the crying room
I couldn’t see his face very well because he was an in-between man. Like the froth of the ocean coming out over my feet. Like walking into a room because you want something. And
then feeling like you’re in a scribbly gap because you forget what you’re there for. ‘I’m scared of doing something bad and going to prison.’
‘Do you know where you are?’
God, he pissed me off sometimes. I was very on edge. He kept confusing symbolism with metaphor.
He whistled. ‘It’s a beautiful room.’
‘What if I’m scared of killing my kids in my sleep? What if I jump off my balcony when I sleepwalk?’
‘One of those days, huh?’
‘Do you think I should take a suicide pill?’
He got out of his chair and looked at the wall. His pupils weren’t centered inside his eyes like normal people. They were in his skull. He could sort of see through things. His face was less shadowy now. I liked this period of the day best. Because it was early and the air in the room was grey—or silver. He felt like an opportunity. The sun could make a space and dig itself in him somewhere. He felt like a point of hope during a bad day in winter—an ambivalence in my mind.
‘What are you looking at?’
He was still facing the wall. He was longing for something. I could feel it too.
‘Are you gonna help me, or what?’
He sat down. He straightened up in his chair. His chest was wide. Why did I have to have breasts?
I glared at him. In that arrogant face he hated.
‘Why do you always call me?’ His fingers were erratic like he was cutting out his words with scissors. ‘Don’t you have anyone else to annoy today?’
‘Fuck, you’re such a shit!’ I got up.
He pulled on my arm. ‘Hey! That’s against the rules.’
I scrunched up my face like unwanted paper. ‘What are you doing? I’m not a kid!’
‘Then don’t act like one! You’re not allowed to run away.’
I walked up to the wall anyway. Where he was looking before. The green was a bit faded now. When the paint was new; it looked so dark. ‘I hate talking.’
His eyebrows arched high up like rainbows on his head. ‘Really?’ he sniggered. ‘Wow.’
My shoulders were aching. ‘I hate that woman.’ Why was I whispering? I think I felt too tired to speak.
‘The dark one. With the tribal hair. She’s so crazy. She’s coming between us.’
His eyes squinted. He wasn’t thinking about her; he was thinking about what I was saying.
‘You can’t stop her.’
I stood over him like his dark shadow.
He leaned towards me. He swept his arm in the air like he was leading me through a doorway. ‘You just gotta let her in.’
His smile made me hot. I was interrupted by a crack. There was a horizontal scratch on the wall. It bubbled up like a scab.
‘Sit down!’ He pulled on my top.
‘I feel jealous.’
‘And I want you to get rid of her!’
He shook his head. ‘No.’
My humanness left. It didn’t take much these days.
‘How long has it been since you’ve been to the kitchen?’
‘What’s it to you?’
‘How did I get my coffee?’
His eyes scanned my table.
‘I don’t want her here!’ I stamped my foot. My armpits were wet.
‘You’re lost, you know that!’ He flicked his head. ‘What the hell’s wrong with you?’
He needed a haircut. I ironed out the frayed ropes of his voice.
‘She reminds me of you.’
I imagined myself popping his eyes out with my fingers.
‘No one is trying to screw with you.’
I felt savage strong.
‘You have the same laugh.’ He tilted his head. ‘When you had one—your skin is almost the same color. You just need to get in the sun more.’
I put him in a kitchen sieve and drained him out with the water.
He pulled me closer to him. I had too many pictures washing around in my head. I couldn’t remember if they were memories or dreams.
I looked at his chest. Why did he always feel stronger than me?
‘Where is she?’
I wasn’t all there.
He shook me.
‘I sent her to get me some salt. I closed the door in her face!’
‘Salt?’ He unclamped his fingers.
‘I wanted to get rid of her—that’s the first thing that came out of my mouth.’
‘Stop crappin’ on. I’m not staying here if you lie.’
I hesitated. ‘I would never lie.’
‘Your toes are facing the door—your arms are folded; guarding your chest.’ He sucked in his chest. ‘Where’s your coffee?’
‘I don’t know that I’m lying.’
‘Well. You know now!’
He looked down at his feet. His shoulders narrowed in. They blanketed his body like a cave. He looked like a big nest I made with the hair that falls out when I brush my hair.
‘Because I bleed salt.’
‘You’re in a sweat.’
‘Because these stilettos hurt.’
He grabbed my soles and knocked my shoes off.
