The Past – Why It’s Worth Dragging Up.

Invariably in every confrontation we have with people who have known us long enough to know our past behaviors, we’re taught not to drag up the past. We’re told that there is no use talking about stuff that cannot be changed and that the past is in the past and should be left there.

However, when dealing with present behaviors, I have always found it serves well to remember how people have acted and what they have said in the past. In the moments that we attempt this comparative study of past and present however, someone, usually the other party in the confrontation, will throw one of the aforementioned leave the past alone sayings into the mix and then you look like the regressive moron.

But why do we do that? Do repeat offenders not get their old rap sheet hurled into the court room? I know, I know, I know – but Ronnie, they’re criminals, they’re a danger to society etc. But isn’t the entire reason we argue with other people in the first place because offence has been caused on one or more usually both sides? Doesn’t that make us offenders of a sort?

I have been going of my mind for the past few weeks caught up in a confrontation that I didn’t see coming and seems to have largely been caused by the age old fuck up of people talking about each other behind their backs. In this instance, it seems I am the offender and that seems to be what has knocked the wind out of me. Me?! What the hell have I done now?! Yes, these were my initial thoughts.

So I originally intended to go into this confrontation with all guns blazing and lay waste to the lies with my super-mega-awesome-laser-gun-of-truth but instead I tried to listen and understand what the other person was saying, and in turn, try to detach myself from the situation as much as I could in an attempt to retard my own emotional investment and rectify the situation because the truth is – no one wants to be the bad guy.

And I don’t know what it is about arguments that bring out the worst in people but suddenly you remember every single negative thing that that person has ever done and you simultaneously forget for the sake of winning the argument that that person is in your life for a reason, whether you chose for them to be or not, and that hurting them is the last thing you want to do. But still…you know you can do it.

And when bullets start flying in your direction, why is the first instinct to pick them up, load them into your gun and fire them back? Why not just leave them on the floor and accept that the pain of wounds inflicted on you by that someone else’s words are the price you pay for having been the offender? Why are we programmed to have to “win” arguments? There is nothing at stake here – no land, no beautiful forlorn Greek goddesses, no treasures to keep – so why are we stuck in this passive aggressive cycle of modern warfare where no one actually says what they mean until they cannot contain it anymore and it comes spewing from them like so much frustrated hurt?

I have always endeavored to be a person that other people could talk to and no, I don’t like having my past brought up, and yes there is always a context, a series of circumstances, whether they make sense to the person bringing them up or not, that can directly explain why someone acted the way they did or said the things they did at any given time. I don’t attempt to defend most of the mistakes I made because most of the mistakes I made have no defense. They were the mindless acts of misdirected anger, immense confusion and pure, unadulterated pain. I will not defend the things I did when any of these three emotional states were in play. All I can do is apologize for the hurt that I caused whilst in them, ask forgiveness for any wounds that haven’t healed since them and ask that I am given all the right opportunities to make sure that history does not repeat itself.

But, in the end, context is everything. The wrong things put into the right context suddenly don’t seem so random and cruel as they did before and likewise were you to take a seemingly innocent incident and put it into the wrong context, scandal and fury would abound. So – you want to know the catch here ladies and gents? The past has no context.

Because it’s gone. There aren’t really even any facts left over to paw bravely out of the dying fire of the memory either because people disembowel their pasts and re-digest every single day without even noticing that they’re doing it. Things that we thought had been laid to rest so many years ago have a tendency to creep into our subconscious and sit stoically in our minds like unwanted house guests that refuse to leave. It’s these things that keep you awake at night going over and over in your mind again and again the actions and circumstances that brought you here, now, to the place you’re sitting at now reading these words, the inherent, almost base need to go back as much as we go forward, to relive our lives as much as we plan them and to take comfort in the fact that the only person we are actually responsible for is ourselves.

We are not responsible for the actions of those around us and we cannot be held to account for things that are done or said in our absence, even if they are done or said in our name. And responsibility is a transient thing. It’s not locked in the past behind an iron gate of impenetrable force. If you didn’t take responsibility for something in your past, you let it slide, you excused it away and walked carelessly into the sunset away from your unaddressed disgrace – it’s never too late to take responsibility and ownership for the stuff you did wrong.

