Tuesday, January 5th, 2010



© 2009, Salena Godden


She crashed having catapulted herself into a translucent and viscous lake, she lays there still. It is familiar and as tepid as vomit, in fact not dissimilar to the pint of water she just threw up over the side of the boat, her rocking bed. There were tears before bedtime and now just a faint stench of guilt. She shouldn’t be around herself tonight, she might do something stupid, again.

Insomniac - She lies on her belly and puts her face into the pillows. She scrunches her eyes tight until she sees a multitude of colours and fractals. She forces herself to replay the scene, and she tortures herself remembering him again. It is a repulsive and degrading scene, envisioning her dark and wrong self clinging on to him as she fakes it.

She seems to have forgotten to marry someone, to marry the one closest to the real deal perhaps? Shit. If she had married him then on long nights like these he would gently rock her on the tip of his cock and tell her to breathe again. He’d whisper words of sense and make her see clearly again. And she would believe that it is all going to be alright. Yes, she would believe her loving husband, she’d dry her eyes, wipe her snotty face, pop her knickers back on and make tea. And he always looked sexiest in the kitchen, cooking with tea towel over his shoulder as he cried peeling onions. Maybe she should have married him then things like this wouldn’t happen and she wouldn’t feel like this today, but it is too late for that now.

She is alone in the blackness. Screwed up with a dry mouth in a lumpy bed, in a bedroom with moving, mottled walls. It’s the end of the summer and the end of the party. She loathes the end of a good party - don’t you? And darling, she never was any good at goodbyes. She knows the drill, it is like this every time, what goes up must come down. There is that dreaded ringing and sense of closing time. The end of a chapter, the last page rustles like brown leaves. Seasons change and she knows that nothing stays good or stays the same. But that is exactly why she wrings every drop into her mouth and swallows it whole, that is exactly why she takes the bullshit by the horns. 

She knows there are no sides to hold on to, there never are, not when you have dived into the middle of the lake. She insisted on floating in the centre of the deepest water, to tread water and bask among the fragrant lily pads. She stared up into the blue expanse of summer and well, when you are there, really there, then there are never going to be sides to reach out for. At at the end of the long light, when autumn comes, she bloody shivers in the shadows and wades exhausted through reeds, getting her fragile mind twisted in pond weed. Then the black dog waits for her, to dig up her bad old self and gnaw on her bones, cocking his leg to piss on the Octoberries of Autumn.

She is alone with the fear and now remembers that bad dream that really happened. Remember? She cannot even remember his name. Where to begin, it was a hot night, she was lost in a strange Spanish city. She had drank absinthe in a jazz bar and lost her friends. She was stranded and penniless. It was 3am and she was afraid. Her friends had her bag, keys, phone, purse. She didn’t know how to get to the next town to her hotel. Yes, that is how it started.

But he was friendly wasn’t he. He spoke English and said he would look after her, he said he was going to a party and she could come with him and his friends. He was lovely looking, tall and confident too. They were all very nice to her, the boys, they gave her beer, they sat beside her on the steps of a fountain. The city was wild, a buzz of couples on scooters, bars still busy and late night clubs pouring with life. She was one of the boys and her new friends, they were so exciting now weren’t they? She laughed with them and told them all she was lost and hopeless and how they laughed. 

They took her to an illegal bar. There was plastic furniture and a drunk passed out on the floor. They drank rum and smoked a joint and although she turned the joint down, the rum was too strong wasn’t it.  Yes, and that was when he kissed her. And she let him kiss her because…because she was at his mercy…or because she was weak…or because he was a charmer, a knight in shining armour. Or because she was young and free and single and on holiday, so of course, she kissed him back.

They left alone, just the two of them and walked through hellish streets as he flattered her with a flurry of words and made her laugh as they weaved down narrow alleys. He gave her the grand tour, he was her guide, pointing out murderers, crack dens and prosititutes. He told her there was a shooting in that dirty poor neighbourhood at least once a week. She shivered and let him put his arm around her. This is a pretty trap, because now she is glad of the comfort of his arms. She pulls him closer, as they pass cockroaches with glinting knives, scuttling in the shadowy doorways. He takes her to a dealer’s house who tells them to fuck off in Spanish.

Then he took her to his flat on that same filthy street. He is smooth now isn’t he! He passes her a beer and sits beside her on the futon and then he kisses her aggressively. Within minutes the lights are off and in the unfamiliar dark of his mouth and that room, she doesn’t even fight him, she is soft and drunk and it all happens so fast, she just lets him take a diabolical liberty.

Did it matter if she is thinking too fast and slow down and does it count that she is thinking stop? Does it matter that she is thinking no? She is afraid that he will continue anyway, if she does say no, because no means yes means more games. And she kissed him in the bar and she held his hand in the street so she obviously wanted sex. She pretends she is thinking yes but she is thinking don’t touch me.  She is thinking stop but she doesn’t say anything. He didn’t ask her either way. And she just lets it go on, because the idea of making a scene, fighting him off and running out the door, down those dark stairs, to those dark strange streets, to pass those street gangs twitching in the shadows on her own is terrifying. So yes, better the devil you know. She is hoping that maybe he’ll let her stay there at least until daylight. This seems to be the safer option.

So she lets him do it to her, invade her, his weight upon her, his bad breath and panting, his unfamiliar rough hands, a foreign invasion, an alien huffing and grunting above her lovelessly. She closes her eyes and pretends she is numb from the waist down and makes fake noises of encouragement, hoping he’ll hurry up.

She wipes his sperm off her belly onto a towel and leaves the room. Someone is ringing the doorbell impatiently as she dresses in the glare of the kitchen. She holds her face in her hands and hits her own temple. The thin girlfriend comes through the front door, sits and lights a cigarette and tells him to call her a taxi. She didn’t know he had a girlfriend, of course she didn’t know. He shrugs, pulls on some grey tracksuit bottoms and walks her down the stairs. He dumps her off on his dirty street corner and points towards the dark alleys, in the general direction of the Metro.

She curses him for tricking her, she swears at him, but the truth is she is more angry with herself than him, of course. She should make him give her money for a cab or a train ticket but the idea of having to ask for it is beneath her. She starts walking through the slums. She paints herself invisible and it seems to work, nobody approaches her as she walks hurriedly down backstreets that stink of heat and urine: cobbled and unknown alleyways of a restless Spanish city. And as she crosses George Orwell Place she recognises that landmark and feels the heat of her own shame like a slap.

She won’t mean to torture herself but she does mean to be mean to herself. It’s her own stupid fault. She blatantly told a complete stranger she was lost. And he knew she was vulnerable and he looked after her, alright. Admitting this is like a stomach rinse, the pint of water vomited down the side of the bed. She rinses her mind of this rank mis-adventure and throws up all she wishes hadn’t happened.

Will someone please rescue her? Where is her saving grace and that anchor and compass? Where is that rock, that strong oak of a man? In her head he is there, this gentle and protective love, the one who saves her. The one who can save her from herself. In her heart she knows this has to begin with finding the ground again. She shouldn’t play with fire and take leaps of faith into such heavy water without remembering there will be consequences.

And the truth is truly black as oil and it slurps into every crease in her story and every pot hole in her excuses. She opens one eye and there is her room vibrating with a conscience hangover. She is home and she is safe – but she is exhausted by the beating she has given herself tonight. She starts to fall asleep again and as she does she dreams of him, because you cannot hate someone if you didn’t love them just a little bit, love.


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