Last year I suffered an emotional death, sharper than a physical one because of the insolence of memory. Have you ever run so fast that when you stop you can actually see your pulse in your peripheral vision? Well, even when I managed sleep, I ran. The tenacious hold my guilt had on me was requesting my surrender. So far I had managed to keep denial as an occasional drinking buddy.
I humoured therapy for a while, group therapy. I wish that I could feign contempt for the individuals that made up our ensemble. I could then feel interesting and superior and that would at least be a new feeling to savour for a while. But the commonplace scripts allowed for nothing more than apathy and more time to remember. Like I was short on that.
We each alternated between performer and spectator. We weren’t as civilised as an audience; we were there to see the lions work the coliseum with the shrink merely as the gatekeeper. Every bone offered was worried over. If you could find one filthier than yours you left in empty victory. Find none and you knew that vulture would circle above your head later, just as you were shaving your legs or cutting up the onions for your dinner. Vultures don’t smell blood, they sense inevitability.
Almost every time I left with a contemptible sense of relief. There were worse. And that was just enough to force breath into my lungs for a little longer. The air was rancid and shameful but it sustained me.
Poets wax lyrical about the power of the night, that moment when darkness inks out day and leaves you feeling exposed. They tell you it is the occasion when you will suffer most, when you have too much time to think. Hallmark cards assure you that time heals. What the fuck do poets know? My friends, the two that knew, told me to keep busy. God it’s infuriating! Since when does thought cease during the hours of light? The vulture does its best work by the glare of a midday sun.
A car horn was that punch, a request for my tickets was his intimate breath, a passenger sharing my booth was his grip and a smear of rouge on the blonde at the front desk was my bleeding lip. Yet I maintained the façade. I was an ordinary girl in a world where what happened was ordinary. Who would care anyway? It wasn’t headline news.
I stepped onto the footpath and auto-piloted my way to the office. I chanced upon a particularly familiar looking crack in the grey slabs. Steven had brought his skates in and chipped the tiles. I had told him so many times. I lay across the bathroom floor, crossing my arms over my exposed breasts and pulling down the hem of my dress because daddy always taught me modesty. I tasted metallic shame on my lips and licked it off. Pushed my hair back tucking the loose strands behind my left ear. If I didn’t look too untidy perhaps no one would notice.
But then I tasted a hint of death in a runaway tear. I knew that this would give it away.