Thursday, 5 June 2014

'The Abyss.'

So, this is the piece I originally wrote for my blog, and then frantically deleted, revamped totally, and submitted for my Creative Writing Assignment for Uni. This, as I'm posting now, is the end version. (PS. I just got 65% for this assignment, and I'm very chuffed about it.) This is my favourite piece of writing to date, and for some reason, I cannot explain my attachment to it. It was very difficult to write. Harder to watch it get put under scrutiny. But, that's all over. Here it is.


                                    The Abyss.                    


‘The abyss looks back.’


She knew what that was like. Waking up every single day and resenting each breath that is snatched unwillingly from your lips. A crushing feeling that made your lungs tight and your face sour and blank. She coped, nevertheless. In the darkest places of her mind, were hidden the worst things imaginable, her very own Pandora’s box. For Molly knew what it was like, to look the abyss straight in the eye, to scream into an echoing void, to cry for help and her voice to be muffled. She was trapped. More than that, she was her own prisoner. The sharp corners of her mind, her cranium of torment. When she tried to break out of the never ending cycle that was her life, she was always caught with a fist clutching at her wrist, pulling her back, maintaining her consciousness for now. Then of course, there was Nicky. He was her rock, her crutch, her man-made safety-net. It was as if their ribcages were suitably entwined like an intricate, yet robust spider’s web, keeping them both alive. Most days, Nicky was the only reason she got out of bed, the one constant in her chaos. Blood ran through both their veins in rhythmic parallels.


I walked towards her street. Immediately, I spotted her. Molly sat on the window ledge of Victoria’s B&B, a dated old place. It was a hot day, in the height of summer. She was precariously balanced. Half a bottle of cheap vodka in her left hand, the neck of the bottle clutched between her fist clumsily. She kept taking a swig every so often, but never winced once. In her other hand, between her thumb and forefinger, she held a nail varnish brush. She was painting her toe nails, a mucky black colour. She had her right leg bent, touching her chest so she could access her toes more easily when applying the varnish. Her other leg was stretched out as far as she could, her ankle resting on the outer ledge, with her foot just dangling in mid-air, carelessly. She kept tapping her feet, and her anklet rattled every time. The window behind her was jammed open. The radio was playing ‘Sweet Caroline’ and she sang along to it, badly. Her favourite song. The bottle of nail varnish, cheap stuff and almost dried up with frequent usage, was balanced on the ledge alongside her.


Molly was heavily made up, with dark black eyes which made her face appear harsh and frustrated. Hers are the kind of eyes that you never forget. Wondrous, haunting almost. Her fingernails wore the same gaudy black nail varnish, bitten back so far that her fingertips shone red raw. There was very little remaining nail varnish on her fingers. She was totally spaced out, drunk, high. Occasionally she scraped her blonde hair back with one swift motion of her hand. Her hair was lank and messy. She sang along to the radio. As the song reached the chorus, she took another huge swig from the bottle of vodka. The second time, she was too busy singing to the music that she missed her mouth and the vodka spilled down her front. She didn't acknowledge it, that is, if she even noticed. Getting carried away with the music, she stretched her once-bent leg out, withdrawing it from its neat nook in her chest, knocking the nail varnish off the ledge and making her catch the brush on her knee. It left a dirty stripe on her bare leg.


“Shit!” she swore too loudly, as the bottle hit the concrete below and smashed.

The chorus of the song returned for one final time, as she took an even bigger swig than before, and sang at the same time. At that moment, she noticed me. 
I’d been standing just metres away, watching her, a witness to her own little nightmare. Her eyes became fixed on my outline.

“NICKYYYYYYYY!” she droaned, raising her arm, and the vodka bottle in tow, as if she was privately toasting me from her ledge. She got excited. The song was just finishing, lowering the volume to the end of the track. Fading, peacefully away.

“Nicky, where’sya been? I’ve been waitin’ fo’ ya f’rever” she slurred.

As I walked closer, I realised how much of a state she was really in. Her big, brown eyes were starting to roll into the back of her head. Her eyelids were swollen and the dark circles under her eyes made you think she hadn’t slept for a fortnight. I gulped hard, raising my arms all the while moving towards her, ready to catch her if I needed to.

“Nickyyyyyy!” she shouted, now seemingly euphoric at my arrival. A haunting grin was artificially plastered across her face. She clumsily got to her feet, and began to sway drunkenly on the ledge, caught up in the music.

“Shit Molly! What you doing?! Sit down, will you! You’ll break your fucking neck!”

I ran up the flight of stairs and burst into her room, all the while, my pulse vibrated through my eardrums. I fell through the door just to see her swaying on the ledge, her arms outstretched, like a strong gust of wind may catch her and sweep her off her feet at any moment. At that point, I didn’t recognise the song in between the stomach-churning fear and the distraction of her drunken slurs. I froze a moment, fascinated, before grabbing her wrist and pulling her back inside to the safety of her room. She didn’t say anything for a minute, just studied me closely. Like a young child would, all wide-eyed and full of intrigue. She looked at me as if I was the most wondrous thing she’d ever seen.

