Schadenfreude

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Left to your interpretation...

Submitted: January 15, 2015

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Submitted: January 15, 2015

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At once I saw the detail and every one of my past thoughts and experiences became nothing short of minute miracles in the palm of my hands, fleshy petri dishes in a clinical body raped by personal experimentation. They tried to hide between the lines, the ones for the heart, the mind and the life path, not to mention the ones that elicit secrets of marriage and my future children, and I lost them to drowning. 
Sweat pooled thickly as though coated in syrup. I brought my hands to my face, eyes closed, and inhaled. Sour, harsh, like chemicals. The sounds of rapid breathing, the rip of bed sheets in frantic fingers and your weight on top of me. Between me. You moved like great waves, washing over me in the wind, all power and no relent. 
I heard something sing in my head like tinnitus in the ears; shrill, incessant like school children’s cacophonous cries in a concrete playground. We played.
You would wink, smile, wave so casually you could never have understood the tight effect on my organs; the closing down of my mind, the collapse of the lungs, the arthritis in the knees and flooding of the brain. The heart is worse affected than any other. It pushes the stomach to pulsate, to make one feel excited and tense, encourages the lips to stretch into a daring smile, forces the fingers to tousle hair and the cheeks to come up red, feel burning desires that aren’t really there.
In a low-lit bedroom built only for me, the bed lonely and confused in the corner like a child cast out from play, I watched from the window your ghost walk up the street.
Come; keep me company in summer. The winter I can handle, but summer is a time for dalliance, romance. Being alone in the heat is far worse than being alone in the cold. You need more than just a friend when left to die in the snow. What good would words do when you find yourself a mere stain of bones on white in the middle of anywhere, somewhere, camouflaged by your demise?

 


Head hung low, hands in pockets, you turn the corner. You are here. When you enter, I make you wait so that I can count the pores in your skin, the lashes around your eyes, trace the fleshy winding paths of your ears and kiss the tips of your experienced fingers. You smell surreal, like something my nose can’t recall but definitely longs to remember. I give you wine. You pretend to drink it. You know I am too strong for you.
My Parisian lamp makes me feel exotic, well-travelled. You remind me that I am only here, now – not there, then and certainly not a dreamy in-between. You won’t leave me to fantasy. You keep pulling me back from the things that keep me grounded, barring me from my selfish unreality so I can share the horrors of yours.
While you sleep, I take your conscience. In the details of your daily chores, your job at the school, your children I pretend don’t exist, like aborted foetuses fallen out of the womb and left like apple cores on the ground, I find soft solace. It feels real, good, solid, but not too clean. There is always much to improve. It’s the thing I like best in you.
There is dirt in your fingernails and silver in your hair, not to mention the creases in your clothes and skin that match like crumpled paper with headlines of Midlife Crisis and Borderline Perversion. There is front page news about your success and finance, but only a back-page spread on your growing depression. 
I keep in jars these imperfections and watch them grow like fungi. Beautiful wings, lips and skin, all grown into one unique organism I call AMORE.
At night they quiver and I hold them. In the morning, you complain that something doesn’t feel right, and I comfort you. You don’t sense the torture that bubbles beneath your bones, and that is my selflessness. 
To treat you mean, but keep you stable in-between. 
In photographs I pick out angel’s footprints and devil’s dust, traces left by remorse and sick guilt, the sin of passions you swore you would never give touch to. Senses swell and burst like a gaping volcano, spitting fumes and heat and liquid. Perhaps a sore, left to produce bacteria from bad things infested. I watch you suffocate in it, writhe in it, fight to break free from it like a chick in a tough egg desperate for birth. 
You have no idea.
You have no idea of the things I would do to pull you back from the last five years and have you relive them through my hands and head. The heart was once absent. You have no control over the small things you think are weak at your feet, seldom voiced when your lips are closed. I would sew them shut.
In sleep I let you find me, but wake only with the sense of absence familiar to me from years of restless solitude. The bed is too small, the windows reveal no outside life and the mirror makes me furious. There is no reflection. 
I smash everything I own and go back to rigid sleep, the bed trembling in its frame to hold my egotistical weight along its slats. The house crumbles; the rain blasts down the windows like tears as the bricks shake loose, the glass shattering from some terrible voice, the furniture breaking free of screws and nails and wood and handles and shelves.
Books burn at my feet, sheets and scarfs and silken throws unravel and billow out the open roof, flying the flag for my dissolution. The floors let go, letting me go, letting go of every object of insignificant possession and me and all my thoughts go scurrying after them like a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole.

 

The staircase won’t allow me to go up. I am stuck at the bottom, surrounded by everything I wanted nothing to do with; your butterflies are free and flapping silently around my head like an animate halo. I am a cartoon. 
I feel I am walking, the walls are changing, but I have never been and never will go anywhere else. Through your eyes I watch me as I make futile progress up the silent carpet to your room. I think you know I am coming.
Beyond the door you are making swift work of your wife; your children are asleep behind the walls but they might as well be a universe away. I cannot block from my fragile the sounds of another woman’s cries, her deep breathing, and the movement of sheets on skin. I am afraid that I will die on the stairs.
From inside, you pull open my mouth and empty the contents of all your sins and secrets. They dissolve like wet pills on the bulging tongue, slip into the throat like accidental sea water, burn down the gullet and refuse to settle in the stomach.
Something has defeated me. You are not real.
Your children are playing in dresses and shorts, skin bare and never vulnerable in your garden. Their smiles blind me. 
Your wife, legs shining in the sun and that satisfied trembling smile on her lips, her hands and thighs marked once by your trespass, rests back and sips the wine I bought for you. It is the nicest wine she has tasted since the day she married you.

 


Yes, she cries. Inside me, she cries. 
I tear from a nightmare and find myself inside out on the far side of your kitchen. You never wanted me in the kitchen unless you were hungry. Your children, born and raised and tender from the first blows of hormonal abuse, will be home from school soon.
I am crying in the sink. It is full and overflowing and someone has made me swallow the plug. There are shuffling voids in my ears where a butterfly finds itself trapped. It beats its tender wings with strained energy, makes sounds like a woman fanning her flushed face with a newspaper.
They go again, (him and her) turning over and around and trying something new to find fresh ways of stealing each other’s poise. The children are coming up the path. Clothes are rediscovered and limbs are pulled apart, clammy and hot and making me nauseous. I can smell him, and I can smell her. The water will not stop rising.

 


The sheets chafe against your hot, dry skin as you turn over. I am holding you at the waist. Resting my head against the thumping of your heart and rising, falling, of your chest. Your breaths sound like distant surging waves from the open window of a cliff hotel.
Outside, the country is in dissolution. The world is a giant cyst, crusted and corrupted. I imagine that I am picking it away, leaving only you and me standing in the fresh centre like newborns ready for life. I see you smile in you sleep.
Your wife is a twenty-year old mistake. Your children were removed from her bloodied womb so long ago you cannot recall to mind the names you would have given them. I am your life, your death and your rebirth.
I hurt you, but you have no idea.


© Copyright 2020 Stevie Phoenix. All rights reserved.

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