I’ve stopped reading what I’m supposed to read. A list awaits of course, like unopened gifts, jewels, I know, need unwrapping. I fear they are like the sort of gifts that I will feel obliged to keep, but don’t really relate to any of my current emotions. Or, that I will open them and in making space for them will have to clear out my entire collection of old, much loved and much overused thoughts. There simply isn’t enough space for new ones, right now. I’ve stopped eating what I’m supposed to be eating. Tuna more than once a week, chocolate that isn’t pure, sugar in my cereal, I do it all and I shit it out a lot easier because there’s less guilt now and that means there’s this constant hunger. I have a hunger that is unreal now. I have an insatiable appetite for all that junk because I’ve made space for it. I’ve stopped being who I’m supposed to be. Meaning that when I enter a space I don’t feel as apologetic. The swell of red that so frequently stains my face is getting easier to control. So that when you look at me and see dyke, I don’t look to the ground anymore and want to pick a fight. I’ve stopped waiting for you. Though of course I know that’s not true and I wish it was but it isn’t and the dreams, well they’re getting more consistent and I thought that maybe the cutting off, the tying of a knot in that side of me would free me up to being less vulnerable. I thought, perhaps naively, that you would disappear. But of course, of course, you didn’t. I’ve stopped doing things in the evening. Getting fucked up used to be high on my agenda and then one day it wasn’t. So that now, as I sit and write, I feel so up-tight about anyone even asking me out for one drink. I feel so scared that now as I sit here I’m shaking, slightly. I’m scared to go out, because the damage it will cause feels so overwhelming that I would rather be a hermit and never ever go out, ever again. I’ve stopped wanking to porn. I don’t know what that means, maybe my imagination is getting better. I’ve stopped exercising to get thin. Though maybe that’s a lie as well, I’ve stopped exercising for that particular reason, because I know I will never be thin, because I haven’t really given up any of those demons successfully and what I have done is learnt how to lie, a bit better. I’ve stopped talking. Instead, I rely entirely on a telepathic communication system that allows me to understand what is occurring inside your head without you ever really explaining. It’s far more enjoyable this way and means I don’t have to say too many words just nod and gently persuade you that this is all ok, that the way you feel towards me is exactly the same way as I feel towards you. Trusting our energetic levels is far better than trusting in that random thing we call the voice. I’ve stopped walking down that street, the street you live on. Which is actually a longer journey to work, and in three years I’ve never seen anyone that I know on it so that now, maybe, I might bump into someone I know and that terrifies me but at the same time, it feels as though it might be good for me in an erotic sort of way. I’ve stopped feeling wrong. Right is the only way to be from now on, and that will be nice, won’t it. To empty myself of shame and be able to look away and not stare and stare at my reflection only to not recognise myself in that pane of glass. To see all that is right as if it were a fright, a reminder that every single body is in fact valid and that this space that we fill up with all this distaste, all these rules and regulations is actually just bullshit. Just time filling bullshit. I’ve stopped smoking. And there are loads of reasons but as I’m being honest there’s mainly one. That if I smoke I can’t have surgery and my body will forever hate me. I want to know what freedom tastes like, you make it look so delicious. I’ve stopped waking up at 4am. Instead I sleep, because I’ve realised that there’s nothing that great about being up at that time in the morning and really being asleep is just better. Besides, I found out recently that falling into a deeper REM means that maybe my memory will ameliorate over time, and then, in turn, I will seem more intelligent to you because I’ll be able to regurgitate facts and then, well then, I might make it to the other side. I’ve stopped hoping for a better future. The malady of all this pointless behaviour just another step towards the end and now death is engrained in every pore. So unfulfilled by our friendship, our empty stream of daily updates and frustrated debates. That I can feel the distance between us pulsate. Distinguishing a before from a now and trying to understand when your belly filled with an acerbic reaction to each and every distraction. I’ve stopped participating. But then you know that, because I mentioned I would and now I properly have. My muted response hangs like a black hole over us. I’ve stopped believing that this is all a fantasy. That at some point the switch will be turned, the plug pulled and the end will happen as efficiently as the beginning. That’s what really concerns us; beginnings and ends. Middles, well they are just frivolous spurts of energy wasted on the young. I’ve stopped planning and then panicking, because if it goes wrong, it goes wrong and then we’ll see, then we’ll see who picks up the pieces. Violence will rip at the veil of all of this belligerence. I’ve lost you in the midst of all this, reader, betwixt this and that and then and maybe even now, I have lost all that is precious so that, I must start again. To look and only look and not write a thing. To see and write all that is seen. I’ve stopped listening to everything you hear, wearing the clothes you wear, letting go of my leg hair and sometimes when I’m in the mood underarm. I am no longer adhering to what queer means, which I guess makes me not queer. Because it is our actions that define us as different, apparently. Caught on a tidal swell of other, I shall remain just the same. Only how can I because the door has edged open and I’ve felt the cool breeze of that stare. The one that means; maybe I don’t care. I don’t give a flying fuck what name you call me. I’ve stopped getting angry, can’t you tell? Purgatory awaits and then well…I shall use this energy in a more productive way. All this energy that you say is too much, too negative that people don’t want to know me. That I am too much, that this is too much, that we are too TOO much. I’ve stopped talking to people, did I say that already? I’ve stopped telling them so that I can tell you, that this page is the only reason I survive the daily struggle of ups and downs. Too much? Did I take it too far this time? I’ve stopped saying sorry. Well, maybe less than thirty times a day. Apparently I’ve run out of apologies until January. And I can’t help but think that January is a long way away and I know there is so much I am sorry for. So much I wish I could take back, this anger and all of that wasted energy. Where will the apologies go now? Perhaps they will congest those newly freed up intestines to the point where I will get sick on my own apologies, I’ve always wanted but could never fathom how coprophagy could feature on my list of quirks. I’ve stopped being that person, the one that engages on a theoretical level so that now when I email you I don’t have anything of any worth to say. The essays we wrote one another will be saved for another day, I might have more energy then. I’ve stopped breathing, that doesn’t mean that there is no life in me. It’s just that you said I would live longer if I breathe deeper and I don’t want to, live longer. I want to live just as long as intended. In this in between, this limbo land. To breathe normally because if I go deeper then maybe I’ll choke. I’ve stopped thinking about trying. About trying to get out. To be better, to be better at something so that I can earn more money and have children and a house and a car and a fantastic shoe collection and a personal trainer and a gym membership and a six pack and a library and a holiday home and everything else that means I am an adult. I’ve stopped crying, the waterworks get me nowhere. But sometimes, mostly when I’m thinking about what we had, a single, slightly comical tear will roll unexpectedly down my face and I’ll laugh and then my chest will close up and I can feel them, all of them, stinging the back of my throat wanting to get out. My cheeks will burn followed by the uncontrollable urge to gurn; to contort my face into all sorts of shapes and make it less obvious that I am crying about you. All I can do in that moment is hold my eyes, press them into the back of their sockets and hope that deep inside they will surrender, go back to whence they came. These embarrassing things.

Dante Fewster Holdsworth

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