Minutes feel like hours as I doze, but a sense of uneasiness lurks in the back of my head, scratching at my contentment. I know that soon the time will come and this semi-comfort cannot be sustained. I drift around in the half-way world where you don’t really know if you’re asleep or awake as I hope desperately that it is early and I won’t have to get up any minute. Then it hits as loud beeps shatter the tranquil air and we are forced to get up. Again I must go through the procedure, for I know the punishment if I don’t. So I pull my still asleep body up into a standing position. The cold begins to lick me as if now being aware that I’m awake. The chill from the floor creeps up my legs and enters my blood stream as I stand there shivering. First it’s the washroom. I drag my feet towards the entrance to discover the small room pitch black. The lights have not been turned on yet. I fumble helplessly for the light-switch before finally making contact. It flickers a few times before turning on and I catch snapshots of my tired face in the filthy mirror as I stand like an animal caught by a cars head-lights, frozen and revealed. Today is the day, finally the horrid day has arrived and I wonder why I even bother to shave, but then again shaving is a compulsory requirement so I have no choice. We have no freedom.
She has not yet emerged from her sleeping quarters. She hasn’t been called yet. I am angry at the suffering I will endure today as she remains here. No-matter how awful this place is, I would still rather stay here than be forced on the hellish journey I am about to undertake. We haven’t spoken in days. A relationship can’t survive under these conditions. However it went bad before this, it’s just that now I am truly able to see the real situation.
Bad relationships are like… A Monet Painting. When you’re up-close and involved it’s all very unclear. All you see is attractive bright splotches from incredible greens, to blues and dangerous red’s. It’s not until you step back, that you can fully make out the layout. When you can see the real picture. This usually causes a problem, as it’s very hard to step back once the colours draw you in.
I wish I’d been able to paint life with an enormously long brush, that way I could have still created and experienced, but from a distance where all is safe. Maybe all through life all we’re doing is creating a picture and it’s not until we die that we get to step back and see the whole creation. Does that make heaven one big art gallery? I want my life to be a masterpiece of gleaming Byzantine gold. Every little scratch and stroke of pain and suffering adding the masterpiece. However when I do reach that other place I can envision myself being escorted by God to my picture, I am being led down huge hallways of beautiful art, all cordoned off with red velvet rope, even the paintings that aren’t finished yet are still masterpieces as they sit high on the huge walls framed with elaborate gold frames. Then we turn the corner and there is my picture down the end of the long hall, it is a crayon drawing of a house with a dog and three kids, the plaque reads ‘Graham Dunn – this is your life’.
I should have seen this coming. Even before I ended up in this horrific situation things were bad. Well no, really there was one thing bad, yet that one thing was overriding any feelings I had of genuine happiness.
Have you ever noticed if you eat something at the same time you encounter a strong odour, the food your chewing begins to taste like that smell? When I lived in Kangaroo Flat, we had a big house right in the valley between the mountains. And in summer we would always have barbeques in the back yard. We would cook beautiful fresh lobster, squid and prawns from the market. When you bit into that tender meat the juices would flow out, bringing the taste of fresh seafood and that charred barbeque flavour. The thing is a kilometre down the road was a pig farm. And on windy days the stench of the pigs would waft through the valley. The foul odour of those filthy animals would override and contaminate the taste of the food. Even though we were eating the most exquisite fresh seafood, it tasted like dirty stinking pigs. She was the pig farm of my life, and her selfish spite is what saturated and stained my happiness. Now look where we are.
I glance out the small window but am unable to see anything but grey, as the morning fog blankets everything in bleak grey-ness. I wonder if I wasn’t in this situation if I didn’t have to leave and be tortured today, how would I look at the world then? Perhaps I would gaze out the small window and see the fog as mystic, or romantic. Rather I am numbed to my soul and unable to feel any sort of emotion as I view the world through a putrid lens of anguish and frustration.
Mike comes out of his quarters, and I also see the fear and sadness on his face, for we are both forced to suffer the same fate today. Mike has been in this situation longer than me, and I wonder why he isn’t dead already. Neither of us says a word to each other for talk is useless on a day like this. Time is getting on and we are forced to move on to the train station where the train will pick us up and take us there. I didn’t say goodbye to her, I didn’t want to.
