The Imaginarium

Rants, ramblings, stories, and all other crap.

Baby Steps

There are five sticky notes on the wall at the other end. I can’t see what’s written on them but I know what they say. They state the days: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Each day is followed by the same thing. The initials of a client and the words I’m supposed to ghostwrite for the book, broken down in baby steps. If I stick to them, I will get the work done on time.

The days are going by so slowly, so fast. It feels like the days of my life are levels in a game. A fake blue sea on the screen of an iPhone 6+, tiny yellow cartoony islands with red dashes connecting them. I am a boat, and each day I am on a new island. The islands are infinite but I can’t look back at the ones in the past or the future, just the four islands fixed on the screen. Somehow, the boat is always on the second island, then the third island which becomes the second, and so on. There is no transition or the boat sailing slowly to the next island. There’s just Xanax. Today I’m on the second island, tomorrow I’ll Xanax on the third. I open the screen and the boat is on the next one.

I know this is a bad call, but I can’t put up with myself. It happens so suddenly, I don’t know what hits me. It happens everyday. Suddenly my mind goes haywire and the child is there, tugging at my shirt. Suicide, suicide, suicide, he says. He tells me how to do it. He’s smart and gives me the best methods, then practical methods, then the easy methods, then he finds the flaws in his own methods. So I take a Xanax to shut him out, to shut my mind out, to shut the world out. Hours will have passed and the boat will have appeared on the next island by the time I wake up. That works for me.

The only other thing that works is reading. I read as much as I can while I have the energy. It keeps me distracted, focussed on another life. Then I’m tired and the child is there.

I can’t eat. It used to be different. I used to not get hungry at all so it wasn’t a problem. Now I get hungry but I can’t eat. Eating takes so much effort and strength, strength that I don’t have. It drives me mad, tearing morsel after morsel of roti, dipping it in the gravy, lifting my hand to my mouth, putting it in my mouth, chewing a little, pushing it down, repeating over and over. The OCD fails here. I don’t finish the roti. I give up. Tired, I stop eating while hungry, obsessively wanting to finish the roti, giving up anyway. Fuck it. Xanax. I’ll Xanax my way out of it.

I wake up, have a cigarette, and fall asleep again. Then I wake up and repeat. Then I wake up and stay awake, trying to work but not working till it is time to Xanax again. I try watching things but nothing holds my interest. TV is boring, music is noise, movies require too much concentration.

In the back of my mind there is home I long to return to. It is at the very edge of the forest, a 10-second walk. It is a wooden cabin, safe from everything, no dangers exist. Inside is a sofa and a fireplace, a bedroom with a bed with a lot of quilts and blankets. It’s cold and snowy and the forest is green. Right outside the cabin is my own garden where I grow my food, and inside the cabin are the books on a table by the three-seater sofa. It’s heaven.

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Broken Mirrors – 1

Writing Prompt: Broken Mirrors

I wrote this a while back and haven’t gotten around to finish it. The story gets far too complicated for me and I can’t do it justice just yet, so I’m leaving it at that. Let me know your thoughts.


“You’re beautiful,” she said to her reflection in her thick Pashto accented English—it was one of the few sentences she knew in the language. Then she planted a kiss on the mirror, leaving a garish orange stain.

Palwashay had always known she was beautiful. She was a princess, she was sure of it. She certainly dressed like one. She owned more clothes than anyone in the family, had more cosmetics, and even had photos of herself. She had dolls as well, cheap knock-offs. Being the youngest sibling and the only girl among nine siblings, she had been everyone’s favorite.

They always dressed her in princess-y dresses of all colours: dull green, bright blue, flashy red, plastic pink, fire orange, etc. She never went to school, and when she asked why that was, she was told that princesses don’t go to school. The answer satisfied her and she never really asked again. Why wake up early and go to school when you can watch princess movies on the CRT TV? Even her TV was grand, unlike those flimsy and small flat screens that others had. She had a huge collection of cassettes of Hindi dubbed Disney movies.

