Just One Of Those Paradoxical Observations.

Just One Of Those Paradoxical Observations.

I skim down dark passages where red light flows over seething masses of sweating, naked bodies. 

As they fold over each other in the amber heat, the darkness renders them featureless – no clue to identity, gender, race or age. They are mere bodies in absolute submission to the pleasures churning out of their loins; no voices but the urgent, heavy breath that warms the air around me. 

Onwards I stumble into the darkness, the same hunger rising up in me as moist hands grope at my chest, my navel, my body. 

I try to pull free, aware that my breath is now louder than my conscience. The hunger is more than the fear. I stop…

More hands pull at me, drag me down onto my knees. Warm bodies press against mine, make their needs known. Hot breath rushes in my ears, over my neck and down towards my pierced nipples. My own breath catches, holds and issues in a sharp, tight cry of pain and pleasure absolute – but our pleasure bares no face. 

Finally I give in. Submission. I surrender my body – my hot and turgid corpse – to the desire of a hundred hungry men. 

Here we lie, writhing in the most intimate of intimates, yet we know nothing about each other. Nothing. I do not know the man wrapped around me yet there can be no more intimate knowledge than our knowing of each other – of each other’s bodies – in this moment… 

This is my last clear thought – just one of those paradoxical observations – as I cease to be human, and the animal inside screams wildly in my chest.

© Dave Luis 2016. All Rights Reserved. 

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‘Just One Of Those Paradoxical Observations’ is the final creative writing exercise in tandem blogging with 6 other writers. Pop a comment down below and then read Read Trevor Black’s version here

Too Much For You

Too Much For You

I’ve been wanted to say this…to say something…for a long while, now.

Gareth. Kirstin. 

Guys. It’s been how many years, now? One? Two? More…?

I don’t remember how long since those phone calls. I can never forget – though I try – those moments when horror crystalised around words I hope I never have to hear again.

We didn’t know. 

We never suspected. 

How could we? Why would we ever think such tragedy was rising up in you both, and so soon after each other?

“Too much for you.” Jesus. Four little words. One mediocre euphemism. Two brutal suicides.

Too much for you. 

I’ve been wanting to write this to both of you, a piece each, since I heard.

But the words, like my tears, never came.

God, I miss you. Why did we stop talking in those years before? Why did we stop connecting? 

It’s just…. Painful. Brutal. Agony. And incomprehensible. And talking about it reveals it all over again. 

Why? What pushed you so far?

“Too much for you.” I guess we’ll always wonder how we missed it. 

No words left behind could ever make us really understand. No argument, breakup, sadness, depression or loss could be that bad, surely? I mean – we were all there, we were all still there. Knowing you. Loving you. Supporting you. Even though the years brought distance and disconnection…we were still there

…weren’t we…? 

We can never know. And we’ll never understand. But we’ll always love you, and we’ll always remember you, even when those memories haunt us with the realization that in the final moments, it all went wrong, and life was just too much for you. 

Rest in peace, my friends.

© Dave Luis 2016. All Rights Reserved. 

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There is help if you are suffering from depression. There is someone who cares, and who will help carry your burden. Contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group.

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This post is written in loving but painful memory of Kirstin Schubach and Gareth Williams. Good men gone too soon. 

This is part of a series of tandem blogs written each week by seven bloggers. This week’s title, “Too Much For You.” opened the floodgate of a very personal, painful tragedy that I have been wanting to write about since we lost Kirstin and Gareth a couple of years ago. 

I am grateful to finally get these words, incoherent as they may be at times, out of my heart and into the world.

Please read Candice D’arcy’s take on “Too Much For You” – here’s hoping it is a gentler read. 

Header image © Greg Ortega at Unsplash 

Behind The Tree

Of all my childhood

fears, the worst was the thing that

lives Behind The Tree.
On nights so black none

could see, still the shape of it

lurks Behind The Tree.
Do NOT go closer!

Just turn away and run – it

is Behind The Tree!
Lurking, watching – now

it comes out, jaws gnashing – fierce,

get Behind The Tree!
Your only chance now

is to run in circles to

hide Behind The Tree.
Hide! Hide! Hunker down!

Don’t let it see you crouching 

down Behind The Tree.
Wait. Don’t move. Don’t breathe.

Even if you wait forever,

here Behind The Tree.
Until at last you

are the forgotten monster

hid Behind The Tree.
Run! Scream! Shout! One, two

three! Block myself! Hide and seek

here Behind The Tree.
© Dave Luis 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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‘Behind The Tree’ is a creative writing exercise in tandem blogging, where seven writers pen separate blogs with the same title. Read Brett’s here.

The Missing Voice

The Missing Voice

”           .” Alan said.

“No.” agreed Stella, though she felt agreeing with Alan was the last thing she wanted to do. 

