I Had A Name Once

I had a name once. Not that I could tell you what it was, of course; far too much time has since elapsed. Even so, as I sit here wallowing in the miserable depths of my existence, I can’t help but listen to the indiscernible whispers of my past. They call for me, beg for me to return. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Buzz. The silence tears jarringly through my skull as I stare blankly at what they have shoved before my eyes. Rule, after rule, after injudicious rule. Thousands of them, so it would seem, soaring out from the bulletin like bullets from a gun, straight through my brain and making a swift exit out the other side. ‘Don’t do this’; ‘don’t do that’: it makes me want to scream! Though of course I can’t scream, can I? That’s against the rules too. They have illegalized freedom. Forbidden any form of leisure, enjoyment or right of speech, all for their own pleasure. Ironic, don’t you think?

As I sit here, leisurely cross-legged on the dull white tiles beneath me, I stare up at the mountainous hierarchy and squint in search of the ostentatious moguls at the summit, bathing in their glory. Politicians; plutocrats; professionals with far more power than they truly deserve. It all makes me sick. You know, I remember a time when the idea of a hierarchy was just a myth. Preposterous! Now I’m just a pain, a nuisance pest humming in the ears of the rich. The lucky. No, I’m not jealous. Well, perhaps just a little, but then I have things that they could only dream of. Things only obtainable down here, at the foot of the mountain. Hope.

I don’t meet people like you very often: people who listen rather than telling me to shut up. It’s a lonely life down here, you know, locked in the damp, dark cell of secrets with no way of escaping without being truly imprisoned. Or maybe you’re not listening, how am I supposed to know? I wouldn’t blame you; who in their right mind would talk to me? Nobody, that’s who. I convicted myself, locked myself away and swallowed the key. The rumors are true: I really did do this. Rather this cell than a prison, or so I’d thought, though now I’m having difficulties telling the two apart. I’m afraid I’ve sentenced myself to death.

Stop! Stop it! Stop labelling me! It hurts so much, having the needle-sharp wires of labels shoved carelessly through my skin. They brand us like criminals, a court of alleged “honour” passing false judgment on each and every one of us. His eyes still bear down on me like lazers. His words echo through my brain, a distant yet incomprehensibly close memory that refuses to leave me alone. A bothersome child. This is your life now. Oh, how I screamed at him that day. I told him he was wrong: wrong about my job; my feelings; who I am… I’m not a monster! In fact, I’m a neologist, and no I didn’t make that up. I invent words for a living, and I must say I consider myself quite the “jovaphile” – I’d tell you what that means, but I’m afraid that quite defeats the point. You see, neologism isn’t a talent; it’s pure genius! I’m pure genius! With every word I create I begin to forge a new language: my own, personal language. I am the owner of a glimmer of individuality in a world where individuality has ceased to exist. I am an anachronism.

Or am I?

In all honesty, I don’t know. Who am I? What am I doing here? I ask myself the same questions every day of my life, but every time I come within an inch of grabbing hold an answer I find myself falling. Falling miles and miles towards the end of a bottomless pit. It’s endless. Who are you? What do you want from me? Why does my label say I’m a monster, and why do we wear labels in the first place? Labels are for clothes, not people. Every time we label ourselves our immune systems fight it, only labels are permanent. Without the scissors of an openhearted society we have no way of cutting ourselves free, and believe me this is not an openhearted society.

So, why is it that my label reads “monster” in your handwriting? Come on, Doctor, tell me your diagnosis. Am I diseased? Is it so desperately wrong to for me to conform to so few of the millions of stereotypes that shape our civilization? Tell me, because I really am curious.

