass stains on the knees of your tights. My suit is in tatters – holes in the thighs and fraying at the ankles, the shoulder straps tied into knots to compensate my shrinking waist. The soles of my boots flap like gossip. My face doesn’t feel water anymore and any kind of emotion cracks the skin like underfired clay.
I haven’t slept since 1991 and I refuse to as long as your face keeps appearing. Sometimes you approach me in a street where the pavement is lit from below; the road is covered in glass over deep pits that cars carefully drive over. Sometimes I am standing in a park playing with my daughter as my love takes pictures of us both smiling and giggling and I see you standing in between two trees; silent and faintly reverberating so the trunks shimmer like in a heat mirage. Sometimes you’re on a billboard as I’m driving along the highway as a rancid little seventeen year old with slicked back hair and a leather jacket twelve years too big for me, usually adveristing chewing gum or hairspray. Sometimes you’re just a rumour – a pair of familiar initials carved into a tree that bleeds red, and a forest that suddenly erases all the paths and leaves me suffocated under a dark canopy, easy prey for the wolves.
Let he who casts the first stone…. well, fuck it. I have nothing to lose. I’m casting it. So I pick up a fragment of the lump I’m sitting on and I hurl it into the black landscape, hoping to shatter the pane that stands between me and my freedom. I want to see the light beyond. I throw it so hard I feel my back click out of place. I throw it so hard a nerve pinches from the back of my head down to my knee. I throw it and let out a scream that rips the dry skin at the corners of my mouth as the invisible crowd below me in their soft, candy floss ocean, let’s out a roar in tandem with an event they will never see…. never understand.
The rock falls unseen into the void below. As if in response a brisk wind whips around my legs and I stretch my arms out waiting to fly. But nothing happens. Something is trickling onto my jawbone.
Time to try and sleep again. The grass looks soft here and the night is warm. No one will disturb me so I don’t bother trying to find shelter. Eventually the lights of the town will go out. The wailing voices will go silent one by one like hypothermia victims after a shipwreck.
I sit back down; just a silly man in a bad suit.