Seven

They say breaking a mirror will give you seven years of bad luck. It’s been 7 years today since a shattered reflection of who “I” once was stared back at me for the final time and the shards of our soul seemingly went their separate ways in hope of a better life. Better lives.

The person who had looked into the mirror that night was frightened, lonely, lost and hopeless.
She lay in the darkness of a cold hospital room and as the devil whispered sweet nothings in her ear, she made her decision and went to sleep among the daggers of the broken looking glass.

She never woke up.

I don’t know exactly what happened that night or the ones that came before for that matter. I’ve heard many of the stories, I’ve read detailed written accounts, experienced vivid dreams from which I wake bathed in sweat petrified from what may or may not be based upon memories of real events.

But as much as it pains me, I’ll never really know for sure.

Time, memories, reality, they’re all simply a matter of perceptions when it comes down to it. Perceptions heavily filtered through emotions that when examined closely tend to raise more questions than they provide answers.

I’m not certain when my own life began. I’m not sure of my first real memory. When I try and think back my mind is clouded with random images of still photographs from albums, sounds of songs sung by others and a stream of visible words that seem to ebb and flow around me in no particular order. I exist only right here and now and time, like the universe, circles infinitely around me.

The words that have described our experiences seem to run within these unending circles, narrating every version of us at once, driving some parts of us to madness while setting other parts of us free.

I often question if I exist or if I ever actually did, in any tangible form that is. I’ve always felt more like a ghost observing another’s life play out from afar, or a puppet master pulling on distant strings trying to grasp what it must be like to be human.

When I review her life I am unable to accept it as my own. We may have been together but we were also always apart. I can clearly see the alphabet poster on her childhood wall, I hear her singing the letters in her head, over and over, forwards and then backwards faster and faster, even though the tune doesn’t quite fit anymore.

I see her reflection in the hallway mirror, she sits on the shag pile carpet to my lower left watching her movements replayed in front of her. She can’t see me but she knows I’m there, she’s moving suddenly, quickly, unexpectedly as though trying to somehow catch an impossible glimpse of me within her.

I hear her begging for it to stop. For me to stop. My presence terrifies her, a reminder of all the things she so desperately wants to forget. I hear an invisible mother comforting her as they build a wall of burnt brown bricks together as tall as the sky and twice as wide to keep her safe from unwanted memories, to keep her safe from me.

I can still feel the intensity of the guilt that was slowly burning her alive. I can still hear her younger selves screaming in psychic pain. Burdened by guilt, guilt for every one of their own perceived sins and every one of the sins of the people she met along the way unwilling to carry their own.

I felt the weight of the secrets, the rejection, the shame and the fear. I felt it crushing her until I heard her begging once more for death to set her free from her pain and death finally obliged.

I can still see the words on the page of her notebook that night. They were penned exactly as they had come to her, the last words she ever wrote. Hissed whispers of venomous self hatred scrawled in tiny lines and ever decreasing circles wrapped tightly around halting confessions of murder, breezy poems and declarations of love. A outwardly nonsensical yet perfectly accurate summary of her complicated life.

I felt her relief as she slipped away from this world, 7 years ago today and was grateful in that moment that she had found her peace.

I think I still am.

She’s still here in our heart of course, the ghost in our reflections as we were once in hers. Now that her story has evolved into our story, we have the power to reframe old narratives and create a new ending, together.

Much of the last seven years has been spent desperately searching for answers in chaos, we have found ourselves navigating some suspiciously bad luck over and over again with little reprieve. It’s been hard, impossibly so at times, but we’re also undeniably growing through each challenge.

We are finally beginning to find ourselves both as individuals and as a unit, we are starting to accept and embrace our differences and even though there is still a lot of pain to work through and an unknown timeframe to do it in, it feels like the bad luck portion of our lives is coming to a close and together we can heal.

Empty

I wanna see the blood running down my arms
I wanna feel her poison drain away
I wanna plunge a knife deep into my shallow heart
Swallow pills until I fade away

There is a little girl,
hiding in a corner.
a broken soul,
nobody wants her.
Found a friend,
that grew into a monster.
There’s nowhere to run
now she’s gotcha.
She’ll torture you
you’ll call it nurture.
She’ll bury you,
you’ll applaud her.