Oh, I see: you’ve read my mind. You’ve seen my secrets. So how was it? I like to think of my brain as a living embodiment of Hell, that is, if the brain really is living. I wouldn’t know, I was never entitled to an education in Science. Inside my head rages a vicious wildfire of sins, burning every remaining sense of innocence I once had to a crisp. I don’t know how it feels to be guiltless anymore, in the same way I have forgotten the taste of freedom. Perhaps once upon a time things were different; surely I can’t have always seen my actions as so horrifically unforgivable. So what is it that makes me eligible for such a title as “monster”? Is it the many times I have broken the law by speaking out of turn? Or perhaps it’s because I slept with someone of the same sex.

Doctor… Personally I see you as nothing more than a pretentious dignitary. A judge, just like everybody else in my so-called life. You think you know everything about me, how I came to be the “monster” I am now, when in fact your title is just as meaningless as mine. We’re all human. No one is better, or more important than anyone else – but life is a game of chess to you. Rather than accepting the fact that us pawns are just as human as you, you play us off as a living, breathing sacrifice, all to make yourself better off. You don’t think for a second that, perhaps, it hurts. It’s all just part of the game to you. That’s right, Doctor, I can read your mind too: I guess that’s just another thing we have in common.

You see, I had a name once. Long before this corrupted dystopia arrived, Prisoner 7785 had a life, just like you. Then again, I suppose I can’t really call this a dystopia anymore, not now that I’m here living in it. This is nothing but a corrupted reality in which there is no such thing as respect unless you have the money to buy it, and mark my words I do not want to be part of it.

But I have no choice do I, Doctor? Oh, how it nauseates me to call you that. You’re not a real doctor; if you were, you’d know full well what I truly am. A person, not a monster. A person doesn’t choose who they are; they are born that way and learn to live with it. To force somebody to change who they are would be inhuman, and that is exactly what you’re doing. You are the monster. I had a name once. I had a name, and you stole it from me along with every other tiny fragment of my character that did not conform with your idea of a perfect race. So tell me, who am I? Who do you want me to be?

 

(June, 2016: GCSE English Language Monologue)

Heterochromia

How very stunning, I had thought,

is the fluidity at which your heartbeats

change in pace with the beast

against which I had once fought.

Raging fires blazing red, diminished

by the serenity of blue. Punished

within the Devil’s rules, flattened

into an earthy brown. Soil underground.

Finished.


You wink, and with it you become

overwhelmed by a cerulean wave.

Oceans drown the unscrupulous knave

whom, from within, pounded the drum

of brown study. In an open grave he dies,

ignorant to the hate and the blasphemous lies

and the scorn and the judgement of crude

eyes.


At a wink’s pace the Devil rises,

and once more the oceans are reverted to

sludge. Brown muck on which grew:

weeds; algae; vicious creepers; surprises

creeping up from the depths of Hell,

an ocean of fire raging above the death knell.

But you turn the other cheek, and force me to bid

the most stunning case of Heterochromia farewell.

(May, 2016)

Pointless

It’s pointless:

I urge myself within my mind,

distracting my thoughts from the

tribulations on which they ponder.

How? How do I relax?

How do I get her to love me

when she doesn’t love me back?

How? It’s pointless.


What’s pointless? My thoughts fight

back, desperately clutching at the

final strands of hope that remain

within arm’s reach. Hope.

It’s pointless. Sunlight slips,

ray by ray, strand by strand as it

fades into a disobliging standby.

Thanks. Thanks for all your help.


I say: it’s pointless.

And yet here I am, writing a poem.

Immortalizing it in stone like the

obnoxious face of a God. Pointless

glory, immortality, humiliation…

It’s humiliating. I humiliate myself

for creative benefit, pleasing my

cravings for creation. Pointless, but

oh so worth it.


And so here I am, satisfying my fetishes

with pointless pondering, hanging up

my tribulations like art in a gallery.

Van Gogh paintings: sadistic masterpieces.

I am humiliatingly human. I have problems,

and so I hang them out to dry in the sun.

And as they swing in the summer breeze I sit,

waiting for the indefinite thunderstorm.

(May, 2016)

A Daily Routine

Here we go again.

