I am a paper-thin outline of skin.
This, all that remains,
all that contains my nerves
a micron-thick flesh shape of myself.
Muscles so skillfully removed
no incision can be seen
upon my blueprint skin.
Bones left to dust,
a powder in my almost
I am a trembling structure.
Flaking, crumbling, collapsing.
I am undone.
Food makes me hate myself.
Through sleep-crusted eyes I wake every morning and remember
that I must eat breakfast.
It is 08:33 and I’ve already woken once and fallen back to sleep
partly because I know that I must eat today
and I don’t want to.
I wonder what “breakfast” really is.
The first half hour of my day is spent
poring over memories of what I had the day before
so that I can find inspiration for the morsels I must end my hunger with.
I can’t remember if I even ate breakfast yesterday.
Walls in my brain erected from thoughts of eggs on toast,
cities built in seconds,
cement paste measured from
two parts breadcrumbs, one part tears.
It takes a lot of work to knock this network down
and in doing so force open the hinges of my jaw
to allow food in against my better judgement.
Two rows of white knights standing ready marching in a rhythmic beat
in time to up and down as mastication transforms bacon pieces into guilt.
Maple-glazed disgust dissolving in the chaos of a bite-sized slaughterhouse.
The Unholy Trinity of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
make the walls of my castle tremble.
Take their name in vain and–
–they will eat you alive.
I find Hell in streaks of ketchup,
traces of my sins in upset stomachs caused
by eating three whole meals in a day.
I wash myself clean but I can still feel oil in my pores and as I scrub
I shed a layer of my skin but I can still feel the salt in my veins
and I scrub harder still until I’ve carved away enough to expose my bones and then…
My friends ask why I cover up my mirrors.
I tell them that I’m superstitious.
Purple shame hangs heavy under eyes that can’t and won’t make contact with their own reflection,
afraid of what they might see staring back at them.
I’m terrified of laughing in front of people because,
when I laugh for real, my teeth reveal secret snacks snuck in
when nobody is watching.
I live in a nightmare woven from threads of my sanity.
I am a slave to food.
When I wake up I think of food.
At breakfast I think of food.
Before lunch, food.
Snacks food dinner food
dessert food food food
fucking food fat fat fucking fat!
I fell in love with the pangs that struck me
hard inside my abdomen.
I guess I’m just waiting for it to break my heart.
This is just a quick post to advertise The Hell Butterfly’s new sister website, Stop The Silent Killer. In light of recent events I felt it was about time I set this up. I’ve been considering it for a while but it’s finally up.
It is a platform for you to share your stories about mental illness. To tell the world about your struggles, and how you solved them. To share your pain, to help others through their own.
It is a safe zone, somewhere for us to help each other through the pain of mental illness, and to get the word out to the world about the truth behind the mask.
Let’s not stay silent about it any longer.
Please visit the link and share it. It has only just been set up and could do with a little boost to get it off the ground.
Regular Hell butterfly broadcasting will commence shortly.
This is the second part of the Meanwhile in A&E series in which we meet main character number two, Kieran Shrubb. Again, the style of this has been very carefully calculated and I hope it has paid off. As this was already in the works when I posted the first of the series, it came quicker than I imagine the next two will. Characters #3 and #4 are sculpted in my imagination. Now I just need to mould the clay that is the English language. For now, here is Chapter Two. For Chapter One, click on the doobly-doo.
Tears swallowed up his sapphire eyes. Through the wringer once again. Knees gave out and down, down he went. Dead weight on the bedroom floor. Another day, another torment. Breathing for him had now become a chore. He couldn’t remember how long for. It felt like forever. It was probably more like a few weeks. Like that mattered. Weeks, days, hours; they seemed to run for an eternity. As if to prove his point the clock went tick, tick, in the silence.
He sobbed without crying. Hard, wracking sobs that made the very bone structure of his face ache, but without the warm relief of tears to follow. Fingers intertwined in his own hair, hoping somehow that if he pulled out a clump or two, the darkness would creep out of the roots and he would be okay. Bald, but okay. His vocal chords strained in their attempt to scream in silence. The breath ripped through his chest in a whisper.
