My next promise that day shaped the rest of my early secondary years. I ended up in the school my mother desired, where they competed in chess, fencing and rugby. The latter of which I wasn’t too bad at, pure athleticism and drive always managed to get me through the clamour of Ifey’s metal studs raised as he headed towards me. Ifey was built like a brick with broad shoulders and muscular thighs, now in year 8 it was frightening to see the veins pulsating out of his neck and thigh tissues. It was hit time and my body tightened, I was determined to make this count I had timed it perfectly to avoid the moment his studs were raised as much as the glare of the sun against his metal studs would allow me, that was the first part of my fear gone now time to deal with the second.
It was now contact time, I could hear his breath loud and clear now, they became shorter as time froze. We had been this close before this feeling wasn’t new and maybe that made it worse, the last time didn’t end well for me but I gained his respect but that was out of the window now as my bony skeleton locked into his body, this was definitely new, I felt a shift, a slight but significant shift, I knew this wasn’t enough to win this latest dual, he would eventually push back as he strode forward, I dipped to generate more power from my bum, it had to be useful for something right, I felt his foot raise as he attempted to stride forward, it was now or never I had him off balance. At that moment came the cloud of red and moisture around my face.
“I’m fine” I’ve become addicted to saying it, addicted to making everything appear okay and put together… but it’s not.
I’ve lived through the storm I can carry on, all I have to do is carry on. This is the recovery stage, right? I can deal with this it’ll make me a stronger man for the next time these feelings come. I’m feeling lonely in rooms full of people but I keep inviting these people. Escapism? Coping? Validation? I don’t know because I don’t understand what’s missing.
Whatever you’re going through keep it to yourself because no one wants to hear it, everyone needs the best version of you. Don’t put yourself above all the people depending on you. Ever thought you can’t be there for them with this emptiness in you? No, because you can push through right? You can oppress this until next time.
Get away from all these quiet moments, fill your time with things, fill your time with any thing, fill it with other people’s things, increase the stress and take on their burdens. Do you give to give or do you give for the dopamine to mask the empty space?
Will someone allow you to take a second to explain your battles? Probably not because this spirit doesn’t sleep and you’ll need more than a second. Stop, stop, do something and keep doing it, keep getting that dopamine and wasting your life because time is endless so you cannot waste it but you can try. You’re perishable but you will not perish because you have to be something, you have no choice but to succeed.
Find something to stand for, look for someone to be their for. Who’s there for you? Are they not there or are you not allowing them to be? They think you’re fine because you said so. You said so, so go be fine.
So I sit here asking God to deliver me from my closest friend.
The walls are grey in colour with mould growing in between the many cracks, but I would rather be in here than out there. They say the police force is the greatest gang around, well they must run a close second. The small window above the slab of stone which has been my bed for the past two days is my only link to the rest of society, yet I am not a prisoner, well at least not a prisoner to the pigs. This brings me back to my best friend in this world. I’ve known this brother from that first day at nursery; we went from kiss chase to the paper chase together. Now my only wish is to go back to the prior to get away from the latter. The funny thing about this is despite asking for deliverance I feel I know him more now than ever. They say desperation brings the true man out of a boy.
Every now and again I sit here picking the thorns out of my arms and legs to take my mind off the situation but never for too long as it begins to serve as a starch reminder. You’re probably confused right now but all will become clear. I’m also confused; I’m wondering how my closest friend became my archest enemy. We’ve been through our whole lives together now one has to deprive the other of the right to live. I can’t bring myself to believe that I have to be the one, it’s got nothing to do with the taking of life for that I could do without so much as shedding a tear drop for the life taken. I guess you become immune to the human implications of taking a life after so much experience. It suddenly strikes me, would it be best if we both died for one of us is no better than the other, you would think two Christian homes shouldn’t spawn such devils. Come to think of it what is a devil, well the religious definition of devil is the major personified spirit of evil. But I also read in a dictionary once that a devil is an energetic, mischievous, daring, or clever person. I will let you choose which definition to use to describe us after you hear our story. I almost feel like my brain is about to implode sitting in here, a lobe filled with what if thoughts; what if I hadn’t agreed to move that package out country although at that time it seemed like an effortless hour and a half drive. I can almost feel the cold sinking in between my flesh and skeleton from the draft in this room, or maybe it’s the fact I haven’t eaten for the past two days. Maybe I’m destined to rot to my carcass in here in fear of what’s outside but somehow I don’t believe that devil inside me will allow destiny to have its way with me.
