Many years ago, I was working with a partner on a book called The Truth About Pubs in York, which ended up not working out. But I recently found my chapters from the project, and I still love the theme and the chapters, and I want to share them. It's always been there, in the back of my mind, to finish the project because there were so many things in it that works for me. Also, reading this, you may find some familiar names. The idea was to kind of play with roles and fantasy and take an honest approach to oneself as one is as well as an approach to one's own fantasy, perhaps stepping into a self-indulgent area. I'm not naming my partner here, but if there is a wish for name changes, I am happy to do some re-editing.
My hand trembles. There is a pain in my ankle, but I cannot recall the reason for it. Marion is low, depressed and it means that I am too sad and in despair. The weeping warrior is with us, searching for the lost Amy, who apparently has vanished from the world. So much for helping those two. Where the hell would that girl go, if she is so in danger? The girl I never laid.
There is a song back home, which entwines with my thoughts. I always hear it sung by children, for some odd reason. They sing of the prosperous future that awaits us all, but they sing from the human view, which is perhaps not so joyous.
‘You will never be yourself again.’
I don’t know why I mention it, it is hardly important. I only know that stalking the slick streets at night searching for Amy is eating at my conscious. We find the drunks and homeless camouflaged with the shadows, like the monster in the ending of the film ‘Alien’. The city, it sleeps.
My breath filters air into smoke, and I think about the humans, whom I hate so much adrenaline pumps in every limb, and I feel sorry for what they are and for what they are to become. I’m sure this is mirrored from Marion’s mind. These thoughts cannot be rooted in my own.
We saw Amy’s flat empty, and the streets are so equally vast and heart drenching. I gave that bitch Malin a good telling-off for losing trace of her. It was an argument which gave that sensation of victory even in loss, though without settlement on who’s to blame I came out glowing.
She’s wearing heels, hooker heels, spiky, evil and dangerous. Her feet are small and delicate, perfected with slender toes and withering nail varnish. I guess it feels like my soul, that black varnish, first applied so carefully with layer upon layer and then simply left; to break and chip and die.
-We can hardly move quietly with you along, weeping warrior.
-Believe me, with those humps under your cloaks we are more invisible with my shoes. People only look at me. And I am used to dirty looks.
Marion shifts uncomfortably. We turn toward Micklegate and I wonder to myself how Malin is supposed to climb down the hill in those shoes. And true enough she struggles, but remains poised and dignified. It only confirms her true age. I can see her as a magnificent man, working in fields oozing smoke. It makes me think of that Finnish painting by Eero Järnefelt, only judging from her clothing it must have taken place long before Järnefelt touched a paint brush. I can see her in Victorian dressing, on a ship in storm, clutching to the rail. Water spraying across her clothes (and I picture her stiff nipples shining through the white fabric), poisonous dagger by her side. Is this how Marion remembers her? I must take an opportunity to ask.
I reckon that the warrior is not as useless as I presumed. She knew healing methods for my jaw and nose. They’re now corrected if still so swollen and tender.
And then as if she had heard my thoughts she asks:
-Why did you provoke Digger like that? Is it a masculinity thing?
-I don’t like the man.
-You impregnated his wife?
-She has a thing for me. It was no challenge to lay her and even less in charming her.
Why the fuck am I talking to the warrior?
-Because I could.
-You do realize you hurt him. That betrayal will always be with him.
-The betrayals, Marion adds. Malin looks at me, but there is very little in her eyes. My misery instantly grows. I can’t see why it should, but it does. Nothing bothers me, I am an honoured assassin, and forever connected with my companion. There is not a much higher rank to achieve.
-I don’t know how many times I fucked the bitch, okay! It doesn’t matter. Digger is a prick, he deserves a little bit of betrayal every now and again. Wouldn’t want the boy to get soft!
I laugh, and a woman in front of us startles. She stares back with glassy eyes. Her stripy shirt is a little torn, and I expect she paid a lot of money for that detail. She quickly ushers away, the mini skirt gliding up her wobbly thighs. I feel an instant hatred toward the human race again.
-Poor man, Malin says. She stops in the street and inhales.