Her parents loved her, her brothers doted on her, and all the relatives brought something for her whenever they came. The calendar, the clothes, the kajal, the dry fruits, the bucket of ghee, the carpet, the shawl, the topi, etc., were all hers. Everything, masculine, feminine, and neutral that was brought into the house was hers. Of course, she didn’t always get to use that stuff, but it was all hers.

She ‘knew’ she was a princess because that’s all she had ever heard in the supposed castle she lived in; a castle she had never set foot out of, much like Jasmine. But Jasmine had run away once, a mistake that Palwashay knew, without ever being told, would have grave consequences.

She was a princess until she turned twelve. She was hitting puberty, her body was changing, and the men in the house had started avoiding her. Her brothers no longer let her sit with them and watch tv, her father no longer wanted her around when he sat in the courtyard with his friends, and her mother never wanted her setting foot outside the front door.

As years went by, the rules kept getting stricter. She had started to understand why Jasmine fled, but since she had started watching things from real life on the tv, she knew the world she lived in wasn’t as safe as Agrabah. Her mother told her to stay away from the windows; her brothers told her to get away from the windows whenever they saw her near one; they were kinder at first, then bland, then harsh.

The house started filling up as her brothers got married, and by the end she was sleeping with her mother in the living room. She saw her new sisters welcomed into the family, treated like princesses in the beginning, allowed to do their own makeup and wear nice clothes—another thing she was no longer allowed to do—and then succumb to the castle, to this harem.

The shy smiles were soon replaced with a blank expression, the makeup with bruises. The clothes they had brought would no longer fit so they had all settled on simple, loose dresses, and it was better that way—easier than always shuffling clothes that wouldn’t fit a stomach that changed shape all year round, every year. The new home always becomes ordinary eventually, and it no longer matters what you wear inside.

She had seen them all, every one of them succumb to the same fate. The smiles, the happiness, the disappointment, the hurt, the pain, and the bland expressions until they all finally resigned themselves to fate. Palwashay had a lingering feeling her future would be no different.

She used to watch Fashion TV, back when she was allowed to watch TV, and she knew that faces like hers were rare and exotic; all the models looked like her. But then similar faces had filled her house and she was no longer so rare.

*****

The Unravelling

The spotlight was on. They walked one after the other, all of them stunning. But she stopped the show. She wore a well-fitted loose gown, and you could tell she was the only who could carry it; she must be blue-blooded somewhere down the line. A look at her face and you’d forget every girl you’d ever seen before. The other girls walked the earth proudly, heads held high. She walked with the earth beneath her feet. She knows, she understands, she has it all figured out. I forgot to blink and breathe the moment I set my eyes on her ethereal face. My heart ached as she turned around and left. I had to see her again.

Everyone left but I waited outside in my car, lighting one cigarette after another. Had to kill time somehow. Then I saw her come out, still beautiful. She slid into a fancy car and drove off. I followed.

She got off outside an average looking home. Must be visiting someone. I followed. I wasn’t being inconspicuous, I wanted her to know I was following her. I wondered what she sounded like. Was it like rose petals falling in the bloom when she opened her mouth? Her lips certainly were fresh and red like the most perfect rose you’d ever seen. You’d want to kiss her right there and then, but this was not my lechery, this was something more. But she seemed lost in her own world–or she was tired. She ought to be tired after a long day like this. She went inside and locked the door, and I hurried to find a window. Had to see her one more time.

A light turned on, I hurried to the window. It was the dining room. I saw her ghost as it disappeared back inside, her white gown trailing behind her. She set the table: plates, napkins, food, cutlery, drinks. It was quaint, dainty. A vase with brown roses sat in the middle, potpourri scattered around it. A candle near her, half-burnt, different shades of red, sparkling. The food looked delicious: a sumptuous feat. Such rich life!

I pressed my face to the window as she took a chair. She looked around. I know she saw me, but her eyes didn’t pause for a second around me. Was this usual for her?

She wrote on the napkin and got up. Tossed the napkin out the window and I caught it. She returned to her seat, limping on the way back. How exhausted are you, you perfect angel.

I unfolded the napkin and read. Was she talking about the food or her life?

