The lips on her sixth head move. He knows he should be listening but the vision of a seven-headed humanoid beast distracts his mind. Sat back on her couch she breathes out a stream of cigarette smoke from her second. He realises the pill was a bad idea.
‘So Tomas,’ she says, cutting through his thoughts. ‘Where were we?’
He shrugs his quiet reply.
‘We can sit here in silence if you prefer, but as you know that is not the way these sessions work.’
He bites his tongue. She’s right, bitch. Adjusting his own position he tries to remain as composed as possible. ‘May I smoke?’
‘You know you can. No formalities here.’
He manoeuvres a cigarette from the pack and works it into his lips. The beast leans forward and offers a light with her tentacle arm. The flame ignites from its tip and he breathes it in through the stick. Inhale. Hold. Count to five. Exhale. ‘What do you want to know?’ he says through the smoke.
‘How about we talk about your feelings?’
‘That’s very generic.’
‘Is it?’ Her necks begin to merge together, one head melting into its neighbour. A fourteen-lipped mouth continues. ‘Everything can be summed up when we understand the reason for our actions.’
‘Right.’ He closes his eyes and inhales through cancer again. ‘That simple?’
‘Simplicity is never the answer. So, tell me about.’ She pauses at the wrong moment and lights a new cigarette for herself. ‘Tell me about your day.’
‘My day? Which day?’
‘Any day that stands out as important.’ Another pause. ‘The day you knew you could do it.’
Tomas shivers and flickers his eyes open. Spitting visual venom in her direction. She avoids its acid hit by shaking her multi-face into one. She smiles warmly. Bitch.
‘Take me through that day. That moment.’
‘Have you ever been in love?’
He bites his lip. She sits there in her ‘normal’ appearance; hiding the beast he knows hides under the surface. ‘How can you? I can’t. I just know I never felt that way for anyone. Ever. Could never.’
‘That is a limitation.’
‘That’s an honesty. He was perfect. It was never meant to end the way it did.’ A pause. The vision blurs and distorts, the world melting around him. ‘It was never meant to end that way. He was perfect. Even in his death. He just laid on the floor and I hugged him. Curled around his back until his body froze and the blood soaked the carpet.’
‘And you did not call anyone for help?’
‘Who could have helped? He was my world and he lay there broken. Shattered.’
‘It could have been prevented.’
‘It was the way it had to be.’ Click. Flame. Inhale. ‘After that everything was different. How can the world remain the same once its core has gone?’
+ + +
The eyes open. Bed. Memory. Dream or reality? Flashback. He pulls himself free of his covers and runs naked to the bathroom. Bent over the toilet he heaves. Muscles contract but there is nothing to force out. He hasn’t eaten for days. Self-medicating and this is a part of the withdrawal. Another pill will cure this, he thinks. He pops one from its packaging and swallows dry. Another pill cures the sickness, but the pain remains hidden under euphoria.
His reflection distorts back at him. Lips peel back into a snarl; eyes melt backwards to reveal empty sockets. Blinded from seeing his reflection he crawls back to his room and lets the static on the television distract him.
+ + +
‘This is nothing new Tomas. We spoke about this drug abuse last time. You need to cover new territory.’ She makes a few notes on her pad. She’s wearing red nail polish. She writes right-handed.
‘You asked me to describe the day.’
‘I want to know your thoughts, not actions.’ She sighs. ‘I’m here to help. Your usage of chemicals is a reaction to either a thought or a fear, maybe both.’
He looks. Static burst before his eyes and he sees her true form again. The beast is trying to trap me, he thinks. He wipes his face. No, she’s here to help. Trust. ‘Shit.’
‘That’s how I felt. Shit. Empty. Lost. Are those the keywords you’re looking for?’
‘Only if they are true.’
She smiles. ‘Okay, so the drugs were, are your escape. Now tell me, walk me through that day from your perspective.’
He twitches in his seat. Scratches at the bugs crawling under his skin like ants. Scratch, scratch. He draws blood. She notices; she makes a note. Shit. Deep breath then begin.
+ + +
He sits on the bench, surveying the scene. The park is empty enough for peace of mind but busy enough to watch. The six legged dog jumps at the tree branch arm of its owner whilst they run across the grass at the speed of light. Everyone moving like robots, jerky movements. Life frames removed from the movie film. Vision blurs and he escapes into the infinity of it. The world a smudge around his cocoon.
Once you’ve loved so completely no one else is good enough. Everyone is plain and incomplete. He has no effort left within him to learn somebody so well again. He thinks of the body motionless in its pool of blood. The last time both soul caskets had made love. One punch too many. One act too far and the world shatters. The ecstasy of that final hit, the fall to the floor. That power to end the passion of life. He’d made his choice to stay and that was the conclusion he received. It shouldn’t have ended that way, but that was how it had to be.