Every now and again I drop to my knees to offer a prayer to the man upstairs, in the hope that the faith of the seasons of people I’ve come across throughout my life will be enough to grant me a hint of mercy. Throughout all those years of accompanying my mother to church this is the one thing that stuck with me till this day, the belief that if you kneel before God no man can stand against you. Actually make that two things as I’ve been searching for an answer to this one question from the first time I came face to face with adversity; Does God listen to the prayers of a child who chooses times like this to build a relationship with him, for my sake I hope he does. Come to think of it the amount of adversity I’ve been through in my life to this point it could be a very strong bond.
Throughout the ride, all sorts of questions were running through my head but I was struggling to phrase them without sounding oblivious or intrusive, so I kept quiet and allowed him to do the talking. He continued to brag about the cars he’d seen his uncle driving and telling me stories detailing his total disregard for money. One such story involved him using a fifty-pound note as a wrap for his stick of weed, I remember thinking how absurd that sounded at the time. You see although we had grown up together I didn’t share his fascination with the flashy and exuberant lifestyle. Whereas his father was a gangster turned entrepreneur who owned various local businesses now, mine was a lowly middle-classed man who would attend church every Sunday to thank God for and then give the little he had.
We had just drove past the local coach hire station, which his dad owned when he pulled up on a side street and turned off the engine. “We have to wait here for a bit, you didn’t have anything you had to do did you?” At this point my response did not matter, as I would have to wait here regardless. I prayed that we just wouldn’t stay here for too long, my prayers were not answered as we spent the good part of an hour in this one spot. He fielded various calls from his cousin as we waited, with each passing call the sense of frustration in his voice was more palpable but he always tried to make it appear he wasn’t affected by events around him. Plus he was trying to convince me that he had done this plenty of times before, I could always see past the bravado but I always allowed him to believe he was doing a good job convincing me.
After about an hour a car pulled up to the van, the windows rolled down and a hand came out urging us to follow. He promptly switched on the engine and we followed the BMW, which the hands had popped out of. From behind it was impossible to identify how many people were inside as the rear glass was completely black. We turned down a T road and I was glad we would soon be coming to a stop and then this would all be over as I was becoming very impatient and anxious. Out of the BMW jumped a burly man who looked in his late twenties. He walked right up to the back of the van and popped open the backdoors. Another scrawnier man also in his twenties jumped out of the driver’s seat and proceeded to pop the trunk of the BMW. I focused my attention on the shiny rims the BMW was sitting on as he left the van to talk to his burly cousin. He returned and asked whether I had anything planned for the rest of the day, my response should have been yes but I knew he would press for something and I wasn’t as good as him when it comes to lying on the spot. Before long we were headed onto the motorway on our way out of London.
Despite all of it, I know you’re my soulmate. I can’t be with you but I can’t be without you. When I’m not with you I imagine you. I imagine the look on your face at various moments. When you’re excited before jumping into my arms, when you’re about to storm out, when I’m sliding into you with your toes in my mouth.
I’m more mature now, I know how I’d feel if you did the things I do to you, I know how you’d feel in a room full of my past, I know now but I can’t tell you. I can’t admit it to you. I know your complaints are from a place of love now, I didn’t know then, I was too caught up in you.
I won’t ever let you go, you never have to worry about me forgetting about you, I never will. There are days that your absence paralysises me. Who do I talk to when I feel things I shouldn’t? When i want the darkness to be understood so I can live with it. I found comfort in the darkness when I was with you, I looked forward to ending the darker nights with you.
I can spend days looking at you, trying to see your soul, it’s not in your eyes it’s in everything that you do.
We’ve gone through a lot together and become acquainted with our most bare sides; emotionally and physically. I’ve seen your vulnerability and weakness yet through it all you’ve managed to show care and love which I admire most about you. We’ve got to a point where our chemistry and bond is undeniable
You and I were different, we came from different worlds, and yet you were the one who taught me the value of love. You showed me what it was like to care deeply for another, and I am a better man because of it. I don’t want you to ever forget that but I can’t be with you.
I’ve thought about killing you. Not physically of course but you in my head, you in my life. How did we go from there to here? When did it all change? Was it always the same and I didn’t notice?
