The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
I have to fall in love with someone else, marry someone else, perhaps he will have children, grown up children, so that me not having to have children won’t be such a tragedy and I won’t be in love with a ghost like I have been for the past twelve years. But you, your memory Robert is so vivid, and it’s like rain. It doesn’t hurt and I can still see you smiling and all I can do is ask myself why it won’t go away.
I mean it is not as if boys have not come to the house (handsome boys with beautiful hair and striking eyes and all they want to do is talk and talk and talk, all I have to do is listen, which is the easiest thing in the world to do with people who are in love with themselves and all I want to do is escape back into the past, back to you, back to the streets of Johannesburg, that winter, that autumn).
All I can think about is you all the time now. I’m not the same and you’re not the same and you have a life and I don’t. You can stay up all night and I need routine. You have a family. I covet one. You won’t talk to me even in my dreams and I try to forget about the time when my life was perfect and I had it good and I had a friend who made me laugh and forget that I was sick, sick of being sad, sick of being different, lonely. Did you ever want an ordinary life? I was never a good time girl. I was never the girl who was ever going to be good enough for you, good enough for your family, good enough for your image. It’s funny when you love a person, all, and I mean all the details come together and I’ve had a long time to think about those details. Oh, the planning that went into it, how it all came together. Marry someone else, that was a good idea, but I didn’t want to do that because who would put up with me, with the suicidal illness, who would know when I had to take this and when I had to take that, that I had to take long, invigorating walks and hot baths, have a cat or a dog.
You must have been quite extraordinary, quite extraordinarily perfect, charismatic, wise and beautiful, sensitive and fiercely intelligent, brutal, violent, aggressive, domineering, an introverted leader (oh men can be beautiful too, lots of things, fine things) to have left such an impression, muse, on me, my psychological framework, on someone so young, so inexperienced. I don’t want to love anyone else really. There. I said it. You are just going to have to put up with me from now appearing and then disappearing from your life from pages in books, from poetry, from newspapers and magazines, disappearing quickly from view, from landscapes that I’ve created in my own imagination, painted there as if you’re my possession if only for a while and that’s more than enough for me. You see, for a short period in time, months really you gave the world to me and nobody has ever done that for me in my life (I’m not that young anymore and I’m tired of waiting around for somebody else to come around and repeat what you did), usually I’m just the quiet, invisible one, the Outsider, the introvert and that was always just fine by me. I don’t want you to see me like this. Times have changed and I have changed with the times.
I had no idea what desire meant, being the second sex, feminine and pretty (all those words just sound so lovely, don’t they). I was so young when I met you. I was very cowardly, didn’t follow my instincts all the time, wasn’t very tough, didn’t have guts but I have never forgotten you. I want you to know that even now after all this time. I don’t want you to see me like this. I’m not strong enough to face the world on my own again, to take the world head on. Have you noticed yet how I speak with less arrogance than I did twelve years ago? I’ve learnt so much, mostly from you. I did learn a lot from you, you know that and there were times when you were kind, very kind and patient with me. I am tired of trying to love the world so much. Sometimes of caring too much too because the world is so cruel and dangerous filled with greedy sharks, hungry lions and tigers but I still dream and some nights I dream of you but more I think of the memory I still have of you. And the memory is brilliant. The memory I have of you is so bright that it burns my eyes and it hurts to breathe (funny how the plain and simple things in life that happens to you when people are kind to you makes it hurt to breathe). I must need you somehow. Isn’t it the subconscious talking when you dream? It’s like I’ve inherited something wonderful from an otherworldly place when I think of you.
I only know of course of how to hurt people not to love them because it is all I have come to know of life, of family life, of the planet, the environment around me but plants and animals are different in a way and I think you know that too. Once I wanted to be perfect, when I was younger, when I wasn’t sick, the wheel, the fine and intricate web of my brain’s navigational compass, all those fine threads coming within a width of not being taking lovingly cared of. I didn’t know what the meaning of the word love was until I met you twelve years ago. Love is like driftwood. When positioned in the craftsman’s hands it is precious cargo. If it wasn’t for you I still wouldn’t know very much about the world. I would not know what love and independence is, how strong a man can be as he takes up his position in the workplace day in and day out slaving away for a wife, his children and family, his community and what is at stake if he loses it all. I would still be sad and lonely if I had not met you. I would still feel vulnerable among all those good time girls shooting up all around me with their feathery, perfumery hair. I have lungs. I have wings. I have uncovered knowledge and intuition and walked towards the light in the blue sky. Yes, I have a dose of light in my heart, a raw energy. I am a new woman. Look at me now. I write novels. What is love? I look at my parents who sleep in separate beds and I see love. I look at my brother and his pregnant girlfriend and I see love. Once you were mine, how could I ever forget you, your smile, your laughter, your hunched shoulders, your neck, your dark, dark hair unexpected as you turned to look at me.
