Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Pride Month 2022, Spooky Season, Writing

Flashback – Lovely, Lonely

They can hear me, you know. All the time, they’re listening. Always watching too. It has been twelve years, eight months and fourteen days, but I fear it will be forever.

All I wanted was to have some company.

I have been lonely for the longest time. Loneliness has been my only companion, really. A sombre constant that peers at me with pity as I navigate the world. The train carriages are busy. The office is busy. The bars I while away many solitary hours in are busy, not one of those people could save me.

I thought this place could.

I’m going to die here, I’m certain of that. It’s too late for me, I just want someone to know that I didn’t want this. I don’t know if anyone can hear me, but thinking out loud keeps me sane.

How can I make this make sense to you when I can barely understand how it happened myself? IT all seemed so innocent before, just some respite, an escape, but now, I’m trapped, and I don’t know if anything will ever be the same again.

It all started with her. It isn’t fair to say that, but I wouldn’t have ended up here if I hadn’t met her.

Once upon a time, I fell in love, and she was my escape. She had a laugh that could fill a stadium, and eyes like the Irish Sea. It was bliss, to belong to her, but as the old saying goes, nothing gold can stay, and neither could she, and though I know it isn’t right to blame her, losing her led me down this path.

With her, I could forget the scars of my solitude. I was seen, for the first time in as long as I could remember. Adored and aware of how beautiful life was when I looked up, and took it all in. Then she was gone, and I spiralled. For weeks, I was lost in my grief, and in a lot of ways, I still am. I understand that now. That’s the trouble with running away. Disappearing doesn’t stop your problems from following you.

Sometimes I see her here, but I can never reach her. It’s like this place drew me in with promises of all my desires, but enjoys dangling them above me, laughing as I reach for what I’ll never have.

I just needed to escape myself. I got sick of myself, and there was nobody else I could turn to, so as I, like most people, scrolled mindlessly through social media, I was captured immediately by a thirty second video.

They called it “reality shifting”. It sounded ridiculous at first, but I suppose I wanted to believe. It was supposed to be a way to go wherever you wanted as you slept, kind of like lucid dreaming, but… real. I fell down a rabbit hole and landed in a curious community of people who claimed to be living whole other lives in their desired realities, and without even thinking about it, I wanted it.

I watched testimonials of people talking excitedly about travelling to Hogwarts or The Shire, and at first, I couldn’t believe it, but hours of seeing their smiling faces as they discussed their experiences convinced me. It turned out, everything that they said was true. It is real, and you can do it too, but I am begging you, from my soul, don’t.

I know that you won’t listen to me. I wouldn’t have listened to me. There are so many success stories, and if you’re lucky, you could be one of them, but you never hear from the people who get lost. That’s because we never come back.

These realities exist. That was never a lie, but there are some places that we aren’t supposed to go. Maybe you’ll end up in Hogwarts, drinking butterbeer with the golden trio, but maybe you’ll end up stuck with me. There’s no way of knowing, because you’re handing over your consciousness, your soul, to something else, and hoping that it has kind intentions.

I wanted it though. I followed the instructions to the letter. Sitting down one evening, I spent hours crafting my very own dream reality. It was simple, nothing too extravagant, but I wanted to make it as real in my head as I could, to make crossing over as easy as I could. That’s what you do. You dream up your own little hideaway, and then, as night falls, you wait, counting up in your head, until your body starts to separate from your soul and you are guided away to your desired reality.

That was how it was at first. I didn’t want a place from a storybook or a movie. I just wanted a life with Millie. I had written it all down. We were happy, at home in a little apartment in London, just the two of us, living a normal life, where nothing could go wrong.

It worked, the first time. I laid still in bed, closing my eyes as the alarm clock ticked softly on the bedside table, counting up slowly in silence as I waited for something to happen. I could feel myself falling asleep, losing count somewhere in the late seventies, and I was just about to pinch myself awake when I suddenly felt myself falling. It was sudden, for a moment, before my body began to slow, almost floating as my heart raced. My fingers tingled and there was a bright light poking through to my closed eyes. I breathed deeply, continuing to count the numbers, faster and faster as my heart pounded in my chest.

“Anna?” I felt my body drop down, into the softness of a warm bed, and my eyes snapped open. She stood above me, by the side of the bed, her sweet, sapphire eyes staring down at me, as she pushed her sandy hair behind her ears. “Come on, we’ll be late.” It was Millie. I had made it. I reached up from the bed, clutching her hand close to me, marvelling at how real it felt. My body could remember her touch, and to feel it again was the sweetest kind of torment. I didn’t want to let her go, holding on to her hand tightly as she pulled me from the bed and into her soft embrace. It was real in a way that no dream I had ever had could have been. I could feel her skin against mine, her perfume filled the room and when she kissed me for the first time, I was enchanted.

We just spent the day together, visiting her parents, going for lunch at Nando’s, catching a movie in the evening. It was just like before, and I didn’t want it to end. As we settled down in bed, I held her close to my body. I felt myself slipping away, and wished, with all of my heart that I could stay with her.

