Robot Mother, The Guilt Bracelet, and an apology.

I bought a new phone.

That’s not the subject of the post, but that’s sort of how all the necessary components came together. I was meandering around the Danger End of Oxford Street in some unexpected sunlight with the Resident Australian and opted to annoy her by addressing my “my phone is annoying” issues right there and then by immediately buying a new handset, because that is how things get done in my life. After paralysing indecision and weighing of choices something then happens on an impulse, etc.

Anyway, this new phone has approximately 400000% more processing power and can sustain more than, say, one app. Combined with the ongoing insanity of trying to both eat like a person and not become a giant pillow cloud for a second time in my life, with the tenacious irritating of my friends by persistently posting FITSHAMING updates on Facebook to inform them, unfiltered, of exactly how many pressups I can’t quite do yet (spoilers: I can do five! In a row! Badly! This is so much better than the NONE I could do before!), and with the Guilt Bracelet which my Delightful Boyfriend bought for me after I interrogated him for a solid month on what his did, that extra processing space opened up a wonderful new world of being less insane.

How?

First, I asked if anyone could think of an app that would tell me how much of whatever nutrient I needed to eat, and then how much I had left of that per day, when I told it what I was eating, to stop me from doing the awful thing where I either set myself a limit and proceeded to dramatically undercut it (“I don’t need to eat 1400 kcal a day, that’s too high!”) or didn’t set myself a limit but then tried to eat as little as possible anyway (“I’m not really hungry/if you eat that you’re a filthy disgusting failure!”). Outsourcing my common sense, since my own has been so comprehensively destroyed by mental illness/eating disorders.

Anyway, it turns out that’s exactly what MyFitnessPal does.

It upped my calorie intake after asking me a bunch of questions…

Normally when Real People do that I sort of vaguely agree with them and then mutter that they have no idea how lazy and fat I am and how little I do and how immediately I will turn into a whale if I eat That Much, and ignore their advice. Occasionally with a side of “YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO SABOTAGE ME” for added crazy. When various online calculators ask me how active I am and I try to give a representative view, I then decide they’ve been adjusting based on a falsehood.

Unfortunately this time I picked the lowest possible activity level. I am a spod. A layabout. My job is writing. My sports interests are nil. I don’t own a bike.

It still told me to eat more than I was eating.

But wait, there’s more.

Not only did Robot Mother scold me about my different nutrient intakes (“your goal was to stay under 2300mg sodium, you salt-hoovering slag”), and allow me to scan barcodes with my phone for information (MAGIC TOY DOES MAGIC THING, DEREK IS ENTRANCED, SURELY WE ARE LIVING IN THE FUTURE), and make it perplexingly difficult to update with workout information (“how many calories does it burn? How the shitting fuckfestival would I know that?”), she also offered a link between The Guilt Bracelet and The Food Hitlering.

Carrots, as well as sticks

Previously my motivation has been “if I do the walking motions, the Guilt Bracelet flashes a light and buzzes and that means I am a Good Boy”, because I have been well-conditioned that rewards are social rather than physical; the other motivation is that if I don’t have a consistent line of green bars on my weekly activity graph (data solves everything, or at least provides me with prettier and more mathematically accurate ways to berate myself) I am A FAILURE MADE OF LAZINESS.

But now that the Guilt Bracelet and Robot Mother are in cahoots with each other, I have noticed: the more I move, the more food I am allowed.

Adjustment

It turns out: the calorie goal is minus activity. Meaning, that’s how much I should be consuming when my movement is taken into account. Not set, no matter whatever else I do, but something I can alter with my behaviour. The illusion of control is mostly what’s necessary to help break a habit which is born from the need for control.

Or, as a different friend told me, as we compared notes over (meticulously-inputted) lattes: it helps not to have to think about what you’re eating because then you don’t feel like you’re getting it wrong all the time. She was referring, too, to Huel, which has provided us both with an Eating Problems Safety Net repeatedly.

And yes, I can feel myself becoming obsessive about this, too. I think it’s something that has to be accepted, after a certain point: there is no way I will ever be comfortable, carefree, and non-compulsive about food. Every time I try there is the spectre of the Delayed Reaction Regret, and given that this is often accompanied by purging I don’t really want to deal with that. Better to let the robot take care of it, and move on to more important shit, like this book

About that apology?