And no, not everyone is going to follow suit and yes, most people will willingly throw your past in your face and use it in an attempt to keep you from getting off of your knees, but if you face your pass, you drag it up kicking and screaming from the deepest depths of your tattered mind and you address it, you learn to understand your past and why you yourself did the things you did and why you yourself said the things you said – then you come out on top whether or not their is a victory to be won in your personal confrontations or not.

Because the people that don’t want to talk about the past are the people that are afraid of it. They’re the people that are afraid of becoming fallible to those around them and they’re the people that will never understand why you did those things you did and why you said those things you said. It serves one great purpose though – you can stop trying to convince them that those things don’t matter anymore, that you’ve worked through them, that you’re better for it now – marginally at least, because let’s face it, exorcising your demons…not a lot of fun.

And the time we spend trying to convince everyone around us that we’re good people would be better spent trying to behave like good people, void of petulant passive aggressiveness and ever mindful of the fact that once in awhile – everyone deserves to be forgiven.

101 Things That You Never Knew You Always Wanted to Know About – Me.

So on every other blog I’ve ever had I’ve written a piece called “Me” in which I detail strange facts about myself in one long (very, very long) uninterrupted rambling sprawl. Sitting on the train this afternoon, I thought of a few of these posts that I had made and realised how much I have changed from “Me” to “Me”, so much so, that I don’t want to write another “Me” here on what I hope to be my last blog (because, damn, I’m tired of starting again).

Still, I think that effortlessly honest blog posts are hard to come by. Some are worried they’d be judged (and some should be worried about being judged) and some just don’t see the point. I get this overall impression from a lot of bloggers, similar to the vloggers on YouTube that put on a full face of make up and dress the top half of their bodies (because y’all know they be wearing pyjama trousers!) just to give an impression that is conducive to the image that they want to portray of themselves on the internet. I have no time for this. To paraphrase Twain – if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

I don’t try to be any weirder than I am, because, well…you’ll see.


So, 101, because that’s “the number” (and it sounds good, right?) facts, quirks, touches, about this blogger. 

Let’s go! 


1. I am very aware of my organs and when my heart beats too fast I feel genuine fear.

2. I suck my thumb pretty much all the time but especially when I’m tired.

3. I got married when I was eighteen.

4. I got divorced when I was twenty one.

5. I name plants that I own and read to them often.

6. I have a fear of being the first person to the train door and having the responsibility of pushing the button with people waiting behind me, watching o_O

7. I always (and I mean always) have headphones on when I am in public. Call it a safety mechanism.

8. I have voted every year of my life that I have been able to but I have always defaced my ballot paper, so, in essence – I have never made a vote that has been counted.

9. When I was a kid E.T. was the most terrifying creature I had ever seen. I regularly had nightmares about him.

10. My family have developed an umbrella term for all the messed up B and D movies we watched as kids that no one else on earth ever saw – we call them “Harper Films.”

11. I don’t like horses. I find them intimidating and unnecessarily large. Ponies are fine. In fact, ponies are awesome.

12. I have a five year old daughter named Molly.

13. In 2014, I legally changed my last named to Roland, after Roland Deschain from the Dark Tower books by Stephen King. I also entertained “Burgundy” which would have made my name…wait for it…Ron Burgundy. Say wha?!

14. I have intensely lucid dreams that I can remember with stunning clarity upon waking. Nightmarish erotica is my favourite genre of my dreamscape.

15. I am allergic to nutmeg. Lame, right?

16. I cut the sleeves off of almost all of my t-shirts, and off of all of my band shirts. I always wanted to be a Metallica roadie I guess.

17. My first real kiss was with a girl when I was fourteen and it was perfect.

18. I scream (and I mean horror-movie-the-dude-with-the-chainsaws-gonna-get-me scream) almost constantly. People find it hilarious, I remind them that I am (contrary to appearance) a lady and am therefore, entitled to scream at everything.

19. I loved pickled food. In the trinity of pickled goods roll mop herrings are god, gherkins the son and beetroot the holy spirit. Ahh, pickle juice. Damn, that shit’s tasty.