Always the same damn routine,

Over and over again for half an

infinity. We wake up;

open our eyes; open the window.

We look outside; suck in a mouthful

of oxygen before spitting out a

mouthful of carbon dioxide.

Why? Because that’s all we know

how to do. Ha, how awfully

destructive we are…

Alas, I state merely a fact. But

Wait, I digress. Let me get back

to the poem. After we get our

lazy backsides out of bed…

Then what? Oh yeah, we

complain. Complain about the

weather, the cat, the out-of-date

milk in the fridge. Complain

because the football team you

dedicate your entire existence to

is actually rubbish, but you continue

to support them anyway. Makes sense…

So, what now? You leave the house:

Go to work; school; the pub…

Or maybe you don’t. It makes no difference

really. Either way, you find a way to be

problematic. It’s human nature.

At work/school/the pub/home

[circle appropriate field]

you always wear the same outfit.

Beneath your garments of fabricated

Integrities, your caffeine-fuelled heart

pounds until it dies. Literally.

But also metaphorically, because you see

your heart is just dying to be heard,

but that rude little brain of yours interrupts.

Look at that woman in the baggy jumper.

Is that even a woman? Surely not…

It’s a little known fact that the human brain,

that slimy grey thing that sits in between

your ears, is stupid. Thick! Asinine!

Sorry, you probably don’t even know

what that last one means, do you?

Or maybe you do, but your brain certainly

doesn’t. AH! I digress again. Sorry!

While I’m on the subject of “sorry”,

that’s the next part of your schedule.

Apologize. Apologize. Apologize.

Sorry, repetition is ugly, right?

It’s true though: every single god-

damn day we apologize. For.

EVERYTHING.

We don’t mean it, of course,

because humans don’t actually care,

so to speak, but we say it for the

hell of it. We just looooooove

the sound of our own voices. We’d

make out with them if we could, I bet.

Ew, gross. But apparently not as gross as

a man kissing another man. That’s what my

schedule says, anyway. Hate on love. Hate

on ethnicity. Hate on hate… Logical.

But logic doesn’t exist anymore, not since

some crackhead came along throwing

lies and double-standards around like

confetti at a wedding. Mr and Mrs

Sexist-Racist-Homophobe. It’s a

triple barrelled surname – it’d have a

few more barrels thrown on the end

but, you see, barrels cost money.

AND wood, and we just can’t

afford to cut down any more trees…

Wait, but what if Mr Sexist-Racist-Homophobe

is a woman? …

HA. HILARIOUS. Not in a million years…

God, I hate double standards.

Wait, I digressed again? Really? Sorry-

Hang on, we’ve passed sorry o’clock,

Now it’s half past ridicule and it’s time

To get mean. Not that we take any

notice to that, because it’s human nature.

Kick them down

                           down

                                     down until…

                                                            Oops.

They died. But that’s the circle of life, right?

Survival of the fittest and what-not?

Oops.

But still, it’s their own fault. They should

have conformed with society. Then

they wouldn’t have any targets drawn on

their backs and nobody would be tempted

to kick them. Survival-Amongst-Humanity 101,

people. Don’t you read?

Oh wait, this is the 21st Century. People don’t

read. They listen. Listen to

eBooks; Wikipedia; criticisms.

“Wow you’re ugly.”

“I know.” That’s it, wipe the dust

from your shoulder,

because they’re only saying it because

they have to. It’s part of their daily

schedule. And here we go again…

(April, 2016)

Labels

Miss; Mrs; Ms; Mr – please select your title.

But I don’t want to choose; how can I?

You forgot someone. You forgot about me.

I think: perhaps it was an honest mistake

Because how could you forget? I’m right here.

So I draw a new box and label it with nothing,

It’s my box. The box for the ambiguous.

But they reject my entry, because ambiguity is not allowed.


I think: maybe it’s nothing personal.

