fiction, photography

TRASH

Chris R-0153 Image by Christine Renney

The room was dirty. It hadn’t been cleaned, at least not properly. She wanted to complain but Pete was so exhausted he pleaded with her, tried to talk her down, convince her to let it slide.
He sat on the end of the bed. She hadn’t noticed the empty beer cans stowed beneath it and he realised of course that, if she did, they wouldn’t be sleeping in the room; probably wouldn’t be staying in this particular motel.
She slumped down beside him and, laying back, he heaved a very audible sigh.
‘Okay,’ she said, ‘but I’m not getting inside the covers and I’m not taking off my clothes.’
Turning onto her side she groaned and Pete could tell she was just as tired as he and could no longer fight it. Reaching out he fumbled for the light switch and closed his eyes.

Pete awoke with a start. His arm was hanging over the edge of the bed and his hand brushed against something or something had brushed against it. Rolling over he peered down. Some of the cans had rolled from beneath the bed and Pete could see there was other trash scattered across the room. Fast food and sweet wrappers and empty crisp packets. Squinting in the half light he could see an old apple core and a mouldy banana skin.
Pete climbed quietly from the bed and crossed to the window. He was thankful that he hadn’t taken his shoes off. He parted the curtains a little, letting in the light from the street lamps. The rubbish was everywhere, the room was almost entirely covered.
Pete crouched down and closer to this carpet of mess, of leftovers, he felt nauseous. Looking away he swept his hands through it. The rubbish was sticky and old, the food stuff mixed amongst the paper and card was rotting. It seemed impossible to him that somebody had managed to cram so much underneath the bed. And unbelievable that neither she nor Pete had noticed. Standing, Pete gazed across at her. He realised that it was now time to complain. But she was sleeping so soundly and after the day they had had, after the night they had had, he didn’t want to disturb her. Pete wanted to leave her be, to let her rest.
He decided that he would clean up the mess himself. He had gloves in the car and some old carrier bags. Using these he could carry the rubbish across to the wheelie bins he had spotted at the far end of the car park. Working as quietly as he could Pete would make as many trips as were necessary and in the morning she would be none the wiser.
Pete stepped closer and he studied her for a few moments. Crouching again he lifted the faded eiderdown and peered. There was still a lot of rubbish beneath the bed. In fact it had been forced and crammed so tightly that the trash formed a solid block and it was pushing against the underside of the mattress.
But how could that be when so much had already spilled out into the room? Pete’s bewilderment suddenly turned to anger and in his rage he thrust his hands in, frantically clawing at it. He realised that she was standing beside him but she didn’t speak and kneeling she began to help.

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Uncategorized

The purity of being adored or an ode to narcissism

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When the person you lie awake thinking about

is you

and you

are untouchable

you emanate an aura of inviolate

there is space around you in a crowd

despite your size you take up

all the oxygen in my brain

I think bad thoughts

I look at places I should not

in this I am

a typical, leering, shameful creature

you are a magnet

you repel those who don’t understand

and attract the rest of us

like mad things and late summer insects

we stick to you and you peel us off

disgusted by our lack of self-control

I wonder sometimes, what it must be like

to have that brand of intoxicate

what exactly you possess, that causes such insanity?

I try to pin it down like examining butterfly’s beneath glass

but you are immeasurable, in your strange beauty and your

angry wet licked lips

I think maybe it is not one thing

but an entirety, the perfume of you

something wordless and powerful

you scare me and nobody scares me

but I know if you wanted me to

I’d kneel

I’d bend to you

and I, am not in the habit of subjugation

or giving in without getting

when you stomp, the world quakes and we fall

it’s funny and it’s quixotic

how perhaps your greatest allurement

is that you want none of us

but the purity of being adored

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poetry, Uncategorized

mmmmmmm

I don’t remember her name
she was drunk

I was outside smoking a cigarette
cigarettes are keys to the outside

the outside of a house
the outside of a building
the outside of a conversation
the outside of everything

she found me outside and she said
“mmmmmmmmm”

and I said
“how was your night?”

