Writing by Alex Creece // Photograph by Tiziana Gualano
This morning I spiked my apple juice with liqueur and schnapps, the swirl of colours diffusing into an earthy blend. A solvent to life’s lucidity.
I popped open three blisters of prescription sanity.
I had forgotten whether it actually helped to take these pills, or if I just liked popping them out of their airtight cells. Perhaps I could spend my days in little gift shops buying cheap bubble wrap rather than drawing on myself with tester lipsticks, waiting for a white coat to bring me an expensive brown paper bag.
“Maybe it’ll fix your brain,” a face smiled, always forgetting to add, “but probably not.”
I watched children’s cartoons and felt empty. Frivolity was no longer filling. Somewhere along the way, it began to consume me instead, with a thirst deeper than all I had inside myself. Self-centred projections taunted me even in the most innocuous of places. I could see defeat in the once happy-go-lucky faces of generic anime protagonists. My skin tingled from bruises long healed in portrayals of bright high school walls. Fragments of my worsts were pervasive and inescapable. Unbridled, unwarranted guilt was a given.
I felt the irreconcilable shame of having survived at all.
A friend and I skipped class one time. Just once.
We went to the arcade to play Left 4 Dead on the clunky coin-eating machine. On the way back, we explored a deserted construction site within the sightly desert. It was here I found a destiny. Somewhere in the dark and dust, my fingertip barely stroked the unforgiving edge of an Exacto blade.
I found a destiny, but not my own.
I was naked in the kitchen as I filled the kettle. Through the window, my neighbour stared. And I stared back, effortless and lingering. And yet, I had never even been able to look directly at your face. I did not know your eyes.
“Be patient,” I’d whispered in your bed, although I already accepted you would not be.
You shook your head at me often, dismissive of my apparently goofy nature. As far as you were concerned, you had worked me out long ago: smiley, dependable, insipid. You saw laughter slip past my lips with no purpose. You crossed your eyes to welcome an optical illusion where joy oozed through my pores and perpetually dimpled my cheeks. At the time, I did not even notice that as I exposed my deepest vulnerabilities, in my voice you still heard the melodic echoes of jest and saw in my face flecks of mischief, the corners of my lips slightly upturned. You assumed that mirth permeated my surface as it was overflowing, uncontainable or untamed, when simply that surface was just a home. Forced to the outskirts, it was a gentrified home. That laughter represented me even in the moments it did not exist, and I was lucid and sincere and broken. My face was a mirage, an imagined oasis in a barren desert. And yet, you still stooped down to drink its contents. You managed to take a few sips of my illusion but soon you sat up, choking on a gritty, inconvenient reality, at last too persistent to disregard.
You spat out my honesty in retches and phlegm-starved coughs, eventually collapsing under its harsh sun.
I slept on the floor by the hum of late night television trying to sell happiness. I woke to the relief of a reality which did not involve your threats upon my throat or your venom rotting my veins. I was right to have avoided your unseeing eyes, and I was thankful that I could buy my happiness in a bottle or a box. On my own.
It is a good morning.[share]