It didn’t last. I woke up the next day, alone in a darkened room, as my alarm screeched at six AM finally arriving. I laid in silence for a moment, unsure if it had been a dream, or if I had truly travelled like all the girls on TikTok had promised I could. In the end, I decided that it didn’t matter. I was going back, whether it was to a dream, or to a truly magical place, I wanted more.

The days felt a little easier when I had the thought of my escape to look forward to. I’d count down the hours as I went about my regular life, making plans for when I could finally be back with Millie after the day was over. I began to smile. Not because of anything on the Earth, but because of my new life in the stars, or wherever it was that I want. It was like having a secret, some kind of amazing thing that nobody else in the world had. I had my own perfect little land, just for me and my lover, and nothing could take it away from me.

That was what I thought, and if I could still live in that delusion, then I would. They’d let me, in a sense. If it distracted me from their plan for my body, they would let me have her, and part of me wants to let them, but I can’t.

Your body gets left behind, you see. I didn’t think about that much at first, because it didn’t seem to matter, but it didn’t take long for me to realise just how dangerous it is to leave your body unattended.

It had been a few weeks in the desired reality, and just a few days in the real world before I started to notice things weren’t quite as they seemed.I got the hang of things after a while and learned how to stay a little longer each time. It was bliss. Millie and I were happy, living in a romantic bubble, and I barely noticed the outside world, until I saw them for the first time.

Millie and I were in Hyde Park, soaking up the sun after a long day of heart eyed bliss. I kissed her cheek softly, handing her another drink from the cooler. As I looked up, I saw them. A crowd of cloaked individuals. Their faces were covered in little clouds of black smoke and they pointed in unison towards me. I stared, confused as they stood, pointing at me. Nobody else seemed to notice them, and I looked down at Millie, shaking her gently.

“Do you see that?” She didn’t look up, closing her eyes as she enjoyed the soft rays against her skin.

“Just say yes.” Her tone was casual, almost bored. She hadn’t looked at them, but seemed to know that they were there. “Just say yes, and we’ll be okay.” I thought about pressing her for answers, but my eyes returned to the hooded figures and their sinister pointing.

Slowly, I walked towards them, the babble of the world around me fading away. My reality slipped with it, the trees, the grass and the sun vanished until there was nothing but darkness and them, looming before me.

“What is going on?” I asked, my voice shaking as they continued to point. I reached them, peering at the clouds of smoke but unable to see through to where they faces should have been.

“Would you like to stay forever?” The crowd spoke together, lowering their hands and opening their arms, their cloaks billowing in the wind.

“I can do that?” They beckoned, but I stood still, staring at them, and the darkness that lay behind them.

“We will make the trade.” They barked, and then, they were gone. A white light flooded the scene and the park returned, the world buzzing with life again.

“You said yes!” Millie cried, suddenly behind me, wrapping her arms around my waist. I turned to face her, lost in her smile for a moment. “Now we can stay here forever.” She pressed her lips against mine in a tender kiss, and I slipped from a position of panic to distracted euphoria. I hadn’t technically said yes, and I didn’t know what I’d said yes to, but in her arms, the thought of it seemed so unimportant.

The days went on, in my little dream world, and after a few weeks, I started to wonder when I’d go back to reality. It normally never went on that long, and every now and again, I’d worry, but then Millie would kiss me, or we’d spend a wonderful day together and I’d forget all over again.

Months went by before I saw them again. I had been so wrapped up in my new life that I had forgotten all about them. I woke in the middle of the night, unsure of why, but certain that I was being watched. As I felt around in the dark for the bedside lamp, I heard them.

“It’s time to go.” I shot out of bed, running for the light switch and pushing it, filling the room with light. They were all over the room, pointing as before, with the clouds fixed over their faces.

“What’s going on?” One of them stepped forward, lowering its arms as it approached me, the cloud moving as it walked. “I don’t understand.” I glanced over at Millie, who was sleeping soundly. “Where are we going?”

“It’s time to go.” The crowd repeated. The lone figure stood before me, taking my hands in its own as another approached it from behind. My fingers tingled and I had the familiar feeling from the first time I’d shifted. My body seemed to sink, floating as my heart raced. The world around me seemed to slide away as the figures gathered around the one holding onto me, and slowly, each crowding it, they pulled down it’s hood, and the cloud in front of its face drifted away.

It’s face. My face.

I gaped in horror, staring at my own face, staring back at me.

“What is happening?” I screamed as we seemed to fly through a manic rush of lights and sounds, her holding my hand tightly.

“You stayed so your body will serve the dreamers.” They chanted. “More will come.” The world around us blurred and she slipped from my hands, the words repeating as I tried to breathe.

I blacked out. There was nothing, for a moment, and then, a dark blur before me. As I awoke, I tried to feel my way around but I could barely see. I felt along my body, and all that I could feel was loose fabric, all over me.

“Hello Anna.” So many voices, just like before. I couldn’t see them through the fog, but I could hear them all around me. “Welcome to the collective.”

I had so many questions, but every time I tried to speak, there was silence.

“You will stay until your body has gathered a harvest large enough to free you.”

Again, I tried to speak but nothing came out. I wondered what they meant by a harvest, and how many would be enough, and of what.

