I'm an artist, writer, free spirit and Introvert with a particular love for solitude and peace. I delight in the freedom to roam the world on my own terms and make an absolute tit of myself in the process. I write about what I know - which isn't much to be fair. But then, who really knows anything in this world full of subjective and low-resolution perceptions? When it comes to my soul, in written word, I reveal everything.
She awoke to the pitter-patter of rain. The downpour predicted by all weather apps. Music to her ears, the sound lulled her back to sleep.
Take two: She awakes again with the blinding light of the sun. The stones and concrete give warmth. The sun glares at her from every mirror – from glass windows to ceramic tiles and the white polished cobblestones of Lisbon’s streets and alleyways.
Sunday is laundry day. So she bundles a dark-ish load of sports bras, beach towels, lace knickers, cotton dresses, and black leggings.
The only denims she dare wear with her child-bearing hips are denim shorts. The kind with frayed edges that ride up her cracks ever-so-slightly in the summer, when she searches for a quiet spot to play with herself.
When she strolls on the beach, frolics in the woods, and climbs the hills and stairways that snake through Lisbon’s tunnels and in between buildings.
She hears the bleep of the washing machine some 60 minutes later. It is time. The fragrance of lavender fabric softener perfumes the atmosphere, carried by the coastal winds deep, deep, deep into the nostrils of neighbours and
Grandmothers mock her folly, as ominous black clouds lurk on the horizon. The windows on every street lay bare and naked without the garments of freshly washed linens. Still, the dew on the copper line glistens as she dextrously pins her clothes outside her kitchen window.
On most Sundays, when the sun blazes at 30°c or more, without the interference of rain, there is a competition to see which house has the best smelling laundry. The fusion of fragrances are distributed through windows for all to savour, and make love with the salt of the sea.
But today is not such a day. Today, work is done not for glory or fame, but for her very survival in a world where the demand for laundry services has spiked significantly.
From interconnecting each garment to preserve the number of clothing pins available to categorising each item next to each other – bottoms with bottoms, tops with tops, each action is fulfilled with the utmost thoughtfulness so as not to be gripped by vertigo.
The clouds hold back tears. Through the methodical productivity. Despite the pain. Prevailing in the acknowledgement of heartache. In the refusal to be consumed by torture inflicted by one man. Knowing there are so many more enriching experiences life has to offer.
As each action is driven by deep intention, she creates magic.
The rain does not pour.
Others, seeing that she is successful in putting nature to the test and admiring her knowledge regarding the mind of the weather, begin to cautiously follow her example.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I was reading. Were these simply the chants and mantras of a fanatical cult leader who found meaning in abstract nonsense and coincidences?
Or had an alien from some extra-terrestrial realm attempted to contact me nearly two years prior to my discovery, leaving clues and hints of an impending invasion hidden within the pages of ‘The UFO Report 1990’?
These were the questions I asked myself as I reflected back to that rainy, Saturday afternoon in March 2017.
Wandering the streets and alleyways of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, I happened upon the ‘Manchester BookBuyers’ shop on Church Street. The sign above the entrance promising ‘2nd Hand & Rare Books’ beckoned me to visit. My eyes, curious as ever, could not refuse.
As a fan of all things personal and inter-galactic space, ‘The UFO Report 1990’, with its torn cover and retro images containing an array of astronomical phenomena quickly found its way into my handbag in exchange for a tidy sum.
Unfortunately, however, I am also a hoarder and procrastinator. Upon returning to my house in Whitefield, the book was soon lost in a pile of other literary works and promptly forgotten for two years.
One night, after a hasty house move and hours of unpacking, I sat alone drinking wine in my new living room. My eyes drifted towards the bookshelf, where ‘The UFO Report 1990’ jumped out to remind me of its presence.
I cracked it open and discovered an array of interesting, curious, and peculiar doodles scribbled across the margins and blank opening pages. Within the heart of the book itself were scribbles of messages and captions, along with decimals and illegible mathematical equations.
