We Used to Wait//The Confessing

Sometimes they never came
(Used to wait)
Still moving through the pain

They still haven’t caught me yet. I write that as if I have any idea as to how long it’s been, when reality I haven’t a clue. I stopped counting the days the minute I had to start scavenging for food. If you can get out of routine you don’t feel the need to eat as much. The Youth Club might’ve taught us how to scavenge, but they never taught us that.
It’s not too bad though – I follow the river down and use it for water and fish. If I’d told you this time last year that I’d living like Rambo out in the forest, you would’ve laughed in my face.
I think I would’ve laughed too.
Sometimes I think I’m going to make it; that one day I’ll reach the edge of these trees and civilisation will be standing there waiting. Real civilisation – not the façade that they put on. I even dreamt about it once – on a good night when I’d found a hollow trunk to burrow in.
You were there; my mum and sisters too. Even my Dad, though he’s been gone for a while now. You were all there, and as I ran so did you. I woke up before we met in the middle, and I could’ve punched myself for it. Later I tripped over a rabbit hole and sprained my ankle, so I figured that would substitute of the punch nicely. It’s still not properly healed, and hurts like hell when I try and walk. The sensible thing would be to rest for a few days, but the voice in the back of my head tells me I can’t afford to do that.
Self-preservation or machoism? We may never find out.
I have to end this letter here – it’s getting dark and I’m yet to find somewhere remotely comfortable to sleep. I know I’m really kidding myself on that these letters will ever reach you, but I’ll keep them folded tightly in my notebook until an opportunity to post them arises.
It might take years.
Don’t let them erase these words.
Don’t let them erase me.

-A

I’m gonna write a letter to my true love
I’m gonna sign my name

I wrote a letter similar to this weeks ago, but I never did send it. I’m writing this one in the hope you’ll receive it, because as I write this I can hear them approaching. I don’t know who they are – if they’re going to save me or put a bullet through my skull – but I need to write this down before they arrive. I need you to know this.
I love you.
I love you, and I swear if I ever get out of this shithole, I won’t stop running until I find you to tell you. I’d get down on one knee and propose to you then and there.
Fuck, even the thought is too much.
I miss you every day, but every day everything I know about you seems to fade. I still remember your laugh and the flakes of green in your eyes, but the placement of your freckles, the random scars on your skin…they’re fading a little each day, and it fucking kills me. I promise that I’ll spend every day relearning them, if I ever get the chance.
But I need you to promise me something too. If you ever get this letter, if you ever read these words, promise me that you’ll let yourself be happy. Do what makes you smile and don’t doubt yourself for it.
Love and let yourself be loved.
I know you always found the latter hard.
Please remember me – I need someone to know that I was. Even if I turn into ‘Alice from your childhood’.
They’re so close now, and I’m so scared. I love you. Don’t forg———

 

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We Used to Wait//The Running

We used to waste hours
Just walking around

They’re coming tonight.
Word isn’t official – it never is – but the general feeling is very much the same.
We packed our stuff today; well, my family did. I’ve had my bag ready for weeks now. I want to run at the first opportunity, but I don’t know if or when that will occur. I just wanted to write to you before I stop receiving your letters for good. I have no idea where they’re moving us to. Those who have already moved do not send word back.
We were made in this little town, and by tomorrow I’ll likely never see it again. If I do it will be through a different lens – this I am sure of.
I spent today walking round the streets that we used to spend hours wandering. I almost felt 12 again, when we’d set out at the crack of dawn and not return to our houses until evening. Leaving with nothing but our bikes and enough food to feed a small army.
Now it’s the real army who walk the streets. They even block some off, but I mainly think they’re there in case someone tries to run.
As if we’d have somewhere to run to.
The only place that remains unobserved is the forest expanding from the back of our houses. Odd how the unknown is the only sanctuary we may have left.
I’ve heard the route passes by there tomorrow. The route towards the other relative unknown. I think I may try and make it – dive head first into the unknown darkness of the trees. But at least then it is my chosen unknown. My chosen impending doom.
I will have to leave my family of course. But I’d be a fool to say I’d try to get back to them. Whether I leave them tomorrow, or whether I follow them blindly, we will be torn apart regardless.
I’d rather it be through my own doing.
If I succeed it may be a while until you hear from me, and if I fail it may be longer yet.
But please don’t give up on me, and don’t forget me either.
I don’t know what the rest of the world is saying about us, but words won’t do justice to how awful it is. All those black and white pictures from history books are at my front door; lying in the streets as I walk around. It isn’t the same place we grew up in.
I hope that some information leaks out.
I hope help is near.
But hope has no sustenance to people who only know pain.
All the news we receive is government produced – a lie within a lie. But the truth is only what is widely accepted, so the lies become closer to reality every day.
Stay positive, and stay with me. I’m going to quote some trashy rom-com now, but I can’t think how best to sum it up.
This is goodbye, but it won’t be forever.
I promise.
-A

