Art by Edward Lee.
Each one I take out is different. Some are wiry, snapping things that never still. They thrash and screech and hiss, she’s not well / it doesn’t look good / it’s time to say goodbye. Others, bloated and oozing, inch slowly up my arms. They mutter, you’re a man now / deal with it / move on, leaving sticky trails.
I mould them into forms that fit more comfortably inside my head. I crush and pull and crack. They fight, of course. Often I give up, my hands aching, my fingers bloody, and cram them back in warped and whining.
I’m holding one right now. It’s angular, springy, buzzing with energy. It moves strangely: too fast, jerking, like the turning of a bird’s head. Legs beat an impatient, irregular rhythm into my palm; I can’t / I can’t / I can’t.
Before my plan for it is formed, it leaps out of my hands. I see it land and scuttle into the darkness.
For weeks I watch the corners of my vision, ready to grab at scurrying legs. I imagine waking, heart thudding, to find it fat and dozy on my chest, half-sated by my dreams, still drumming its beat.
But it does not return. I release the rest in a rush, pulling them out one after another in a struggling, screaming stream of legs and teeth and wings. They scramble and squirm and slither away. My empty head rings with silence.
One day, I spy one lurking under the bed, unsure. It’s small and delicate, wrapped in a warm glow. It hums a familiar tune that brings back soft words; you are my sunshine / when skies are grey / love another. I try to coax it towards me. I tell it how much I miss it, that there’s the prefect spot waiting for it.
It comes forward and crawls up my body. I feel it enter and find its way to that perfect spot. Its humming reverberates, sending song out my mouth.
Our song draws others. They croak atop beams and growl softly beneath furniture. I don’t jump at their sounds; I sit and listen. I’m not quite ready to take them back.
H. A. Piacentino is a new writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. His work appears or is forthcoming in BOMBFIRE, FlashFlood Journal and Night Sky Press. You can find him on Twitter @h_a_piacentino
Edward Lee is an artist and writer from Ireland. His paintings and photography have been exhibited widely, while his poetry, short stories, non-fiction have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen and Smiths Knoll. He is currently working on two photography collections: 'Lying Down With The Dead' and 'There Is A Beauty In Broken Things'.
He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Orson Carroll, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.
His blog/website can be found at https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com