ANYWHERE BUT HERE

2009 – How did this happen? How did I manage to get a degree in Animation, an offer to do a Master’s in London, yet somehow, absolutely nothing has become of me. How does that happen? And why am I sitting here, staring at the pattern of bruised dragon valley’s on pieces of foil? Those little foil squares.

The sound of thunder rips apart the sky like that of wood being ripped up from a floor. A colossus of lightening strips the world of darkness upon the faces of houses, and the light, and the crashing and the turns of this confusion, carry me down this vein and empty length. And the beast, and her legs and abandoned adolescence, list lazy over the arm of my chair, sitting, half tilted in a damp map of urine.

I push aside the sight as one pushes aside the sight of waste collected along the line of curbs and an artery of a streets clotted end. Your forgotten, haunted echo, your black desperate cry, and the discoloration of your chaotic presence, embeds itself deep into the texture of the cold concrete floor of my heart. Slabs of pale light cut through the gaps in the window blinds, filtering through like sand escaping through the slats of fingers, and the calling sound that lived in my dream, distorts the already disfigured nightmare of being awake. I long for darkness – a place stripped of all light.

A marble of your greed turns to liquid, then smoke, abducted into a sparkling silver tube. Your possessed glare, your retiring, heavy eyes, your retreat, your stain and your off-white, composed at your will without me beside your surgery, beside your enlightenment and foil squares. My vacant face, this, carbon-copy of happiness, this beast in the shadow of my empty observation, content, in your dirt covered darkness. I want your veins strung out in big fat neon above the world.

Carry me, dear messenger of light, for I am tired of being the migrant, the pilgrim without a Mecca. Carry me down to your river of ribs, to that large sky manor, that place in the divide toward the tired mist of emptiness; to that place behind death, and all its silent, empty, and infinite space.

* * *

Sat down, got comfy, I know this train, I know it very well, I’ve been on it before, except in the past I have had to alight two stops along in the journey, glancing enviously at those still onboard, wishing too that my ticket was stamped “anywhere but here”; a one way permit to release me from the Black Country chains that have bound me to its soil since I was 6. But my ticket was always a return, a little rectangular piece of orange and white paper that was stamped, “not today mate … back you go.”

But today is a different day. Today I am leaving for good. The red chair on the train feels no different, the architecture out the window having only slightly changed in the 28 years I have known it; progress here has been slow, and my life seems to have wondered along with it at the same relentlessly slow pace. But not today. And before I know it, before I have even settled and made myself comfortable by placing my travel items around me, the bottle of water; the expensive magazine; the cheap murky brown liquid sold to me under the pretence and illusion of coffee, comes the distant shriek of whistles, and the train shunts and jolts an inch in that moment before it departs; an inch away from home; the first inch of a million that will soon come and go.

A young man, no more than 25 years of age, sits across the isle from me. He fidgets and tries to get comfortable, eventually getting out a small bottle of Brandy. He hides the bottle of Coke that the Brandy is being poured into and notices me watching him. He talks to me and tells me that he has just been released from prison, has nowhere to go, has no money or family and will most likely end up back in the clink anyway, “…so fuck it,” he says, “Cheers,” necking his Brandy-Cola cocktail. We talk some more, about this and about that. I hear the nervousness in his voice, the vulnerability.

“Tickets please, tickets from Wolverhampton?!” is called, and I get my ticket ready. The young man hides his Coke bottle. “Tickets please.” I pass mine over. I watch the ticket-man look over the details of my ticket hoping that he doesn’t find some small detail that would prevent my journey from progressing any further. When you have lived a life under the red-tape and mindless bureaucracy that can often come with the most simple of things, you can tend to come to expect that something will always be wrong, even when you have done all that is right. But not today … Stamp. Click. “Thank you sir … tickets please, tickets from Wolverhampton.”

And that was it, I was on my way. I looked out of the window and realised that I had forgot to say goodbye to my home of 28 years. I had always imagined that I would look out of the window and mentally wave goodbye to the place, but that never happened. My mind wasn’t on remembering the day I arrived there in 1981, the memory of my first day in school, the home that I came to love; a lifetime of events that helped shape the man I became through a childhood that was relatively pleasant yet hinged on so much going wrong, as though the secrets and darkness within others were constantly present beyond a precipice, one that I had always been aware of in presence, but found waiting for me later on in life.

At the very moment I had always imagined I would look out of the train window and say goodbye to twenty-seven years of my life and twenty-seven years of memories, my eyes and my mind were on a young man just out of prison, looking as lost on his own unknown path, as I was on the path that I was now inching my way along, and although I can never compare my path with his, I am quite sure that for the briefest of moments, he saw the vulnerability in my eye’s too.

He asks me if the train is going to anywhere but here … and I tell him that it is.

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