Once upon a time, in a land far far away, a seed came to land in fertile ground. With the slow deliberation of the approaching dawn marking a murderer’s execution or the last snapping of the thread holding a mountaineer aloft, the little seedling burrowed into the soil and started to grow. Time passed, as it will, and soon the seedling sprouted green stems of life into the air, as if to reach the sun. It inevitably pursued its battle against gravity and soon grew to its perfect potential height. More time passed, as it will, and soft leaves unfurled from the now bristly brown-green stems and branches that were once but a seedling. These leaves spread like glistening nature and soon covered the whole plant. Still time passed, as it will, and the magnificence of the dew-fresh leaves was suddenly overshadowed by a singular spectacle: a sweet, sweet blossom bursting from a dozing bud. It unfurled like a whispered promise and revealed the heart of beauty in perfect, velvet petals, its soft vellum gruesomely, beautifully painted with crimson veins. Once upon a time, I came across this flower in bloom. I made to grab it, pick it, but in my blindness I saw not the thorns that bit deeply and brought blood, Still, I grasped my treasure and tore it from its life and held it firmly, for me, only me. Time passed, as it will, and my flower lost its cream and crimson. Its petals became brittle and flew to the air at wind’s slightest caress. Finally there came a time when only the thorns, still hooked deep, remained bitten into my flesh, nestled in my torn and bloody hand as like a babe at a mother’s breast.
I’ve been single almost exactly a year.
This is something of an achievement for me, I’d have you know. Usually I attach myself to the first likely-looking character and remain attached in a barnacle-esque fashion. But I’ve resisted. I’ve withstood the test of (lonely, oh so lonely) time. Do not misunderstand me, I’ve had a fair share of little liaisons to season an otherwise unsalted dish. But they were casual at best and disastrous at worst. And most importantly, they were strictly NON-emotional.
Enter one whom I will name Delilah. Not that I attempt some obtuse reference to the over-known Biblical tale and in so doing insinuate that she undoes me, but certainly she is the first to weaken my resolve so that I am currently contemplating a relationship. And that is a compliment, reader, despite what it may look like.
Enter fear. Fear of so many things. Let me explain…
As with my last relationship, this new prospect will be with a girl. As with the last relationship she is sporty, highly intelligent and beautiful. As with the last relationship she has a messed up family situation. And as with the last relationship we’ve skipped the introductory levels of any courting process and gone straight to “of course we can sleep naked next to each other!’. Do not pass go. Do not collect a solid foundation for a relationship.
And so, dear reader, I must inevitably ask myself whether I am merely repeating history. Whether I am doomed to fall for the same type of person again and again in a never-ending cycle of lust, obsession, horror and brutality. Or am I merely a piss-ass paranoid neurotic who needs to chill the fuck out and give it time to run its course? (Point of information: my mini Indian therapist opts for option B though she had enough tact not to state it so explicitly…)
I leave this inconsequential conundrum in your apathetic hands, anonymous reader.
La Labouche, signing off…
“I would die for you…I would die for you…I’ve been dying just to feel you by my side…just to know that you’re mine…” – Garbage
“Drag my teeth across your chest to taste your beating heart.” – Florence & The Machine
I cannot but want you. Whether it is merely a manifestation of my obsessive nature or a unique quality of yours, I cannot but desire you. I’ve known the feel of your skin and the warmth of your lips yet I would have more. I would consume you. I seem an over-ripened fruit ready to burst from the pressure of all that I contain within. I would have you peel my neatly-splitting skin and devour the flesh of my deepest obsession. I would have you consume me. I would not have us stop until we are slick and sweet with our sticky lust.
Yet it is more than that. I would possess you too. I would claim your every shadowed look and smiling glance, and count myself a sovereign among servants for my treasures. I would collect your cotton-candy dreams with soft touches and savour their sweetness. I would rip your fears and hurts from your heart till not a root remains. I would fan to flame the coals of your life till you are devoured in its heat. And still, you would have more. I would do more.
If only you would let me.
A thick shaft of buttery sunlight slants across the floor and slides up the wall. In its light can be seen the varied debris of a lived-in home. A softly-patterned scarf dangles across a chair. A single shoe lies missing its partner in a dark corner next to the bed. Across the dresser is strewn a collection of powders, perfumes and other paraphernalia aimed at imitating beauty. Not quite in the light stands a half-open door through which a faint humming can be heard. A sweet moment passes in which the only sounds are the distant ticking of a kitchen clock, the subtle song drifting down the hallway and a somnolent buzzing of life through the open window.