A shadow crosses his vision. He focuses. A heartbeat falls short and in his start his cigarette tumbles dramatically to its death.
‘Sorry dude,’ the angel says. ‘But do you have a light?’
Tomas swallows. How can this be? He raises a lighter to the waiting hand.
‘Don’t think about it.’ He moves across on the bench and the vision sits next to him. Tomas surveys his face. The spitting image of his love. A ghost. A second chance. He extends a hand. ‘I’m Tomas.’
‘Ewan.’ A beautiful smile, it makes Tomas want to weep. He closes his eyes and thinks of his hand touching the stranger’s skin.
+ + +
‘Beauty took his form. All I saw was his face. His essence marked on the universe.’
‘So, would it be fair to say you have equated your love to a notion, a type?’
Tomas frowns. ‘No, not a type. They are the same in their beauty.’
‘So why could you not love them?’
‘They weren’t him.’
‘I know, but why did you not give them a chance? Let them into your life?’
A fake tear allows him to put his hand into his pocket and slip out a pill with his tissue. He blows his nose, pretends to cough then swallows.
She continues. ‘Maybe that is where the problem is. You’ve convinced yourself that you can never be happy with someone else.’ She stretches back in her seat. Her body extending, growing in size, doubling. Her head kinks to the left and a mouth opens on her neck. She places a cigarette into its hollow lips and smokes. ‘You need to remember that we choose everything, no one controls us.’
‘But we can’t control who we feel for. If you’ve never felt like that how can you understand?’
‘That is something we need to help you understand. So, in that moment what happened? What did you feel?’
‘What did you know?’
‘They could give me one small moment of happiness. A bubble that would trap that memory for a few seconds longer. They could keep that sensation alive.’
Her neck mouth swallows the cigarette and her head straightens. With a cough the cigarette reappears at her lips with a frown. ‘Explain so I understand.’
+ + +
He didn’t understand at first in that initial moment when their eyes had connected. The date had gone as expected, a stumbled series of awkward silences and snippets of information. Ewan was a student, no family to call his own. A sad existence which he had somehow created happiness from. A forgettable existence.
Tomas had rolled away from the form next to him. Cold and empty. A husk of what it used to be. A pretty corpse with a severed neck. He’d stood and looked down at his impact. A smile had crossed his lips. He’d liked what he’d seen. Within the hour Ewan’s body was hidden beneath the undergrowth as food for the wildlife. Discarded. Purposeless.
George had had the same effect. The face of his lover, a sweetness of voice. Tomas had dragged him down the alley by his hair. He has a face to die for, he’d thought as he’d slammed a fist into it and watched him crumple slowly like a broken statue. Tomas had sat with him for the hour it took for him to slowly lose consciousness and bleed his life out into the gutter.
Gabriel had been too disinterested to receive a full ‘service’. He was dealt with swiftly like all the faceless parasites they’d been surrounded by that night. A bloody toilet seat, a caved cranium and a pure milk white body was that poor boy’s legacy. As Gabriel had breathed his last, Tomas had realised he’d loved them all. All for a split second when they transcended into his final memory of his lover.
He loved them all. One face, four deaths, more that he doesn’t want to reveal.
+ + +
‘That’s what gave them beauty. Can’t you see?’ He’d become more erratic in his movements. ‘I knew from Ewan what part of my love for him had left its scar. The pain. That moment of disbelief as I delivered that final blow. The split second look deep from his soul.’
The beast moves uneasily in her chair. One of her heads had closed its eyes during the tale; one had ripped off its mouth, another its ears. The remaining look at him expressionless. The seventh speaks. ‘You level love with a moment of violence. That is what you are saying. You remember loving him in that split second.’
‘No, I loved him totally. Now I can only find love in that final look. The disbelief of someone who loved you fully. That final look of love.’
‘You murdered them to maintain a memory?’
‘I murdered them to feel loved.’
‘You murdered them to maintain a memory of feeling loved?’
‘If you wish.’
‘So why did you then take the pills to forget it all?’
‘There must be a logic. Or did you want that new “lust” to remain hidden because it distracted from the love you had for him?’
He shrugs again. Bitch, what would she know?
‘That’s the problem with therapy is it not? It brought all their faces and voices back into reality. It has made you remember. So how do you feel about them now?’
‘Empty. Cold. Lost.’
‘Do you believe you can truly love again?’
‘Tomas, do you not understand? No one can help you unless you help yourself.’
‘I didn’t ask for this help.’
‘Yes you did. You called me here. You came willingly to this session.’
Fuck this! His mind screams and the scene before him shatters. Cracks. Disintegrates. Large shards of glass fall to the floor alongside the heavy chair.
Tomas allows himself to collapse to the ground, his breathing deep. He sits alone. Fuck, he thinks as he looks at the broken mirror. That’s seven years bad luck.
Copyright © Dom Lyne, 2010
A therapy session with a twist.