-There is someone by The Cock and Bottle. Her breath steams, obscuring her face.
-It is probably Digger. We don’t want to meet him, Marion says. Malin shuts her eyes. She looks peculiar in the street light. I can suddenly see all of her freckles. That Scandinavian kitten knows the wind. I bet she knows the humidity. Water seems important to her. The elves of Russia were strange in their time. Perhaps it is a kind of culture shock.
-It is not Digger.
A girl sits in front of the door to The Cock and Bottle. She rocks back and forth, comforting herself. There is vomit next to her. Her hair is an exquisite red, her leather jacket smells of cigars and weed. She’s missing a shoe, and I find that she has carved ‘Dimmu’ in the flesh of her leg. The wound is fairly fresh. Marion kneels down to her.
-She’s only fourteen. Wonder what she’s doing out this late, the poor reject?
I join him. Malin keeps a distance. I lift the girl’s head gently by the jaw. Her eyes are tightly closed shut.
-What’s wrong with you?
She’s keeps quiet. But I demand an answer. I slap her across the cheek, so hard that she falls over. I rip her up and shake her, and she bends awkwardly and spews bile by her side. She’s shaking now.
-What do you want, she mumbles, drying her lips with her sleeve. Though she is tired and fantastically wasted, she’s enraged. I don’t sense a fear of any kind.
-I know who you are. You fucking demons!
-The popular misconception.
-My brother’s gonna kill you! He’s seen you, and he knows how to destroy you! I’m not scared of you.
-That’s another usual misconception. You should be scared.
I’m not sure what to think. Plastering her blubbering words together equals the assumption that she might actually be involved in this mess. But then again she might be bluffing.
-Who’s your brother then?
-The Green Warlock!
Now both Marion and I start laughing. We mock her, she responds by scowling and insisting that her brother’s powerful.
-She’s quite genuine, if somewhat exaggerating, Malin says, appearing from the dark, her arms crossed over her chest. Her sluttish dress (short and black) slips up an inch as she does, but her thighs are far from wobbly. The girl freaks out. I mean, she’s screaming and crawling away, chattering nonsense.
-My God, it’s you! It can’t be, it can’t fucking be, I want off this trip now, take me to ’ospital! For fuck’s sake, help me God, help me! She screams, whimpering in our grip. We look at the warrior.
-Shush, Serena, Malin says. She settles as if Malin’s voice was a tranquilizer. I can’t stop thinking if the warrior’s actually suggesting that we should worry over a green warlock. Now that’s ridiculous.
It’s her turn to kneel in front of the girl. She takes her face between her palms.
-I’m real. I’m here, and you’re no longer lost. Now tell me, what has your brother done?
-He calls himself ‘The Green Warlock’. He brought the moon to wake the old ghosts.
Her voice is thin but clear. She sounds like a machine.
-The moon does not bend for a man. Malin’s voice is steady.
-That’s what he said he did. I don’t know how, but he has set ghosts over the city. He says the demons are to take over the world and he won’t allow it.
-Oh, so he sets out ghouls to save the world, I state. Not a very smart move.
Serena looks at me, her eyes empty and I fall into despair again. Why are people looking at me as if I don’t exist? I look at my trembling hand again, to confirm it’s still there.
-Ghouls? The child asks weakly.
-Marda, silence from you.
I glare at Malin, but I can see that she has a point. And for some reason at that moment I love her intensely, dubious of my previous feelings. But the feeling vanishes as quickly as it appeared. I think I’m fucked in the head. It’s throbbing now.
-Serena, she says. You know me, and I know you. You’re brother is lost in his doings, it will end him.
-If he dies, I die with him.
-I know you will. Now you will be my eyes and ears, you will betray your brother.
-I will not.
Her voice is fading into sleep, not knowing what she’s saying.
-So what news do you have for me?
-The barmaid Amy sleeps in her flat.
Marion startles. I too am shocked that the girl knows of this quest.
-But how can she, we were there earlier? Marion asks.
-She sleeps protected, using a veil to keep you from seeing her.
-How do we break this veil?
Serena starts laughing, a hollow sound.
-You knock and draw it aside!