20. My birthday is the 20th August.

21. My middle name is Kyriaky, which is the female version of my grandfathers name Kyriakou, and also Greek for “Sunday” which was all well and good until I was seventeen and realised that I was actually born ten minutes into a Monday and not in fact, a Sunday. My Ma maintains that she did all the work on the Sunday and sticks by her decision to give me the wrong day of the week as my middle name.

22. When I was kid I went everywhere on roller blades. It was the 90’s and I was cool.

23. I have a tendency to veer right when I am walking due to an old injury to the leg on that side.

24. My favourite animal is an alligator.

25. I never do up my shoes and contrary to what my parents, teachers and peers have always said, to this day I have never once fallen or tripped as a result of this strange habit.

26. I wait for my toast to go cold before I butter it. No one likes soggy toast.

27. If I need to be somewhere and it’s less than ten miles away, I walk. People find it odd, my Ma thinks it’s dangerous and I think…most of the time, I think about dragons. With laser eyes! 😀

28. Peanut butter forms one of the sides of a magnificent food triangle in my life. The other two sides are marshmallows and Oreos. *drool*

29. I have cried five times when celebrities have died. The celebrities that elicited these tears were none other than Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams, Patrick Swayze, Keith Floyd and Ronnie Barker. The last one was particularly difficult as, as a child, my mother told me that Ronnie Barker was already dead. In essence – I had to mourn him twice. It still sucks to think about it.

30. I have an extensive knowledge of 70’s and 80’s power ballads. And I’m not ashamed.

31. I met the first boy I ever really liked (like, that) in an adolescent mental health unit. Ah, young love ❤

32. Withnail and I is the only movie that makes me feel better when I’m deathly ill.

33.  I hum or sing out loud when I have my headphones on in public. Some people like it, others think its weird and the man sitting opposite me on the train today apparently thought it was infuriating. Douchebag.

34. I randomly drop into what my Ma calls my “Forrest Gump” voice which is a mixture of Forrest Gump’s accent and Sweet Brown (the “ain’t-nobody-got-time-for-that lady). My mother in particular loves this voice and often makes me quote phrases from the movie to her when she’s feeling down. Her favourite remains “I guess sometimes, there just aren’t enough rocks.” A phrase that I plan on getting tattooed on me as an homage to the lady what birthed me 🙂

35. I am the fifth of six children including three brothers and two sisters that vary in age from 40 to 22.

36. My grandmother is the only Anastasia that I have ever met. It made reading the Fifty Shades of Grey books awkward, let me tell you that…

37. When picking out names for our daughter, my ex-husband and I entertained Sugar Magnolia, Lucy-Louise (after my aunt, Lucy, and my mother, Louise) or Lulu for short. In the end, we decided not to scar the child any more than she would already be with us as her parents and settled on Molly. I think she’ll thank us in the end.

38. I have never had any interest in learning to drive and cars, more often than not, terrify me.

39. I drink my coffee black with no sugar, my tea black with one sugar and my water at room temperature.

40. My toenails are always painted.

41. My daughter calls me Dragon more than she calls me Mum because I wrote her a book when she was three that explained how she came to be with me – a princess sent to live with a dragon to protect her from an evil wizard. The characters in said book were all based on her family members and friends, with the place names being plays off of the real places she has lived and been to. It took me a little over a year to write and illustrate the book, having to add characters when people had children etc. To this day Molly still calls me Dragon and argues passionately with anyone (including her teachers) who dares defy the book. The book was written as my rebuttal to creationism as a result of my kid telling me that dragons weren’t real because God didn’t make them in the Bible. Now, Molly swears by my book. Dragon – 1. God – 0.

42. I have the cover illustration of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak tattooed on my right forearm. It is my favourite book and is footed by the quote “I am haunted by humans.” the last words of the narrator, Death, in the book. The tattoo depicts the Grim Reaper dancing hand in hand with a little girl. Well, at least it’s not an anchor or a dream catcher right?

43. When I was fifteen I wrote an manuscript that came in at about 2,500 pages of absolute bollocks. It was about a teenage pot head called Dylan (yes, really) who ran away from home to explore the world. It was my first and last attempt at being Jack Kerouac and I have never written a story like it or as long as it again. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

44. When I was in school I wrote a paper comparing three film adaptations of novels to their original stories. The subjects in question were One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. My English teacher gave me an A. My headteacher called my Ma in to ask her just what in the fuck she was letting me watch and read at home. I was fourteen at the time.

