1 03 2017

It is a small ache in the chest, that with time, may give way to a sweet throbbing akin to the wake of a passing orgasm.

For now, it is still too fresh and keen. The Grey Man casts his big grey shadow across her mind. A living ghost.

She is living a life composed of a series of exorcisms. Writing, listening to sad songs, exercise, taking care to clean up after herself. A first for her. As if living to these carefully regimented new routines will change her into somebody who never met the Grey Man.

It is a curse that the Grey Man casts on those who wander too far into the dark unfathomable.

She had picked a direction and walked off one day, into the woods. Careless eyes on the new, no mind for the trajectory.

He appeared disguised as a fellow traveler. Unconcerned. Not appearing to have any intentions centered on her.

He moved around her in such wide circles that she thought they were walking parallel to each other, and by the time she realized he was penning her in on all sides, drawing clear, thick, straight lines that she could not traverse, she was mostly caught.

She still could have gotten out then. Broken the rhythm of his leading, her following. But he was leading her to places she had never been. Showing her ways of looking that she had never seen.

A curious double-vision of the world appeared before her. The Grey Man’s world. Not quite identical, superimposed over hers at an angle. Off kilter.

He started leading her to sudden drop-offs. What appeared to be flat ground would give away in a sudden plunge of vertigo, and she would find herself at 90 degrees to her former orientation, walking up the trunks of trees, breaking the treeline to see birds in the distance. The sky stretched in front of her face forward forever.

Then he started flipping her orientation by 180 degrees.

Letting her fall screaming into the sky. Hours. Days. She was gone, and he didn’t have to hear her screaming.

When he flipped her back down, sometimes he would do it gently. Sometimes not at all so. But she would always feel grateful to have her feet back on the ground.

She was so long in the Grey Man’s company that she began to forget the existence of other people. He began to grow in magnitude as she began to shrink.

She shrank so much that he began to hold her in the palm of his hand and tell her how small, how very small, and pointless she was. He would sometimes take the sky away with his other hand, and hold her down flat with his thumb.

She was so small, and grateful. To exist. Because of the Grey Man.

He would tell her things about herself. What she looked like. Who she was. Her longs and shorts. He sketched a new face on her. A new body. A new cunt. A new mind.

He put a price tag on her. He wrote a definition for her in his dictionary.

She had been so amorphous before he did this. A non-being who cost nothing. Who was practically free.

He told her what she liked, and what she hated.

She was so grateful, because she had always had such trouble deciding. And here, he had decided for her.

The Grey Man loved to talk. When he talked, his voice would block out the sun. It would shake the earth and scatter the birds. It would send a hook down and snag itself on a lid inside her that she never knew existed, and pull it shut.

She was sealed so tight and safe by the Grey Man.

The Grey Man would threaten horrible things sometimes.

He would threaten to throw her away. Tiny as she was. He would threaten to lose her. Dig a hole and chuck her in. Reverse the sky and let the speck of her fall forever.

She would beg and weep and beg when he did this.

She would bargain, though she didn’t have much. She would bargain with promises: “I won’t…anymore”, “I’ll stop…”, “I’ll change”, “I’ll be…”

Sometimes the Grey Man would convince her to dance. Then he would sit back, so he could laugh his earth-shaking laugh. Sometimes he could only see her red little face, and he would have to squint and try so hard to see the rest of her.

Sometimes the Grey Man would be kind and touch her face or her hair, and she could grow a little bit bigger for a while. Almost up to his knee.

Sometimes the Grey Man would tell her how important she was to him. How clever. How different. How she was the only one that understood him.

Sometimes, it sounded like a slogan.

Sometimes the Grey Man would hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And kiss her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And kiss her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And kiss her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her. And hit her.

It was never the Grey Man’s fault.

It was usually her fault.

She wasn’t:

Pretty/Kind/Sexy/Understanding/Selfless/Experienced/Young/Clever/Slim/Innocent/Maternal/Cool/Interesting/Different/Polite

enough

She didn’t deserve. Because she wasn’t anything to him.

Sometimes she would dream of being something, and get the vague impression that there was someone shouting at her from behind a thick, heavy door. As if? She had? Been something? Before?

But it would slip away like a twig in a strong current.

And she would be come nothing again.

She became nothinger and nothinger and nothinger

The Grey Man became everythinger and everythinger and everythinger.

Soon everything was the Grey Man while nothing was her.

One day, she was so nothing and he was so everything, that while he was hitting her and hitting her, he simply forgot she ever existed, because there was nothing left to hit. Not a puddle. Not a tear. Not a smudge.

The Grey Man paused, and said

HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

and left.

She was nothing for a very. long. time.

12 universes formed. 7 died.

One day she remembered something.

The starting tumble of Fantasie Impromptu.

Another day she laughed at a queer sentence that popped into her head, and she couldn’t stop for a very long time.

The next day, she remembered something else: the smell of Rosemary

Here is a list of things she remembered after that:

  • Tetris tiles fitting together
  • Rain on asphalt
  • A German Shepherd her parents had looked after for 2 weeks when she was 16
  • Crying like the world had ended when he went away
  • Her parents
  • Being 16
  • New notebooks
  • Chanel lipstick
  • Vietnamese Pho
  • The lives of suicidal penguins narrated by Werner Herzog
  • Slam Dunk Manga
  • Pooping in a box once when the water stopped in her apartment
  • The brief delight of throwing the box down the garbage chute
  • Christmas nostalgia
  • The sea
  • Clean white sheets
  • Her body
  • How to make other people laugh
  • Other people
  • White pepper in egg drop soup
  • Cat gifs
  • Sex
  • Words
  • Clouds over Sunset Point on Route 19
  • Falling in love

She was growing. Little by little.

She did not grow into the same shape and size she was before.

She avoids the woods now. Is afraid of dark places. Of men. Blue men. Brown men. Grey men.

Her bodies remembers, and goes searching for the Grey Man.

So she is still afraid, because she has caught her body wandering around the Grey Man’s part of the woods at night.

She has to admit she looked for him.

She has to admit she misses him.

She is afraid, and she is different. His curse will forever be inside her. Be her.

She thinks she might have to grow. Grow so big that if she should see the Grey Man again, she might be the same size. Or even bigger. Big enough to pick him up and tuck him into a neat little drawer, and slide it shut. Big enough to blot out his sky.

All the same. She would prefer not to see him again. She tells herself.

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