Every morning is like this

I wake up and realise I’m bleeding. The floor in my bedroom is not quite level and the blood has sept downward so that the head of the bed is dry and the foot squelching wet. Blood drips steadily onto the floor, fat globulets of it breaking and splattering into the pool that has grown to cover most of the room. I can find no source for the blood, though everything from the waist down is covered in a film of it. It comes right through my skin like perspiration, or condenses on it like heavy, metaltasting dew.

I wake up and realise I have no teeth. My gums have rotted to mush and when I grind my jaws together in my sleep my teeth have all been broken off or shattered and have fallen from my mouth. I try to fish for them among my beddings but I can’t find most of them and I know they can’t be reattached.

I wake up with that feeling of spatial confusion, not knowing where or which way I am, but it doesn’t go away. I don’t know what direction is up or down, front or back, inside or outside. I scream in frustration; I can’t find a way out of bed let alone out of the room.

I wake up looking at myself from above and find my eyes have crawled out of their sockets and onto the ceiling. Every time I try to reach for them they recede. I can’t catch them.

The floor of my flat is covered in tiny bones. They break beneath my feet and bite into my flesh. I try to clear out a path but there are too many, and it’s like trying to dig through a lake, any hole I can make filled as soon as I manage to uncover an inch of flooring. I have no clothes to wear: they’re all broken, tattered, and grimy, crusty with pus and dried blood from all the injuries I’ve sustained. I try to make breakfast but something has eaten all the food. There’s nothing left and I don’t know where to get more. I decide to brew myself tea but the water won’t boil, it only gets colder and colder until it has frozen solid.

Every morning is like this.

I go outside, where there are only the birds and the wind, naked and dirty and my hair tangled. I wait at the bus stop for hours but the bus won’t come. It has never come and never will. I decide to walk but every step I take the road lengthens by two. I decide to turn around but by that time the way back has grown so distant, so rocky and meandering, when I get home it’s already dark. I’m broken, freezing, bleeding, and famished. I crawl inside where there’s no bed anymore: it has been replaced by a pile of old, stained cardboard strewn haphazardly on the one dry corner of my bedroom where the blood hasn’t reached. I curl up and pass out. Maybe this is Hell but who am I to say.

All through the night the pipes groan and screech. I can hear the neighbours, as clear as if they were standing next to me, yelling, begging, threatening, screaming, moaning, gurgling. I only ever catch glimpses of them: someone’s head being banged against the wall with enough force to shake the lights seen through the crack of a half-open door when I walk past, something heavy and shuffling vanishing behind the corner just ahead of me, leaving a slimy trail of something undefinable. I try to avoid them if I can. Sometimes they knock on my door and demand to be let in. They bang it so hard it sounds like thunder and their voices are hard, shrill, and inhuman. Then I hide and hold myself until they’re gone. Sometimes it takes the entire day and then I know I have missed the bus even though it never comes.

It’s new moon tonight though it is always hard to say which one of them is the new one, and the light shines right on me through the walls as I toss and turn on my cardboard bedding. I don’t like the light, I don’t like being impaled on its wan silver pillar like an insect pinned to a box, but I can’t escape it, and so I turn and turn and turn, sweaty and uncomfortable and wanting to sleep. Closing my eyes does nothing for the moonlight shines through my eyelids, too. Finally the moon sets or perhaps the wall ceases to be transparent to it and I am left in blessed darkness. Then I am enveloped in a myriad arms that are like feathers. They caress my face and my neck and my sides and reach between my thighs, embracing me, holding me like a lover. The voices whisper “enough, enough, enough”. And I reply “not, not, not”. “It’s enough”, they say. “It’s never enough”, I whisper.

This vignette has previously appeared in Earthly Delights ꙮgdo volume 2A under the title A Bad Day.