The Dark and the Light

The Dark and The Light

 

It is wrong. Like me.

Everything about me is wrong, and I hear them say it. I have heard it often enough. I amble through it, warm inside, warm outside, full of acceptance and impatience.

I am impatient because life is long, and slow. Like my love. I need them both to end.

I am thinking about this in my flat. My flat is always warm. And so am I. I am not sure what being cold feels like. I have too many layers, one on top of the other, dirt and grit in-between, guilt and shame. They layer up, they gang up on me, they bind me up and keep me warm at night. I am always warm.

Like now. Watching him.

My face is warm and so is my groin. I lift one arm slowly. I watch it travel through the clogged up, fogged up air, and I can feel how tightly the air surrounds my skin, lingering there, filled with secrets. My hand moves slowly. It is a juddering, shuddering thing, a dark starfish turning, curling through the dust.

I touch my face. My palm is rough against my whiskered jowls. It is a landscape of lumps and bumps, craggy and weathered and warm and pulsing. And I can smell it. If I stand here still enough, if I breathe in slowly enough, inhaling the life I exist in. I can smell my skin and I can smell the stink of age and ruin.

Whiskey on my breath, coating my tongue. Nicotine stains upon my fingers. I can smell the scent of who I am, of what I am. I suck it up. Breathe it in. Remember. Rotten on the outside as well as the in. Decayed from within.

Was I ever anything else? Anything more, or less than this?

I am too old now, too far gone, too hunched and sorry and broken and lustful to remember. There must have been another me once. A younger, trimmer, taller me. With brighter eyes and sounder mind. I can’t be sure though. I can’t be sure when the rot set in, when the infection took hold. I do know that I never once tried to fight it. Life was too long then, too slow. And it still is now.

Watching him. On guard. Waiting. Always waiting. Stood behind, looking down. Cocooned by the flat, by the dark, warm cave it has become. Lonely, but somehow we are joined here, linked. I sniff it. The darkness does not hide my secrets well. For I can smell them in the sweet cloying air as it cloaks my face. My flat smells too, of everything I am, of everything I bury here, of longing and loathing, and love.

Orange curry and gone off milk, cobwebs hanging with dust and dried flies, stains on the carpet, mould on the walls, fingerprints in the books and on the dirty magazines under the mattress.

In here it is dark, and he is the only light. He never sees this because he thinks he is ruined and destroyed, and maybe he is wrong, maybe he is right. He never thinks about anything too much these days. Only the home he escapes from, and the fear of being found. Only the music he keeps in his ears, in his brain, blocking everything else out, refusing it entry. Only the dark oblivion we enjoy together. Try this. And this.

I am the dark and he is the light.

His pale face turned up to mine, eyes closed and mind gone. I want to reach out and touch him but I cannot. If I lay my dirtied hand against his pale skin I might leave a stain upon it. I might destroy the light. And then we will all be worse off.

I stand behind and look down.

Breathing him in. Absorbing the light. My hand remains against my face. Warm and throbbing, rough and worn. I hold myself there. And my guts are inside me, behind the wall of fat and whiskey and sloth. Behind the solidified alcohol and curry and waste. My guts are back there, knotted and aching and crying. I can feel them there. I want to ease them out and relieve the pain and pressure. I want to stretch them out and let them breathe. They are a weight holding me down. Holding my feet to the sticky carpet.

Everything I deserve is in this place. Dirt and dust and shadows. I don’t belong anywhere else. One day I think, I won’t leave here. The doors and the windows will seal me in. The air will thicken until I suffocate. I will die here and I hope it is soon.

But what of him? What of the light?

How much time have we got? How much longer can I keep holding myself back? I examine the contours of his face lovingly, as I drag my rough palm over my own soggy, saggy features. Where his is sharp, defined, clean edges, mine is lost, sunken, shabby and derelict. My chins pile up. My cheeks hang loose. My eyes vanish under folds of flesh.

His skin is clear and soft and new. The only blemish is the deep cut to his top lip and a slight swelling there. My hand is reaching out to it now, reaching for the bump on his lip, but I pull back just in time. I always do that. I long to reach out and soothe what the monster has inflicted. I don’t say a word when he does it though. I hang back and look on.

Silence pounds my brain.

Blood throbs between my legs.

