Always Falling Inward
“It’s an ugly thing” I said to her, gazing at the strange ornament stood in front of the window.
“Charming.” She threw one of my socks across from the bed. “Any other decorations you want to abuse before I throw you out?”
“No, just this. What do you keep if for? Did you make it in high school Art Class?”
“It reminds me of Life. It’s messy and rough but it all spirals into the same place in the end”.
I looked back at the mess of twigs and driftwood silhouetted in the morning light, and I –
I am riding my bike in the rain, home from school. I’m going so fast, so urgently, to get home and dry and I see my friend on the pavement and I wave, grinning at his surprised face looking back through the wet haze. I’m still grinning as I sail around the corner and I don’t see where the kerb is and the bike jerks away from me, out into the road and there is suddenly a bus, right there, and before I can react I –
I blink, and turn back. “Sorry, what?”
She looks at me strangely, her eyes glinting with amusement. “I said something meaningful, and you just ignored me. Why should I repeat myself?”
“Can’t be important then, can it! ”
“Idiot. All I was saying, before you went back to sleep over there, was that – “
I feel the first punch with a shock of impact in my gut, blowing the drunken haze away along with a mouthful of spit. I reel backwards and fight the urge to vomit, the urge to just run, away from this outbreak of violence in this dark bar in the dark edge of town. My fellows recoil away from the anger and hatred, away from the poor choice that brought us here, and poor choices that turned a confrontation to violence. I lash back at him, more in hope than expectation, and connect, stinging my knuckles on his twisted, angry face. He howls like a primal thing, and I hear the smash of a bottle against the bar, and he lunges back at me, and –
“Right now you’re trying to annoy me.” She’s got out from under the duvet and pulled on her robe, arms folded against her body. “I didn’t start this conversation.”
I turned away from the window and looked at her. “I’m sorry. I guess… I guess I’m just lost in your ugly ornament there.”
“I knew it! You are trying to annoy me, you jerk!”
“It’s not my fault, it’s all down to this monstrosity” I turned back to pick it up and –
I can smell oil and rubber and taste metal and blood. I open my eyes unsure how much time has passed and the world is dark, and tinged red. I try and blink it away, but I cannot. One of my eyes sticks, and my arms are pinned somewhere. The world is dark, a world of twisted metal and cracked plastic, a womb of mangled technology. The world is dark, and the last thing I remember was the lights, brilliant, dazzling, coming from nowhere, and a, horrible movement through the air and now the car is nothing but a mangled heap of wreckage. The world is dark, and slipping away. In the distance I can hear voices, and cracks of blue light between the metal, but its so hard to focus, so far away. The world is dark, and –
Her arms were around me, her face pressed against my shoulder. “Hey. Are you there?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s the matter with me this morning.”
“You’re probably just tired. Look, I’ll get the kettle on, you get your head together.”
I turned and tried to smile. “Sure.”
And then I watched her go, turned back and –
I am surrounded by machines, and tubes and the hushed bustle of people through the ward. They’re keeping the lights low, night and day, and the sun peeking through the blinds is the only indication of the passage of time for me now. Visitors come and go, smiling through tired eyes, and I try and smile back where I can. I think I remember them, as they clutch my hand and look for recognition in my eyes. But mostly I just lie there, a prisoner in my tightening skin, softly waiting, just waiting for the days to slowly pass by, and –
I understood. Messy and rough, and always spiraling back to the same place in the end. I turned, and went in search of breakfast.