My eyes opened and closed, barely, slits that protected me from the searing pain caused by an overwhelming white light. My skull ached with a heaviness that prevented movement. I attempted to shift my body when a pain shot through my brain from the nape of my neck. I moved slower, reaching my arm out blindly to find the glass of water I left on my bedside table. My tongue scratched inside my mouth from the sheer lack of moisture, I tried to speak but the dryness of my throat only created a wheezing sound and a cough that made my head pound. My mind reached back as far as it could to determine why I felt like a truck ran me over. I opened my eyes wider, ignoring the pain. I was in my room. I reached for my phone but my hand came back empty. It was usually on my bedside, next to my glass of water and my green lamp. Where was my lamp? I looked and saw it was on a table at the end of my bed along with a glass of water and my phone. I moved forward and took the water, drinking deeply and feeling the inside of my mouth cool. I looked around my room and felt tense, my eyes darted back and forth, scanning up and down. I don’t know what I was looking for but something was amiss. Something was not right. The silence that filled the space was all encompassing, it pressed down heavily and grew in size the more I listened to the lack of sound. Not a single creak of wood, car passing, or wind blowing. My head felt foggy, smoke covered my eyes and made it hard to think or see clearly.
I glanced at my phone sitting on the table at the foot of my bed, I didn’t remember putting it there. The last thing I remember was going to the doctors yesterday and then… then what else? I reached for the phone and a strange sensation came over me. An impulse. I know I needed to call my mother, my thumb hovered above her name but my fingers clicked on the Instagram icon instead. The bright light that filled the room dimmed down to darkness. I watched my fingers move of their own volition; the protests of my brain began to fade as Instagram refreshed. My neck didn’t move, my eyes stayed staring. I was immediately flooded with new stories and posts to explore, the possibilities were endless, I lay back on the bed and fixed my gaze on a post about Jessica’s trip to Monte Carlo. I knew there was something I was meant to be doing but I couldn’t help but stroke the screen with my thumb in a familiar upward motion. I couldn’t help but scroll.
An image of a large and ancient tree appears. People used to walk through the park and talk to each other, sometimes they’d even glance up and admire the way the sun light filtered through the tree branches above them. I used to walk to the park, only on sunny days. I wonder, do the leaves of a willow tree have the same veins as me? Do they zig zag through the body? pumping sap like blood. The sun moves over the foliage, shifting from day to night, feeding it what it needs.
I am looking down at my phone. A Willow, Sycamore, Red Gum and Sequoia.
Trees of Instagram. Trees of the world. Trees in the backyard that I forgot. I knew they were there but their presence eluded me.
Did something really exist if I didn’t remember it?
I press unmute, the sun looks blindingly bright, everything seems vivid with colour. A wind picks up and I watch as the leaves sway to the movement of the air. Although I can’t feel it, the hair on my arms stand on end. All those veins dancing in unison. Could Tree’s feel pain? Love? If I went outside and hugged a tree, stroked its trunk and whispered words of affection to its bark. Would it feel it? Some scientists say it would. Profile: Treehugger84, I click follow. I try to move my eyes away from the screen and a voice that is not entirely my own speaks to me in a soft whisper.
Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.
Inspirational billboard photograph. Curiosity killed the cat and gave the 24-year-old hope. Fear is what drives the human race, we fear death so we work and fuck and drink and snort white powder up our noses to forget that our bodies will cease to exist after the maggots have slithered their way in. Fear is what drives us to keep living, to try and make the most of every second, to share it with the world with some fun hashtags so that its relatable and well liked. 890 likes to be precise. Bookmark it for later.
I have to live with my thoughts, but that doesn’t mean I have to focus on them. I can focus on news feeds instead. Maybe concentrate on the captions or the amount of likes I get on a post. I breathe in and try to ignore the dull thud in my head. The air here seems thick with disillusionment but its really just the smell of pine tree air freshener and bleach. I cough, I look at my phone and try to remember something, anything other than what I’m seeing. A flash of a mans face shoots across my mind, like a dying star, traveling for the last time.
A man I once loved told me he loved me outside a temple. It was the first time I’d heard it escape his lips; the words dripped down into an empty cup. Like poison in a golden chalice only meant for the divine, he handed it to me and I drunk him in deeply. Choked on the after taste of him. The sky was blue, his shirt was yellow and my hands were red. Primary colour stained.
My right eye twitches and my hand tremors slightly. In my peripheral vision is absolute darkness.
A cartoon emerges. Rising from the ground to make you laugh and cry and nod in agreement. A girl holds hands with a boy, a thought bubble says that he’s not really her type but maybe she should be more open minded and less picky. The boy tells her he’s not interested. I laugh, I cry, I nod my head in absolute agreement. I am seen.
A social platform for your voice to be heard and for invisible people to be noticed. Show us all how amazing your life is. We would love to see every second of your trip to the Greek Islands. Please explain to us how the gothic architecture of central Barcelona was a life changing experience. I can almost taste the pistachio gelato, feel it drip on my skin. They say the sun feels different in Italy and the moon looks different in Paris but the trees in my backyard stand tall just like the ones in your latest post about saving the planet from deforestation. The amazon is being murdered. I would give them the ones in my backyard but I have grown attached to them. It must have been all those words of affection. All that shared love. Do all living things experience loss?
Sometimes the saddest things must be sung.
Mature themes, nudity and coarse language. The video played and people were screaming but I couldn’t hear anything. There was no sound. The woman’s face stretched wide and contorted in agony as her lungs worked and worked and worked. There was no sound. I understood her, I was her. She was running now, through a car park, looking behind her to see what was coming. Looking for the end, or the beginning. Everyone always thinks they’re in the middle of their story, until they’re not. Out October 31st, Happy Halloween.
My head pounds and my eyes are dry, I try to look away from the phone but I can’t.
(K e e p S c r o l l i n g)
Click here to find out which tarot card you are, your personality can be linked to one of the 22 major arcana. CLICK. Add up all the numbers of your birthday and we’ll tell you who you are as a person, we’ll tell you the nature of your soul. CLICK. The Hanged Man. Always in limbo, constantly waiting for the punchline. I am in two places at once and in neither of them simultaneously. You could be standing right in front of me and I wouldn’t even know you were there. Crucify me and turn me upside down. From the corner of my eye I see a shadow move, a black mass, but I can’t move my body and I am distracted from my momentary panic by a notification. Why is it dark in here? What day is it?
6th of October 2019
The Haunted History Collection: are voices, spirits and apparitions trying to tell us something about past events? Link in bio. A man stands covered in a white sheet with holes cut out for eyes.
I am haunted by him.
The mirror was completely empty with not one thing to offer me, I couldn’t take my eyes off it for years. Filled with the black nothingness that could only be reserved for a kind of galactic environment. Pulling and sucking, gorging on everything in its orbit. A black hole to fall into, never to be seen again. The sudden urge to hurl my phone into the street outside took hold of me. I felt it in my entire body, my skin hurt with the need for it. Then it passed. Where was everybody?
I look up into the darkness, the silence echoes in the room with no windows, hazy confusion overtakes me. Where is my green lamp? Impulsively I look down at the screen in my hand, the blue light illuminates my face and dread washes over me. Fuck, I’m on 4%. I blink to ease the dryness of my eyes. I look back at my battery percentage and it says 100%. An image of a large and ancient tree appears.
I keep scrolling.
Elena Kaloudis is currently a student of English literature and creative writing at UNSW in Sydney, Australia.