[Trigger Warnings: violence, murder, mental illness, abusive behaviour]
When we’re there in the car, my legs uncomfortably propped up like I’m a giant sitting on a treestump with my dangling hands touching my ankles, knees pointing upwards and outwards like parted trees, when we’re there in the car nothing else exists but us and the car. There is a fine layer of glass but the glass only half-exists – it shows me false images. When I open the door again, when we stop, when this hellish car ride is over, everything else might exist again, but right now when we’re there in the car, nothing else exists at all.
It is stunning then, even remarkable, that she should be crying. She should be driving; she should not be crying about someone who does not exist. There’s a false red light ahead of me and I stare at it, and I wonder what would happen if I rolled down my window there and then, but I don’t roll down my window and I don’t reach out into that blackness, even though I suspect that the red light might be real. The images shift. Flat people walk across zebra stripes. She is crying but she wipes her tears and presses the pedal at her feet that makes the images wash over us like we’re being pulled forward. She is telling me about him – that is why she is crying.
Some background might be needed.
An hour ago someone poured poison into my eyes and it ate its way into my brain. There were all the physical symtpoms of feeling happy, but I felt distressed. I felt the poison round my eyeballs and twine its way into the nerves that meet up with the happy nerves. The happy nerves were then cut off and the poison, which was eggs, hatched right there in my head right where my thoughts were, and the hatchlings grew together into one thing and it felt happy. It felt content. I felt nothing, but my body was relaxed and I stopped biting my nails, and the corners of my mouth twitched. The man in the labcoat told me he would kill the thing and reconnect my nerves, he just had to shine a lamp straight through me first, and he’s got little tweezers for my eyeballs. The pupil is where the light comes in and this man widened it for me and shone an evil light in through my skull, trying to find the poison creature. In the end he had to pluck my eye out just for a second and grab the little fucker, and then he said I’ll heal perfectly fine by myself. My eye retracted back into my socket exactly the way the cord retracts into the vacuum-cleaner again, only slower.
So I had to call someone, to drive me somewhere away. I called her. When we’re there in the car, and nothing else exists, she is crying.
Some background might be needed.
I come from the alternate universe in which I am not a coward, but that one had to shut down. It was too good to be true. I was reallocated. In this universe I am a coward, and I have not killed anybody with my bare hands. I sleep poorly.
He is still out there.
She is crying because he is so broken up about us not being a family. I ask her, “Are you sure you’re not projecting, here, because historically that has been the thing that you have had breakdowns about,” but I don’t ask her that. I let images course past us. I am not meant to be here. He tried to kill me, and she refused to witness so I had no case. Boys will be boys. He was just messing around. (The reason I know he was not messing around is that I hate him, and I want to kill him, and in exactly the way he tried to kill me, and I wanted to kill him long before he picked up that hammer. If you want to find out what someone truly thinks of you, let your thoughts drift and find out what you really do to them in your deep fantasies.) Now I somehow believe that I can ask for one favour without him being brought into the conversation. That is folly.
She explains how she has tried to explain the world to him. He won’t listen. He is depressed, like I said before when no-one would listen, like I know now when I won’t speak. I love him because he is human, the way I love any person, and it hurts to hear that he is catatonic, maybe suicidal. She is catatonic, maybe suicidal. I wish I had killed him properly, and not run away.
I wish she would drive full-throttle into that wall. There’s a drab, solid wall on our right side, but it’s easy to tell that nothing is real outside this car, because the people we almost run into sort of smear off at the edges; they blur out when they need to. Sometimes cars in the mirror will split in the middle and their parts will move away from each other, mitosing, and sometimes we run over big grates and the blue cars just sort lose coherence and fall through like they were liquid butter, which, of course, they were not. They’re not real. I wonder if she drives into the wall, if the wall will just fracture and rush over us like baleen teeth or if it will move away before we hit it.
I look into the eyes of a toddler who is standing up in her baby carriage, all by herself, and something tries to make it seem like she is looking into my eyes but she’s got the lateralization all wrong. Her left is supposed to be her right. From the moment I look at her she looks somewhere far ahead of me, and follows this imaginary thing (there are no cars where she is looking, not even the not-real cars that seem to be everywhere in this city) until I intersect with it and for a split-second I stare into her eyes and see the poison thing in those big black holes, and then she’s staring somewhere behind me until I stop looking at her, at which point she falls back into her carriage like a thing unpossessed.
To my left, there in the car, the driver is crying. She is showing all the outward signs of emotional toil, but inside she is already dead. I open the car door and the false images disappear and a great black expanse paints itself the colours of a new city.