“More people like you.” They answered, as if they could hear my thoughts. “We will tell you when it’s enough.” I tried to speak again but there was nothing. “You will only speak with the collective.”

I haven’t spoken in years. My body is back in your world, collecting souls with a smile. She will make videos, like the others, drawing in all the loneliest people with all kinds of promises, and for a while, it will be perfect, but you can never stay. Don’t even try to get here, no matter what they tell you, and whatever you do, when they ask you to stay, say no. Say it while you still can.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

You Can Always Find Me On Cloud Nine

You can always find me on cloud nine,
bathing in juniper berries and lavender,
longing for the sweet sympathy of summer’s kiss across my scalded skin,
the soft song that she invites me to sing,
and how she lets me forget.

I met my final fling in a moonlit dream,
our fingers flushed,
interlocked as we ran through fields,
like rivers ran through the valley where I grew from a girl into a woman.

We tied ribbons around our wrists in the sight of a sobbing God,
who painted the sky with rubies, sapphires and emeralds,
drinking nectar and strawberry daiquiris as dawn stretched her arms and yawned, passing the moon with a lazy wave.

I begged my long awaited apparition to stay as the sun rose,
but all that she could offer was the promise of a summer romance that would last forever,
and I was still stuck in spring,
mourning my inability to be patient.

So, for now,
if you want me,
you can always find me on cloud nine,
harmonising with the echos of Elvis as I send for summer, yet again,
yet to learn that she doesn’t live by my schedule.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Back On The Boat

My mistress’ eyes are the only thing I see when I sleep.
However hard I try to escape the bounds of boundless affection,
all I do is dream of her glacial gaze,
in the service of a temptress,
reeling all day, long after I have awoken.
It isn’t a bad life, to be in love.

Last night, she told me that I have stolen her sleep,
opening the windows of her mind and gliding in,
visiting when night falls, to leave my love for her to find when morning comes.
Every day, she says, she wakes up with my lipstick trailing down her tender, slender throat.
So it goes.

All we do is dream,
stuck in a cycle of wanting but never getting,
having, for just a second, with closed eyes and distant bodies.
Life is so tough, when my lover goes to war,
I just dream of her eyes, and await her return.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

His Love Scared Me To Death

He told me, a trembling wretch, to be unafraid,
and I was uncomfortable with the request,
despite his gaze, so gentle, giving me some comfort.
He told me that he had overcome the world and all its trouble,
and I couldn’t conceive it.
The smallest things were such a struggle, that the world’s truest troubles were too much to even see clearly.
Still, he insisted, his eyes bright and brimming with unlikely optimism,
his hands held mine and I could feel the harsh winds through the holes left by the life he had lived.

How could he ask me to be unafraid?
How could he ask that of me, with thorns across his forehead and a target on his back?
Couldn’t be see what I was afraid of?
Was persecution a foreign concept to the fool with thorns on his head?
How could he ask me to be reborn, when my soul still felt sullied, despite his sacrifice?
Despite my sacrifice and all the scars that had come with it?
He saw. He saw it all and he still asked.

I had tried to lead the life that impotent, angry men had demanded of me,
fighting back against my own biology and the strange, sweet chemistry that greeted me when she and I would lock eyes across the room…
I gave it all up.
I gazed at the ceiling,
praying to Jesus as a shadow I could not look in the face pawed at my lifeless body.
I would rejoice at balled fists meeting my unwilling flesh from one of them,
because it felt less repulsive than a tender, troubled kiss of another,
and why shouldn’t I be punished?
Wayward winter child with her pudding and her pie,
kissed a girl because she was cursed,
and now everyone is crying,
so why shouldn’t I suffer?
I just stared until the ceiling burst into flames,
the stars bursting into view,
because that is what cursed, unclean girls have to do.

He would be there,
the only man I could stand,
thorns adorning his dark, wavy tresses that were wild in the night’s wind.
He simply said, again, that I should be unafraid.
Speaking to a body that was vacant,
he repeated himself as the stars span around his head,
and I thought for a second that I might be dead
(I might have even wished it),
but I was alive,
sailing through the ceiling,
dressed in pretty clothes as the stars sighed in unison.

I was unafraid.

At last, I was unafraid.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Venus Reborn

The air was warm and wrapped around my shoulders,
your whispers became waves and I waited for you, underwater.
Blood in the blue,
so vulnerable,
but you didn’t bite,
you waited,
your gaze took me to a new place,
and I was awake.

Don’t wake me in the morning,
let me live inside my dreams.
I washed up on West Sands Beach,
brought to life by Botticelli,
walking away as the last grasps of the ocean on my skin fell away,
and fabric found my form,
lace gown,
veils and ribbons busied my hair,
and I was a bride without a wedding.

You were waiting,
garlands in nervous hands,
gifted from well wishers and the waiting crowd.
It was time.
I couldn’t tell what hour of the day was upon us,
but the sun sat in the sky above,
eager to see everything unfold.
Time always passes so strangely when I am unravelling with you.
I’m so honest with you,
lost in wonderland with you,
with our tied up hands and expanding kingdom.
One day, I will wake up in the morning,
but not today.