sigh….

sigh

Sometimes I stare blankly at my computer screen, it gives me nothing back and I have nothing in my head. Yet it feels like something is very close…all I have to do is start. Just start somewhere…even if it’s exactly what is in my head – like “sigh”… They say writing is a discipline and this is very true for me. Even though once I’m actually writing I’m sucked into the void, it is sometimes a struggle to start. I love writing and get lost in the whirlwind of it all, and then wonder – why am I so resistant at times? Am I worried my words will get used up? I won’t have anything to write? And I have to mentally slap myself on the wrist – how shallow I am to think I would have experienced and felt everything there is to feel and experience so I could write about it.

The world and universe are far greater than the capacity my brain has to understand all things. I really am but a grain of sand in the big picture of things. We all are – but grains of sand make stunning beaches and pieces of paradise when put together….I wonder if there is something we should be learning from this? And who would’ve thought that a mere grain of sand on its’ own also had the power to change perspectives. That paradise beach is not so out of reach for the human race – if only we all stuck together to keep paradise a paradise…

Foot in mouth disease

foot in mouth

I loved university. I loved being up to my eyeballs in something I was fascinated with. The challenges and deadlines were all bonuses on top of the actual subject and I rose to greet each one. Anyway that’s by the by, so I’m in the lecture theater and the lecture is about to end. I know I’m getting a phone call very shortly so I excuse myself to go outside to wait for the call.

I get outside and there’s a kid doubled over, sitting pretty much folded over on the side bench. I wander to the bench, my phone out, texting and looking up as I walk. And I sit down on his right side. He shuffles over a little to make room. He is not moving much and my curiosity gets the better of me and I surreptitiously glance sideways at him. Yep, he is totally bent in half, but I do see his phone in his hand and he’s got his left hand side of his face plastered to his phone. Not the left hand side as in, his ear and talking, I mean like with his eye and not talking. Possibly taking a picture of his eye? Or the pupil of his eye? So without thinking for another second I pipe up with “I think you need glasses by the looks of things!” and chuckled a little, breaking the ice and everything. And this is my problem – my brain doesn’t engage with my mouth or vice versa – they work independently (against me!) so this is where I have ended up with this Foot in Mouth Disease – I’m a a frequent flyer.

Well, this kid looks up at me and one eye is covered with that cloud, the cloud that means that they can’t see much of anything out of that eye and the other one is scarred too.

He says, “It’s the only way I can see my texts – glasses won’t help…” I’m sitting there like an idiot. But I did what I usually do and chose not to ignore the elephant.

“So what happened to your eyes?” I asked.

He looked up from his phone again – well, as best as he could, and explained that he had been walking down Queen Street and it was winter. A super stormy day, and Queen Street can become like a wind tunnel on days like that. He had a jacket on that zipped up and as he grappled in the wind with it, the zip sliced across his eye, blinding him totally in his right eye and severely impinging on his sight in his left.

“I’m so sorry dude – really impressed you’re at university…I didn’t mean to be rude by the way….” I trailed off. He smiled, “It’s OK,” he says to me, ” at least you didn’t just walk away – that’s the worst. Everyone knows something’s up with my fricken vision. Lots of people don’t know what to do when they’re confronted with something unexpected…”

We were silent for a split second.

“I’m sorry this happened to you…. but I see in spite of a universal fuck-up in your life, you’re still here, still givin’ it all that!” he laughed at me and I laughed too.

“Often people so let the wrong things define who they are, or the worst things. The fact that you rise above this defines who you are.” He looked at me with a serious frown, somewhat created due to his lack of vision.

“Thank you for that, I needed to hear that right now…” he said.

I didn’t know his name but I did know much more about him than just some letters to identify him to his friends, family, fellow students and work colleagues. Not only that, but I found out even more about myself, or maybe about people. We all share commonalities – common likes, enemies, feelings, injustices etc. We all share bonds and those deeper threads of what make us who we are are far more interesting and important than your name, your clothes, your home, car, bank account…we truly are here to fill our souls and not our wallets. I take my soul with me when I go – I will leave my earthly belongings behind.