and she took my hand
She took me to her DORM room

and I was so scared
that my penis wasn’t hard
like it was supposed to be

and she pulled me into bed on top of her
and she said
“mmmmmmmmm”

and I said
“I’ve only had sex twice”

because surely no one would want to have sex
with someone who had only had sex twice

and she said
“mmmmmmmmm”
and she fell asleep

thank god
I thought

before running to my room
to masturbate

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life, poetry, prosetry

Broken Mirrors

I’ve broken 4 mirrors this year.
If superstition is to be honoured
I will still be reaping bad luck long after I am dead.
All these broken reflections,
what is the universe trying to tell me?
The obvious: ugly, imperfect, Picassoed girl,
from a broken home, with broken bones,
who breaks bottles and spirits and noses and promises.
But too obvious.

The first humans thought that their reflection
was their actual soul, their other self.
I know that mine is damaged:
I went to a spiritual healing centre
and it was just like an AA meeting, everyone sitting
in a circle, talking quietly and drinking shit coffee,
except when I walked in, everyone stopped talking and stared
like I was Satan in a mini-skirt.
A lady quickly ushered me out, without touching me.
“Oh dear,” she said. “Your aura is dark, a dark, dark mess, a real mess.
You’re in trouble.”
She made me sign a contract,
promising not to release my negative energy
onto anybody else in the building,
not to break anyone else’s spirit,
like my badness was contagious
and could ruin others.
I asked if the others had signed a contract
promising not to break mine.
She laughed and said, “No, dear.
You can’t break something that is already broken.”
I said under my breath, “That’s not strictly true,”
and we walked down a dark corridor and she said,
“Hurry. We have a lot of work to do.”

The Romans believed that it took 7 years for life to renew.
I was disappointed on my 21st birthday when I didn’t feel like a new person.
I don’t believe I’ll see my 28th. I don’t want to.

I read a story once about a girl like me
who was at the end of her metaphorical tether
wishing her neck was choked by an actual tether
when she accidentally broke a mirror
and that was it:
the straw that broke the camel’s back,
the mirror that shattered the girl’s last shard of hope.
She was petrified at the prospect
of 7 more years of badness
so she succumbed to the tether
and hanged herself from the back of the bathroom door,
the shards of her other self, her soul, the mirror, scattered all about.
I can’t remember where I read this story.
Oh, I do remember: I read it after I had written it.

Of the mirrors I’ve smashed this year
I’ve kept the best shard of each,
hoarding them, hiding them
around the flat, my secret accidentally-formed knives.
My favourite one is a menacing hook shape,
long and sharp and fits right in my palm with plenty to spare
so I can make controlled slashes, if I want to,
like if there was an intruder say, I could give him a perfect Chelsea smile
and be pleased with my work.
These secret shards are not my weapon of choice
but it’s nice to know that they’re there
and sometimes I take them out and hold them and stare
into a piece of my soul, a section of my face,
and become anxious (because the image is always one I don’t recognise)
but pretend not to be (because this “reality” tells me that the face is just me).

If I use them for damage, before I hurt myself
I look into my eyes and marvel at how wild and unfamiliar they are
and I can sometimes talk myself out of it, but it’s hard
when I can see that my eyes are, for once, so clear of fear.
It’s like snorting a line off a mirror.
You see yourself with a note up your nose
and look into your own eyes
and say inside, “What the fuck are you doing, girl?”
but then you blink and sniff and do it off a DVD case for the rest of the night
because you don’t want to face your self ever again.

Seeing yourself in that moment before you do something bad:
that’s the real you.
And only you will ever be able to see the real you,
through your own eyes, into your own eyes, with your own eyes.

