recovery

Phantasma

There is a phantom that makes his home in the dust and cobwebs of my bedroom, a poltergeist flitting in and out of sunbeams and bumping in the dark. I can hear him sigh my name in the back of my mind every day at noon; I can feel him ease down onto the arm of my chair to read over my shoulder the newspaper, and I know the door opens just a little too quickly every evening when I come home. When the pages of my book refuse to stay open, when all my houseplants begin to wither and die, or the cat goes galloping down the hallway in a random panic, I know that he is restless. His presence lingers around me, heavy like an uninvited guest, but he always welcomes me home with the open arms of an old friend.

He keeps me awake at night when he cries, terrible, awful, heaving cries, coming from the darkest corners of my bedroom. Some nights, I can feel his salt tears on my cheeks, leaving cool colourless trails down my hot heartbeat skin, whispering like autumn winds past, or his fingers trailing across the bony bumps of my hips, turning once-rosy skin blue and rotting, deadening under his airy gray touch. He sings sweet nothings of a time long ago to me in the dark hours of the morning, his voice soft as cold September rains. When I close my eyes I dream of him, his face flush with colour and the sun dancing through his eyelashes, his smile a night terror I can no longer start at. I awake, and there too is his face, grinning out of the darkness and relishing the circles of purple he puts beneath my eyes. On hot midsummer nights, he slips a knife between my shoulder blades, a sharp sliver of cold biting between my vertebrae, popping them apart and relaxing all my muscles, stinging and burning where his poison fingers probe my wounds for my bloody essence that he seeks to make his own. I wake with bruised flesh, hues of purples and blues and browns, where his hungry hands have grabbed and pulled at my limbs in an attempt to make me his.

He lives in dismal grayscale, and I in ghastly technicolour. He cannot find his place within my watercolour world. He begs me to recall his name when his hands gently caress my shoulders while I make breakfast, three syllables that tumble across the tongue in shades of red and orange. He queries after the colour of his hair while I brush my teeth in the bathroom mirror, toying with once-black tousled curls now white and streaked a grey translucence. He asks me desperately to remind him what colour was his favourite when he still lived as I change out burnt lamp lightbulbs, staring at me with empty eye sockets where once eyes so dark a brown they glittered black resided, deeper than the deepest outer space. I remember falling into those eyes for the first time, drowning in them, feeling that I could both know everything about him and yet leave him a sparkling enigma all at once if I just let them wash over me like a gentle deep-ocean wave. I floated content in the great voiding depth of those eyes, never once suspecting that they hid a raging riptide, a famished black hole, that they had trapped me as a pitcher plant traps a beetle, feeding off it for days.

On my bad days, I ignore him, and he screams at me, a terrifyingly loud and angry bass, like an upset child with the voice of a man, and he opens floodgates that force me to remember everything I push down deep inside. Our play at contented coexistence comes to a screaming halt, giving out a dying gasp of sad summer air that ushers in the cold of autumn with it. On those days, my hair turns white and falls out in clumps, more fine lines around my eyes crease, and I become older and slower and quieter while he stays young and powerful and angry. Later, the colour returns to me cheeks and lips, but I feel a little more tired inside, and in the bathroom mirror I mark the growing transparency of my own skin, knowing I will join him soon and render him content. He cannot give up his living past, and I cannot reconcile what he once was with the thing he has become. It will be the death of me.

The saturated colour of my eyes, the eyes he always loved so dear, dulls every time his fingertips trail my face, never to return. What he touches, he ruins, just as I once ruined him. And I want to leave, I want to, I want to, I want to run away and never look back and never be found and never relive his horrors again—but he is forever bound to me, holding on to that pre-summer bliss of our childhood, when we were two imperfect souls finding perfect solace in one another, reveling in what we were, what we could have been, what we planned to be.

I can bury his skeleton in my closet, but I can never outrun his ghost.