All those wasted lives
In the wilderness downtown

I ran.
My family are dead, and I ran.
I’m writing this in the middle of the forest; scrawling quicker than I did in those exams I sat when I was 17. I don’t know if you’ll ever get this, but it has to be written down. Someone has to know.
They collected us at sunrise; lined us up at the top of the street.
Everyone was there – from old Mrs Woods to Emily Williams and here 3 little kids. And then the marched us, in some kind of funeral paced fashion, past our houses one last time, towards the field and the wilderness threatening to engulf it.
We passed your old house. The family who live there now were in the line too, but I couldn’t recognise their faces if I tried. As we passed I saw the notches on the pillar beside your front door – the ones that used to mark our height as we grew. It used to be a competition; a race to outgrow each other. Eventually we evened out, but you always acted like the bigger one – carrying the heavier loads and insisting that I be the one to receive a piggy back when our feet got sore from walking.
It was also the same post that I clung to as I cried when you told me you were moving. How your parents only gave you a one day warning because they knew you’d try to stay. It was only a couple of years ago, but God does it feel like forever.
With memories swirling through my head, the smell at the field hit me like a ton of bricks.
And how I wish it had been a real ton of bricks to knock me out.
I can’t unsee it, and I don’t think I ever will.
Beyond what the eye could see from the path, there was a ditch. Massive in size and mechanically built, it was a wonder no one had ever even caught a glimpse of it before. I only realise now that maybe they had, but were too scared to say. Silence is safety these days.
In this ditch, and God forgive me for crying onto the paper just now, were bodies. The people of the town – faces in varying levels of decay. Some had wounds, scratches and burns; others a scary look of preservation about them. But every fucking one of them was dead. Men, women, children – fucking babies with holes through their heads. Picture any horror film you can and multiply it by a million. Because these people were real and we knew every single one of them.
Laura – fucking Laura who people ignored after her wife was torched alive – was there in the pit. Arms curled round a tiny bundle – a tiny little baby. She must’ve been pregnant when Emma died, and then they graciously let her have the child before shooting them both at the same time. I’m so fucking ill whilst writing this, but I threw up all I could hours ago. Now my head just aches.
As the pit came into view, panic rose. And that’s when the bullets began to fly. It felt like the sky was shooting at us. And as they rained down, that’s when I saw it – the gap in the fence. It’s also when I saw the first bullet hit my mum. I didn’t stick around to see that happened to my sisters. I’m a heartless bitch, but I’m alive.
I don’t yet know if it’s worth it.
I thought I was going to die as I ran to the fence. I might die yet. I didn’t check to see if anyone saw me. I didn’t exactly have the time.
I thinking running aimlessly round the town every day has done some good, because within half an hour I was deep in the woods with absolutely no clue as to where I was.
I had never felt such freedom.
I might come out the other side of this forest and finally escape.
I might die here and lay known only to you for the rest of our time.
And as I sit under a tree trying to shelter this letter from the rain, I accept that fate. Because I have chosen this, and I can deal with all that this freedom brings.
I promise that you’ll be in my heart forever,
-A

