Nov. 3rd, 2005 07:00 am
[identity profile] posting in [community profile] modnar_art
New topic on the way soon, I hope; in the meantime, continuing my constant struggle to catch up, this is my effort for "SERPENT"...

Not long now, he thought, lighting another cigarette. Surely, not much longer.

He looked down at his arm, the tattoo he'd carried around on his skin for most of his adult life seeming to mock him as it always did these days, entwined around his forearm where it was visible from any angle.

Ouroboros. He'd always liked the word, ever since hearing it on a TV documentary as a child, long before he'd ever found out its meaning. The mythological serpent devouring its own tail. A symbol of perfection, an eternal cycle of renewal, creation out of destruction. Back when he'd got it done, it had seemed cool, a two fingers to the world, a tacit resolve to embrace the destruction, the little deaths, and keep creating anew anyway. Now, though, he just looked down and saw it as nothing more than a symbol of futility; nothing more than marks on skin, nothing "permanent" about it at all...

Every time, he thought, it always ended up the same; one last kiss, the one that carried all the venom that had been stored up, held at bay for too long, choking him with the taste of bile until it had to be injected into somthing else; or the subtler forms of poison, the slow, constricting suffocation, holding on too tight for too long - either way, it always ended up the same, the cold eyes looking back at him, all life gone out of them.

God knows he'd tried; he'd tried so hard, so often. Shedding skin, trying to get out of himself, trying to slough off the dead matter, find a better body to crawl through the dirt with...maybe this one wouldn't stain so easily, and crack and peel, and wither away like a leprous mask.
But every time he ended up being cast out of the garden, crawling among the lifeless debris of his former selves, all his old imperfections still there, lending their decomposing stench to everything he touched.
And so, after a time, he just stopped. He made himself not care anymore, not feel, not risk the inevitable suffering. And for a time, that had worked; and it had seemed to be enough.

And then, the cancer. He'd known something was wrong, seriously wrong, for some time. He might not have wanted to admit it to himself, but he'd known. It wasn't until he woke in the night coughing for ten minutes straight yet again, but this time turning on the light to find his pillow and duvet spattered with blood, that he went to a doctor. Then the check ups: the consultant's face suitably grave as he intoned the words - "squamous cell carcinoma", one of the worst kinds apparently - yeah, like there was a good kind...
Now his body was finally catching up with the rest of him, devouring itself, an insatiable appetite, just a mindless gnawing like a reflex action, with no thought for nourishment or even survival anymore.

These days, the worst part of it wasn't even the pain, or the constant tiredness, the feeling of being underwater all the time, barely enough energy to blink, tongue flicking out to taste the air and taste the sweetness of it all while it still could. It wasn't even the treatments being worse than the disease, bringing their own symptoms, their own special ways of reminding him that he'd fucked it all up, and now he was going to have to realise once and for all exactly how much, and how little, it had all meant.
The worst part was the waiting, the knowledge of the statistics; "four out of five die within a year of diagnosis", "no hope for recovery at this advanced stage", blah blah had been ten months now, and all he was hoping for was to hold out for another two, just as one final "fuck you". A futile gesture, he knew, but how was that different to any of the other ones?

So every night for the last 6 weeks, he'd sat out here on the doorstep, determined that tonight at least, he wasn't going to go in his sleep, like all those other faceless statistics; if he was going to go, then fuck it, might as well be awake when it happened. And if he stayed in his flat, it could be days, weeks even, before anyone even noticed. When it happened, he just wanted it done, out of the way, over.
No more waiting.

He lit another cigarette, and watched the wisps of smoke curl out from the tip, dancing in sinuous coils in the still moment seeming solid and real enough to keep in a bottle and be preserved forever, the next fading away as if they'd never been. He hugged his knees in close to his body, even though the chill had gone out of the pre-dawn air; curling in on himself, hoping to present as small a target as possible to the world, knowing it'd never be small enough to find a place where the pain didn't follow.
He suddenly realised he was crying, but he didn't know why; he didn't feel sad anymore - he didn't feel anything. Licking his lips, he scratched at his arm absently, and wondered why he couldn't seem to blink anymore, vaguely trying to remember the last time he'd slept.

He turned his face to the lightening sky, and smoked, and waited for the dawn.



October 2009

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