Perhaps it’s merely a craving, a sheer desire for

Perfection, order that can only come through force.

Force at the expense of our dignity.

We’re the reason they wear warning signs, or so they say.

Labels – forced through our skin and around our necks.

Choking us, infecting us with words, because

Labels are meant for clothes, not people.


Or perhaps that’s exactly how they see us:

Accessories. They show us off to the world like

Possessions, collectables with labels intact,

Because without them we’d be worthless.

We’re rare specimens, but not quite precious enough

To leave on the shelf, so they drag us around.

An eccentric’s bragging rights. The freak show

That doesn’t understand gender. Poor, confused soul.


And what about me? I followed your rules, didn’t I?

I ticked your box; I followed your code. Or is one

Label not enough for you? Perhaps it’s not enough to

Force one weight upon myself. No, instead you expect us

To chain ourselves down further, to brand ourselves

Like criminals. Well let me tell you, I’ve spent enough time

In a prison, and I know how to get out of one. Only before

I wasn’t guarded by others. I imprisoned myself.


Dark; cruel; chokingly claustrophobic. That closet

Was my cell. So why did I lock myself inside?

In the years it took me to break down those walls

It never occurred to me once that, perhaps I shouldn’t bother.

It’s funny. I use the term “coming out” ironically;

It seems so bright, the idea of freedom. I’m out of the closet!

And yet, by doing so, I’m threading labels through my skin.

Like a jacket, or a pair of jeans, perhaps a closet is where I belong.


Oh, I get it: you’re a traditionalist. You need order, or else

You feel out of place. Well guess what: I feel out of place now.

Sixteen years it took me to climb out of that pit; sixteen years

Of humiliating myself as I try to pretend to be someone I’m not.

And your rules, your sick, judgemental rules… They almost make me wish

I hadn’t. Almost. But not quite, because despite everything, I’m proud

Of who I am. I’m proud that, instead of concealing myself behind a wall

Of lies, I am free. Yes, I kiss girls: so what?

That is love, and I’m proud of it. Everyone should be.

(January, 2016)

Breathe

Inhale…

I wince as the eyes of strangers drive into my skin like shards of glass, their edges sharpened by ignorance and judgement. As the lights around me swell to a blinding size, I see their silhouettes creeping closer, staring, watching… The air around me sits silently as it waits, its impatience tying a relentless knot in my stomach, but I can’t seem to force my breath past my chest. So I join the waiting game.

Exhale…

The knot in my abdomen unwinds, leaving a looseness that doesn’t seem to pass. Not a relieving looseness, but one that brings a sort of weakness that sits in my stomach like a brick. Heavy. Painful. Callous. I feel my eyelids fall and force them open, only to find myself surrounded by water. Though the salt slashes at my eyes and blurs my vision I can just about make out the shadows of individuals. People in flowing coats and armed with strange instruments warped by the water. Afraid, I close my eyes once more. I am drowning.

Inhale…

The sharp stench of chemicals floods my lungs and corrodes my veins. I snap my eyes open to find myself no longer beneath an ocean; the only water that remains is the bitter dampness that pools beneath my eyes. The footsteps of the strangers resonate around me, through my ears and inside my head in synchrony to the sound of my heart beating inside my chest. Slow; calculated; vigilant… The closer they are the more they block the light, allowing me to focus on the room I am in. Everything around me is white: the walls, the tiles on the floor, even the garments I wear. My prison uniform. I am not sure what is more disorientating, the excessive brilliance or the chemical fumes that grow more potent with each step they take.