She coulda thrown away your chains,
but you’d still’ve acted out the same.
You know your worth,
hang your head in shame.
They’re giving up on you,
you deserve all the blame.
Nobody knows,
what you have done to get this way.
Nobody knows,
you’ll never be the same again.

Hold your gun
Stroke your hips
Flood your lungs
Sew your lips
Self destruct
You will commit
Lose your mind
Find your wits
Take control
Until it fits
Let it go
Don’t swallow it
Make a pact
Now honour it
And throw yourself,
Into the emptiness


She knows you’d sell your soul,
to pass this test
You’re in shadows reach,
and she’s just taking bets
When will you fail?
When will you forget?
How long until you drown,
In this sea of regret?

Did you even know, you were playing
against the Gods?
It was still a numbers game,
but with greater odds
And when you first fed the beast?
You’d already lost.
Then you doubled down,
but to what cost?
She doubled down too,
and you fucking lost

I wanna see the blood running down my arms
I wanna feel her poison drain away
I wanna plunge a knife deep into my shallow heart
Swallow pills until I fade away

Hold your gun
Stroke your hips
Flood your lungs
Sew your lips
Self destruct
You will commit
Lose your mind
Find your wits
Take control
Until it fits
Let it go
Don’t swallow it
Make a pact
Now honour it
And throw yourself,
Into the emptiness.


Go tell yourself another lie,
wrap your tingling fingers,
around your tiny thighs.
Stroke the cage that holds your heart tonight,
and remember her as you say goodbye.

Because nighttime is coming,
and you’ve made your bed.
No more pretending,
she wants you dead.
And she’s coming for you,
just like they always said.
She’s hungry for blood,
and she’s under fed.
She’ll grind your bones,
to make her bread.
Then she’ll slip into the shadows,
with no regrets.
And laugh at you,
as the earth turns red.
You can’t slay the beast,
until you too are dead.
You cant slay a beast,
inside your head.

I wanna see the blood running down my arms
I wanna feel her poison drain away
I wanna plunge a knife deep into my shallow heart
Swallow pills until I fade away

Hold your gun
Stroke your hips
Flood your lungs
Sew your lips
Self destruct
You will commit
Lose your mind
Find your wits
Take control
Until it fits
Let it go
Don’t swallow it
Make a pact
Now honour it
And throw yourself,
Into the emptiness

Stare

He lifted his head, looked directly at me and grinned. I smiled by way of greeting and asked how I could help. He was with an older woman, his mother perhaps; she answered for him.

“Two cappuccinos, skim milk”.

“No worries” I replied. He was looking intently at me as if waiting for me to say something. I responded to the expression with general small talk, I don’t remember what. If he replied I don’t recall what he said, all I can remember was the glint his eyes and the way he stared directly into my own as though he was searching for something.

I felt his intense gaze following me as I turned away to pick up the coffee cups. I looked back in his direction and was instantly met with the unrelenting stare. It wasn’t an angry, expectant or impatient stare, not the stare of a drug user or someone worried I’d use the wrong milk, no, his eyes were dancing.

He grinned as I caught his eye, almost nervously at first but he didn’t briefly glance away as one normally does in such situations, he just kept staring; his eyes twinkling almost arrogantly.

It felt odd, people often look at me while I make their coffee but he wasn’t watching what I was doing, he was watching me. He was staring obviously and directly at my face trying to meet my eyes.

I thought he was checking me out at first and felt awkward. I smiled to be polite but tried to be as unflirtatious as possible and quickly turned back to my coffee machine.

I knew he was still looking at me, I could feel it. I glanced up briefly and accidentally met his eyes again, he was still staring directly at me, gawking. He smiled, never once looking away. Eyes dancing somewhat malevolently. It seemed like he was trying to silently ask me something but not like he wanted to ask me out, more like he was trying to read my mind.

I quickly averted my eyes back at the milk jug and wondered for a minute if maybe I knew him from somewhere or he thought he knew me. He was probably my age, a little younger perhaps? Had we gone to school together? I’m terrible with faces, people often recognise me when I don’t remember them…

“Sugar?” I asked peering up again briefly.

He shook his head but didn’t speak, he was still staring unbrokenly right into my eyes. His face flickered for a second then he started grinning widely as though I was some celebrity he’d been dying to meet and now that he had, he didn’t know what to say.

