A chrysalis of who we are,
of what we project on the world.
Separates and endures.
Arriving home late that evening, I storm past my family’s greetings, through the kitchen, and straight into my home office. Ten, nine, eight… Deep breath… Seven, six…Holy fuck, keep it together you useless sack of shit. 17 years wasted, only to lose the promotion to a filthy toddler. Memory is a tricky mistress, filling you up and absorbing all you have left until you’re ready to explode.
Brayden’s god damned Brazilian Tarantula stares back at me with its bulbous abdomen propping himself and mocking me. Eight hundred dollars for me to come home every night to an escaped monster filing my paperwork. I wasn’t even consulted. I’m never fucking consulted. Not by Linda, certainly not by my boss.
If I'm trapped, you’re trapped. This cage of a whisky glass should prove nicer than the suburban hellhole I’ve dug for myself. I slam the glass upside down atop the venomous spider, and make my way around the large mahogany desk. I pretend to understand, but twelve thousand dollars on a dress she hasn’t worn!?
“For fuck sakes!” I shout and slam my fists into the table. The temporary jail shimmies towards the edge.
“Two hundred grand on a car she doesn’t drive!” SLAM. The glass wobbles closer.
The spider watches as the large man destroys his office, every object personally offending him. All the while paying no attention to the danger creeping along the edge of his desk.
I'm all but dead, as my panic begins to ease and reality comes into view. I slump my dead weight into my overpriced chair, and the impact vibrates the glass to freedom. Just as the little monster takes his chance, I place my sweaty hand on top and regain control.
We glare at each other. She does make me laugh. The kids are set for life. I’m only forty-five. We both let out a sigh of relief, and I get myself a new whisky glass.
The Man Who Couldn’t Kill Himself
I’ve learned I can technically survive with only 65% of my blood. After about 40%, I’ll go into hypovolemic shock and all of the fluid I’ve lost will impede my heart's ability to pump blood throughout the rest of my body. I may have a limited knowledge regarding the human anatomy, sure, but that should’ve been more than enough information to kill myself.
It sure as hell felt like more than half as the cold that rushed over my body was indiscernible with the river's current. Red and gray shadows danced erratically under the steady current I was half submerged in. I wonder why I’ve chosen this place. Anywhere along Howard Road would have been fine, close enough my parents would know what happened and would not waste their precious time looking for me.
“What.. What was that Morgan? You’re so fuckin’ lucky your mother’s at bingo.” Roberts' eyes met the incessant beep on the hospital machine behind me as he sighed, “Well? Have you got all the attention you need?”
I’d accepted my miscalculations as serendipitous when Laura-Lee’s hand lingered a little too long on my forearm the following week at Burkes Pub. The quiet I sat in the rest of the night proved otherwise, though. I watched as she laughed with a blonde girl I didn’t know. It had to be at my expense. They were laughing at my stupidity.
I discovered next that you can survive up to 24 hours after hanging yourself by the neck. The human body is frustratingly resilient for how trivial life really is. The bruises and boredom forming quickly around my neck trapped me within my own thoughts. I’m sick of hearing myself think. The brunette dressed in black at Shoppers says yellow undertones cover bruises best. I wonder if she knows from personal experience, but I don’t ask. I also wonder what undertones are, but I buy the compact case she hands me and later agree with her aloud in the mirror.
When the brunette who became Tanya turned into the lady who rejected me, I shot myself in the face. Did you know that you can survive a bullet to the face? I educated myself and the inexperienced nurses with shock ridden faces that day. I thought about how the call to inform my parents I’d attempted suicide would ruin their trip this weekend. I have 12 teeth now. 42 surgeries later, I have the right half of my face along with a third of my tongue. I hope they never close the whole in my throat.
There’s thunderous silence in slaughtering. The solitude of my newfound career lets my disfigurements be. I don’t mind Mr. Rideout’s judging eyes, he hired me after all. He doesn’t let his daughter come in the freezer anymore.
