SHORT STORIES OF FEAR; A MATTER OF MUD

 

A Short Story

The Americans and British were bent on finding Jim Morrison while the Irish and Japanese, for some reason, longed to add more kisses to the now ball-less Sphinx lingering over the long decayed body of Wilde, who probably watched down over their stupidity, proffered some wicked wit as their rouged up lips found a free side of the concrete to consecrate. Kissing a carcass is much like kissing an ass, you come away from both with a distinct desire to rinse your mouth immediately.

At one point, somewhere amid the ongoing battle of trees reclaiming the conquered landscape, I took a turn into the shadows and a darkness fell as if a cover had been placed over the sun like one drapes a cloth over the cage of a bird mid song and suddenly the silence is stifling. Darkness comes over you in the same way when unannounced. The weight of its dominance takes on a persona as its very essence runs its icy touch along your skin. Under its spell, and there was a spell upon me, I lost sense of direction, trapped strikingly between the desire to run towards life and the horrid reality that I was standing upon so much death. I didn’t believe in ghosts, not because I was sure they didn’t exist, but because I’d never allowed such superstition to cross my path. But there, in that twist of day and night, amid the moss-covered beds of those who’d long since reached out their hands to eternal rest, everything was open to suggestion.
I twisted and turned over directions in my mind, the routes I had taken that brought me there, literally and figuratively. I’d come for the fun, to find the forever flames of the famous, now fruit for roots and worms. I’d come also to escape the daily drab of life; the 9 to 5, rush hours, traffic jams, gossip, crowded metros and shoulder shrugs. I’d come to death to escape life and lost my way beneath its shadows. I’d wanted something different and found something terrifying instead, mortality. Under the silence of the surreal, I heard bones rotting, flesh festering, souls scratching, my heart beating and watch ticking, teasing me with every minute I’d wasted seeking diversions from the right roads, the real roads. The track trembled before me. Tombs lay broken and open, dark holes reaching into darker realms that only Dante had dared to dwell on in life and all that watched me were birds; black birds, sinister sentinels and not a single dove to drown out the darkness.
I felt my skin tighten around tensed muscles, my pulses pounding around veins starved for blood, as if my whole body feared its finality, foresaw what would one day become of it, here in this place of buried beds and eternal sleeps where the angels creep and mourners weep.
Suddenly I heard a child’s voice laughing and turned and ran towards its distant direction, but my feet heeded not my mind and my footing fell upon a broken branch of nature and the break of my ankle echoed through my frustration as I fell while nature itself looked and laughed at length. I fell upon a grave. I fell upon an open grave and lost sight of the cemetery. I lost sight of the trees fighting the concrete columns. I lost sight of the weeping Madonnas. I lost sight of the stone eyes angels and so, as I plunged down, deep down, I closed my eyes and waited to be swallowed by the bowels of the earth.

With a shock, I jumped up, in bed, at home. My bed, my home, not a grave, not the end, not Dante’s inferno. My breath could not find itself in the confusion, still stuck in the dream, that nightmare disguised as dream, down in the layers of hell. Eventually, in a sweat, I made it to the bathroom and turned on the tap to wash my face in cold water and drown myself back into the security of reality. I looked in the mirror; it was still me, still my refection, my face. I looked down to turn off the tap and noticed the dirty water running down the drain. Then I saw my hands; covered in muck, my body; covered in muck, my feet; covered in muck.
What in hell is going on, I asked myself? What was happening, had it all been real, had I actually been to the cemetery somewhere under the cover of night and nonsense? I looked back into the mirror at my reflection and it smiled back at me. My heart stopped. My skin tensed, just like in the dream. My reflection was smiling but I wasn’t.
I wasn’t anymore.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

THE MATTER OF THE MUCK

 

The Americans and the British were bent on finding Jim Morrison while the Irish and the Japanese, for some reason, longed to add new kisses to the now ball-less Sphinx lingering over the long decayed body of Wilde, who probably watched down over their stupidity and offered a wicked wand of wit as their rouged up lips found a free side of the concrete to consecrate. Kissing a carcass is much like kissing an ass, you come away from both with a distinct desire to rinse out your mouth immediately.

At one point, somewhere amid the ongoing battle of the trees reclaiming the conquered landscape, I took a turn into the shadows and a darkness fell all around as if a cover had been put on the sun like one drapes a cloth over the cage of a bird mid song and suddenly the silence is stifling. Darkness comes over you in the same way when unannounced. The weight of its dominance takes on a persona as its very essence runs its icy touch along your skin. Under its spell, and there was a spell upon me, I lost all sense of direction, trapped so strikingly between the desire to run towards life and the horrid reality that I was standing upon so much death. I didn’t believe in ghosts, not because I was sure they didn’t exist, but because I’d never thought about them or allowed such superstition to cross my path. But there, in that twist of day and night, amid the moss covered beds of those who had long since reached out their heads and hands to eternal rest, everything was open to suggestion.

