Never Nothing

My stom­ach sud­denly blue on the bowl­ing green: not here please, any­where but here. I steady my­self on a bench and wait for it to pass. Seems like I’m al­ways do­ing that. Steadying, wait­ing. Probably just too much cof­fee; it’s only 9am and I’ll never learn. Folding over ex­pect­ing bile, greeted with noth­ing, never some­thing. Cobweb and spit­tle,” I un­der­line in a book, cause that re­ally ex­plains the short of it, and the dreams, well, they’re still puls­ing. Houses made from golden glass bricks, glossy and bul­let­proof. Everyone had a gun and every­one was bored. Don’t go out­side, they’re here for blood, you whis­per, all that ex­cess needs to go some­where. Other thoughts: shriek­ing lar­vae, ele­phants in show­ers, a girl called Nancy. I read hun­dreds of pages then for­get them in­stantly, un­able to think, only to do. My body be­com­ing steel, a hazy lit­tle ma­chine churn­ing away with not a sin­gle thought. I try lis­ten­ing to pod­casts to re­trieve some­thing but the words come drib­bling out, straight through my nos­trils, leav­ing a trail be­hind me. Where was that place that we learnt how to dance? Where time was elas­tic, every arabesque swal­lowed up with in­tent. I can’t claw at any­thing re­sem­bling an an­swer.

I walk, some­times, or sit star­ing at the pix­e­lated pris­on­ers of the screen. I want to pos­sess them but I know I could never. Time is too thin, slips round like a wet fish, and any­way, I have noth­ing to of­fer save for the con­sis­tency of my gaze. I wait for them to no­tice the edges of my new fully au­to­mated sys­tem, a tech­nol­ogy of self-de­fence slob­ber­ing over timesheets, wed to the pre­ci­sion of rou­tine. I avoid mir­rors and wear the same pair of leg­gings every day. I brush my teeth at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals. I do not read my horo­scope. I use a green pen for the things I’ve com­pleted and or­ange for the things I haven’t. If I com­plete a task be­fore writ­ing it down, I go back and add it just to cross it off again. It has oc­curred to me that this may be a rit­ual of mourn­ing, al­though for what I’m still not sure. I de­velop a deep but cau­tious in­fat­u­a­tion with cos­mic con­spir­a­cies, with men se­duced by aliens, with time trav­el­ling teenagers, with any Hollywood movie fea­tur­ing a black hole. I drink wine only from a flask, use the small­est spoon I can find for my yo­ghurts. I look at my old clothes long­ingly but never try them on as if some great re­ward should be sewn from my def­er­ence. I feel small in the face of a mil­lion hot-takes, for I my­self have none. I have lists, though, plenty of them, a whole life spon­sored by post-it notes.

Symptomatic, you might say. I tell my­self each night that to­mor­row will be bet­ter, hop­ing by then I’ll un­der­stand. Rattling be­tween the creases of my sheets, try­ing to sum­mon some­thing, never noth­ing.