***

PLAYLIST:

The Best Idea I Ever Had—Sew Intricate
Heaven in Hiding—Halsey
I Knew You Were Trouble—Taylor Swift
Somewhere Else—Artist VS. Poet
Million Dreams—The Greatest Showman soundtrack
Unbreakable—Artist VS Poet
Summertime Sadness (cover)—Megan Davies
Edge of Seventeen
I’m Not Dead—P!nk
Saviour—Rise Against
Devil’s Backbone—The Civil Wars
Everybody’s Fool–Evanescence
Apologize—One Republic
Dancing with a Wolf—All Time Low
This Means War—Marianas Trench
Ordinary World—Joy Williams
Man Overboard—Blink-182
Erase This—Evanescence
Ghost—Ingrid Michaelson
Outlines—All Time Low
Oceans—Evanescence
Dearly Departed—Marianas Trench
B-Team—Marianas Trench
Young and Menace—Fall Out Boy
Eyes Like Yours–Shakira
Amnesia—5 Seconds of Summer
Nina—Ed Sheeran
Down—Blink-182
Grand Theft Autumn/Where is your Boy Tonight—FOB
One More Night—Maroon 5
Outer Space/Carry On—5 Seconds of Summer
Dark Side of your Room—All Time Low
Rhythm of your Heart—Marianas Trench
I Miss You—Blink-182
Daddy Lessons—Beyonce
Don’t—Ed Sheeran
A Drop in the Ocean–Elenyi
Nightmares—All Time Low
Call Me When You’re Sober—Evanescence
End of an Era—Marianas Trench
.
(BONUS: The Patron Saint of Liars and Fakes—Fall Out Boy)

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Pt. 2: Nostalgia.

I once was a girl that lived by the sea

In my mind,

With rattled bones of white.

That girl never ate peaches.

That girl dreamed saltwater dreams.

 

She would watch the waves break against the rocks

And gulls soar

Against gray skies.

Her veins were violet and gold,

Her skin was blue, and cold.

 

Pt. 1: Nectarines.

My skin is not the colour of peaches,

But of nectarines;

White flesh, blue spider web veins,

Thin, like paper,

Smooth, like vapor.

 

My skin is soft, but not supple.

It is unyielding;

Teeth have tried to pierce this skin

To taste my blood

And failed.

 

Echoes

This is a One Act script I wrote not even a year ago as a submission for the Alberta High School Drama  Festival Association’s (A.H.S.D.F.A) one act provincial competition this year–right now, I don’t know if it will go to stage or not. But for me, writing this script was not just a competition piece. I didn’t write it simply to put my mark a little darker on my school’s drama department. No. I wrote this as closure. One of the most traumatic events in my life occurred about a year and a half ago (so about a year before this was written) and it imprinted itself on my mind for a very long time. I realized that part of being okay is taking charge of the shadows of events like this that still haunt you; so I wrote this. This piece illustrates my experience (gratefully, not the true end of it) and how it effects people like me–how it feels to live with the shock, depression, and fear of it all is hard to put in to words. But this? This is how it feels.
A note on the script as it’s written: there are no stage directions as normally I don’t write in directions. This script is meant to be very fluid and sort of like a dance. It’s meant to move rather fast. To put it bluntly, in case due to the fact that there are no directions that it’s confusing, this play is about sexual assault and its consequences.
***

Rose: Do you remember innocence? Do you remember the thrill of being touched for the first time? Do you remember living?
They say that death is only the beginning. They say that life is but a beautiful illusion. They say that sleeping is like death without the commitment.

Mal: Hello.

Rose: Hello.

Mal: I’m Mal.

Rose: I’m Rose.

Mal: You’re so beautiful. Would you like to take a walk with me?

Rose: I’d love to.
And that’s how it started, on a warm day in late spring.

(1) Rose’s Mind: The perfect day for meeting someone new.

Mal: You’re such an interesting person. I’ve had such a good time speaking with you. May I see you again?

(2) Rose’s Mind: No.

(1) Rose’s Mind: Yes.

2 Rose’s Mind: He’s a stranger.

1 Rose’s Mind: Give him a chance.

Rose: I…we’ll see.

Mal: Call me when you’re free.

Rose: Of course.
You know how a person can be so beautiful on the outside, but so ugly inside? But others have such gorgeous minds, such stunning souls, and that makes them prettier on the outside? That was him—pretty on the inside.

Mal: Hello?

Rose: Hi, Mal? It’s Rose.

