For two hours of every week I am allowed into the music room; I can pick up a guitar and strum to my heart’s content, allowing my mind to float away from the beatings, the stone walls, the thick floors, and the sloppy badly cooked meals. It feels like freedom. I am a bird. I fly and soar away from the bars. I sing about love. I sing about death. I let my fingers twist and sweat up and down the squeaking fret board. I pinch harmonics. I bend, hammer-on and pull off. Two hours feels like forever, and forever feels like five minutes ago. There is no time. No light. No dark. Eyes closed, I am reborn. Somewhere else. Someone else. Anything else.
The beige room bends and sways discordantly with me. Sweat mixes with stale air, and the heat pulses and throbs like an appreciative supernatural metronome. It’s like an explosion, a full force missile of searing emotion and pain, bursting out melodically. I disappear; I pulse and fade, from this world, into the next, and out. I am here. I am nowhere. I am the air around the carcass in which I have left strumming beneath me. This is my two hours of freedom. This is my forever, my real existence. You cannot cage a free bird for long. I am an eagle, a canary, a mockingbird, a crow.
My fingers have been caressing the thin steel in this whirlpool of time, I have lost track of how long I been picking and sliding, but the words are ready to come. Flashing images of Angel Candice, Eleanor Stone, Sharon Den Adel, Liv Kristine I pick a face and my throat ejaculates. Something for the beautiful. Something for the pained. Something for Grace, Dad, for Joey, Henry, for Toni. Sorry. Sorrow. Repentance. Fear. The future.
The words are truly my own, they are me. Every syllable resounds with the inner thud of my soul. My mind wraps around my tongue, my heart is in my mouth, my teeth bite into the hatred, love and lust that rips from my open throat. I can touch the harmony, taste the melody, smell the cadences, see the intervals. Winding round and round, licking and slurping at the ozone layer. Encasing reality with tendrils of beauty, passion, macabre, demonism, and wrath. Anger and love bite and kiss the throat of corporeality. Nothing exists but these senses. My two hours a week, each minute a journey, each second a mile, each beat an adventure. My two hours, endless, yet had to end.
As the bell rang, the five minute warning, bringing back from out there, and out where, and out who I have been and was. The crash land begins, as I wind myself in, recoil the spring and bring myself back. The journey in can hurt.
I see Grace, on stage singing with me. I see Nikki clapping wearing a ripped t-shirt. I see Toni with her arms draped around Joey. I see Dad, smiling at me, hardly moving, just watching, and mouthing the words. I see Alex and Henry running in the dark. I see the many blackened eye of my mother. I am hugging her again, I am bringing her another plaster, I am calling her clumsy. I am five, I am seven and I am reliving everything. I am in the hospital as Tommy is getting his jaw wired, and as Dad walks out with a bloodstained t-shirt. I am cuddling Grace as she looks at the mound of dirt before her uncomprehending.
I am near to the earth again, I can feel my mum’s voice rising in me, I can hear her singing “I want to be like you” from the years before Tommy. She wails “I’ll find you somewhere” and my eyes fill up, she screams “Love is a feeling”. I can hear Dad’s guitar behind, long before he left, when he was part of the house and the furniture. I can hear Gracie humming from inside the big bump my mother carried around with her. I can see Tommy’s blood stained knuckles.
I can hear Grace pleading with Tommy to stop hurting mummy. This was the day the secret was out. The day mummy was no longer clumsy, the day we saw the hurt. Older again I can hear the ambulance, I can feel Nikki’s arms wrapped around me, I am so small. Grace is so small. I am back on the chair in the prison, holding an empty shell, fingers taut and blistering against thin metal.
I let out a whimpering sob and look to the door, to see Tommy leaning against the frame. He chuckles something throaty and pushes his sweaty hulk from my vision and continues down the corridor to the refectory.
I cannot describe the level of hatred. Tommy has made me what I am. I am here because of Tommy. Instead of becoming my Dad, I became Tommy. I became everything I had learned to abhor. I am even surprised Grace can look me in the eyes. Somewhere on my journey I had realised there was one last thing I had to do. I had one more crime to commit.