A sudden, sharp click-clacking taps down the hallway and carries the humming closer to the doorway. A slender figure emerges and clacks towards the bed. A serving tray rests in her hands and on it lies a most magnificent meal. Freshly brewed coffee steams into the summer air next to a plate boasting all sorts of breakfast delights. Richly glistening eggs keep company with crispy strips of bacon, perfectly golden slices of toasted bread and saucy baked beans. A separate plate contains a towering pile of fluffy flapjacks covered with slick sticks of butter. The sharp tang of freshly squeezed orange juice mingles with the musky scent of genuine maple syrup where the two containers stand together. A small glass vase holds a single dangling blossom, bright and white. Carefully she places the tray with its treasures on a wide side table next to the bed. Once she is finished carefully arranging every plate and cup and glass, the woman turns a wide smile to the shape slumped on the bed beside her.
“Look what I’ve made for you. Doesn’t it look delicious?”
Her voice is as bright and warm as the sun streaming through the open window. Her matching smile dims only slightly when no answer is forthcoming, but quickly regains its brilliance as she seats herself close to the bed-ridden figure.
“I’ve made all your favourites. Surely you’d like a bite or two?” She speaks softer now, her voice low and intimate, her hand trailing a delicate line through mussed-up hair. “Hmmm, I think this may need a wash again. What do you think?”
She pauses expectantly but, again, no answer comes her way. A small frown creases her forehead. “Now there’s no need to be huffy, you know. A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would be better than this moody silence.”
The creases of her frown deepen and the beginnings of real anger start to simmer in her eyes. Before she can give voice to this emotion, a muffled mumbling finally issues from the figure.
“Oh, but of course! Silly me!” Her delighted laughter tinkles like summer rain from her lips. “How can you possibly talk with this thing still wrapped around you?”
With a swift tug, the woman undoes the knot binding the silk scarf around the man’s head, leaving his mouth free and able to open. Relief fleetingly occupies his face, but is soon replaced by the ever-present fear and panic.
“There, all better.” Her features are once more lit with her glowing smile. “Would you like some of this delicious breakfast now?” She traces his face with loving fingers as she speaks, seemingly ignorant of his faint trembling.
“Ye-,” he begins, but his voice rasps ragged from an unused throat.
“Oh poor dear, you must be almost silly with thirst! Here, have some orange juice. I squeezed it myself this morning, just for you.”
She carefully tilts the glass till it rests against his cracked lips then steadily pours its contents into his eager mouth. She replaces the empty glass on the tray, then takes the folded napkin and gently wipes away the traces of juice at the corners of his mouth.
“Better?” she asks lovingly. He clears his throat and gives a small cough. “Yes. Thank you.” Her smile widens almost impossibly at the sound of his voice. “Now, how about some breakfast?” He merely nods but she shoots from the bed as if he had voiced some strong imperative. As has become her routine, she places the tray on a stand across the man’s lap then positions herself so that she can easily reach his mouth with a food-laden fork. In small pieces she feeds her love the delicious breakfast she prepared for him, all the while alternating between affectionate chatter and soft, sweet humming. When all the plates are cleared, she returns the tray to the side table and stashes the stand under the bed as always. Having finished her duty, she is now free to indulge her pleasure and, as with every morning, stretches out alongside the man with a soft, contented sigh. Many minutes pass before the man can gather his shredded courage and voice his plea once more.
“Lillian, please…” his voice trembles as tears trail, yet again unbidden, down his face. “Please, Lillian, please let me go…”
At his words she looks sharply up but her face instantly softens at the sight of his tears. “Oh darling, no! Don’t cry! Sshh, don’t cry.” She wraps her hands around his cheeks and gently kisses away his tears but the gesture only causes him to cry even more. “Oh my baby, don’t cry. I’m here and nothing’s going to happen to you. Ssshh….”
“Please…please let me go…please…”
“No darling, I can’t do that. You’re mine, you see, and you belong here with me. If I let you go you’d never come back. Or if you stayed, it would only be a matter of time before you find someone else and leave me.” She leans forward, voice fervent and heated, “and you cannot leave. Not ever. You’re mine, William, forever. Do you understand that? Forever.”
He nods, as she expects, and immediately her face resettles into its familiar, pleasant lines. “Of course you understand.” Her voice is soft and loving once more as she returns to holding him where he lies tied to the bed. Snuggling into his chest, she tightens her arms around him then whispers into his skin, voice laden with adoration, “I love you, William.”
He stares blankly at the ceiling, dead in every sense except the literal. Finally he whispers raggedly, as expected, voice empty and without inflection, “I love you too, Lillian.”
I find myself in that disconcerting phase of singledom where I’m constantly contemplating love and the lack of it in my life.