We Used to Wait//The Closening

And it seems strange
How we used to wait for letters to arrive

I know you haven’t responded yet, but I have more to say. Well, you might’ve replied, but incoming mail is non-existent these days. Most of my spare money I earn is going towards sending these letters. But trust me, it’s worth it. I got a job in the bookshop up town – the one where you got me the leather-bound edition of Alice in Wonderland for my birthday. I still have it on my shelf, but I fear I’ll need to hide it soon. At the bookshop, all non-government approved books have been taken out. All that’s left is government propaganda and Bibles, which could be seen as propaganda in themselves. Libraries are shut now too. All books must be ordered direct from the government. I think they might’ve burned the books that were left, but I can’t be sure. There was no public display, but rather just more spoke in the air for days after. That’s why I’m trying to keep my books safe, as well as all the letters you have written. All the doodles and notes and diary entries. I think they may come round to burn them soon, but I won’t let them go without a fight. I have them ready to hide as soon as the first fist is banged on the door. I can’t believe how frequent we used to write in the beginning, when nothing was restricted, and writing was more fun than it was necessary. We’d hardly even need to wait a week, yet now letters don’t even arrive. I miss it. And I miss you, even more than I thought possible. Even when my Dad died, when I was 13, I didn’t miss him as much as this. I felt loss, but it was finite – there was no way round it. Knowing that you are merely over a border, but that I can’t get to you, tears my soul. One day, I promise, I’ll get to you again, and I’ll tell you everything I can’t over letter.

Until then,
-A

But what’s stranger still
Is how something so small can keep you alive

I can’t believe one of your letters got through. I woke up yesterday, and there it was, lying on the doorstop. We haven’t had mail in months; I haven’t even seen a postal van around town for weeks now.
Yet here was your letter. Dated from 2 months ago, yet here all the same.
At first I thought it was a trick. Maybe the government were onto me somehow – the local councillors keepings tabs on me. Maybe if I opened it the officers would burst out of the house next to me; shoot me dead on the spot. The worst part was that I wouldn’t have cared if they did.
I’m so glad your family is doing well. Tell the wee one I’m sorry I missed her primary school prom. I know I promised her years ago that I’d help her do her hair for it when the time came. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there, but I’m glad she had fun.
I can’t believe she’s that grown up already. I’d say it was scary, but the phrase seems a little out of place these days.
I can’t believe you’re in charge of the library as well. I won’t tell you how jealous I am, because I guess you already know. I will tell you how proud I am though.
I’m so ridiculously proud and happy for you.
Please tell me when you get any new arrivals in. As you know, books were my love, and I badly miss hearing about them. What are you reading just now? Or what I’m assuming is 3 months from now, knowing this black market postal rate.
I know you didn’t intend for your letter to arrive just now, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re moving in a week – that’s what people are saying anyways.
They wouldn’t speak up or cry when others were dragged away, but now it’s their turn they won’t shut up. I knew this was coming, and I have prepared, but I’m scared all the same.
Except scared doesn’t seem real enough.
Frightened? Terrified? Petrified?
All are just words, and none of them fit. Words seem unable to portray the actions I see around me these days.
Emotions can no longer be labelled.
Maybe it’s because people so rarely talk. I think words lose their meaning when there is no one there to share them with.
I’ve been far too low recently, like when I was 16 and you had to talk me through that one horrific night. And the other horrific nights that happened for years to follow. You’re not here to talk me through it now, but I still find comfort in picturing what you might say. I’m sorry if that seems weird, but it helps immensely, so I can’t find it in me to be truly sorry for it.
I’m thinking of death more frequently than I should, and it worries and calms me at the same time. Surely if I can accept death just now then the end will be inevitably easier?
I won’t do it though, so please don’t worry. I’m running out of things to wake up for, but your letter gave me hope in the fact that our contact is not lost.
I know you did not decide the timing of this letter, but thank you nonetheless. On my 18th birthday you promised you’d always look after me, and you still are, so thank you.

