Not even a flicker of hope or recognition. Just the same damp stained wall staring back at me. Taunting me but wanting to be my friend. Asking me crude and sweet and cryptic questions about where I am. How am I supposed to know? All I can see is this wall. Changing colour as the emergency services lights paint the walls every 30 to 40 minutes. Not the nicest shade of blue that I’ve ever seen. But it’s better than nothing. At least it makes me feel like I’m at a party. That I don’t want to be at. That no one else has bothered to turn up to. That I’ve been ditched deliberately and I was too stupid to realise that all my friends weren’t going to turn up.
Why are we here? The wall asks me. In such sweet soothing tones that I can’t help but smile back and answer in the same pillow talk tones. Why aren’t we here? Is the best that I can come up with, hoping to placate him until the morning. If the morning is ever going to arrive of course. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the night just carries on forever like some terrible fairground ride that you didn’t want to pay to get on in the first place. But your friends told you that it was going to be the best ride in the world. How would they know anyway? They haven’t tried every ride in the world. Perhaps they have, it’s not like they’d tell me anyway. They’re like that. Friends.
I count my fingertips to make sure they are all there. They are. Still, I don’t know what I was expecting. I was expecting more, something much more. I want superpowers, I want to be the hero in this scenario. Not painting my walls with someone else’s emergency. There’s always someone having more fun than you. Someone who isn’t watching paint dry, rot erode and be reborn within the hour. The paint doesn’t want to set anyway, just another caged bird with wings bound by the cold. Wanting to fly but not being able to move. It must be hell up there.
In the sky, watching. Always watching. Seeing everything happen far below you, removed and totally devoid of point. I suppose you get great views, but what’s the point if you can’t document it? Pictures are meaningless if they aren’t in frames. So put your little bird brain back in the box and tether your feet to this dear old ground like you’ve never left and never want to leave. But sometimes you have a falling out with mother nature and these things happen. She won’t call you back, won’t even acknowledge that you’re dying down here and she has the medicine but won’t do anything but pretend to have lost the key to the cabinet.
She wears a smug look, the kind of look where you know you’ve been bested even if you were in the right. You weren’t in the right. You were just that guy screaming at a window and not realising that you’ve got the wrong house. Or realising that you’ve got the wrong house but you were too far into the action to back out. God hates a coward. So scream, child, scream until your lungs are sore and your mouth is just a vicious o carved from wood. Mother nature likes to know that you’ve got guts and you’re willing to get her attention any way you know how. Even if it as child, nurturing instincts and all that.
But no, I’m just that bird dashing its head against the window because it can’t see what is in front of its face. Not for the first time have I been the one that didn’t have the brains of guts to scream. To call to cry to sin to singe its wings at a sun that it can see. The wall, nods, asks me if I’ve got any cigarettes, I don’t. Well, I have one left, and I’m not sure that it’s going to last the night. I want to see its tail curl against the wall like an old friend that wants nothing more than a warm hug and a smile. I want to see its guts spilled across the floor and its chances of happiness and lust rotting in an old paper cup filled a quarter of the way up with water to act as an ashtray.
You can’t swim here, child, the lakes are too deep and you don’t know how to swim. You’ll only drown when you go out of your depth, it’s best to stay in the shallows and wait until the sun comes up. It’s always better when the sun comes up. We can all wear our sun hats and smile at how ridiculous we look. And paddle until the water reaches halfway up our shins. Because it gets cold further out. And we don’t want you getting cold now do we? The wall doesn’t want to hear about swimming. The wall wants to know why I won’t just turn the light on and do something. Just fight my own shadow, something. Something that isn’t counting the scars that the wall has accumulated over years of being there.
When they say about wishing walls could talk, they don’t mean it. Walls are mundane, you can only see so much dulled human interaction before you go mad. It’s like watching a tv show that you don’t want to see. It’s big brother live forever. But with housemates that aren’t trying to win. With housemates that are, in fact, just trying to survive and make a heaven in a slum. Where the walls are only there so you don’t have to see just how similar everyone else is. That it’s just dust and decay and the occasional smile that will make that day right and fine and beautiful. Where the dust catches in the light and makes fairy dust for the children to marvel at and then forget that they ever saw it in the first place.
Where the fairies can only hold on for so long hoping that someone is going to see them and be their friend. Where they keep touching the backs of peoples necks but the people think it’s just the poor fabric conditioner that they’ve been using that is making all of their t-shirts itch like crazy. It’s not, it’s something more than that, something much more than that. Something bigger than all of us. It’s happiness trying to lift us by our collars and tell us where to go. But we’re too heavy or they’re too weak, or a bit of both. We’re stubborn mules kicking in the heels deep into the earth so that we aren’t sent to the scrapheap too soon. Just trying to take one last hopeful gasp of air.
And hold it in its lungs. But all I get is mildew and damp which is slowly killing me. My wall, my friend, is trying to kill me and there’s nothing that I can do about it. It’s Monday morning every day here, and I can’t escape. The wall isn’t closing in, it’s getting further away. And I think that this upsets me more than it should. And then I think that it’s not even something worth thinking about and then my mind closes in on me. Better the devil that you know after all. But not this devil, this devil is apathetic to even the most hardy of wills. Nothing can happen so nothing is going to happen. He doesn’t even bother trying to talk to the angel on the other shoulder anymore. He knows that he’s just gone to sleep and probably isn’t going to be waking up anytime soon.
Sometimes it’s best for an angel to just sleep it off. Let the hangover rust its wings. Maybe it’ll be better in a couple of days. The wall thinks not. The wall thinks that I shouldn’t sleep, he says that he’ll be all alone if I go. And he’s going stir crazy in this house. There’s nothing left for him to do. I don’t care. All I want is for the sweet caress of sleep to haunt me. To hold me like nothings wrong and we can work it out. It’s going to be better this time I promise. I’ll have a glass of warm milk every night to nurture sleep into my very bones. To hold a promise is to make it and keep it. Like a single lock of hair from when you were a child that you always find when you’re clearing house. Moving onto somewhere new with new walls and nothing but opportunity.
Opportunity to just sleep for once. These days come and go. With this being one that I just want to go. Some days aren’t meant for keeps. They’re meant to be stored away so you know where you are. Little road markings that actually make sense and help you know where you’re going. And I know where I’m going. I’m going to sleep. And when I wake in the morning I want nothing, no, not even dreams.