Saying Goodbye

Pack away your life.

 

19 years of memories

put it all into crates and boxes,

Tuck it between the pages of books

The hidden sections of your backpack,

Into glass jars, and bottles

The oversized hoody you stole from your boyfriend,

and always promised to give back,

that one pocket of your jeans which was always too small.

 

Anywhere there is space just pack it away.

Anywhere at all

 

All the things you know you’ll need

And even the things you probably won’t.

Because there may come a time when you do in fact need

100 rubber bands.

 

You’re going to a prison after all,

With small white rooms lined up in a row,

Where the colourful inmates you see from afar

Are as insane and in debt as you are.

It will be scary at first but,

As the months go on

You’ll face the day with a grin.

 

Until the day comes,

That you pack away again.

 

Having put your life into picture frames, phone cases, captions on the internet.

Having, contained your love within voice messages, paper chains, lipstick stains

And anything else that is capable of staying forever.

Let the people who don’t understand wonder why.

 

You may pack away, but you’ll never say goodbye.

Asylum Party

I didn’t really want to go to the party. But my friends insisted. Elva wanted to sneak away from the confines of our prison-like private school, so Fox, Rochelle and I like the good lackies we were came along, I mean, who doesn’t enjoy an abandoned asylum party?

Although, after traipsing through what felt like miles of forest I was starting to reconsider my position. Fox complained that she was cold, asking if we were there yet. Elva told her to shut up.

Grenith’s asylum was about as creepy as most people would think it was. The first time I came here I broke in on a dare.

Fully titled Ashvale Grenith Manor, it was previously a Victorian mansion that became a sanatorium in the 1950s. But, was subsequently shut down around the 60s and abandoned ever since. We just called it Greniths now, the meeting place for Ashvale’s misfits, waifs and, strays.

The main hall was a fairly safe space. Large, lots of holes where windows used to be the only fixture being a horseshoe-shaped reception desk that was bolted to the floor and a stone staircase that ran up the middle and then split in half to reach adjacent ends of the next floor. Very fancy in its day. It was when you climbed all the way to the attic or into the shower blocks that shit started to get really freaky.

When we did get there the party, to say the least, was dire. Most people congregated in the large stone entrance hall around a fire.

There was music playing from some portable speakers but no one was dancing and the group was predominantly, female, which sucked for Elva and Fox who weren’t as free with their affection as I was.

I scanned the crowd of faces. None of them particularly interested me, they were all very plain looking.

“oh god, who invited the toffs?” some girl called out with the unmistakable village accent. The group let out a groan. I looked to Elva, while I found the fact they recognised where we were from without uniforms very impressive, we clearly weren’t as welcome as she made us out to be.

That was my train of thought until a voice called from the stairway, cocky and smug “that would be me,” I looked at the guy who must have been Alex.

Elva was right, he was hot, in a pale rock star kind of way. His long slender limbs made his movements appear smooth and languid. He crossed to where we were in seconds pulling Elva into him and kissing her rather ferociously. She gave a squeal of fake shock lifting her arms up almost to keep him at bay before wrapping them around his neck like a python and kissing him back with the same ferocity. Fox gagged and turned to the group of people who were still staring at us.

She gestured her head to Elva “we’re with her,” then wedged herself in between two people to strike up some conversation. I laughed and followed her not caring where Rochelle was or if she tagged along.

It seemed, barring that one girl, everyone else was fine with having some ‘toffs’ in their presence and we got conversation and booze flowing pretty quickly. Fox asked if anyone else was coming. After a pause, one girl with white hair finally answered “yeah, it was just kicking off when you got here, Alex invited some Musos and they’re bringing their crowd. Should pick up then.”

“Who’s their crowd?” I asked, curious.

The girl shrugged “A bunch of druggies and randos mostly, I don’t know them that well to be honest.”

She ended up being right though. When other bodies started showing up things improved, the music got louder and one of the randos convinced people to get up and dance.

That was the first time I saw him.

He was sitting on top of the reception desk, jean-clad legs kicking lazily back and forth, one of his hands was tapping out an invisible beat on his thigh. His head was tilted back, eyes closed like he was physically trying to absorb the music into him.

Then when the song ended and a new one came on, he came back down to Earth, back to the creepy chill of Grenith’s; eyes finally opened and staring directly at me, though perhaps into me would be a better way of describing it.

He had these strange eyes, ones that could look straight into your soul. I couldn’t tell if they were blue or green, though I eventually decided they were blue. They weren’t pretty, they were the kind of eyes that were hard to look at because they were so intense, and it held me captive.

The boy was certainly attractive, not in the way a lot of guys were, but attractive nonetheless. He also happened to be the complete opposite of what I thought I found attractive. While I favoured people who were tall and blond, he was short, and brunet.

His hair wasn’t especially straight either, it sat in lazy curls on his head, and for some reason I really wanted to run my hands through it. He had a sweet look about him, it was the face of a person you could trust and there was something about the way he walked. He carried himself with a quiet confidence that left people in awe.

