The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction
The Wild Bird’s Progeny
In a doorway stands an entire choir of voices that bloom in an oblivion and not one of those voices belong to me.
Spread out like snow in a man’s playing fields, the sweetness in a child’s hair there lies the cold, winter, and sometimes guests in a hot garden. There is bloodletting and there is nothing that a child can do about it. Even prayers will not make it go away. I put up the fence. I am not ashamed of putting distance between people and myself who I do not see eye to eye with or people that I respect. What is this earth for if not to destroy it? People are becoming extinct and all I can say is this. That it was my responsibility to write about it. I can hardly wait to open the book. You tell yourself to live in order to make sense of the world around you. Lonely girls turn slowly at the bathroom mirror with their wise skinny legs.
To know that the romanticism, its contents and its vision is authentic, that is enough for me. Awareness comes later on. A sloppy morning it was but I worshiped it anyway. You are a racial battlefield post-apartheid South Africa. You, the interconnected, are the details of the mental faculties of female hysteria and male prejudice. I grasp a star. I am inspired by the struggles of the dead when they were alive and the living. My people are a scattering. For every person that I have loved I have also lost them. Carrying away from me by the currency of the sun and the tides of the moon. At the end of the day all people suffer from loneliness and what they do not understand is that they have more in common with the next person than they think. Suffering is the alpha and the omega of an artist’s life. Funny girl.
If you are a suitable person for love, it will always show in the end. There is everything wrong with stupidity and ignorance. Why would you want to be one of those people? Genocide was like rain once. It will probably be like rain again in the future. Here, I am talking about the near future (as soon as tomorrow). Humans have a hard time understanding genocide. They read about it. They think it is out of their hands. They think that there is nothing that they can do about it. I have news for you. They are crazy if they think that it has absolutely nothing to do with them. It has everything to with them. They seem to forget that they put that government in power. I have a mind but I need someone to minister to it, to lecture to it, to put it on a pedestal and worship it. I need you to be that shadowed persona.
Are you scared or self-conscious of the life that you are living? Do you know what you will do if there is a war tomorrow? The only place where violence declines is in your sleep but I am not even sure of that. I am hazarding a guess. The contents of my heart is like any other game. It seeks yours. You interrupted me but all I wanted to say is this. Goodbye. That is what stood between shattered glass and me. Goodbye and the exit out. The escape. Nobody speaks of the genocide in apartheid South Africa and I think that nobody ever will. I will try to illustrate this to you. What the depressed girl and woman thinks and feels. I will try to put it into words for you so that you can understand what it means at the heart of it all. It is a drowning life even when you are lying down on the couch with the cat in a foetal position.
It will almost feel as if you are drowning in the sea. The sea, a bleeding lion filled with your ancestors, well, it has its own illness. You have carried a South African illness from the time of your birth to the time of your depression. I go to the theatre for my spirit to see something significant. The painted drum can look rather frail like the socialites and earthlings in modern Southern African society’s looking glass but there is nothing delicate about it. When I want to travel, I visit a museum. I cannot see through the dark windows of desire (nor do I want to). You are my bittersweet echo. The last thing that I want is for that voice to disappear under pavement, under rain, under rotting leaves, under rubbish, filth and squalor. I know what gravity is now and it is the only thing that is keeping me down.
I do want to make amends with you because at the end of the day I still want to wake up beside you. I still wants us to be friends and lovers under a red-hot sky. I want both of us to know what is familiar about the other. Tell me, is that so wrong. You are what I fear most. You are attractive and beautiful at the same time. Let me share this with you. The only time it stops hurting, the fear I mean is when I fall asleep in your arms. I think that grief changes you in unimaginable ways. That is when you first realise ah, this is the point of no return or this is the turning point. Holes in the water. That is all I could see and fathom at the same time. Holes in the water and that was when I realised I was having an anxiety attack over losing you. Losing you, my best friend in the entire world and that there was no turning back now.
I do not want the signs that you are looking for, that you are leaving me for good. I only want to know that you will stay, that you will love me and call me your ‘good girl’ and say that I have lovely manners and all that. Nobody will tell you to concentrate on the friendship side of things with the male of the species and I have always wondered why this is so. Why our friendships with males cannot continue after the relationship ends. I know what rigidity is. I know what the meaning of ruse is. I should not though. I should not but I do. It is like a strange dance where I know I will triumph and survive above it all. I know I will triumph in the end even after you leave me, even after you betray me. I am that woman in the library stamping books day in and day out. I am that lover.