The monster jeers and laughs at this, but this is not all there is. It’s not just that… It’s not just blood and longing and desire. This is different. The boy has a light. And now the pounding is in my heart as well. The aching and the longing is in all of me.

My hand is where it should not be. It has landed in his hair again. My heavy fat fingers falling through the tousled blonde strands while my heart beats faster. I pull my hand away when the door suddenly opens. I walk quickly away, shoving my hands into my pockets, blinking away a salty tear.

In walks the monster. In walks King Of The Castle. In walks Mr High and Mighty. Mr The Big I Am. He walks in and the air grows colder and the boy shifts and stirs and moans softly on the sofa, but he does not wake.

The monster smiles at me because he can always smell my guilt.

‘Behaving yourself?’

‘Course I am. What do you want?’

No answer, because he does not have to answer your questions. Not the King Of The Castle. Not the King of the Shitting World. He goes to inspect the boy, who he thinks he owns, who he tries to turn into a robot, a yes-man, a minion. The beautiful boy full of light.

‘Is he out of it?’

‘Looks that way.’

‘Little prick.’

I sigh and shuffle towards the kitchen, where there are dead flies on the windowsill.

‘Do you want tea? Whiskey?’

‘Tea. Not staying long.’

‘Are you taking him home?’

‘Might do. Why? Will you miss him?’

Of course he laughs at his little joke, because he has always found my pain amusing. I deserve it though. He knows this as well as I do. We exist like this, somehow. The monsters. Both of us. Vile. Inhuman. We don’t deserve love or light.

Only I feel the guilt. That is the only real difference. The thing is, we both want the same thing. We both want love given to us, we both want what we do not deserve, what is not rightfully ours. We go about it in different ways. And the boy on the sofa knows all of this and none of this. He knows everything and yet nothing.

I make tea and in the lounge the monster sits next to the sleeping boy, dulling his light. Can it work the other way around, I wonder? Can the light fight back? Can it ward off the darkness and win? Theirs is a fight to the death. A fight neither can afford to lose. I make the tea and try not to think about the future. Time passes too slowly for the likes of me. I have been dying slowly for years. I am trampled fruit underneath the autumn tree, I am crushed and squashed and pulped and rotting. It takes too long. I should be dust by now, but it all takes too long.

Another unseen salty tear stings my eye while I make the tea and think about the boy. I think about him and how rotten we are to surround him like this, to want to own him and love him, to want his light to reflect back on us. I think about the very first time I saw it. I think how my breath hitched in my throat, and how my old eyes widened and my mouth fell open and how my blackened old heart ran up to my mouth, pounding, though it had no right to, though it was not allowed.

I have no right to love of any kind.

And there is a clock ticking somewhere in this place. There is inevitability and pain waiting for all of us in this dark, warm cave.

Something will happen. Something is coming. This, this is all wrong…I swirl the bloated teabags around the mugs, one at a time, my movements clumsy and stiff, sploshing brown liquid over the sides. I listen to the voices in the lounge. King of The Castle is waking the light up, easing him out from his dreams. I wonder how he feels when he wakes up like that. Realising. Remembering. Does he get a jolt of cold fear right in the centre of his chest? Do the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end? Does he feel the most powerful urge a human body can experience; the urge to run? Or does he just feel flat, empty and resigned? Does he just remember and then give in? I don’t know anymore. There used to be more fire in his eyes, I remember that. I enjoyed that. But now I don’t know.

I pick up the mugs and carry them in. They don’t look at me or speak to me, and yet I know what we are. We are a triangle of misery and hatred and love and the whole thing turns like a never-ending circle, but it can’t do that forever, because one of us will be blunted. One of us has to go.

 

This is a short story written from the point of view of one of the minor characters in my novel The Boy With The Thorn In His Side – you can find out more about these characters and this story by following this link – the novel is available in ebook and paperback 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boy-Thorn-His-Side-ebook/dp/B00W8DLGKA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1431972783&sr=1-1&keywords=the+boy+with+the+thorn+in+his+side

 

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In Blood – short story

In Blood

We met in blood.

His and mine.

Sweet, dark tangy blood. Do you know how it tastes? Thick, dark blood. The essence of life. I do. And I like it. I like the rich, metallic tang, and I like the full, intense aroma, and I like the sight of blood in its many forms and shades.

