Writing and I are ‘on a break’. So this week’s flash fiction is from Ms. Creepy-Lovely herself (no, not Amanda Palmer, but close. Sooo close), Sile Englert.
Fish and Chips
Her words are stream of consciousness. Sensible, nonsensical, prying into my white world. I know you, you’re Annie. You’re that girl from high school, right? You had red hair, though. Red’s not my favourite colour. Do you remember my favourite colour, Annie? She says I have Annie’s eyes. Then she gets angry, grabs my arms and makes me face her, yelling that I’d better give them back or she’s going to tell. I wonder sometimes whether she’s putting it all on. Nobody could really be that… could they? But she’d have to be an absolute genius to pull off the fountain of words that spews from her mouth hour after hour. More thoughts than could ever fit in anyone’s head, so they have to get out. What I think would happen if I ever really opened my mouth. She’s here, in my room again, without permission, without knocking. She wants to borrow a hammer and some nails. In this place where we are barely allowed pens and pencils and have to eat with plastic knives and forks. She explains. For a collage she’s made. About to hang it on the wall in front of the nurse’s station. That’ll fuck’em, won’t it, Annie? Show them what’s what. What. What. What? What are you talking about? About all this, this is crazy town. I just need nails and snails and pails and—fuck! Her face scrunches up in something that looks like pain; the words keep coming but they’re muffled by her fists grinding at her mouth. I just want her out. But her words keep coming. Short and long, up and down the syllables spill like the blood that follows the exacto-blade at your wrist. I understand. The words: they pour. Spew. Dribble. Drop. Flow. Bleed. Just bleed. Her words bleed all over my room and fill it up over the blankets on the bed so that I’m forced to wade through them. Shut up, my thoughts are begging, shut up, but she keeps going. How much I look like Annie and aren’t I Annie and do I remember that Science teacher from high school? Mr. Robles. Remember him, Annie? He used to pace the room when he talked, like this, see, back and forth and back and forth and tapped his fingers on his belt buckle like this, see, like this, tap tap tap, tap tap tap. I flinch. I don’t have a hammer. Please, get out of my room. The constant flow of sound makes me nervous, uncomfortable. Scared, sometimes, so unpredictable. No way to know what direction she’ll go in next or how many directions at once. Who she’ll be or even who you’ll be. It’s exhausting. The nurse comes in at some point. And the little rainbow of powders are mixing with my blood and sneaking through my veins like when someone dumps chemicals in an unspoiled river. Almost unspoiled. Feel my eyes drooping. Standing up too long. In front of my bed, defensive, guarding my space but for too long and now my wrist is throbbing. I cradle it to my chest, silently coddling the infection and the bandages slowly soaking with green pussing liquid over days. What did you do to your arm, Elaine? Now I am Elaine. Alright then. The same thing that you did to yours, I say, and I grab at her wrist, encircling it with pale fingers that feel suddenly strong. I tear the bandage off my own, with barely a wince when it rips away sick skin that had stubbornly started to heal. I pull her arm until it’s parallel with mine, a mirror image of damage that leaves one side aged and allows the other its youth. And I hold out the wound that looks as though it could very likely heal into this woman’s own scar. I’m not Annie, I said. I’m not Elaine. I’m here because I’m as crazy as you are. Now get out of my room. Fuck, she yelled, fuck you. Fuck you anyway, Annie. You were always such a bitch in high school. I’m going back to my knitting. I’m going down to the river to go fishing. Do you know any good place around here to go fishing? I really like fish and chips, they never seem to serve that in here. I sigh. Drop my arm to my side where it scrapes painfully on the stiff, white pyjama pants. They serve fish and chips every Wednesday at five-thirty.