I’m itching to write, as if I were presented with a scab that has remained forever unpickable. I crave to write and write and have this pencil glide from page to page to scroll to keyboard, from material to technological, my words shall keep speaking. Kingdoms of two meter waves, rosie autumns, misty minds, suffering, hoping for catharsis. I crave to write about this whole existence, the earth and all the systems within it, and of course, the systems within and of course, the unknown, when we turn the lights off. In this little controversial mind of mine, I shall clear some space for a little writing laboratory. Test tubes and microscopes, sieves, gloves and the whole lot. You see it’s a science. One must first dip themselves into the waters of imagination, with gloves, carefully extract samples from different kingdoms: darkness, despair, adrenalin, jealousy (and we usually go for the nastier ones, harder to grab, more likely to bite your finger). And once you’re back from that expedition, you examine them under a microscope, these little twitching encapsulated potentials. With some wit and pincers, you tie them together to form a little world of yours, where gravity might be slightly different. Another warning: you can’t really control when these urges to dive into these creative, inviting, dangerous waters will come. Whether your head rests on a pillow, hair relaxed, body decompressing for sleep, or whether you’re at a coffeeshop, or on a rollercoaster, this urge simply does not care. You’re thrown into your diving suit and pushed into your subconscious synovial fluid. Down under there, the sky varies often, blanketed by the indigo wine and occasional lighting strikes. You might find some familiar structures, bits of picked up memories. You might find grieving faces- suppressed pain never nurtured. Now… I don’t want to spoil your exploration nor uncover too much of myself in this. All I can say is, remember to take your backpack.
I’m sitting in this room, having tea and scones with myself. It’s rather a very fancy space. Painted white bricks, a nice table, red velvet chairs. The tea is earl gray, and the scone comes with a little pot of cream. Of course, this whole set up has been stolen from one of my memories- how else is imagination made? I am indeed quite rusty at this process, for fear has been nagging it’s tail in my face. But today, emotion has prevailed and I can’t find myself doing anything else but writing- for it is all I can really make myself do. You got to always give something back in this energy exchange. You take in the form of breath and space and time. You have to give back. It can be in the form of creativity, happiness, awareness… Anything pure. So, everything else has been crossed out on the “giving” list, and writing sits there like an awkward child, waiting for me to claim him finally.
My alter ego sits opposite me, across the table. She’s been served the same as me: tea and scones. I want to say hello, but I’m scared and disgusted. She has my face, and it is really the only time I can fully see myself directly in real life. I have this narcassistic need to crawl up to her, look at her from every angle, but then I remind myself that she is not me. Right? Her name tag says Anthea.
“Speak,” The voice that comes out of her lips is of a higher tone, but of course it is, why am I taken aback? The only voice of mine that I’ve heard is but an echo in my defective human eardrums.
She crosses her legs, and I don’t. Before speaking, I really take a good look at Anthea. Her hair’s flying everywhere, as if no one had touched it in a year: mouldy, hay-like, half-black, half-yellow. But in contrast, mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick has been applied perfectly to her face. Two little ghostly shadows rest on her cheekbones: she is thinner than me. Her skin glows like a halo, her fingers are like a pianist’s, but a real pianist. Maybe she plays piano? She wears a huge white shirt with a blue circle- I recognise it. It fits her like a huge bag, it’s obvious how tiny her body is beneath that cloth, and it looks good. Not the way it looks on me. As she waits for my reply, she brings her hands up to the table, and graciously lifts the teacup to her mouth. Her arm is covered in porcelain ink tattoos, drawings of flowers and some other amorphous slightly dark shapes. The skin is pulsing and red and raw.
“Those new?” I ask.
She stops midway, and places the cup back down. The ding between the ceramic and glass table seems like it is made in heaven.
“Yes.” She speaks with confidence. “Who are you?” she adds on.
“I am me.” I look down at my hands. I’m wearing something I think seems familiar. “And you, are my alter-ego.”
“Oh no, no. You, my dear, are my alter-ego. I am original. A unique creation.” She replies, with that voice that just seems too abnormally high in pitch.