With love,
-A

We Used to Wait//The Quickening

 

So when the lights cut out,
I was left standing in the wilderness downtown

I could’ve escaped today. I could’ve got out and I didn’t. Okay, so escape wasn’t 100% certain, but I could’ve tried. I should’ve tried.
Something kept me here and I don’t know what it was.
I was by the woods, in the field behind my house. Right on the edge of the trees – the invisible boundary that our mothers used to put in place for fear of us getting lost. Just close enough to snap the twigs under our feet, but not close enough for the enticing darkness to envelop us. It was at that old oak – the one that you dared me to climb when I was 8. The one I got stuck at the top of, and you had to climb up yourself and help me down. It was night – the cloud covered the moon, but the floodlights they’d set up throughout town lit everything. It might as well have been a cloudy afternoon. I was on the outskirts – nothing suspicious of course – I just needed away for a while. Away from the propaganda and pushing and hate.
That’s when it happened.
The floodlights, the distant lights inside the houses, the televisions and computer screens and reading lamps all just went out. Power cuts should be normal, but we haven’t had one in years. Now the entire town had blown out. And everything was pitch black, but for once I felt I could really see. Like looking through those stupid night vision goggles out of a magazine that we tried to save for when I was 9. Except this was with my own eyes, and it felt real. And I saw it in the moment – running through those woods. Running and breathing and tripping over roots. Falling but breathing and breathing and living. Because there’s a large difference between living and existing, and I’m only doing one at the moment. And to live and to laugh and to breathe without someone watching – the seductiveness was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying – even if the night only lasted a few more hours. Even my logic didn’t throw me; I knew survival in the woods was minimal – the chances of me resurfacing in an equally controlling town very likely. But it all seemed worth it. I just don’t know why I couldn’t see it through.
I wish you were here to help me figure it out. Well, there’s a lot of reasons why I wish you were here, but the way we seem to think together is a start.
Maybe I’m scared of death, but that never stopped me in my almost suicidal adventures before. Like when was 17, and we went on holiday together up North. I thought cliff jumping was a good idea, and as soon as I jumped, you burst into tears. I was fine obviously, but my case stands – death doesn’t scare me.
I wish I had the answer. I feel it has something to do with underlying hope, but again, hope has never been my strong point.
I’m so angry at myself. The darkness was freedom, and now the chances of it happening again are next to none. That was last night, and already fences are being put up around the woods; the number of reinforced floodlights being doubled.
I apologise for the increasing length of my letters. I fear it soon may become near impossible to send real letters soon, and there’s so much I want to tell you. Paper is already being rationed, hence the awful state of this piece. Every time I write, I feel the government are just waiting to read it. The alternative of no communication with you is far worse though.
So I will continue to write, but forgive me if these letters become shorter and less frequent.

I miss you,
-A

Now our lives are changing fast
Hope that something pure can last

Things are really going to shit now, and I won’t lie to you, I’m truly terrified. We have a curfew, and for as long as I can recall now, it’s been the same for everyone. They’re changing it now though – location related apparently. I don’t believe it for a minute. We have a curfew of 8pm – the high rise council estate up the road has a curfew of 6pm. They’re locking the poor in and I don’t know why.
People are disappearing too. Not even just the odd person anymore – couples, families. Someone even said an entire street was gone. Deserted overnight. It was the one that Caitlin in the year above me moved to when she had her kid in 6th year. Her kid was so cute back them, but I haven’t seen them in years. We say that they’re “missing”, but we all know it’s to do with the government. We know but we don’t say; to say would be like a suicide mission. I don’t know what they do with them, or where they take them, but I know there’s a pattern to it. The couples taken – almost all same-sex. Others include refugee couples that came here before the election, those with addictions and illnesses. The families, again, either those including refugees and immigrants, or those who are poor. The street that disappeared was council housing – regimented houses with overgrown lawns – all abandoned overnight without a word. I’ve tried to figure out where we stand from the government’s perspective – see how long it will take before they come for us. You know my family as if it were your own, so I’ll let you make your own judgement. At the rate they’re moving at just now, I reckon we have a maximum of a month before they knock down our door. We aren’t poor, but there’s only so far a single mother and her three daughters can go in the society they’ve created.
My mum has said she’s found someone suitable for me to marry. An arranged marriage. I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t even met the guy, but I know he’s rich. From the street about a 10 minute walk from here – the one that you drove me to when I was 15, even though our mums insisted we were too old for trick-or-treating. 10 minutes away and I haven’t even heard of him before. It’s a social divide after all. I think she thinks that by marrying up a class or two (God what is this – Victorian times?), I’ll keep us safe for a little longer. I promise I’ll do my best to keep us safe, but it will have nothing to do with a wedding. There’s talk of many not receiving letters now – so I fear I may never get your response. I will keep writing too you though – for my own sanity as well as yours. If you do not hear from me, please do not worry. The postal service is failing, but I have a friend who deals on the black market that has experience with these things. He can guise them as government letters, and the stupid robots loading the trucks cannot tell the difference.

