Tag Archives: prose

Prose: “James Murphy, Aged 29” / “December 2014 – January 2015”

“So, what are you going to do, kid?
Still ratting at the chains of the gates of the world…
But you can’t quite pretend.”

It’s been eight weeks of not really doing anything; late nights of trying to write but ultimately only to avail of a full trashcan. I was always able to write when I was going to school every day and repeating the same hollow routine, ignoring a weight that was constantly growing. I pretended I was okay, and when people asked if or why I was sad I just made it seem like a joke, like everything was fine. Then I got home and wrote. Writing in those times was always just a way to get a little bit of that weight off my chest. But writing never really changed anything for me; I was always still the same person at the end of every poem, story, script, diary entry, essay, review and article. So, when I stopped being able to write, about eight weeks ago, I still felt the same. The sole difference was the maddening notion that I was no longer doing anything even as remotely productive as my useless writing, as if eight weeks of complete freedom couldn’t change anything. It seems like more than enough time to completely turn a life around. Fifty-six days, or one thousand three hundred and forty four hours. An excessively long time, when all it actually takes is a second.

It’s obvious at this point that change starts with me. Only, it’s completely disheartening when you don’t know where to begin: a million directions for your next step, each one more daunting than the last, only an abysmally low number of them leading to anything good. Odds can be the most frightening thing in the world. You have to remember that the odds will always stay the same unless you make a choice. Then, at least, something becomes a reality; a certainty. Naturally, it only makes sense that you keep moving. I’ve forgotten that. It’s become too easy to merely stay in the same place and forget. I forget the things that I want and the huge unexplored world outside, instead giving in to quick fixes in an unending effort to stave off the anxiety of knowing that I never tried hard enough, and the fear of failing if I do. It’s like standing on the edge of something, ready to make the next leap but constantly second-guessing myself. I’ve been on that edge for literal years. I’ve made promises to myself again and again that I’ll make the leap, move forward, change; I’ve made promises in a million different metaphors and never once kept them.

I’m still here, in the same place I’ve been for so long; still a scared little boy on the cusp of becoming a man (by societal standards, anyway); frozen in one place trying not to cry; trying to look strong, but this was never about strength. It was always about focus; keeping exactly what you want in your sights; never looking down; never getting distracted, even if you get tired.

But you won’t get tired.

Hypertext Fiction: The Rope, the Stars and the Night Sky

swans
Album art from Swans – My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky

Constricted breaths fill my lungs with water, starved of oxygen, a shrivelled inner body cavity burning with acid. Oxygen, oxygen – a gasp and a shrill cry emanate from my core. The noose, wrapped around my neck, renders me a weak child, scrabbling for life that has been lost.

The deep blue of the ocean water fades to a deep black before my eyes, the chroma fading into anachronism. My cannibalistic throat makes me weep in pain and cry out in despair. The mind of a lunatic tells me that the water that I am drowning in is an ocean of my tears, but I cannot admit my sorrow. Thrashing against the invisible forces, I cannot admit what I have done. Inhaling water with desperation, I cannot admit that I am here.

I cannot admit it.

I am dead.

The noose loosens and my leaden arms grasp it, for whatever remains within my soul tells me to hold onto the last scrap of my existence. It lifts me, propels above the sinking depths to the sky above. The sweeping waves below dissolve into spittle as the mouth of the ocean snaps shut below me. I narrowly escape its scathing white teeth, lifted into the sky above.

The rope above me is rising into a milky mass of bright stars with a cerulean tinge, surrounding by a black emptiness. Absurdly, I think of one of the stars as my life extinguished like a candle, the rope guiding me to a final farewell. The other stars are all alive, continuing in their ignorance, and despite not knowing how long, they too will one day fade to join the blackness.

The light of the world dries my skin as my lungs breathe a sigh of release. My pale mottled fingers adjust, still clenching the rope ascending above into the unknown. Ignorance is bliss; bliss is ignorance. A star never has to think, or reason, or feel alone, or be afraid. A star is just a light in the sky, just part of our universe. People want things. People make me feel sick.

