There it is again, my old foul-weather friend.
He never fully leaves; like the house guest that turns a few days on the couch into six months of residency before eyes blink, he lingers, drinking my food and wine. I starve while he fattens up, a plush sinister being with legs curled beside him on my worn and cat-clawed couch.
“You love having me around,” he claims. “I make life more interesting.”
“No,” I reply. “You make life absent.”
There is no living when someone else inhabits your fragile skin, stretching it to its limits. There is only survival in a battle of wits and will. And his is infinite. He’s played this game for so long, he will win in his sleep. He is Bobby Fischer and I am… me. Scarcely able to define the roles of the pieces.
He pillages my life, plundering everything beautiful, until there is nothing left but ashen grey. He is amused. I am apathetic. He is a glutton while I am merely a glutton for his punishment. I seem to believe it possible to beat him at the game he invented, and try, try again. Just like my mommy told me.
My mother is pretty full of shit. Why did I buy this line?
The casualties continue to mount, but only on my side. New soldiers arrive at my headquarters to enlist. eager to fight, to wage war. I try and warn them of the futility. I say, “We don’t have armour, or guns, to fight this enemy. We have nothing but the odd moment of merciful dumb luck.” But still, they pledge allegiance to the flag of my United States of Failure.
And then, they fall. Like Humpty Dumpty. And there are no king’s men to send; all of them are dead.
I curl up in a ball, defeated, padlocking the doors. “Do not enter. Do not try. Run. Run as fast as you can. You are no gingerbread men.” And yet, they come.
The house guest laughs. Check and mate.
Day 148: Fast As You Can – Fiona Apple