Gone are the days of devil-may-care promiscuity, where every hook-up was a middle finger to the ex and a resolute confirmation of my extreme single-girl freedom. Friends with benefits? Puuhlease! There was no ‘friends’ about it. Our excuse of ‘bringing me new series’ was as flimsy and see-through as a plot in a porno, and with a similar outcome. Then, as there always does, there came the day where one of us developed those inappropriate, god-forbidden feelings for the other. I’d like to say it was him for me, but we all know how this story really goes…
So now I’m in that uncomfortable in-between place. The Sahara desert of singlehood. I once had an oasis, but the oasis kicked me out for indecent behaviour in a fuck-buddies-only zone, so now I’m roaming the scorching sands of solitude in search of a likeable, committed oasis that’s ready to settle down and consider a white picket-fence. Ok, I’m mixing (and grossly extending) my metaphors but you get the protracted picture. I’ve yet to come to that place all women reach when they’ve been single long enough. You know, the one where you resign yourself to that inescapable spinsterhood and the cats. That phase may sound seriously depressing (because it is) but at least it has the definite benefit of not caring. Spinsters don’t give a cat’s ass that they’re doomed to everlasting loneliness because they’ve made peace with their solitude. Also, they eventually go bat-shit cray-cray, which helps. Unfortunately I’m still stuck in no-man’s-land with no end in sight, but still possessed of enough mental faculties that I still care. Jesus, it sucks.
To add salt to an over-seasoned wound, we live in an over-exposed age where every medium for art is saturated and very readily available. The worst is that the majority of these works are actually good and consequently that much harder to ignore. Being a die-hard Florence fan, for instance, I wouldn’t dare accuse Miss Welch of anything, except maybe being too goddamn awesome. And yet my shrivelled heart contracts rather vengefully every time her siren voice croons of love and obsession, and I can’t help but hate her, and her equally infectious contemporaries like Lana Del Rey, for injecting said defeated organ with a longing that shreds and severs. (Anyone unfamiliar with the magnificence of Florence + The Machine, or disagreeing with me, listen to ‘Strangeness and Charm’ and tell me that you weren’t overpowered by an almost divine need to possess and consume someone entirely). And these are but a few examples of accomplished artists crooning their tunes about love. The unwashed masses also rap and techno and pop about love and obsession and a helpless, impulsive lust. Not to mention the mountains of pulp fiction lining bookstores worldwide where, between flimsy book covers and on almost oily pages, any lonely soul can indulge in a fictional world where two lovers meet and obsess and, at long lost, consume and possess. If contemplating such visceral need doesn’t set your lady loins or man-danglies a-tingling, then you are obviously a cyborg come from the future to destroy mankind. That, or someone needs to keep this crazy cat lady off the freaking internet…
La Labouche, signing off…
Ok La, time to earn all those follows….
So I’ve been avoiding blogging for a number of weeks because of all the dark, twisty things happening in my head (and by association my life) lest they leak out onto my writing and potentially terrify the unsuspecting masses (I use ‘masses’ with no small sense of irony here) reading my little posts. But then I thought, “Ah screw it. Who doesn’t enjoy a touch of the macabre pasted across a lightly shining computer screen?”.
If you answered, “Me!” to that (technically) rhetorical question there, then you might want to avert your baby blues (or browns) at this stage and turn your attention to more wholesome things, like big-busted Asian porn or something.
Today’s dark and twisty involves coming to terms with my own glaring deficiency. Everyone talks about depression the way they would talk about a nasty bug doing the rounds. “Did you hear? Sarah’s got depression!”. “Oh no, don’t tell me she’s got it too? Seems everyone’s coming down with it these days…”. At least, that’s the way it seems to me. I can’t walk five steps without bumping into some chronically depressed, anxiety-laden misfit (Oh wait, that’s just my reflection in the mirror). And that kind of prevalence definitely detracts from depression’s rep, you know. It’s suddenly not so serious, not so tragic, because everyone’s got it.
I’m here to spread the gospel and you know what, that’s utter BS.
But even more serious/tragic/pathetic is when you need to face up to your own chemical inadequacies and pop some pills just so that you can, you know, function. Suddenly life looms ahead of you like that endless stretch of hallway in a nightmare. You know the door’s there somewhere ahead of you but angels-be-damned if you can spot the bloody thing. And lining the walls of this hell-way are frames filled with faces showing every conceivable reaction on the spectrum: barely-concealed disdain, bitter contempt and, worst of all, heart-searing pity…
My therapist says I should look at this as if it were some other disease, like diabetes. No one blames the old guy for taking insulin shots, so why should I be blamed for taking pretty little pills to boost my seratonin and dopamine levels? Except no one gives Gramps that look. You know the one where they’re thinking to themselves, “Whiny brat, you’re just pretending because you’re too weak and spoilt to deal with the real world…” And if it so happens that most of the faces wearing that look happen to be mine, well…Freud would have a field-day.