Yeah. If you’re a real flesh human who has spent a lot of time in the last couple of years trying very hard to make me stop eating things that have no calorie content, or stop obsessively making tinier and tinier meals, or even just fixate slightly less brutally on the exact 0.3kg weight fluctuations: sorry. You were right, about that paradoxical window of consumption: sometimes you do need to eat more to get smaller.

Weaponised Low Self-esteem and Good Rejections

One thing that happened recently was that an agent, after some months, rejected the manuscript I sent them. I’m now free to take it somewhere else. We are told not to talk about these experiences, as if some kind of stench of failure will accompany us and create an eternal miasma of Loser, because we are obsessed with luck. Given that good luck in most areas is a combination of qualification, charm, and connections, this is a little rough.

I mention the rejection because, for a form email saying no to representation, it was well worded enough to be inspiring and uplifting, and I want to celebrate that delicacy and degree of interpersonal skills, although I will from general tact refrain from mention of the agency. First of all, the reason I sent out that manuscript at all was to have it rejected.

Surely not? No, seriously:

I was going through one of those periods that are pretty much the norm for any creative person in any field, the “nothing I make is any good and anyone who thinks it is either is lying to me or doesn’t know any better” swamp. It isn’t even doubt, because sound suggests uncertainty, as opposed to this rock solid conviction of absolute terribleness which refuses to be budged by any kind of external validation.

At the same time, this self hatred was servicing my laziness beautifully. Well, all my work is terrible, right? So it would be pointless to go through the long and tiring process of either self publishing – making edits, writing my marketing copy, typesetting, designing my cover (s), making changes based on print and ebook requirements, all of which I do myself – or of submitting it to consideration, which as everyone knows involves covering letters and synopses of differing length and focus, elevator pitches, constantly having to describe your work…. Really to undergo this kind of process, to really SELL something, you have to BELIEVE in it, truly and with zeal.

Or.

You can do what I did, while I was in that sad, immovable pit.

You can do all of this as a form of self-punishment.

“No one will ever want to read my work because it’s terrible and all the people who have read it and enthused about it are Just Saying That”? Alright, brain, you’re right, but let’s get some more evidence. Let’s prove how awful this story is. Let’s send it to every single agent who could conceivably be interested in it if someone else had made it, and let’s get rejected.

Let’s get rejected by everyone.

“It’s going to be humiliating”, is it? Well, you keep saying how worthless I am and how I don’t deserve anything. So maybe I don’t deserve to avoid humiliation like the big sad coward you keep telling me I am. Maybe I have to go out and look for people to tell me how shitty I am, and how I shouldn’t have wasted their time, and how much they hate me for having gifted them this book I think is so awful.

“It’s a lot of effort–” Yes, it is. But you keep saying I’m worthless, and only people who are worth something get to sit down and do nothing. That’s called “relaxing”, and you’re just painting it as “being lazy” because you’re just laziness in disguise and want to distract me from the fact that you’re trying to stop me from doing anything by making me feel bad. I am onto you, Shitty Self-Worth, and now I am going to validate everything you keep claiming by making sure the entire world agrees with you. That’s science, Brain.

So I sat down and I wrote the synopsis and it was horrible and I hated it and I wished I’d never been born about ten times in each sentence. And I wrote the covering letter from a template, because I wasn’t going to give my awful, awful, horrible book the excuse of being failed by a bad letter: it had to stand or fall – definitely fall, because it was obviously hideous – on its own merit. Not something I could worm out of, like the coward my brain kept telling me I was. The punishment had to go all the way.

And I sent off my manuscript, and then I said “well, I have done this and now I can be a lazy waste of space and do nothing until it gets rejected”.

Good Rejections

Submitting short stories to magazines has traditionally been a gruelling business for me because the majority of them don’t bother to send out rejections. They just go in for “if your submission hasn’t been answered by X time assume we don’t want you”, which seems at first like it’s great for your ego but actually turns the whole process into even more of an insane and dispiriting waiting game than it is already, which is really saying something.

Occasionally you will get A Rejection, which ought to feel crushing and terrible but after endless pranging of stories into the void to the sound of an automated confirmation email, “we have received your submission and now the darkness has eaten it, goodbye”, even getting back an actual immediate response of “this is not what we are looking for thank you” is worth a fanfare.

When I was 17 and filled with Hope, like a moron, and had just won a writing competition and spoken to the editor of the company who published the anthology (because Networking Is Important, You Guys), I was encouraged to send in any other work I had, and because I was 17 and filled with Hope, like a moron, I did not do what I do now when encouraged to send someone my work, which is to laugh it off because They Are Just Saying That, and then never send them my work or indeed speak to them ever again in case they remember I exist and ask me to send in my work or express an interest in something I’m doing or continue to be there as a possible avenue towards some kind of Obviously Undeserved Success. Instead, I … sent in a manuscript.

