Void

We have a space in our living room. An emptiness. We can’t walk through it, so we go around it. We can shout from either side of it, but the sound won’t pass through. We live our daily lives navigating around the space. Accommodating it. Accepting it.

Letting it grow steadily bigger.

Of course, we can see each other through the space. We smile and we wave and I can see them laughing but i can’t hear it. I’ve tried so many times to just reach through the space- arms outstretched and desperately grasping- but the space won’t allow it. It doesn’t want me to.

The space pushes me out. Out into the outside world, which wouldn’t be so bad- if that’s where I wanted to be. But I don’t have a choice. And so I join the masquerade, and all the while that space keeps pushing at my back. Pressing so hard against me that at times I feel as though my ribs are going to break.

We slowly learn to live with the space. We are so used to it now that we don’t even notice it most days. But I know that it’s there. I have to walk through it every day. I feel it surround me. Reminding me always of its presence.

I still can’t figure it out. Is it necessary, and I just don’t know it yet? Is it something to adapt to, or something to overcome? Is it temporary or permanent?

I hope for a time when the void is gone, even as at grows steadily smaller and smaller. It pushes at me less, but it’s still there. Unavoidable. Until, hopefully, one day it wont be anymore.

Honey I Just Can't Write!

So I should probably change my domain name to “hannah never writes” or something more fitting, because yet again I have neglected writing for writings sake. 

A lot has changed in life. I have a new job that doesn’t kill me to wake up and go to. I actually enjoy it, and it means I get to be surrounded by books 5 days a week, which at one point in time was a dream come true for me! I’ve become a little more comfortable in my own skin as well as in my general environment, but motivation is still a daily struggle. Especially motivation to write. 

I word vomited my previous post whilst in the middle of a black hole mood. At one point in time, world building and new characters and whole story lines with twists and turns used to come easy to me. Now all my brain seems to be able to churn out is thoughts and feelings and emotions. I’m not saying that’s bad, but it’s like a mentioned before- is that all I am capable of? 

I’ve jotted some ideas down and written small chunks of stories here and there, but nothing that sprouts from my mind to my fingertips really feels like something I want the world to see. I want people to see my writing- but at the same time the very thought of people reading even these very words makes me want to barf. 

So yeah, I’m still terrible and I still have the same reservations that I’m trying to work around. With that being said, let’s look at a project I started and then abandoned recently! At least I’m sharing it, right?

First up is a short piece of fiction that I began for a competition that I never entered. The theme of the competition was Censorship. My mind first went to the idea of found documents with parts blanked out, but then I thought that an idea like that was a bit predicable, and god forbid I do what I thought everyone else would do. Instead my mind drifted to censorship of the self- all the ways we censor and change ourselves to fit our environment. Here’s what I came up with:

Who are you really? Every morning you wake up and you change a hundred things about yourself. Some of them big and some of the small. You hide your true self- twist and morph it into something for other people to consume and be pleased by. Who are you, when you look in the mirror and don’t alter one single thing staring back at you? What would be left, when you took all away every part of yourself that you’ve altered to fit the wants of someone else?
Every day you are told that something about you isn’t right. Maybe it’s one thing or maybe it’s ten. The number doesn’t matter, you still hide it all away, no matter the cost to yourself. Never asking yourself why. Never wondering if everyone else is doing the same.

The Censor – Draft 1

Even though I had a goal in mind, to me it still just read as word vomit. It was fuelled by my personal feelings, and I thought that would make it good. But for whatever reason, when I read it back, it didn’t resonate the way I wanted to. To me, it just read as someone complaining about life, and that wasn’t what I wanted.

How can I change this up? I thought. I still wanted to come up with something. The word limit for the competition was 2000 words. At first, it didn’t seem like a lot, but the more I tried the more I struggled to reach it. I tried changing perspectives and going for more of a narrative style. I kept what I’d written so far, reluctant to discard of it even though I wasn’t sure I liked it. I then continued the piece:

Except now you do. You look around at the other people in the waiting room. Most of them are dressed similarly to you. Or perhaps you are dressed similarly to them. A sea of grey and white and light brown. A uniform monotone. You’re both relieved and worried that you don’t stand out.
You glance again at the door to your right.
The previous candidate should be out any moment now. They’ve already been inside longer than most of the other people you’ve watched walk past you. Only by a few minutes, but sometimes that was all it took.
You pull at your sleeves as you wait, trying your best not to pick at the skin around your fingernails. There’s a slight stain on your cardigan sleeve. Mother scalded you for it as you left, but there wasn’t time to clean it off. One was never late to these kind of things.
The door opens and the previous candidate scuttles out. The interviewer doesn’t look up from their clipboard as they call your name. You stand, offer your hand, but the interviewer merely turns and retreats back into the room, expecting you to follow.
The room beyond is sparsely furnished. The interviewers desk is as unadorned as the bare grey walls. She sits behind it in a black leather chair, gesturing for you to be seated opposite. You do as you’re told, concentrating on sitting with your back straight. Trying your best to seem presentable.