Despite the unreality of the situation, a burning question sears through my mind: Am I here because I am different, or because I am the same?

The stars coalesce into a stream as coloured dots form before my eyes. Above me, there is a living galaxy of colour, childish smudges forming a central brightness that threatens to envelop my vision. The quiet rustling of the surging waves is overshadowed by the chaotic music of the planets. Deafening high-pitched ululations penetrate my ear drums and rattle my brain inside, forcing each of my fingers to slowly separate from the rope.

My senses overwhelmed, I can no longer hold on.

I fall down into the night sky.

***

Note: This is a hypertext fiction reply to Will’s post Wata/October 2014.

Reading Will’s post last week and its inspiration reminded me of My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky, and ‘Oxygen’ from To Be Kind by experimental rock group Swans, released this year. Similar in its minimalism and ambiance, but with a heavier and more progressive structure, music by Swans never fails to elicit some sort of personal response within me. Amid the disorienting dissonance of the instruments or the fevered yells of Michael Gira, there is some intrinsic beauty to be found.

Though perhaps not as much of a direct influence, drowning also reminded me of Patrick Ness’s More Than This, one of my favourite novels, where the protagonist drowns and wakes up to find himself in a new world. I really enjoy how Ness connects with lives through his writing, and is truly able to empathise what would drive someone to commit suicide and then to rediscover within oneself a capacity for enjoyment of life. I have attempted to emulate his style in understanding the human psychology through deep depression and supernatural occurrences.

Within the chaos of life, there is the peaceful emptiness of death – an alternative available to those who sink into the depths of depression, but ultimately acknowledges that you come to nothing. The conflicting, chaotic final moments of life are an accumulation of noise and life experiences, followed by silence. After life, you are everywhere at once, part of the universe, and simultaneously nowhere and no longer in existence. But really, we can never know.

I hope that wasn’t too depressing. Sometimes I wish I could write happier things.

Hypertext Fiction: “Wata” / “October 2014”

At home, I live in a cold, little, cream-white room, the walls thin enough to hear my father’s age wearing down upon him as he sleeps for five or six hours in the adjacent room and awakens to a job that he hates. Some nights, I sit in that room and my father snores and my computer whirrs and the wind howls like plague come to kill all those without walls or warmth to comfort them, and I cannot help but wonder what I would do if I was one of them. My things are spread out all over the floor because I have no other place to put them. My father tells me I need things like a shelf for my records, and I tell him we’ll get it sometime from IKEA, but really, I just don’t want to waste his money. I should get a job. I should get a life. I should finish all my homework and accomplish all my goals in life and make people happy and maybe then, I can die happy.

Some nights, I sit in my room and I feel my perpetual weight and perpetual loneliness and I see myself drowning at sea. In my dress shirt, business trousers and old black business shoes; the boat is going just too fast, chasing a white whale or something. It’s running through a storm that surrounds me in black and rain, flashing lightning to reveal grey shapes before it all goes dark again. I’m holding onto a rail but it’s too wet and the wind is furious. Like all hell has me by the ankles, I’m holding on only to realise that I’m holding on to nothing at all. It’s over, I know it is. I let go.

For the seconds that my body is swept through the air I feel a certain freedom, finally yielding to the force of the wind; the force of nature; the force of a power bigger than I. I’m smiling. Then the impact. Then I’m too far down to see anything but water; kilometres down and I just keep sinking. Dark blue; there’s nothing here—no fishes, no reefs—just me. My heart beats slower. The sound and the fury flee my head. It’s quiet. Peaceful, unchangingly so, as if hidden in this purgatory is the singular encapsulation of eternal peace. In my dress shirt, business trousers and old black business shoes, I lay back and close my eyes. Suspended, I lay there for what feels like seconds but could very well be years.

