I want to say that I was wrong about you.

I want to say a lot of things. Right now I would settle for saying anything. But to settle implies that you are happy with purgatory. The sameness. And I am not. Who chooses purgatory? Purgatory is a churning in your chest that is never resolved. Purgatory is a door that never opens, a hallway that never goes anywhere, a fog that never lifts. A sentence without end. A mouth that will not open. Purgatory is dreaming that you’re in a cage and waking up and finding that you never left it. Purgatory is staring at your thesis over and over for ten hours a day, demanding why…why won’t you bend the way I want you to. Purgatory is the fear of mediocrity. The fear that two and half years of a degree…the unlearning, the dearth of inspiration, talent. The fear, fuck. The fear that you’ll never make it and by make it you mean leave better than the way you started. Purgatory is sending 21,169 words to your supervisor and explaining to her that you never intended your writing to be this terrible. But you have two weeks to go and it has to be enough. Purgatory is medicating your life away so you don’t have to cope with it, so you are able to get up after five hours sleep and stare at your words again, these words that will not bend the way you want them to. ‘This is a song about insanity’ quips Iva Davies into a microphone and the crowd whistles. Two weeks. you say. And it’s over. Your heart was in the right place. Your ideas were good. But did they translate? You won’t know. You won’t know until you know. You know what you are reaching for. This is what you wanted, you remind yourself. You wanted Cixous and Kristeva and Zambreno and Nelson and Yuknavitch and Rich and Plath and Lispector, and Loy and Kapil and Stein and Machado and Davis and Paz and Carson and Duras. And by the time you finally know, it won’t even matter anymore. You’ll be handed your coat, given a gentle nudge and the doors will close with a soft click. And the new world will be cold and nothing like you were promised. The safetys are off. There is no-one to grade your work. There is no scaffolding, or extensions. You are in a world where the cream rises to the top and you are the kind of person who would rather die than be mediocre, and you think about this a lot.

I want to say that I was wrong about you.

We fed him cake with a plastic spoon.

My family, he said. My beautiful family.

He gripped my arm. Isn’t she beautiful, he mused to the walls. My daughter. I’m so proud of her.

Always a third-person love.

Also fuck your pride.

None of us were really there. Not he, and not I. We had sent in stand-ins to fight our last battles. There is a photo of our doppelgängers. One is sitting very, very still.

Why do I have to bear these memories? Was it because I chose to carry them? Or is it because I still come back to the men that beckon. They beckon and I return until both of us are hollow eyed. Locked into a cycle of our own suffering. Except now he is a child in a chair. The past 90 years grow dimmer by the hour. And I’m suffering for us both.

I want to say that I was wrong about you.

But we both know that I wasn’t.