Cabbage White

How long is a ‘rough patch’ supposed to last? A seemingly relentless series of trials inflicted upon one with such frequency that soon they are crippled by the workings of the mind, a sorry mood, a misery so enormous that it feels they are trapped beneath a boulder; a crushed chest, strangled throat, weeping with their hand out, crying silent and breathlessly for help. Surely it cannot last much longer. Surely in the scheme of things – the fluctuations of hormones, chemicals, synaptic misfiring and evolutionary tics – it will pass because it is not such a great thing. Like constellations, I point to all the faults above me, until they form an overbearing shape, terrifying and ominous. I see them in my sleep, from which I gasp awake, stuck in a cocoon of sweaty sheets. During the days I set myself little goals, but very soon I have forgotten my achievements, and am beneath the boulder again.

Choking down the telephone—‘It feels like endurance. University felt like endurance, too, but at the end of it I knew that I would at least get a degree. But what is at the end of life? … So it’s just endurance for endurance’s sake.’ She is on holiday till the sixteenth. The sixteenth is a lifetime away.

Summer is passing me by. I do not even believe that it is summer. The season outside of my window looks a little like summer, but I do not recognise it as so. Even a British summer, so mild upon the morning sill, would be welcomed, but, alas, there is something inside that denies me June through August as I remember them. If I pass from spring to autumn, then that cannot be helped. I endured for no reward; long dark nights, the cold mornings, flu season and bare trees, muddy fields, ice that could not be walked across, and on the other side of it: very little. O, but I endured! Cabbage whites flutter in the garden. Cabbage whites flutter like they do in my poems. ‘So many butterflies!’ she says when she gets back drunk. ‘Look! Out there in the garden! So many!’
Writing or not, but right now not. I struggle to forgive myself for going to bed having not written. The keyboard stares daggers. It might be nice to write, but I cannot. Between ten and midnight, I wander the house without purpose, waiting to go to bed. I do not even drink. ‘You’re not drinking?’ she asks. I tell her I am not drinking. I am not writing. I am not drinking. I am not.

My parents were away for the weekend with my nieces. My brother was away for the weekend with his wife. My other brother was down the pub with his girlfriend. I sat in the kitchen and looked at the clouds and asked myself—‘Is it going to rain?’ I played chess against some strangers on the internet; tried to strike up conversations with them after the game, but they did not respond. I would cook dinner for my brother and his girlfriend, for when they got home drunk. It was a big meal and it took me some time, but it was peaceful. There was not even music, just the shuffling of a knife, the wishes of a peeler. Once I had prepared all the vegetables and the dressing, I went into the garden for a cigarette when I noticed a commotion: a gull was attacking me and trying to shit on me. I went under the cover and listened, out of a daze, to the whistle of a nearby chick that I could not see. A number of gulls gathered and began circling me, cawing, and diving. That is when it started to rain. The rain fell in heavy sheets. My clothes became soaked through. The gulls were circling. The chick cried out. I was no threat to it, but the flock did not like me. I watched their shit fall down around me. When they cleared, I would go back inside. Until then, I stood in the rain.