I am the female of the species who was left out in the cold. The girl who understands what Holocaust means to millions. Your arms feel like winter, you know. Praise me and you will plant a field. For me, Paris is my tears. In my tears, I find cities and faraway countries and that is enough for me. I do not yearn for visas and postcards from the edge. All you can observe and study is how the shadowed glam falls off me. I know I am pushing you to slap me very hard in my face and you will tell me afterwards that you did it out of love and I will believe you. This story of love does not make any sense. The man is a brute and the lonely girl in the picture is much too inexperienced to understand his unreason, his vulnerability and insecurity. She holds her face, her faith, her loyalty up to the light and hopes for the best.
The conversation goes back and forth in the dark. Pillow talk. Wisps of hair, cigarettes and half a bottle of wine. I think you love me. You are very much mistaken. I do not think that I love you. I admire you but I do not love you. You know whom I admire. I admire your wife who has to put up with you and all your lovers, your betrayal, your jest, your ghost stories and half-lies, king. Well, in the end, young woman we are all responsible for something. What are you looking at? You. I am looking at you. You can hardly see anything at the dark. Our wilderness history was beautiful but now it has ended. You are a Philistine. I am going to desert you now. Off to your house and your spoilt brats. I am afraid so. Off to my house and my spoilt brats. You are a young woman now. You must stop finding sorrow in life, in everything that you write about. You will not always be lonely and I have not completely ruined you, you know.
She can see the green feasts of the hills and the mountains from where she is sitting inside the taxi. For the next year, this will be her home with her aunt, uncle and her cousins. Daughters. They were uninterested in her life as much as she was in theirs. They would become wives and mothers and she would devote herself to the keyholes in all things concerning the psychological framework of psyche and intellect. I was dead there. I was dead in Swaziland. I woke up numb and went through days and nights like a zombie. I first began to write seriously here in a diary that my uncle gave me. He was kind. His daughters were not kind. My aunt was an alcoholic and every day she would walk around the house in a daze in a black dress. I knew I was close to death then every time I looked at my aunt. This spelled the end of me in a way but not of the depression.
I understood now what spiritual poverty meant. We went to the Catholic Church on the hill. We sat in the front row. I looked at the nuns and I pitied them because they were not real women. Real woman had progeny and a working class husband. My existence was a dream. I thought it would always be that way. Fear announcing itself. Me facing off the onslaught of surprise. I never had company as my cousins did. Boys. I was always writing and telling myself that it would be okay in journal entries. I would get through this and that I would make it. Stories in notebooks made me come alive and leave that zombie state of mind far behind. I was in awe of boys. I was in awe of everything about them. I was in awe of their physicality. Boys could wound you with a glance or a smile. They reminded me of shrinks. Therapists. Nausea.
The kind of boys who visited my cousins were the kind of boys I wanted to tell all my secrets too. They left me shriveled up like an autumn leaf. Their eyes were like moonlight. I was living. I was living but all I wanted to know was what my doppelganger on the other side of the world was doing. Swaziland was a hellish kind of territory. Of course, I was lonely. Sick to death of my own company and I longed for friendship and love. The lighthouse is the first proof of it. When you begin to dream about it. My notebooks reminded me of how lonely I had become. I fell in love with the kind of music they played in clubs (discotheques). I would lay on my back next to the radio and listen to it all day long. There was a kind of sexual desire and longing in that music.
I knew I was not the kind of girl who would go to a discotheque. Those were the kind of girls with the Bette Davis eyes. I was the kind of girl who went to the library every day of the week after school even on a Saturday. Johannesburg followed as did Cape Town after the year I spent in Swaziland. I learnt how to produce art in Swaziland, film in Johannesburg and sibling rivalry in Cape Town where I lived in a flat with my sister. I learnt about death too. Falling in love with an English teacher who had written young adult novels. It is finished. Once you swim away from it boxed in, once the poem is finished, the hour of the flashback, of infinity, of the psychologically disturbed it is finished. The door can open but you need a doorknob and a key on a chain. You embody me and I embody you is what I wanted to tell the English teacher.
Look at me I wanted to tell him. I have an adult life even though you cannot see it. Even if all you see is this, I have a youth persona on my side. I did not know it yet that this was always going to be my future. Too afraid to love because I am a lake filled with drowsy ephemerids.
© Short fiction by Abigail George
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Scottie and Zelda Fitzgerald
You loved me to death I am afraid Scottie and now it is too late. I can never be a girl again and you can never be that boy again...