Clara van Wel
In my dream, we sat in the backseat with our hands folded in our laps in mockery of our want. The night was stalling for us where the car would not, holding the light at bay as we drifted across the earth like we had made it: we had. We had the way of dreams: the way you are in your body and you are watching it on film all at once. Given a longer leash, bodily parole of a hundred inches so long as you watch what is done to it. And do you want to watch or feel?
I, I chose to flit between the two, but you bulged out of your trousers before I could kiss
you, and I was covered in it, the months of waiting I’d put you through. I kissed your arms, hold me together and back, and told you I wanted you alone, which was not a lie because I did. I wanted you alone, without me. I wanted to let you have your way without me having to see it. I wanted the leathered leash to crack and scar and break.
In my dream, the boot of the car was a bath. The boot of the car matched the print of your shoe so tidily, fleshing me over again with sodden and clean. There we rolled, rolled so I could be fresh whilst you made me dirty, so they would not find your boot-prints, hand-prints on me when I drowned. I was witness to my own reduction, and like a mountain which once made the lines of the sky, once climbed I became simply earth. New ground underfoot, am I, from which you could see the peaks beyond and set out stiffly for them. The dream was my mind, my truth, telling me that if you only ever saw me as horizon, you could keep walking toward, and you would never be over me. Eternity is asexual.
In my dream, your hands glowed red and burned me into nothing. The branding hiss into blank smoke; I could not say I was colourless because the colours did not exist. You were nowhere, and I was half. I was the line between the mountains and the sky, which seems like both and is neither and when you are close enough to think it’s gone you look out and see another.
In my dream, I was ready to disintegrate. I wanted to become the air, I wanted to spread my atoms and not my legs and blanket the earth.
But I woke.
I wake and it is the present.
I wake and the air smells of garlic bulbs mortified in the ground, of germination and decay. My breath hangs low with the weight of and I think of running at night. I want to take in so much air that I inflate and lift from the earth but I do not. I hold the air within me hostage to my limbs until I have tensed and tested each one. I am here. I exhale. I wish I hadn’t. You cannot die by holding your breath, your body won’t allow it.
An exh a l e is different to a sigh, and so I try the latter, and it feels like more, like power. It is a sign I am tired from the act of resting, which makes no sense and pleases me. My body has granted me this: I am allowed to sigh, my displeasure need not go unheard. I wish I was not so separate from it. It is this way we dance with each other, my body and I. It is like the scene in the movie when the other dancers disappear and it’s just us two, just us turning and aware.
I turn over and feel the air at my feet in a way I had not before. Air moves even though it is nothing.
The robe sits on my chair where I left it, removed with a care that comes only from undressing alone. None of my shirts are all-the-way unbuttoned any more, just a tidy single undoing and over the head will do. I am fascinated by how we learn to tiptoe around ourselves, how a glass will stop singing in case the high notes should cause it to break. Fascination is the only way to live, because it frees itself from morality and you needn’t feel attached. I can be fascinated by the Holocaust and condemn it. I can be fascinated by the sky and exalt it. I can be fascinated by death and I am. There are more than three, but three is the rule and I am writing and I am fascinated by rules and tidiness. Did I break it there? Did I
add a fourth fascination? Can the statement of the rule itself be counted? If I say, The Rule is Do Not Speak, have I broken it in speaking or is time not linear at all and should I stop thinking.
I have to leave my head and leave my bedroom. My room, take the ‘bed’ word out of it, it is not for it any more, swelling the walls with its weight and taunting. I could sleep on a desk or in a corner or not at all or maybe forever. Would I dream of driving? I think: heaven is a drive that never ends. I take myself from my room—or perhaps it relinquishes me—and the curtains close themselves behind me at the cue.
She says, Don’t worry about lunch, I found some leftovers, and I don’t tell her that I wasn't worried I was looking for something to do I don’t tell her anything she has already turned away and look, when you use so little punctuation even a comma feels like a stop, you see, you are thankful for the rest even if it is only a sharp inhale before the rush and the storm and the pulling you under once again and the kitchen is too many windows my husband stares at me like a creature he once loved which is what I am and what I always knew and I should never have let him in and let him make this thing inside me because here she stands and she is the reality of my blueprint so I am rolled in a drawer and dust-specked but neither of us will give the cue to end it we do not want to split her she is too soft and has not learned of edges yet we must keep it that way we smile at each other here is a pause don’t waste it, and more. I let you breathe for a moment, and I do too. I turn on the kettle.
