Just for a second

The cat is back. But this time he has hundreds of companions, all padding softly by his side. Ginger and white and brown and black, their fur slides against each other and their pin prick paws tap the floorboards. I can feel the army march as I lie flat on the wooden ground. I twist my head to see him.

There he is, eyes of electric green and angled like almonds: to him, I smile.

But you cannot play favourites. The others see and move towards me. I feel the pressure pads as one after another clambers, claw footed, onto my legs and stomach. One, folds of fat wrapped around his gut like rubber rings, thrums with a guttural purr as he settles over my womb and then opens his tiny jaw to yowl. Again. Again.

Quiet.

I reach out to them and at first they respond. Triangle noses bash against my fingers and rough tongues flick at my skin. I knot my hands into their fur and stroke them, welcoming them.

Green Eyes is stalking up my body. The sea of felines part to let him pass, their heads bowing, but a shiver decends on the room when he touches his nose to mine. Their eyes shrink to slits, and a sound like a burst pipe issues from them. I gasp as I feel their claws elongate, curling under their paws and piercing through my clothes to my skin. The sharp pain as the needle nails draw blood is somehow familiar and dreadful.

In panic, I look for Green Eyes, but he has disappeared. He has left his family on me, scratching at the muscular swell of my legs, the soft pillow of stomach, the arches of my breasts, the bones of my shoulder, all the way down my arms to my knuckles. I scream after him but I get no other response than a mimicking screech from the feline army enveloping me, mocking me. The pain now is sharp and constant, like the slow, drawn out sketch of a tattoo. Tears start rolling down my cheeks: I try to breathe, but the inhalation pushes my chest and stomach out so their claws reach deeper. I cannot move, cannot push them away, they will not listen. More are coming.

As tails flick in my face and choke me with fur, as blood blossoms from unseen holes and I leak from my skin, I close my eyes.

And for a second – just for a second – I stop breathing.

A Fleeting Love Affair with Comic-con

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There have never been so many people in one place. Like glistening beetle cars, they bottleneck around me before bursting free in a scurrying race across the road. Costumes jostle each other, boxed humans peering confusedly out of their cardboard helmets as they teeter on stilts or platform shoes. There is black body paint smeared on my elbow, residue from the dark shadow man that brushed past me; the rippling darkened muscles of his back as he walks away seem menacing, and passing children stare up at him in awe and horror.

Two hundred thousand bodies, probably more, in a throbbing heaving mass pushing towards convention doors. The building spans the length of five, six blocks, with pointed steeple roof and sheet metal windows. A single road and tram lines separate it from the outside world – and this is where I roam.

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Assault courses, laser tag, Mythbusters, all dotted in hotels, parks, and on street corners. Queue queue queue for snippets of video, panels with Avengers, illegible scrawls by famous illustrators. Duck and dive and swoop in between mothers with prams, their baby Thors clutching their hammers as they grip onto their guardians’ palm. You are spun around by a Prince Charming as he slurs a drunken ballad; stumbling, you bump into the Hulk and dodge his smash.

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Screech to a halt: there is no passing by here.

A hell march of zombies has consumed the streets, flesh dangling from faces, un-dead pets rotting in their arms as they lurch at cameras and terrify observers. You must wait for this reeking crowd to part before you can dart through them to the next street.

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Keep stuffing leaflets into hands and chanting your familiar mantra. You are a tiny dot of promotion, the smallest speck that does not belong with this fandom – but you must learn their language. It is a fascinating one. Wait for a pixelated sword made of blue diamond and pounce on the friendly icon. Twenty minutes of excited gameplay exchanged before you move on.

One day in the manic rush you are given the golden ticket to get inside: enter the cathedral of worship and see what all the fuss is about – one hour only.

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A strange buzz fills your veins when you step on the floor. You are different from everyone else: you cannot move with the lazy drag of their feet that shows this is their hundredth circuit, time is too precious.

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Unbeknownst to you, there are secret loves and passions for comics and characters and films and franchises that you never knew you had. You flit from one stand to the next, stuffing money into hands and cramming goodies into bags. Endless snaps of photos are taken, and mouths open so often it’s like a fish gaping for water as one extraordinary thing after another lines up in front of you.

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You emerge panting from the stands to find yourself in the artwork section. The most incredible work, you want it all but the empty purse is light in your hands and the clock is ticking.

Time is up, Cinderella.

You gather the bags like the hem of a skirt and run tripping from the room, pouting at the early exit. One last look back at your painted hero, Wolverine, before the doors swallow you whole and spit you out on to the road back home.

Ribbon City

Along the side of the freeway is a strip of land, wedged in between racing cars and suburban yards. It is marked along its borders by chain link fences that ripple when they’re touched, the dull metallic scales undulating like the lazy swim of a fish.

It is its own city with rules and family. Tents are pitched, sheets of plastic tied around trees and stretched out to the pins in the dusty ground. Towels, grubby clothes, an umbrella, are piled on top of the makeshift roof, shrivelling in the sun.

The cool blast of air-con is whipping strands of hair back from my face as I zoom past and see an exhausted man in this ribbon city, bending over a small girl. He is topless, the folds of his stomach overlapping the waistband of his jeans and his pale skin gleaming in the harsh sunlight. He is holding a bottle in his hand; squirts white cream into his palm; rubs it onto the child’s nose. Before they disappear I see a grin hoist up the weight of the young child’s face.