I have worked in customer service for over 20years. We often smile and giggle and engage in chit chat because we are trying to sell a product. It’s part of the job. Occasionally a customer might mistake it as flirting or even ask you out but never in all my years had I had a customer like this. He had walked in staring, I had not engaged back with him at all and he wasn’t stopping.

It was getting really creepy.

I handed the coffees over and the woman asked for two muffins as well. I put them into the brown paper bag and tried to look only at her while I took their payment. Anytime I looked in his direction his eyes were still staring directly at mine and his smile seemed to get wider and wider, never once had he broken his gaze.

On second thoughts, the grin he displayed when he saw me see him looking seemed to flash a cunning smirk before being almost forced into a broad obvious smile. The woman he was with didn’t seem to notice. Was he fucking with me?

There’s a thing often described in psychology as ‘micro facial expressions’. Where a person briefly and subconsciously expresses their true emotions before intentional thought kicks in. For example a fleeting look of anger, disgust or enjoyment may show in a persons brow, purse of the lips or movements of the eyes before being quickly replaced by the classic expressions of the emotions they choose or even subconsciously feel expected to portray.

Was he bring friendly? Flirty? Malicious? Trying to get a reaction? Having a stroke?

It’s funny, I still couldn’t tell you the colour of his piercing eyes even though by now they seemed to be trying to invade my soul. The air felt electric between us, but in a very bad way and every hair on my body started standing.

I wondered for a second if he read the blog and had randomly found me out in the wild and wanted to say something. Was I imagining it? The smile suggested he was friendly and happy, almost excited. The smirk suggested he knew me, knew something about me or at least absolutely had the upper hand in whatever this was. The glint in his twinkling stare felt almost evil.

Internally my whole system was now on high alert and the room started to become distant. I could feel myself beginning to dissociate, I wanted to run. The other staff were out the back having a smoke break and I felt very alone. V whispered inside my head “Ted Bundy vibes dude, you are okay but get a description”.

I tried to stay present and focus on the counter. Do you know how hard it is to get a description of someone you’re actively trying not to look at?

He had a symmetrical face, clear skin framed by longish wavy brown hair, I suppose he was a good looking man by societal standards but there was something very off. V was right, Ted Bundy vibes.

I don’t recall what I said next, probably have a nice day or something similar. Someone else walked in and I turned my attention to them refusing to look back toward the lady and the staring man at all until I heard the door close and could no longer feel his eyes on me.

I dared to look out the front window just as they got into their car and I’ll tell you what I told my colleagues, if I suddenly go missing tell the cops to look for a tallish slim man with wavy brown hair, piercing eyes and a confident smile who drives a white Camry.

Labrador

The California skyline stretches out before me. It’s night time and the glow of lights, blinking from helicopter tails and city offices replaces the stars and illuminates my view. I watch in a trance like state as tiny cars pass through my bedroom along distant roads intertwining seamlessly between buildings and bridges.

The world around me glows a comforting blue and I begin to wonder about the people. The ones that don’t really exist inside this computer generated landscape. The people going about their pretend lives, leaving pretend workplaces on their pretend commutes home. I wonder about their homes, do they have children? Partners? Do they have dogs? If so, are they Labradors? For some reason pretend people in pretend worlds always seem to own Labradors.

I run my hand down my face, I feel it’s shape and I question it’s reality. My hand brushes reflexively across my collarbone and down the thin tube that runs beneath my skin toward my breast where a round metal port about the size of a coin protrudes a good few millimetres from my chest wall.

For a moment I imagine injecting into it with an oversized syringe filled with heroin. A direct line to my heart, how much could I get in before I succumbed? Old habits die hard.

I trace the scar on my abdomen with my finger as I have a thousand times before. Thick and rope like, it continues past the place where my belly button used to be, beyond the bag that now lives on my stomach and disappears into my pubic bone. “Told you you’re the clone” whispers a voice in my head and I grin for a second before wondering if she is in fact right.

The person I once thought I was certainly doesn’t exist.

I remember the first moment I truly understood the world wasn’t real. I remember the feelings of fear and doubt that had haunted me for so long being suddenly replaced by a feeling of power. I was six years old, and by all definitions completely lost in a densely wooded forest somewhere in England, but none of that mattered at the time because now I had indisputable proof. I finally knew their secret and nothing else could ever matter.