It was my First Ever Novel and I’d written it the year before and it was objectively fucking terrible, but I didn’t know it was objectively fucking terrible, because I was 17 and filled with Hope, like a moron.

And the editor of the company who had published me in an anthology read my submission and said they didn’t really handle that genre but I shouldn’t let that stop me and here was some advice on how to improve my manuscript, because I was 17 and filled with Hope, like a moron, and sensible editors nurture young writers so that there will always be a pool of new talent for the industry to draw from, and because sane human beings derive no enjoyment from destroying the dreams of even the most stupid and annoying of 17-year-olds.

That was A Really Good Rejection. It contained ADVICE! Pointers on how to be better! Editorial guidance! More Hope for me to fill up my idiot 17-year-old self with, like a moron!

A Good Rejection Doesn’t Take Much Effort

The recent form rejection of the Awful, Horrible, No-Good book (which on reflection, having reread it in the light of not actually being in the midst of a firestorm of utter self-loathing and negativity at present, is unsurprisingly not the worst book ever written by a human mind and is in fact a perfectly decent work of fiction with some pleasantly complicated characters, a solid plot, and entertaining dialogue, the way EVERYONE KEPT TELLING ME IT WAS, ONLY I COULDN’T LISTEN BECAUSE MY BRAIN WAS FULL OF SHIT) has proven A Good Rejection too.

It turns out it’s really easy to reject something, in a form letter way, in a way that’s really obviously a form letter, without sounding like you’re enjoying smashing someone’s dreams, without discouraging people from writing any more, and without sounding anything like as stern and terrifying as the example letters on writing blogs, or indeed the ex-editors I know socially who all have fire and hatred in their souls and 90% of it aimed at authors, who are objectively The Worst People Alive.

though I found the premise interesting and the writing good, I didn’t feel passionately about it in the way that I need to to champion a novel in this competitive marketplace.

Already this is a masterclass in presenting the bad with the good. It contains praise – the praise may well be bullshit and it is almost certainly the same wording for everyone but that’s irrelevant, because when you’ve just been rejected, being told you’re interesting and good at what you do is a definitely balm on a wounded ego. Similarly, “I didn’t feel passionately” is a wonderful piece of “I-not-You” phrasing. It says “this is on me. There’s nothing wrong with your work”, regardless of whether there is, in fact, something horrendously wrong with my work. It is once again, artful soothing of the sad sputtering flame of the authorly ego.

There’s more:

This is – of course – entirely subjective, so I wish you the very best of luck with other agents.

“I wish you the very best of luck with other agents” would have been standard and sufficient for good manners, but underlining the “I didn’t feel passionately” with “entirely subjective” reinforces that social delicacy, the idea that it’s merely a matter of Personal Taste, the subtle chemistry for which no one receives blame and everyone is happy. It is frankly the kind of rejection that job agencies and employers could learn from, and designed to keep things running smoothly, which is really what you’d expect and hope for from someone whose entire career is predicated on persuasion.

Several Good Rejections

But this form email, obviously, is not going to be sufficient. I have more punishment to acquire. My ego might get ideas as a result of being briefly told that it isn’t terrible by some external force – although I’m quite capable of rationalising this flicker of formula praise into nothingness – and there are a lot of literary agents in London, never mind the world. They all deserve the opportunity to explain to me that I’m appalling.

So I’m going to create a new email folder in my inbox, and I’m going to dust down the online equivalents of the Writers & Artists’ Yearbook that was my bible back when I was 17 and filled with Hope, like a moron, and I’m going to do my absolute best to actually break the email server with the sheer number of stored rejection emails.

And also if I accidentally screw this up and end up somehow convincing an agent to represent me, it will be at least interesting to see how my godawful brain chooses to spin that as They’re Just Saying That.


If you are being persistently bullied by your brain I can thoroughly recommend “pretending to go along with its bullshit” as a method of getting things done in spite of the constant hail of self-loathing, but I’d point out that as a way of living it’s pretty much only possible temporarily, and that I’m in long-term therapy trying to teach my brain to stop automatically kicking me in the crotch whenever I do something. If your brain also thinks it’s Jolly Highjinks Fun to persistently hit you with the Big Stick of No Self-Esteem, I’d recommend doing the same thing.

