Short Story: NOWHERE MAN

Have you ever looked at a staggering figure on a beach and seen someone so utterly alone: an anonymous man swaying to the waves with shoes slung around his neck, linen slacks rolled up to his knees, shirt unbuttoned to his navel?

Have you seen a man like that?

I have. That’s me I’ve just described – or, at least that’s what I think I look like viewed from, say, the bungalows behind the palm trees.

What am I still doing here, why am I not some place warmer, more settled? I ask myself.

It’s the off-season and the beach is dead, wrapped in a sallowness that makes you want to just give up. But this is Stone Town, there’s always something to do, even in the off-season, which this place has been in since October. Since the fire…

This short story was published in today’s Kalahari Review. Find the rest of it here:
http://www.kalaharireview.com/fictionpoetry/2015/7/24/nowhere-man.html

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Cosmic Love.

When I think about you, and what could’ve been (when am not thinking about what I coold”ve done different) I tell myself this lie.

… That once upon a time, we were two comets hurtling through the vast space. Our orbits orbits us in their firmamental spheres, drawing us closer and closer together. A magnetism we fought, knowing all too well that it was futile to fight.

And across the emptiness, the fluid blackness of space, through the distance between what was impossible and improbable shortened, with us in love. Magically. Nothing mattered. For we dreamt of each other as we went on with our comet business, hurtling closer to the sun, towards predestination. Our trails tracing the evidence of our love, a dark force yearning the light of something other than prudent indifference.

But like Icarus we flew to close to the sun that our wings, our graces cAught fire and we panicked. And we led our trajectories to weave the same fate, our demise entangled.

And when something other than our bodies touched. The last free space of consequence closed between us, our fates sealed. And we burned. Burned brighter than the sun. Brighter than hell.

Our individual fires too bright for either to hold, so we split, inconceivably, obeying the diminutive laws of physics and pushing farther apart scorching everything in our wake, burning everything that couldn’t rein in our yearnings. And the distance widened, the stars fell from the stars and the way to each other got lost in the blackhole of infinity.

We touched for a moment. But it’s consequences lasted eternity. Lasts still. In that reaction we separated each other inexorably and forever.

The only question is, with no other comet able to contain our individual fires, will we spend the rest our lives searching for each other or  will we burn out like an old sun and fall off the face of existence?

A Rose With No Name.

I walk down the hallway, unsteady on these familiar legs. The counter is empty, but for the numerous cheap perfumes in the air. The counter is empty, but for her. She’s still here. She’s always been here. The way she looks at me, she’s been waiting. She uncrosses her leg, and looses her scowl, she swirls her index around the brim of her sherry glass. She looks up and what tender smiles tease about the shadows around her.

I approach. She calls me. Not by my name, but the one I use here, the same way her name’s not really Daphne after my childhood crush.

Our monikers are adapted out of wariness. The past, here always comes in the form of he who can’t forget more than your face. We don’t look for anonymity when we choose to remain nameless, had we been we’d probably be more selective. I’d chose anything other than Merrick.

This is the only place where aliases and monikers are currency. The only place were you can look past the cage of your name and the lie doesn’t make you feel like a cheat or a fraud.

The first time I lied about my name, the first time I came here, I was plain, transparent like the veil that swung shut behind me. I listened to a few names and practiced some myself, in the bathroom. After some toil I came up with Merrick. It has some potency to it, doesn’t it.

I thought it charming when my time came to introduce myself, everyone just shrugged, they’d heard better. What they hadn’t seen was someone capable of complete detachment. A complete anonymi. I didn’t know I had it in me, but I’d swirled so long in the chaos of a less than ordinary life and still hadn’t found my place within the humaneness of rut. I’d always known that human labels were inseparable from humanity. And until that moment when they accepted me as one of them, all I’d ever wanted was to hoard myself in Walden, my adeptly named abyss and wait for the darkness to consume me.

Now, years later, I still sit at the bar with a studied nonchalance, trying not to look too hard and too long at my reflection in the mirror. Coz this place is a hall of mirrors, not for people searching for their essential selves, but for those who have already realised there’s no essential self.

Tobey, the bartender nods, and it looks like all of them just did. He has kind but unforgiving eyes. And a name I wish I had stolen. Daphne won’t tire of calling it out.

Daphne: “Tobey… Tobey…”

It sounds like razor blades in my ears. How I envy that fool.