You told Louise how I made tea for you. What is love anyway? Does it mean taking care of a person who is in need of care, who is sick, who needs love, who needs treatment? This is enough. To have you at a safe distance is enough where you cannot see how I’m wasting away. Where you cannot see the dance of a nervous breakdown in my nerves, dopamine and serotonin winging away in my brain’s centre, the secret diary of lithium (that magic salt), of how it lined my blood vessels once, the internal of my physical body until I gave up, surrendered, quit. Where you cannot hear what I can hear, the song of caged voices that want to crush my spirit and where you cannot see what I can, the hallucinations, moving Technicolor bright lights, and all I want to do is sleep it off or read a book or soak in a hot bath while watching the bathroom mirror steam up and my hair grow damp at the nape of my neck. How I miss the old me but I often ask myself who was she, this dream catcher, dreamy Lolita, skinny, skeletons in the closet? What did she comprehend of the world around her, was it a tranquil paradise? I’m ashamed now. Please don’t look at me. I don’t think I could stand that, my heart being X-rayed. I just wanted to write this down to let you know that someone very far away is thinking of you, the dream of you.
This is your atmosphere and I don‘t belong. Cowards don’t belong here and the sick, the raging lunatics who cannot string lucid words together when they are hypomanic. I have adjusted to not being around people, crowds, foot traffic, rush hour, cars. I much prefer rivers, lakes, streams, pollution (breathing in the ash, the cigarette or smoke from the factories, the industrial side of town where they manufacture cars and tires, where there is a chocolate factory and one that makes ice cream side by sides, you see this is where I live now, still and composed). I believe in God now, in writing, the wisdom of my mother, the words, and deeds of my father so I honour them. I believe in going to church and reading my bible. I stay up all night. I don’t watch horror movies anymore and the dream world of the dead or old films about zombies. They terrify me. I don’t engage with people. They terrify me. Their ‘desire’ terrifies me. How they want to abandon their inhibitions. How they have the audacity to think they have the right to live without limits, that they have no flaws, how they can do what they like and that they think they are beautiful because they are loved when nobody has told them so first. You’re beautiful because you are loved. Many have waited my whole life to hear those words.
I don’t believe in love stories but I watch them anyway. Sometimes I’m moved to tears. Sometimes I laugh because I connect with the characters. I can relate to them even though I have only been in love once in my short life. I guess once is probably enough to get you through a lifetime. By now you have moved on and I have moved on. Your ghost is still here. You have people-in-which-a-world-awaits. I have ‘my little family’ (the abstract, performance, my characters and the metaphors in my poems, of course my library, all my books that I’ve collected over the years). Instead of you I have Rilke. I much prefer the sound of silence after the role that conflict has played in my life, my childhood, my personality development. I much prefer the sound of rain, nature, birds. I much prefer the sound of silence in my bedroom, in all of the interiors of the house, and if the television has to be on then it must be on the news channel but low so that it can feed my subconscious but not loud so that it makes a noise. I have learnt how to control my emotions. I know how to sit quietly in a room, in a dream-stance but not dreaming, rather meditating. Meditating on a mantra, or chakra and realising what drives those intensifying factors of humanity, social cohesion in communities across Southern Africa, what truly is the meaning of sensing the accumulation of loss, the initial conflicting emotions that rise up in your head when you experience grief, the serious personality, the relevant opinion and of course the foundations of the behaviour of someone (the readjusted personality) who has had to work very hard to get her life in order.
Robert, I’ve watched you from afar my whole life and it finally feels like an enormous weight off my shoulders, a weight that I really should never been allowed to carry in the first place. You never came to me. What does to long for company mean? At best you tolerated me. I can see that now with clarity and I can smile too. You were a traced dream, a psychological invention that I remembered when I needed direction towards a goal. You don’t love me, not like that, in ‘that way’. Seriously what was I thinking, so young, so brave, with already those unbalanced patterns gathering, sharpening themselves, weaving a magic spell inside the hotness, brightness of my mind’s eye wasting your time? In fact just being a terrible waste of everybody’s time. Time passes. Memory changes in an instant. Here’s the thing. I worshiped you. I dreamt of you all my life. And each night you are a different person. You have a different name, face and I encounter you in a different place. And every morning I brush it all off, put away the ancient like it was dust.
© Abigail George Oct 2013
Shut the door. Shut out the quiet light. Tell yourself to swim away from the tigers with arms pillars of smoke. One day I will find myself in a forest without men, without huntsmen and warriors, nomads and ghosts that burn all hours of the day and night
Smile Daddy Please!
I was born into the wild of this country. A wilderness of steel wasteland; sky and street shadow me like the white sun, yellow moon, star Hiroshima, moon Nagasaki people, thumbprints trapped on pages of long overdue library books
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