Poisoned memories swilling today, trying to convince me that they were born of some happiness.
From the moment I wake; dreams of that child. That fat, stumbling, awkward, anxious child, that they all loved, for his passivity, his sweet smile.
But who hated them. Hated himself. Hated everything.
If they could only see, he'd whisper to himself, into his tear-stained, fever-warmed pillow; if they could only see behind my eyes, then they wouldn't pretend to love me so much.
The only thing I love about him; the only thing I retain, barring the experiences we share.
Why this morning? Why not tomorrow or yesterday or never again?
Rising from dreams of him; a nightmare of parent's and grandparent's and parents-of-friend's houses, thrown together and co-mingled into a twilight labyrinth, haunted by perversions and distortions: their inhabitants lingering in doorways, in the darkness of stinking, freezing rooms, glaring at him as he passes, whispering threats as they swarm with spiders and cockroaches, as they hiss and yowl like cats, as their eyes blaze, their bodies tremble.
Phantasms, projections of old nigthmares, lurid, forbidden fantasies: the gleaming eyes and twitching legs of a great trap-door spider, burned into his memory from the nature documentary in which he first glimpsed them, exaggerated here, whimpering with a voice not unlike his Mother's. A naked, twirling girl, her frail body scratched and bleeding, bloody tears on her face, as she dances, scattering her matter into the dark. A ragged-haired, evil-eyed man, a feral dog's snarl, violence seething from his every pore.
Waking from that, the nightmare lingering, quivering between the dressing-gowned and slippered body of that idiot child, the strange ande naked man that sleeps in his place.
New dreams, older memories, as I drag myself from bed; as I exercise, shower, brush my teeth; check my phone for the usual tempest of demands and recriminations:
Heya Son, r u still coming 2day?
Do you have three hours to come in this afternoon?
Haven't seen you in forever. Let me know when you've got some time off, and we'll get together.
Is that it, then? We just not gonna talk?
None of them raising so much as a snarl; preoccupied, memories demanding, no matter how earnestly I deny:
My Grandparent's house, dark-bricked, semi-detatched; number seventy two Ingham Street, always smelling of bleach and cleaning chemicals outside.
As afraid of it as he was in love.
That strange quiescence, that palpable sense of time slowing, of care evaporating, whenever he stepped through the front door. The anxieties of home and school, of being known, done with there; mysterious, despite its small size: the strange wallpaper, the mismatched carpets, the scents of roasted chicken, pipe tobacco and pot pourri...
An alien place, whose backrooms and cupboards, wardrobes and out-house, he populated with the strangest creatures; monsters that would make him afraid to cross the landing to the bathroom of a night, for fear of them waiting, crawling in the dark from their warrens, where his Grandparents couldn't be of any help:
The hunched shadow, ragged and red-eyed, its long, pale arms and legs almost blue-skinned, slick with filth, his smile yellow, too wide for the face that wore it, crooked teeth stained with flecks of old meals.
The skitter-headed woman, her tattered red-dress flailing, her hands clutched beneath her breasts, her head smeared and wavering as she wanders, as she whimpers and wails.
The centipede-thing, immense and coiled in the airing cupboard, imagining it unfurling in the night, as soon as his head hit the pillow, vile antennae waving in the air, segmented body shimmering as it waited for him, for his brother, to open their doors and peer out.
His brother. His brother.
Some days, praying for them to take him, take him, take him. The little shit driving him to tears and trembling fury with his invasions, his spite, his clumsiness; his presence.
Dreaming of waking to screams, finding the little shit gone, his bed empty and torn up, trails of blood and bones leading to the wardrobe, the airing cupboard...
So unhappy, that boy; out of love with everything, no matter what nostalgia insists, how earnestly it tries to poison his mind.
Remembering: the truth of it; waking every day, every day, to anxieites both familiar and novel; to whatever new distorted horror his imagination made of the world. Trembling, breathless, terrified, every step, every word: not realising where it came from or why; only that it was his natural state.
Seeing him now, in imagination's eye, as I watch the snow fall through the kitchen windows; his affrighted eyes, his false smile, the terror beneath.
Happy, so happy, to be put out of his misery: swept up and battered against the wall of the cold, empty room where I find him, blonde hair staining bright, bright red, bone-fragments flying, burning warmth between my fingers, in the rain that pours through ruptures in the ceiling, until he ceases to laugh, ceases to struggle, and I rise, free of him, every toxic lie in his broken mind seeping away between the floorboards.
George Lea is an entity that seems to simultaneously exist and not exist at various points and states in time and reality, mostly where there are vast quantities of cake to be had. He has a lot of books. And a cat named Rufus. What she makes of all this is anyone's guess.