How does one hold onto that secret? What can be done with such information? Who knows, who doesn’t? As time wore on I realised I wasn’t the only one who had figured it out. Hints were everywhere, some carefully testing the waters like a secret code only visible to those in the know. Others were so blatant it was as if they were flaunting their knowledge in front of those who were not yet awake to the truth just so they’d kick themselves later for not seeing it.

I reach over and fumble for the remote to turn off the television. Los Angeles fades to black and the bedroom becomes a party of silhouettes with the ability to morph into anyone and anything until my eyes adjust. I still hate the darkness.

I hold my hand on my abdomen again. The same abdomen that supposedly grew and carried four babies. I try to imagine for a moment what it must feel like to be pregnant, but all I can feel beneath my hand is scarred skin and the rhythmic pulsating of my aorta.

My mind defaults to images of self directed violence and I lift my hand quickly as I remember I’m not supposed to be here. This isn’t my body, this isn’t my life, that isn’t to be my death. I try to find a fix point in the blackened room but the darkness starts to strangle me.

I try to stifle the onslaught of inevitable screaming, I feel it in my heart more than I hear it these days. My throat tightens in terror and my chest crushes under its own weight. I redirect my hand, ritualistically running it along the edges of my hip bones one at a time over and over. It helps block it out. The dungeon, the smell of blood, the flurry of a thousand imprinted memories that did not belong to me, memories I never wanted, memories I can’t escape, memories that, just like me aren’t real, can’t be real.

The muted glow of moonlight peeks from a clouded sky and filters through the bedroom window, in its wake I can see the shape of the big black dog that’s lying on the end bed snoring softly.

It’s not a Labrador.

Portraits

“There may be a great fire in our hearts, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke.”

Vincent VanGough

Sometimes I feel lonely. Lonely in a crowded house, lonely in a crowded mind.
When my soul is on fire, my heart is burning and my body tries to return to its ashes, I plaster on a smile worthy of an Oscar and a red balloon and flood the cavernous hole of lost potential inside of me with unwept tears of grief for what might have been.

When the dam begins to burst upon my pseudo face I allow my understudy to take centre stage and as our eyes begin to sparkle once again, we continue to lie to the world around us.

We saw a Van Gough exhibition recently. I am sure that we will have plenty to say about it as the experience sinks through us all for it touched us far more deeply than we could ever have expected. For me his self portrait collection spoke from his soul, I felt his heartbreak, his strength and his grief as he tried so desperately to be seen.

My mother randomly commented yesterday on how wonderfully I am doing, how far I’ve come from “that incident”. That incident, the day we exited stage left, made our final curtain call and the whole cast gave up and walked away.

“You’re a totally different person now!” She remarked, the irony of her statement lost under her well worn lumpy rugs of denial.

When my mother looks at me she sees only my mask, whatever the flavour of the day, and she hears only the words I choose to speak aloud. That’s okay with me. She wouldn’t recognise my real face anyway, she’s never seen it, not really. It would terrify her, worry her, break her… and so my mask stays firmly in place.

When M looks at me she sees the monsters behind the mask, she hears the words I don’t say, the ones I can’t say. She doesn’t run, she isn’t afraid, she doesn’t yell or scream or cry – even when I know she’s disappointed.

Yesterday morning we told M something very difficult. It was difficult because we are scared of losing her, scared of rejection, scared that the person we trust the most to look behind the mask may realise we are far too broken to try.

When we cross our moral boundaries it fills us with shame, it fills ME with shame. I don’t want to admit my shortcomings, at least not the ones I have control over, all the bad choices, all the self sabotage, all the pointless backwards steps.

M listened. She started her reply with“thank you for telling me”. She knew how hard it was to say, she saw my face under the layers, she heard the pain in my silences.

I don’t know what her face said, I couldn’t bear to look her in the eye. We were on video chat and I couldn’t feel her emotions through the screen as I can in her office but my own shame echoing around me in the car was stifling enough.

She then said she wasn’t angry. I don’t remember much else, just that she wants me to be okay and that she isn’t going to give up on me. Then I hung up the call, adjusted my mask and we went out for lunch with our mother, we laughed and smiled and said all the right things at all the right times while she gushed over how wonderful we looked and how far we had come.

