fiction, photography

THE LAST STATION

Chris R-1-206 Image by Christine Renney

The Station was small and tidy. This is what struck Carter as he stepped onto the platform; how incredibly neat and tidy it was. The Ticket Booth and Waiting Room were painted a muted purple that shone in the sunlight. There were window boxes and the flowers were unseasonably fresh and fragrant. Strangely, there were no signs and Carter had no idea where he was.
He realised that the train he had only just departed was already pulling away and he could so easily have jumped back on board and made his way back but he didn’t.
He moved toward the Ticket Booth and the middle-aged woman behind the glass smiled broadly. But as he drew closer Carter realised that it wasn’t a woman at all but a cardboard cut-out, faded and creased. And the smile he had found so welcoming at a distance was in fact a little grotesque.
Turning from the booth Carter looked around and he could see quite clearly that it was the end of the line. He was unsettled by this but he was unsure exactly why. He also noticed that the section of platform where he stood was separated from the rest of the Station by a chain link fence on his left. Carter walked across and moved close to it. He could see a concrete staircase at the far end that led up to the road above. Carter stepped back and studied the signs attached to the fence, instructing him to ‘KEEP OUT’ and warning him of the ‘DANGER OF DEATH‘. But it didn’t look so very different over there. It was dirtier, yes, grimier and dustier. Most of the floor tiles were cracked and an old rusty ticket machine lay on its back. But it seemed much more familiar over there and Carter realised that it was on the other side of the fence he longed to be.
The fence was split here, there and everywhere. Carter chose a gap close to one of the posts. He pulled and it came away easily. He clambered through and, once clear of the fence, he could hear the traffic from the road above. Carter looked up at the ceiling but it didn’t come down around his ears and although of course no-one was watching he moved stealthily across the station. He was less than halfway up the staircase and he could tell that the entrance had been blocked. He climbed to the top and pushed at the boards but he could see in the gaps around the edge how they had been bolted into the brickwork from outside and there was no way he was going to be able to shift it and break through, at least not without tools. Ideally, a drill and a saw but at the very least a hammer and a sharp chisel but even with tools he would make too much noise and draw attention to himself. No, he couldn’t break his way through.
Turning, Carter heard the train and rushing down he almost slipped more than once on the dusty concrete steps. But he hadn’t even reached the gap in the fence and the train was already pulling away. It couldn’t have stopped for more than a few seconds and Carter had missed it again, his chance to jump on and make his way back.

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prosetry

And We Return To The Earlier Discord

When was the last time I just watched rain fall without feeling the need to be understood on others’ terms? In youth I learned to notice and, like you, I learned silence from the talkative, flipping back and forth between metaphors and delusion leaving snowdrifts of sawdust in my head because nothing is traceless. Nothing is traceless—I say it twice for double meaning, leaving less to the imagination, sickened as I am by our constant struggles over goodness, as ridiculous as the time I traipsed through NYC in flip-flops feeling perfectly alien and all in.

Not wishing ill but feeling it, Styron feared feeding the evil person within and therefore starved himself by swallowing his perceived failures and eschewing the sustenance of his success at touching people, for better or worse. There’s such a thing as writing to prove your sanity, I confess. I was the one who killed them, he and she, the two of us, perhaps, but it was only a dream and in the dream I stood hesitating in a small room of a three-steps-down-from-the-street garden flat with my finger on the trigger of a gun that belonged to someone, a gun which had just a moment before put a bullet in her. I pointed the gun at him as if to say here please take this before there is no going back to prove anything, counterfactualizing the past before it happened and that loathsome duality was rendered single, killing me.

We left the bodies in the bathtub and I left by the back door, plunging into the dark, blue-green water of the small harbor there, alone. Submerged, I opened my eyes to navigate the subaqueous opacity, white boat hulls floating above, a forest of black dock pilings all around, and green seaweed rising from below slowing the going as I swam through the underwater labyrinth of my final moments of freedom without coming up for air or needing to. Now, I wondered with resigned disillusion, how to negotiate the terms of my latest armistice: wonderment, fear, and awe, all in the same held breath—that’s the future, gray, my second favorite color, though more so from familiarity than appeal. Gray is cover and blend, possibility and lack, the native hue of indecision and liberation. Give me blue or absence, all in or all out, I thought, kicking my foot flippers to keep from sinking deeper into darkness and pulling myself forward with cupped hands, anything but this in between, clutching both and going nowhere, on the run from the ghosts of us.

This, here beneath, is both my refuge and my pulpit, where I float and drift through embryonic muteness, where my voice bubbles and rises to the surface, giving me away, a blessing and a curse. Soon, my body will follow, ill-made as it is for such environs, and I will rise while there’s still time, still time, time still to believe in the strange virtues of freedom and evasion within the context of an undetermined certainty that our days are toe-tagged and body-bagged and on those tags are the names of our teachers and the volume of our ingratitude, right down to the last gasp of asking why we can’t stay.

It’s windy tonight, and fateful. The trees sound glad. If they were more consistent, they’d sound like the sea, I think, and I feel it: be happy, choose to be, choose rare, true, and free.