Alas, a tear! A single droplet squeezed from the duct as eyelids kaleidoscoped the world into violet, marigold, chartreuse. His fingers creaked in their sockets as he grasped again at the follicles. Another cold scream stifled. The ribs on his left side went numb with the effort.
And then nothing.
The sobbing stopped. The pulling stopped. The screaming stopped. All that was left was a tingling in his fingertips and a hollowness that echoed his muted cries about his chest. His hands drifted from his head like lead weights. His movements were sluggish, yet he felt that his body was heavy. His eyes never moved; they were empty now; they stared at nothing; they noticed nothing. After the commotion in his mind, the world now seemed too quiet. It hurt his head. He didn’t care.
Twisting sideways, he let his head fall onto the edge of his mattress. His hands sat limp in his lap. How much time had passed? He really couldn’t tell. Every time it felt like an age. He began to sink down, down into the confines of his solitude. He left his bedroom behind, and fell away into nothing.
How much more of this could he take? Could he survive the next beating? Would he snap at the next verbal abuse? Could he deal with his parents screaming? Could he deal with his own? Or maybe he would crumble into dust of his own volition. Maybe one day he would simply let it all slip away and become nought but ash. Another day like today and it might just come to it.
His ankle itched.
A jean-leg rolled up, a sock pulled down, and there they were. Countless pink lines turning flesh into geometrical perfection. They cried out for more. A hand gliding to a wallet; fingers pushed into the tear in its material; a tiny slice of metal slipped from its interior. The silence didn’t hurt him now. Instead, it shrouded him. It kept him safe from prying eyes though no apparent change had yet occurred. His door was locked: here he was safe. His pale, bony fingers twirled the blade, twice the size of his bloodied thumbnail, around in the light. A flash of white struck off the metal into his eyes. It seemed to rouse him. Fingertips brushed across the corner of the implement, thinnest edge caressing the skin, a gentle push to slip metal into flesh and then, then, peace.
Shuttered eyelids made a mosaic of his vision. Stain-glass windows of his paradise. It hurt, but he didn’t care. The pain did not bother him now, it would only be a bother later when he caught it with a foot, or let the cat get too curious. For now, the only thing that mattered was the glorious pleasure of the act. Lashes fluttered open. Single bead of red sliding over ivory. He wiped it clear before it stained the carpet.
It was the precision of the thing that he craved. At a time when his mind was far from ordered, this simple act of concentration, mapping out the next contour on the map of his flesh, scaled his thoughts to a skeleton crew. No longer did the screaming drown his ears. No longer was he dying inside. The slice of metal drawn across the skin to paint another crimson line for his masterpiece kept him sane. It cleared his mind. And of course, the sweet relief of pain was a bonus. He hated the punches thrown at him from the enemy. He loathed the back-hand swiped from the mother and the glass shattered by the father. But this, this was different. This was the one thing he controlled. Pain ruled his life, but he could at least rule over pain when locked behind the doors of his solitude. Here, he was the master.
The silence hurt his head. Adrenaline had left him piled on the bedroom floor. Pleasure had abandoned him in place of familiar Hopelessness. How much longer could he take this? His eyes stung. Saltwater accumulated at the corner of his lashes. Finally he could cry. How much time had passed? It could have been only minutes. It felt like longer. He began to weep, and the clock went tick, tick, in the silence.
Firstly, I am aware of how experimental this piece is. I apologise if anyone is offended by anything I say – I welcome comments to help me to avoid this in future. The content I am referring to will become obvious fairly quickly. This is intended as a short story adaptation of the Icarus myth. As I say, it is highly experimental and I always welcome feedback.
Knossos Institute for the Criminally Insane – Patient Diary
Patient name: Rausci Vikare
Patient crime: Arson
Patient illness: Bipolar Disorder Type I
– Depressive and manic episodes
– Rapid cycling
– Icarus Complex (yet undiagnosed)
Patient currently in depressive episode. Anxious about future. No fear of his harming anyone. Will talk to him and re-evaluate.
