CURE FOR SICKNESS
Bring all of the cushions in the house into bed. Bring extra blankets. Bring fleecy things that feel like the skritchy patch behind cats' ears to stroke against your cheek. Brew all the coffee. Brew strong coffee, the kind that makes you shudder. Find your hipflask, the hipflask you filled with cheap scotch and took to the party and forgot about somewhere in the giggles between vertical and horizontal behaviours. Choose a mug that pleases you. Make it a large mug with a thick handle and a broad lip to rest your mouth upon. Fill it with 4 parts coffee to 2 parts whisky to 1 part honey. Return to bed. Pretend your bed is a slow ship sailing through all kinds of make-believe oceans. Pretend you are beset by pirates and crows. Drink the coffee. Cough lumps of brown phlegm into all your tissues and scatter the bed ship with crumpled white clouds, some kind of sky beneath you--imagine your bed can fly. Choose books that you have read at least four times or those that have at least seven sex scenes. Feel sorry for yourself. Keep spitting. Read old emails from lovers who are distant enough to make you grin. Compose imaginary missives saying "I love you stop I always loved you stop Let's make a blanket fort makeout post behind the bang bang mountain". Make a blanket fort. Hide inside the blanket fort from the detritus of your life. Realize that, in fact, your life is not in detritus--realize that your life is, in fact, full of sweet candy opportunities like scattered shards of mother of pearl. Play pretend anyway. Recall the bed jacket she gave you and dress yourself in padded glamour and long for a gold bell with a bright tinkle to summon all the things your heart desires. Turn off the internet. Turn on the trash. Write daydrunk words with a woozy honeyed head. More coffee whisky. Cheese toasties. Believe in mustard as a cure for all the things that may ail you. Surely anything that makes your tongue tingle will salvage 90% of your wayward health. When you still don't feel better, pretend you are Balzac swooning with consumption. Bring a hand-held mirror to your face and blink your eyes wide; look aghast and ashen in your pallid cheeks; sigh. Declare today an island in the midst of all the waters of living, or a pond in the midst of all the sandshores of life. Wallow as long and as loud as you feel fit. Keep ringing the imaginary golden bell and wait for something to show up and wipe the afternoon's dirt from your boots. Keep drawing the barricades and stay safe, stay warm, inside. Give yourself to the soft sweetness of illness or fight it like bears. Do you really want to fight bears? They will maul you, my sweet; they will rip your skin from your bones. Play dead, my sweet. Lie still, and wait for the bears to leave.
(a.k.a Mashnote to Melissa Broder)
Let us play galaxy spy, she says, and I am smitten kitten by her words. I would like to promise an eternity of us in nursey dress up, hair pinned like dressage ponies, corsages made of meat. Standing on the thirteenth floor diving board, are you ready sweet cheeks? I'm going for the triple flip. Arse over tits over head heels wonderbra. Holler and a scream from the get go, because this so-called pool is a concrete chasm and my skull has a date with the deck.
I like the girls who put a k on magick, shelves of voodoo glue and cosmic brain powder, velvet sacks of lipstick in seventy shades of mink. Together we're aloha and ten degrees of trouble and eleven types of fancy and twelve step programmes that end on the bridge. The bridge? The bridge. The motorway bridge with its smudged night, green light blue light autobahn, automated screaming, I like these girls, the cracks in their necks smell like mine.
You're so pretty when you're unfaithful, so come on over and try my fishnet filth for size. You're geometric. Static reverb. Your bottom lip's a burst red ball and I want to bite it and watch the blood parade. I'm a silk scarf between two fists and if you've got a neck I'd like to wrap around it and tighten and wait for the...
Kiss me. We're in the back of a cramped car, a Cadillac, mint princess mobile, we're in the back and skating down the autobahn, puncturing holes in the smudged light scarecrow skies. This night is kicking in, the green light blue light, let us play galaxy spy. This is a love letter to your collarbone and your crucifix and your cleaver, this is a mash note to your cunt of meat and glitter. This is a confession to your booth.
Can we play catholic girls with skinned knees and scattershot? Will you be the sick sad man behind my dark pine wood and let me giggle and hair twirl and hara-kiri some truths? Lips like gypsy caravans left too long in one place, let's lip like nomads, let's give them lip, the ra ra teacher and the squalid authority. Tell them that they can stick it and run with hearts like meringues, light and brittle and sticky. Can I put my hands around your neck and feel you dissolve into wet sugar and gack, can I kick you, will you kick me?
Every inch under this white skin is a hello bruise tattoo waiting to turn. Take your sack of clementines and wallop me merciless and take your crimson fingernails and scratch a seam down my back and take your pretty pink cleaver and hack it open and let my fluffy white stuffing show. And the spill of pound store plastic rubies and the black soot and the road dust and the ooze of thick blood and the side of meat. Whatever is in there, let it out.
ARE YOU LIVING, OR JUST EXISTING, SWEETHEART?
Are you living, or just existing, sweetheart? Do you count down the long days of the week as if they were hard granite rocks you had to chip away from a broken cliff face; do you cast them off as if they were trials and not just your life? If you were to come across a brown buckled suitcase in a copse in the darkness of the woods, would you open the lid and marvel at the contents, or would you walk on by, concerned about bombs?
Have you, in the past week, created something out of your own scrabbled hands and sent it out the world as something, just something, that perhaps you have to offer? A cake, a song, a poem, a letter, a lesson? A thing, any thing, that did not exist except in fleeted thoughts and smudged memories, a thing that you gave form to and spat out? What about the last month, the last year?
Are you living, or just existing, sweetheart? Do you catch yourself ever finding it an effort to while away the hours? Do you understand the world “while” used in this context? Or are hours, to you, a sparkling gift in purple ribbons that the world has bestowed upon your eager hands?
What if I was to say to you that, if you desired, I could double the time in a working week: would you leap up and grab my palms and look askance in wonder? Or would you take for me a charlatan and a cunt; would you be disgusted?
When I say “dinner” do you ever, even momentarily, think of calories before you correct your stupid self and dream of feasting? Do you ever call yourself “your stupid self”? Are you nicer to your friends than you could ever conceive of being to you? What about dread, do you understand what I mean when I speak of this and self loathing?
Are your hangovers painful? Do you ever wonder if you'd be a better person if you could get over hating yourself on a hangover, or, contrarily, do you think you're not hard enough on yourself and if only you were then you could finally get something done?
Is “getting something done” a notion that makes sense, or would you turn to me and laugh in a full-bellied kind of way and say that all of life is doing something, and something is something that you've already done?
Are you living, or just existing, sweetheart? Do you rely on lists? Are there things at the end of the day that still need to be crossed off and do you judge yourself on these unscored instructions? Is there a better place waiting or is this the best place? If I had a fast car with a low slung door and I said, “Let's just leave this all, let's get in and go”—would you? Have you ever thought about escaping? Or are you already there?
Jane Flett is a philosopher, cellist, and seamstress of most fetching stories. Her poetry was featured in Salt’s Best British Poetry 2012 and her fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio, awarded the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award, and performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Find her at http://janeflett.com