Exhale…

I can just about make out their faces now. They are vicious, scarred. One male, one female, both displaying expressions of inhumanity. Their vibrant green eyes glower down on me with abhorrence, for what reason I cannot recall. What harm have I brought upon these people? Behind them stand a pair of sentinels, weapons tucked beneath their arms and their sullen eyes trained directly on me. A glint of silver catches my eye, sharp and spiteful. I force my attention to divert back to the strangers closest to me to find that their concentration is elsewhere. In the man’s outstretched hand lies a syringe, its extended needle slender and sharp. Horror striking my stomach, I wince as a sheen of icy sweat singes my brow and stabs at my temples. The strangers leer down on me as they approach; the closer they come, the closer the needle comes to my skin, the sharper the stabbing of my temples becomes. I clench my fists, clamp my jaw, but nothing can suppress the agony. Nothing can cure pain that only exists in my mind.

Inhale…

Though I do not recall standing, I find myself forcing my way past the strangers with the needle. Despite my ears being rendered useless by the furious ring of adrenaline that echoes through them, I know that they are shouting. I can feel their bitter breath assault my skin, their rage pricking my spine. They are incensed. The feeling of nausea overwhelms me as a series of clicks pierce through the tolling in my ears. Guns. I snap my head up, directing my attention past the scientists surrounding me, and I wince as a garish red light burns into the corner of my eye. I find myself retreating towards the chair, my hands rising subconsciously, out of habit. Keeping my eyes trained cautiously on the sentinels, I feel my heart fall into the pit of my stomach as the cold hands of strangers grip my shoulders, their nails scratching through the material of my shirt. I make no effort to resist as they force me back into the rigid metal chair, this time keeping a firm hold on me to prevent another attempted escape. As the man grasps my arm with no apparent regard for my comfort, I hear my own voice scream inside my head. I tell myself to run, that even death would be preferable to whatever they plan to do to me, but I ignore my pleading. I have accepted defeat. The man’s grip on my arm tightens further as his accomplice approaches me with a glass spray bottle containing a transparent liquid. My heart racing inside my chest, I recoil in agony as she sprays the contents onto my forearm. Biting my tongue to stop myself from screaming out in pain, I clench my fist as my entire arm loses sensation momentarily before erupting into what feels like pins and needles jabbing at my skin. Fighting the temptation to break free from their grasp and run, I can do nothing but watch as the strangers take the syringe and fill it with a dark, viscous substance. It is only when it catches the light that I realise what colour it is: red. Not a bright red, but an ominous shade darker than crimson, more black than anything. Before I can so much as think about the identity of the substance, I find myself being secured forcefully in my seat as the man grabs hold of my stinging arm once more and buries the needle into my skin.

Exhale…

There is nothing I can do to suppress my scream this time. I feel as though a flare has been ignited inside of me, beginning at the point where the needle penetrated my skin and flowing through my veins like a bolt of electricity. My muscles thrown into panic by the fire that rages through me, I feel myself thrashing out of control. I gasp for breath, only to find myself fuelling the inferno with the contaminated oxygen. Everything around me, the strangers, the walls and the floor, all slip out of focus, hurling me into a world of nausea and agony. I blink furiously, forcing the tears out of me eyes, but the blur refuses to fade. I cry out once more as my head fills with piercing white noise, rendering me deaf, drilling into my brain with about as much force as the tranquilizer they used to bring me here. But there is no tranquillity here. Only chaos, agony. So much agony. Though I am partially aware of my surroundings I could swear that I am drowning in acid, that some kind of corrosive substance is eating away at my bones and consuming my lungs. With every harsh breath comes added desperation, an increased sense of hopelessness that slowly creeps to the front of my corroding brain. I am fading. Frantically searching for an anchor for my consciousness, I force my quaking hands before my eyes and allow my focus to shift past the film of blur. They are clammy, painted red with my own blood. A third scream rips from my chest as another stinging surge tears through me, transforming all of the veins inside me to lead. Before I know it I am surrounded by water again; every inch of my skin is inundated with sweat and the film of tears before my eyes has overflown, a pair of waterfalls cascading down my cheeks. An invisible force strikes my stomach: once, twice, three times, confiscating my ability to breathe. I am weak, but the violent protest of my muscles persists. With the wildfire still raging within me, I can barely feel my nails as they bury themselves into my thighs, desperately searching for something to latch on to. My veins are a forest of dark winter trees beneath my pallid skin; the darker they become, the more rooted the toxin becomes within me, the more I feel myself fading. I am sinking, sinking further and further out of my body, down into the burning blaze. I recoil in anguish as the flames lick my skin, harsh and invasive as the scientists themselves. My lungs clog with the dense, intangible smoke from the inferno, and as I begin to choke and splutter I can just about make out the distorted images of the scientists approaching, impartial expressions worn on their faces. It’s all over.

