They come creeping in at night like any good monster does that exists in the mist-covered corners of your consciousness. They prey through half-open windows, swirling in the relentlessly drizzle of the London streets. But she can see them, they move with effortless grace. She sees them hiding under her bed, she entices them out with a biscuit and a cup of cold tea.
There’s a man with a bubble-gum smile and a jacket with frayed cuffs, whose mad eyes dip like rollercoasters, there’s a dormouse who tumbles sleepily through her dreams and a cat with a smile like a dimpled half-moon. She clutches them to herself for comfort-who cares if she’s mad, she has a world tucked away in her head and who cares that there are whispers of her insanity when she has conversations with a slightly pudgy rabbit in a blue waistcoat who is constantly late?
She runs with them through forests and listens to jerky, malicious music that makes her dance uncontrollably and tell almost-true stories, and she should be scared when they scream for her head ,but why should she be? This is all in her head, this is not real.
They make the ordinary world so boring and they make her on fire, on nicotine-enhanced fire, the colours so bright that they make her head spin. She feels wanted and she’s not scared when they show bodies, the blood smeared like cheap lipstick kisses. She’s definitely not scared when she sees glass scattered on the tables and in their hair like tasteless crowns. She’s not scared when they taunt her because they’re her friends, aren't they? And they don’t mean it and it’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real. She tells her mother she gets the cuts on her hands from falling off their swing and she’s fine at school.
They whisper in her ear, secrets she didn’t even know she had and things she should do and their voices throb in her ears-just one more, one more. One more what? It doesn’t matter-one more slurp, one more puff of this, it’s all the same-it’s all bad for you. They tell her she should be glad, that at least she has them, because, darling, it’s not like anyone else does. They make her eyes water and her throat tight and her chest feel alive but they are not real and this is all in her head.
They can’t control her paintbrush, when she discovers she’s actually good at something-who would have known?-and she uses neon oranges, violent reds, vibrant shining colours, but they can make her scream and rip up her canvases so they rain down on her like confetti .She tells herself this is not real, this is all in head, but, if it is all in her head, why are they so solid?
They mark her spiralling fall from grace with the faint distinct smell of whisky. And Mummy’s worried and they smirk at her and they press their faces against the car windows. They make her nervous so she can’t answer the doctors’ questions properly without stuttering and her thoughts tie themselves in knots and the words wind around her tongue. They mock her white nightgown, and the smell of hospital can’t mask the smell of them-the smell of endless despair and adventures and cinnamon. They wrap their fingers in her hair and pull, and she is not sure now whether they are real or not, she is not sure where reality ends and fantasy ends.
They push her of the edge, which she has been clinging to by one scuffed fingernail for years and all it takes is a couple of pills, unremarkable white tablets which taste like nothing .She sees them leave her, fly away from her the minute she sets the date for her death ("death" is such a ugly word, she prefers "end" because that’s what she hopes it is) and they attach themselves to the little boy with wide eyes who is entranced by them straight away. And so the carousel begins to turn once more.