© Kait King, 2015

The Empty Room

the empty room

I remember being trapped in a lift once. At first it didn’t occur to me to panic – being the reasonably stable individual I am. I just slid down the elevator wall and squatted at the bottom, thinking of other things to while the time away. What really planted that little seed of fright was when the intercom crackled on and some disjointed voice announced that there was going to be a slight delay – yeah right! A delay as in repairs being made to cabling blah blah blah. That’s when something started chewing at the base of my brain. I could feel that icy trickle of panic beginning to seep into and numb the rational part of my brain. I imagined the lift plummeting down thirteen storeys with me in it. A compact human body, being mine of course – discovered under the dusty rubble. Or maybe in three years time, after not wanting to repair the lift they find a grinning skeleton – or perhaps just my crushed bones…

Well I started chewing my fingernails. I say that, but it’s not the actual nail bit but the little pieces you can shred off the side. Making my thumb bleed didn’t help at all and I was eternally grateful to the Universe that I wasn’t a hemophiliac. So then I started pacing out the elevator for size. It was four by four, or by six or four by eight or something. After a while the size didn’t matter – and I never thought I would say that with absolute honesty, but it didn’t. After a while my squares turned into circles and I was still gnawing at my fingers, nails inclusive now.

The appalling thought of needing to pee enveloped me and I was shamed into believing that I would just have to release my bodily functions in this confined space should it come to that.

At least two hours had passed and I was beginning to feel strange – almost like I was in a shimmery bubble. Fortunately they let me out, tearful and shaky, about twenty minutes later. Two and a half hours is a long time to be stuck in a lift – I truly thought I was going to go insane.

I’ve never been one to be claustrophobic or anything, but that lift episode really scared the begeezuz out of me. I always took the stairs after that, I just couldn’t get in a lift. Well I went for a drink with a friend of mine who had always been really terrified of heights. He said his worse fear was that he would be pushed out of a window or fall out of a building from too high up to survive. He said he had nightmares about it and it was absolutely ruining his life; work-wise and socially – let alone emotionally and the psychological toll a lack of sleep was taking on him. He said he dreamt of his arms frantically flailing to reach a hold that he could see but always he clutched at nothing. He screamed for help helplessly, as no one would ever hear him. His lover would wake him up as he had been screaming in his sleep and often hit them with his flailing limbs. Now I’d never experienced anything like that. Never had I suffered from “bad dreams” or nightmares of being trapped in a confined space at all, or trapped. When I was a kid we would hide in boxes and cupboards during games or to give someone a fright. I never felt trapped or scared then, just anticipatory. I was the frighter not the frightee and it was exciting. I could wait for ages in the crawlspace, tiny aperture or cupboard waiting for my prey to step by. Or huddle tightly and quietly in some of the darkest and smallest places, waiting to be found.

Many so-called professionals say that you should live out your fear and it will solve your problem – but I wasn’t afraid. I met my friend again and we went out for lunch. I asked him about his own phobia about heights and falling. “Well, y’know…” he said between bites, ” I know myself that this stuff is just in my head. I’ve spent a fortune on shrinks and been to a few – they all say the same thing – it’s in your mind, babe.” He stopped eating and looked at me while his tongue sought the escapee’s around his mouth and tidy teeth. “Doesn’t mean I’m cured though….” he mumbled and carried on eating.

But it did make sense. It was all in my head, my stupid brain, my over-active imagination and analytical mind. No matter how many times I told myself this though, I still could not get into a lift. Moving or otherwise I couldn’t do it. I knew I had to be brave and thought of ways to make it less traumatic. In fact it might be easier if I see a bunch of people in a lift I could squeeze in – at least I wouldn’t be all alone. There would be someone to talk to.

So today’s the day! I have decided to find a people-packed lift. I will walk through those lift doors and they will close. I will be carried up to my destination and everything will be just fine. Absolutely fine. Well…I did it! I went in the lift, sure I hyperventilated a little and blamed the air-conditioning. It’s not like I was scared or anything like that. I journeyed to the first floor but walked back down via the stairwell. The lift was busy, too packed. All you do is stand around waiting to get in and then get spewed out on one floor or another – it was a waste of time when you could just walk.

