Fishbones and Honeycombs

– Rebecca Gimblett

Oh the little games we play. Is that blood running down my back, or fear? Another day, another batch of promises washed through a machine, completed for a list in a notebook, to be drifted to dreams and regrets by 4pm. Red pools on the floor but it is just a distraction, my body trying to survive the things my mind can’t.

The correct guess is fear.

It runs down my spine and pools there, right above the beginning of the end. Paralysing, cool and ever present, mint toothpaste in a mouth tasting orange juice. I can’t forgive or recant the things said from last night to this morning. If I wonder any further about them, the window will become as tantalising broken as it is fixed now, the sky just within reach, the ground my deliverance.

Fear is simple and contained roughly in the pit of my stomach. Under my stomach, caressing my womb, waiting like a time bomb. I am not a thing of machines, a betrayal of nature. I eat salmon that runs upriver. I think bees are higher beings than we are. They know their purpose without intricate education or worry. They sample the sweet things in life without regret but with wonderful intricate planning permissions. Hummingbirds. The things I could confess about hummingbirds.

It’s essential to remember that actions speak louder than words. Words breathe only in beauty; destruction and terror immortalised forever as the chaos of art and magic.

Evilness and death created as the mirror of Dorian Grey; a painting we turn to in times of trouble to remind us that we also pretend there is light within. That we and words are brothers and worthy.

Actions are grenades. There is no escape, no meaning to be gained from a slap in the face. Maybe salvation. Simple gestures can corrode a mind already expired by the elements, wasted to grains of sand and sea salt and corpuscles. It lingers. We cannot tell what to do when sitting alone in a room full of people, and science has given us machines to take eye contact and the need for another person’s soul away.

Born into a family where I had to recreate a new one when I was old enough to understand why, it is hard sometimes. I picture a life I never quite had, but the photographs are there in boxes and we look happy. I had this one in my hand where I had climbed a tree and I was part of something larger than myself, not a bird or a leaf but an integral part of life, breathing in nature and soft little actions of a child.

You told me you loved me last night. Not in words, which I couldn’t have adored, but in the way you stole a bite of my sandwich when I was still not past the point of hunger. You chewed and chewed and showed me that you loved me enough to take my taste in yours, you wanted to share with me the life unfinished, the dangers and triumphs of the wild and broken areas, where I can’t take back the thing I bought, nor yet is it completed to fruition in the lining of my stomach. I needed all the energy I could muster but you loved me enough to take some anyway. Knew that I could make it without that last bite.

I was supposed to collect money today to survive, to be alive, to be a person with purpose. It was the first thing on my list of things to do. But I wrote down words on a piece of paper and thought it was pretty and special, something original like a new fruit added to wine in the summer and the heat makes bubbles of it in your blood. I sent my words to you by post and I couldn’t see your actions, how could I believe anything other than those. You sent back words, words and words. Not enough. I needed to listen to your heartbeat as you read it, count the wrinkles over your lip and under your eyes, see if you touched your hair in triumph or scratched your neck in dismay. How could I believe things you put on paper, I put them there too. We eat words and try to stay alive. You took a bite out of my prose but I wasn’t right next to you, how could you know if I was going to survive that or not?

Fear lays blankets and boats heavy on my brain. Nerves thick like custard hold it up, just above the current, no movement but enough to get out of bed in the mornings. I somehow made you my teacher, my educator and send you presents of bees and salmon; nature, and hoped for nurture in return. I have memories of never hoping for anything, being too shy to prevent the blood pooling in my cheeks when eye contact was made. I signalled retreat against a backdrop of music and choosing the safe option, choosing a life made easy by the promise of a safety net.

The security lessens with time multiplied by unsatisfied fulfilment. Last night I told you I love you and I don’t even know what it means. I didn’t use words but tortured you with the things you hate. Because I knew if you could handle to be disappointed, you might hang around to see just how disappointed you could feel. It was a test that I wasn’t ready for and I shouldn’t have laid that at your doorstep like a half dead mouse that I will come back and destroy when you are over the first initial shock of my madness.

But you took it and made it your own, added another layer onto my mind and I can’t tell through the sweet dessert pooling there, or the ships dropping anchors or the Peruvian blankets whether I can call it animal, vegetable or mineral. It is from your nature and you want me to nurture it and feed it milk. We need a dictionary for our actions so that I can place you in a box and keep you safe there too, if you want it.

But now to just settle down. Money is in the collection box for tomorrow, the first thing on my list of things to do. I empty the blood onto the ground and move on. Words are nothing but breaths in the air, hoping for actions to complete them. Some days I get it right and can forgive myself the unnatural fear I taste in fish bones and honeycombs. Some days I erupt inwards and search for my spine and pull it out. It is yellow, trying to turn into something gold that tastes of ravens. It inches through the night towards morning.