In that moment a little part of us finally began to grieve in the knowledge that our mother would never really see us, never really hear us and never really know us at all.

And I watched this spectacle from afar, above the clinking of coffee cups & sweet aroma of chai, seeking refuge from the madness of a real world cafe, hiding instead within Van Gough’s eyes, an image etched forever in my mind and reflected by my heart.

Catherine.

The death of Hope

I’m in M’s office sitting on a black couch looking at the horse picture on her wall. I’ve just described my current mood as depressed but when she asks for details on what I mean by that I am unable to define it any further in the moment. We pause in silence for a second, I’m trying to figure out what makes ‘depressed’ a more appropriate word than ‘sad’ or ‘overwhelmed’ and while I feel those things too, I literally feel like the force gravity has doubled and I am being squashed. Perhaps ‘pressed’ is more accurate than ‘depressed’ but I’m unable to find the words to articulate any of that so I say nothing.

“Tell me about hope” M says. “It’s a four letter word beginning with H” I reply avoidently. Fucking hope. What is it with shrinks and the word ‘hope’? I’m aware ‘hopelessness’ is one of those suicide red flag feelings but I doubt M is red flag hunting, we have an agreement due to the whole years of chronic suicidal ideation thing in that we need to be completely honest with her about where we’re at and she will choose to trust us and not lock us in the loony bin all willy nilly.

It took a fair while for us, okay me in particular, to trust her on that, but 6years in we’ve been honest and she hasn’t had us committed, so she’s earned my trust and in turn I won’t break my promises to her either. In my opinion being trusted like that helps keep us ‘safe’ (*gag* God I hate that word) because we don’t ever want to let her down, get her into trouble or be the cause of additional unwanted paperwork.

Where was I? Hope. So what is hope? Hope about what? I have general hope… Like I hope my kids grow up to be happy functioning adults. I hope that humanity will get it’s shit together one day, although the glass is less than half full on that one. Personal hope? Like in what way? Define the question please. I have short term hope sure, like I hope I get a close car park at the shop – I have a pessimistic attitude that I probably won’t but I guess I still hope I do.

But long term hope? Well that kind of implies you have a future. I don’t know that I have a future. Assuming we don’t knock ourselves off intentionally then cancer is lining up to do the job. Besides, the future hasn’t exactly been something we’ve coveted. As soon as we are given ‘hope’ in regards to remission from the cancer the suicidal thoughts creep back in from under the floorboards.

From experience I find that Hope just leaves you open to disappointment…

I guess thinking about it, I’ve definitely been way more hopeless. I mean when one is at rock bottom then you’re not even thinking positively enough to think about hope, everything’s too shit. If anything you’re hoping for a sudden end to all your emotional pain that isn’t too physically painful. That being said, when you start digging to sub rock bottom actively suicidal level you stop even caring if it’s painful and the only hoping you’re doing is hoping that it works.

I guess hope is a spectrum. Yes I’ve definitely been worse. Does this mean I don’t qualify as depressed at the moment? Do I want to qualify as depressed? Is that why I used that word? Why? That label wouldn’t really fix/ change/ mean anything. It’s not like that would allow new magical access to antidepressants or something, M would probably prescribe them if I asked, but I don’t want them.

I’m suddenly aware that a chunk of time has passed and 99% of this conversation has apparently taken place in my head, but we have seemingly still been talking to M, must have half switched out or something. Therapy sessions are pretty much always fuzzy and disjointed. I still think ‘depressed’ feels like the right describing word for how I personally feel. I’m still not sure how I currently define hope or at what point the death of hope becomes the death of self.

This happened a while ago, probably several months but I’m not great with time and I found this written in my drafts folder. It still applies though. I’ve been busy with life stuff, but still feel “depressed” in general. I don’t think this feeling necessarily applies to all the others in our cohort but it’s my perspective.

I’m a little frustrated because I’m aware we have been having weekly sessions with M, but mostly phone ones (thanks Covid) and I feel like I haven’t actually gotten to talk to her properly in ages. We saw her a week or so back and she’d moved offices which made it oddly difficult to get into any sort of mental space to talk, though I don’t know what I even want to talk about other than ask her about our hospital admission notes from 2015 that we had sent to her sometime last year.