Life seems to be so much better in the summertime. Everything regains its glamour and beauty. Even people do – well some of them. Summer is a time for barbecues, hot late nights, swimming, playing and loving. We went on wild yachting weekends, champagne breakfasts and innumerable parties. We took off for an amazing holiday in Honolulu – total luxury and decadence. There were white sandy beaches, hot sun, beautiful people and drinks served in hollowed out fruits. We were there for three weeks and came back home ready to knuckle down and work. Refreshed, renewed and invigorated. No time for lifts – what lifts?

Ignorance is bliss. It’s no big deal – I’m just not interested in travelling in elevators or lifts. Some people are not interested in baking or stamp collecting either. I had heard a story about a woman who was terrified of germs and she used to hold her breath when she was in a hospital or medical clinic of some sort. She kept fainting, she was so terrified that her brain overrode the fear so that she could keep breathing and would knock her out! Now, come on – I am no way that bad. I mean that is silly, air is a necessity – I know, I’ve been trapped in an elevator.

The weird thing is, I’ve been having these really weird dreams about elevators. I was mainly travelling through space in them and I feel very very edgy, unsafe. Like some feminised Doctor Who in an elevator not a phone booth…ridiculous. But I would wake up sweating and feeling incredibly anxious, as if I was waiting for something to happen to me. No, more like expecting something to happen to me. It’s no biggie though – I can cope, it’s just a little disruptive to my sleep pattern, is all.

A couple of nights later I’m lying fast asleep and I dream I’m shooting unpredictably through space and it suddenly jolts to a halt. I wait – the doors open and it’s a hospital. I have to hold my breath or the germs will get in and smother me, my lungs, eat through my heart and brain. This is not good – panic has set in and I’m holding my breath, holding. I’m pressing the buttons in the lift – even just to close the door! I feel like I’m pressing the buttons through the wall and nothing is connecting. I’m stuck in this lift – the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I can feel my face cracking as tears and sobs are overriding the desire to not breathe in disease. Thank God I’m breathing though. The breathing is turning into convulsions, I’m going to die in that elevator and it’s dawned on me. I scream so hard the veins pump blood in rushing gulps to my head. My face is all screwed up and ugly. Somehow I’m looking down on myself – I’m watching me die, it’s almost funny.

I wipe my face with the back of my hand. The snot and tears are all down my face and like a gibbering idiot I am begging anyone and anything to let me out. I see myself in the metal walls, my clothes look so dishevelled and I don’t know when it happened but the doors had closed sometime during my hysterical tantrum. I bang on the doors and walls, air seems to be hard to suck in – like it’s syrup. Suddenly things slow down, I watch my tears thud into the company carpet. Slowly it occurs to me that the elevator is my coffin and I am dying in it. I always thought I’d be dead before I got this far! You are supposed to be dead before you got put in a coffin. This is unbelievable. But here I was, scratching at a coffin lid. Splinters of wood from the detail around the metal find their way up under my fingernails. It hurts but I don’t care. I’m bleeding but I don’t care. I’ve gone beyond. My clothes are drenched with sweat and the heat and closeness is overbearing. I feel the walls getting closer and closer and fortunately I blacked out and don’t remember anything else.

Apparently they found me in my bedroom wardrobe. The door was pretty scratched up and covered in my blood and so was I. I was unconscious when they found me, as I mentioned and I guess I’m lucky to tell live to tell the tale – passing out is most probably what saved me.

I woke up screaming about the elevator apparently, and that still happens now and again – maybe even more now. Everyone here at the hospital tries to tell me it’s only an empty room. But I know better than that. They have elevators there if you wait patiently – when you’re a patient there’s not much else to do but waiting. And like they say, it’s all in the mind and mine goes there.