She placed a heavy hand on the table, wiped her freshly-dusty fingers with her white gown. Dirty angel, smeared her dress. She took out the takeaway food, took a few bites without enthusiasm, threw the napkin across the table. The dry, wilted roses shook slightly, shedding a few more petals for the potpourri. Now they looked ugly, an aged man with half his teeth missing. I stood on my toes to get a better view. The candle didn’t have shades of red, it had a glorious ruby past. It had a faded-red present. The fire had gone out; no wick, just wax. Useless. Her feet bled, shards of glass on the floor; no one had bothered to clean up.

I should’ve taken a picture before and left, before her life unravelled. I look at the napkin as the wind begins to stroke my hair.

My food looks good, I know. But it tastes bad. I know because I’m the one who eats it.

I hand the napkin to the wind and leave. Another perfection ruined, another chance to envy lost.

my anxious heart

Unlocking The Doors

Writing Prompt: Gate to Infinity

 

He used to love sleeping, the sloth that he was. He told himself constantly that he could be active whenever he needed to, but there was never a need; nevertheless, he reminded himself of his ‘active nature’ all the time. Deep inside, he knew that he didn’t really know, not anymore. He had changed.

 

The pitch-black darkness was when the delusions kicked-in (he didn’t believe in ghosts), the night no longer embraced him. The cozy bed had disowned him—he frequently woke in the middle of the night and could physically feel the presence of the new owner lying on the other side; he never dared turn and look. The presence was always around, ready to pounce. His world had changed.

 

At night, in the piercing fluorescent light, he would get in his bed and pull the duvet up to his head. Here, now, he could safely disappear and ignore the world. The light would keep the monsters out, although it would make it equally hard for him to sleep. Sometimes he would stare up at the ceiling, at the gate to infinity.

 

He was at the bottom, the gate to infinity at the top. It was kinda funny now, really, given that the gate had been there all along and he’d noticed it only recently. He’d just lie there, staring at the gate, wondering. It was getting frustrating now. Tantalizing, how the gate was so close, within reach, yet so far. And it made him think of his life, his own smallness, his finiteness. If only…

 

Every morning he would wake up and see the stranger in the bathroom. The mirror, too, had disowned him; the reflection wasn’t his. He remembered a time when he spent hours in front of the mirror, styling his hair, fixing his face. There were a few scars on his face that bothered him, but he had learned to ignore them, just like he had learned to love himself and his handsome face. He had studied the stranger’s face a few times, seen the same scars in the same places on his face. He knew what he saw wasn’t true, that the stranger in the mirror was indeed he, himself, but how can you deny what you repeatedly see with your own eyes? And now the stranger was always in the mirror, reminding him that every breath that he took was stolen; for every breath he took, the stranger would lose one. He could no longer look in the mirror, could not meet the stranger’s eyes. He was always ashamed, like a thief caught red-handed, a tomb-raider, or worse, like someone stealing from the helpless: those who could witness the crime being committed against them but could do nothing about it. He could no longer meet the eyes that were supposedly his own.

 

That’s how his day started. His smallness and shame were reflected in everything he did, and in everything he didn’t, or couldn’t, do. Such was every waking moment of his life. The fantastic dreamland that he once owned, one he could always retreat to and find solace in, had been pillaged. Dark clouds had taken over it, all sorts of wicked beings had found home there, and waking up with a start every night, his palms clammy and his heart pounding, was now routine.

 

Until he decided to collide head-on with the storm. He would no longer cower or fear, hide or bow. He could do this, he knew he could. Suddenly everything started to make sense, this was what he was destined to do. He looked back on his life and realized that everything had led him to this moment, and now was the time.

 

It was an hour to midnight. He unlocked his room’s door, it required no key. He unlocked the main door of the house, the key was in the lock. With only a few bucks in his hand, he went to the place that held the key he needed. Even at this hour, the shopping district was teeming with people going about their business. He walked a short distance and went down a flight of stairs to the basement. The place was dingy and depressing, the paint chipped off in places on the only wall that was visible; the others were covered with shelves. This is where the key was. He traded the money he had for the key. It was that easy.