At first, it felt as though I was intruding into the intimate and private life of a cult leader or UFO conspiracy theorist gone mad. But as I ventured deeper into the heart of the book, I wondered whether an alien was attempting to integrate with society. Leaving messages specifically for me, where no one else would ever suspect they existed – in a vintage bookshop in Manchester.
But what did this hitchhiker mean by leaving eccentric and repetitive texts hidden within the pages for my eyes only? I have some theories…
The first theory starts with the year the UFO sightings were reported and documented – 1990, exactly one year before I was born. I believe an alien descended upon the earth in a UFO, abandoned in West Yorkshire due to its curiosity for all things human connection.
His name was Xolphex. His downfall was his integration with humanity.
A Tree in Winter
Xolphex was abandoned in the winter, upon the moors surrounding the Astronomy Centre in Todmorden, Huddersfield. An amateur astronomer, drunk from exhaustion and one too many nightcaps, had carelessly left a copy of ‘The UFO Report 1990’ laying next to a Horse Chestnut tree.
Xolphex snatched up the in his slimy hands and studied the tree bark before him. Engraved were the words: ‘A tree in Winter’. Was such a label to be taken literally given the season?
Or was there a deeper meaning etched into the rough flesh of endangered perennial plant life? One which stood defiantly in the cold, dark winter’s night, despite being stripped of the splendour of its green leaves? Despite its siblings being mercilessly butchered by the hundreds each year?
Not finding the answer to his questions in the cold of night, Xolphex clutched the book to his chest and ran swiftly into the night. Better the tree be the only victim of injury inflicted by a species that was fast proving to be both thoughtless and inconsiderate.
A British Perspective
Xolphex moved to Manchester, where he explored the concept of numbers and tested his knowledge of algebra. Although he knew a great many things about ecosystems and living organisms, he was not a numerical expert by any means. And so he sought to apply the order of mathematical logic to his rather illogical life.
However, he soon grew bored of such study, and directed his attention elsewhere – the exploration of human nature.
Clapping Is So Stupid
Xolphex also learned that clapping his slimy hands together made a very peculiar sound. One which drew hostile attention toward himself. He already felt self-conscious that he had to conceal his scaly body beneath the cloak of darkness, or in daylight, a suit and a top hat.
The pickle he found himself in, however, was that the only way he could feel happiness (on this stupid planet he now called home) was to clap his hands. And so it was, that in his continuous pursuit for happiness, he was always clapping, always subsequently beaten, and always profoundly embarrassed.
Clapping is so stupid!
The Soviet Union Of Lovers
Xolphex liked to read, and the ‘The Soviet Scene’ in the ‘The UFO Report 1990’ sparked a memory from long, long ago. He remembered lovers torn apart. Those careless creatures who foolishly anticipated each other’s embrace, only to be blinded by the light of alien invaders.
They were not featured in the book documenting UFO sightings, so Xolphex added the largely unknown, ye somewhat catastrophic historical event to the record.
He did not document the moment that came next…lovers fleeing blindly into the sea, never to find each other again.
UFO – So Many Faces
“Beware, they will come again, bringing with them Michael Jackson and an elephant they abducted many lifetimes ago.” – The faces on the page cry out to me.
Who else have they taken? You father, mother, brother, or sister? What has become of the people we once knew. Those we held so near and dear to our hearts? Have they been murdered, or have they been transformed?
Know God. Know love.
No God. No love.
They are coming for us all, because we refused to know them as they are now.
Whatever became of Xolphex the alien?
I am still waiting to hear a word from him since I unraveled his clumsy communications scribbled into the book I purchased at a secondhand, Manchester bookstore. I wonder if he will visit me in my sleep and clap his hands over my head to get my attention.
I wonder whether he will invade my office in a magnificent starship and whisk me off to galaxies unknown. I have since moved to Portugal – one year after I began writing this strange, strange tale.
I look for messages in the stars. I write messages in my own heart. Astronomical space. Personal space. But he is always watching.
I hit play and watched myself in the recording. But what I saw isn’t what I remembered.
Realizing that you’re the starlet of someone’s wet dreams is always a pleasant, yet somewhat bothersome discovery. You are the subject of one’s desire, manifested in the motion pictures which project from their subconscious in the cinema of their mind.