And now, avid and enthralled reader (snort, cough, choke), feel free to return to your more fulfilling pasttime of whatever you were doing before this, with the resolute knowledge that you depart these words none the wiser nor in any way altered or enriched….or do you?
La Labouche signing off…
“That girl over there. She’s sitting all by herself. She looks very lost. Maybe she needs help?”
“Oh, her. Listen here, boy, you don’t want nothing to do with her. You hear me?”
“What do you mean? She’s just a harmless girl. I’m going to go ask if she needs help.”
“Don’t! I mean it, boy! It’ll mean your life if you talk to that girl!”
“You can’t be serious…”
“Serious as cancer, kid.”
“But…but she’s just a girl. A lost-looking, lonely girl. How’s she going to kill me?”
“Not two months ago this kid came along, a newbie like yourself. Too smart for the likes of us, you see. I told him, same as I told you, to leave that girl alone. Well, Mr Know-it-all didn’t think much of my advice. Thought so little of it, in fact, that he went right on over to that girl and tried to talk to her. Didn’t get very far.”
“Why? What happened?”
“The same thing that happens every time, kid. She killed him. Killed him dead as dead can be.”
“But how? Quit talking in circles, old man, and get to the point! How does this harmless little girl kill a full-grown man? In broad daylight no less.”
“Alright, alright! I’ll tell you. No need to get all worked up… See, it starts out all innocent. Some guy will walk over to her, usually some Good Samaritan type like yourself, looking to see if she’s alright. He’ll say the usual line, “Sorry Ma’am, do you need some help?”. But before he gets more than two words out his mouth she’ll look up and he’ll be caught —“
“Caught? What do you mean ‘caught’?”
“I’ll tell you if you’ll stop interrupting my story!”
“As I was saying, he’ll be caught. Caught in her eyes.”
“That’s what I said, ain’t it? You going deaf, boy?”
“But how’s that even possible? I mean, eyes?”
“ You ain’t never seen eyes like these before, kid, I can tell you that much. They’re something else. It’s like she’s got ice instead of eyes. Sharp, glittering ice that’s been split into tiny splinters that you can feel all the way to your bones. To your soul. And once she’s got those splinters in you, there ain’t no escape…”
“Escape from what?”
“What’s wrong with her fingers?”
“That girl, that harmless little girl you wanted to talk to. She carries Death in her fingertips.”
“I don’t understand…”
“Once you’re caught in her eyes, she’ll get up real slow. And even more slow she’ll put those fingers on your skin, on your face. The moment she touches you, it feels like the ice from her eyes is pouring into your mouth and forcing its way down your throat. Down, down it goes till it’s got your heart in a death grip. And then it’s like…it’s like…”
“What? What happens then?”
“Well, it’s like you can hear your heart break. With one great snap the whole icy lump cracks and crumbles into nothing. Then your eyes film over like you’ve been dead for days. And you let out one last gasp, a puff of smoke in the air. Then you’re dead. Deader than dead. Just an icy corpse.”
“But…how? How does she do that?”
“No one really knows, kid. Some say she done something real awful and this is her punishment. Others say she got cursed by some evil demon and she can’t never get rid of it. Me, I got a theory of my own.”
“What’s your theory, then?”
“It’s her loneliness. Her loneliness kills the people around her.”
“Her loneliness? What makes you think that?”
“I been watching her for quite some time, boy. I’ve seen a few of her kills. At first I only saw the victims, the stubborn do-gooders that thought they would help out some helpless girl. But later on I started seeing her too. And do you know what I saw every single time that girl killed?”
“Sadness. Heart-wrenching sadness all across her face like a neon sign. And tears streaming down her cheeks like little rivers. It hurts her just as much every time she kills, but for some reason she can’t stop. And I say that reason is loneliness.”
“Yeah, I see it now. She’s so desperately alone that she can’t help reaching out for human contact, even if it ends up killing the other person. That’s terrible… But doesn’t that little bit of contact take away some of her loneliness? Even just a little?”
“Nah, it just makes it worse. I seen that too. Every time after a kill, she looks colder, more icy. And her fingertips are so full of Death, it’s like you can see him dancing there. Waiting for the next victim.”
“Wow that’s — Wait, how do you know all of this? About her eyes and the ice?”
“’Cos I’m the only one that’s ever survived her.”