I miss you even more than last time,
-A

 

(Wo)man’s poison

Written in 10 minutes on a Thursday night to prevent myself downing a bottle of something I shouldn’t.

The temptation to get shitfaced drunk is a bit too much sometimes.
To down half a bottle of your poison and see where it takes me.
See what I makes me forget;
Because I can’t forget.
I have the wrong combination of alleles,
And we know who to blame for that.
I have to remember the reasons why
I can’t drink so I don’t drink.
And I remember the reasons why
Because I can’t drink to forget.

I remember
Tears at midnight
Keys scratching skin
Yellowing face
Shaking hands
Blood on the carpet
Blood in the basin
Blood in the sink
Body in the kitchen
Don’t go there
Can’t see it
Screaming mother
I’m the oldest
Where are you sisters?
Go get your sisters
Running down the street tackling
Skinny limbs and teary face
In your room
Put the CD on
Candy Hearts – too
Cheery Mum still
Screams At night
Different house
Teeth clenched,
A sister crying.
How are you

Going to get

Out of this one?
.
.
.
Maybe I shouldn’t drink after all.

We Used To Wait//The Changing

But by the time we met
By the time we met
Things had already changed

Please tell me you’re okay. I can’t believe they dragged you away. I fucking hate them. I knew they’d placed visitor restrictions, but I thought it was for those from other continents only. It changes every day now, and I can’t keep up. One hour together and they sent you back. I’m so sorry. I hope your flight back was safe. Don’t bother transferring my mum the money back for the flight – it’s our country that’s messed up, so it’s only fair we pay. It was reported that they’re now stopping all flights from everywhere but the Union, so you must’ve been one of the first to be refused proper entry. I was so glad to see you though. So fucking glad, if I’m honest. I’ve missed you so much it’s been unreal. It felt like that time when I was 8, and you came back from the 2 week holiday abroad that your parents had booked you on. And we forced them to let us sleepover at each other’s for an entire week to make up for it. I wish hadn’t moved, but at the same time I’m glad you did. Too much has changed here, and you’re safer where you are. I’m sorry we couldn’t talk about anything very meaningful in the airport lounge, but people tend to eavesdrop these days, and I didn’t want something to slip.
Even in the week you’ve been gone, so much has happened. Gay couples are being forced to split, and girls who have been raped are being told by the government that they deserved it, that they have to keep the child. One couple in our street – remember Laura and Emma?- had their house set on fire, after ‘dyke’ was scrawled all over it. Emma died, and we haven’t seen Laura since. Nobody cared or questioned. Everyone has turned cold, and I don’t know what to do. People gossip though – say they saw a council van outside the morning of the fire. I have every faith in that statement, but I wouldn’t dare express it. Last week was bad when we couldn’t speak our thoughts, but now it’s as if we have to control the way they show on our face. I cried when I heard of Emma and Laura, and I was slapped by old Mrs Jenkins and told to shut up. Street-wide repercussions if I didn’t.
I knew I promised you I’d come out to my mum soon, but I can’t now. She’s already trying to arrange a marriage for me with a boy at her school. Says it’s suspicious for a young woman to be as single as I am. Says an easy marriage is the best way to fix it. Easy my ass.
I can see it now – me being one of those poor girls with an unwanted baby and no way out. But I promise you I won’t let it get that far. I’m still strong – I run and use the lessons you taught me well.