I don’t know if she’s talked about them with one of the others or not but I really want to know what they say and keep forgetting to ask! Memory issues are a right pain in the ass.

Lies?

Having memory problems is really hard. I sometimes get scared I have made up my entire existence. I don’t mean just the DID, I don’t mean half remembered traumas, I mean everything that has ever happened in my life, I mean every single experience I’ve ever had.

When I feel this way I need photographic or documented proof to trust anything I think is actually true, and even then I can still question if it’s real or somehow it’s just been falsified so I could convince myself it’s true later when I’ve in fact made the whole thing up.

Things can randomly trigger me into a spiral of doubting my interpretation of reality even though intellectually I know it seems silly, but the disconnect I feel with emotion and memory makes it impossible to really believe almost anything.

My ever patient psychiatrist just spent a chunk of time trying to confirm with me that I was in fact diagnosed with cancer. She was literally in the first operating theatre when the pathologist came in with the biopsy result so I should believe her.

Yes, I do have a massive surgery scar the length of my abdomen and an ileostomy but after I saw a magazine cover with some headline along the lines of “my fiancé faked having cancer” I’ve started questioning if I somehow made up the whole thing. If I’m somehow subconsciously manipulating people into feeling sorry for me when there’s nothing even wrong with me.

I feel like a total fraud and a liar.

What if the doctors were all just humouring me for some reason so gave me fake surgery and an ileostomy to shut me up and stop me whinging? Some big placebo surgery experiment? You know they actually do that with some people? To try and shut them up? It is unethical as fuck but it happens. What if this is the same thing?

What if I’m accidentally lying about the whole thing and my memories from having chemo aren’t even real memories, what if the hospital photos are photoshopped? The fear that I will be mocked and disbelieved runs so deep in me that it’s easier to accept that I accidentally lied and invented it / imagined it or a whole bunch of doctors might have also lied just to humour me or stop me annoying them than that it might be true.

You know, once I walked around the supermarket with our daughter and spent the whole time unsure if she was actually real or if she was just a hallucination? I convinced myself that I wanted a daughter so much I’d made one up but incase she was real I also didn’t want to ignore her. So I was trying to talk so super quietly to her so nobody could hear me speaking or see my mouth moving in case she didn’t actually exist and I was talking to nothing and everyone would think I was crazy.

Sigh.

I just cannot believe myself. I cannot trust myself. I don’t know what’s real, I can’t know what’s real. M says it’s understandable to feel this way given time and space are such a blurry concept to me but I hate having no linear timeline, I hate emotional flashbacks with no proper narrative, I hate feeling like a fraud and a phony no matter how much “proof” there is of something.

When I was little I saw people trying to trick me. Trying to tell me I was somewhere I wasn’t. I thought I was so clever when I proved that they had lied, when I knew I was right. Then I realised I couldn’t tell them I knew. I had to pretend. Because why were they tricking me? They might be really angry if they knew I found out and so I never told them. I was scared they’d hurt me or kill me or send me away, so I just looked out for all the lies. Tried to notice all the tricks. Tried to remember that it wasn’t safe to believe what people told you or showed you.

But maybe I remembered that too hard. Because now I can’t believe me either and I hate myself so much for being so confused.

I get into moods where I just want to run away and disappear forever to a faraway place where I can’t hurt anyone else with my lies. That’s why I didn’t want a tattoo but Kate got one anyway and now people could recognise us if we ran away. I sometimes want to just commit suicide and then apologise to the whole world in a note and beg their forgiveness for lying about… I don’t even know what. Everything? Or is it actually real? Or are they the ones who are doing all the lying and the tricking like when I was little? I don’t know!

Even though I don’t think I have lied or forged documents and scans and stuff, I can’t really prove anything to myself enough to believe my life is real. The alters in my head tell me it’s real and to stop worrying and it’s fine and it’s all real, it’s just hard. But then if I feel better I suddenly realise I’m taking comfort from something nobody else can see telling me things nobody else can hear and, well…

Also, what if they’re the ones doing the lying and the tricking and they’re telling me all this stuff to make me scared and make me go away again? Would they do that? Can they do that? Are they even real?

