Who are you

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Who are you?

I’ve walked for miles and years since she asked me – for all that time, I’ve been asking myself the same question. At work, I dropped everything in a trance and started walking. Out of the doors, out of the building and into the woods with nothing but a suit and a nametag that meant nothing.

Who are you?

Trees swallowed me up in welcoming. They accepted me as another strange, gnarled trunk to be lost somewhere amongst the undergrowth, gnawed at by a billion insects at once. The first hand extended to me now was a branch, which I almost took in desperation. Desperation that I was never feel another beside my own itchy fingers. No, I kept walking – loops of nettle caught my cuffs to keep me there, and they sank under the sides of the stripped leather loafers and brought streams of dirt and beetles with them. The forest got fed up and spat me out.

Who are you?

My phone screamed at me until it just became as unnoticeable as a vague tinnitus hum, and when it wore itself down to nothing, the total silence as I approached the green-severing road was as jarring as the phone’s yell. No cars passed on the flat tar, fresh and new – not forgotten, just not used – and I placed my first foot on it. The leather of the shoe unfurled into a neat pile of leather shapes, and the other followed to leave both feet naked, but I kept walking to the other sprawl of trees, bed of spiky pine needles, barefoot. Leather footprints showed where I’d been.

Who are you?

She asked me only this morning. We’d been drifting for a while, the adhesive seal of matrimony had melted to off-white dust. It left behind ugly shreds of the stories framed pictures of black suits and white dresses told – our beds had split into different rooms. They offered me the extra hours, much more money. Money that could save us.
The forest had forgotten me since I touched the tar; it had moved on in the few seconds I’d left, and made no effort to keep me this time. The branches were too high, and the needles drifted over my face. I only felt the wind, and the brambles that made my feet bleed.

Who are you?

Work is meaningless if not for the money, and money is meaningless when you don’t have time to spend it. It’s true. And the shift from man to worker sets like cement when you spend more time as the latter than the former. I was a still a set of protocols when I came home, a human flowchart, working formulaically based on a set of pre-recorded responses that were filed away under my skull. How, I ask, I beg, can a machine connect?
A trail of blood leading onto the cobbles of a village road, pumped from a leak in my swollen feet – new shoes of mud and animal faeces. Thatch houses, thatch people – old fashioned millers from a century ago, and their children play with rocks in the street. I keep walking by, and they stop and glare at the torn-suited uncertainty leaving streaks of red. Who are you, someone asks.

Where am I?

Must’ve been years ago when she realised we’d both lost me; she didn’t say anything. She hid it in quiet denial for that long, as if it was going to mend itself if she just didn’t say anything.
My feet were pale and numb, three times the size of the shoes that had been around them. Just fat, unfeeling flesh hitting an empty path.
When I shouted – at her – it was the final confirmation that it was no longer about us as a single being, just her as an obstruction, holding me back from helping us both to fortune. I didn’t reply to the question, just drifted out of the door and floated to work.

Where am I?

Recognisable ground, streets away. I’m some sort of a ghost of a memory now, just something that used to be here, drifting about what used to be its daily business, covered in muddy rags. Navy blue ribbons peels from my body; a layer of skin falling off, it floats to the ground as a feather. Another, flecks of itchy synthetic cotton floating to the grey and mixing in with the bloody trail, and something in the skinfall causes my inflated soles to turn to thick roots – I can’t move. The mud hardens around me and becomes some cocoon.
This was where I grew up. I was born in one of these houses, but I can’t remember which anymore. That’s where I played with the friends I can’t remember the faces of. That’s where I grazed my knee. That’s where I came to be.

Who?

This is not who I am, nor what I will be, nor where I will stay, nor what will always be. The trees there will die soon, but long after I do. But there’s time, I think, and more of my faux-silk skin flakes. I peel at it, pull off shreds and tear it all, until it’s only my face and feet that’s dirty – the rest is clean and new. Born right here, with enough time to make things right. Born as myself, with so much time.

Who I am.
Naked in the street.

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