© Kristiana Reed 2018
I’m sat on a bench in an pub in London. I’m sure someone has vomited here, caressed the inner thigh of another here, spent the day drinking into five pm oblivion here. This is the first time I’ve been here and hopefully not the last. It’s almost midnight and the pub is heaving. There is a band playing and blue, red, white and green lights play havoc on the human carved dance floor. A dance floor of questionable footwork which would usually be me. I would like it to be me. No matter how clumsily they sway, feet falling into gravity, they look feather light. Dilated pupils. Hand holding. The opposite to how I feel; smiling is difficult and so is walking. Talking is even harder and I’d like to curl up like road kill. I’m not alone though. The seat beside me is occupied by the ghost who moved in with me this week – or never left, all those months ago, I’m not entirely sure. Each feathery fragment of my ghost is weaved from my insecurities and chooses to dress in violet blue. And sometimes, it lets me wear a red tutu. The red tutu is a chance to smile because you’re happy, because you’re you and the sky is blue or black and sometimes you can see the stars and sometimes the clouds will obscure the moon but you know it will peek out from the other side and make you smile. I like the red tutu but I fear I won’t be wearing it tonight. I think the people around me hate me. For resigning myself to this bench with my ghost. I could be stood in the middle of the floor lit with colour and drunken laughter. I could accept the drink. I could say I’m fine instead of I’m depressed. I could count down the minutes in sadness rather than stay here to feel the bass drown out my heartbeat, and enjoy it. The ghost is holding the red tutu; passing it between its ‘hands’. It leaves me with an inkling of hope. Hope tomorrow is brighter. Hope I won’t dream too vividly or if I’m lucky, not at all. Hope happiness comes from more than just sweet jars, home cooked meals and the way you look at me. Maybe, just maybe, it will come from the way I look at myself in the mirror, and smile because it’s easy.
© Kristiana Reed 2018
What had been a clutter of china and tinkling of stainless steel on unfinished breakfasts, became a hush as my ears attuned to the conversation beside me.
Two women. Huddled around a low pine table, their faces bent inward, listening intently. The steam from their coffees wistfully evaporating as they sunk into worn chairs, coffee shop chic. From a distance, the man two tables away for instance, they may have appeared as mothers, sisters or daughters with a moment to spare, to share. Two escape artists who had stolen away from the circus of finger painting and unmade beds. The assumption grounded in the laughter lines and exposed roots. An assumption dressed in coffee coloured fog.
In fact sitting there, with hands clasped around steamy ceramic or raised in quiet gesticulation, were two women. Two women – fiery, tempered by the ‘selfish’ desire to live as women. Not mothers. Not…
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My bed isn’t my bed. You bought it aged twenty. Your first adult purchase, to go in the bedroom on the second floor of your mother’s home. I helped you build it. Or, I watched you from the distance you held me at; furtively glancing at the instructions you frustratingly, typically ignored.
It creaked from the beginning. Beneath weight, sex and hot water illness. The metal legs bent in a matter of months. No longer sturdy but it moved with us. To the bedroom on the second floor of our house. It mismatched the furniture and was always a reminder of the childhood we were still loving in.
I still remember the night we met, fourteen years old, drinking Strongbow. Every night, heavy as lead beneath the sheets, I forgot the fairy lights, the teaspoon of whipped cream you kissed from my neck and the mystery of when I’d see…
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