45. Fast Car by Tracy Chapman and Redemption Song by Bob Marley were the first two songs I learned how to play without music on a guitar. I tested this the other day and yep, I can still play them! (If nothing else…)

46. Allen Ginsberg is my favourite poet. And possibly my favouirte human being…

47. I always wear a watch and have a hard time dealing with, well, time and it’s terrifyingly transient nature.

48. The first vlog I ever did on YouTube was reviewing the horror movie A Serbian Film. Last time I checked it had 11,000 views. I learned many things from that vlog, mainly, never to mention the title of that movie on the internet…

49. I wanted to be an architect when I was a kid until my father, an engineer and graphic designer, explained to me how much maths was involved. That revelation shot that horse in the face and ever since, I’ve wanted to be a teacher.

50. I love the sound of trumpets, harmonicas and banjos.

51. When we were kids, my Ma would take my little brother and I to the Thames to swim because it was free and we were, well, we weren’t all that well off. I used to swim in the river with my steel toe cap boots (or “shitkickers” as my Ma called them) on my feet because I was convinced that I was going to tread on the face of a corpse thrown at the bottom of the river. My little brother (who swam barefoot because bitches be crazy!) maintains that he did step on the face of a corpse and thus, the little nook of the River Thames that we used to swim in, was named “Dead Man’s Croogy”.

52. My longest serving ringtones have been Pencil Full of Lead by Paolo Nutini, Hard Candy by Counting Crows and Lookin’ Out My Back Door by CCR. My ring tone at present is the theme to Rescue Rangers. Chip and Dale are also deities to me.

53. I shaved my head two and a half years ago when I randomly cut off my dreadlocks one surprisingly sober night. I could have had a full head of hair again by now but I genuinely loved having hair this short. Shaving your head, ladies, if it’s not on your bucket list – it freakin’ should be. Shit be liberating.

54. I have thirteen piercings, twelve of which have been done by my mother or brother.

55. I have brief dalliances with Freeganism when the mood takes me and go a couple of weeks living off of what I can salvage from bins and dumpsters behind shops. It’s definitely something that you should look into if you don’t care for labels that lie about the life of your food.

56. I love swimming but am terrified of water, especially the ocean.

57. If I don’t have my backpack with me at any given time, something has or is about to go terribly, terribly wrong…it’s like another limb to me.

58. I disconnected my internet for a year, deleted my Facebook (that I haven’t brought back from the dead since) and threw out my television for a year just to see if I would miss it. Truth is, I didn’t.

59. I am a total sun slut and regularly smother myself with olive oil in an attempt to cook my still living flesh right on the bone. On the flip side of that, I never wear a coat in the winter and am almost constantly too hot.

60. I sometimes go three or four minutes without blinking and don’t notice until either someone tells me or I feel my eyes drying out.

61. I have been single for two and a half solid years and have been surprisingly content with my alone time.

62. I have broken many bones including my wrists, arms, collar bone, leg, fingers, toes and ribs.

63. I feel intensely uncomfortable when I am near anything riddled with holes – honeycombe, ant hills, old stone – *shudder* it’s making me feel sick just thinking about it.

64. My name at birth was Veronika Kyriaky Harper. My parents didn’t like me.

65. I cannot stand twilight (the lighting, but the franchise is…let’s not get me started aye?) Either turn your lights up or down, what is this perpetual dimness?! Are you trying to seduce me sir?! Turn the light up or turn it off! Ffs.

66. Poorly maintained notice boards irritate me.

67. I am a quote hound (I even have a blog dedicated to just book quotes) and always have a notebook in my bag that I write these quotes in on the go. Last time I checked, I own seventy one of these quotenotebooks. I also like inventing words like quotenotebook.

68. I am almost always speaking in metaphor when speaking with meaning.

69. I do not believe that family is forever, more than I believe that family is something you can and should choose. Abandon those that weigh you down and replace them with those that set you free, whether or not their spume made you or their womb cradled you. Run free, dammit! Forge your own future with those who love you now, as they did then and will forever.