We both lean forward at the same time: I guess we do have the same brain with the same reflex-impulses. I stare into my own eyes.
“What do you do?” The words barely come out of my dry lips. I’m sweating and she’s stone cold.
“I’m an artist, a writer. I’m intense. I like adrenaline, and caffeine and rushes- I like extremes.” As she says this, she lights a thin cigarette that she allows to balance precariously before her food. She cuts the scone into a million tiny slices.
“I like my body to extremes- these bones, seeing them, remind me of my mortality. It’s what drives me to live my life. And the feeling of this smoke? It makes me lightheaded, and the fact that it’s slowly destroying me just puts me in the best mood for creation.” She says this, as she keeps the smoke lurking in her lungs. Her small, pinpoint breasts roll outward, then inward.
“You are destroying yourself to make art?” I say. I don’t know what to feel. This all sounds too familiar of an idea.
“I don’t know, really. This is all just so temporary. I’m just playing around like an alchemist, with these limbs, this face, this living breathing machine. I like to be in control. I’ve written books about my emotions- killed my way to get up top. I have a girlfriend – I think she hates me, but also maybe secretly loves me. You see, I’m just oh so paranoid she’s going to run off, so I like to interrogate her, tie her up. In my free time, when I’m not networking, of course. That’s me, that’s what I do. There you have it.” She says all at once.
“Friends?” I inquire, almost desperately.
“Oh, so many. I get invited to parties, I’m an artist! A self-destructive manipulative artist, testing the limits- who doesn’t like that at a party? I have pictures of my friends, but I can’t really remember all their names, of course. Human memory is stunted.”
My whole body starts shaking and I stare at my veins portruding. She watches this happen but doesn’t speak a word. Goddamnit. I take the teapot sitting next to me and throw it right at her face. I want to watch her disappear, disintegrate like a projection. It hits her, and she bleeds and her head hits the wall behind. She screams. Fuck. Who made me throw that? Why did I throw that? I’ve never heard myself scream since I was 13. It’s a painful sound that cuts me to half and makes me forget everything but that.
She doesn’t disappear. She’s real and she crouches down on the floor, grasping her eyes. There’s no anger when she cries. It’s like she knew it would come.
Salty tears start building up and soon enough I’m crying, at the same rate as her, and in the same position.
“Oh, my alter-ego. Why are you so cruel?” She weeps and squacks out. Her voice is scratched now, patchy.
Those words hit me like ten blows. I want to say, Look at who you are. I thought you were who I wanted to be.
Then I look at myself.
I don’t say a word.
We spend the next thirty minutes patching up. We place the teacups, teapots, scones back to exactly where they stood. We clean the blood off the floor, we place the chairs where they were meant to be. We smell the flowers. Then, for last, we sit at our respective places and eat.
She looks more reserved now, as if scared to talk. Her cat-eyes glance at me, like a hurt creature. We both swallow the food. She takes smaller, planned-out bites.
“So what do you do?” She breaks the silence after an hour.
“Well…I’ve just finished school. I’m hopefully going to a monastery for six months. I’ve been trying to write my first book, but I’ve completely hit a block. I’ve been trying to be a good person, I guess. I have lots to do on my mind, I want to get it done. I want to help. But yeah, I wake up, have some food, try to be okay half the day, try to meditate, think of what to have for dinner. If I have to go out, I need to keep my heart in check: it races like crazy.” I reply solemnly.
It just spills out, as if someone had pressed some inner button.
“So in short, you don’t do much.” Her voice assumes one of a therapist, non-judgemental and full of hidden questions. I recognise that tone.
“Did you attack me out of jealousy?”
I shake my head, after a moment of hesitation. Then I do it with more assertion.
As if some bell rang, we both get up in unison, with force, like little kids at the last class before break. She sticks her bony, pale hand out. I look at her once more. I only recognise myself in the eyes. I stick my hand out too, to shake her hand.
“I will never understand you, my alter-ego. How can you live this way?”
“Me neither, my alter-ego. How can you live this way?” I reply.
Before I can grasp her hand, and have some kind of closure, she disintegrates.
I, too, disintegrate a split second after her.
I can only hope to become a balance between the two.