She is snap, click, clack and gone and this is the part where he notices me, and sees that I am her shadow, the fading white-on-blue that came before and seems so empty now. He feels the lack of her and it is me, And we are strangers.
I heap the coffee into the jug and wait. I add a third spoonful for want of anything better to do. He is watching me and I hate it, because he sees that I am only now. I am only here, heaping spoonful upon spoonful of coffee into the overflowing- piling- growing- plunger.
The kettle is new so it does not scream as it should, but I can hear the bubbles jumping higher and higher and his arms are on my shoulders and then gripping my hands, he is stopping me, the coffee is on the counter. I freeze. He is all muscle and sinew; when I met him he at least was soft. Now he runs and walks and works and he is nothing but stone and doing everything right. Why is he being gentle when he could break my wrists off in a matter of jerks? What is the game he is playing; everything is muffled edges in my life and he cannot do me the cracking courtesy of a clean break. Why do questions have to end in question marks. What if I want the conversation to end, what if I don’t what an answer, why is my head spinning and the countertop is covered in coffee and our love because I felt it too much and too quickly and I could not fit it all inside me. It overflowed and made itself Fiona and now he has made me her blueprint and rolled me away. Why when there is no love left does nothing come to replace it?
Hate, despair, regret, jealousy, where are my weapons, my artillery. I am too soft for them. I want to rage and ruin and instead I let him guide my hands away as the kettle clicks itself finished and he wraps me in such a gentle cage there aren’t even bars to throw myself against. He holds me tight to him and rubs his hand up and down my back and I say, How funny it is that we think a hand is safe as long as it is not a fist, and he doesn’t know how to reply so he kisses my head. I push him away, angry at the ease of it, the little fight he puts up against me. I have nothing to rail against and nothing to kiss and I do not know which is worse or if perhaps they are one and the same.
Belinda.... he sighs it out. She named me that because she liked the sound, I wish she had chosen a scream. I wish he had to charge my name like target, but instead I see his mouth wanting to forget it and perhaps, perhaps I do too. I wipe the coffee from the bench and start again. The kettle is already boiled but I push the switch again if only for a few minutes waiting, a few minutes of feeling like there is something I am waiting for. Even the kettle can’t sound a scream for me; I have had stolen all my edges.
On the bus: two young girls, one says, I’m just the kind of person who always has lots of change, you know? Nodding of agreement from the other, nodding isn’t enough, she has been given her opening
for definition and sure enough I dunno I’m more kind of like, only carrying my card around, you know? The thrill is in the fact that they don’t know, they are baiting each other with their own uniqueness, flashing teeth and fingers.
I wish I had a kind of person to be. I’m the kind of person who, do I always have change? I haven’t changed in years though I know that’s not the question sincerest apologies I am obfuscating by nature and ! I’m the kind of person who obfuscates no something wrong with that, obfuscates in that tense is not me, not at all thank you
The bus has stopped. Sometimes (always) I think of staying on. Letting it take me until its end but even then it must go somewhere, must wait for its next trip, surely I could see where I go, staring out the window or at heads and shoulders in front of me has a nice suspension in it.
I need a kettle that screams, is what I say, but she only stares at me blankly. You know, I try and help her, though she should be doing the helping, one of those ones that makes a noise when it’s ready.
She looks younger than my water filter. What a stupid thing to think, was it in a t.v. show I saw? A line I stole well ha ha your cynicism will be the laughter of you.
The kettles are over there, ma’am, and ma’am now? I’m not a ma’am, never been a ma’am, Belinda I want to say and smile as though my kitchen is a show home she could learn from.
I’m the kind of person who
what? I should say it, practice, I could I’m the kind of person who is called Belinda
there must be a something in all that mayhem of creation in your scatterbrain brain, there must be I’m the kind of person who locks the front door
everyone, everyone, everyone does/is everything! kind of person nonsense, all of it
I’m the kind of person who
I’m the kind of person Person kind of I’m
I’m the kind
I’m a kind of person! Red tunic neck framing the indulgent surprise on her oily youth face, I should smile like I didn’t mean it, or did, or what? Kettles! I need a kettle to scream, to me! Fuck—