Yet with great fame comes great stress. It is because of your celebrity status that you must work harder to uphold the reputation you have built within five minutes of strolling across the aisles with your big hips…before the train crashes.
So embedded into one’s memory, they don’t even realize their mind is possessed.
I am always astounded by my versatility. In one intense character study drama…I am beneath his hands in submission, writhing and begging for him to keep his weight on me, and never stop loving me as each thrust leaves battle scars on my thighs. In the next fetish flick, I am squeezing his testicles with my sharp, red talons, as I spit on his face and laugh at his pathetic cries for mercy.
In yet another scandalous love story, I am screaming another man’s name in the peak of orgasm – because who doesn’t like a good cuckold every now and again…
Sometimes, I am the other woman. The Taboo. The guilty pleasure.
Each film, regardless of the perils a journey may bring, has a happy ending.
Chapter One – What dreams may come
“Who is your muse?”
The therapist asks, as she scribbles penises of all shapes and sizes onto the lines of her notebook, each one perfectly symmetrical and fitting neatly between the lines.
He answers, “The starlet of my wet dreams.”
In his mind, she will win the award for best actress – the trophy of his heart. In the after party to celebrate her victory, she will also be treated to custom champagne, infused with his blood.
“Her gentle petitions for my undivided attention light a fire in my loins, I can scarcely remember to breathe as the blood courses violently through my veins,” he continues. This time, with his elbows pressed against his widespread knees, as he rolls up the sleeves of his shirt to reveal the bulging veins in his tanned forearms.
“I want nothing more than her lips around my cock. I want to smell the perfume of her luscious mane, as her curls spread and tumble over my stomach like branches of ivy. I want to see her dewy brown eyes gazing up into mine, like the earth gazes up at the sky after it has unleashed a downpour of rain in April.”
The therapist looks up from her notepad, her knickers suddenly feel very warm and sticky between her thighs. She begins to wonder what his tongue would feel like, buried in the folds of her rose petals.
“I want her to take me in every way her body can accept visitors – the front door, the back, and all the windows in between. I promise I will be gentle though, because she is my most favorite starlet in the firmament.”
The therapist interjects, “No.”
She commands him with her stilettoes, gliding up from groin, to navel, to nose. She tears each button out of place as she encounters them. She unties her unruly locks, as they tumble and dance around her heaving bosom.
“It seems like you need to relinquish some control.”
“I am going to sit on your face, and you are going to breathe in every bit of my essence until you can breathe no more. For I own the very breath that fills your lungs.”
Next thing he knows, she’s got his wrists tied above his head. His nipples are bruised with clamps each time he so much as utters a single question to his mistress. His buttocks and thighs sting with lashes of whips and paddles, and his arse hole is raw and quivering with the aftershock of the electric drill which has just penetrated him.
And yet, his erection still stands – bare and stained with the residue of his last premature ejaculation, for which he is now atoning by way of submission to an array of creative and torturous punishments.
“You have been a very dirty boy.”
Chapter two – That’s not me
He continues watching the recording.
“The star of the show looks a lot like me, but he is not me.”
This is what the man thinks, upon watching a self-discovery video documenting the progress of his treatment, shown to him during his 13th session of therapy.
In the video, he is being aggressively pegged by his Mistress. He is coming, ocean loads spraying everywhere as he begs her to continue violating him.
“Make a slut out of me, starlet of my wet dreams.”
“You are doing so well,” the therapist croons, her red nails dancing on the back of his neck, making each little hair stand at attention. She encircles his throat, piercing the flesh…
He knows he shouldn’t grovel for the abuse which both emasculates and reduces him to nothing more than a doormat, and yet he cannot help but escape to the dirty secrets that so excite and inflame him.
“That’s not me. But what’s the harm in coming over a fantasy?”
Chapter three – Heaven is no place for us
“I wonder what death feels like?”
He thinks out loud, his head on his therapist’s lap. She is stroking his hair with her talons; he begins to suck his thumb.