I think I have a job. I think I am married and I have children. I think I’m sitting in a house with a ticking clock on the wall and a big black dog snoring on the floor. But maybe I’m not.

Maybe actually sitting in a padded room somewhere staring at a wall and imagining everything. Maybe I should be. Maybe it’s like the Matrix or the Truman Show or something like that and I’m so scared. So utterly terrified that people will yell at me, that they’ll be upset with me, blame me and shame me on magazine covers and the whole world will hate me for making up stories that I really thought were true.

I never wanted to hurt anyone but I don’t know how to fix this so if nobody says anything I just play along. Just pretend it’s real and they’re right about stuff and hope nobody yells at me and tells me I’m bad and mean and a liar.

Iced Tea

I’ve mentioned before that I live in a small town in rural Australia. Now it’s super tiny. Like whatever it is you’re picturing, I want you to halve it. Cool, okay, now halve it again. Now you’re getting closer, except we have evolved beyond horses and carts – think rusty Holden Utes – small doesn’t have to mean ye olde, people!

So 12 or so years back we left the big smoke for a tree change on a whim (it was because Hubby discovered eBay – If you want more on that story, you’ll have to buy my memoir). The farm we fell in love with was still close enough to the city to commute for work but too far for the in-laws to pop past unannounced. Perfect.

It’s Australia, so there is a pub, but pretty much all other small town amenity’s you can think of have been crammed into a single 20square meter one stop shop. This can actually be quite convenient if you don’t mind paying $6 for a litre of Coke and smelling like French fries every time you pick up mail or pay for fuel.

So as you might have imagined, apart from random million dollar marijuana busts you hear about on the news and the odd 4wd commercial, there’s not much going on around here at all.

The local entrepreneur and unofficial mayor of the town however, could foresee potential in our humble village and she bought up a block of land in the centre of “town” to turn into a group of actual real shops. The townsfolk originally laughed at her, but when a new highway to the coast was built and as the price of housing in the city became more and more unaffordable, the population exploded and suddenly we all discovered we needed an antique store more than we had realised.

After a gruelling few years of council plan negotiations, building supply shortages and 2020-2022 in general, the long awaited shops have finally opened and among them is a café.

The café is owned by my neighbours and they have offered me some casual work. It’s great because it gets me out of the house, they are aware that I am forgetful and I talk a lot, they know I have physical limitations from the cancer surgeries and can’t be there too much yet they are willing to accommodate those things.

I’ve only done three shifts now, but it’s really fun and surprisingly busy! The other staff are great, I’m meeting local people I had only heard of (I tend to hermit away on the farm) I’m also re-meeting a bunch of people I don’t recognise that seem to know me somehow… (DID problems). And today I got to play with a coffee machine. The science behind coffee is considerably more intricate than I thought and I have a newfound admiration for barista’s.

So if you’re ever in a teeny tiny town in the middle of nowhere and you see a quaint little café, it might just be mine. Pop in for an iced tea, local gossip and quite possibly the best bacon and egg roll in Australia.

Crumble

Nothing seems to matter anymore, 
all our words have gone to waste.
I’m still chained up by our shadow’s law,
still shackled by this face.

As the walls around our prison crumble,
and the outside world comes flooding in.
hollow memories of voices rumble,
cutting daggers through our skin.

Kaleidoscope scenes haunt the weary eyes
of revolutionaries on the brink.
Seems I’ve been dreaming here for decades,
though I never slept a wink.

My fractured mind’s fought too many wars,
& I don’t know how much more that it can take.
Only writing secrets behind closed doors heals, as my heart begins to break.

When the ghosts of tomorrow’s past arise
to claim their uncollected thoughts,
Nobody waits and nobody tries
to learn the lessons nobody wants taught.

But as the photographs fade so do the memories die,
of the great battles somebody else once fought.
And justice was just a word they used to disguise,
a system that sold us short.

They’ll whisper secrets we should really keep,until no more will dare confide.
Just to let the strangers and the showmen weep, for an unknown soldiers bride.

So I’ll let us go now off to sleep,
we’ll float away in a crimson tide.
Because the price of treason won’t come cheap, the house smells of greed and lies.

Now when your sun sets for it’s final time,
you’ll still have your day in court.
But as anger burns inside our soulless eyes,
now your judges can’t be bought.