Links Post May

Things Other People Have Done

  • A helpful round-up of ten comics dealing with mental illness. After visiting the comics exhibition at the British Library earlier in the month, I’ve found my interest in comics from roughly ten years ago is slowly rekindling and crawling out from the blanket of general disinterest in everything and dislike of the medium, being gently reminded that although I’m surrounded by people who consume comics solely as a superhero narrative medium, there are other uses, styles, and forms the medium takes. It is good to be reminded that sequential art has functions beyond the fannish.
  • Compiled some of London’s most celebrated independent publishers, so that I can harangue them about how much they really really want to publish me. I suspect that’s not what they intended when they made this list but that’s what it’s for now.
  • Put up a collection of photographs taken by T. E. Lawrence during the Arab Revolt so that I can stare and stare and stare at them.

Fiction Post: On an ordinary day in the saddest part of the year.

“Someone should write a book where the main character slowly falls in love with the reader.”
Taking this as inspiration, and I went somewhat awry. I think it would take someone a lot more literary than me to make a whole book of it.

On an ordinary day in the saddest part of the year – a time which varies depending on who is telling the story – I will find myself by the pond in the park. For me the saddest time of the year is also the coldest and darkest: the pond has calf-high loops of rigid wire in a fence around it as a nominal reminder that we must not stray into the ducks’ domain, and in winter they look like prison bars.

Everything else is beautiful, although it’s sad. You’d know if you were watching this. There are fern patterns in the ice on the windows of the closed-down green houses. The ice on the pond has black holes in it where the ducks congregate and quack like macaques in the hot springs of Japan. I would like to go to Japan.

All of the naked branches are clothed in frost and every person who passes is a dragon, or a sudden smoker, puffing out hot air with a little sigh that says they’re secretly delighted, still, with the miracle of breath made visible. My lungs are cold in spite of the coat.

The coat belonged to my mother. I tell all my friends it was inherited from my grandfather, which is true in the sense that he bought it from her, but it was my mother’s coat. The ones who know more about clothes look dubious but no one questions me. I know they gossip about it behind my back, but in the end I can take them to places they cannot otherwise access, so they will not subject me to the same friendly mocking they do each other.

Sometimes I wonder if this would be easier if I was a Catholic. My best friend is Catholic. He claims it makes no difference but I’ve seen him offer up confessions whenever we’re stuck in a toilet cubicle together. Small spaces and close company make him honest whether he wants it or not; I don’t think it’s the drugs.

He told me the important thing about the guilt you’re given is that there is a man in a special costume who takes all the guilt away at the end of the week. It’s like showering after a festival. All the dirt slides off you. God forgives you.

I think that’s why I’m telling you this. It’s easier to be honest with a stranger. I think if you could see this park you’d know why it makes me think of her. Everything is still, waiting for a chance to wake up but forgetting how to, like the world’s in a trance. The plants are hypnotised to near-death. My fingers are a colour they shouldn’t be.

And there are bars around the pond, decorated with icicles like no one told them Christmas has been and gone. They’re … symbolic, I think. They’re symbolic, aren’t they?

Issah (that’s my best friend), says the other thing a priest does is he leaves a silence for you to talk into. Tingting says the same thing about her therapist. But there’s such a thing as too much silence. I’d really like you to answer me. Some sort of sign that you already know what I’m telling you, and you’ve forgiven me. I don’t believe in God. And I don’t think anyone I know would be able to forgive me.

I watched a film. On my own, the day afterwards, because I couldn’t stand to … I didn’t want to be around anyone else then. It was already cold. I sat and watched it on my Macbook in this park until my fingers went numb. It was an old film, one where the black-and-white makes everything feel profound and you think that’s what the past must have been like, more profound. More important. The way the Seventies were just dampened colours and it’s easy to imagine the whole decade was faded and depressed.

It was called The Seventh Seal. I looked it up once I’d watched it, it was free with some promotion, because it was so old. It’s famous. I wasn’t really taking anything in, but I remember the line that they said:

“Faith is a torment. It is like loving someone who is out there in the darkness but never appears, no matter how loudly you call.”

I asked Issah about that and he told me to stop assuming he was an authority on religion when he didn’t even believe in God any more, and I said he still said things like God forgives you when you tell him the truth, and Issah said some habits are hard to break.

My head isn’t cold, because I put a hat on over a scarf. I look homeless. There are pigeons, and they’re loud and alive and even though their bodies are grey they seem colourful against the desaturation of frost.