-I know how to do it, Malin claims. I summon power from the mist. I should have figured this out on my own. Now sleep, Serenity. I will return to your mind. I will be your parasite.
Serena falls back, and she snores. Marion and I stare at Malin, demanding answers. What of the warlock, is he dangerous? What of the veil? And how the hell did she know this teenage wreck?
But all I can say is:
-How come she knew you?
Malin blushes, turns away ashamed.
-I have messed around in her head and dreams. I’ve spent time with her, I’ve fucked her, I’ve talked with her. Silly kid. Don’t know her own good.
I grab Malin’s arm. I’m angry because I realize that she has been manipulating me too, and who knows what comes from manipulation? Am I her zombie? But I simply ask:
-Do you mean that this warlock character comes because of you?
-No! she says, ripping herself lose. It must have been through him that I have been able to connect with her!
-What do you know of this magician? Marion asks, calmly.
-Not much. He is one of the few resurrected witch-men, but does not know how to handle the power, nor where it comes from. He must have had visions. I wonder which witch has been resurrected in him?
-What do you mean? Marion ties his hair back. His face is beaded with perspiration, steaming in the cold.
-It is an unfamiliar magic, not northern, that much I know. In fact I know very little of it, but I intend to find out. I doubt there will be much worry from him, or anyone else. They are mortals, and mortals are… limited.
I smile at her remark. The warrior’s cool, I must admit I’m taken by her cruelty and wisdom.
It is all very strange. Amy’s flat smells of fire and fresh incense but there’s no one there. Malin seems determined outside her bedroom door, shuts it (as we examined the room one more time) and stretches her arms out. She lets out a low tune, a note which grows and suddenly turns into a murmur. We’re quite vexed, not knowing what to think of it all. She starts banging on the door, in rhythm, harder, harder, until I begin to suspect the wood will break. Then, by an unknown force, the door swings open, slamming into the wall. Smoke pours out like lava.
-How could you do that? Marion asks, and it feels as if our eyes are about to fall out of our skulls.
Malin smiles. She calls Amy’s name, and there’s a shape stirring on the bed.
-I sleep behind veils too. No physical form can erupt there. You’re quite safe behind the veil, like a bride on the wedding day. Once removed the power fades, and you’re on your own.
She calls for Amy again.
-Anyone can hide behind the veil. Even an angel.
Marion and I take a step back as Amy rises, naked, from her bed. But it isn’t her nudity that perplexes us. It is her wings.
The loss of self-control is the loss of personality. The mirror reflects the truth but mine only shows lies. I am twenty-eight years old and I have moved seventy-three times during these years.
It all began when I was four, and my first placement was an institution for mentally unbalanced children. The time before that first move is white, but I insist that I never was insane. No, my solution for this particular placement was in the mentality of my parents. They, they must have been crazy.
The institution gave me little in the ways of teaching but it enhanced a sense of detachment. I remember occupying pale-coloured corners, observing the general nurse, whose focus was not on the other lost children but on the soap in her little telly box by her desk. And then I remember calm voices, which I can still sometimes hear in the state between sleep and awake. They have carved their sounds deep into my mind, scratched the surfaces of my eardrums.
Moving from institution to a home with a new set of parents I can recall the smell of baking on a Sunday. My following move was from kindergarten to school, and then reaching further levels and changing parts of the building, each time settling in only to soon move out again. I became the target for local kids which resulted in moving schools all together.
When I was sixteen I left my foster parents to study in a town two hours away. I visited at first, of course, and kept contact with my old friends. But aging acquaintances took their toll on me and as the friendship and parental dramas expanded I found other friends closer to my new home, and they came to replace the old ones. I found new mother and father figures, so I left the previous behind with my old life. I came to metamorphose into a new me, the change developing in my cocoon of observation reaching for conversation. It was exciting and fresh, my new companions smelling of flowers, my lovers pouring life juice which I sucked like a vampire, becoming their lives and adapting a personality I had not known was in me.
But then I came to the comfortable state where my metamorphosis reached its completion and I looked into the mirror where I only saw lies. My cocoon lay in pieces around me and I found myself bored with these people I had come to call parents and friends. And soon enough the drama took root and my attention drew to the map, where I had drawn lines across the country.