He came towards me.

I was hypnotised and couldn’t look away, when I saw a flirtatious grin stretch across his face.

Briefly getting my wits about me I turned to face completely away from him and continued dancing, swaying my hips to the music; secretly hoping he’d come over for a closer look, or feel, either worked for me.

I felt someone behind me. I decided to keep the mystery alive and not turn around until they engaged me, it was more fun to make them work for it. There was a hand on my shoulder and suddenly I was facing him.

Not one to lose the mood, and because I was actually enjoying dancing, I barely skipped a beat in between being turned around to wrapping my arms around his neck. He didn’t seem to mind and we danced together in silence, the only communication happening with half smiles. Until he lent in to say “So, what brings you to the madhouse?” His voice was higher than I expected it to be, and it had what I thought was the vaguest trace of an accent which gave an odd lilt to it.

“Decorating ideas, abandoned asylum chic is all the rage right now,”

His smile spread even further across his face “aw, wish someone had told me before I went with the whole attention whore gothic vibe,”

I stifle a quiet chuckle before saying “No, that’s the next big thing, so you’re actually ahead of the curve,”

He nodded “A trend setter, I like it,”

I pulled myself in closer. He didn’t seem to mind and I said quietly into his chest. “I’m not here for decorating ideas,”

He answered just as quietly still swaying us to the music “So why are you here?”

“The stench of booze and desperation soothes me,”

“Fair enough, what’s your name?”

“Lilah,”

“That short for something?”

I nodded “My full names Delilah. I hate it,”

“I think it’s a beautiful name,”

“That makes one person. Come on now yours,”

“Samuel,”

“That’s a good name,” he took that moment to reach behind and pull my arms off of him. I was confused, my forward flirtatiousness was working a second ago, but he seemed to be pulling away.

I kept quiet.

I’d never done needy and desperate before, and I was determined to not start then by asking if I’d done something.

But instead of letting them go he held on to one of my hands and lead me off of the dance floor. It turned out I was wrong. He wasn’t pulling away from me, but pulling me away.

I got a little rush from the idea of where this might go. “Do you want to see something cool?”

“Depends is it the site of my murder?” I got a loud full bodied laugh from him at that while he shook his head, not stopping, I followed him dutifully.

“No, I only murder the people I don’t like,”

“So you like me then?”

“You intrigue me,” I intrigued a lot of people.

“I’ll take it,” he lead me towards one of the corridors that spanned off the main hall.

When we got away from the general noise of the party he turned to face me, walking backwards with a surprising amount of ease, singing under his breath “come with me, and you’ll be, in a world of pure imagination…” I rolled my eyes.

“This isn’t filling me with confidence,” he didn’t respond instead winking conspiratorially we passed a room with the door cracked open revealing three people smoking something unsavoury.

He picked up our pace and soon we were skipping along the bare floorboards, I was trying my hardest to not snap my ankle in half in the heels I was wearing. Because of this I eventually wriggled my hand loose and leaving him to continue running while I stopped dead to kick my heels off. The boy eventually halted and looked at me confused. I sent my shoes flying and heard them echo as they smacked into the wall.

Lowering my bare feet gently onto the chipped boards I jogged up to him smiling “right, I’m good to go now,”

“Okay then,” he bowed low “milady,” I took his extended hand again, and we continued as fast as we had before streaking past empty rooms and, discarded wheelchairs, tipped over gurneys, piles of plaster from where the roof had fallen in. It was an obstacle course of left behind items and poor maintenance.

We hurtled around a corner coming to a stop, outside double doors that spanned floor to ceiling. “what is this?”

“I was so taken with your dancing, I figured we should do it in the room that was actually intended for it don’t you?”

“A ballroom, you’re saying this mansion turned madhouse has a legit ballroom”

He grinned and raised his eyebrows “It does indeed, and a pretty girl like you would be seriously missing out if she doesn’t dance in a ballroom at least once, even one in a rundown, unmaintained former madhouse”

I shrugged pretending not to notice his compliment, while a strange and unfamiliar kind of giddiness took over me, “okay, show me what I’m missing.”

He pushed on the door and with some effort it scraped open “After you,”

He was right. I was missing out.

The room itself I imagine was small for a ballroom. It was long and narrow, but remarkably well kept considering the ramshackle state of the rest of the building. Mould was creeping up along a few of the walls and I saw traces of peeling wallpaper. However, for the most part it was clean and free of clutter and the ceiling was painted with breathtaking gold filigree. Moonlight was streaming in through the windows which just like the doors guarding its entrance ran floor to ceiling.

“You can open them if you want?” I look at him disbelievingly.

“They open?” he nodded. I went over to one grabbing the ornate brass handle and twisting it open. Even though I was kind of creeped out by the general atmosphere of the place, I maintained an effortlessly cool and confident persona.

I liked this guy and I was going to use every trick I knew if I needed to, to keep his attention.