In blood, it ended the same way that it started, and now they call us toxic. They call us sick. But I will wait for him.  We are connected now. His blood runs with mine.

The night of the party, that was our night. Our first night. But I had been watching him for a long time before that.  Let mel tell you what I saw. I saw a brute, a bear, a man, a thug. He was top heavy with arm muscles and his movements were precise and fast. He was a man who had never doubted himself, never questioned anything. He did not know hesitation or procrastination. He knew who he was, and the best thing about him was that he did not give a shit about anything. Not one single thing, not one single person.

Everyone knew who he was. The big lad, the top one, the bully boy from the bad family. Bad reputation. From the estate. Not to be messed with. Steer clear. If you had the brains you were born with, you would steer clear. But silly girls never listened. Silly girls saw his looks and his power and believed they could change him. But not me; I never wanted to change him.

I didn’t worry about brains, although I had plenty of them. Instead I concerned myself with instinct; where my guts led me. Besides, trouble was fun. Good girls were dull. Life was short, and Heaven was a lie.

He didn’t notice me back then. I was in the background. I think that is how he sees most people. Blurred noise while he cuts through it all. You always see him coming. You always stand back, hold your breath, look on. I remember doing that, when I was just in the background, looking in. I was a self-satisfied,  slinky, skin slashing, know it all. I still am.

I watched him, watched and learned. I was intrigued. I thought maybe, we had things in common. You see the thing about him I liked, was the thing about him they all hated, or feared. He was mean. He didn’t give a shit about anyone. He would hurt you, use you, laugh at you. It was just him and his brother Travis to take on the world; the twosome, one long and lanky and messy haired, and him, solid and immoveable. The younger brothers were not on his radar, not any of them. Not the little sticky fingered brats, and not Joe. If Joe was anything to him, it was a punch-bag.

I didn’t care about Joe. Not much. Or Lou, my so called best friend. I try not to care about people, for numerous reasons. It’s boring, for one thing. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but people are mostly terribly boring. Plus if you do care about them, it tends to get sticky and complicated. So, we had that in common at least. Me and Leon. See, I knew it would work. I knew it was right. If I had said such a thing to Lou or Joe, or to anyone, they would have laughed and jeered, and then looked at me as if I was crazy. Yes, I am a little bit crazy, I want to tell them, so fucking what? Who isn’t anyway? Everyone is fucked up, and that is the truth, my friends. That is the truth. With some people it’s obvious. It’s written all over their face or their body. Some people hide it better, but usually they are the ones who are more fucked up than anyone. At least the freaks and the geeks and the oddities let it loose, let it out, embrace it and rejoice it. Be different.

Don’t be afraid of pain.

That night, we caught each other’s eye for the first time, and it was all how I knew it would be. I get a feeling, a sense about these things. I was tiny and dark in my little dress and shoes, and he was the monster I invited to my party. The kitchen was full of people, packed tight. But Leon was the only one I could see. The rest were blurry-faced. I moved closer to him, and then moved away. I caught his eye, and then refused to look back at him. I watched from the edges as he drank beer with his brothers and Lou. I felt flashes of hot, surprising rage, when she looked like she was in the centre of them. All three brothers looking at her and laughing as she got pissed up.

I made my move when she ran outside to be sick and Travis followed her. Joe turned away from his brother, and Leon was alone.  He took a chair and sat down, and before he could lift his beer to his lips, I was on his lap.

‘It’s quieter upstairs,’ I told him, and then I was gone. I heard his curious tread coming up the stairs behind me.  I opened my bedroom door,  and in he came. Just like that. We didn’t talk a lot at first. He sipped his beer and looked around at my room. Then he went to the window to check out the garden.

‘Your bedroom is about the size of our house,’ he muttered, and I laughed. I was lying on my bed and playing with my razor.

‘Don’t you get bored,’ I said to him. ‘With everything, and everyone?’

He came closer, his eyes narrowing in on my razor blade. ‘What are you, suicidal?’

‘No, not at all. I’m just bored. And I’m interested in pain. How about you? Tell me something interesting about you.’

He was quiet for a moment, just watching me. He looked hungry then, like a dog sizing up a good, juicy bone.  I waited for him, eyebrows raised.

He said; ‘I’ve got a wrap of coke in my back pocket, if you’re interested.’

I grinned and held up my razor. ‘Well aren’t we just made for each other?’

