by Chris Bartlett

More sensation than flavour, clinical and soft, it is the thing that stops me from tasting air, could this be the thing that prevents me from talking; the thing that keeps me alive.

I pull hard with both hands, getting it out of me at last with a stale sigh.

“Don’t touch…you mustn’t do that”

Kind but firm shadows hover and fuss by my bedside.

I am in an American Diner, no, a roadside desert gas station, what are the drip stands and beeping boxes doing?

Everyone’s got to be somewhere, but I can’t remember where I’ve landed….Is this the one where Mum is still alive…? Or have I turned up where Nikkie and I never split?

The characters from the cardboard carnival flitter past one by one in the needle slice two-step.

Long forgotten tunes whistle softly, chattering of galactic scoreboards and shooting stars that don’t quite hit the mark.

Wasn’t it them who prevented me from waltzing into the light?

Which part is the real bit?

Sorry who am I again?

If somebody doesn’t speak to me soon I’m going home…I must remember to grab some cold beers on the way.

“What’s that you say? Sorry can’t understand…? I’ll try and write it down….”

How hard can the words Dr and Pepper be?

Like a camel trying to use an i-Pod, I am utterly useless.

A slab of meat; unheard, un-regarded and less than human, waiting for an answer

What are those swollen lumps stuck to my shoulders where my arms used to be..? And those numb crimson things hanging from my waist?

Who’s this?

Sorry who did you say I was again?

Can I go home now? I don’t like this anymore.

© Chris Bartlett 2016