Thank god. Now I could walk. ‘I wanna taste her lips.’
He waited a long time so I would feel uncomfortable with the silence and continue speaking.
‘She cries. Her throat is full of salt. Maybe she’s gonna swallow me. I’m scared of her
throat. I’m scared of drowning there. Do you know how deep she gets? These waves keep coming. But I need it—like I have to scare myself. I need to surge. I wanna feel alive. I wanna be the Red Sea. Cut open and integrated all at the same time. The sour of its wine, shards of the sea; of some window. Rations—portions—all I can hold of this body of Christ.’ I was drawn to the wall. I forgot I was talking to someone. The voice from me felt sandpapered. ‘Even when I’m drowning—it’s like I don’t care. Like I wanna go down. But when I’m almost there, I start clawing the jags of rocks. I can’t help it.’ I started picking at the scab on the wall. ‘When I believe I deserve prison—that I deserve fire—at that point…I know I don’t. Nobody does. Everyone’s a criminal. Criminals in prisons have bled more salt than mainstream people.’
‘Prisons and fire don’t belong in the same sentence. You don’t understand the function of fire.’ His face was getting brighter. The paint in the room looked almost white. ‘Do you know where we are now?’
‘This is a sacred place. My crying room.’ I looked around like I had never noticed it before.
‘It is your crying room.’
I watched him nodding like I got a big tick for answering an exam question right.
‘But it’s not sacred to you.’
There was a horizontal split in the wall. I heard the fracture. There were paint crumbs under my nails. It almost looked like a slit under a door.
‘Don’t wear those shoes here anymore.’
‘The burning bush…’ I stopped rinsing the pictures in my head. Images clung like a web. Then I saw them hanging like clothes on a line. ‘Are you Adonai?’
The light was strong now. It must have been midday.
‘The bush doesn’t disintegrate.’
I sat in the chair.
‘My mom killed me when I was 16.’
He shrugged. ‘And you’re still here.’
‘What if she did?’
‘Would I have died?’
‘No.’ He shook his head. ‘You would have just gotten louder.’ He laughed to himself and I looked at the line of light sputtering through the wall. The plaster was jutting out a little. It started looking like a sill. My breathing sounded like I was ripping paper.
The winter started to bleed.
He smiled at me. There was something nostalgic about him. He liked me. He was sort of a mix between my husband and my best friend.
‘If someone is lucky enough to feel guilt, it won’t come with an expiry date. That’s why she didn’t kill you.’
‘I’m in a fragile mood right now.’
‘Am I too red for you?’
I wondered if his facial structure was softening. Maybe it was me. I often felt the strongest about three in the afternoon.
‘Some walls have windows.’
I wanted his eyes. He made things move inside me. My body was assembling into a bridge.
‘Do you know what my room looks like?’ His voice was echoing.
There were only four walls.
‘You wanna kill your kids because that is the only way you can grow up. Your physical kids have nothing to do with this. That’s where your defense mechanisms have kicked in. You’re afraid of her throat because you have to get out of your room and swallow the truth.’ He stood up. ‘Suicide doesn’t work.’ He stepped towards me. He kissed me. ‘Because it’s literal. This room is not a symbol for your soul. All you can see is a sill. Do you know how cold the wind is in here? You are in a room that is a metaphor for something else you’re stuck in.’
I rubbed my forearms.
His body moved slowly. Like he was walking under water. ‘I’ll come back when you find the salt.’
I tried to feel my survival spot. It was the space between a panic attack and the feeling my stomach was stable enough to down a cup of coffee. I wanted to touch him. I wanted my mouth to move so I could explain how much I needed him to stay. Because I was split off without him. Because he was part of me.
But instead I watched him climb through a place above the sill. I buttoned up my body and painted a smirk on my face and put on a shiny voice. ‘You’re not allowed to walk off like that!’ But I was immediately sorry. ‘That’s against the rules!’
Annie Blake is an Australian writer, thinker and researcher. She is a wife and mother of five children. She started school as an ESL student and was raised and, continues to live in a multicultural and industrial location in the West of Melbourne. Her main interests include psychoanalysis and metaphysics. She is currently focusing on arthouse writing which explores the surreal/psychedelic nature and symbolic meanings of unconscious material. She holds a Bachelor of Teaching, a Graduate Diploma in Education and is a member of the C G Jung Society of Melbourne and Existentialist Society in Melbourne.