I still have the photograph. I keep a paper copy in my old, battered wallet. I also have it on the USB stick that I keep in the tiny pocket on the right side of my jeans, along with the few songs that I really liked, and the few pictures I liked enough to save when the world was sane. Dawson and I cheering in the New Year, arms around each others shoulders, grinning, holding our foaming glasses in the air. My mum in her most magnificent Sari, embarrassed to be photographed, hands out as if to halt the moment. An old group shot of Me, Wroey, Cam, and little Dave, sat by the pool table in the local pub, all of us huddled, illicit pints clutched in hand, debating something that I’m sure was deadly important to us when we were sixteen. Things that make me smile when I think of them. I wish that I’d known that I was making memories, that those times would have come to mean so much, that I would miss them so terribly once they were out of reach. Oh god, they hurt my heart… And then there’s the photograph. It’s black and white, and it shows the love of my life applying kohl around my eyes. In the foreground, the fingers of her left hand hold steady against the back of my head, touching one of my scars but not caring. Then it’s her right hand, held angled against my unseen face, fingers at work. And she smiles. Oh, how she smiles. She looks into my eyes, laughing, and the joy in her smile touches her eyes. Her sculpted black hair is immaculate, as always, adorned with the cheap hair band that I’d bought her earlier that day, and she is beautiful, the huge hoop of her earring brushing her black top. I always called her my princess, and that’s how she looks.
A shadow passed the hall window.
The copy that I have in my wallet is the one that I took from the stack of half-forgotten prints that lay in my bottom drawer, before I left home for the last time. It’s what I would die for now, because like Prince said, money don’t matter tonight. Neither do diamonds, nor stocks, bonds, Damien Hirsts, fast food franchises, bags of coke, oil companies… All that’s really priceless now is your will to survive, and whatever you’re carrying. In my case, the clothes I’m standing in, my USB, two cans of tuna, three bottles of water, half a loaf of extremely dry brown bread, my wallet, and the photograph, not to mention the crowbar and bread knife I have slid into the loops of my belt like a dollar-store gunslinger.
It’s really the photograph that’s kept me going, kept me moving, mile after mile, day after day, because I needed to know. Everyone I’ve met that’s still drawing breath in the last month has had a goal, something that gives them a sense of purpose, a place, a person, an escape. They’re going to the coast, to a prison, to an airport, anywhere they will feel safe. And I passed them all, heading inland to where I had to be. Like everyone that’s left, I’ve defended myself, done what has had to be done in order to survive, and felt the horrible guilt. The shambling, eyeless thing who’s head you just caved in was a person, somebody’s son, somebody’s grandma, somebody’s something.
So the curtains just moved again.
It’s funny, the way it all goes out of the window when the shit finally hits the fan. Everything that was important to you, the big things… your car, your savings, your goddamned lawn furniture. The best friend you always said you’d take a bullet for. You give them all up for a photograph. It’s nothing really, just an image, a ghost of a memory, but now, well hell, you wouldn’t just die for it, you’d kill for it. You’d travel on foot across half a country, starving and desperate for it. Spend nights freezing and terrified in barns full of rotting cattle for it. Anything for it. And you’d get there, if you wanted it enough, finally reach her home and crouch behind a burnt-out car, watching the windows, hoping for movement, and hoping for no movement.
So I’m going inside, and god willing, she can talk. If she can’t, then please god, let me have the strength to do what I have to. Either way, it’s worth it. Because of that one moment when she held me and smiled. Because she loved me. Because of the photograph.
I had a dream. A dream that was vivid enough to perpetuate lucidity. It wasn’t the first time I had seen the decadence of the past pervading the future. These ideals, and imperfections haunt me every now and then, but never like this. My bed was moist, for I had sweat vigorously. Despite my discomfort, I arrived to a calming, yet ambitious motive, and I reached forth. Everything that surrounded us shifted to a blur, but you became clear. I could see, but could not realize my own distress. It was in that moment that I became draped in the morning light, and was no longer asleep. However, the dark of the fleeting night followed me for quite some time.
It was uneasy, dismal, and almost nausiating to be alive following that night. It revealed to me, a viel. One that would hide a world beyond my creation. Perhaps it is best that I abandon destiny…
The poison was spreading throughout my body, and I indulged in warmth. I sank into the light and inhaled a breeze, but like a lapse in time, the breeze was gone, and it became cold. I sought solice in you, and evacuated like many times before. We began to think as one and occupy the same eyes. I could still see light from a distance, but what you saw was much closer. You saw the oppurtunity to survive, and we watched the world revolve. The seasons changed often, proving that nothing is perminant. We’ve left pieces of ourselves along the way, but the Universe will take them eventually. You’ve convinced me to understand the obscure.
It is uneasy, dismal, and almost nausiating to be alive in this world. To watch people turn to monsters before my eyes. Their bloodlust is unquenchable.
I stayed on their terms, and there’s still no sign of you along the way. I compromised my dreams, and considered things to replace my memory. It’s significance is reluctantly removed from my consiousness. Through a vast wasteland I walk amongst you, but cannot feel. My knuckles crack beneath the dry spell of the Sun. I unwillingly trudge foward with my head hung low, still no sign along the way. Then, like a division of worlds my eyes pry open, my head slighlty ascends and I look beyond myself. The dust infiltrates my vision, and my skin cracks beneath the dry spell of the Sun.
I had a dream. A dream that was vivid enough to perpetuate lucidity. It revealed a viel which hides a world beyond this one. This one full of uneasy, dismal, and almost nausiating beasts that were once human. You have persuaded me to understand the obscure.
The blood glistens in the sun, flowing like water from my brain onto the soil. Without restraint, the seeds of the future drown themselves beneath my carnage. My skin peels at the hands of my maker, and my body decomposes like a corpse left in the heat. It was fate that brought me here, but destiny refuses me an angel….
Suddenly, the light subsides and transpires into twilight. That is where I stand, creating a shadow from the moon’s glow. My own blood spills at my feet, which surrender to nature and force me to my knees. It is now that even the moonlight is dim. My eyes dissapear into oblivion, and the dark invades the host. It is now that the inspiration envelops a consciousness, but it couldn’t be mine. My thoughts are torn and withered like the body that lies in my blood. But might it be mine? Perhaps it was mine all along. It becomes clear, despite the feeding parasite. I know the way… but I am unsure of the path.
She gave him everything he ever needed. Sometimes she had to work 60 hours a week. Sometimes she may have had to give a little more to her supervisors than she wanted to, but her son was never left without what he needed.
Not to say she gave him everything he wanted. He never did get that elephant, but she did everything she could to make sure he had what he needed.
$100 for a school trip to New York City: done.
$300 for ski club: it was a close one, but she managed to get the cash together.
He always had new shoes in the fall, a new coat in the winter.
If he needed to see a doctor, he did. After all, she took the factory job so that she could get the health care.