Edge

Posted: November 12, 2010 in graffiti living

Words press into me as a description of the candle-lit room. Floorboards stripped back to old wood, with a mattress written into one corner. A carving knife sits on the table near the door, with its serrated edge against the wood’s throat. Condensation breathes against bare glass with no curtains to hide behind. The panes of the large bay window are unreadable mirror pages, black with heavily repeated text. To the right, a smaller leaded window is barred like a prison cell. Candles burn on many levels. Flames writhe in spastic silver shadows on the damp walls.
Already I am bloated with quotations. My eyes blink punctuation tears. Sweat stammers from me as I try to sit. The struggle to move tells me I’m sticking to the dirty mattress, like the votive candles melting around me into the floorboards. Smudged words inscribe ink-blot spiders on the walls, making cracked plaster webs of the room.
I remember that I am beginning to remember. Time is the distance between each word as I try to think one word of my own. The room stinks and threatens to peel each attempt from me like paint. Home is as far as I can get. Home is my word, empty of meaning.
Damp molds the corners in a sick wet heat. I am thirsty and want to drink the cold black glass into me. My throat burns with new intensity, as I lick the windows. The rest of my body weeps quietly, unable to look up from the words.
‘Edge, speak to me, Edge.’ This comes to me as the girl in the red jumper over a black dress opens her mouth. She speaks again. ‘Edge, are you awake?’
‘I guess not’ is all I can say. She seems satisfied.
‘Look at you’, she teases, ‘all written out. Here’s where you get up.’
I am made to sit and look at her closely, into long black hair and a hidden face.
Her skin is innocent, coffee-stained colours. Her eyes force movement and more words.
‘I feel like we’ve always been lovers, along these lines.’
‘Clap clap,’ the girl laughs and claps in time to the words. My look accuses her. ‘Clap clap’ she says. ‘You talk like that and I clap my hands.’
I try to stare at the floor, but the girl uncoils before me and pulls the red jumper over her head. The black velvet beneath moves with her like a lover.
‘I once knew a girl who wore a dress like that.’
‘I know’ she says. ‘I wanted you to see what I looked like with it on.’ She throws the jumper over my head like a blanket and folds me in blank red.
The girl pads barefoot down the hall. She leaves the imprint of her walking away behind her, before the door slams shut and some candles are snuffed out. I stumble to my feet.
Light spills in from behind the girl as she stares at me from the now open door, and sparks up her cigarette with a purple lighter.
‘I needed a light’ she explains between smoke breaths.
‘Why not use the candles?’ I shrug. She throws the lighter at me.
‘You know why, it upsets me. The candles are nearly dead.’ Burnt ash falls away from her as she speaks. Eventually she throws me a cigarette.
‘You read my mind.’
‘No I didn’t, Edge. I only looked at you.’
The lighter sparks awkwardly in my hands but gives no flame as I hold it expectantly to the cigarette between my parted wet lips. I stop to complain. ‘Where did you get this?’
‘Black guy downstairs, looks like death. You know the one, dreadlocks and top hat. He keeps trying to sell money to people.’
I reach down and hold the lighter to a candle. The lighter sparks and takes the flame. The cigarette end glows as I inhale and the candle dies. I go to put the red jumper on, but when I look up from doing this the girl is wearing it again. I see the lighter now sat on the mattress, then stand up straight as my head burns. I try to focus on the act of smoking, but get confused and lose track of my movements. My tongue traces the wet trail of a spider, as I lick the cold glass of the bay window. The girl sits in her prison-cell corner. She scratches into the damp surface of the wail with dirty fingernails, scraping out words I cannot read no matter how long I stare at them.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Praying.’
My thoughts are scattered ashes at some poor girl’s funeral.
‘Now I lay me down to sleep?’ I ask, trying to reach her. She ignores me. ‘Sing for me’ I plead. ‘Like the day your lips turned black.’
She does not respond. All I can hear is the scratching.
I miss her standing before me as I lay on the mattress and she writes on the wall with her fingers. I imagine that I lean over and try to kiss her on the cheek. ‘Take this for when you get lonely’ I whisper, and move to touch her face.
‘Clap clap’ she says and seems to disappear.
Alone in the room, I try to compose myself and move towards the closed door. Spiders crawl onto the floor, between candles on the verge of going out. I remember the feel of the girl even if we never touched. My longing to say or do something unexpected refuses to stop. In my head, sheet music burns outside the room. This makes no sense and probably never happened. I curse my wound-words, for there is a song I can never sing. Someone else is writing this -I can feel it.
I disturb the table by sitting on it. The wall is cooler here, against my back. Sick and lonely, I cradle the knife in my lap. In the dead light of the room, I look along the rough blade towards morning. A white line erases night from the windows. Maybe I am falling asleep as I lift the knife to my upturned arm. It does not matter that I cannot tell my left from my right. I collapse into running the knife across my arm, back and forth, back and forth, like a violin. Working hard, I grimace, pushing forwards into the pain. Tears flow from the cut veins and sing out loud. Sound bleeds in hot waves from my arm. I play furiously against my wrist, through tendons and closed eyes. White noise floods the room, carries me along with the music in my blood. The spiders on the floor split open like flowers. Birdsong resonates outside. I listen to the dawn chorus as it listens back at me. We play into each other to the break of a blank page.

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Comments
  1. clvr_witch says:

    You say crap. I say interesting imagery. Its an allegory, and I get that. It whispers to some…thing in my psyche, and on that level, I get it. On a much more superficial level, my brain is still processing. I believe I will have to read it many more times.

    I like this piece, though. Just wish I could explain why. Or perhaps, inadvertently, I just did. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about your blog (and often about you, as a person): you make me think harder than most. Certainly harder than I would, if left to my own devices.

  2. […] Words press into me as a description of the candle-lit room. Floorboards stripped back to old wood, with a mattress written into one corner. A carving knife sits on the table near the door, with its serrated edge against the wood’s throat. Condensation breathes against bare glass with no curtains to hide behind. The panes of the large bay window are unreadable mirror pages, black with heavily repeated text. To the right, a smaller leaded window is barred like a prison cell. Candles burn on many levels. Flames writhe in spastic silver shadows on the damp walls. Read the rest of this entry » […]

  3. […] and inspiration, dream imagery and weird characters, or outright as full-blown dream narratives and published short stories. They’re also free word count. Nobody can shout at you for plagiarising the contents of your […]

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