1. 12:52 PM - 9/10/13.
The other night my cat knocked one of my plants over and microscopic insects crawled from the dirt to the floor to the soles of my feet, in through open sores past callouses and blisters, all of it cracked peeling & turned an angry raw red with old blood and pus. I could see them but I didn't have the heart to scoop the soil from the carpet and out the window, no, I just rubbed it in further.
Now everything itches.
I'm in class, chemistry, stuck sitting in the center of tables made for people less claustrophobic and more social than someone like me. Group work has always made me anxious, but it's just been worsening and worsening. I stay quiet and distant, peeling off the skin from around my cuticles, licking the cuts closed when they bleed (and God, do they bleed). One girl to my left does most of the reading and the writing; the other to my right sits dismally on her phone, texting a useless somebody, posting on some useless website. "I didn't sign up for a fucking math class," she retorts to the girl on my left when she asks for help. The worksheet has something to do with significant figures, decomposition reactions, dissociation reaction. What? I bite my lip and watch my hands, imagining them elsewhere, making a prettier mess, analyzing the significant figures of bodies both beautiful and ugly and disproportionate. My mouth feels like a dry and desolate desert and somewhere my brain begs for chapstick, but I just can't be bothered. I'm still staring at my own skin.
"Mr. Cornell?" What a fucking ugly name. "Yeah, um-" a sudden and raucous, wet coughing sound "-what are we supposed to do for number 3? It doesn't make any sense."
Mr. Cornell, I've decided, never really lost his baby fat. It seems so apparent and clear, layered in his cheeks, folding outward from his gut that spills almost impatiently over his belt buckle. He leans over our table uncomfortably close; for a moment I think he is going to melt off of his bones with gasoline and matchsticks from the inside. I cringe at the thought and a hammer ticks away in my skull. Something trying to scratch its way out - the same way his bones were trying to scratch their way out. I didn't want to, but I couldn't stop seeing it, over and over, projected onto the reality of him - a corpse gouging his own eyes out with a mouth, all teeth and no gums, splitting wide open. He speaks, something about zeros and the rate of decay and all I can hear is sweat sliding like oil down his forehead, hands too dry and cracked, cuts on his arms with remnants of dried blood left, tiny insects, tiny insects, seeping from his dirty fingers to the table to my paper to me. I pull my elbows off the desk with a sense of urgency that makes the girl to my right snort and shoot strange looks in my direction. Didn't see she it? Wasn't it so clear? Hands hurry up to my nose, trying to keep the sudden onslaught of something rotten and burnt from getting to my head, but it's lingering. Malingering. Whatever.
2. 3:07 AM - 5/4/13.
There must've been about five of us left awake, still buzzed if not wasted, still awake with the thrill of the night air, cool and crisp and full of life or opportunity for something to happen. I guess we were waiting for the fire to go out, but somebody kept putting more logs on. I mean I guess we let them, too fascinated with watching the bottles burn into each other in curdled distortions.
I'm on the lap of a boy I've only really just met, tangled in a ball of limbs as he reaches out of the cooler for a half-emptied package of bratwursts with juices leaking all over the rest of the beer. I take a bottle out and pry it open with my teeth anyway. Despite the ice it'd been sitting in, it tastes warm and unpleasant.
"Oh God these things are so fuckin' good," he's saying, shoving one onto a stick caked in dirt, marshmallow, rum, whatever else. We all give him a look of disgust as he sticks it in the fire, but say nothing. The bottles were no longer interesting and we needed something new to watch decay. The skin of it bubbles and pops, blackens with the flames because the hot coals were long gone. Maybe pressed into someone's back somewhere.
There are five major energy points on a human spinal cord, you know. At least that's what I'm told, but if you split one open you probably won't find them. Jinxed, or something.
The smell of something dead is overpowering; he brings the stick and the sausage up closer to him, closer to me. Moisture slides off of it in yellowed drops and I watch as he runs his tongue over it like it's some kind of salt lick. As if that's any better. I'm no vegetarian, but this didn't look like food. It smelled like what it was: the muscle, fat, tendons, organs, whatever, of dead swine. Pink and fleshy and fucking festering in the moonlight.
How romantic, I think, and then wish I hadn't. Now every time we kiss, it's all I can picture.
He laughs at the rest of us and takes a bite. Cruor slithers down his chin and runs off to pool above my collarbone.
3. 7:49 AM - 9/10/13.
This stoplight has always taken hours to drag through, but today it takes days. I'm stuck, waiting to turn left, staring at the road and feeling my car vibrate as others pass. My phone dead already, and the radio too shitty to listen to this early in the morning, I am for once left to listen to the discordant melodies of traffic.
Almost center between the double yellow lines lies road kill I never wanted to see. A black cat, its face contorted into a look of terror and excruciating pain, is pinned to the asphalt with the heat of the sunrise, its insides strewn outside around it. I didn't want to see it - oh, God, I wish I hadn't. But I couldn't stop staring, outstretching its intestines like a romantic gesture, two legs snapped, sanguine splattered delicately in a latticework pattern around it.
I thought of my own cat: black, too, but at home, scratching on my windows last night for me to let him inside. And fuck, I'm glad I did.
Those stains will never come out of the road.