70. I cannot sing. In theory I can, so I should really say that I cannot sing well. A close friend came to the conclusion that this is why I listen to people like Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, theorising that when I sing to them I cannot sing badly because they already sing horrifically to begin with. I couldn’t fault his logic, but to me, those men sound like nirvana ❤ (the state of being rather than the band.) In

71. I have always wanted to visit Moscow, Maine and Madagascar. That fact that all these places begin with “M” is coincidence and has nothing to do with the illuminati…wait a second – is that an inverted triangle in the letter M?! :O

72. I am not-so-secretly in love with the YouTuber, Rob Dyke. My post “When I Dream of Buttermilk” was actually a direct retelling of a dream I had about him. I dream about him a lot…it’s creepy, but I can’t help it. He makes me feel, well, something. I’m not sure what but it’s nice. And that’s enough.

73. Depending on what catastrophe has befallen me depends on who I call to shout at. If I’m crying or worried it’s my Ma, if I have some hilarious or horrific gossip to share, it’s my sister and if I want to shout and rant and rave, it’s one of my two best friends. And when I am scared or down, it’s my kid. She always knows what to say. Lately she’s been telling me to “upload Skype” a lot. I don’t know what that means but she when she says “munch bunch” it damn near breaks my heart.

74. I used to use Facebook like Twitter so I now I use Twitter like I used to use Facebook which is apparently how Twitter is supposed to be used.

75. My favourite font is Times New Roman. I’m a purist.

76. I have a recurring nightmare that I have had since I was a kid that I am in a canoe on a Indian river and I fall to the bottom of the river and look up to see the universe in the water above me. I always wake up petrified and confused. Sometimes there is a whale, sometimes there is a shark. But always the same boat, the same river, the same universe. I can feel the fish swimming against me as I write this and it makes me want to scream.

77. Many people have accused me of listening to the most depressing music they’ve ever heard. I don’t know how to feel about this accusation….

78. I genuinely enjoy doing laundry. No, really, I do.

79. The first thing my mother ever taught me how to make was a white cheese  sauce and I still make it the same to this day, much to the appreciation and delight of those that request it.

80. I cannot stand jelly or any thing that is set with gelatine. No thank you, sir! right

81. I write with my right hand but do almost everything else – including brushing my teeth and texting – with my left hand.

82. When I was eleven my parents had a real life shouting argument about which language I should learn at the new school I was attending. My mother fought for Spanish saying that it was the most commonly spoken language in the world and would be most useful in everyday life, my father vouched for Latin, maintaining it was the root of all language even if my mother damned it as a dead language. In the end I learned Latin, because dad won, but as the adult I am now, I know more Spanish than Latin so I guess mum won eventually.

83. I am very particular about the way I use condiments and only use ketchup on three things (and I mean ever) – scrambled eggs, sandwiches and chips from the Fish and Chip shop. No exceptions.

84. Every Christmas I bake for the neighbours in an attempt to distract myself from the panic attacks I have annually during this particular festivity. Last year one particular neighbour weighed the gingerbread cookies I made her and well, six kilograms of biscuits in a week would be weird but it was Christmas for chrissakes! (Is that a pun? I hope it’s a pun!)

85. I am useless at playing video games myself but have spent hours (possibly years) watching my brothers and in more recent years, random men and women on YouTube, play them. I am actually, rather infatuated with many games that I have never played myself but know inside and out such as the Fable, Prince of Persia and Assassins Creed games.

86. I don’t like people touching my ears. So don’t.

87. My drink of choice is a bottle of Budweiser and a short double of Jamesons. Yeah, I thought I was a cowboy for so long it never really left me and now *sob* it’s too late.

88. It takes me a really long time tell someone that I love them, so much so that my last boyfriend actually confronted me about it after six months of dating and no L-Bombs. I find the word itself a precious thing and do not throw it around in regards to true face to face feelings. It’s something strange that only those who know me intimately know about me.

89. I was a vegetarian for six years not because I gave a hoot about animals or was on a health kick, rather than that I convinced myself, as a result of the messed up shit I’d read and seen, that whenever I bit into meat that it was human meat. It took me years to get over this strange eating disorder and still to this day if I find a vein or piece of cartilage in my mouth or on my plate, I instantly lose my appetite. Weird, but true.

