Me and I

My favourite place to write is in the bath. I have a cut of wood which rests on the sides, allowing me to scrawl like nobody’s business until the pages are damp. Damp pages remind me of how squishy my feelings are – squeezing my heart and soul for coherent thought, art – and how porous paper is. I always listen to piano music so I selfishly wallow in tepid water and breathe along to my own words and only my own. It is always between 8 and 10pm: it’s either midnight dark or sun set and during both, like a phantom, my mind soars to be with the birds in the trees. Birds, piano keys and bubble bath foam popping like candy are my favourite sounds. In between lines I like to scan my freckles for patterns, listen to the hum of traffic on the main road behind me and wiggle my toes at the surface. It’s peaceful, me and I, I and me. It’s the only time and place I remove the bandage over my third eye and try to see.

© Kristiana Reed 2018

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The Seed in my Chest

I wonder if I knew why I was crying, would answers open themselves up to me like heaven’s gates? I don’t imagine they will be pearly white or morally sane, but they will be answers all the same. Answers for why buried in my chest is a seed. The size of a plum or sometimes a peach. It is a seed of sadness that sprouts in the rain but also reaches out sapling hands to the sun. When it sprouts, my skin tingles like two bees are dancing across my collarbone, around each breast and below my sternum.
Today, there is much for me to do. I have used off milk in my coffee and decided to drink it anyway. Shoes breadcrumb the flat, as do pillows and clothes. I’m naked because I had a bath in this heat, in the hope I’d feel touched by more than just a ghost. Between each task – coffee and bath – I’ve retreated to the sheets. To water the seed in my chest; because maybe crying isn’t an end point but a process. Maybe the seed will blossom into happiness.

© Kristiana Reed 2018

Brightlingsea

I don’t want to leave. I want to keep on walking, past every beach hut until the sun sets. Then find myself at the harbour chippy, queue for ten minutes before eating my chips, while I swing my legs sitting on a wooden anchor far too small for me. Ten more minutes and I’ll be home. Granny’s old house with a karaoke machine in the cupboard under the stairs. I’ll have a bath and ponder using the pumice stone like I always did. My evening will be spent drinking tea from a mug with a watercolour rabbit and fox gloves on the side, and eating toast, barely toasted, smothered in margarine. Later than bedtime I’ll crawl into the single bed that no longer seems so high and fall asleep; a windowsill adorned with teddies my uncle won at the Summer fair, above my head.

© Kristiana Reed 2018

Snow White

Today is Sunday and I’m by the sea. I’m wearing a batman t-shirt; which is ironic because I’m in no fit state to save a city, too wrapped up in being the vigilante of my own body and soul. It’s pleasantly breezy and quiet and warm. The sky is cerulean blue. Or, at least I hope it is. I’m toying with the idea of taking off my sunglasses; to pierce my eyes with holiday sky but I don’t want to be disappointed by an aquamarine. I wonder if lonely walks to clear my head wrapped in sunshine are what being a writer is all about. Or, if this is just what depression is. Are those two things mutually exclusive? My sandals are digging in and I wonder if I deserve it. The woman to my left, sat on a bank of grass, is crying. She’s hiding it well; a coffee cup, sunglasses and stoic lips. She is wearing red and I imagine her in a red tutu which helps her hear the crickets and birds easier and the crunching of my flat feet beneath her. I imagine her in a red tutu so she focuses less on the sadness she must feel in her bones and more on the coffee drips threatening to stain her clothes. My ghost has allowed me time alone today; time to smile, time to be quiet, time to listen to the sea and nothing else. I have brought the red tutu with me, stuffed in my bag but now clasped in my hand. A father on his bicycle gives me the chance to wear it, to feel
its feathery tulle. He is cycling past with his son. Yards away he reminded him how to ring his bell, a warning, so I waited. I didn’t look back but waited for the sound – small hands on metal and moved to the side. He thanked me and I smiled and with an absent mind stepped into the red band which matches my cheeks. The bee about my ear is much louder now but it means I’m not alone. In fact, I feel a little less like batman and more like snow white instead.

© Kristiana Reed 2018

Image: pixabay

Red Tutu

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

Image: pixabay

Women and Children – Kristiana Reed

Whisper and the Roar

Women and Children

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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Naked – Kristiana Reed

Blood Into Ink

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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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