When we reach the train station we are joined with others, all with the same look of distaste and fear as we stand in single file, shivering along the platform. The silence is deafening, as no one says a word to anyone. Suddenly bells clang and res lights flash as the cool steal train squeals and hisses up to the platform. We all spill through the small doors into the tattered carriage. Some are able to sit, however the majority are forced to stand. Again the silence grates at my already escalating fear and anxiety. The doors slam closes as the train convulses into motion. It has begun.
I remember the novelty of catching trains when I was a kid. My mother took me on a steam train ride. I loved it so much that from then, until I was about thirteen I wanted to be a train driver. I try to imagine again that I am just going on a ride however I am unable to sustain this as the pain and the sadness within this tiny carriage is so intense it seems to penetrate my mind as it distinguishes my delusions of happiness. The clickedy-clack of the tracks below speeds up into a frantic rhythm which appropriately sounds like a death march. The train stops along the way to pick up other poor souls and the mass of bodies surges, each time more violently, as others are forced onto the train. When the doors open I feel a breeze on my skin, a breath of the outside world. Perhaps from a wind that has travelled long and far from some far-off place away from here. I wish that it could carry me back from whence it came. At this moment the thought of escape dashes around my mind. What if I were to try and get off this train? However it’s not an option. We’re getting closer and escape is futile.
Some people have their eyes closed, and I wonder if they are imaging that they like the wind have travelled to some far off place, anywhere other than here. I think back to heavens art gallery and wonder once sort of paintings the people around my have created. Could they all be as bad as mine? They must, because they are here, and if they are here it means things have gone horribly wrong at some point in their lives. However a lot of them seem older than I. Anger wells up in me as I begin to ponder why this had to happen to me at such a young age, why couldn’t I have experienced life a little more before being put to death. This anger leads to images of her, still lying there in her bed. Ok I didn’t say a final goodbye to her, but she knows what day it is today and she didn’t even make an effort to say goodbye or consol my soon to be tortured self in any way. Surely this is a sign that there hasn’t been any love there for a while. I wonder if I had experienced true love would I have ended up here. I shake my head violently trying to clear these useless hypothesis as if my head where an etch-a-sketch.
The roar of the train gets louder as we enter a black tunnel. The blackness outside has turned the windows mirror-like and a look at my pathetic reflection in the window. The speed of the train increases and I begin to hope for some intervention, anything, something that might occur that would stop this train from reaching its fated destination. My anguish turns to fear as I imagine my day ahead and the actual procedures I will be forced to go through. I look down at my ID card that I have been forced to clip to myself. It will be checked when we arrive, and I almost smile at how funny the very idea is. As if anyone who isn’t forced would one go anywhere near the place.
In my mind I attempt to mentally prepare for what is to come but the thought is too painful so I try to think of happy things, events before this horrid situation; however I find myself having to travel back at least a year to find happiness in my mind, even though I have only been here for a month. I think of all the wasted hours with her, when I could have been spending my last free days with someone who mad me happy, someone who would help me to embrace life, and maybe just maybe, I wouldn’t have been captured by this darkness. A scratchy and inaudible voice crackles through the speaker as the train slows. I have no idea what the man said but I know we are about to arrive, I can feel it in my soul. I think of the train driver and wonder how a so called ‘human’ can do a job like this? Everyday transporting people to this hell to be tortured. The very thought makes me literally shudder.
We’ve come to a stop. I’ve never felt so still in my life. I wish I could remain this still and somehow avoid my advancing fate. The doors screech open as we tumble out onto the platform and the train pulls away. There’s no hope now. We walk up several stairs for what seems like an eternity before we are forced to form a single file as we pass through the gates. We trudge along the pavement all of us with our heads down as we try to cope with intense feelings of rage and helplessness. I force the idea of escape out of my mind once again as I pass through the doors. I make myself a coffee then walk up to my cubicle as I sit down at my desk and turn on my PC. Then I check today’s emails, put on my headset as a wait for five o’clock. I think of her still lying there in bed, peaceful and content, unemployed, and I long for the day when she gets a job and forced to experience this air-conditioned hell as the minutes of another horrible Monday tick by like years.
A depection of the daily road to hell… Will we survive?