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Punch Bowl
Posted by goodgrief84
25th Oct 2018

“Not only had my brother disappeared, but — and bear with me here — a part of my very being had gone with him. Stories about us could, from then on, be told from only one perspective. Memories could be told but not shared.”
― John Corey Whaley, Where Things Come Back

Sometime in the early hours of that morning, my brother made the decision to take his own life. He hung himself from the banister at the top of the stairs. It later transpired that he had been found by his four year old son who had woken up in the night and, having found his dad absent, had left his bed to search the house for him. He could not wake his dad and his cries woke up his 16 year old sister who was asleep in the bedroom downstairs. She would later cut down his body, under the instruction of the ambulance service. Who could do such a thing to children? My brother did.

“Mental illness…
…People assume you aren’t sick
unless they see the sickness on your skin
like scars forming a map of all the ways you’re hurting.

― Emm Roy, The First Step

Four nectarines sit in a white porcelain bowl. My breakfast. I pick one up. The blunt knife punctures the skin and slips through the soft, yellow meat. I traverse the circumference of the fleshy sphere with ease until the cuts line up neatly at both ends. Resting the knife gently; carefully, on the edge of the bowl, I twist both halves in a contrary motion. Some of the flesh gives way and the juice drips onto my palm. One half tears away from the stone exposing a valleyed crater and I wedge the piece into my mouth, whole; more juice drenching my chin. I pry the stone away from the second half with the knife. The stone wrenches away more strings of meat as it resists the clinical digs of the blade. I devour the second piece in much the same way as the first.

As I dissect the second nectarine, twisting the two halves and anticipating the spurts of sweet juice onto my hands, the pulp collapses, and as I pull back the dripping edges, the cavity is exposed. It is a purple — black hue. The bruise has also left tangled deposits of dark sinew on the stone. I discard the decaying half and I cut away the stone from the second to inspect the extent of the damage. The second crater is a furred and woody brown; almost dry. One half engorged by a rancid, bloated blight, and the other drained; acrid and starved.

“Anger’s like a battery that leaks acid right out of me
And it starts from the heart ’til it reaches my outer me”
― Criss Jami, Venus in Arms

Both halves sit in the bowl while I eat the remaining fruit. The experience has lost something. The taste of the succulent fruit is tainted by the sight of the rot. The mushy, mutilated remains stare up at me. Now they are exposed, the obviousness of these wounds is a stark contrast to the four, seemingly untouched wholes at the start. As I cut and twist and squeeze and chew my way through the rest, I think of him and so he looks up at me from the bowl. I did not see the succubus as it feasted; macerating his fibre. It concealed itself in the hermetic chamber of his best intentions and fed in tiny, vicious bites.

The stretching pulse surfaces in my chest: a creature from the depths taking an enormous gulp of my air. The realisation extends a limb and leaves me sprawling once more; tripping me into the pit. What can I do? I can spill it out; the juice of my anguish dripping onto the page. And the sinewy deposits around the stone might fall away.

“What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it if it comes.”
― Raymond L. Cramer, Psychology of Jesus & Mental Health

What battlements and barricades could protect against an onslaught that festers from the inside out? What bulwark is bravery when your courage is eroded by the elements of spite, cynical sneers and contempt? Even where the skin remains thick and unblemished; and the succulence of life seems to radiate from the surface; there may be a core, rotting in silence; unseen. And so think on the nectarines in the bowl: all ripe, all tender and unblemished. Take the time to open them up. Cut and twist them if you must. Break through and puncture the diaphanous veneer of a brave face. It may just halt that invisible ruin. You might just save them; to be savoured a little longer.

“The pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne. The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain.”
― William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

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