prose

Anthropology

The girl is not fair or beautiful. She is a mess stumbling around the beach, all black underwear and black tattoos and black hair and a black bottle in one hand. The girl is dancing; the bones of her skinny, bruised legs seem to wobble in the wind and her scarred arms flap like cartilage. Her eyes are closed and she is drunk; enjoying a brief moment of oblivion. Forgetting why she is here, why she has forgotten so much, she just dances.

The girl is a throwback; late seventies obsession with sex, drugs and rock and roll, the casual innocence of the sixties giving way to romanticized, self-destructive ideology in the wake of the vomit-and-heroin inspired suicide paydays; late eighties excess without early eighties post-anarchic sentiment, people wanting to do it for themselves so long as someone else is taking care of the bill; early nineties hopelessness sadly tainted by late nineties facile, mass-media prostitution. An artistic temperament trapped in a talentless consciousness; forever at odds with her political climate, perpetually unable to capitalize on the collective misery of the current global climate.

The red sun sets in red skies over a red sea and orange sands and she continues to dance, losing her balance all the time; falling like fingers fumbling keys. I watch her as the sun goes down and others laugh or leave.

I’ll phone the ambulance this time.

Who do you think you are? A wannabe what: Rock-star; Groupie; an actual what; teenager; bi-polar; manic-depressive; perpetual anxiety suffer; seasonal anxiety sufferer; schizophrenic; psychotic; autistic; what is wrong with you? No one can figure it out; no one cares past one night, not even you.

How many men have you been with? How many women? Why: Nymphomaniac; adventurous teen; bi-curious; broken-hearted?  Why do you value no-one like you don’t value yourself? You might be a worthless waste of space but that doesn’t prove we are.

Why do I care?

This tragic thing cannot love, cannot control her feelings at all, not without pharmaceutical assistance. My one true friend will never see me as anything more than a short, skinny, geeky boy with a bent, badly-healed, twice-broken nose, wearing his little brother’s hand-me-down-clothes, with a slight stutter, the occasional lisp and hair he cuts himself, rarely. This is not platonic love; this is not love at all but dependency.

She has made herself this tragic angel. She hates herself too deeply to hate anyone else and will give her sex away on a whim to everyone; the more they use it to harm her, the lower and so the more comfortable she feels. She will partake of anodynes and analgesics and anaesthetics seeking a panacea that does not exist.

And I will watch; do my best to provide her with these things and keep her what she has made herself: My Tragic Angel.

My angel is cold; my angel cannot love. My angel is scarcely aware of my existence though I carry her home each night (rarely alone) and fund her every habit. My angel calls me her only friend, then forgets my name, tries to fuck me and each time falls asleep too soon to find herself knocked-back, as she always will be. My angel is an animal, who needs me to live and so loves me instinctively, without even realising it, always falling at my feet after she finishes her nightly dance.

My angel is mine, and no one else wants her. No one else will ever have her. No one can help her, I will not allow it. My angel is perfect, total, oblivious suffering, an aging artist with no years or works to show; just tired lungs, a lot of superficial colouring of the skin.

Still so young, still so much potential for wasted beauty.

I watch her opaque silhouette twirl, marionette-like, before the half-circle of the dying red sun, the shhhhhhh of slow, long waves stretching halfway up the shingle then pulling slowly back, changing the sound slightly, ushering in a new measure; her dance seems to change, subtly.

My heart is racing all-the-time and gas wells in the pit of my stomach; an anxiety attack? Or perhaps the onset of IBS?

Her inky hair sticks to her red-face with sweat and twists, gets stuck in her nose-ring and her eye-bar and leaks sticky mess over the black tattoo on her back; an ugly black flower with red thorns. Her ribs show through her skin. Every knuckle, her knees and elbows, every place where thin flesh is stretched tightly over protruding bone, is white-blue and glaring, her skeleton candescent in the half-light. Occasionally, as she spins, the flesh on her face is pulled back to reveal a spacious, skeletal grin.

Alone now, will it be me who carries her home? Or a paramedic? Or a policeman? Or just the next guy from town to come strolling along the beach and come across this tragedy, the next guy to be the antagonist, to further scorn this beautiful creature that is, in every way, my total and complete failure.

My best friend; I would not have it any other way. I am nothing to her; I would not have it any other way.

That feeling- so cliché- being alone around so many others; neither of us can claim to know it. She will not allow me to for if I leave her she could die and I will not allow her to die.

Somewhere, far down the beach, our ‘peers’ light a fire and the thick-black smoke twists itself around the sky, a great ebon dragon. I lie back on the stones, a mass of them for my pillow, and focus her into the space directly between my eyes.

I watch as the burning fringe of the sun sets the indigo blanket of approaching night alight and the ebon dragon stretches itself around her flailing form. I watch her bra and knickers becoming just more smudges of black on her skin, my bubonic manikin still dancing as the world burns and beasts from the inferno make our atmosphere their playground.

And she falls; wildly, still flailing. A sound (several sounds) with which I am familiar; she breaks bones as she strikes the stony ground.

I finish rolling a cigarette. I spark it. I watch her writhe and groan then go silent and still. I watch her, for an hour, maybe more, and then I watch her get picked up and carried away by the next cock. He asks me if I know her, he thinks she might have gone out with one of his friends, if she isn’t my responsibility, he’ll take her home, if I know where that is?

No. I lie. And walk away.

When I turn back, he is carrying her. I assume back to his.

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