Both: I’m free tomorrow. Can I see you again?

1 Rose’s Mind: Come over.

2 Rose’s Mind: Just…for an hour.

1 Rose’s Mind: Maybe two.

2 Rose’s Mind: We’ll just…talk.

1 Rose’s Mind: Here’s my address.

2 Rose’s Mind: I’ll be alone.

Mal: Great. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Rose: God, is he really coming over?

1 Rose’s Mind: I’ve been alone for so long.

Rose: So long.

1 Rose’s Mind: Imagine talking.

Rose: Yes.

1 Rose’s Mind: Imagine embracing.

Rose: Yes.

1 Rose’s Mind: Imagine holding. Imagine kissing. Imagine…

Rose&2: What?

1&2: Love.

2 Rose’s Mind: No, you don’t know him. He’s a stranger.

1 Rose’s Mind: Everything has to start somewhere.

2 Rose’s Mind: Be careful.

1 Rose’s Mind: Take a chance.

Rose&Mal: Good morning.

Rose: Would you like some tea?

Mal: I drew you a picture. I’m an abstract artist.

Rose: How was your week?

Mal: I wrote you a song. I’m an aspiring musician.

Rose: Are you working, or going to school?

Mal: You’re my muse.

Rose: Are you hungry?

Mal: Yes.

Rose: May I get you something?

1&Mal: Yes.

2 Rose’s Mind: Careful.

1 Rose’s Mind: You know.

Rose: What are you–?

Mal: Quiet.

Rose: Please…

Mal: Rose. My Rose.

2 Rose’s Mind: What are you doing?

1 Rose’s Mind: Don’t

1&2: Stop.

Rose: I can’t breathe.

2 Rose’s Mind: Help…

Rose: You’re too heavy.

1 Rose’s Mind: Shut up.

2 Rose’s Mind: My chest is being crushed.

1 Rose’s Mind: Against the wall.

2 Rose’s Mind: I can’t move my arms.

1 Rose’s Mind: Against the floor.

2 Rose’s Mind: Why can’t I fight?

1 Rose’s Mind: No don’t–

2 Rose’s Mind: –Fight.

1 Rose’s Mind: What’s wrong?

Mal: Rose.

Rose: Mal.

2 Rose’s Mind: Blank out.

1 Rose’s Mind: Black out.

Rose: I can’t…breathe. Stop. You’re hurting me. Stop, that’s enough! I told you to stop!
But my voice…it’s gone. I can’t scream, I can’t. My body is numb…oh, God. What’s happening to me? And then…darkness. I can’t see! Oh God, please. Blood…on my hands. My wrists, my arms. Where is it coming from? It won’t stop. Oh, Lord, please help me. It hurts.

2 Rose’s Mind: Please, God.

1 Rose’s Mind: He isn’t there.

Mal: Rose. My Rose. My darling. I love you.

2 Rose’s Mind: You don’t know me.

Mal: I told you. Didn’t I tell you?

1&Mal: Didn’t I say you’d like it? Didn’t I say you’d say yes?

2&Rose: Yes.

Rose: A wise woman once said, “People don’t belong to people.” But I’m not sure that’s true. I wonder if it’s possible for the human soul to be trapped, kidnapped…stolen. To be a victim of forced possession. Ensnared by desire and lies. Can you really trust anything anymore? Anyone?

1 Rose’s Mind: You whore! Slut! You want to talk about victims? Possession? Lies? You want to talk about trust? How can you trust anything if you can’t even trust yourself?

2 Rose’s Mind: You are simply a victim of society.

1 Rose’s Mind: Society? What she’s done she brought on herself. Society has nothing to do with it.

2 Rose’s Mind: She was a child who knew no better! Society and its idealistic sense of dominance raped her innocence.

1 Rose’s Mind: Ah, yes, a fragile flower, used and abused.

2 Rose’s Mind: It’s not your fault.

1&Rose: Of course it’s my fault.

1 Rose’s Mind: Look! Look at what she’s done to us! We are destroyed! Ruined! You ignorant bitch, how could you?
Blood.

2 Rose’s Mind: Blood.

Both: Blood.

