Writing by Alex Creece // Photograph by Tiziana Gualano
Leftover Christmas pudding does not satiate me.
I am left instead with a cosmic sense of absence that is both heavier than cream yet intangible as the true spirit of the season. It cannot quite be pinpointed to each of its discrete parts. Time, childhood and transition are somewhere in there, but there are light years of empty matter between these that do not fall neatly into a category of human misery. A cosmos like a silent lifetime of depression that infects so indiscriminately and eviscerates so far beyond its expected grasp. We fear the inexplicable and the unhappy, and we take it out on those who are, inexplicably, unhappy. Reheated pudding always seems to remain cold at its core, and is drowning in something heavier than one chooses to admit. It is less appetising, but far more honest, than it was a day before.
Sleigh bells ring in a headache.
I am aggressively unsure and righteously suspicious. I am a sour-faced ten-year-old, snapping the elastic of a party hat under her chin at an empty table crowded with untouched snacks. The sting on her neck seems to stiffen her lip somehow. An ice cream truck jingles incessantly outside the window, and it sounds hollower than before. Her playground rudeness towards her classmates was not empty, inconsequential vitriol. This room is what was empty, along with Mother’s gaze upon watching her daughter fail to validate a shallow parental aspiration. The girl’s temples throb above swamps of hot, bubbling tears. Of consequence.
Man has blocked our chimney with dogma and doctrine.
A rustic old mantelpiece once welcomed stockings, drinks without coasters, and play doh fingertips. Father tore it down himself, just before the beginning of the millennium from which we are fated to never return. And just after a divorce-abandonment-bankruptcy trifecta from which he has fated himself to never recover. Even defeat deserves its own welcome, and in Father’s case this came in the form of bleach and deathbed-whites. His catharsis is sterility – a severing of ties to the messy inconvenience of love and sentimentality. We have learned to leave nothing of ourselves behind, barely a Dettol dab where our pasts used to be. We lead criminally subliminal existences. We are delinquents masquerading extinction.
Fireworks fall haphazardly.
There is no progression or suspense, just the ultimate anticlimax – a bombardment of synthetic climaxes, effortlessly manufactured. Above an occasionally awed audience, ostentatious sparks fade to make way for equally fated lights and sounds. It is a production of fizzlers and bangs within a crowd of fizzled hopes and forlorn bangs. We are searching a man-made sky to feel impressed by nature’s wonders. Which roaming thread of colour and smoke is the gaudiest? Which pollutant of the stars pops the loudest? Which iridescent chokehold can most mutilate the tranquillity of this velvet galaxy?
You could let your cataracts blind you to the quasars lapping at your soul with refracted chains of space and time.
You could succumb to a projectile vomit stream of epileptic anomalies.
You could atomically combust your worries away in a gas chamber of universal futility.
You should choose your own fate – they are each as star-crossed as the next.[share]