I went to buy a new mirror.
At the counter I asked the guy,
“Would you mind just opening the box for me and checking that it’s not broken, please?”
“Sure,” he said, struggling to open the taped edge with his bitten nails.
“Thanks, I appreciate that. Imagine if I got home and it was broken, hahaha,” I laughed,
painfully, because I’m British.
“Yeah, imagine! Hahaha,” he laughed, because it’s his job.
“That would be just my luck,” I said.
“Yeah, the start of your 7 years of bad luck!”
My face must have changed because his did too.
“Look, it’s not broken,” he said, marking the perfect surface with his greasy fingertips.
“Amazing, thank you so much,” I said, wishing I could swap it for an unmarked one, but it was too late and that would be too awkward and I was already sick of this man and his fingers and he hadn’t even touched me.
I told him to save the trees and not print a receipt.
I walked home and took the mirror out of the box.
It was cracked. The 5th broken mirror of 2018.

And thus began my 35 years of bad luck.
I shan’t complete 7 on this earth,
and don’t intend on bringing the outstanding with me,
but it would be just my luck if it transpires that even the dead can be unlucky.

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life, poetry, prosetry

I stuck with the outcasts

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Dignity is delicate

You want to fit in that’s why you join things

like phony academies and sororities

to be part of what you never are

with your four eyes and your freckles

and funny way of not fitting in

from the start you stuck with the outcasts

though your calcified family warned you

you won’t get anywhere hanging out with them

we built forts against cruelty

we had camps in our imagination

where you didn’t have to be remotely resembling perfect

not everything was a competition

you were told once you were at the pinnacle

could decide did you want to keep going or

let go

you dropped from the monkey bars – free-falling

ran as fast as you could

because the taste of mainstream and shared potluck burned your tongue

you didn’t know then

you would be many other minorities

only your left-hand knew

You weren’t like the others

who had to be the best and

always had the most

one day many years later you said

You wish you’d been free like others were

it’s not easy being an outcast

not fitting in

but if you don’t seek acceptance and love

instead, wait for it to show up

when it does, it rarely leaves

that’s the folk tale anyway

you always had trouble believing

in God’s, in tales, in other’s

It wasn’t narcissism, just a challenge

to fit the mold

shapes can change

children grow

some become

unwieldy and unaccustomed

to the yearning of cities

humming in the night a chorus

channelling dragons

you stayed on your rooftop

you didn’t climb back

and dawn brought silence

as the rest of the world dreamt

you watched deer

crossing man-made roads

before the rush hour came

and mowed them down

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poetry, prosetry

Parapraxis

I worry that you lie awake beside me
Listening to me breathe
Wondering with whom and where I’ve been

And I am afraid that it’s his name that I speak
Aloud in the dark
When my brain is steeped in drunken reverie.

He features so regularly now
That the odds of his name escaping from my mouth
Are stacked against us on the nightstand

With the unread books,
The stolen looks
And the conversations you don’t know we have.

*

Does his name hang above our bed,
A mosquito net with human-sized holes in it?
Have my drug-induced murmurs hurt your heart,
His name a subconscious stab in the dark?

*

When I wake from my drug-addled sleep
Your side is empty, you have already gone.
I don’t know what damage has or hasn’t been done,
But I send you a message saying,

I had horrible dreams last night 😦

Hoping that if indeed I did say his name aloud
You’ll think that it’s all okay
Because I meant it in a bad, bad, nightmarish way.
But really,

I think my dreams about him are horrible
Because they’re not reality
And I really want them to be.
(I’m so sorry).