90. Due to the almost incessant stimulation I require to function as a regular human being the rest of the time, when it comes to sleep, I need absolute darkness and absolute silence to drift off. Even a blinking light on a laptop or the sound of the boiler can make me toss and turn.

91. I can touch type and don’t really know how that happened, but it happened nevertheless and people find it impressive. I find it more productive than impressive but nevertheless I have actually won awards for the keyboard karate. No, really, I have. Three to be exact.

92. I have accidentally dedicated much of my life to becoming a walking thesaurus, with some friends and family members calling me instead of just right clicking the word and hitting the synonyms tab. I like that they do it, it makes me feel awesome, I just don’t understand why they do it.

93. My immediate family, and immediate friends of the family, have never (and I mean never) called me Veronika. I have been known as Flump or Flumpy for longer than I have actually had my given name with my mother calling me Flumpy from birth and taking well over a month to come up my actual name. My nephew and niece have been taught to call me Aunty Flump. Yes. That’s actually true. Other variations of my name have been Purple (Purple Ronnie), Ronseal (the varnish, yes, that’s actually what my sister calls me a lot of the time) Burgs or Burgundy (Ron Burgundy) and Do-Do-Ron-Ron (my Ma finds this hilarious). But Flump has never fallen out of fashion, much to the amusement of my siblings and the devastation of my grandmother who insists on calling me Veronika to prove a point. You go, Nan!

94. I wear crocs and I am awesome.

95. I have to have sunglasses on when the sun is out or my eyes pour with water and I get immense headaches. I am almost one hundred percent sure this is because I am part Mogwai.

96. I very rarely use my debit card when paying for something in a shop because I have an unreasonable anxiousness about using money that I cannot see. I am also extremely nervous when paying for something with change as money, as I have mentioned, makes me nervous in general. It’s probably why I’m okay with not having any…

97. When I was a kid I used to make my older and younger brother dress up as the other two members of The Kinks, whilst I donned my fathers waistcoat and took the lead making them perform the song Lola over and over again in our living room until I was satisfied. It was one of many of the first “dafuq?!” moments in my parents experience with me as their child. In hindsight – dafuq they doing letting a seven year old belt out a song about a man accidentally shagging a tranny whilst she herself is dressed as a dude?! These people. Honestly.

98. I have very little left of what was my childhood home for reasons too long to go into here, but one thing I do have is my Womble, Orinoco, who is and always has been, my spirit guide. We’re connected. And I love him, dearly.

99. The first thing I did when I got home the day I got married was take my wedding dress off and put it in the bin. Shows you how happy I was with that arrangement I guess..

100. I freakin’ love roller coasters and anything else that makes me feel like my stomach is going to fall out of my arsehole.

101. I used to keep a picture of Jesus that a homeless man gave me when I was thirteen, in a snuff tin. I used to carry said tin with me for most of my adolescent years until, one cold December day when I was seventeen, drunk and angry, I threw that fucker in the Thames. I think about it often though. And more so, why the hell I carried the damn thing with me so long.


So there’s me in a rather large and splendid nutshell. 

It’s been lovely getting to know you.

I think we’re going to get along.


Dragonflies

Suffocated in the silence of splintered injustice, she’d kill herself if someone could guarantee her that the memory would die with her. She’s got this far on the distant dawning of carrying the pain with her through the doors of death and into eternity. Would that be hell? She wonders…to be locked away in a windowless room with nowhere to go but inside yourself? No ones face scares her more than her own, no ghostly shadow cast against the bare walls makes her skin crawl more than the black silhouetted copy of her shape, hunched and vulgar in it’s profanity.

Just a guarantee.

That’s all.

What use would it be to get a little too close to the edge of the canyon – to taste the dust that lifts from the bellies of pebbles pushed recklessly to their deaths by the soles of her shoes that rest unsteadily atop the soft blanket of spicy pine needles, that sting their scent into her eyes, feral wasps, the beauty of the cold air coursing through her veins, her teeth bared in predatory lust – as she stands crucified to the blameless blue of the sky, her bastard shadow grimacing on the ground, the awkward mould of a dragonfly laying in wait behind her on the cracked red clay?

