remember when you were a kid and you were sick and your mum made you take calpol but you were secretly excited because though you were warned that ‘too much is bad for you’,
you knew it tasted good. sickly sweet strawberry sticking to the roof of your mouth, coating the back of your throat, soothing both your own and your mum’s worries. ‘you get better, faster, with medicine.’
but hell, no-one ever said that to me when I was fifteen and it all became too much, and I prescribed modern art onto my left arm, impersonating a twilight sky colour palette of bruises, underlined braille dipped in red ink.
my medicine didn’t fucking work. and though it danced across my tongue the same way the bottle of seven plus did, leaving sweet snail-trails, curtseys, please and thank yous, it made me feel feral, weak, alone, but I still thanked it graciously, over my left shoulder with an asthmatic splutter.
and mum used to ruffle my hair when I’d shown her medicinal ritual some gratitude and called me brave. my 'darling little boy,’ but now it’s, 'do you have homework,’ or a fake concern or a grating plea for domestic help.
and i knew picasso wouldn’t be proud of the faux constellations I dreamt and etched but routine becomes a craving an addiction a need and so i overdosed, mad on the power of sans-adult supervision.
no wonder they stamp 'keep out of reach of children’ on those medicine bottles.
but then i hit nineteen; or rather instead of hitting it, i gently bumped into it and apologised for the inconvenience.
seven plus was a lost concept but the sweet impressions of my replacement still stuck, branded, bound to my bones, sold on nightmares and gawking children at swimming pools.
i’d found my remedy, and her skin clung to mine like a nicotine patch, her breath a puff of smoke in my aching lungs, her lips a shot of morphine. she was heaven and hell and purgatory, fact, fiction, journalistic story, iambic heartbeat and bacon and eggs in the morning. she was not a placebo, but rather the swan song that echoed in my mind’s cracks where spiders had spun their webs and called them home.
so my own blood wasn’t seen again - it could change into its sweatpants, and leave its hair unshaven; i wasn’t interested in the metallic crimson, but rather craved her saliva on my blushing pilgrim lips, readily stood, to urgently replace a tender touch with a rough kiss.
my saturated thirst, sated, anthemic vibrations, drunk on dopamine, a kick in my step again.
i wake up these days and there are no iron bars. the door is swung open, key left lazily in the lock. i am free and invincible.