Saturday, 30 May 2015

Letting

By Alwyne Ashweth

©2015 Alwyne Ashweth, all rights reserved.

It started a year ago, can you credit that Davey-Boy? I cut myself for the first time just over a year ago! I don't mean that it was an accident, like skinning your finger when your chopping carrots. I mean I did it deliberately.

I used to get these real low spots, you see. Downs of the utmost depths you could say. I used to drink cheap wine when they happened, mainly to pass the time, 'cause I think I was really bored. I just wanted something to happen, 'cause I knew that the world was keeping its secrets. I just didn't know what they were. I'd had a glimpse, then the box had been slammed shut on me. After that everything seemed so dull and lifeless.

So I drank. You know that feeling, don't you Davey-Boy! It gets to a point where you just don't care about the things you were worried about any more. It's like a temporary amnesia, making the stress completely disappear. I reckon the people at my off-licence must have figured I was a closet alcoholic. I always went in, straight to the shelf that held the cheapest bottle, and took two. I had it all worked out, see. Wine was the cheapest thing for me to get drunk on. But hell, I wasn't hiding anything. Let those bastards think what they wanted.

There was one snooty madam in there that always seemed to look down her nose at me. I remember one time I went in and made some comment about how I was glad that this off-license was near to where I lived. She came back straight away with, "Oh, it's not an off-license, it's a wine merchant." Ever since that I knew what she was thinking when she served me. She was thinking that this was some sad old alcoholic who didn't know his Chardonnay from his Sauvignon Blanc. She felt pity for me, but more than that. There was a dark fear in her, as if she recognised something about herself by looking at me. She probably drank alone as well, and couldn't get through an evening in the suburbs without a few glasses of some shit or other to dull the pain.

It wasn't quite like that with me, Davey-Boy. Oh, no doubt I was addicted to it. But I really drank to make it all seem liveable somehow. And then there was that one time when my dark mood stayed with me as I got steadily deeper into my cups. I had a packet of razors by my bed, not blades, just the normal Bic safety ones. I remember I took one and flicked off the piece of plastic that protected the blade, and the most absurd idea occurred to me; that the blade wasn't really sharp. It was only just sharp enough to slice off stubble when your face was covered in shaving foam, but that was it. It wasn't really sharp.

I took it and pressed the blade against my wrist, not slicing, just pressing it there. There was no pain, and when I took it away I couldn't see a mark. That's it, I thought, I was right. I did it again a bit further along, and then again. Still nothing.

I took another swig from the wine bottle, and in that time the blood had come. Dots of redness all along the cuts I had made in my skin, growing very slowly. Still there was no pain, and I found this odd. Frightening.

I looked at them for a long time, no longer drinking, caught up with the beginnings of a new crutch, a new addiction. One minute, it was just red liquid. It was slightly thicker than water, you could tell that by the large blobs it made as more blood seeped out of the breech. But it was just liquid. 
And then it kept hitting me that this was what kept us alive. It was hugely important, and yet there was no pain as it slowly seeped away from me. I could fall asleep now, I thought, and I would die if it kept on dripping out of me.

Eventually the blobs got so big that they started to join up, and a single drop ran off my wrist down the side of my arm and onto the bed. There was a red stripe around half of my arm, and I licked at it to clean it away. It was the colour that really held me in thrall. There is nothing like the colour of blood. It's not just red, it's very red. Red to such an extent that it sets something off in your brain. I'd seen it before of course. Such a lot of red. But you remember that too don't you Davey-Boy.
That was the first time. The next time, I sliced a bit harder and cut a bit deeper, and the blood came more quickly this time. I smeared it along my arm, and for just a moment it kept its colour, but it's surprising how quickly it goes dull in the air. It made me think of when I used to get nose-bleeds as a kid, and if I forgot to put my hanky in the wash I'd find it a couple of days later almost black with blood. Let it out, and it changes, changes so quickly, but I suppose that's the nature of everything really, if it is freed.

The third time I cut myself was when I really floated free.

I had found a way back. The fates had conspired to allow me to see the truth again, and it was a glorious feeling. As the blood pooled in my upturned palm, I saw a crack appear against the wall of my room. It was not a crack in the wall, you understand, but over it; a crack in my perception of reality. A light shone from behind it, not bright but definitely from some other place. I think I started to cry as the crack widened and the rays of this not-light hit my upturned face.

As the blood started to soak into the duvet I was lying on, the crack had widened into a rough doorway. I could see through it, beyond the everyday world, into the space between. A passageway was there, leading off into the roiling mists. I struggled off the bed, determined to get closer to the opening, and for one vertiginous second the room spun around like I was drunk. Well, let's not forget that I was drunk. And then I was at the mouth of the cave that had opened up in the wall of my room. I peered into its depths, excited beyond anything I had experienced before. I remembered then how we had talked all those years ago about finding this place. How we had read those forbidden books, and tried to forge a doorway for ourselves.

I have never forgotten how you abandoned me, my sweet Davey-Boy.

After one brief moment of success, when the not-light of the 'tween world had passed over both our faces, but then had vanished. You were gone the next morning. In search of a more potent comrade, perhaps, or enticed away by that charlatan Kodinski. Your reasons didn't matter to me in the end. Only that I was left, alone, trapped again in the world that I hated, that I knew was false and illusory.

I looked down at my arm, and there was no blood on it now. I looked back at the bed, and I was only slightly shocked to see myself still lying there. The whole side of the mattress was red, and I wondered if I could even go back into that shell if I wanted to.

No.

The way forwards was clear. Forwards, through and in-between. To the place we had dreamed of together, Davey-Boy.

If you are truly lucky, I might try to find you.