Inhale…

I flinch as something bitterly cold presses into my skin: the hand of a scientist. The iciness, to my surprise, brings with it a sense of relief. It extinguishes the fire, takes away the pain. But it takes something else too. I just can’t remember what.

Exhale…

I stand despite not having thought about it beforehand. I step forward though it is the last place I want to go. Like I am on strings.

Inhale…

Though my blackened veins have faded back to normal, I feel different. I am not alone.

Exhale…

He whispers. Though I want so desperately not to, I obey.

Inhale…

I am cold.

Exhale…

Inhale…

Exhale…

(September, 2015)

The Irony of an Unwilling Sin

Though the thought still continues to haunt me to this very day, it takes me a great deal of effort to remember exactly why I ever thought it right to become fully acquainted with such a monstrosity as he had been. Only very recently, though not in good nature, did I even think to hark back to our time spent together. Before I begin, I urge you to show mercy on my foolish actions, which will become clear to you in time –for I am in no literal sense the true monster of this account, and, with all due respect, I must ask you to remember why it is that I must seek assistance from one such as you. My time spent in reminiscence, I assure you, was not at all in vain, though I presume that that is your decision to conclude. Even so, no length a sentence in purgatory could ever deride my past of its ill-omened traits.

    For my absent soul prevents such blasphemy it is impossible for me to recollect upon the truths that led to me meeting the boy –how can any real title ever have been placed upon him?– but I can tell you that, at the time, he was nothing to me but the most beautiful existence, a fallen angel in the flesh. He had the radiance of a fallen angel too, might I add, with all of the pitiable sadness of one forbidden from heaven, having seen the face of the almighty and knowing that you will never again be blessed by His presence. I could do nothing to help the sympathy that I felt towards this stunning boy with hair of the darkest black; I have since learned that the naïve spirit that possessed me as a teenager was perhaps more dangerous than even idiocy. Conceivably, allowing the spirit to possess me in the first place was an act of idiocy, but was it even within my power to harness? Nevertheless, I can’t make any attempt in pretending that I was not in the slightest way fascinated by this boy. He was exquisitely beautiful, may I repeat, an angel!

    In stature he was remarkably tall, somewhat pallid, and, dare I say, majestic in his crown of raven hair. I cannot express to you sufficiently the sense of ease that came to me with his placid nature –life by this boy’s side was seemingly effortless. A battalion of Hell’s most oppressive forces would have seemed like harmless mist under his protection. Then again I suppose, under specific circumstances, such a feeling as this is nonetheless meaningless, considering the place I stand now. At any rate, many long years have elapsed since such weightlessness first seized me, and there is no changing the fact that it soon felt natural to me, a sixth sense. I must digress; I can even take it as far to say that, as selfish as it may sound, a life without the feeling of ultimate protection seemed ultimately meaningless! In those precious early days of our acquaintance, which I now know to have been not days but years, and far more than a mere acquaintance, I paid little heed to the words of people I knew; needless to say that I was becoming increasingly oblivious to anything other than him. I was in every way intoxicated by this stranger’s splendour –because, though we considered ourselves together, he really was little more than a stranger to me; all I knew of him was his name.