I moved again, using my old personality to grow a new one and enter the safety of my butterfly chrysalis again. But it was burst open when I found these new friends immediately cheating and that the drama, instead of breaking between them, targeted me. I left within months of moving to the place.
I stayed in my next location for over three years, but even here moved eight times between houses. The people remained the same, and this repeating metamorphosis created a weakness in me. I came to solve dramas between friends the best I could, I came to let myself cry when I was hurt, I came to recognize the pain and take myself through it. This was the strongest and certainly the strangest period of my life. It even took me to write a postcard to my foster parents, not leaving a return address. On a specific New Years Eve I rang my oldest friend, only to find that she didn’t recognize my voice. She remembered me after a while of convincing and said that everybody thought I had been murdered or abducted. ‘By aliens you mean?’ I asked, but she didn’t appreciate the joke.
I found that rooting for so long in the same tarmac dirt caused my latest personality to become predictable and I felt the need to fly. I signed up for another school, bored with the degree I had already achieved and bored with the whole place all together. I kissed my friends goodbye, remembering everything we had been through so that I could casually forget them. I promised to keep in touch and visit which was another well-worn lie, and one that I had told often before and had no plans to stop telling.
My new cocoon was rotten but moving around buildings I found a place to settle and observe, and yes, soon enough the cattle came and my new ‘me’ developed, re-incarnating my lies and thoughts and lives. It was here my first sense of despair whispered in that damned mirror, that first devastation of not having a true self and only being matter, putty clay to be formed by my mind’s fists that were rough from years of experience. The mirror had always told me lies but this time I didn’t know which one was lying, the mirror or me. I had to move again.
Getting emotionally attached was not something any of my previous personalities recommended but I thought it would be worth a try. I then was engaged to a gentleman of fine social status and a considerable amount of money. Financial stability was unknown to me, I had been used to sleeping on the floors of the people I had pestered long enough to be my friends and living off scraps until any meaningless job had popped up with a ‘Welcome to the Business’ note.
I attended important festivities and met with important people, behaving properly where required and most improperly where receptive. It was all very exciting, the most interesting role that I had played so far. In fact, it was so interesting I found myself planning means of destroying it.
Breaking someone else’s heart was easy considering how used I was to crushing my own, leaving bloody streaks on my hands and my mirror image shouting: Lies! Lies! Lies!
The only thing I left behind in that place was mirror shards on the floorboards.
My bag was dragging on the bus station floor leaving a trail of scum and pieces of my soul. I found that I was already over twenty years old and I could not remember my foster parents’ names. The baggage was stored in the compartment underneath the bus, on top of the wheel, vibrating into pus of recollection while the shell of me was sat inside the warm vehicle staring at the rain dragging over the windows. It was here another sense of desperation enclosed me, and I missed my old friends, from each place I had lived. With an aching heart and deprived presence I suddenly realized that I was crying like child and that the cold would not go away.
I took myself to a hospital as my lungs had appeared to have stopped filling with air when I inhaled, and there were black spots covering my eyes. I was forced to give them my original identity, the identity of a girl (and not a woman) I no longer knew and I no longer remembered but for a name. The doctor looked at my records and I knew she considered another mental institution, which I personally would not have minded. I could create life everywhere and when I was done I could leave. An institution was where this ability was born and that could be where it would die, as I would die by my last damnation of the mirror. Lies, Lies, Lies.
But the doctor said nothing of the place, and mentioned only anxiety and stress reducing methods. Her voice was calm but not like from my childhood. When a child grows up, the calm voices fade. So heaven had to wait.
I walked out the disinfected building feeling immensely dirty and lost and couldn’t recognize where I was. I usually took this as a good sign as I had no wishes to return to any past places or any past lives. But now it took a hold of me and I saw only mirrors everywhere, reflecting my lies telling me that I had lied so much that there never shall be a truth again. That I, on my own, had managed to ruin the course of the universe and I had to punish myself for it.
I paid a lot of money to leave that location as quickly as possible.
