My First Week at University

I can’t pretend this is pleasant. My teacher liked it though. She is aware now of my love of modernism and the grotesque. She sends me links on Cormac McCarthy. She is really nice and wants me to read this at the next Creative Writing Society meeting. I think that’s weird. I think this piece is weird. I think my brain makes queer connections and it is probably because I haven’t treated it so well.

I like writing these disclaimers. They give me a chance to say I warned you. Some people will not be disturbed. I’m disturbed by that. But I’ve also thought worse. So…welcome, I guess.

We were asked in my creative writing class to write a short piece about our experience of being in this new place (if it is), at the university. I tried to capture it all in one go and as quickly and as abstractly as possible.


My First Week at University


If my bones were made of paper I would crumple into a little ball. But I’m doing my best with the bones I’ve got. In my sleeping bag I’m withered up with my knees folded into my chest, one ear pinned to the mattress and the other smothered with my pillow. I want to be soundproof. I want this corner to be a hole so silent that all you can hear are the waves of light rippling beneath the seam of the window curtain.


They must be up against the wall. The only thing regular is their breathing. I thought this sound would be the most subdued. Muted by pillow and mattress. But repetition has a way of ticking at our skulls, chiseling dull echoes that crescendo insanity. Monotony keeps us like a clock. Going in circles. Like addiction, except the spiral is downward and only ends when the unseen bottom rises to our fastly falling feet.


So I’m just staring at the blinking blue light, blinking with the rhythm of their breathing. The bed frame creaks. Some moans. Some groans and sighs of relief like two full prairie beasts lounging after a kill. I wonder what the carcass of drunken sex looks like?


I recently saw a documentary about lions. In it a male lion was gnawing a zebra’s thigh right through its bone while the zebra was still alive. Just staring. Its eyes were so full and black, all pupil, shining and human, watching as the teeth of another animal slowly made its way up toward its intestines.


What if whenever you had sex the carcass of life stared back at you? Through the fluid and the thin sheath of skin that doctors haven’t yet cut away from the eye holes or nostrils and you had to watch it struggle to breathe while you panted and groped and gasped?


I don’t normally ask these questions. Not to my roommates. Maybe I should. Maybe they would stop asking me why I don’t drink all the time.


I used too. But I’ve seen so much life corrode away. Down to the bones. I’ve seen the skeletons smile with their yellow teeth. Mom, sister, me.


I wonder about carcasses. Dead things dressed in skin. How the world is full of them and how alcohol, being so flammable, must add some kind of irony to the ritual of cremation.


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