Tobey leans in. She asks him what he thinks of me. And am here, that’s another thing about this place. Everything is said to your face. This is where you kick your addiction to taking things so personally.

Tobey gives me the once over, as he wipes a glass. I can’t tell whether that’s a snarl or a smile. Most of us, here, are about as expressive as frozen heads in Idi Amin’s freezer.

Tobey: “Honestly, I think you were meant for each other. But also you weren’t.”

How every conversation with Tobey turns into some kind of Catch-22 dickhole squirt.

His eyes, still on me. That look… that look I can read. Pity. “Merrick is Merrick. He’s good natured and wickedly handsome, if you take to that rugged leaning. But can he offer you what you want?

“Can he give you all that you’ve spent your whole life not wanting?”

She looks at me. And I want her to see me, see me beyond the veil, beyond the man, see me the way I see myself when am curled inside Walden.

I want her to see me for my vulnerable strength, my misguided piety. I want her to see that if she denied me her real name I’d go deaf for nothing else would be worth listening to. I want to see that she can trust me to stay in her cage with her longer than she needed me.

I see. She says. She drinks her drink. “But a girl can be right in her wrongness, cant she?”

And even without knowing it, am blushing. I’m seeing something in my reflection that I’ve never liked. That uncertainty before an epiphany. That leap before the abyss. That thing that doesn’t terrify me anymore. Promise.

I shudder.

Mostly because I’ll never know what I’ll never be in her eyes. She sees me as she wants to see me see myself.

And I make contact. And Tobey buggers off. And she just plays with her sherry. Twirling and twirling her index. The same way the anticipation is doing me. The charade is too much for me. And if I could I would tear her name from her throat. And sing it to myself like I own it. Perhaps someday.

But not today. Today I sit and just wait. Her breath so close. Mine so far retreated am barely breathing. Only one of us is alive. Essentially. Only one of us here is aware of self. And it isnt me, if it was I would not keeo my hands only to myself.

Her drink over, she gets up to leave. And I stand up too. And in her eyes, I can see that she’s forgotten me in an instant. The way we’re supposed to forget how to give in to those who want more than they’re willing to lose.

She leaves.

And if I could I’d call her back. Call her to me.

Perhaps someday.

Perhaps today. Perhaps now.

I call out “Daphne!”

And she turns.

Excerpt — Mirror, Mirror (YA Lit)

demon

JUMP TO:

Apollo declining my suicide pact.

He calls me crazy and asks— “Are you off your meds, Daphne?”

I wasn’t. I don’t think so.

“But…” I mumble then trail off.

“I know…” He cups my shoulders, “Daphne, whatever it is you think you’ve learnt about me, don’t… just don’t.”

“It’s all an act then?”

“No, it’s not an act.”

“What is it then?

He jerks away, “This is crazy—killing yourself should serve a bigger purpose than just not living.”

“Thank you. It’s always nice to be reminded that your death, like your life is meaningless.”

Don’t do that. He says. “Don’t be that girl who expects everyone to take sides with her suffering.”

I laugh. “Wow. Just when I think I’ve seen it all.”

Peeved: “Wha’thefuck is supposed t’mean?”

“You never tell me about yourself, it’s always about me, me, me. At some point all the attention gets to choke. I’ve never asked you about your past coz it’s your past. It shouldn’t matter but you go around like this now, this present is all you have; living like you’re already dead.”

“There’s a big difference between that and actually killing yourself.”

“That’s not what a suicide pact is. It’s like a chastity ring. Something that tells me am not drowning alone— it’s selfish, but what in this world isn’t?”

His shoulders drop, he heaves a heavy sigh. He wants to understand me from my point of view, it’s the least he can do.

I tell him I’ve reached a point, where I feel tired of wandering in my own skin. I constantly find myself starting to ask questions that lead to only one answer— that ending it all was the only problem in the world worth thinking about. Suicide is the factor that holds the equation of a life as miserable as mine in place.

I don’t think anyone with suicidal thoughts really thinks they can kill themselves. I think they know, and have convinced themselves, that if the time came and they were going too far off the edge, they wouldn’t care enough to stop.

Sometimes I try and convince myself that if I let go of such thoughts I’d be okay, but I know better than to suffer such delusions, those thoughts however sadistic and selfish, are something to rely on, probably the only thing.

Apollo nods like he gets it, but he doesn’t. Am not sure I do either.

***