sleepwalking

The Skinning Ice…

©Tanya Grout

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My memory dragged itself out of lockdown. It had been deep in a coma, a dream perhaps, or some other state of unawareness. Maybe it was drugged. Whatever the case, it was annoying.

 

It scared me. How could I trust a mind that wouldn’t reveal details about a few moments ago, that wouldn’t tell me where I had been and what I had done?

 

I urged it to take me back to the last thing it remembered: a day of work followed by the gym and dinner with my ex. Then a few drinks: Bourbon on the rocks, “Old times…” Bad idea all around.

 

Time was missing – a lot of it. When were those drinks and how did I get from that bar to this harsh reality?

 

I was walking on ice that stretched far out over a frosted psychological landscape, blinding in its ghastly sameness and terrifying in its unending expanse.

 

I looked at my bare feet. They left red stains like I was trudging paint. No, it was too watery for paint… It was more like blood!

 

I looked at my soles. They were burned from the cold but they weren’t bleeding. It must be someone else’s blood…

 

I turned back to see an endless trail of red prints on white. I could retrace my steps, go back to the source, find out what happened – but I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what I had done this time – that is if I had done anything.

 

See, this was the thing with my mind: it always made me guilty. It wanted me to suffer. If I didn’t know what had gone down, it would just make shit up for fun. I knew this, yet I still bought into it every time. I got caught up in the story and the environment it created. I got lost in the details and then I’d question myself. Was this real or a fabrication? And then I just wouldn’t know.

 

It was a punisher, an endless thinker and a twister of facts. It made me feel like a bad person, even though I had never done most of the things it convicted me of.

 

In fact my behaviour was usually flawless, as I was terrified of making mistakes. If I did my mind would thrash the Hell out of me. I hated playing games with it. I would never win. And now it had sent me to Siberia to play MindFuck 101 !

 

Anxiety brought me back to my present dilemma: I’m walking with bloody footprints, from nowhere into eternity, holding a knife… A knife!

 

It wasn’t there a minute ago. I know it wasn’t. See this is what I mean. It’s cruel to do that. My mind put that knife there to complicate things. And now I was naked too, with scratches all over, like I’d had a big fight – one that I’d won by the looks of it.

 

Goddammit, I hated this place. I wished I could get out – out of my fucking mind! It was always painful in here and I was trapped again like a hare in a snare.

 

A hare in a snare…

 

Okay, so I’d fantasized about killing him, several times – even when I saw him over drinks. He’d screwed around. What can I say? But that doesn’t mean that I did it, does it?

 

If only I could make contact with him to make sure, make sure that he was still alive, that I was in the clear, that I hadn’t…

 

But I was out here all alone – just me and my thoughts and the details of a possible murder: the evidence in my hand, on my body, my feet.

 

Fuck it, I’ll just run. They’ll never find me. I’ll hide in this friggin ice desert. God knows no one else is here – that is if I don’t die of hypothermia…

 

Oh for Gods sakes, I’ll turn myself in. I’ll confess just to stop this bullshit, this torture. I’ll accept the punishment. “I’m sorry, so sorry,” I’ll say. Then there will be forgiveness and a jail sentence or something. God knows, I was serving one already in my brain.

 

I walked faster, away from the alleged crime.

 

I yelped, then fell to my knees from a searing pain. I saw cuts. My feet were bleeding now, as were my hands from the fall.

 

This new ice had razor blades slipping out of its surface in perfect symmetrical lines that covered the entire beyond. I would be ripped to shreds and skinned alive if I moved any further. Could it get any worse? Wasn’t this fucking endless freezer bad enough?

 

Goodammit! I’d have to go back. Face it, face myself. Or, I could just stay here and die..

 

“Shut up!” I whispered to myself. “Shut the fuck up!”

 

I took a deep breath in. I closed my eyes. I let the breath slowly out.

Breathing in, breathing out until everything disappeared, got quiet.

 

Finally calm, I opened my eyes.

 

Midnight, downtown. Jack-o’-lanterns filled the town square, their grimacing fiery faces flickering with evil. Cold white flakes kissed my skin as my feet shuffled into a fresh fall of snow. I’d been sleep walking again. Naked. Embarrassing. I always walked to the same place.

 

This was where I saw him a year ago. He was stealing kisses from that girl, like a teenager under the sheeted ghosts that hung from the town clock as it struck twelve – not caring how I would feel or how devastated I would be.

 

His betrayal had left me confused and lost. I kept looking for his love like I would a stolen object – unable to fathom that it was no longer there where I left it unguarded, or that someone would take it.

 

I guess I was still confused, haunted.

 

A kind man put his coat around my shoulders. I looked up. It was that cop with the soft eyes.

 

“Come on Brit,” he said gently, I’ll take you back. You need to rest up. The trial starts tomorrow…”

 

©Kym Darkly