The lines of dead carcass full of so much potential reignites my existential crisis. I’m fixated on the tip of the large hook I grip in my left hand, I shift it into my right hand and my only eye follows. I read a magazine article on suicide once. To my own amusement, I found it stashed behind a toilet in my suicide treament facility. ‘Seppuku’ is considered an honorable death among samurai. One by disembowelment, restorative and surefire. The red of my blood in this dark cold freezer is almost black and I feel fear for the first time. Oh god, Mr. Rideout.. Jesus.. No god .. I scramble to hold my stomach in and watch as the blood from my guts bubbles on the icey floor below. My vision blurs and I desperately crawl to the door unable to yell for help. Close enough to strain for the door handle, finally grabbing hold, I realize Mr.Rideout has locked the door to the freezer from the outside. I wonder if Mom has bingo tonight.
Arden & Ruby
The air thickens when Ruby enters the room, carrying a small tea plate lined with fresh fruit. The way she commands my movements without uttering a word leaves me breathless. My body seizes at the sensation of her long fingers caressing my inner thigh as she climbs back into bed next to me, leaving her hand so close I’m certain she can feel the damp warmth under my starch panties. I wonder if it feels the same on her index finger while she traces the waves under the cloth, as it does when I give into myself in the early morning sun. I’m too distracted while she presses into the wet to notice her swift movements as she envelopes my perched nipple with her strawberry saturated lips. Swallowing my inexperience, I’m aching to feel her inside me and this overwhelming need to please her body the way she pleases mine, I follow her lead. Feeling a surge of confidence I move myself on top of Ruby and lower slowly, tracing her rib cage with soft kisses. I feel her fingers lose themself in my mounds of tangled curls and start to guide my lips as she pulsates on my nervous tongue.
Arden Goes Home (Excerpt)
I slowly entered the house. It’d been years since I'd made it past the threshold. Just get mum's journals, and get out. Through the porch door I could make out George standing in the kitchen, his head low and his back perpetually hunched over, as he leaned slightly against the countertop.
“Dad?” I whispered.
His head rose and he turned to look at me, but the grimace on his face was unrecognizable. Beaten down by age or guilt, this was not the menace I left behind years ago.
“How are you, George?” I asked. His eyes fluttered at the informal introduction, as he staggered to the brandy in the corner.
“It’s nearly three in the afternoon, Dad.” I left an emphasis on Dad. He ignored me as he poured the last of the warm Aqua Vitae into his clearly overused glass, atop a single useless stone.
“Four years gone by and no hello? Maybe a hug? A fucking lingering look of sentiment?” I exhaled. I took notice of an old photo strewn across the chair in the veranda while I waited for his response. Posed proudly in front of a lush garden stood Mum, Dad, Nigel, and Marcus at the old homestead.
I ran my fingers along the frail cardboard blanketing the Buddy Guy album Nigel had saved all summer for, transfixed on the thick film of grime coating every surface. I must have made a face at the stale air and the stench of sweat densely clogging my nostrils, or maybe the mere silence enraged him. Regardless, the calm had passed and I was no longer in the eye of the storm.
This was George’s way, it was all or nothing with him. His chalky face cracked as he spoke and the flakes of skin mingled in the air with his words. A dreadfully long wait to finish an argument I’d walked away from four years prior.
Crimson red engulfed his clenched jaw, so tight his upper teeth cut into his lower lip, he spewed blood along with the venomous words that came out of his mouth, “It doesn’t make any fucking sense, it never has. You were a warning! We would have stopped, she would have lived! You don’t get to take her place, you ungrateful little dyke!” Sobbing into his glass by this point, he begged, “Oh god, why?!”
I’d had this conversation too many times to entertain a response, he wasn’t looking for one anyway. Rather, I made my way towards the stairs, shuffling through the contrasting memories of Christmas mornings spent waiting on the stairs. The journals, get them, get out. Nearing the base of the staircase, his sobs grew closer, they were almost guttural behind me.
“Arden I swear to god, get back here!” I glossed over the slew of derogatory phrases littering his words, but the shrill rise of intonation kicks in my fight or flight and I bolt up the first few steps. The rest of this encounter is almost a blur. I can still feel his lanky fingers wrapped around my ankle and the skin as it tore open across my forehead. My face had slammed into the edge of the step when he pulled me down. My hand immersed in the blood, I attempted to drag myself to freedom. It took all my strength to pry loose his grip.