Whenever I give form to my depression, it is a man.
He is not a man with skin and hair and nails. Neither does he have eyes of any recognisable colour or lips of blushing red. No, he has none of those things. Instead, he has a body that glistens slick as an oil spill over every grotesque inch of his naked shape. His is a physique that makes a mockery of masculine appeal. What should act as a rival to David becomes hideous and terrifying, no more so than when this lean strength bunches together in the leaping bound that inevitably has him crouched on my body. Knees pressed to my chest, this sickly shining man digs his colossal weight into me till I struggle to breathe. His face, strong-jawed and sharply-angled, is always leering with malicious satisfaction, at once beautiful and hideous. He lowers his head until his straight, narrow nose is a mere quiver from mine, and until all I can see are his eyes that are not eyes. In them I see the show reel of my every harrowing pain play in a continuous loop. I am sliced anew by every cutting moment of rejection, betrayal and regret, made more potent for the repetition, and I am transfixed. I barely notice his burning hand at my throat and its slowly building pressure. Only when the looping reel blurs and my ears catch a terrified sobbing do I realise my situation. It is too late. I can do nothing but suffocate…deliberately…grotesquely…under the weight of this hulking man.
I was sitting in a local coffee dispensary, writing the first draft of a blog post in my Moleskine notebook and enjoying a latte (full caffeine, whole milk, five packets of raw sugar ... I'm hardcore like that, it's just the way I roll). This particular establishment had once been known as a meeting place for lesbians; but over the years the herd has thinned and rather than a flock of femmes or a bevy of butches you're more likely to see a gaggle of high school girls being incredulous and astonished about…
I like names. They're really important pieces of people, if you think about it. They're with you for the rest of your life, and to me, a woman who will most likely relinquish her last name after marriage, that's pretty significant.
I'm named after my great-grandfather Charles Brown; he was a fruit farmer in Delaware and an all-around snazzy guy, from what I can gather.
As an aspiring writer who has finally scraped together the courage to create a blog, I am faced with a serious case of cold feet. Suddenly I am in a position (by choice, I might add, but that rarely counts for anything when complaining) where I now need to put my mouth where my blog is. By necessity, I must now presume to be worthy of attention and interest. I tell you what, it’s a daunting prospect for someone who’s only ever gotten so far as to keep an all-too-average diary. But I’ve made my bed and I guess it’s time to lie in it. Not before I expound on all these feelings of inadequacy, though. ‘Cos it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to…
So this is my great internal struggle in a nutshell: how do I so arrogantly presume that what I have to say (or write, in this case) is of any value or importance whatsoever? Were we to psychoanalyze the shit out of this question, we would no doubt reach the conclusion that this particular dilemma is deeply rooted in my own feelings of inadequacy and constant fear of failure and rejection. But, since this is in fact a blog and not my weekly session with my mini-Indian therapist, we will instead try to look for a more meaningful and widely-applicable alternative.
Consider, if you will, the following possibility: in this world of over-blogging and social networking excess, it is perhaps not too outlandish to hesitate to contribute yet more drivel to this opinionated morass. As has been widely remarked by all and sundry, we live in a world of over-exposure where every minute detail of our lives suddenly acquires considerable importance (or so it seems). We must constantly emote, express, expound… preferably with a photographic accompaniment, ever too artistically improved through amateur filters. It is, undoubtedly, the norm for every wannabe artistic anything to document their meagre contributions to this thing called life. (Watch out, La, your cynicism is showing…). Ok, true. But this situation merits some cynicism. Our writing has, much like our lifestyles, become a matter of quantity over quality. We have allowed our instant-gratification needs to infiltrate even our arts, these works that especially require time and caring attention.
And yet, as you’ve no doubt noticed, I am not immune to this slow degradation of the written art, since here I sit, contributing my opinionated drivel to this overflowing morass. I guess I’m just another product of my generation like Twitter, Facebook and apathy.
So with no small sense of irony, I hereby upload these words committed to digital page with a vague attitude of “Ah well, fuck it.”. May you get a particular kick out of my special brand of hypocrisy, like only blogging can provide.
La Labouche, signing off…
This is it, kids. The moment none of you have been waiting for. After years of threatening to do this (mainly myself…in my head), I have finally started that ever-elusive blog so that I may finally fulfill my English teacher’s parting wish that I ‘always keep writing’. Well here I am, Miss K, keeping writing.
I don’t promise much, dear anonymous Internet dwellers. Merely life as I see it. If it’s any consolation then I promise I find that point of view particularly interesting. Whether you will, well… I guess you’ll just have to find out.
Here’s to my first post!
La Labouche, signing off…