”                           ,” he went on, and ”               .” He glared at her.

”                           .” Alan slammed his fist on the baise table top. 

Stella met his fierce stare. 

“Everything you say is right, Alan, I cannot argue a single point, but I feel we’re missing the trick here, and it’s hurting people.” she added. 

”            .” Ice. Cold. Alan held her faltering gaze, anger boiling the air between them. 

“Yes.” she despaired. “It’s true, Alan, and by not speaking out, you harm real people, chasing hard profit. It’s a media shit storm waiting to happen, and it’s going to wipe out our bottom line. Sometimes you need to play out the line to reel the fish in, Alan. The board won’t listen to me – they go with what you decree – so yes, you are right – as handling agents we’re not responsible for the product flaws, but Alan, this product would not have seen the light of day without our distribution network. We discovered it. We promoted it. We distribute and deliver it, and what we’re delivering is disconnection, dishonesty, false gods and pain. Christ, Alan – it’s like we’re the fucking Four Horsemen, but the apocalypse is ultimately our own! Don’t you fucking see that?!” Her last words issued in a whisper; her rage spent. 

Alan sat, silent, staring at her. Stillness condensed out of the air and froze them in this awkward, angry chill. 

”      .” Alan hissed. ”                 !”          

“I know,” Stella sighed, “I know. And Alan….?”

”       ?”

“Thank you.” Stella turned and walked back into the boardroom.

Drawing a deep breath, she looked up at the men assembled around the long table.

“Gentlemen, the Chairman has upheld the motion to terminate.”

Outrage.

“Please! Gentlemen…! Please…as you know, I have proxy to carry out the Chairman’s controlling interests. Your dissent is noted but the motion stands. This is a long term strategy. This immediate termination gives us breathing room to distance ourselves from the product’s inevitable lawsuits. We will find another profit line. But this is not it. Trust me. I have your backs…and those of our investors.”

She watched the last board member leave. One day, the game would be up. One day all this would come tumbling down…the day they discovered there was no Chairman of the Board. Never had been. Alan was the business incarnation of her childhood imaginary friend – a persona she created to practice her board pitches on.

Stella had long ago sussed out her chances of taking this company – her company – to the next level and knew that she had zero chance with these chauvinist fools. They would never respect or listen to a woman.

So she played them at their own power game.

And she’d been doing it so long that if they ever found out, they couldn’t touch her – the scandal of their credulity would ruin them.

Pitiful little fools. Puppets to the missing voice.

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‘The Missing Voice’ is a creative writing exercise in tandem blogging. Indulge yourself – read Ashley’s version of ‘The Missing Voice’ here.

© Dave Luis 2016. All Rights Reserved.

The Age of Outrage

 The advent of social media – from blogs to online news site comments to Facebook to Twitter – has given the world a voice.

Not that that was its intention. No, these platforms were for us to keep in contact with each other and up to date with current affairs.

Like everything else, we twisted that – turned it on its head and started using these platforms for more than what they were initially designed for.

We found a voice. We could broadcast our thoughts and feelings and critiques and reviews.

And our outrage.

Boy, did we really find we had loud voices there!

In its highest ideal, this voice – this outrage – powered changes we desperately needed. The Arab Spring is one such example of social media outrage fueling an uprising that toppled monstrous regimes.

But these examples are few and far between.

These days, we explode in blistering outrage at minor incidents, at poor service, and ill-conceived brand messaging – frankly, at just about everything.

Using social media to address a customer service issue is good. The vile language and rotten entitlement used to blackmail brands into grovelling at our trolling feet? Not so much.

Using social media to highlight illegal hunting? Great. Inciting violent, personal attacks on the hunters and sharing their personal details online? Nope. Fail.

We call people out for the most inane rubbish – like bad spelling and grammar (yes, I am exceptionally guilty of this one!) – and then other people call us out for calling them out.

We get nasty and angry and say the most vile things to each other. Safe behind our keyboards, we are not accountable for the shame, depression, anger and embarrassment we leave people with as we litter their social media with our moral outrage at the fact their opinions, lives, genders, choices, language, size, children, sports team or religion is different to ours.

Endless, shouty, negative energy. Mostly completely meaningless. It doesn’t change a thing.

Has the social media outrage managed to #bringbackourgirls? No.

Has social media outrage gotten that statue taken down? Yes. Yes it has. And then what?

We live in an age of outrage that has due to its relentless ubiquity and endless angry Facebook status updates – become an impotent noise: a negative void of vitriolic, arrogant entitlement.

Imagine if we spent a fraction of the time shouting on Twitter actually working to change the causes of our outrage and being more, well, decent to other humans – just imagine what we could achieve!

But instead, we’ll just go on posting in the comment thread, armchair slacktivists to a person.

I’d be outraged, if that didn’t absolutely prove my point while undoing my argument at the same time.

© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved.

This is the final installment in a tandem blog exercise with Brett and Megan. Please take a moment to read what they have written on The Age of Outrage.

Boundaries

Boundaries

I glance at the face looking back at me.

“We need to talk. About boundaries. About what you think you own with me. Because it seems to me that you think my time is yours, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

No response.

“Look, I know I said we would work on this together, and work hard at it. But I think you have misunderstood that this offer of mine is in addition to everything else I have going on. Not instead of.”

The man looks back at me, silent.

“You simply can’t make these kinds of demands so relentlessly. At night. During the day. While I am at work. While I am on the phone. While I am busy with other stuff. I also need some me-time, you know?

Please don’t look at me like that.”

Those eyes. He just stares into my soul. Silent. Angry. Demanding. 

“Look, I just…I can’t. You’re breaking me! Please! Just back off! I can’t do everything you want – it’s too much! PLEASE JUST BACK OFF!”

I don’t care that he sees me so riled. I’ve had enough. He says nothing. He is so cold. So demanding. Behind me, I hear the door open. Shit. I better compose myself. 

Deep breaths.

Smile.

I pull the sheet over the mirror I have been staring into, and turn to face the doctor.

“Hello, Doctor. Do you have good news for me? When can I get out of here?”   

© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved.

This is the third installment in a tandem blogging exercise with Megan Furniss and Brett Anderson. Click on the links to read their take on Boundaries:

Brett: https://brettfish.wordpress.com/

Megan: http://www.meganshead.co.za/

37 Million Light Years 

37 Million Light Years 

Tractor arcs envelope the ancient craft, their focussed energy beams slowing its descent to Kuiper-4.

Scanning for alien bacteria, Kuiper-4’s salvage technicians detect faint radiation and intermittent EMPs emanating from the meteorite-pocked hull.

The hull itself is marked with illegible ciphers, relics of an ancient alien civilization. Star-going, nonetheless, but still ancient.

“Cryo pods” Alyss whispers “There may be viable life forms inside!”

“Not after all this time, surely?” Ghean says. “Let’s complete the bacterial scan, then crack the seal on this baby.”

Scant moments later, the stereotypical hiss of a pressurized hull releasing its gaseous hold on the life inside brings Alyss and Ghean to the airlock.

The ancient  metal sphincter opens revealing a humanoid staring out through the vaporous condensation… first contact!

“Hello! Hi there…can you help us? Our star chart app won’t update, and our comms link won’t patch to the local stellar node network. Typical budget comms plan with dubious galactic roaming coverage – I swear, I’m cancelling my contract with Cell C Galactic first chance I get! Anyway, we’re a bit lost after we passed Cor Caroli. We’re on our way to Messier 63…this isn’t by any stroke of luck the immigration port, is it?” the alien, all out of words looked at his captors properly for the first time.

“No…this isn’t where we want to be. Damn. Those uniforms are nothing I recognize. Damn. Hi. I’m Gerald McIntosh, and this here’s my wife Morag. And clearly, this isn’t Messier 63! Where the hell are we?”

Ghean looks at Alyss, who stares back.

“Sir, just how long have you been out there?” Alyss asked. “Your craft – it’s nothing I recognize. Been asleep long?”

“Dammit, Gerald, I knew that second-hand cryo unit wasn’t up to scratch!” Morag squealed at her husband. Ghean winces at the timbre of her voice, silently vowing to get Morag back to sleep and away from Kuiper-4 as soon as possible. A voice like that…no, no time for that.

“Sir. Ma’am. You were picked up by our tractor arcs and deposited here on Kuiper-4. You’re approximately 40 AU from Sol – about 37 million light years from Messier 63!” Ghean barked.

“Goddammit, Gerald!” Morag yells.

“Kuiper-4? Never heard of it. New, is it?” Gerald cheerfully ignores his incandescent wife.

“Been out here past Neptune for about 480 years now, sir!” Alyss replies. “Like I said – just how long have you and Mrs. McIntosh been in cryo?”

“Well, it was 2045 when we left Earth…what year is it now?”

“2045? What or when is that? Look, the year is now 11,263 AE …that’s 11,263 years after mankind evacuated the Sol system, after the quasar pulses disrupted the local atmospheres. And mankind left Earth some 800 years before that!” Ghean explains, horror and bemusement tainting his air of authority as the realization dawns on him that he really is speaking to two very ancient life forms.

“WHAT?!” screams Morag. “Gerald! You utter bastard! I KNEW we’d be late for Ashley’s wedding! Now, not only are we 12,000 years late, we’re 37 million light years away! Genius!”

Behind her, Gerald faints.

© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Image © Adam Block/Mount Lemon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

37 Million Light Years is a tandem blog exercise with Megan and Brett. Take a look at what they’ve penned for this week’s theme.