“Various schools of thought accept the theory that the human orgasm is a psychological holiday from the conscious mind. Perhaps the departure of one’s soul to the abyss of death could be experienced as a holiday from the age, weariness, and confines of the human body.”
He smiles at the thought, “Oh my Goddess Supreme. May I continue to worship you in heaven when I die. I don’t ever want to leave you.”
She laughs, and pinches his nipple, twisting the flesh with her fingernails…
We often think of paranoia in the context of irrational projections of our own personal conflicts, due to perceived (although perhaps sometimes real) judgment imposed by those who surround us.
But what happens when it is ourselves we do not trust?
As independent as we like to think we are, collective normality – or what we believe to be such – is the only reassurance when our own bodies revolt against us, leaving us to suffer from new and excruciating experiences.
I remember the first time I white-spelled from a spliff. We sent smoke signals from sugarcane fields, but upon finding no sweet nectar, embarked on a quest for munchies to satisfy our voracious appetites.
As my eyes hovered over a wide range of vibrant and sparkling packets of crisps, suddenly the world around me went white….and then black.
I was alone.
I was afraid.
“I’m fucking blind!” – I wanted to scream. Instead, the words trickled out of me in a quivering whimper, repeatedly, like those who chant for mercy upon undergoing a violent exorcism.
Fortunately for me, I was in good company. My head fell onto his shoulder, and as he stroked my hair to the rhythm of my sobs and splutters, he said these words:
“Don’t worry, this happens to me all the time.”
I was not alone.
I was not afraid.
The shared experience reassured me. I was not an alien. I belonged.
It is this same reassurance which has enabled me to make peace with other significant, yet at the time of first encounter highly unsettling, novel sensations within my body, mind, and heart. All of which had initially provoked me to believe I was isolated in my experiences.
There was my first UTI, where I was convinced I had broken one of the most precious entrances to my being through wreckless promiscuity. My first serious bout of depression, where escape from life was contemplated on the daily. The first time I was ever struck down by someone who claimed to love me, which nurtured the weed of self-loathing and guilt over simply existing.
And yes, as independent as I am, and as much as I love my own company, nobody wants to be alone when they feel pain. Misery truly loves company.
And when we are alone in our suffering, isolation becomes deafening. Panic grips us, and we feel ourselves falling into a dark abyss with no hope of recovery.
Cold water surrounds us and our pupils begin to freeze over, as our arms swish about in desperate attempts to plunge through the surface. But just when we think we’ll survive, the tides keep rising…lifting oxygen beyond reach just a little bit more…
We want to scream. Instead, water fills our lungs. We drown. Alone.
We are doomed to exist in a body that does not respond to the commands of our own minds. We fear what we are capable of, and how we may alienate or damage ourselves as a result of our own foolish actions.
It’s the fear of accidentally leaving the oven on, and burning the house down when you’re alone at home.
It’s the crippling anxiety that sends uncontrollable shivers down your cold and naked body after a shower in winter.
It’s the compulsiveness to check your handbag at least 100 times to make sure to have your boarding pass and passport before embarking on a new adventure that both excites and terrifies you.
Hello self-doubt, what an unpleasant surprise. I was expecting you at 3:00am before my next job interview. Oh wait, I don’t want the fucking job…so why would I care anyway?
Although solitary animals (myself included) live alone to avoid egotistical competition against other members of their own species, exceptions must occasionally be made. Even if only to reaffirm that we are capable of expressing ourselves by way of the vocal tract.
Through laughing at the absurdity of British politics today, or crying after a series of excruciating boardroom meetings. Through screaming in ecstasy at the peak of climax with an ex-lover who’s been back for a quick fix to indulge waves of lustful nostalgia, because arriving together in orgasm were the only moments where you both ever truly felt in sync throughout your entire relationship.
Keep me warm.
Keep me safe.
Don’t touch me.
But whatever you do, even if we sit together in silence, let us occasionally share experiences.
But ultimately, let us converse with darkness. Let us explore ourselves, our insecurities and our vulnerabilities. Let us understand ourselves, so that we may understand why we distrust ourselves.