Today I spoke to Mr Vikare. His apprehensions regarding his future are abundantly clear, yet he poses no threat to any persons involved in his case as yet. When asked, he spoke of his growing worry that the world as we knew it was coming to an end. I am yet to discover whether this is his view of his own internal world, or of the whole planet. He told of his envisioning the Apocalypse and when probed for details he grew quiet. The only intelligible words I heard from him was the following sentence: ‘It will all go down in flames, just you see’. I believe he is nearing the end of his rapid cycle, but will see him again tomorrow to conduct tests and re-evaluate the situation.
Mr Vikare was more co-operative today. My theory that his cycle was ending is correct and I found he was able to answer questions more freely. I again asked him about his vision of the Apocalypse and his reply was optimistic. He still became nervous and irritable at the mention of the subject, yet his overall view seems more positive.
I was able to conduct some tests with Rausci and again he did not argue. This is a good sign, however I fear that his rapid change from his depressive state may signify an equally rapid shift into a manic episode. I will revisit him soon and have the attendants keep a watch on him. As the last results proved inconclusive, I decided to re-engage Rausci with the Ink Blot tests. The results were much as the same: a building on fire, the sun, crashing waves. This was expected and yet my research has yet to be completed. I will give my theory at this stage and hope my findings may aid my future research. I believe Rausci Vikare has, on top of his Bipolar I, a rare disorder known as the Icarus Complex. Mr Vikare’s notion of fire – evident from his Ink Blot results and his apprehensions about the Apocalypse of flames – as well as his general fear of a doomed future lead me to believe this. I am yet to complete my research during his manic episodes however if my theory is correct, I predict I will find him seeking the attention of myself and the attendants, and I imagine he will fancy himself untouchable. I will keep an eye on Mr Vikare for this change.
Laudslade Vikare, the patient’s father, visited today. His visit is troubling. Requested a private conversation with Rausci. Rausci’s mood neutral but since the visit he is unresponsive to our questions. His eyes and constant grin are worrying. Tomorrow I hope to speak with him again.
Tragic news was reported to me this morning. Rausci Vikare is dead.
The Cretian Herald
Young man seen ‘soaring through the sky’ before drowning
It was reported this morning that a young man who drowned in the Icarian Sea, south-west of the island of Samos, was seen ‘soaring through the sky’ in what is described as an incredible act of ‘doomed narcissism’ before plummeting into the water and subsequently succumbing to the sea.
Reports were made of a man, later identified as Rausci Vikare, seemingly suspended in the sky on a pair of self-fashioned wings. Rausci Vikare was admitted as a patient at the Knossos Institute for the Criminally Insane after an arson attack in the centre of Crete last month. It was also noted by passerby Helen Phaeton that another figure was seen mere minutes before Rausci was spotted. It is suspected that this second figure was Rausci’s father, Laudslade Vikare.
Laudslade Vikare is known for his inventions regarding experimental flight equipment, and recently appeared on Greece Now to unveil his latest creation, Wax Wings, that he described as ‘the future of one man air travel’. He went on to say that ‘the detachable wings are made of feather and wax and are soldered onto a metal bracket which is passed over the wearer’s arm’. Mr Vikare even went on to joke ‘though you’d better watch not to fly too close to the sun, mind’.
Police reports are not releasing full details, however one officer was able to tell us what they believe to be the cause of Rausci Vikare’s death: ‘We are still conducting investigations, but we are currently assuming, taking into account the witness reports, that young Mr Vikare had escaped from his cell at the Knossos Institute in the early hours of yesterday morning, and proceeded to attempt to flee from the scene. CCTV footage shows a man believed to be his father leaving the building with him, and carrying what we suspect to be Mr Vikare’s own Wax Wings. It is thought that young Mr Vikare, as witnessed by Ms Phaeton, flew within close proximity to the sun, causing the wax components of the flight device to fail, and consequently lost his life. So far we are treating his death as accidental’.