Go with the Flow

 

Two swim out of the suffocating space, dazed from the multitudinous flashing orbs pinpointing the darkness. As they leave, limbs continue to fall on them. Felled trees. Diseased with the malady of drunkenness.

Emerging into relative clarity and silence, the juveniles breathe with abandon now that the THUD – THUMP – THUNK of the heavy base doesn’t shudder their delicate chests. This new place contains only a fraction of the bodies in the old and their dance seems to be orchestrated by a less human kind of magic.

Tiny circular illuminations flash red or blue or green from their skulls, moonlight hitting scales. The girls’ eyes widen when they realise that here, they need not worry about uniformity. Each switching onto a stream into which they can comfortably dive, they submerge themselves in the lyrics, letting their inhibitions float away so that they may glide through the throng.

At times, others venture into the same stream and synchronise with the motion, smiles darting between them like dominoes. Despite an absence of tangible touch, this feels like true interconnectedness.

 

A.N. This flash fiction piece describes my experiences, along with a friend, at the Fresher’s Ball in our first year of university.

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Friendship Gate

Why’d you shut the gate that you’ve left open

For us; for weeks, so that we might, with luck,

Obtain a plot where we’ll tend the broken,

Crushed, once thriving in your Garden of Trust?

 

Iridescent, precious, it might have been,

Plied with ebullient sapphire tulips;

The trees we planted would be evergreen,

Would not drop their disguises with vile quips.

 

Though the front gate is locked, the back may yield

With time and tact and rich internal tears;

Perhaps you’ll nurture, yourself, the razed field

Then welcome us inside with absent fears.

 

 

A.N. I was thinking about how, after around a month at university, people have begun to shut the gates to friendship. Suddenly strangers don’t meet you with smiles and greetings but blankness and silence. I wondered if, for some, there might be a deeper reason for this.

 

Plane Mirror

I ask myself why I

Search and besmirch with my finger

The unreal glass of a

Plane, inane, inhumane

Mirror. Was this my idea?

For you’re the critic of

The intangible surface of a

Virtual (Impermeable)

Image with its emotions that scrimmage

Across the toss of

Features of an imperfect creature that

Form the Impressionist storm of my

Face. A disgrace to symmetry; the

Reflection that needs your protection

From other imaginary wrongs

Which you and they and I bitch about

When we see them

Through the rough-hewed retinas that

Conceive a perceived facet of a

Being that has, in truly seeing,

Yet to be set

‘Right’ by an equally trite

Visual cortex. A self-induced hex to

Enable philautia to stay stable

Beyond infancy.

 

A.N. This piece is meant to reflect on the scrutiny that so many of us put ourselves under when we look in the mirror. We want what we see to be pleasing to others or even just ourselves but we are already tainted by society expectations of what ‘pleasing is’.

 

Night Light

There is a

light bulb inside

my head that stubbornly flickers

on and off; on and off; on and

off,

creating an unsatisfying half-sleep

– a no-man’s land –

some way between consciousness and unconsciousness.

All of my worries and wants for the future reside there,

crackling electrical currents that conjure both

a beacon of hope

and a garish

warning

signal.

 

A.N. I wrote this poem at about 2AM on a Tuesday morning. I couldn’t sleep and thought writing might be a solution to that, seeing as it would help to empty the contents of my buzzing brain. As it so happens, writing this poem didn’t solve my sleep issue, though I did get a decent piece out of the situation.

Moment Nineteen: The Cure

Luca’s house is our unspoken destination, seeing as all its inhabitants are in the long and twisted loop. Although, Thomas is nowhere to be found, which unsettles me. The four of us crowd into Luca’s bedroom rather than downstairs, should Thom bring anyone home. I hope he doesn’t.

“So, who wants to go first?” Luca queries, rupturing the silence that has fallen.

“Me! Please!” Helen shouts enthusiastically.

I chuckle somewhat waveringly at the child that she has been reduced to.

Said child frowns, snaps “shut up” and holds out a bare upper arm to Luca. The flesh is suitably pale and vulnerable, coated with downy blond hairs.

He slips the cap off the needle he is holding – and jabs. It is over in a heartbeat.

Helen sits back in her spot on Luca’s bed, smiling grimly.

“Who next? Saffron?”

My stomach lurches at the thought of the sharp metal beneath my skin. “What about you?” I respond forcefully.

The question was rhetorical, yet he pauses as if to answer. “I – I don’t think I want it.”

What? “What?”

“I mean, it – it’d be absolutely amazing to be such a prodigy. And there’re worse ways to die. Than being overcome with humanly feeling, I mean.”

I shake my head at him for a full minute. I should be shocked but instead I just feel disappointment; I guess I expected it. As did everyone else, judging by their silence. Or perhaps he’s told them already. “You go.” I say to Sam.

He glances at me, startled, but I plead with my eyes and he sighs in defeat, visibly setting his shoulders in preparation.

I use the delay the mull over my options: permanent hyper-sensitive phenomenon or – with any luck – temporary emotionless curiosity. I know which one my heart would choose. Who gives a crap about my head? The second choice is close to home and full of promise. I hear it calling. By this time, Sam has silently endured the vaccination and I’m as ready as I can be. He winks at me despite the situation; I look away and try not to melt, plainly nodding when Luca approaches me with another needle so that he doesn’t leave me time to think or feel anything other than resignation.

My eyes are closed seconds prior to the sharp pang that pierces my bicep, allowing the instrument to inject me with an alternate fate. Sam’s flirtatious glint flickers as a projection on the backs of my eyelids. Maybe I can still learn to be more in tune with my emotions, I contemplate, overcome with a hopeful happiness as I experience the hot flush dousing my head and chest for the penultimate time.

Moment Eighteen: A Happy Ending

Sam and I arrive at the main road, taking turns dragging one another into a sprint as we start to tire. We encounter no obstacle, although alarm bells beat all the other background noise out of the air. I turn to Sam, hysterical with relief: like me, he is ruddy-faced and breathing as though his life depends on it. Together, we laugh breathlessly and bend double with dizzy adrenaline.

I feel a sudden impulse to grab the slender hands now flopping beneath him; so I do. Our arms are held out before us like they are our only prize, though they are one of many. The box of needles has fallen to the ground between us, a child kept at a distance yet in sight.

“We did it.” I force from my lungs with a jaw-cracking grin, half-using his weight to hold myself up.

“Yeah.” Sam agrees, crinkling his eyes so that his face is doubly radiant.

I feel weak and sweaty and feverous all of a sudden; I stumble slightly against him. And stay there. I can see his raspberry pink lips and all their indentations, surprisingly moist in the bitter atmosphere. I move closer. Closer –

“Not now Saff, the others are still missing.” He nudges me softly.

I snap out of my trance; I cringe; I wonder if the tender undertone is genuine or just a show of politeness.

When I turn my head, embarrassed, he touches my forearm. “Sorry.” He says apologetically. “I just don’t want to get too happy just yet.

That makes me happy.