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life, poetry, prosetry

Glinting yet unswept

jump

you and I

were never meant to age

or get sick

or fall apart like a moth will when you

touch its wings, rub off the magic

you and I

were supposed sway in the assurance

of that hot gaze we both had

it was as if the world were stopped

on its axil and only we two remained

entwined around the other like long grown ivy

from the first moment it was that way

affixed by some kind of telepathy where

even as the storm attempted to separate

we always came back

like magnets repelled and attracted

will find their centering

when I looked up

you were my first thought

in every aspect of life

I lived with you

to imagine this has shattered like a glass

unable to be mended, leaves behind shards of itself

glinting yet unswept

to prick the foot of unsteady walker

a reminder of what is fractured

what cannot be saved

I never thought it possible, to rinse you from my heart

or that I could truly exist without you

hinging my world

but there are some violences

there are some moments too ruined

and my shame in not knowing earlier

how long you had given me up

that undo even the strongest bond

so now, when I feel alone

I do not find myself yearning for you

when I wish to be touched

it is not you I imagine or want

when I cry over us

it is not with a full heart

or even bitterness

but something cold and twisted

that cannot quite remember feeling

it has done the unimaginable

and stopped calling out for you

(One Promise

when you had spent

eight life times and

nine nights

ten turns of moon

one promise

convincing me I was

yours

to want to throw myself

off the bridge we often walked

when your eyes told me

you had given up

was it presumptuous

when you had spent

all my life and half of yours

teaching me love

and its poetry

only to decide when something died

and kill it

headless and bleeding

there in the street

where pointing

people gaped and wondered

who is that girl

climbing the rail?

where is she going?

there she falls)

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fiction

STRANGERS

Chris R--10 Illustration by Christine Renney

Only a brief description of the Apartment Block will be necessary. How it is perceived by the Townspeople is far more interesting. By those who pass it each day to and from work and the shops, by those who walk in the park and feel they are imposing, trespassing even, within the grounds of some stately mansion. For it is here when they come to escape at lunchtime or on a summer’s evening; here when families gather at the weekend to picnic and play – this is when the Apartment Block antagonises them the most. From its vantage point at the edge of the park, with its black windows like hoodless eyes, it is all seeing and impossible to ignore.

The Townspeople are proud of their park and all have contributed to the restoration of its centrepiece, the Bandstand, now fully restored to its former glory, is a testament to their perseverance and dedication. To their hard work. But now, when they come here to bask in the sunshine, the Apartment Block casts its shadow from above, spoiling it for them. Its residents are constantly changing, an array of Young Professionals. It is rare that anyone stays here for more than a year but, to the Townspeople, they are indistinguishable in their fine clothes, with their impractical cars and well paid jobs in the City. Their lives are without commitment and seem, from afar, frivolous and their home is akin to the most modern of hotels. Its gardens, lovingly tended and painstakingly maintained are the Town’s parkland. The Bandstand is merely a trifle, a folly within the Apartment Block’s playground.

The Townspeople have not been colluding but all are moving in the same direction so of course it is inevitable they will converge. They gather in the bushes and watch the Apartment Block. Occasionally someone will emerge and each time the Townspeople become more agitated, moving involuntarily, eventually lurching forward, revealing themselves. An exiting couple, alarmed by the presence of the now all but motionless individuals littering the grass in front of them, move hastily along the path. They fail to notice the first of the Townspeople who, reaching the doors before they close behind them, slip into the building.

The Townspeople begin edging slowly forward and the couple, unaware of what has triggered this ungainly procession, are brought to an abrupt halt. Stranded on the path they cling to each other but are forgotten. The Townspeople, intent on the Apartment Block, keep on coming from out of the undergrowth, a veritable hoard moving toward and beyond the couple, who perhaps recklessly rush against the tide toward the exit.

Huddled beneath the Bandstand the young couple look back toward the Apartment Block. The crowd gathered, in front of the main entrance doors, appears as a leaden and lumpen mass. But it is thinning. Slowly the Townspeople are forcing their way through the doors and into the building.
‘Who are they?’ she asked.
Shaking his head he said nothing.
‘Where did they come from? What do they want?’ she shrieked.
Reaching out he placed his hands on her shoulders in an effort to still her.
‘I don’t know’ he said softly. ‘I have no idea.’

