How can silence be so loud? White noise is screaming in my ears like a dog whistle as I lie as still as a painting. These grey walls are my landscape and they are vibrating. I hold my breath. My thumping heart punches my skin; round and electric. I am a prisoner. And the clock – Tick, tick, fucking tock. The hands are moving, moving me, pushing me further from myself. And nothing is still. Every moment, every sound, every beat and tick and tock
I mustn’t look at the clock but it’s big fat silver face is imprinted on the backs of my eyelids, moving and ticking and swimming around with its cogs and ticks and springs. The clock never stops. The clock never rests. There is always. A fucking. Clock. You can take away its numbers, after all, what are numbers but a series of shapes, why do we need them, what do they represent? I fall to my knees and pick up the dictionary that is lying open on the floor, I have to know what the numbers mean. I look at the top of a page that I have secretly folded over and try to ignore the word that I have circled. It’s too late I have forgotten why I lifted the dictionary because the word falls into my eyes and I am transfixed.
‘Obsession,’ an idea or thought that continually preoccupied or intrudes on a person’s mind.
I throw the dictionary against the wall and it hits the clock with an impressive thump and both disgusting objects fall the floor. I lie on my bed and breathe slowly. Listen. Am I now in the middle of time, trapped in a moment of pure nothing? But nothing never stops, TICK, TICK, tick.The bed below my body creaks and groans as I shift from side to side looking for comfort.
I am so far inside my own head now that I can almost turn my eyes inside out and see the chaos in my brain. My thoughts are an atlas of roads and rivers; scratches on the earth that ultimately lead to a giant ocean. One day I will drown deep inside myself and when they find me – time will be silent then. I will be lost, stuck within my own page between the black lines and grey matter that no one dares to walk. I will become that forgotten memory, that flower, that sweet token that was ripped from the earth and shut away and pressed and pressed.
My mobile phone vibrates. It isn’t long now. Sweat runs in little river past my ears and my back sticks to the sheet on my bed. I can feel my soul drift towards the crack in my window. I remain firmly flat, stiff as a corpse gulping my breath as loudly as the tick and the tock. The smell of food wafts through the air, pungent onions and meat, an invisible pocket of flavour that scorches my nose so violently that I sneeze. I hold my breath once more and try to separate the choir of birds and white noise and ticking and music and laughing and traffic and footsteps. Her footsteps. Everything else becomes mute, CLICK, CLICK, two clicks per second, stopping to cross the road,CLICK, CLICK, pausing at the clothes shop window. CLICK. CLICK. I stare at the ceiling. I count the cracks. My eyes dart over the bars of orange street light on my ceiling. The banging in my chest beats in time with her heels and confuse me, how will I know if she stops? I press a pillow over my chest and press down on the noise.I squeeze my eyes shut and try to separate my heart and my head. The footsteps slow, my heart quickens and the noises are out of synch. Then they stop.
I am weightless, floating around in the darkness of my brain, separated from the needles prickling my skin. My mind presses against the window and I am suddenly aware that we are breathing the same air. Her eyes are seeing what my eyes can only remember, she is in my universe. I pause, fumbling inside the deepest part of my ear. A cough from outside. It is a perfect cough. I rush back into my skin as her breath reaches through the crack in my window like a trail of smoke and I feel it fully. I gasp out loud. She is everywhere. I am wrapped in the smell of her. My shirt is stinging me, crushing me, I rip it open from the top to the bottom, buttons bursting, stitches breaking and my skin is free.
Footsteps. Time ticking again, footsteps quicken. Silence. Tick, tick, tick, tock.
© Kirsty Lear-Grant