And she’s ready. She’s been ready for a long time. And she listens to him still, now, even though her ears of full of blood and words. Too many words. They cram themselves in, tripping over their own tongues and stumbling just before the finish line, a heap of broken backs and fallen friends, their carcasses piled high on the brink of comprehension. Her ears are heavy and aching, the rasp of their breath that close to her consciousness, toxic and unpleasant. And he told her, didn’t he? He told her all that he is, and all that he was, and all that he’ll ever be. And she knows what he can do. She knows because he did it to her. She is too tired to cry.

Her stained fingers brush against the swollen welts on her face, cracked and red they mirrored the earth where her inner dragonfly still waits. It laughs. Her fingers trace the shape of what was once her mouth. It hurts, the flesh hot and tender, a new burn yet to turn pink and fade to coffee. She bites down, hard, on the bottom lip. It splits, a rotten melon, and gushes foul coppery blood. It spills off of her chin and runs eagerly down her neck where it pools. A warm flower, the colour of claret, begins to bloom across her breasts. She is septic inside.

The muscles in her legs twitch, her chest muscles tensing and relaxing, repulsed by the feeling of blood against bare skin. Her head swims and inside her putrid body she feels something rising, like smoke, violet in the sun, grey in the shadow. Is that sadness trying to escape her, or is it something else? Is it all hope, rising and falling, following the wind obediently to a place where it can settle, where it can be left alone, and nevermore picked apart by the mind of a person addicted to their own cruelty and punishment? A ripple of revulsion crumples her to the floor, pine needles draw blood from her palms, the once great dragonfly now a cocoon of its former self. It seethes.

And she cries. Silently on the fractured lip of the ubiquitous canyon as the smoke that she mistook for sadness envelopes her, hands and lips and faces and eyes, all of the same, all around her. It’s not the sadness that is leaving her tonight, as the sun bleeds red across the tangerine sky.

Tonight is the night that hope leaves this girl and where it stops, nobody knows.

“Intimate and Intimidating.”

“They avoided each other and the subject of conversation as though he had asked her something seedy and secretive that shouldn’t be discussed with anyone at any time like favored masturbation techniques or who she saw in her minds eye when she came. Some things were so deeply in bedded in the dark places of a persons mind that when they are called to question, the conversation freezes and the tongue gets tied for fear of what the world may think of the company you keep inside yourself at such intimate and intimidating moments in time.”

From a manuscript titled “Experiment.”

When I Dream of Snakes

His hair was thick and rough with an earthy scent that hung in my nose and smothered his presence. The smell of sweat. The smell of stress. I had emailed the video off that morning, unbeknownst to him and there was nothing he could do to undo what I had already done. It would be there waiting in the inbox the following morning, a blinking envelope of pixels and promise waiting to be unearthed by an uninterested clerk with sleepy eyes.

And it would be going to the tribunal. Any day now I would be called before a jury of my peers, people who didn’t like me a whole hell of a lot and then the discussion would commence. The decisions about my future at the institution would be divvied up between a group of human beings, in the loosest sense of the word, that would come to convince old men who had never met me, and probably never would, that I was a bad person, a person deserving of punishment of the gravest degree.

I looked down at him chewing on his bottom lip, his face washed out by the grey green colour of his computer screen. He looked more worried than I did. I kissed the top of his head and wrapped my arms around his neck. Silence befell us.  We said nothing because there was nothing left to say, nowhere left to go and nothing left to do.

I turned to leave the small book lined room that among the scent of sweat and worry, was laced with the antiquated spice of old paper and forgotten fables. It smelled like home to me. As I left he reached out for my hand and I allowed him to take it, hold it and squeeze it ever so slightly, a reassuring glimmer in an otherwise grease stained evening. I allowed him to take my hand even if  I wouldn’t allow him anything else – even the chance to save me.

He told me that he was raised was snakes and that no two were ever the same. He told me that he could teach me this, this snake like demeanor, his eyes wide and alive and blue with want. I told him I was raised by wolves and that there was nothing waiting for me in those hallowed halls that I couldn’t defeat, nothing I would come up against that I could not beat. I didn’t believe my own words. I don’t think he did either.

And as he watched me leave I could have sworn I felt his heart break in perfect time with mine.