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prosetry

Sleeplessness and Unexpected Music

It’s far too early in the evening to say here accept this and good morning, let’s be hopefully oblivious to whatever may lie ahead, maybe, maybe no, not by night. What you do is for yourself, so no worries, though, maybe. We’re all in our heads anyway, curators of our own realities—or so I’ve heard and at times repeated. I am making my anyway down the still sun-sizzled sidewalk carrying fear in a ragged black duffle to the pawn shop on the other side of the overpass to swap it for the awful, uncertain of the deal I’ll get. Are you afraid of dying? a billboard asks in terms so uncertain I swear it’s trying to sell me something dark and pointless and cliché like tears in the rain but the sun is still up and the sky is clear though our humanity’s tearing at the seams, overstuffed with what divides. The forecast called for an 80% chance of fate, and the rest of life will precipitate from the choices we make, or so I mumble under my breath, feeling ashamedly hyperbolic. Sometimes I have eggs for breakfast, though, and I’m much more matter of fact. Sometimes the shadows cast by spells from the trees outside make me think about how thinking about you as I lay right there beside you in bed the night before left an aroma on me that the simple sometimes not so simple plunge of sleep did not wash off, a residue which in the fresh fleshy light of morning has condensed into a thin film over my entire being that if I were a scientist I might cheerfully analyze and classify. If I were a shaman or a healer and this duffle contained strength, grace, and dignity, on the other hand, I could write to you and create a small space for us, a universe within a universe, a small space of space where the sense of time is utterly independent and we are merely supporting characters summoning essences to mix up in our rituals. Rise, fall, rise, fall, rise—and on and on and on and around till death marked the final up or the final down. Such would be the tempo and tenor of us, the trajectory of our necessary indifference to “them.” We’re still who and what we are, though, thankfully, retracing faint dusty dried up traces of what were once slippery existentialisms like soapy bathtub bottoms for collecting shower thoughts, thoughts to turn to pictures, pictures to turn to stories, always to turn to stories. A right turn, and then a quick left, just past the corner store, I’ll see you there, maybe, maybe no.

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life, poetry

All Roads Lead To Seven Sisters (2)

All Roads Lead To Seven Sisters (1)

(2)

I will be reborn
several times in my life.
I will be many different people
and wear many different faces
and I will get a thousand chances
to be better:
I will even take some of them —
when I’m being brave, I will pick
my chances like cherries,
roll them between my fingers,
undertake inspection for any imperfections,
and then (once I know that
the chance is a goodun)
urgently devour the possibilities
that dwell within the skin
and try to be better —
better at this business of living.
But other times,
when I am feeling weak
and tired from the fight,
I will gorge on the ugly ones:
I’ll wear the juice of those cherry-chances
like lipstick, let all the wasted opportunities drip
down my chin, and spit
out the pips and, knowing that I’ve
missed a chance to be better,
just try my best
to not to get any worse.

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poetry, prosetry

The Hierarchy

Food over rent
Booze over food
Drugs over gas
Smokes over leccy
Sleep over work
Sex over sleep
Firsts over familiar
Regret over loneliness
Fun over health
Sin over salvation
Lies over love
Fans over friends
Laughs over the Law
Matter over mind
Cash over heirlooms
Notoriety over change
Me over you

Me under the influence
You under the impression
Me under him
Him under control
Me under your skin
You under arrest
Us under the spotlight
You under pressure
Me under the weather
You under the bridge
Me under six feet of soil
All of us under the same old sky

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epistolary

J3: Lucky

image

J,

I absorb other people’s shit. Always have done, and it is all your doing, Bro.

Thanks to you I have the facility to carry other people’s emotional baggage. Their fears, anxieties, neurosis, angst, forebodings. All packaged up and dumped onto my broad shoulders like I am some form of asinine courier. Those around me flap and panic about their vision of a single future. They see the inevitable worst case, and in their calculation, the only possible outcome.

Meanwhile I must stand steadfast, and show no signs of uncertainty. I must remain calm on their behalf, at all times unwavering from a positive future. I need learn to achieve this with my own baggage. Otherwise I would buckle beneath the weight of pessimism (or reality). I have no choice. I am a victim of the inevitable, of what chance casts in our direction.

You inoculated me against the World. You would think I am grateful, wouldn’t you? Well, let us see …

So … how do I manage this feat of strength? This ability to stay sane. Fuck knows, to be honest.

My theory is Poker.

I play Texas Hold’em with each problem. I play cards with the future. I know an Ace-5 looks good, but it’s just surface. All lipstick and blusher, with a weak spine when the going gets tough. Some see the Bullet and relax, not understanding their fall is just around the corner. But don’t be passive either – I’m not saying you should wait for an Ace-King to play your hand. If you do then you will be waiting for ever, and life will be the one passing on your behalf.

On the day you died in my arms I could have crumbled. I could have dissolved into nothing, become transparent.

Fuck my Amygdala. Instead, the day I looked at your dirt-smeared face cradled in my lap, my tears stopped forever. I made a resolve to live my live for both of us. To play the pair of deuces we were dealt. Toss in our chips, call loud and proud, and play the flop.

My life is distilled to a series of no-win hands, that I refuse to lose. So am I grateful?

A.

Lucky – Radiohead

 

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