Hit the ground. Make no sound. Clawing. Scratching. Ahh, the itch! Sticky feelers. Start to twitch. Wretched insect. Alive and writhing. Heavy breathing. Helpless. Heaving. Just another Monday evening.
Listen. The sound of silent screaming. Outside the windows. No one knows. This is how the story goes.
Knock knock. Who’s there?
The one with the scythe. I’ve come for you.
The old skeleton starts to laugh.
Shall I read your epitaph?
He pours the gin. Says drink. Sink in. I take the chance and raise a glass.
Cold. Slithering. No time for thinking. Death doesn’t blink, because weeping is weakness.
I say, you’re looking a little bit lifeless. Ha ha! Yes my girl, I know it hurts. Is it time yet? Do you want to confess? Or would you rather we played some chess?
Is this why he came? Is it all just a game? But oh no. Too late:
Commiserate. He took my king.
Now he places the holy bishops and knights in the bin. Open mouthed and deceiving. A cheshire cat grin. Down at the bottom they lie. Big sigh. Can’t win. Nice try. Rotten and forgotten, mislaid and decayed. Sinners, saints, thieves and renegades. Stillborn lambs. Babies in prams. Dreams lost like grains in the desert sands.
Oh Alice, please take me to Wonderland.
Rabbit hole. Fall down. Grow old. Lose my crown. Sold my soul to a circus clown. Bone shake, bone shake. Backache. Heartbreak. Shuffling along the bedroom floor. Reach my hands out for the door. But here comes Despair. She wrenches my hair. Needles my eyes. I am ready to die. Oh, please leave me. But first, tell me, tell me. Will my loved ones ever forgive me? Truly now. I have no hope. In your hands I see the rope. Cut me open. Leave me bleeding. Watch my withered soul receding. The face that launched a thousand ships, held dark secrets and fell to bits. Shell-splintering in a tormented fit. A cautionary tale. Don’t lose your wits.
(And just because you’re photogenic, doesn’t mean you can’t be schizophrenic.)
So another tragedy comes to pass. Only too late do we then start to ask:
Sleeping Beauty, you pretty young thing. Pure and gold. Never growing old. You’re comatose. No one can wake you. Exactly how many pills did it take you? Now you feel no pain, would you do it again? Could you have been saved by the warmth of a friend?
Mirror mirror, on the wall. Will I live to twenty four? If not, please don’t make them wait. Let them eat the birthday cake.
Alice, out of the looking-glass- did you find the truth at last? Is this life really what it seems? Which way is it to reality? I’m no longer sure of what I see. I don’t even know what it is to be me. Yes, the Queen of Hearts let you keep your head, but she took your sanity instead.
And Dorothy dear, for how many years, did you run to the bathroom and throw up your fears? It wasn’t nice to kill the wicked witch, just because she seemed like bitch. She thought she was ugly and hated the herself. Medicines lined her cabinet shelf. So you took the emerald city and conquered the throne, only to find that you’re all on your own. You click your shoes, but you can’t go home.
Here goes the bell. Or is it the knell? The clock strikes twelve to undo the spell. Cinderella isn’t well. Her happy thoughts turn to ashes. The light on the lonely hospital ward flashes.
In London the tube line stops. Commuters all get off. The metal tracks bend and break. The ghostly communion is awake. Grave. Maimed. They all appear. Did they leap in hope or fear?
Adam, father, thirty two. Mangled limbs at Waterloo. Sweet Julia at Shepard’s Bush. Felt her life was in disrepute. Concrete platform underfoot. Bloodshot eyes. One last look: no good. Now or never. Off she pushed. Death. Quick. Absolute.
Mr Henshall at Aldgate East and at Michael Eades at Liverpool Street. Lily’s favourite aunt Jill at Tower Hill. The turbulence. Finally still. David, nineteen, at Kensal Green. Hear the echoes of onlookers screams. Confusion. Dismay. They all say: but he was so much fun.
Until he jumped in front of two hundred tonnes.
Sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends and lovers. At last, all together. So much life. Lost forever.
Sprawled. Foetus curled. Sweat gleaming. I turn to stare up at the ceiling. Rumplestiltskin spins the thread. I have nothing to give him but this life I dread. Shhhh. Sleep now. Go to bed.
But I toss and turn, waking battered and bruised. Night after eternal night. Terror. Torture. Anguish. Fright. Lost childhood toys. Static noise. Losing focus. Empty. Toneless. Call the doctor. A bad prognosis. Sad letters. Grief. Useless condolence. What was the official diagnosis?
Come now, child, and gather strength. It’s not yet over. Lift the mattress.
Like the princess and the pea?
Yes. There it is! Now I see. Hope was there, waiting. Tiny and fledgling. A little, long-lost, magic seed.
Keep it safe. Then set it free.
I go to the door. I have found the key.