There’s millions of tonnes of water pressing down. I pay no mind to it. In the darkness, over time, it is the loneliness that swells around me; within me. It grows inside me and when it finally, inevitably screams like a newborn child I am suddenly unable to breathe. In my panic, I would scramble for air in this airless void and my body would contort and wrestle but pinned under millions of tonnes of water, I am motionless. It is now that I feel life leave me. It is now that—after the impossible weight and time and failure has crushed my bones— it is only now that my spirit finally concedes. I could tell you that it is at this moment that the great sun shines through the water and illuminates the loneliness; I could tell you that my leaving this world after all this strife is beautiful and perhaps meaningful. But, in truth, there is only blackness amidst the blue.


NOTE: Though initially unintended for this purpose, this piece has become part of the blog’s Hypertext Fiction series, in which our writers respond to pieces written by other writers in an effort to create a large, connective body of work spanning the entirety of the blog’s contributors. The piece continuing onward from this one is Zachary Sunter‘s “The Rope, the Stars and the Night Sky“.


I’ve had a few moments of breakdown while listening to the album Flood by Boris. At the start of part two, the only thing that’s happening is there’s these really quiet drums and lightly stroked guitar chords; its minimalism is really confronting. I reckon it evokes the cover art, which maybe looks like the perspective of a person drowning underwater. So, that’s where the idea came fron.

Oh yeah, the title “Wata” is a dual reference to water and the guitarist from Boris. Damn, she’s cool.

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Prose Compilation: “Fragmented Existential Self-Portrait”

“A Fragmented Portrait of My Existence”
A compilation of personal writings and observations.

I.

Sometimes, you think about the end of the world. How do we go out? Is there a bang? Whimper? Perhaps it’s like that old shtick about the deer and headlights and no one will quite expect it. But I doubt that there will be violins, whispering mournful melodies for our end. God will not be available to deliver our epitaph. Nick Woods says he’ll go out to a bar, “get plastered one more time” and yell at the top of his lungs “congrats, we made it to the end.” I think we give ourselves a little too much credit. Perhaps we’re not important, just an evolutionary tree branch that grew to a size that the tree itself could not support. In the end, the branch will be too heavy, and snap under its own weight. Perhaps when we’re finally too much for the world, something will happen, and we won’t be anymore.

II.

At some point in the 20th century, it became apparent to Albert Camus that the happenings of the world were no less than consecutive occurrences culminating from the factors of everything involved, intentional or otherwise. Suddenly, life became an equation of variables, incorporating more pronumeral representations than any number of linguistic symbols could facilitate. In spite of the Xs and Ys, however, Camus decided that he would be in control of his own life, as much as possible. He decided that whatever factors the most random of intervening forces should throw at anyone, perseverance was still worth the effort.

And then he died. For more terms than a million men could contemplate in a million years, the outcome was always the same: death. But, given the constant of death, the outcome is probably not that which existence concerns itself with. Now, rearrange the equation and solve for X.

III.

A clock: the very same clock since the beginning of the year, greeting me every Tuesday morning with its mocking expression of an hour at which I only desire to sleep. It is a fairly mundane clock, with a blandly coloured, modern design like that you could almost assuredly expect to see in the generic setting of a dentist waiting room: cylindrical, decidedly utilizing only white and metallic grey and numbered in a most uninspired font. From my current position I would appraise its value at a maximum of twenty dollars, due to the obvious suggestions made by its faux-metallic outer shell and display covering of plastic imitation glass, curved as if casted from one side of a ball. Two metal sticks make periodic but subtle changes, and a furious, thin rod spins unrestrainedly. Numbers and countless little dashes encircle the three hands in a repeating dance. They turn, and turn, and turn, and meet each other at the twelve before turning again.

That damn clock: forever a testament to the cyclical nature of this life. You’ll get up at the same time every day, and that damn clock with be staring back at you with that same, mocking face. Darby Crash used to say that everything works in circles. Sometimes you’ll do something and you’ll find yourself at that same place again. “So circle one is what we’re doing right now. Someday we’ll probably do circle two.” Someday just keeps getting further away.