A few meters along is a gathering of women, sitting around a small stove fire. They are perched on floral loungers, the rusted legs digging into the dirt. Limp cigarettes hang from their mouths and the soles of their feet are grey. One of them waves and shouts something to a person out of sight.

Along the side of the freeway is a strip of land marked by chain link fences. There is family and love and story telling here. There is dirt and poverty and blistered skin from the sun.

There is a whole ribbon city, in the shadow of the free way to home.

Hush

The door clicks shut and there is silence. 

Stop.

Helicopter blades chopping through the night air, thick varnished leaves squeaking against the brick wall, and the rustle of rough bristled curtains. 

Alone.

This is the first moment in three weeks. Exhale. Feel the breath tunnel through your pursed lips and find joy in your puffed, hot cheeks. Everything washing over you in a wave of yesterdays. A montage of faces smiling, singing, slurring, blurring into one. A myriad of places, of mountains and deserts, of boardwalks and sidewalks, and females with feathers.

Blink and you see computer screens and limousines and taxi cabs careening down tarmac, shrieking a blaring note that locals ignore. 

Blink and starry skin is wrapped around your waist, and you grin with a FLASH and the moment is gone. 

Wink at the next girl you see because you share in secret love the city that won’t sleep, just hurls you into tomorrow. Wave it hello and plunge back in. 

Blink and yesterdays line up like ghostly spectres, fluttering and whispering and reminding you of their past lives. 

Hush.

Blink and bright lights dance along lids, winking you into sleep that won’t rest your bones – because in your dreams you danceIMG_6095[1]

Black Cat

You are my feline, whispering stealthily from ear – to head – to heart. Promises you can / cannot keep, wishes you grant / cannot grant; I hear the purrs and grasp your neck between my fingers.

Be mine.

You are still. Frozen; you know I have caught you but instead of bending to my will you pretend you are not there. You embody, you become the oxymoron. Fluffy feline and foxy predator. If I hold my breath for long enough you will think I am no longer there. And oh, so wrong you will be.

Longing does not exist with lust. Longing is the aftermath of lust, tinted with ‘what ifs‘ and ‘should I’s‘ and ‘maybe’s‘. I long for you. With every breath I wish you closer.

And with every breath I wish you gone.

Walking home in the dead of night, you visit me. Sleek black coat, claws that click on pavements, sharp eyes that glint. A tail swishes from left to right in the afterglow of an orange street lamp.

Still here.

Waiting.

Embracing.

Reading Romance

To me, words are the most romantic thing in this world. They lay bare the secrets of the heart and joys of the soul, and birth them for the ears and eyes of anyone who would care to be a part of them. You are a part of these words, right now. You are a part of my romance.

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Miles away in Cyprus is a sleek blue card. Early this morning, it was opened by the man I love, who would have read my soul and smiled. I told him of love and happiness and the future; I painted with ink a canvas bursting with love and gave it to him for his travels. In it I wrote, Happy third year anniversary. 

In those words, I see the whole story of our love. 

I see the beginning, sitting on a boat in the setting sun as planes fly through fog overhead and light up clouds with flashes of green and purple. 

I see the family dinners, with his Grandpa winking at me as he slipped me an extra slice of cake and cousins grinning uncomfortably in the corner. 

I see holidays to bustling cities and blistering beaches.

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I see baklava atop a cliff. 

I see learning and essays and successes at university. 

I see our flat, with the purple fluffy rug you hate, and all the wisps of it that has now been tread into our carpet so it looks like a mottled sea.

I see movies and jigsaws and bottles of wine and boardgames. 

I see night time dancing in an abandoned shopping mall, laughter echoing in the silence as we slip over tiles and spin around escalators.

I see a blurred smile on a computer screen, miming out the words I love you.

On that thin slip of shiny card there lay exposed all that has been, all that is and all that will be, through the eyes of the woman who has loved him. Histories and stories and promises. On the one day of the year I long more than ever to be with him, there is no way that I possibly could be. So I gave him the next best thing.

My words.

My romance.

My thank you, for my Happy Ever After.

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I do not miss you.

I do not miss you.

I do not pine for the touch of your skin when you step out of the shower, the hot, sticky drops that rain on my sleeping body as you bend over to kiss me. The water beads that herald the presence of coffee and foamed milk, the crumbling disaster of pastry in bed.

I do not yearn for the panting breath of evening skies as we tackle the climb from the sea back to the shelter of home. Blood moon rising behind us like a lantern guiding the way as we duck under a tree to steal a kiss.

I do not long for the days spent lounging in each others’ arms, laughing and teasing, clambering over the thick branched muscles of the limb to grab the splayed twigs of fingers that wave tantalisingly in the air. Come down from there. 

I do not miss you.

Alone in what we call home, I fumble around the kitchen and make foods that I know you hate, just to see if you will smell them from halfway across the world and hurry back to get me to stop. Make something else, you’d beg.

I need shampoo but buy Head & Shoulders for Men. I stand in the stream and scrub and scrub and scrub, but all I get is the smell of you and people stare when I wedge my hair over my nose like an oxygen mask.

I am counting the days on my shaking fingers, mapping the global movement with bright pins on calendars and coloured sheets of the world. The tiny red dot that is you haunts me when I pass it on my way to bed, and is burnt on my lids when I close them to dream.

I do not miss you.

I do not miss you.

crave you.