I’m not going to swallow my tongue. My mouth is arid, and every piece of sinew strains to the sound of my beating heart. Instead of waking up, I want to sleep. Glassy eyes, roll around in my head trying to fixate themselves on something, anything, other than the bland never-ending white sea of my ceiling. I’m not going to swallow my tongue.
Lazy beads of sweat trickle down my forehead, possibly the last thing that feels remotely alive leaving my drying husk of a body. I am a poorly thought out, haphazard vessel of meat and water, God’s image interpreted by Kandinsky. Heartbeats roll like thunder in my brain, a military drum reminding me of my mortality, shaking my very being with each circulation of blood, but I’m not going to swallow my tongue.
It lays there resting, a parasite in my mouth gnawing at my subconscious. I can feel it becoming sentient, it’s going to jam my throat closed until my eyes bulge and I turn the colour of slate. Plotting my downfall it hides caged behind yellowing bars of calcium, counting down the seconds before it’s untethered and able to barricade my oesophagus. Rolling thunder becomes a cacophony of lightning bolts. I am being consumed by the bland sea. The fading cream coloured walls surrounding me are becoming labyrinthine, an encroaching aggressor of Ikea furniture and half read books. Sitting bolt upright, my body now drowned in sweat and paranoia, thoughts incarcerating me in a cycle of impending doom and melancholic euphoria, I must escape this prison cell. I must not swallow my tongue.
Traipsing downstairs, I set my aching body down on the jet black sofa, allowing myself to embrace the cold leather against seemingly feverish skin. The sun burns uncontrollably through the windows, a spotlight transfixed on illuminating my very worst aspects. My iris is the size of a pin, defying sunlight to pass through my cornea. I sink back in to the sofa, letting my body relax slightly, gradually feeling every muscle follow suit. The blunt nagging of my mind’s obsession becomes a sharp puncture as I go to lay my head back on a pillow. Still laying there is an amorphous leech rooted in my jaw waiting to be dislodged. Flinging my head forward, a wave of nausea and sickness take a grip of me. I need to stare blankly at something for a while, put my brain on autopilot.
Peeling myself off the sofa, I stagger towards the television, dodging the minefield of bottles and half empty glasses as I go to turn the thing on. The familiar whirring and humming of the Sky box greets me like an old friend as it powers up, comforting and reassuring. A picture slowly fades on to the screen, I don’t care what it shows me as long as it can soothe my aching brain. I’m caught mid ad break, a pair of desperate actors pretending that, yes, we are indeed a happily married couple and, yes, outrageously someone has had the temerity to mis-sell us PPI. Their pleading eyes begging whoever is watching to recognise their ability, and save them from a never ending purgatory of bit parts in Casualty and thirty seconds adverts about the benefits of using branded bleach to store’s own.
James Corden’s overeager and overbearing face appears advertising a new panel show. Seeing his success in America is like seeing a close friend worshipping a bag of compost. He cackles and back slaps his way through a series of clips showing the totally natural chemistry between him and the panellists, but comes across as an over keen Year 7 trying to impress the far more aloof Year 11s. I will never be as talented as James Corden. Woody Allen has another film out that involves an older man falling for a younger woman. The world keeps turning.
In the corner of the television, I catch a glimpse of myself. An apparition in my own home, my baggy eyes matching my baggy trackies, chestnut hair styled by sweat and grease, a crown atop a blotchy, bloated face. Spindly appendages sprout from my shapeless body, a half-hearted attempt at crucifying myself on a cross trainer. It is another example of the half-baked ideas, spurts of creativity, self-improvement. Unfinished scripts, second rate universities, and jobs I’ve had since I was sixteen, the endless search to find something more meaningful. The doubt returns. I am only a few sentences of an unfinished Greek tragedy. How do I know I’m alive? I am the morning after psychosis. I will not swallow my tongue.
Every bad, embarrassing, pathetic thing I’ve ever done to people I love swamps every pore of my mind. I am David Moyes. I am Pete Best. I am Stoke-on-Trent. I am the 48%. I am my brother’s path to greatness, my dad’s wasted potential. I don’t see my friends enough. I’m the fear of people knowing too much about me, the cowardice around girls I like. I’ve got to drink more if want to feel a buzz. I am mediocrity. I am the human hangover. Nothing will survive in my despair. My desperation built the pyramids, my humanity is the hammer. My misery is my power. My conscience loops a plea; no more shame, no more fear, no more dread.