The Girls Downstairs
When the girls downstairs come to take me away they’re often very nice about it. Apologies follow their high heels spiking me like big needles into small babies.
When I say take me away, that’s not exactly what I mean: they tie me down to the bed with locks of their hair (which they usually set on fire at the end to release me) before convincing me that this time is the time they’ll just set me free. They never do.
Occasionally it is mild – manipulation, humiliation, threatening to disembowel me. Other times it gets pretty violent. One of them once made a knuckle-duster of lightbulbs, switched it on – each bulb a different colour – and punched me repeatedly until I passed out, vowing as I awoke to leave this place, get a job and meet new people who read magazines and talk about current affairs.
One girl, though, there’s something sad about her. I can almost sense affection in her torture. I dream of the night she’ll come while the others are sleeping, her hair perfectly messy , like a beautiful girl you met the night before in some bar where the jukebox always plays the wrong song waking up in your bed and smoking the last cigarette from the crumpled pack she finds on the floor.
Anyway, she’ll come, frantic, telling me to follow. We’ll run through the building in search of a way out. At the top of a staircase dark as a well, I’ll stop, nervous; but she’ll just smile and take my hand, beckoning.
The problem, of course, with dreaming is that you wake up. The further we get down the stairs, the more everything fades – like a rubber erasing multiple layers of scribbles. And morning is a frame without a photograph.
The strangest thing is that in moments of extreme despair and loneliness, when I search for scars as if looking for phantom limbs, there’s nothing there. It’s like trying to piece together the exact narrative progression of a dream you had once, years ago, as a kid.