Here, take the knife

here take the knife

Carve the edges off your haunting pain

With time as sharp as a knife

the moments slide by in an agonizing grind

You’ll have this moment for the rest of your life

My feet sunk deep in a cement grip of permanence

a ball and chain of grief connects my soul to the earth

My bones and skin just vehicle remnants

My soul will have rebirth

© Kait King, 2015

Lyrics to Something and Nothing

something and nothing

There’s nothing like a tall glass of water

Nothing like a clear day

Nothing like your lovemaking

Like the dream I have when I always get my way

Something like the way you love me

Something like a summer day

Something like the way I crave you

Something always seems to get in the way

Ch: You do – something crazy to my heart and to my mind x 3

Verse 2

Nothing like the way you hold me when

It’s a cold rainy night

It’s nothing like the way you scare me

I wanna run – don’t wanna fight

It’s nothing like the way you tell me

That you love me when you want me

And I want you too

It’s nothing like the way you tell me

That you need me when you want me

And I just wanna be with you

Ch: You do – something crazy to my heart and to my mind x 3

Verse 3

It’s nothing like the way you find me

When I need you so bad

Something like the way you see me

Put a smile on my face

When I’m feelin’ sad

Nothing like the way I know you

When you don’t want me to see you, but I can see right through

Something like when we’re together

Something that feels so very true

Ch: Cos you do – something crazy to my heart and to my mind x 3

© Kait King, 2015

Sword of Damacles

Sword of Damacles

When you’re hanging by a thread

and the voices in your head

say “just let go”

When you feel torn and down

you try to take a look around

but find

you’re blind

And the time is running out

and you know what it’s about

you can feel that hanging rope

that blade against your throat

and you lean on in….

© Kait King, 2015

Fused, but not at the hip

Fused but not at the hip

I was standing at the front desk, chatting to another work colleague and an awkward scrawny middle-aged man came up to the counter. I was in the watch-house at the Police Station. Being closest, I turned to talk to him. Behind me, I could feel everyone else cringe. I wasn’t sure why, but it dawned on me as I chatted with him to find out what he was here for, why the audible intake of air from my colleagues. I was just in work zone and had been troubleshooting all day.

Let me start from the beginning. When I turned up for work that morning – it was like 4 am or something horrific, being shift work. Anyway, we had three women and a man in our team that night and as shift changed over everyone caught up and swapped information – did the hand over thing. Of course we all gossiped about things we had dealt with, seen or heard that day, what the constables had been up to, failed at, succeeded in catching, blah blah blah and of course, some real oddities and this was one of them.

A young detective came into the office after his shift to catch up with us. I must say, he looked a little green around the gills but I didn’t think anything about it at the time. He gathered those of us who wanted to see (only myself and the guy I worked with), some evidential photographs of a case of abuse. It took a couple of seconds for him to get his personal screen and files up. He knew I was interested in the abuse of the vulnerable, certainly children, but the animals, handicapped and elderly were all in my sights and desperately needed help. So the photos upload to his screen and I take a second to understand what I’m looking at. I thought a burnt body initially and then realised she was on a gurney in a hospital with tubes and an oxygen mask swallowing her “White-walker”-type face. I turned to the detective and with a rather incredulous tone asked him if she was actually alive.

“She is,” he said, “she’s still alive. This woman’s son was supposedly looking after her. Somebody who managed to finally get into the house found her and called an ambulance.”

“I just can’t believe someone so thin is still sucking in air! And how old is she?” Her dirty, mottled skin was just managing to cling to the bones of her body. She was filthy – hadn’t been washed properly in years.

“She’s 92. When we got to the hospital they told us that it was a miracle. I personally think maybe not – poor woman. Her son hadn’t fed her properly or washed her, medical needs ignored. She had maggots crawling around in her vagina…”

“What the fuck! Are you serious man!?” I was mortified.

“I knew you’d love this case Kait,” he said smiling up at me from the desk chair. ” Not only that but her toes had fused themselves together – there was green mould and a stink you would never believe possible. She smelt dead but was breathing – the living dead, literally!” he looked quite pleased with himself at the reality of his reference.

“I’m absolutely stunned! So what did her son say…has he been arrested then?” I ask.

“No, not yet anyway – he’s coming in to be assessed by the psyche team and questioned. Apparently he didn’t know he was doing anything wrong…whatever!”