I was amazed when I pushed on the glass and it actually swung open, I was 80% sure these were the only windows in the whole building that were A) still in their frames and B) still functioned as windows. Though I immediately regretted it when an icy gust of wind blew over my bare arms, “Oohhh Jesus mother Mary it’s cold!” I got a chuckle from Samuel at that. It seemed my humour was just right for his tastes. I made a note of that for future reference.

Warm solid arms wrapped around me “Come on, I’ll warm you up” I nestled into his chest not caring at all that this guy, who I had known for less than an hour, was embracing me the way someone would embrace a lover.

A black mist was creeping over my consciousness. Suddenly I felt bad about wanting to trick him, to lie and deceive to keep his attention. I knew already he was too good for that, too pure for me. Too bright. I wasn’t good enough.

“you said we were going to dance,” as soon as I spoke I was being swayed gently from side to side while he hummed a made up tune. I fought to see through the growing darkness swamping every thought in my head. I wanted to stay in the moment. A sound brought me back.

“Can I see you again Lilah, after tonight I mean?”

“Okay,”

“When?”

“When the blackness goes away,” he was light. I decided then I didn’t want to taint him.

He seemed to understand what I was talking about “How are you going to make it go away?”

A pause. “I don’t know.”

Out of Body

I only wanted food.

I admit it. If I hadn’t locked myself away planning this doomed film project I would have eaten. If I wasn’t too lazy to cook myself something in that living biohazard my house calls a kitchen. I wouldn’t have gone out to buy myself something instead.

Honestly, I never imagined living a short life. When I thought about my future it always involved success and growing to a plump old age, full to the brim with life, and whatever it was I was going to achieve. Then, a man named Alex Mason who was jacked up on something, held up the corner shop I was in at knifepoint and I was stabbed in the chest and thigh. The knife almost certainly tore my femoral artery and, I was faced with the very real possibility that I was going to bleed out, on the floor of this damned shop at 19.

I was in surgery for hours. Something had gone wrong, they kept pouring blood into me. By the litre it seemed but, no matter how much they put in I kept bleeding it back out. I could only remember flashes of what happened. The ceiling kept blurring in and out of focus but I could make out flashing blue lights, which meant help had arrived, it felt like the lower half of my body was on fire.

There was an ambulance, hallways, so many people talking over my body that was somehow still alive. They weren’t giving up on me yet which was a good sign.

Whatever they used to put me under was doing weird things to me because, almost in an instant the doctors, fell away and I found myself separated from my body that lay immobile on the operating table.  An ashen and crumbling version of the hospital greeted me. I felt…drawn towards whatever it was that now sat beyond the OR. My curiosity got the better of me and I hopped down from the table still in a hospital gown. I wish I hadn’t.

Ash and grime coated every inch of this version of the hospital. The welcome desk was cracked in half, the patient rooms I mustered the nerve to peek into were completely ransacked. A lot of the lights weren’t working so as I explored, I followed the ones that were closely. I think whatever it was I encountered was counting on that as I found myself following the trail to the hospital’s grim basement area.

What caught my eye first was a girl stood facing a dead end hallway, she had on what looked like a metal underskirt straight from the Victorian ages. Her hair was an unnatural white that floated on a mysterious breeze, giving it a halo like quality.

She wasn’t facing me but a feeling in my gut was screaming to stay as far away from her as possible. The lights had fallen from their fittings in this area and she was almost completely in shadow. I made to follow my initial instincts as they usually did a good job of keeping me out of trouble. As I turned to leave though, a voice was carried to my ears along the same phantom breeze that affected the girl’s hair. It was soothing, silkily imploring me to step closer. I unconsciously dragged my left foot forward towards her. I didn’t want to but I couldn’t stop myself, and I edged closer and closer.

I could hear flies buzzing, it got louder and louder, until it felt like a swarm that was right on top of me. This was accompanied by a stench of rot, so overpowering I could taste it.

This girl was deathly still, yet no matter how hard I fought I couldn’t stop myself approaching her.

She finally moved, her hands slowly clutching the air at her sides. She reminded me of a black widow spider, waiting for her prey to drop its guard before it pounced. I didn’t want to be that prey but she was magnetising. I got almost within arms-reach when the frantic beating of my heart rate monitor broke me from my trance and I finally, stepped back, that’s when she rounded on me and dived for my hand which I didn’t even realise had been held up. I ripped it away instinctively and she came into contact with an invisible barrier. I screamed. And she dived again.

But that wasn’t what horrified me. The girl was me…she was wearing some grotesquely distorted copy of my face. The skin was sagging, exposing aged bone around her mouth and eye sockets which were bloodied black holes instead of actual eyes. Despite this though it was my face. I ran for it, and she dived after me again. I was almost certain she’d gotten me.

I woke up screaming. I survived the operation but the nurses had to sedate me to avoid tearing my stitches.

Ever since then, in that fleeting moment when the lights go out and darkness starts to surround me I see her. To think, if I’d been half a centimeter closer she could have gotten me. That invisible barrier that kept me safe that first time around? She can’t cross it. But, I think can, she wanted me to.

She still wants me to.