IMG_4371
I twisted and turned over directions in my mind, the routes I had taken that brought me there, both literally and figuratively. I’d come for the fun, to find the forever flames of the famous, now fruit for roots and worms. I’d come also to escape, to escape the daily drab of life, the 9 to 5, the rush hours, the traffic jams, the gossiping, the nattering, the crowded metros and shoulder shrugs. I’d come to death to escape life and lost my way beneath its shadows. I’d wanted something different and found something terrifying instead, mortality. Under the silence of the surreal, I heard bones rotting, flesh festering, souls scratching, ties breaking, my heart beating and my watch ticking, teasing me with every minute I had wasted seeking diversions from the right roads, the real roads. The track trembled before me. Tombs lay broken and open, dark holes reaching into darker realms that only Dante had dared to dwell on in life and all that watched me were birds; black birds, big black birds, baying, sinister sentinels and not a single dove to drown out the darkness.
I felt my own skin tighten around tensed muscles, pulses pound around veins as if starved for blood, as if my whole body feared its finality, foresaw what would one day become of it, here in this place of buried beds and eternal sleeps where the angel creeps and mourners weep.
Suddenly I heard a child’s voice laughing and I turned and ran towards its distant direction but my feet heeded not my mind and my footing fell upon a broken branch of nature and the break of my ankle echoed through my frustration as I fell while nature itself looked and laughed and length. I fell upon a grave. I fell upon an open grave and I lost sight of the cemetery. I lost sight of the trees fighting the concrete columns. I lost sight of the weeping madonnas. I lost sight of the stone eyes angels and so, as I plunged down, deep down, I closed my eyes and waited to be swallowed by the bowels of the earth.

IMG_4379

With a shock, I jumped up, in bed, at home. My bed, my home, not a grave, not the end, not Dante’s inferno. My breath could not find itself in the confusion, still stuck in the dream, in the nightmare disguised as a dream, down in the layers of hell. Eventually, in a sweat, I managed to make it to the bathroom and turned on the tap to wash my face in cold water and drown myself back into the security of reality. I looked in the mirror, it was still me, still my refection, still my face. I looked down to turn off the tap and noticed the dirty water running down the drain. Then I saw my hands; covered in muck, my body; covered in muck, my feet; covered in muck.
What in hell is going on, I asked myself? What was happening, had it all been real, had I actually been to the cemetery somewhere under the cover of night and nonsense? I looked back into the mirror at my reflection and it smiled back at me. My heart stopped. My skin tensed, just like in the dream.

My reflection was smiling but I wasn’t.

I wasn’t anymore.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

All Photographs taken at Cimetière Père Lachaise, Paris, France

Remember

Do you remember Paris on occasions when Spring winds

Wash in from the east and the sound of drinks on terraces

Sweep over the city, recalling those lazy days- a lifetime ago,

Before we knew London together or what it would be like to part?

Do you, do you remember Paris, my room, our love

And all those carefree dreams we shared and found

As we lay at night in that single bed, in the corner, wrapped-

Not just due to lack of space- so tightly in one another,

Long before I lost myself and you lost me?

Do you dare to look back on those weekend meanders

Through the cobbled streets that I thrilled to show you

And you longed to see through my eyes, as well as yours?

Those early days of bloom that fell so timely to nights

Back at the water castle, a name-deceptive metro stop,

Where kisses would take us through to the dawn.

Remember our first Spring and how it warmed into Summer

As we sailed through the city like no one else existed

And no time could have been more suited to such a pair

Who fell in love with dogs in pet shop windows as we strolled

To Pont Neuf, to sip on wine, wave farewell to the sun and sleep

Under the shade of a tiny park, at the bottom of the bridge

On the first site of the city, by the walls of its Musee du Louvre.

Remember that rainstorm, that marvelous Sunday; we woke up

As the lightening struck and birds flapped wildly to find reason

Amid the mornings madness why their feathery wings failed

To find flight. Funny how I missed any warning in their fluttering.

I remember your first night in my city- deep in The Banana

In Les Halles, with Yasmine’s infectious grin, boys in towels

On table tops, the piano, the dancing and the DJ who sang

And the morning that found us before we had stopped.

Remember La Grande Jatte, in the shadow of Seurat,

On a sleepy Sunday morning when we stopped

To make connections beyond what the eye could see-

To remember what the painter had seen? You sang

Of the colors between the water and the sky, ignorant

To all but us and the music that filled our minds on that ordinary day,

In a simple Summer, during a Sunday stroll, on an isolated island,

Where everything seemed more and more extraordinary.

On Hugo’s trail, we searched out the ghosts of a Paris long fallen to history-

Stench filled sewers, Luxembourg gardens and finally, and above all,

By a tree in the far reaches of LaChaise where Val Jean had laid

His miseries to rest. Was it later that night I confessed to be falling

While in your arms and your eyes replied that you were already there?

Do you remember that time at Disney? You, the one with the Mickey ears and I,

The one with the childlike fears till the valium kicked in- your treasured

And unused stash- an airplane’s roar enough to set your hairs on end.

Do you still remember those endless nights in the Tropic; sipping on Gin Fizzes,

Fresh from the cinema, sandwich grec’s on the way home along rue saint Denis-

It’s ladies only then awaking to their nocturnal life?

Remember that single bed in the corner; I always woke up stuck to the wall

Or wedged somehow between bed and brick. The sofa, the table

And the sunflowers of plastic- so not what you’d imagined at all.

Remember those early wake-up calls as Monday morning broke our spirits

And sounded a parting- a rush to the station and tears as you left me

Wondering, always, when you’d return.

Do you dare to venture to the times we shared

In what seems like a lifetime ago when not a minute suggested

What time would design and we’d one day have to let go?

Remember Paris,

Remember you,

Remember me,

Remember us.

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