Stay safe,
-A

So I never wrote a letter
I never took my true heart
I never wrote it down

I know that even as I write, this letter shall never be sent. I just need to get it out somehow, but I can’t burden even you with the knowledge of what I’m going to say. I miss you so much my chest aches. Remember when I was 16, and you went on a date with the asshole Peter from a few doors down? I was so insanely mad; I think I managed to go an entire week without speaking to you. It bet my record of 3 hours and 10 minutes, from when you accidentally killed my hamster when looking after it one summer. If I recall you thought that hamsters could eat the same food as you.
Boy were you wrong.
But anyway, back to your date with the idiot (read non-affectionately) from down the road. I was so angry about it – and with you for some reason. And at first I thought maybe it was because you could do so much better. Because you could. You were are so incredibly kind and soulful and beautiful. And he seemed nothing more than a gross weirdo that just wanted in your pants. I thought it was just best friend protectiveness – in a way it was. But God was it more, and my less than perfect timing has taken me this long to realise. I loved you, and I still do. Even though I’ve not seen you in months. And I don’t mean love you in the best friend “Oh my god I love you!!!” squealy way. I mean really truly love you. And I’m sorry you’ll never know.
In terms we used as kids – I like like you but distance never works, ya know?
Except add to distance an oppressive, controlling government, nationalised homophobia, and the paralysing feeling that something worse is constantly looming each day.
So I love you. I think I have since I was 7, when we conquered that tree in the field behind my house, and claimed it ours. You were the Queen of the Castle, and you declared me your Princess.
I loved you even though I couldn’t label the feeling at the time.
I love you, and I will tell you one day, when all this is over and done with. We don’t get much news anymore, but I have faith.
I love you, but for now I’m going to burn this letter, and leave the words to the wind. Keeping letters is risky business these days.

I love you,
-A

We Used To Wait//The Beginning

Yours was so good and you actually made a wordpress specifically for it, so I feel like I owe you. Here is the first part. I’ll probs post another part every day (gotta keep the readers interested ;)). Creds to Arcade Fire for making us cry.

I used to write
I used to write letters,
I used to sign my name

Hi,
How have you been? I’m sorry it’s been a while. The elections here are driving everyone insane; making it hard to think. I’m glad I have you to talk to. It’s difficult here – you don’t know who believes what, and what subjects to broach with people. People have turned on others quicker than I could’ve imagined when we were kids. I guess it’s to be expected in times like this, but it’s scary to see the way hate can spiral when it’s endorsed by those bigger than ourselves. I can’t wait for the elections – I am sick of this government to the bottom of my heart. I crave the change this country needs. We need to stop the hate before it stops us. Our village is rather immune to it all, but even now and then I find droplets seeping in. I hope everything is okay where you are.
Please write back soon – your responses keep me going during days like this. I will wait patiently though, which seems only fair as I’ve made you do a fair share of waiting over the years.

Give your family my love,
-A

I used to sleep at night
Before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain

I was wrong about the election. So terribly, goddamningly wrong. They changed it, or rigged it, or something. But they won. Stronger and more extreme, and I’m terrified. I think we all are. It’s been 2 weeks and I don’t know what to go. I don’t know how much you know about it where you are, but remember the corn maze we went to when I was 10? The one in the dark where the clowns chased us, and you had to hold my hand the whole time? When we knew the scariest clown would be at the exit – inevitable in its horror and happening. It’s like that, but constant. Checking my phone in the morning feels like a ticking bomb. This new government, they’re stupid but brutal, which may be the worst combination of all.
Tonight as I tried to sleep, spotlights flooded the streets. I’d never seen anything like it in my life – not even when that killer escaped from the young offenders. There were helicopters and some sort of weird silent drones. I don’t know what they were looking for, but I can see the lights every time I close my eyes. They pound on my skull if I focus too hard.
I tried to talk to my mum, but she says I’m overreacting. Says nothing will come of it.
I’m not so sure.
Please respond soon. Your letter will bring even more relief to me now. I was thinking as well – maybe you should move your trip here to next month, instead of the one after that. Things might’ve cleared up by then, but I wouldn’t want you being more uncomfortable than I currently am.
I’m sorry for not waiting on your reply before writing you back. I just needed to tell this to someone who will listen.

Yours truly,
-A