Lines and words, they disappear before my eyes. If it were not for this aching memory, I would not know if this was just a dream. What makes you choose certain ones to slowly erase over days?
What is left is a puzzle, only to be deciphered by us. Who else is it that sees or does not see these manipulations and deletions?
The meaning that remains is not the meaning that was. Intimacy has shifted, there is a lightness and hollowness that betrays original intent. Editor, are you trying to change the superficial or change your memories?
It is a strange thing that the entirety is not banished. What is it that you wish to remain or remind you of me? Partial rejections are more painful than complete ones.
I see one word gone, then another. I feel like someone has stopped my mouth, that all words are pushed back inside me, piling together in a confused mass. They echo in me and I cannot bear it.
Listen, rewind, transcribe.
I am telling you my story this week, the same as I do every week. I am the young girl who cannot eat, I am the woman who is frozen with anxiety, I am the man who fears everything.
You eavesdrop, the way you always do. Little tapes, scrawled notes, neutral voices.
My voice is not neutral. My voice devours me from the inside. It whispers palpitations, blackness, shame. I can’t, I don’t, I won’t. This is the voice that tells me so.
I swallow and electrify. I am adjusted and disconnected. I am the problem, I am the study. Patient presents. Patient reports.
I know you. My secrets are passed to you. You listen and decipher, coded words on a page, unravelled and re-spun into neat lines, neat problems, vague solutions.
I am a book, haphazardly written. This is my story, adjusted and rewound. Are you this? Are you that? Are you what you were and who you will be?
I am a character, they are the author, you are the transcriber.
It is no longer my story. I am shaped and submitted and filed away. I am clean edges and straight folders, not shaking hands, screaming head and pounding heart.
I know you. You are the listener, the reducer.
When you stop listening, you are the same as me.
Why is it that the good-hearted are willing to be preyed on, hopeful in that what it is they see within the turmoil will unfold itself and shed the poisons that cling to it like some chrysalis?
I think of this and imagine The Fall of Icarus and the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian that hang in the Louvre. The eyes of the saint are skyward, his pale body shot through with arrows, his face set in the pain he bears. What pleasure is this that you can tolerate each new shot for?
Your marksman is deliberate when he aims. A careful eye, which marks the precise place which will inflict the maximum ache.
This is proof of your love, he says. You take each arrow for me, and every one is slightly more bitter and stinging than the last. Does this make you look more upwards still, determined in your heart to find what it is you seek?
There is instinct, and there is instinct. One makes you sharp and wary. You blink, analyse and see the blueprint of a personality. The other is your bleeding heart, your kind thoughts. They wrap swollen veins around your eyes and whisper of castles in the air into your wanting ears.
When the body is broken does the spirit soon follow? Or does it still soar skyward, lifted further with some divine belief?
Icarus, the wings which you have constructed are melting, and you do not heed the warnings of hubris or heart. Your eyes, they do not know of the sea below, for the rush of gravity fills you with an ecstasy you mistake for your great reward.
Charlie Hill is an ex-art school delinquent who fled to London to pursue a philosophy degree. In spite of this, she still doesn’t know any good Socrates jokes but she can tell you exactly how much Plato you can read without getting a headache. She is currently living and writing in a converted lunatic asylum near London.
This Charlie’s second appearance in the SRL. Read her short story, “Peripheries”, here.