I settled into another cocoon with another gentleman and left after he had rejected me. Drama and human relationships had turned fierce now and I left with a black eye.
Next place was good.
Next was not.
And thus I lived my life, until now when I halt at yet another city. This bus station seems familiar though I am… pretty sure I have not visited it before. After travelling the connecting stations become hazy and fade, like the voices of my childhood. It is only in that state between sleep and real that I find excitement within these places again.
But awake it offers me little satisfaction and colossal paranoia. It seems like the travelling and resetting cocoon has become dramatized and I feel I need to be alone but cannot proceed with solitude.
I have forgotten my name and previous purposes but I know that now I have no purpose. I lie and lie and counterfeit personalities. I could write a million stories. Yet on these journeys I have never maintained a journal, no means of proof to confirm that these lives took place outside of my head. And I have forgotten cities, names, lives. I look at the timetables and it seems that I have visited every single location it displays. I can’t remember so I can’t decide where to connect and set up another cocoon. My wings are withered and I must be reborn but the final shell of what is me might not survive another metamorphosis. I observe parted lovers reuniting, there are flowers wrapped in shiny paper and great embraces.
My cheeks heat up, and my throat is ensnared. The journey is over, the travelling complete and what have I learned – only to forget?
I rush to the ladies’ and vomit heavily into the sink. Nobody gives me second glance; I must look like such a mess they would consider this behaviour frequent in my life. Perhaps it is, I no longer know.
I look into the mirror I don’t see lies or a shell. I can’t see myself. The person staring back at me has the wrong hair colour, surely? But she mimics my gestures and facial expressions. She is not me. So is the truth restored then, now when the lies are gone and been replaced by another canvas? But this is not an empty canvas for me to paint and create on. This one has already been finished and not by me.
I see myself shoving my clenched fists into the mirror and it breaks making the most awful sound and the shards cut into my wrists, searching for my veins where they would sink in and devour me whole, our deadly sexual act would be complete and the lie would be absolute.
But I look again and the mirror is whole; my arm immobile by my side. I’m not even bleeding where my teeth had sunk into my lips. There is no wound in me. But I feel like a black hole. And then I collapse.
My head throbs but I don’t think I’m seriously hurt. I keep my eyes shut, they feel swollen from crying. I must look like such a mess.
The voice is slightly familiar and I recognize that name from somewhere. It echoes far away, but doesn’t settle anywhere in my memory. It jumps from place to place bouncing off possible links to the verge of confusion.
I force my eyes to open and I see a woman of my age. There are a thousand names in my mind, shouting together but none of them are right.
‘Marianne?’ the woman repeats.
I sit up and look around and realize that I am where they call home, the first city that I left when I was sixteen.
‘I don’t know,” I tell this familiar stranger. ‘I could have been Marianne at some point. The loss of self-control is the loss of personality. And I don’t believe I ever had self-control. No, I don’t think so.’
‘Perhaps the aliens kept it?’
The woman smiles at me. I’m sure that I know her; I recognize her scent.
‘Perhaps,’ I say, and the throbbing in my head subsides.
is, amongst other things, a writer and illustrator. Her work consists of various renditions and interpretations of battles and thoughts that she meets on her road , scribbled and doodled down for therapeutic relief.
She has arranged and been part of several exhibitions in Finland and the UK, and has had work published with magazines such as Open Wide Magazine (on-line) and The Cadaverine (on-line, and in anthology 2009), as well as has been anthologised by Stairwell Books (Pressed by Unseen Feet, 2012). Alongside her writing she has also had illustrations published by The Finnish Tolkien Society (including wall calendar 2008) and in various magazines, and created illustrations for Lunar Path's Memento Mori album (Inverse Records, 2012) and for poet Steve Nash debut collection Taking the Long Way Home (Stairwell Books, 2013) - as well as having created a chapbook, which was sold in the Travelling Man comic book shop, in York. For full portfolio/artistic CV, drop her a line.
Also, please note that I keep all the rights to everything posted on this blog, so it is all COPYRIGHTED. Do not use anything without permission or I will Jihad your ass. Don't think that I won't cause I will.