A week after I asked him that Issah said that the reason it’s hard to let go of God even when you don’t really believe any more is God is the only thing that really has the authority to forgive you for everything. I thought he knew, then. I thought I was going to tell him. I thought he might take it with the dispassionate cast on his eyes that you have, and that I could absolve myself, and we would somehow still be friends afterwards. But the thing is Issah is here, and he can’t see the way you do, he sees things that aren’t the things I show him.

I don’t know if that’s better or worse. The grass has frost on it. Every blade is wearing a coat. Their coats are white and cold, and mine is brown and I had to pull off the lace from the collar. I watched my mother unpick stitches for years but when you come to do it yourself it’s different: my fingers and thumbs bled onto the fabric more times than I could count.

Once God forgives you, Issah said, that means you have to forgive yourself too. That’s like the flag, the signal: you have to forgive yourself now. After that you’re going against God, and self-recrimination is indulgence. He got that part from Tingting. Tingting got it from her therapist. Tingting’s therapist says: “After a point, you are simply feeling guilty for the sake of feeling guilty. You’ve decided to be penitent. It’s become your personality. You don’t want to be forgiven, you just keep on asking for forgiveness because you’re stuck there, stuck in this moment of horror at yourself. It becomes inflated until that moment is all of your moments.”

People walk at different speeds in this weather. The ones who are in pairs shuffle along together, trusting that company will keep them warm. The ones alone are brisk and certain, even when they’re lost. They have no lassitude: that’s for when you can feel the sweat slide between the fabric of your clothes and the skin of your back, not when your breath is white and hanging before you like a warning. You must out-pace your breath.

In one of our toilet cubicle confessions Issah told me. He was leaning on the wall with his forehead and he had just been sick. I dodged most of it. He said:

“When I was thirteen I punched my sister in the punani. Smack in the pussy. Pow. I don’t even remember what we were fighting about but she cried like I’d just tried to kill her.”

He looked at me with that distant clarity of being high, talked with that far-off inflection of wandering through a brain that feels like it’s working properly for the first time. All revelation and no deception.

“I kept thinking afterwards that I ought to feel bad about it but it just seemed really funny,” he says, in my mind, like a loop. “Do you ever get that, do you ever want to feel one thing because you know that’s what you ought to feel, but you just don’t, you feel something else, you feel the wrong thing?”

That was another time I thought he knew. But that time I didn’t think I’d tell him, because I’d made up my mind that it was between me and my conscience. My conscience is creaking like a table with too much piled on it.

I just wanted to thank you for listening. I was wrong about the silence. You’re not judging me, I can see that now. Why would you? You’ll close the book and read another and there will be worse people. I’m not so self-indulgent that I think other people don’t do and think worse things.

And you’re not here, so you’re not seeing my skin lifted up to reveal an ugly streak of maggots underneath. And you don’t know me, so I’m not going to spoil anything for you. You take me as I am. Thank you.

I know you’re impatient. I don’t even know if I’m the main character in this story. I think Issah probably is, or Tingting, or Colin. Probably Colin. Colin’s white. You don’t get many stories like this one, and I think mine’s already finished. So it’s probably really a story about Colin, because he travels around the world and meets people and saves lives, and he always has stories. He is a story full of stories. So thank you again for listening to me, because I only have this one, this one story and the good graces of some swanky nightclubs.

Well, I’m thinking about what Issah said, here in the park, in the cold, with my back to the river that hasn’t frozen and my face to the pond that has. I could turn around and face the river: that would be symbolic too. Guilt is self-indulgence; sometimes someone else has to tell you that you can forgive yourself now; do you ever feel the wrong thing?

Something small with feathers shakes off the ice from the twigs over the bench when it flies off. This is where it becomes too complicated for bathroom stalls and cocaine to really understand. I don’t feel guilty about the thing, I feel guilty about the feeling, I feel guilty because I don’t feel guilty, and how twisted is that?

It’s easy for you, I bet. You seem a compassionate sort. You haven’t closed the book. You’re waiting to hear what it is. You’ll be disappointed when I tell you it’s not a murder or a rape or even one of those disputed places where someone doesn’t want a baby and takes it away, or has too much to drink and can’t remember anything except a girl crying.