They began to pace, their footsteps beating against the shiny hardwood floor of the Bandstand. He began to wonder about their neighbours – how many of them were still at home, still in their apartments? Readying, as they had been just a few minutes before, for the day ahead?
They watched as the Strangers pushed across the threshold and the doors swung to behind them. Mesmerised, the young couple continued to watch and seemingly everything had returned to normal.
The Apartment Block glared back at them but the Park again was quiet, picture postcard perfect, until the faces began to appear at the windows. Everything then wasn’t so beautiful or quite so serene.

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life

Alien

“Do you want this top?” I asked, holding up a wisp of metallic fabric by its spaghetti straps. “I don’t have the tits for it.”

“Er, I won’t be able to wear any nice tops like that for while,” she said, “…you’re going to be an auntie again!”

I stepped back and looked at her belly.

“What?”

“I’m 18 weeks pregnant.”

I paused for slightly too long.

“Oh my God, congratulations! I’m so happy for you!” I said, kissing and hugging her, careful not to squish the little life inside her.

Shit. Now I have another reason to stay alive.

“Wow guys, you’re going to have a new baby brother or sister,” I said to my 2 current reasons for staying alive. “Are you excited?”

“Yes! I hope it’s a girl. We heard the heartbeat yesterday and it was like whoosh whoosh whoosh and it moves around so much like it’s dancing!” said my niece, barely able to contain herself.

“Wow that’s cool. How about you, little man?” I said to my nephew.

“Mummy has an alien inside her tummy,” he said, looking at the ground, clearly fuming at the reality that soon he won’t be the baby anymore.

“Ewww, I know, it’s kinda gross isn’t it?” I said, expressing my own true thoughts under the guise of kid-speak. He nodded earnestly.

I looked at her bloated stomach. There’s a little life in there, I thought. How peculiar.

Another reason to stay alive.

It’s so strange how women walk around for months with little lives inside of them. And how women can have something growing inside of them for weeks before they even know it exists. And some women grow a whole human inside of them and have no idea until it starts screaming at them from the toilet bowl.

I will never have children.

I briefly considered that the alien might be an Einstein or it might be a Hitler.

Another reason to stay alive. To see how it turns out.

I suddenly felt annoyed. How could you? I feel bad enough about leaving these 2 little humans, now I have to hang around to meet and fall in love with this alien too? Stop giving me reasons to stay alive. I don’t want to.

“When’s it due?”

“Early Feb 2019.”

Fucking 2019! Next calendar year! I have to stay alive until next year?!

Maybe this little life, this little alien, will be enough to melt my cold, dead heart. But I don’t want it to. I don’t want any more reasons to stay alive, I don’t want any more reasons not to leave. I am so selfish. But that’s just one of my reasons for wanting to go. And one of the reasons why I’ll never have children.

A new target.

I stared at her belly. It houses another magical being that should be enough to make me fight my diseases. But I already have 2 magical beings and though I wish they were enough, they are somehow not. They disappear when I take a knife to my wrist, they can’t shout as loud as the voices that visit me at night, they don’t see me cry like a child, they don’t pull me back from the edge of the platform, they can’t cancel out years of pain and they can’t erase thousands of bad memories. I wish they could but they can’t. It’s too much to ask of them. I realised this while I was staring at my sister’s stomach and telepathically asking the alien, “Are you going to save me?” No. No one can.

“I’ve got a new target then,” I said.

I live by targets. My last target was April 15th 2018. I reached it. I have been living targetless, and terribly, since then. Now, at last, a new target. One I’m not sure if I want, but one that I know I need.

Another reason to stay alive.

Another target.

Another alien.

“Can’t wait,” I smiled.


This is my 100th post for Hijacked Amygdala, so I’d just like to take this moment to thank all of our readers for the love and support you give us – your continual kindness is so very appreciated ♥ and may I also say what a pleasure and honour it is to share this platform with such incredibly talented souls. Long live HA! xx

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