I wish I could believe you. Or at least have the courage to leave you.
Always the same, predictable. She could set her watch by it. Rolling out of bed at four in the morning. The sticky sheets peeling away like unripe fruit. The thick berry, throbbing dehydrated and disorientated in unfamiliar rooms. What was their name? It didn’t matter. She’ll never see them again. She’d never notice them recognise her in the street or walking past the office door clutching a coffee cup. Yet still she came back, time and again. The one.
Don’t look at me like that. I said don’t look at me this way.
Disappointed stares. They dug into her like a scratching animal looking for food. Tearing the skin away and seeing the blood wash underneath. Checking to see if she bled like them, if she had a soul. Sometimes the eyes would ignore her completely. Erasing her like a waft of bad air in from the street, pungent; but hastily dispersed. And despised. She hated those looks the most. They crawled over her, making her invisible. She would smash her wrists against the wall to check she was still whole, that there was something still of her that functioned; that walked and talked and hurled abuse.
And hurled it well. The neighbours had complained of course, those fuckers. The police had even visited. But she could be quite persuasive. ‘Yes officer, no officer. It must have been the TV. Of course, I’ll be more careful in the future. My number? Well, you already know where I live…’
They hated all that. The random encounters. It had been at the centre of most of their fights. She’d said it meant nothing. And of course, it did. She only did it for the attention. Attention that she was missing. Poor little victim. Here comes that pity party.
All those times, what did you think it did to me? I had to look away.
It had never been the same since moving to the city. Some would blame the bright lights, the lure of the sinful. Lust and danger lurking in the shadows of every street corner. If only they knew. The dangers lurked across her office desk. Inside her head. The polite smile in the coffee shop. Already in her mind. She hadn’t changed by coming here, just giving opportunities to pursue her dreams.
Dreams? Is that what it is? Looks like a fucking nightmare to me. You said you’d change for me!
“I know I did, and I tried…. I have. What do you want for me anyway? I’m here aren’t I?” She scratched her skin again just to check. The fading light outside had darkened the room and she had trouble seeing them, even though they were so close. She could smell them. A wash with alcohol and teeth whitener. The mattered hair and the smear of makeup. Who were they to say anything about her?! She worked fucking hard, she let off a little bit of steam at the end of the week. Big deal. ‘You’re not my fucking mother’.
What a disappointment you are to her. She always loved you, you know; despite what you put her through.
That poor woman.
“I said shut up.”
Have you seen that bruise around your eye? The halo that is shining for the devil. That’s not a result of not sleeping or walking into a doorframe. That’s the fear building up inside of you. The darkness pooling like an infection.
She knew others saw it too. When they looked into her eyes now, a chill came over them. Her non-blinking shark eyes. Swimming over the city in survival mode. That, that was what the city had changed in her. Forcing her to keep up with the rest. Go jogging at weekends and drinks after work. Where was the room for her soul to breathe as the miasma of the city choked her lungs and settled permanently in her bones?
She pulled her hair back, feeling the cool air beneath her neck. She knew they liked this.
I want you though. I’ve always wanted you.
She laughed an ugly laugh, full of blackness and mockery. “You want what’s best for us, that’s all. You don’t care about me really. I still have the scars you know, the ones you gave me.”
The itching on her wrists became incessant. Like a bug crawling its way out. Such pretty scars for a pretty girl. A mangled mess of a generation. The hot tap hissed away; she felt the burn on her hands.
It was so easy at the beginning. When you didn’t feel like running away from your feelings.
“Didn’t you hear me? Or don’t you care. Again, and again I scream my thoughts, and you don’t hear.”
What’s the matter? What is it remind you of?
She looked them dead in the eye. A tempest mix of hatred, love and desperation.
I wish I could believe you.
“I wish I could too.”
The low light of the bathroom etched around the corner of the mirror, and the tap she’d turned on began to steam over the glass. Obscuring them from view.
“I wish I had the courage to leave you.”