Is he fuelled by hatred? My God.
At that thought, he slipped onto his stomach and I took my chance. Clamoring my way to the top of the stairs, I took one fleeting moment to gauge my choices, but our faces were only inches apart as I turned around. There was no time to decide between making a run for the bedroom where I knew they were, or back down the stairs before my hands were trapped in his grip.
“You can’t take them, Arden, you just can’t..” The desperation in his voice caused me to waver. “Please, you have everything, everyone, please leave me the one fragment of her I have left.”
Piercing silence rang through my ears. Did he just say I had everything? Had this piece of shit truly not realized all he had done to commit to his own demise? How dare he? He could have had everything. He had the choice, to have Cole and Holly in his life, to strengthen our family after we lost her. WE lost her. I lost her. He tore us apart. My anger restored, but my arms were still restrained so I spit in his blistering face.
I was seething. “This was all you! This was your ignorance, you sad excuse for a man! My entire life I’ve tried to help you see, I did all mom had left behind and more to save you, to save us! All you had to do was choose us. That was it, George. All you had to do was see outside of yourself. We all lost mom, you lost Camilla and you had no choice in that matter, I know. But you had choices, Dad. You chose this, this loneliness, and I refuse to lose myself in the process of choosing you.” I stated.
He let my hands go and I quickly retrieved the journals from the first bedroom. On my way back down the stairs, George took my wrist in his hand and whimpered, “Arden…”
"Let go of me, George..” Quiet fear filled the space between us. “Let me go.”
Arden and Ruby
The air thickens when Ruby enters the room, carrying a small tea plate lined with fresh fruit. The way she commands my movements without uttering a word leaves me breathless. My body seizes at the sensation of her long fingers caressing my inner thigh as she climbs back into bed next to me, leaving her hand so close I’m certain she can feel the damp warmth under my starch panties. I wonder if it feels the same on her index finger while she traces the waves under the cloth, as it does when I give into myself in the early morning sun. I’m too distracted as she presses into the wet to notice her swift movements as she envelopes my perched nipple with her strawberry saturated lips. Swallowing my inexperience, I’m aching to feel her inside me and this overwhelming need to please her body as she pleases mine, I follow her lead. Feeling a surge of confidence I move myself on top of Ruby and lower slowly, tracing her rib cage with soft kisses. I feel her fingers lose themself in my mounds of tangled curls and start to guide my lips as I feel her pulsate on my nervous tongue.
“Start slowly beautiful, soften your tongue and press with purpose.” Giggling softly, I open my mouth a bit more and let my tongue enclose her cliteros and move my head up and down. Emanating a sound foreign to me, Ruby moaned deeply, and used her tangled fingers to move my head in circular motions. The volume of her pleasure echoed between her thighs. I followed suit with my tongue I tasted her sweeten as she gushed more than I ever had before, instinctually my fingers pressed deeply into her and I began to suck with excitement.
“Oh Arden, yes, oh fuck, please don’t stop.. fuck yes.” She thrusts her hips with vigor as she quivers and cums all over my hand, soaking the mattress beneath.
My giddiness the rest of the day was like nothing I’d ever felt, powerful and confident.. purposeful. George’s anger would be raging so hard I should taste it in the wind, but all that was left lingering on my tongue was the sweet nectar, salted citrus, mingled with the scent of her hair and her skin and her sweat.
This City Reeks of You
This city reeks of you.
It reeks of quandary,
Betrayal. (A new awakening)
How dare you?
This city bowed to our prowess,
Magellan’s of each nook.
My hair tangled in your flowery words and
my lungs enduringly scarred from days drained in the sun
smoking cigarettes and reading for fun.
This city knows too much,
Tarnished with purloined kisses.
Superfluous words on a rainy night.
Fingers that danced down my arms,
squeezing my hips.
Foreshadowed nightmares around my neck,
This wet black night.
The ducks had better foresight.
They watched us quietly maneuver large books,
Stolen glances by the pond.
This city is draped in you.
I feel like I’m poisoned, stained.
This city deserves better.
Every alluring moment,
Every ounce of fire.
This is my first piece of poetry, any feedback, good or bad, would be appreciated.