Ruins of Buildings and People
Anais | Williamstown High School
Secondary English | Term 1 2021
Mirrors never lied. That’s what I hated most. Oh, I could pretend to be a ravishing beauty, however one glance in the mirror would shatter those childish fantasies. I was gorgeous, once. A lifetime ago. But I’d traded in my long lashes and soft smile to feel alive. Just like the world had non consensually exchanged my innocence for the truth, time and time again.
But Irabis cared.
It knew what I needed, and never failed to provide. It wouldn’t leave me. Wouldn’t lie. Wouldn’t barter my youth away as if I were a prize cow.
So, I smashed my mirrors and forgot about my gaunt cheeks, highlighting deep set ashen eyes, and cheekbones that could cut glass. That washed out caramel complexion – once so rich and deep – consequence of the days spent relishing in emotion that never belonged to me. Lanky limbs that just seemed too long, too bony. Matted tendrils of stygian hair lying limp on angular shoulders.
The bottle sits abandoned on the dirt floor, aching to be picked up. It has been three days since I swore to abandon the drug, two since I’d taken so many pills I couldn’t walk the next day. It’s a trap, and I know it. But the feeling it gives me is better than any validation experienced without taking any. So, I reach for the bottle.
The capsules slip down my throat, one by one. The instructions direct me to take two – however I learnt long ago that four adds a glorious haze to the world…a glossy film that covers up the rot and the dirt, replacing it with sheer beauty.
However, the feeling of pure ecstasy only masks my hammering heartbeat, the glistening beginnings of sweat on skin. I convulse, every retch racking my gaunt body. Peering down, my hands are smeared with crimson.
But oh, the feeling of Joy. I savour it, drinking the feeling up as if it were the finest and purest wine. Why is real emotion not this pure? Why is it so watered down, diluted?
My eyes slide shut, exhaling deeply and relishing in the sensation of emotion.
It’s quiet for a few heavenly seconds. The thick weight of unconsciousness stifles my brain for a moment, letting me give in to its stream of quiet. But when the deafening roar of my thoughts at last falls silent, when the tension evaporates from my limbs, slackening in relief…that’s when the flashbacks begin.
Not even the unyielding grip of Joy shields me from the headlines, screaming of a disease; one that will steal your emotion and mind, one that has taken so many already.
My mother’s face, devoid of emotion, ignoring my wailing nine-year-old self tugging on her sleeve, begging her to “Please wake up mummy, look at me!”
Or watching as my father’s vacant stare into nothingness shifts to livid fury, his face contorting as he rounds on me, cursing and spitting obscenities and truths such as; I am worthless, I am a burden, a mistake destined to rot. Watching the anger drain away, eyes glossing over…please stop, my god I wish I could stop…
But my head refuses to cease as it reminds me of the stinging whip of a palm across my face, how blood stained my features scarlet the night I stumbled from the remnants of a home.
The pull of blissful nothingness becomes apparent, and I seize it gratefully, a hollow smile staining my lips.
It’s the light that wakes me. Not the reassuring glow of sweet daylight, but the piercing white glare of the artificial kind. I squint, shying away from the half-shattered window that betrays the ugly beams. Reaching up to brush my hair from my eyes, my skin is moistened with what I presume to be sweat or tears. Maybe both.
I gingerly ease myself up into a seated position; Joy has come and gone, leaving a dull pounding headache in her wake – I should be grateful that’s all it is.
Why do I do this to myself? The pleasure takes pieces of me each time I surrender to it; yet there’s no stopping myself once I reach for the bottle…my head and heart crave what I know is slowly killing me. Irabis leaves me in my most vulnerable, most susceptible to the world.
I stagger to my feet, vision swimming and head splitting further with every miniscule movement. Pausing only long enough for my eyes to adjust, I stumble past the debris and dust on the ground of my makeshift shelter (I currently reside in the ruins of an old warehouse – one of the few buildings that hasn’t succumbed to decay). I make my way toward the light, one hand balancing myself on the wall and the other shielding my eyes.
They slowly adapt, and as soon as they do, I’m struck with a fiery hot spike of indignation.
After the disease that ravaged the planet and population, we’re now left with a divided New York. There is what I liked to call the ruins – shells of broken buildings, ghost towns that nature is slowly taking back – and the Community. The Community is a makeshift town filled with Irabis addicts and their children…kids in control of their own emotions but too young to do anything about it. A society cobbled together out of absolutely nothing. I’ve heard all the stories. They have houses, parks, three meals a day. Champagne and internet and clothes on their backs. And a threatening wall surrounding it with a distinct message. We don’t want you here. Leave us and our privilege alone while you die starving like rats.
And there they are. The source of all the light.
Singing, laughing, painting their precious town red all the while inebriated by Joy, or Exhilaration or Adrenaline. It takes me a few moments to notice the clenched bottle in my hand. How I’ve been unthinkingly unscrewing the cap, ready to take my four doses of pain disguised as Joy.
And I do unscrew the cap. But not to take the pills.
They barely make a noise falling onto the hardened earth. I have to resist the urge to snatch them back up, so – ignoring my head’s frantic protests – I lift my foot and stomp down. Hard.
If my brain wants me dead that easily, it’ll have to kill me itself, instead of hiding behind the mask of addiction.
The pleasure isn’t worth the pain; I suppose it never was, I just hadn’t noticed.Anais | Williamstown High School
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