“Good grief! Who’s he been sleeping with if he thinks it’s normal for flies to come out of a woman’s hoohaa!” We had a bit of a giggle – it’s like that in the face of horror. Apparently she had gangrene as well, on her fingers and other extremities. One of the worst abuse cases I’ve ever seen and I’m sure many of the police – even seasoned ones – felt that way too.

So the day carried on and we had all sorts of shit hitting the fan – parolees, detainees, people who had lost kids, found kids, P cooks, drunken idiots, abusive situations – just the usual crap.

So anyway here is this awkward guy in front of me. I am my usual helpful self and ask him what I can do. He tells me he’s here for an interview with a certain detective. I contact the right detective to come and get him from the watch-house, in the meanwhile I say “So are you having a good day?” just to be polite and make his wait in a police station a little less awkward. I had no idea what he was here for – he could be being interviewed as a witness for all I knew. Well this was a trigger question for him as he just spilled his guts to me about how he had hurt his mother even though he was trying to look after her. He told me about the maggots and the mould – as if I was giving him the interview. It only took him a few minutes to vent his story and he stood quietly with his head down in front of my counter.

“How come you didn’t clean her or help her to clean herself?” I asked cautiously, making eye contact with him.

“Well….I….I….” he bumbled along.

“It’s OK,” I said “you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to…” I trailed off.

He looked pleadingly up at me and I could see tears peeking out of the corners of his eyes.

“I want to.” he whispered.

I kept quiet.

He took a deep breath in and said “That’s my mum y’know ? I don’t want to wash her there or her top chest or anything! It’s not right…I’m her son – not even a daughter – I couldn’t do it!” The tears fell off his face. After initially feeling slightly ill talking to him, I found I was feeling sorry for him.

“Hell, I can understand that.” And I certainly could.

“So can you tell me why she’s so thin then? Why didn’t you feed her anything?” I pushed on through because there must be some accountability here. How can he get out of this one? Surely if he’d fed her she wouldn’t look like this. I tried to keep the picture of the poor old woman in my head, the decrepit, stinking semi-corpse that was his mother, to give her justice and keep a strong mind in this.

“I tried – I tried everything but she wouldn’t eat anything! I tried to force her but she choked so badly I was afraid to give her anything…I know now that this was wrong…” he looked down at his shoes, the tears still rolling off his nose and landing on the stations’ loud carpet. “She was my mum and she used to beat the crap outta me if I talked back or didn’t do as she bid. So I listened to her when she shook her head away from the spoon or growled at me, I left her alone….I was scared…” A slipknot of snot was making it’s way out of his nose and I tried desperately to keep a gag down. I managed. I passed him a box of tissues gingerly – not wanting to touch his skin at all.

Thankfully the detective who was going to do the interview arrived and took him through the security doors to an interview room. I stood there for a moment and realised where the blame lay in this. Society, society was to blame. Yes, he was at fault for not contacting the hospital or some sort of care for his mother, but he didn’t know anyone would help him. Surely if his neighbours had just said hello once in a while to the slightly, strange, creepy guy he might not be suffering endless guilt as it dawns on him in his slow mind what he has actually done. And his mother would not have had to suffer the enduring starvation and pain she had. It is about accountability – but who is accountable? We call ourselves a welfare state but whose welfare are we really caring for? I consider this man and his mother both victims in this instance and a severe failure on our many organisations parts. He was charged with numerous offences relating to the abuse of the elderly. I wondered if he wanted to lay charges against his mum for what she had done to him – for the monster she had created in him who would become her living nightmare.

What’s really sad is he will more than likely end up like his mum did….

© Kait King, 2015

A Treasured Life

Me n my Dad

My Dad and Me

It was so sad

to watch you fade

your mind as sharp as a knife

It was so hard

to say goodbye

To such a treasured life

It made me smile

to think on you a while

and on how you loved

your wife

Your children given

all you had

you gave

a treasured life

It seems that you

are still here

although you can’t

be seen

I often talk to you

And not just

in my dreams

I hope I told you

I loved you enough

I hope you know

how much I cared

And I know

one day,

I’ll see you again

Somewhere over there…

© Kait King, 2015