2 Rose’s Mind: Do you see what you’ve done?

Mal&Rose: I need to talk to you.

Mal: I need to see you again.

Rose: My mother, she knows.

Mal: I miss you.

Rose: She could see the pain.

Mal: I love you.

Rose: Love me? No you don’t.

Mal: Of course I do.

2&Rose: You don’t, you never did. I was just an object of your desire.

Rose: How could you love me when you don’t know me?

2&Rose: When you never knew me?

Mal: You love me, too.

1 Rose’s Mind: Hurt him. Kill him, break his heart. Tell him the truth.

Rose: I hardly know you.

2 Rose’s Mind: You’re a stranger.

Mal: I came on too strong.

2&Rose: Yes.

1 Rose’s Mind: That’s it? That’s it? Tell him. Tell him it was all a lie. Tell him about Ben. About the pain. Tell him, tell him.

Mal: I’m sorry.

1 Rose’s Mind: Oh, he’s sorry.

2 Rose’s Mind: Enough.

Mal&Rose: Goodbye.

Rose: But that’s never the end of it. I’m just a shell now. I can’t sleep, can’t eat. Is this what it’s like to be broken?

1&Rose: We’re nothing but hollow shells. Hollow, shallow. You wake up and suddenly the face in the mirror isn’t enough, will never be enough.

Rose: It isn’t mine. No part of me is mine anymore. It all belongs to him.

1&Rose: He claimed me. Left his marks. It hurts.

Rose: Oh, God, it hurts.

Ben: What’s wrong? Won’t you tell me what’s wrong?

1 Rose’s Mind: No.

2 Rose’s Mind: Yes.

Rose: I can’t.

Ben: It’ll be okay. I promise.
I love you, Rose.

1 Rose’s Mind: Do you?

2 Rose’s Mind: Of course you do.

1 Rose’s Mind: He can’t be trusted.

Rose: I love you, too.

Mal: Freeze.
Ben.

Ben: Mal, I presume?

Mal: So you’re the interference.

Ben: What did you do?

Mal: You’re the little problem.

Ben: How did you hurt her?

Mal: The tiny spider that needs squishing.

Ben&Mal: You’re the one getting in the way. You’re the one screwing everything up.

Mal: You stole something precious to me.

Ben: She was mine first.

Mal: She’s my queen, not yours.

Ben: But my hand has won this game, Mal.

Mal: That’s what you think.

1&Ben: It’s your fault, all your fault. Six feet under by your hand.

2&Rose: No

1&Ben: Yes

1 Rose’s Mind: You’re at fault! Nothing you do is right. You’re a train wreck of emotion and bad ideas. You’re selfish. Who could ever love you?

Ben: It hurts, Rose. It hurts. Look at me! Why won’t you look at me? Are you ashamed yet? Do you even miss me?
You bitch!

Rose: Shut up! Shut up! Please…I’m sorry.
But for what? I’m not sure anymore. For who? I don’t know. How can I be when I can’t even think? All the voices in my mind drown out my thoughts. They never shut up.

2 Rose’s Mind: Then don’t listen.

1&Ben: Shut up!

Rose: Enough! It’s these things, these monsters in my mind. Just like the mirror, eventually you know it’s not right, nothing’s right, and you’re destroyed. Suddenly you’re just an echo. An echo of the girl I used to be, a whisper of the past.
I don’t know what to do.

Mal: Go back to what’s familiar.

Rose: No.

Mal: Rose, my sweetheart.

Rose: What did you do to Ben? What have you done?

Mal: He was in the way of us.

Rose: He was my best friend.

Mal: You left me for him.

Rose&Ben: I was never with you.

1&Mal: Don’t you get it Rose? You’re mine, you belong to me and I’m not going to lose you again.

Rose&Ben: I belong to myself, not to anyone else, I hardly know you. You hurt me, killed me, don’t you understand?

1&Mal: I will not share you.

Rose&Ben: I’m not yours to share.

Mal: You are mine to keep!
There. See? It’s as easy as that. Isn’t it easy to revert back to what’s familiar? You’re mine now. It’s okay, baby. We’ll be okay now.

1 Rose’s Mind: Of course. We’ll be okay now.