Molly was wearing the tiniest pair of denim shorts. Light blue, frayed around the legs. I couldn't really make them out properly until she stood up, because she was wearing an over-sized t-shirt that was almost down to her bruised knees. Far too big for her. If I didn't know better, I’d say it was a man’s shirt. It made her look drained, too thin, wobbly. As I grabbed hold of her arm, I noticed the syringe marks. They were raw and puckered, like tiny pin tucks. She’d been scratching at her arms and made them sore. Her eyes couldn't focus, and her heroin and vodka cocktail were pickling her liver more every second. I didn't know what to do. I never did. She caught me looking at her scars, and snatched her arm away, bitterly.

‘Get off me!’
“Right, put some shoes on. We’re going for a walk. You need to sober up.”

“I don’t need to, I am sober.”

I ignored her blatant cries of denial. My nerves were dead to it now. More than anyone, I knew never to trust the words of an addict. No matter how much they prevailed. She followed my lead, and we headed off down the road. I had my arm around her waist, a necessity, rather than a public display of affection. We wandered through town, as I tried my best to divert the attention from my junkie girlfriend. She was a total mess. We got a few funny looks, but I wasn't taking an awful lot of notice.


Her paces began to slow as we reached a bridge, and then, suddenly, I saw her eyes light up and her legs begin to strengthen. She broke free from my grasp and seemed to sprint towards the bridge. Once her feet were firmly united with its concrete, Molly came alive. She was euphoric. Deep down I knew it was the effect of her drug cocktail, but part of me wanted to see past that, see the Molly I used to know.

She sat down, very matter-of-factly, on the concrete, shuffled over to the edge and hung her feet over the side. I shouted at her, urging her to get up, my stomach lurching, but she ignored my pleas, so admitting defeat, I joined her. I nervously shuffled to her side, so both of our legs were dangling mid-air, with only the water below and each other for company. It was late afternoon, and it was quiet, peaceful.

Suddenly, Molly spoke.

“What if I jumped?”
“What do you mean?”
“What would you do if I jumped?”
“Um…” I hesitated.
“See. Nothing,” she snapped.
“Well that’s not entirely true, is it?”
“You tell me.”
“Well I don’t want you to jump.”
“I never said I was going to. I said if I did. I said hypothetically, if, right here, right now, there was just me and you, and I jumped, what would you do?” She might be totally messed up, but Molly’s tact and wit were still in full working order.

“I’d jump too.” I realise now that was a crazy thing to say to a girl who was fragile, mentally unstable and under the influence of both alcohol and drugs, but she caught me off guard.


Her face almost crumpled at my response. Tears began to form in the crevices of her bloodshot eyes.

“You asked me what I’d do. I’d jump with you.”
“But… but…why?”
She looked increasingly puzzled and upset.
“Just ‘cause I wouldn't know what else to do.”

“Well, I guess I just expected more from you, that’s all.”
“Expected more from me? Are you fucking kidding Moll? Are we really going to do this now?!”

She just stared past me, blank. I knew then, I’d lost more than her gaze. 
“You know what they say, don’t you? If you stare into the abyss…”
She didn't respond to me.
“Don’t ever say you’d jump after me. Ever. Promise?”
“Er, I thought you said this was all hypothetical.”

You had to be matter-of-fact with Molly. There was no room for any more irrationality, sudden reactions or unexpected outbursts. She had all of those stations covered.

“It is.”
“Well then, why does it matter?”
“Because, Nicky. It matters to me.”
“I’m not gonna let you do this.”
DO what?” she wears an innocent expression, not quite believable. Knowingly smug.
I shook my head, “Don’t patronise me. You know what I mean.”

She laughed sarcastically.

“I love you Molly.”
“Yeah. I know, more’s the pity.”

“Y’know sometimes, I don’t think that’s a defence mechanism, I just think you’re being a bitch.”
“Whatever, just don’t sign your life away on my account.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Just because I might be bored with this place, doesn't mean you have to be.”

I refused to dignify that with answer. I saw through her cocky façade, and sometimes, it was just exhausting, being the other player in her constant mind games. I laughed, because, really, what else could I do? She was right, in a way. She was a complete fool, a waster, a junkie. But she was mine. I was blinded by her, and she knew it. I shrugged it off, my shoulders weighted down by such an exhausting responsibility. Just before sundown that day, we headed back. I walked her home to the door of the B&B.


“I’m staying the night.”

“No, no, don’t be stupid, you don’t have to do that.”

“”We both know I’m not gonna leave you like this Moll, so don’t patronise me.”

