Ten days after the death, I turned twenty-one.
I stayed in my room, but my mother came in at intervals, speaking to my back (the only part of me she could see from the doorway). She told me my friends had arrived, and I should come out so they could celebrate with me.
Celebrate. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to; it was that I’d forgotten how. And really, what was there to celebrate?
I hadn’t had a shower in a week, or eaten anything. I did recall having been forced to drink water, but I always spat the food out again. It was my body that rebelled, not me.
When my mother told me my friends were there to celebrate, I didn’t answer. I had no answer to give. Instead I just stared at the wall, shrouded in the Fog.
Later, my mother told me another friend had stopped by and brought a very special present: a goldfish. I should start thinking about a name for him, she said. He had character, and only the most special name would do. Did I want to come and say hello? He was waiting for me in the living room.
I didn’t stir.
Eventually my mother brought the fish into my room, placing him on my study desk. She told me to turn over so I could see him. I stayed where I was. Only after she left did I decide to follow her suggestion.
I was amazed by the monumental effort it took to simply roll myself over. It made me wonder how long it had been since the last time. Surely I must be developing bedsores.
That thought seemed to start a chain reaction in my head, leading to another thought and then another, thoughts falling like dominoes. Thinking of bedsores made me realise my hair smelled. Then I realised that all of me smelled. I started counting backwards to the last day I’d showered. I lost count and got to thinking how it seemed there were no days anymore, just one long endless Fog in which nothing meant anything. I realised my world was grey, without definition. Sometimes I couldn’t tell one moment from the next. But I knew some things, at least: my hair needed a wash; my scalp itched; and there was a fish.
In the fishbowl across the way, a shining little creature floated. All other thought ceased as I laid eyes on him. He swam in languid, stupid circles, and I remembered that goldfish were meant to be stupid…but in that moment, I was sure that this one had all the answers. He was wiser than all the humans I’d ever met. He knew what life was about: swimming, staring, swimming some more. Gills in, gills out. Wait for the little flakes of food to hit the surface and float slowly downwards. Gills in, gills out. And swim. Just swim.
As I stared at the fish, a name floated out of the Fog: his name. Ferret. A very wise fish.
I watched him circle his bowl, little gills moving in and out, and began to marvel at the simplicity of it all. To live was to swim, to eat, to float through space and time. And always to breathe. Just to breathe.
I composed a song while in the Fog, lyrics floating to me much as Ferret’s name had. In the beginning it only ever played inside my head. It was months before I wrote anything down on paper. By that time the song had solidified inside, shining in the darkness like goldfish scales.
“Can’t get up today
My staring eyes
Will I fall apart?
There would be shimmering chords, soaring vocals. There would be heartache in every strain. But as I played and sang my heartache would pour out of me. The song would be my release, and in turn it would release me.
Out with the words, the feelings, and the tears.
But only when I was ready would another soul hear it.
Sunday, 13 March 2011
Broken Heart Blogfest
Yep, it's time for yet another Blogfest! This time it's the Broken Heart Blogfest (click on the image above for more info!), which is being hosted by Dawn Embers over at It's In The Book.
I am sharing an excerpt from the former prologue to SUNDOWN, a prologue that was discarded due to its being entirely composed of backstory. So yeah, it isn't part of the novel anymore, but it still holds a special place in my heart. This is the last part of the prologue, and weighs in at 674 words:
And a little aside - the lyrics are from an actual song of mine.
Now I'm off to read the other entries so far!