I could be lying about that. Maybe I want to impress you. You seem nice. My friends aren’t nice. They’re clever and they’re stylish and everyone wants to be like them, and Issah knows how to say the right things and Tingting works her therapy angle like it’s a mirror, and Colin is polishing his halo and using it like a lasso to snare girls, I’ve seen him do it.

But they’re not nice. Not like you. You picked this up and you’re listening to me. I bet you’d give me some gloves or a cup of coffee. You might even try to hustle me into the nearest café: you might just sit with me in the cold. I guess in a way you’re sitting with me in the cold right now, and I would never say this to any of my friends because they’d snigger at me but that thought makes it a little less cold.

Have you ever felt the wrong thing? I meant to take good care of her clothes and deliver them to her but I didn’t, I just put them in a charity box, except for the coat. They asked me if someone had died. I lied and said she had. I don’t know why I lied to them then, but I know now: it’s easy, everyone knows what to do when someone’s dead. You feel sad and you cry and you move on and you throw their things away and you leave flowers by their gravestone.

I have nothing to feed the pigeons and they are going to leave me soon. Are you going to leave too?

You’re not.

If this was a toilet cubicle and we were doing MDMA crystal and I’d come up I’d say to you, I just feel so guilty that I handed her over to them like that without trying harder, because that is the kind of shit that everyone says when we’re fucked up. Emotions we don’t feel but that we know we’re supposed to feel come on us like a revelation and I suppose that’s why I go out with Issah and Tingting and all of these people whose names don’t matter. It’s only when you’re under the right conditions that you can trick yourself into believing you have the right feelings.

I don’t feel guilty about handing her over. I didn’t feel guilty about picking up the phone and calling them to my house. I don’t feel guilty about wearing her coat after I did that to her. And I know I should, but I don’t.

Instead I just feel guilty that I don’t feel any guilt at all, and it’s so much easier to say this to you. I think it’s because I can’t see your face. I don’t know if you’re a man or a woman or a bearded lady from a freakshow or a drag queen or an elephant that learned to read, even. It doesn’t matter that this isn’t my story and you’re just reading through this conscientiously to get to the interesting part with Colin paragliding or whatever the story is really about. Honestly now, and you know I’m telling you the truth because I’m not in a bathroom stall riding on a crystalline wave of fake truths and pretend feelings with you: I love you for this.

So now you know that for the time it takes for me to tell you this, I love you: can you hang on a bit longer and listen? I haven’t said this to anyone. I’m not going to say it again.

I was relieved.

It was like someone had picked up the whole of her weight out of my arms when I picked up the phone. Every word I said, every time they agreed with me, I felt myself getting lighter and lighter. When they told me a date and a time it was dancing there like the cautious flames of a fire. When I was ten I used to light fires in my bedroom. That’s one of the toilet cubicle confessions I gave Issah. That one at least was true.

You could have burned the house down with the heat of my relief when they came to take her to the hospital. I didn’t feel guilty. You’re supposed to feel guilty and filled with self-hatred and all I could think while she screamed at them and bit them and begged me under three different names – none of them mine – to make it stop, was:

I don’t even know who you are. Just go. Just get the fuck out. Please go.

I haven’t visited. That’s the other thing: if I told anyone about the guilt they’d think I felt guilty about sending her and they’d understand why I don’t visit. The fact is, as deceptive as the black ice on the path over there that’s claimed three couples already, I’m not withholding my affection. I just don’t have any left. I don’t know who she became. I don’t know what happened. I just know that one day it was easier to have her put away somewhere away from me than it was to keep answering her.

And I didn’t feel guilty. And I don’t feel guilty except I think I might be defective. As a person.

And then I think about Issah punching his sister in the cunt and how he just thought it was funny. Or how Tingting’s written a song about the rape that got her that therapist and she calls it “My Asshole Got Busted Now I Get Free Attention” when we’re high. It’s so ugly, like Colin’s girl-getting halo and the shaving scar he claims is from a machete. We’re probably all defective as people.

Are you a defective person too? Is there this one thing that you did, ten things that you did, a hundred things that you did that can drive you out into the freezing cold in the park to watch the sun go down ten minutes after it’s risen? Did you punch your sister in the cunt or have your mother sectioned, did you lie, did you cheat, did you steal? Have you thrown up on your best friend’s shoes, waiting for the rush of honest emotions to beat down all the lies in your mouth, only to realise half-way through the next week that the honesty is the lies you’re telling when you’re sober?

Would you even be able to love me back?


© Delilah Des Anges 2012: for more fiction & poetry, try either my lulu store or searching for my name on Amazon.