“Fair enough.”


I helped her clamber up the stairs, and through her front door, and sat her clumsily on the sofa. She was sobering up and looked totally worn out.


“Nicky, will you run me a bath?”


I nodded, and did what I was asked. I could hear her shuffling about in the next room, trying to get comfortable. When I came out of the bathroom, she was curled up in a foetal position, with her thumb nail between her teeth, half asleep.



“Hmm,” she groaned.

“I’m just gonna go buy some tabs, I’m dying for a smoke. Sure you’re okay here?”

She looked at me indignantly.

“Yeah, I don’t need babysitting y’know.”

“I’m just checking. I’ll be back in ten.”

I began to walk towards the door when she grabbed my arm. Molly looked at me, her eyes clinging on to the very image of my being almost as tightly as she clutched my wrist with her tiny hands. She pulled me closer in one swift motion and kissed me like she didn't have another second to live. I grinned.

“Wait. I love you, Nicky. ”
“I love you too.”
I laughed, it was just like her. I smiled again, and watched her close the door as she headed into the bathroom.


“Molly? Hello? It’s just me, I’m back. Got caught up…I mean, ya wouldn’t believe it, they had no fuckin’ Marlboro lights.”

There was no answer. I could hear her old record player humming, notes drifting under the gap in the bathroom door, along with the very familiar scent of lavender. I smiled to myself, slumped myself in the chair and lit a cigarette while I waited. The sickly-sweet taste of Nicotine seemed to switch a light on in my tired eyes, the taste of relief after a very long day. I must’ve zoned out, because when I looked at my watch again, it was five to nine, and I only had six cigarettes left in the packet. My eyes darted from one side of the apartment to the other. It was dark outside now, and the only light was glaring from the bathroom. I could hear the radio crackling vaguely.


“Molly? Moll? You in here? Y’know that bath water will be freezing now…”


My voice trailed off as my eyes struggled to become accustomed to the scene in front of me. The radio was still playing. The bath water was discoloured, an almost rainbow effect that would’ve seemed pretty in another light. My throat was tight, I felt like my airways were constricting, and yet, it was undeniable, there was something remarkable about what was in front of me.

Razor blades and exposed veins. The radio skipped and was stuck on a particular line of the song. I was met with a scene of carnage. Blood. And yet, I would come to hate myself for thinking it, but at that moment, she had never looked so beautiful. Her eyes were open. Her pupils blown, dilated. Her wrists slit, her lips a dangerous, lonely shade of blue. They were parted slightly, sleepy and yet happy. Stunning. Peaceful. One of her hands hung loosely over the edge of the bath, the razor blade still in her mucky clutches.

Thoughts twisted in and out of my mind, making my stomach lunge.

It’s funny really. When you lose someone, there’s always an influx of people waiting to lay flowers and say nice things about how loved they were, and all of their positives. But at that moment, it was hatred loitering in my chest. She was a fucking mess, frankly. But she was my mess. The good days, the bad nights, the bitters slurs and the exclamations of adoration at three in the morning when the Methadone was wearing thin and her skin was raw and her nerves were needy and shaky.

She wasn’t fearless, Molly acted out of cowardice. Utterly and completely. It was naïve and selfish and if Molly hadn’t already got there first, I probably would’ve killed her myself for even entertaining such a monstrous thought. At that moment, beneath the anguish, the heartache, the sheer breathlessness, I wanted to cry, but more so, I hated her. From her selfish ways to her absent-minded self-indulgence. Her vanity. Her lust for all the wrong things in life. I hated how I’d sat back and watched such a soulful, passionate girl destroy herself all because I was too proud to admit I couldn’t cope on my own. Who was I kidding? I hated her and I hated myself, because I couldn’t handle her and I should’ve been able to, or at least, I should’ve been brave enough to ask for help when I realised I was in way over my head.

When I saw the razor, and the cuts on Molly’s wrists, I gagged. My stomach flipped, my heart leapt from my chest to my vocal chords and lodged itself there like something unpleasant you just can’t digest. And I knew the real reason for my reaction. Molly wasn’t dead because she’d slit her wrists, or because she drank so much cheap vodka she’d pickled her liver prematurely at 25, or even because she was a junkie who never got the right help. She was dead, truthfully, because she had a failed support system. Her crutch snapped beneath her deadweight, fragile frame. My knees buckled at the thought of losing her, so when she tested the water and saw the fear in my irises, she kind of got off on that. Knowing she was almost gone, as if she was standing on a cliff face readying herself to step over the edge into the abyss. And so she plunged, into the dark, lonely recesses of her mind. But the abyss isn’t as lonely as it seems. The abyss isn’t for the dead, but for the living. And the problem with it is, even when you snatch your gaze away with every ounce of strength you conjure up, the abyss always looks back.

No comments:

Post a Comment