I loved you more than love itself, losing parts of me to you, losing time to you. Taking pieces out of myself to heal you, I lost me.
In a year I lost so much, the biggest thing I found was me, the true me.
I sat in the hospital again, not this feeling again, why is this happening again? Is this God giving me another opportunity to feel, to be selfish, to self empathise. When the doctor confirmed they found a lump, it dropped into my throat. You were right, you’re always right and so self-aware, you see things others don’t. How I wish you were wrong just this one time. I held it together for you, put on a brave face until I had to break the news. The cry from the speaker opened up a deep hole that had been sealed tight in my heart and the emotions came rushing out.
You weren’t phased though, you turn to me and tell me you’ll be fine. This time I prayed you were right, you’re always right, right.
I text you first when we got home, I didn’t want your sympathy but something made me do it. You were the one that could understand, after all, you’ve seen it all the way through, you could say something, maybe give me one of those pieces of myself, just one, you can keep the rest.
As time passed nothing, nothing from you to me. I’m living with my world collapsing, losing my superwoman but no one to give me the strength to carry forward.
Oh You, how did I forget about you, you gave me all the pieces of myself I’m able to give others. You came to my rescue, you don’t say or do much, you’re just there. You accompany her to her appointments, you’re stronger than me, you fight through emotions and I block them out. I appear strong, you ARE strong. You never broke or folded in our time apart, you may have burned a few memories but that’s how it’s supposed to go. I’ve missed you, I called you without picking up a phone and there you were.
Her, still no word, still no empathy, clouded by her own issues. We all have to be selfish I guess, we protect ourselves, I don’t understand this, I don’t do this. I’m healing, without her slowly, I’m learning to be without her quickly. I don’t need her as much as I want her. She doesn’t offer me anything but I wanted her, why? Am I addicted to the toxicity she brings? she disrupts my peace but I pull to that. Why?
You’re healing, we are getting closer, without her, it’s better without her. We can talk without her, I can use the pieces of me to heal you, talk to you, cherish the time with you. It’s not as bad as the last time, you are stronger and more positive, you’ve seen it all. I feared to lose you, that fear is gone. Grandma is gone, your nephew is gone.
Another two body blows for the family. I don’t know what to do or say, we expected her but didn’t expect him. I’m trying to be there for you but feeling that crumbling feeling again. But she’s there, she’s giving me pieces as I give these pieces away to you. Where is everyone else? In and out, life goes on, not everyone is like you, silly boy.
I’m getting over it, I’m progressing, I’m learning, my faith is growing. I know who covers me now, I know who I need.
You crash, you need pieces of me again, I should know better. Did you even think of me until now, why do I go back to you? I’m here now, you’re taking the pieces I’ve built again, you’re using me to heal you. You don’t see the damage you do to me, neither do I but she does.
Never once did you care to find out what happened to me. You don’t know about her or him, you don’t even know they’re gone. I knew then, I was sure, I can’t fool me, I know now. I see you for what you are. You do care, just not enough to care past you.
I lose more, I gain more. I’m shedding what was me and finding out what is me. I don’t need all these mannequins, I don’t need people like you around. You warned me about them, they warned me about you, you’ve all got to go.
Grandpa goes, death really comes in threes, but it missed the both of you. I’m happy and sad, he broke you. You’re not so strong anymore, it breaks me.
How can we build on this foundation of lies. I can tell you’re lying but I can’t confront you, I hear the deceit in your story. I can spot the holes, you wish he was things you wouldn’t wish if he hadn’t entered you. I know now this ain’t to be, I should’ve known already, I did know already. I try to block it out but I can’t, this is not the first time you’ve lied. I can see right through you. I just want you to admit it and we can move on but you won’t. I made the right decision already. I chose her and I’m sure now more than ever, I almost slipped into you but I’ve regained my balance. This moment is almost satisfying, I’ve been dreading it and looking forward to it at the same time. I can taste your tears and feel your pain, I hate the feel but I love the taste. I don’t want to see you hurt but could I just let you lie to my face? Wrap your clock of deceit around me and continue to lie to yourself as well as me.
I don’t want to see you, you’re here, it feels wrong, then they call. You’re all not making this easy for me but not her. She’s back to give me the pieces back, she’s shielding me from all of them, allowing me to be strong. They don’t understand and they never will. They aren’t bad people they just aren’t my people, neither are you, you’ll never be mine, I know this now.