Content Notes apply to this chapter.
Note for Eye Readers: I really like the audio version of this chapter and put a lot of work into it! You may like to consider reading it with your ears.
Note for Ear Readers: The audio version of this chapter may be more intense than other chapters. You might like to consider reading with your eyes.
I drove all Wednesday and then fell asleep in the afternoon. Then I couldn’t sleep at night time.
I did find my phone charger though. It was in my backpack the whole time. I’d forgotten to plug it back in after getting back from the hotel on Sunday.
I’m keyed up and edgy and in the past I would solve that problem by finding someone to have sex with me but I do not want to do that now. The thought of being with someone that isn’t Scott makes my skin feel prickly.
I went to work and it was chaos. I’d expected some level of extra work because I’d been away for two days and I’m usually the person who clears out the email tickets.
I’d thought that my least favourite part of my job was calling people who haven’t paid their bill. It turns out that having other companies call us to tell me we hadn’t paid our bills was even worse.
After I got home from work my house-mate, Gina, told me that she liked living with me and she didn’t want me to feel like she is kicking me out of the house but her girlfriend, Julia, was moving in and they’d rather like to have the place to themselves.
“There’s no real rush,” she assured me, “Just… whenever you find a new place to live that would be great.”
That sort of thing used to confuse me a lot but Scott has explained things to me enough times that I was able to understand that what she meant was “Find somewhere else to live as soon as possible.” But she said it in that other way because she didn’t want to make me feel bad.
I felt strung out and light-headed but I forced myself to call Scott and Mani because that’s the thing I do and if I don’t do the things I do at the times I do them my whole life seems to fall apart.
I feel like I’m falling apart anyway.
I sit in my room on the floor and I rock back and forth squeezing my legs. I hear the tram as it goes past and I want to tear off all of my skin and stuff it into my ears I take my glasses off and put them in the drawer of my bedside table. Just in case.
I hear Gina laughing on the phone.
I hear the traffic and the tram. I dig my fingernails into my arms I want to scream but I don’t want Gina to come in and ask me what is wrong she does that anyway I don’t answer and she goes away. I keep rocking back and forth.
Gina and I haven’t lived together for very long and I’m not sure if she’s stopped liking me yet maybe she has maybe that’s why she wants me to move out and it was actually the part about Julia that she said so that I wouldn’t feel bad I don’t know what will happen at work or how I can do my job when it doesn’t seem like the people in charge have been doing their jobs and I wonder if I was supposed to have noticed that or if somehow I didn’t do enough to stop things from going wrong.
I hear the tram and I bite down on my knee people don’t seem to like me much at first and then after a while they get to know me a little and they start to like me a bit then they either get to know me better and they stop again or they just slowly drift away I don’t seem to know how to either make friends or keep them I just have acquaintances that are different degrees of friendly apart from Scott. And Jeremy, who is trying to fix me I put my knees against my eyes and push down. I hear the tram.
My friend Scarlett still talks to me online but I don’t really see her in person I think that’s probably why we’re still in touch I don’t really know if she likes me but she did ask me to help her choose her name and asked me to call her by it even though she hasn’t told anyone else about it I wonder if that means I really am her friend but I don’t know how to tell I wonder why the only people who say they want to spend time with me are the ones that can’t do that because they’re too far away and I wonder why I don’t seem to work like other people and why the things that help other people never seem to help me I clutch my head and rub my hair I lie down on the floor and rub my hands on the carpet until they get hot I bite down on my arm and I wonder why I’m like this and why other people aren’t and I thump my head on the carpet and I dig my fingers into the backs of my ears I twist my hair around my fingers and rip it out by the roots and I hear the tram and I throw handfuls of CDs from my bookshelf into the door and I stomp on them until broken shards of plastic stab me in the foot I push the bookshelf over so everything falls on the floor and I punch the side of my desk with my fist because I don’t want to punch a hole in the wall and I hit the desk and my thighs and the desk and my head and I scream into the side of my bed and I scream into my arms and I scream into my pillow and I scream into my pillow until I run out of breath and I try not to breathe in again for as long as I can.
Then I lie on my bed and try to unclench my fists and I feel where the pillow is wet under my cheek. The worst thing about breaking things is that it does usually make me feel better. Which makes it harder not to do it again.
One the one hand I’ve got quite a lot to clean up but on the other hand I didn’t hurt myself badly enough to need attention and I didn’t break anything that wasn’t mine and I didn’t punch a hole in a wall.
I hear the tram again.
I close my eyes and think about the elephant girl. I imagine that she can’t hear a tram.
I don’t often tell people about her or the stories I dream up for her. When I do people don’t seem to understand. They assume that she’s me somehow or the person I wish I were. Or that I imagine amazing things happening to her like wealth or fame.
But I don’t want to be her. And I don’t imagine that her life is any happier than mine.
I imagine the elephant girl. Knowing that her bird will fly back to her but missing him dreadfully all the same. I pour all of my feelings into her instead of me and imagine that she’s the one who’s happy and excited and stressed and rejected and worried and lonely and loved and embarrassed and proud and ashamed and sad. I line up all her feelings in a row like I used to line up my toy cars and when everything is neat and tidy I feel them one at a time and I imagine that she’s screaming and she’s crying until I’m not screaming or crying anymore.