The Censor – Draft 2

I sort of liked where this part was going. I had in mind the scene from Mulan where she visits that lady to who judges if she’s an acceptable bride- just more dystopian and without the cricket. I knew that I didn’t want the protagonist to ever get the chance to speak- yet another way that they were censored. But overall, I wasn’t sure how to finish it off. I waited for an idea to come. Waited and waited. I stared and the screen, hit the keys a few times to force an ending and nothing came. The deadline got closer and I was nowhere near the word count. I kept hoping that all of a sudden something would click, and I would bash something out and narrowly make the submission deadline.

But I didn’t. I just gave up. And the project was left unfinished.

I have some other unfinished works that sit dormant in my drafts folder. I won’t share them yet in the hopes that I’ll eventually come back to them. Does anyone have any advice for making yourself write? Or even of how not to be embarrassed of your own writing? Because those are the things I am desperate to figure out. In the meantime, more word vomit posts to come I suppose.

Here’s hoping I get my shit together soon.

Fake

On the surface, everything is fine. I wake up early, go to work. Eat three meals a day. Go to the gym. By all accounts, I should be a happy person. A functioning human being. Someone with drives and wants and feelings other than numbness.

But instead I’m just hollow inside.

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, or when I started making the mistakes, but clearly something isn’t right. There’s only so many times you can change everything about yourself and your life before you have to call into question the source of all your misfortune. Is it my brain? My heart? My soul? The very atoms that make up all of those things? Was whatever star I was born from so corrupt that it’s bound to keep driving itself into supernova in every version of its existence?

I have no idea how I’m supposed to stop a supernova, especially on the days when I can barely drag myself out of bed. Sometimes I feel as though there’s no stopping it no matter how hard I try. I can’t ignore it and I can’t stop it, and sometimes living with it is so unbearable that I just want to stop and start the cycle all over again. Even though that would be the definitive opposite of fixing the problem.

I am just so angry at everything. At both myself and the world for making me this way. At everyone around me for not fixing the problem. I am resistant to change and yet it is all that I crave. Hopefully one day I will change enough that I finally find peace.

Sit Down, Shut Up, And-

A phrase I’ve heard often through life is ‘everyone wants to talk but no one wants to listen’. It’s a phrase I’ve always found difficult to relate to, as I’ve always found myself so eager to listen. Perhaps even too eager. I am very guilty of eavesdropping, but only because I can never say no to the opportunity to hear a story that I’ve never heard before. Everyone has a million different stories inside of them, with another million ways to tell the same tale. Who am I to say no to the privilege of hearing one? To deny a story is to deprive yourself of so many possibilities. A person’s time should be divided equally between talking and listening. By favouring one over the other, we are missing out on so many opportunities. I don’t mean to say that talking is bad. After all, if no one talks, how is anyone meant to listen? However, if no one listens, then why talk at all? I am trying to find an equilibrium between the two, to create a constant cycle of storytelling. My own neverending story, but with slightly less luck dragons. 

I first realised I was in love with listening when hearing a friend talk about their passions. We had been making small talk, but when they started talking about a movie they loved, their whole person became animated. It wasn’t just their face that changed but their posture, their whole attitude. Watching them come alive like that while they talked about all the little things about the film that they loved down to the finer details was captivating. Seeing how happy it made them that someone was listening to their enthusiastic ramblings just made it all the sweeter. 

On the other side of the coin, nothing feels more comforting to me than realising the person I am raving to about a book I’ve read or a game I’ve played is smiling and nodding along, hanging on to every word I’m saying, even if they have little to no clue what I’m talking about. Oftentimes in the past, I was spoken over or laughed at when trying to describe the intensity of something I’d enjoyed. I think that is perhaps why I value listening the way I do now. It feels good to no longer have to silence myself. It feels good to encourage people’s voices to be louder. All you have to do is lend an ear.

A Note On You

Looking at you makes my hands hurt. Not for any want of touch, but because I can not paint. I can’t paint the way you look, or the way you used to look at me. I can’t paint how your face changes when you laugh, and I can’t write about it either. How could I possibly put it into words? So yeah, my hands ache when I look at you. Because they know that even if I give them a full life of making things, they’ll never quite get you right. They won’t come close. Never at all.