 

On his way back, he could feel the wind embrace him. All the years of his life started weaving a cocoon around him. He felt empowered and, for the first time in months, he felt sure. He knew what he was doing. He held the key in his hands and he knew how to use it.

 

He got back inside the house and locked the main door, the key was still in the lock. He went to his room and locked the door from the inside, it required no key. Now was the time to use the key he had bought.

 

He unwrapped the key, uncoiled it, and untangled it. The gate to infinity didn’t work like a normal gate, there was no unlocking mechanism; it was a portal. He prepared the key and fastened it around the gate. The key had a small opening, hanging in the air for his head. He placed a chair on the bed and climbed on it, putting his head through the opening in the key, and kicked the chair. The instant the chair fell, the key began working on opening the portal. He started not toward a new direction, but a new dimension, to a still infinity.

 

He went to sleep one last time, not on the bed that disowned him, but above; above the bed that he had now abandoned forever.

 

The Tugs And Pushes

How do I explain this? Nothing is wrong, not really. All hope is gone; not lost, gone. With resignation, without expectation and hope comes a reluctant acceptance. There’s no disappointment anymore because there’s nothing to be disappointed about. You don’t hope or expect anymore.

So how do I explain it? You are a logical person, you want to know the reason, and I have none. I can’t explain it. But it sucks, this literal feeling.

You are fine. You are completely okay. Then suddenly you are aware that your heart is beating, and it’s not a pleasant feeling. You need to suck in air loudly every few minutes. Your chest is getting tighter. Who knew a beating heart could suck this much? You try to distract yourself, but you are imploding. You can’t focus anywhere outside of yourself when your heart is constantly making you feel itself beating. You start collapsing internally, the outside world out of focus, zooming in into yourself.

“What? Sorry, I wasn’t listening. Say it again.”

I hear you now. I heard what you said. I remember every word you said, but I just can’t make a sense of it. Was that a question? Do you want me to say something?

Take your meds. This sucks, I hate taking my meds. I pop the pills. It will take time to kick in. Then there’s a tug at your heart. Something tugs at it constantly, continuously pulling it down. This feeling…shove needles into your heart to calm it down. Give me some horse tranquilizer. Heart, stop beating, please! I beg you.

There’s the fan. Wanna kill yourself? It will suck, I am willing, I don’t care. I want out of this. This sucks. This shit sucks.

Random Questionnaire!

Who was your last text from? Some clothing store.

What’s your profile picture? A selfie.

What’s your middle name? Don’t have one.

Your current relationship status? Single.

What is your current mood? I don’t know. Confused, maybe?

If you could go back in time and change something, would you? I suppose, but I’d rather not think about it.

Do you have a crazy side? I am crazy. I have a normal side, I think.

Ever had a near death experience? Only if you count the suicide attempts.

Angry at anyone? No.

Do you wanna see somebody right now? Not really.

When was the last time you cried? June, 2015.

Who would you do anything for? No one.

Who is your hero? A better version of myself.

What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex? I don’t know, I don’t really look at people.

Do you still watch kid movies or TV shows? YES!

What are you eating or drinking at the moment? Green tea.

Have you ever lost a friend? Pretty much lost them all, but then they weren’t really friends, so.

If you could have one wish come true what would it be? Death.

Describe your life in one word? I don’t have a life.

Do you still have feelings for an ex? Respect.

Do you like the rain? Yeah.

What are you thinking about right now? This questionnaire.

What should you be doing right now? Work.

Who’s your last call from? My BFF!

What are you listening to? Coldplay.

Who was the last person you told “I love you” to? My BFF!

Who was the last person you yelled at? LOL! I’d rather not talk about it.

What is your eye color? Black.

Who was the last person to make you smile? My BFF!

Is there one person you can tell anything to? Yes, my BFF!

Last movie you saw in theaters? Mockingjay Part 2.

Favorite store you like to shop at? Any bookstore.

Where do you want to live? Iceland, but with snow in it.

Have you changed much since high school? Duh!

Have you ever slapped anyone? Back in school once.

What are you watching? Nothing.

Who do you look up to? No one.

Favorite author? Lisa O’Donnell

What will win your heart over? My heart is dead.