    I often wonder what it is that the two of us had. Passionate devotion? A sense of powerful affection that bled from the depths of our hearts? Surely not! The idea of a silent romance is preposterous! But, perhaps, was it something more than even romance? As the days of evasiveness passed, the enchantment of his magnificence eventually began to deteriorate. Longing for undemanding conversation, I finally confronted him. Though I remember very little of that particular year, no amount of time will ever be enough to erode the reminiscence of this day. Each minute detail is as potent in my mind as though it were only yesterday. As agitated as I was by the little regard he seemed to pay our love, I was spellbound by his unnaturally appealing nature –everything about him seemed fluently perfect!– and I noted his unwillingness to reveal himself merely as overwhelming shyness. However, the reason to why he suddenly regarded me that night would forever be an unsolved mystery to me. The moment he saw me the light in his countenance brightened. He took my face in his hands and, for the first time since the day we met, I was able to appreciate him in the finest of detail. Never in my life had I seen such a stunning pair of eyes. How could human eyes possibly be so green? I will even go as far as to say that they possessed the exact hue of emeralds, with just the same enchanting shine.

    Not only was I stricken by his eyes, but every inch of his oddly angular face seemed to exude perfection. Up close, the skin of his flawless face was not quite as pallid as I had first thought -in actual fact it was a warm sort of white that adequately balanced the raven-wing-black of his hair- and the shadows cast by his attractively high cheekbones seemed to enhance the sharp angles of his jaw. Even the boy’s teeth, as peculiar as it may sound, seemed to strike me with brilliance, though I had very little time to appreciate them before his lips had found mine. Despite how things have changed, and I assure you that under casual circumstances I would not be saying a word of this to anyone, I am still enthralled by the passion of which he kissed; I must say, though I don’t like to admit it, it was not the kind of passion that ended with no praiseworthy consequence. In the boy’s embrace, his lips warm against my own, I didn’t just feel safe. I felt impressive! It felt as though I was in complete control of myself, and of him. Most significantly, however, I felt as though the only detail that mattered in the word was him.

    Anyhow, there is one particular topic on which my views never seem to settle. I would in vain attempt to portray it to you as an instance of great malady on his part alone, of which no amount of resistance could maintain, but, though I remember this to be the case, my heart tells me otherwise. Much to my despair, I began to notice changes in the boy, though many were so subtle that it is quite frankly a mystery to me how I even noticed. The white of his skin, once rich and wholesome, became gradually paler by the day, tightening to near translucency around the somewhat sharper planes of his face. I can vividly remember peering into those mesmerizing eyes of his, expecting their usual luminosity but instead being confronted by flat, dying blackness. Now old enough to fend for myself, it must have been a matter of days before I released his frail hand, the final sign of his agonizing death.

    And not once in those final few days did I realise the truth behind his terminal sickness.

    With every hour came a new sense of affliction – not for myself but for my beloved. Indeed, the obvious solution would have been to hail a physician, but he insisted that any “outside involvement” would lead to the “unnecessary loss of life”, evidently concerned that his disease would contaminate others if they became exposed. Why he never thought about my well-being never even struck me as curious; he wouldn’t even allow me out of his grasp! Perhaps to him the idea of isolation in his final hours was so awful, or he was so intensely in love with me that his only lasting desire was to be by my side. At any rate, I was forced to observe every flicker of desolate anguish in his dying face, a torture more profound than that of the depths of Hell. Not, of course, that I noticed exactly how much time really was passing, considering how little I perceived the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness; any sleep that befell me was full of the tormenting images of reality. Diverted by the suffering of the boy, I soon grew faintly ill myself, starved of food and my throat as raw and dry as bark, but no amount of my own sickness could avert my awareness from him.

    However gradually his life was slipping away, why should I strain what is already a painfully sparse memory and shun the particulars that, of course, deliver my true motive for rising before you? Why should I minutely detail every moment of our latter days when, as always, it is in a person’s final moments in which they are truly themselves? You know as well as I that this story ends with a graphically emaciated corpse, so let me tell you not of his dying days, but of the days where he was gone.