Aches and Pains

My whole body aches all of the time. Call it fatigue or strain or growing pains, I don’t know. I just know that it hurts, but that the ache mostly makes itself at home in my hands.

It’s hard not to crack my knuckles all of the time. I feel like my fingers ache with all the words I can’t won’t don’t write and all of the songs I don’t know how to play. Things I never built and things I should have broken.

Instead I’m just pressing buttons all the time, and my fingers are rotting and wasting away from misuse and I pick at them and pick pick pick and bite the skin from my fingertips and I paint them pretty colours but they’re still ugly and useless.

So I’ll try crack them back into place, but I fear that they’ll never move like I want them to, never make or touch like I want them to. That the rot will find its way to the rest of me, and I won’t be able to do anything at all.

Tails

Heads or tails. Heads or tails. Heads or tails. 

I flipped the coin with my thumb over and over and over again. Catching it, but never looking at the outcome. Too afraid if I’d be relieved or disappointed by fates decision. 

Heads or fucking tails. 

A sigh escaped me as I repeated the motions. I wanted to stop but the urge to continue was too strong. I most likely looked a sorry sight. Some dumb kid flipping a coin on the river bank, feet stuck in the murkey water. Each time I glanced up at the bridge to my left, at least one person quickly looked away. I almost felt like calling out to them, heads or tails?!, but what would be the point? Most of them seemed like tourists anyway, and I was probably ruining their riverside holiday photos. 

The coin gave out a light ring every time I flipped it. The sound was barely there over that of the river. I curled my toes in the cold current. My skin was starting to prune. My feet were numb from being in the water so long, but I didn’t care. I was content for now, in an uncomfortable sort of way. 

I flipped the coin again. My feet felt the current change. The sound of the river changed too. I looked up at the bridge, but once again, none of the passersby seemed to notice. 

“Chance is a fine game,” a voice floated across the water, “What will it be today, creature?” 

The tip of an old wooden ferry bumped lightly against the riverbank to the right of me. The faded whorls of paint that decorated its bow were familiar to me now. 

The coin in my hand continued its routine almost of its own accord as I smiled at the ferryman. 

They were beautiful, in their own unsettling sort of way. I suppose they had to be, given their trade. There were voids where their eyes should be, deep chasms you were likely to fall into if you looked too close. Their skin was gray and their smile was crooked. Their dark hair was tousled from the river wind, but their black cloak remained perfectly in place. They leaned on the lone oar of the ferry as it stilled, resting their head on their skeletal hands. 

I continued to flip the coin. 

“What brings you to this side of the river?” I ignored their question as I replied with one of my own. 

I often wondered what it looked like to outsiders, our encounters. Just a mad person talking to the water? Or were there other people out there who saw the ferryman as I did? 

“It would be a lot easier to ignore you if you stood on the highest rooftop you could find and screamed my name,” They answered, voice raspy as always, “Rather than sticking your dirty human feet in my waters and tossing a coin. It’s practically a summons.”

The coin spun in the air. 

“Except I’m not dead, Charon.” 

Their smile was all teeth. 

“That could change as fast as the flip of a coin.” 

Oh I knew that. Every time I blinked, that millisecond of darkness was enough to frame a hundred images that flashed across my vision. The last car in a parking lot. Bullet casings and razor blades. Falling and sinking. Red lights and tyre tracks. Sirens and screaming and the deafening sound of nothing at all. 

I’d seen everything. 

“ I didn’t come for a lesson on life and death.” I snapped. 

“How could you, when you’ve learned them all?” Charon drawled. 

I flipped the coin again and again. It flew higher with every violent flick of my thumb. I stared into the emptiness where their eyes should have been. Did they remember what colour their eyes used to be? Would I?

“Call it.” 

Charon smiled again. They stretched their hand towards me. The ferry groaned at the shift in weight.  

Heads or tails.

“Tails.” The nothingness in their eyes somehow managed to look hungry. 

The coin arched in the air, spinning and turning over itself, fading from gold to black before being snatched from the river wind by Charon’s boney hand. 

They frowned. 

“Heads.” They spat into the river, “I hate it when you win.” 

I sighed as I stood, fingers twitching at the absence of a coin. I hated to be idle. Charon gripped the oar of the ferry, pushing it away from the riverbank as a cold breeze whipped at our robes. I pulled mine tighter around myself. 

“I’m not sure I would call this winning.”