Joyland

Toronto |

Inverted

by Joey Comeau

edited by Kathryn Mockler

Used to be I woke covered in blood. Chunks of strange men in my bed. I was an animal then. The darkness rode me and put me away wet. I woke with my body sore from being stretched and pulled, my bones nicked and pitted like the blade of a mistreated knife.

I would open my fridge to find careful stacks of Tupperware in the freezer, detached retinas floating in saline, liar’s tongues like slugs laid out on salt to die. In my inbox I would have receipts from artisanal knife makers, agreeing to my specific, strange requests. More than happy to take my money. I was a creature of odd hours and the exact wrong word.

Now I don’t know what I am.  My eyes still go pure white and I am not myself, but I wake to empty bags of candy, to a TV playing quietly. Hell has given way to some kind of boring oblivion. 

The spirits are listless. 

2.

I spent the night screaming again. The power of Christ compels you. The power of Christ compels you. Throwing handfuls of holy water, salt stuck damp to my finger tips. I’m not screaming at myself exactly. I’m screaming into the mirror. Candles are flickering, occasionally roaring into life like they’ve gotten a sudden rush of oxygen, then sputtering down again. But that’s the only real sign of struggle. 

My reflection doesn’t look afraid the way it used to. It doesn’t fight for my body and soul. We’ve been here before. I scream and scream and I throw water.

My reflection only shrugs. 

3. 

There are so many hours in a day.

I used to love the feeling that I had a secret. I would go to the grocery store, and some jerk would cut in line. People looked right through me, too stupid to know they should be afraid. Going about their lives with no idea that the darkness was behind my eyes, laying eggs imprinted with their scent.

Today, I select my groceries and stand behind strangers. They still aren’t afraid of me. They look through me like I’m nothing. And they’re not wrong. 

Behind my eyes, I’m nothing.

4.

I got too drunk last night, and woke with a pounding headache. I go over everything I can remember, look to every remembered face for fear but find nothing. Just my friends and me, out for drinks. An irritated waitress is the worst I can find.

My phone has a text with a restaurant’s address. Everyone is meeting for breakfast.

“We were animals last night,” someone says over eggs and greasy sausages. But we were not.

Someone else at the table has pills. “The perfect hangover cure,” they say.

But I know a better one.

At home I draw symbols in chicken blood. I spread out my supplies on the kitchen tiles. I feel better already, just knowing what’s coming.

5.

Three days later. I am stronger than this. I flush all the goat hair down the toilet. Watch it swirl and then it is gone. Of course I know where to get more. But maybe all I need is this one little obstacle to keep me from the dark for a little while.

I can go a week. Just one week.

6.

There are so many hours in a day.