    How formidable the irony of life never ceases to be, no matter how unseen it may be at first glance. The final day seemed to approach relentlessly quickly, days at a time stolen by my personal lack of realization. The arduous chill in the air was shockingly unpleasant on my skin, a sensation that seemed to have been absent for as long as I could recall. Only now did I realize that I had been asleep, for a lack of temperature could never be possible in reality. As for the biting cold that chilled the air now . . . well, I could only put it down to the absence of a warm spirit –I couldn’t bring myself to believe it to be anything else, though religion and spiritual encounters were something that I only ever saw sense in at that moment alone. Crushed by grief, I knew without a shred of doubt that I would be forever haunted by the sight of his lifeless corpse, so naturally it came with great astonishment when that prospect never occurred once. Where was the body?

    A great numbing rushed through me then, forcing upon me an indiscernible burden that acquired every cell in my body. Unable to take control of my mind, I found myself on my feet, virtually gliding into the adjacent room. I was aware of a sinister existence before me, but, before I could comprehend, I found myself blinded –not by darkness but by images. Though I had not seen them in many months, I immediately recognised the faces of everyone I had ever loved. There was, however, something wrong. They all seemed . . . ill, their expressions vacant and dying, just as the boy’s had been. Though their mouths remained shut, I heard screams for help, all painfully desperate as they rung through my ears like the tolling of funeral bells. How fitting, considering they were all as good as dead.

    Opening my eyes in a frantic attempt to be freed from the images, I found myself on my knees, crushed and brought to tears, staring down at a pair of thick leather boots.

    Somehow, however impossible it might have been, the boots belonged to the ghost of a dead boy. Or was he dead? He seemed solid enough to me, and the heavy sighs of his breaths were undeniably living. Most noteworthy of all was the healthy glow that emitted from him; it was impossible to tell that he had been even close to demise.

    If his renaissance hadn’t frightened me then his expression certainly had. As loving as he had seemed to me before, none of that affection appeared to be present now. The smile that broke out on his face was callous and his laugh indifferent, as if the sight of me broken at his feet was faintly amusing. Without moving his lips, the deep toll of his voice mocked me from inside my head. Any attempt I had made to repel his voice was unattainable; it attacked me from the inside, forcing me to listen.

    The atrocity hit me like a blow to the stomach, but, as much as I felt like collapsing under the agony, I was fixed solid in my stoop. The concept of which I had been told was ridiculous enough, but how could I ignore such a sincere tenor? And besides, it had been my love that had caused his revitalization.

    “Thank you, Adrianna, for allowing me to redeem myself. Your strength is incredibly profound.” At the time his words had made little sense, but I am now able to understand the horrific reality. However outlandish it may appear, the boy wasn’t dying, he was drained, since only humans can die and this boy was far from human. Soulless, immortal and incapable of ageing, he was nothing but a monster designed for human heartbreak. A creature of demonic essence redeemed of its faculty by the one who took it in the first place – an eye for an eye.

    You can tell me as many times as you please that to provide a force of evil with the power it needs to execute malevolence is an unspeakable sin, but trust me, this is when the irony is at its most potent, because though it may well have been my hand in which the blade was held, was it under my influence that the deed was completed? As a matter of fact, it was demonic manipulation that drove that knife into my bleeding heart; my heart was ceased by the one supposed to die.

    So, Death, as I stand imprisoned in your unyielding clutch, I ask of you one request. Your grip on me may be unremitting, but it is for the sake of the irony of an unwilling sin that I ask you, urge you, to allow me one final demand before I am crushed in your clasp. Though it is not within your eminent greatness to take his life, let me see you show no mercy. Tear wrath upon the boy and everything his frozen heart truly loves; make him beg for the possibility of his own imminent decease. Bring me vengeance upon the perfidious Elias Skarsgard.

(June, 2013)