My finger is red raw, bleeding. Distracting, debilitating.
The index finger, on my left hand.
The nail is torn, blood oozing from the tip and running in a slow, painful rivulet. A stinging, insolent, rude and raw pain. I want to peel the torn nail off slowly, feel the parting of flesh, the slicing agony. Need that. Want it.
My fist clenches. Fingers dig into the splintered wooden table top, slivers of fresh twisted wood piercing flesh, sliding under my nails.
I shift uneasily. That empty, roiling feeling inside me making me anxious, again. I can not sit still. Can not focus.
My companion is talking to me, lips moving, eyes flashing and contracting, pupils dilated, warm, welcoming. Honey dripped voice filling the space between us. Warm honey. Oozing across the gnarled wood of the beer stained table.
It is hot, again, one of many, endless hot days, stacked one against the other, like flies, like aircraft circling. Hot and insubstantial. Hot, but I am not here. I have not been here, in any real sense, for a long time, not since, well, not since that last time.
Then it had been hot.
Over my companion’s slumped shoulder, a group of bikers, tattooed, goateed, cliched, raise jars of foaming swill. Jeer and leer. Spit on the floor. Give a damn.
Perhaps city slickers aping the hard men of their sweat soaked fantasies? Perhaps the genuine article?
I don’t know, and care even less.
Men like these, desperately seeking to be different, to stand out, posturing and posing, apparently unaware that they are as crushingly dull as the men they despise (our perhaps are?). Grey suited, strap-hanging their way to an early death. Their poor projected hardness speaks volumes about the men within. Echoes of insecurity, buried memories and long lost hope.
And still the honeyed voice drones on. I nod and mumble, here and not here. The bumblebee of my companion’s voice in search of nectar finds no solace in me.
The grass, rolling down from the bank above, is green. Way too green. Dotted with trestled tables, foaming pints of real ale, spiked coke, faux hospitality.
And all the time, I can feel it.
I wish it would go away, that feeling. That visceral urge.
I press my hands down again into the rough edge of the table, splinters drive deeper. Sharp points breaking my skin, feeling the tingle, suppressing the fevered feelings that follow.
I push myself up, stretch, aching. My companion continues talking. I do not hear the words. Not now. Not realising. Not yet.
My hands press into the aching hollow of my back. I turn, stretch, look across that green lawn. Toward the trees in the distance. And know it. Know in precise detail, what will happen next.
I know then that it will happen again. Of course. It always does.
We know that, don’t we? In the end, we know.
The exact sequence, the sounds, the smells.
That urgent need.
The first dark slice of a new serial story.
Each new portion, comprising just five hundred words, will be published here, just before midnight each Thursday, for the next 52 weeks. Want to come on over to the dark(er) side? Why not write something dark and tag it darkersidethursday?
Interested in what came before? Check out my darksidethursday story.
See you on the other side…