The moment has never been enough to sustain me, to hold my attention for even the amount of time that the moment needs to become the past; this crippling disability has forced me to grow into a permanent state of dissatisfaction, only occasionally broken by the slightest sensation. I can recall, perhaps, three occasions over the past year when I have been truly happy.
One, whilst I was growing increasingly sober in a nightclub in Liverpool, saw sitting against the wall, with my feet angled out and up, and my heels digging uncomfortably into the metallic edge of the box the place used as a table. I couldn’t hear anything besides sound – I couldn’t see anything but light, but light which came in flickering diodes and blinding still-shots which twisted through the filtration of my eyelids – I could feel nothing but sensation, from the harsh surface against my buttocks and my back, to the aforementioned heels, to the vague coiling of something in my stomach which warned me, in no uncertain terms, that I had ingested the same old poison into myself; I wasn’t quite immune.
But I was thinking how fine it would have been if I had died then; if I had lived in that moment from a literal perspective, and if I was dead the rest of the time. What if my life, a mean, scrabbling, laboriously dull affair, would have been greatly improved if I learned, at the end, what it meant to be alive?
I flickered my eyes open, to draw in one last sight; I took a deep breath, to feel my lungs burst with oxygen; I curled my fingernail into the palms of my hands, that I might experience the pleasure of agony in one final moment; I pulled my lips apart, to feel the smokeless atmosphere upon my tongue and between my broken teeth; I tried to listen to the song, and heard the words displace my last thoughts.
There were three women dancing some feet ahead of me, on a ledge which led to a few steps which, in their turn, trailed down onto the main dancefloor. There were stop-motion, the lights illuminated their solitary positions for a long moment, before darkness descended and they were free to move. I saw arms raised in unheard pleas, strands of hair whipping the atmosphere in reproof, feet propelling slim, young bodies from the cruel floor and gravity and constraint. I sensed arousal skirting on the edges of myself, and I rejected it. For a moment, I longed for it to consume me.
I felt my nostrils complain as they stole every scrap of air they could, felt each follicle of hair tremble beneath the sudden onslaught, felt the air punish the back of my throat as it passed and my lungs expand within my chest; it was an eternal death rattle, a scentless inhalation.
I thought I felt dead protein burst through my skin’s veneer, felt it pierce through the flesh and into the muscle beyond. I felt the warmth of blood pulsating around them, a warmth which spread through my fingers and arms as though some dam had suddenly burst beneath my pressure; I felt knives in the dark and rejoiced in the fact that I was so feared that my own body could such a thing to me.
I tasted the air, tasted the sweat and the manufactured smoke and the sickly sweetness of foreign vomit like I never had before. I found beauty in that taste, in those ugly components, boasting their hideous countenances. I could taste the three women, knowing nothing but themselves and their audience; I could taste the barmaid, pouring out shots and nodding along with the music; I could taste the DJ himself, like a pontiff on a pedestal, bringing his people closer to their gods.
The words were alien, beyond my perception, and I was bacteria in the undergrowth of existence, studying two monkeys as they rubbed sticks together and drawing closer to the warmth. I followed the song down strange, illicit pathway, I felt it permeate my being and force my heart to beat along with it. I felt my lips move along with words I didn’t know, words I had never known and would never know, and would reject as a folly if I did, if I had, if I could.
Had the world been kind, I would have died – I would not have bastardised my moments with trying to capture it; to live it, that I might repeat it, in my dissatisfied memory. Like a picture, like anything which has ever been recorded, the moment was a falsehood beneath the weight of the moment – the Art was meaningless beneath the paintbrush of Art – the picture was broken, out of focus, through the lens – I was dead, as I longed for death and struggled to stay alive.
But he, my friend, sat beside me with a heavy exhalation; made some crude comment about the girl on the right-hand side of the trio, and shoved a plastic glass of whiskey and coke into my hand. I felt him knock our glasses together, as though a toast over recently acquired farming tracts in Africa, and his speech vanished into the sound and the liquid as my thoughts wove themselves a noose from his company.
I was happy then.
Just a quick reminder, every eBook you see on the left of the page is completely free. The Caitiff is my first full-length eBook, in terms of a novel; Mychandra is a novella and my Broken Polemics are the more experimental forms of writing I began in university.