And we sat together at my desk, and I passed him my blade to chop up the coke, and my bare leg was pressed against his denim clad one, and the pulses in my body were on fire, throbbing and swelling. And then she knocked on the door. That little bitch.

Let me tell you a few things about Lou Carling.

She used to be fat, but now she’s not. She’s on a mission to destroy herself, and I am along for the ride. These kinds of things are interesting. After all, isn’t that the gist of being human? Isn’t that the curse? Once we are old enough to understand that everything must die, we start to destroy ourselves any way we can. Drugs. Drink. Sex. Work. Hate. Love. You name it. It cuts us up, from the inside out. Lou Carling is one of these people, cutting herself up on the inside where nobody can see it. On the outside she is tough and sarcastic and slow to smile. For some reason, she cannot see that her best friend Joe is totally and utterly in love with her. It makes me quite sick. It’s almost like incest. I’m not kidding. They were bathed together as kids, ran around naked in the garden, you name it. But now that their bodies have grown and been honed and hemmed and tightened and lengthened, things are getting all screwed up. Believe me, spend ten minutes in a room with those two and you will want to scream at the top of your lungs; for God’s sake just fuck each other and get it over with!

But anyway. I digress. Lou Carling, short and sweet and bitter and more fucked than any of us. I hang around with her because I want to see how fast she unravels. I want to see what lies underneath.

She knocked on the door with Joe because she was worried about me. How sweet. What happened next was not surprising to anyone at that party. Leon went out there, called her a few choice names, and then beat his brother up. Meanwhile she stormed past them to see if I was okay, and yes, how surprising, I was okay! I was chopping up lines of coke, and she could join in if she wanted to, but no.  No, of course, not Lou Carling. Not perfect little Lou. Smoking the odd spliff with Joe and drinking cider in the park is fine, but you know, anything else is evil! We had words and she went on her merry way to see to her precious non-boyfriend.

When Leon came back in, he had blood on his knuckles and blood on his face.

‘Little bastard,’ he said, under his breath.

God, I wanted him then. I wanted him so much. I couldn’t even speak. But that didn’t matter, because it was all there in the way he looked at me, and the way I looked at him. He was breathing hard and fast, and part of me wished I had gone out there to watch. Pow! Pow! Take that Joe, you little runt, you loser, you nothing!

I don’t mean it. Not really. I kind of like Joe. I kind of like everyone.

But things get so boring

We got back to business. I watched his face as he cut up the powder. I examined the contours of his features, and the curve of his chest, as he breathed fast, in and out. The muscles flexed on his bare arms. He was so very alive. And so was I. So was everything and everyone. It got so much I wanted to eat it. I wanted to grab the whole world and all the fizzing exploding swelling life within it, and shove it right into open mouth, chew it up and swallow it down. Weird, when you feel like that.

We took our medicine and then went to lie on my bed. We kicked off our shoes and stared at the patterns on the ceiling. After a while, he rolled over and looked at me. It felt like he looked into me. He cupped my face with his hand, held it like it was china…

‘What are you waiting for?’ I asked him, and he shrugged.

‘Nothing.’

That was the first time. But it was not the last. His blood mingled with mine, and then again on the night he rushed in and saved me. I was out of it. Mostly, I was absent. But I do remember his arms scooping me up from the bloody mush of my bed. It felt like I was being ripped from my mother’s spongy womb. I remember the feel of his arms, like branches of a tree, holding me close and holding me up. I don’t remember him ripping his t-shirt, which that night was once again doused in the blood of his brother Joe. I don’t remember him using the cloth to tie up my wounds, but apparently his quick thinking saved my life. He tied me once again to this world.

The thug, the animal, the sub-human scumbag. He came to me that night. He could have gone anywhere. He could have vanished from all of our lives, and Lou and Joe and his mother, and the rest of them, would all have been relieved. Good riddance to bad rubbish. But he came to me. He came to me. With the vilest crime a crimson stain upon his hands and all over his clothes, he came to me.

And our blood met again, and when all of this is over, he will be back.

And I will be waiting.

If you are interested in these characters and would like to find out more, you can download the YA novel they are related to here ; (available in paperback and ebook)12227067_1068628339823097_548647694753202354_n

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mess-Me-Chantelle-Atkins-ebook/dp/B00CSVQ8EQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=