The Wood

Credits: PictureblogUK via Flickr

Credits: PictureblogUK via Flickr

Episode One

My body was found in the middle of a wood, somewhere just outside London. I think it was near Croydon, but what does that matter? I’m dead, I’ve got more important things to worry about. What I want to say is that the last year of my life was the best. This isn’t a story about me going wrong, falling off the rails, it’s about me going right. It’s shit right? The moment you find that one thing to live for, you end up lying face down in the mud, your last breath snaking out of you. What did I find? Oh yeah, I found a way to sate this burning desire within me….I started killing people. It started with my ex-boyfriend, it was an accident mostly, but I just couldn’t stop. It felt so good.

Whoah there, calm down a second. I’m only joking. Jesus, I really had you going there for a second. You should’ve seen the look on your face, I thought your jaw was going to fall off. Nah, that’s not it at all. You’ll have to be patient, I’m afraid. I am, wait, I was 23 years old.

Actually, maybe let’s start right at the beginning. I came out into the world in a boring seaside town. You couldn’t hear my mum in labour over the sound of the seagulls above the hospital. I know this stuff now, I can see right back to the moment I came out into the light. Lifted up into hands of a woman wearing a green gown. I closed my eyes then and didn’t open them for a week. It hurt, you know? The snap and pop of connections being made in my brain second after second. The burble of the adults around me, bubbles of noise popping in my ears. You don’t remember being a baby for a reason—not what scientists might tell you, but just because it’s fucking horrible.

So yeah, you probably know how it is. We were all the same once. Little legs aching with growing pains. Days of doing nothing at all. Nothing except growing. Sometimes my parents would argue, sharp fiery whispers over my head. They didn’t think I could understand them at all, but what’s not to miss? You know when someone’s angry, whether you speak their language or not. Idiots. It’s funny though, I can see my whole life stretched behind me. I can just jump in again, be myself at any of those times. It’s all in technicolour, every detail so clear. But there’s a period, six months or so between the ages of two and three, I can’t see at all.

I’ve been trying for weeks, when I’m not floating in and out of people’s houses. Watching them on the loo, tossing off. There was a while when all that I would do was try and find people having sex. I’d come right down to the bed, stare at them doing it. It’s weird when you’re dead. It doesn’t have the same pull. I mean, I used to care so much about what kind of bodies did what, but now it doesn’t matter at all. It’s just animal. Meat on meat.

The one time it did matter was when I saw my ex, but I don’t really want to talk about that… Why do you want me to tell you? It’s not what you think. No, he definitely tried to meet someone…but it didn’t work out… It’s too soon…

Yeah, sorry. Sometimes I get carried away. I thought for a bit that I’d stopped really feeling. That was my first week. I was pretty numb, I guess. Except that I realised that it was the feelings doing that after all. I was shocked or something. It’s not every day you find yourself face down in a ditch. I still haven’t been to see my body. Do you think I should? I guess you’re right. I’m not the same anymore. They carved me up. I remember reading about the Egyptians, all the weird things they did to their dead. I think we like to pretend that we’ve moved past that, but we haven’t really. We still do weird things to bodies, like dress them up, put them in makeup, pretend that they’re still whole…

Yeah, sorry, I should tell my story, right? Okay. So, where was I? Oh, me as a baby. I found out that there was this time that I couldn’t see at all. It was weird. Something must’ve happened, I reckon. Something pretty bad. After that time I can remember everything. I started nursery, then school. On my first day at Primary, I pissed myself pretty badly. I was holding onto my mum’s leg, begging like a dog for her not to make me go. A smiling teacher, a woman with long brown hair came out to try and coax me in. She knelt down on the floor in that way that adults do around children, to pretend they’re harmless, like they understand what it’s like to be that small.

Eventually she managed to get me inside, but I stood in a corner. I was so scared of the other kids, they seemed so…I don’t know? I’d probably say now that they were robotic. They just got on with playing with toys, blank eyes and little neat uniforms. I think it was a statement. I remember doing it on purpose. Feeling the hot liquid dripping down into my shorts. Knowing where the bathroom was but deciding not to go. I think I wanted to feel like I had a body, like I wasn’t the same as the others. I wanted to be someone different, so I let it run down onto the tiled floor.

Matt McGuire (GR. Fiction Editor)

 

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