My Mahogany Monster.
I sit in this yellowing room. The wallpaper’s peeling and the mirror is cracked. A black cat sleeps by the window curled around a fake plant in a pot. The window is painted an ugly pale pink I’ve always hated, the corners of the wood rotted from years of coffee and summer rains.
This is my world. Small, a little dirty; but my own. I haven’t been out during the day in weeks. Only ever catching fleeting glimpses of the sun as I let out yesterday’s lover.
Each of my days begin the same as the last. I sit out on my window ledge. Watching and smoking as the sun sets in my small city. Sickly monarch of this broken piece of the world.
I spend these nights dribbling my existence onto page after page, hoping the more I write the better chance I have of writing something worthwhile. I’ve been doing this for years. The same routine; the same life.
I thought white picket fences sounded boring, that settling down would be losing. But the older I get the more I realise that the life I’ve chosen is repetitive. I meet the same sad, dark people in the same sad, dark rooms over and over again. The faces change but the roles never do. Each and every person in this little place as predictable as the last. Spouting constant nonsense, the only silence when they swallow or smoke their newest poison.
I’m forever chasing the first night and that first feeling. I had hope. Hope that buzzed through my being, and a confidence that always won. I knew what to say and how to say it.
Now each encounter has become the same blur of drugs, pain and pleasure. An endless train, always stopping at the same stations.
I used to write well. They once told me I had potential. I wrote about love and loss, of distant worlds and frozen lands. I won awards and was offered scholarships from the best schools.
Then I became lost.
My identity had become my writing. Then, when my writing was no longer the most impressive, when I had to work as the words wouldn’t flow, I realised I had never really known who, or how, I was.
So I changed.
I came here. I left the comfort of my small town life for the poor world of the struggling artist that I had romanticised in my head. I found myself a small apartment that could fit in the lounge room of my parents house. I hung scarfs and blankets over the stained, yellowing walls. I lived on bean bags with no TV. Just me, my little old notebook, and a mattress. That one room contained my life. My own small but comfortable piece of the map.
The only free wall held my bookcase. The single piece of furniture that I actually liked — a beautiful mahogany angel holding classic books in old hardback covers. Whilst they mostly just gathered dust, each book had it’s own story. It’s own reason for being on the shelf — a friend, a journey, a romance…
It was a simple existence but for a short time, I was happy. I had found my place in the world. I experimented with drugs and sex — a new partner and substance every night. My ideas flourished and with them my personality.
I got a job nearby, writing for a paper. It didn’t pay much but it was better than the freelance work that I had been doing previously. I wrote about life and the city. I had freedom and became popular.
Then one day, the ideas stopped flowing. The sex was no longer satisfying and the drugs took a darker turn. My popularity dropped. I truly lived my romanticised fantasy as a destitute, depressed, addicted artist.
I attempted to write but the words made no sense. The ink ran, staining the pages. By the time the light flickered to life I had already given up. Lost is the hopeful innocence that had once driven me. But each night I walk these streets hoping to catch even a glimpse of it.
I don’t know if I’ll ever really know what happened. What caused the loss of excitement. But one day I saw my sad, lonely self through the cold, harsh eye of reality and I could never go back.
Now I sit, each night at my little laptop. Surrounded by the same stained walls of this apartment which I first moved into 15 years ago. Memories of my past swim through my head as I finish off yet another cover letter for a job that I’ll never get.
I pour myself another drink, staring at my now bare, mahogany, monster and wonder where to go from here.