• Dear Diary or whatever,

    Half way through my night there was a pounding on the locked door, a jiggling of the handle and a deep, authoritarian voice demanding that I “turn that s**t down son.” Apparently, I didn’t want my little sister to hear that kind of thing. But she’s not so little anymore and it’s nothing she doesn’t know about already, right dad? I gave the door a dirty gesture and muttered a few of my favourite filthy words, sickly pleased when he walked away defeated. Once he was gone, I thumbed the remote, turning up the feigned moans of girls with bra sizes bigger than their IQ’s and generic soft jazz until it was all I could hear. Lying there on my bed, each moan and guttural cry started to sound like an abandoned dream wrenched from the throat of these plastic girls. I wished that their discarded hopes would lull me to sleep, take my mind off of everything that’s outside this room. But they didn’t of course, and I don’t even need to hear it to be all too aware of my parents arguing with muted voices, the sister sneaking a third (or fourth) piece of cake, the hushed sounds of my suburban nightmare of a life.

    Even worse, the dull sounds of cars speeding by and drunken shouts of children dressed in the skin of adults, reminding me of my own pathetic social life. These hordes of people with nowhere in their hearts, nothing in their minds. Am I the only one feeling this way? I don’t want to know about the outside world. Give me my own private womb over expectations and heart-felt hopes any day. Expectations are for people who don’t mind being disappointed. Hear that mum and dad? It’s all going to end in tears and not mine either. This isn’t the time for your expectations and rules, this is summer and summer is meant to be about freedom, so why am I feeling so trapped? The walls are closing in on me, pulling and pushing me in a thousand different directions, none of them ones that I’d choose. The sharp jabs of their wants for me, their hopes for my future sting against my skin like wasps, poison leaking through my skin and into my blood. The future’s happening too fast and I’m feeling like a civil war. Two sides of my heart are fighting for the same territory, and my body has become a battleground. One part of me wants to rebel against this small town, Rotorua life, to see the smog blanket the skyscrapers. They have those in Auckland right? The other side is telling me to do what they want, that their future can’t possibly be that bad.

    There's an angry voice in the back of my head, something screaming words that I cant pull apart or understand.


    - James

    To God, Satan, anyone;

    When you’re dying, people really listen to you. I’m not dying, I’m not even sick, so when I talk they just wait for their turn to speak. Ten people all sitting round a dinner table staring at me, waiting for their turn to speak. Why even ask me questions if you don’t want to know the answer? I’m not going to say the right words; I can’t say the right words. If the world’s a stage and we’re all players, then I’m standing in front of the crowd and I’ve never known the lines. So I mumbled something about my life, invent a girlfriend, call her Rachel, and tell them all how much I love her. It was news to me, but the lie flowed out vinegar smooth, and they believed me, complacent in their assurance that they’ve paid enough attention to the kid and can now get down to the serious business of drinking. The dinner party from hell; like a caricature of everything that I don’t want, but am slowly being moulded to become. Pearl necklaces and sweater vests decorated with women past their prime, not the other way around. Ties tied to tight around thick necks, lounging like brightly patterned snakes on the growing bellies of men don’t get to the gym anymore like they used to.

    Claire (that’s a fat girls name and she’s living up to all expectations, bulging at the sides and pushing maximum density) spent the night taking shots at my shins with her chubby, grubby feet until mum sent her off to bed saying it was grown-up time. It seemed like a personal insult when she included me in the sweeping expanse of her arm as she slurred out ‘grown-up.’ It probably was. I sat there and wondered when they stopped playing dress up, pretending to be adults, and realised that they’d actually become them. Defeated children, they grasp at stories of the mythical time known as ‘when-they-were-young’ and relive the days of their lost glories. The eternal Peter Pan, I say no to adulthood, even if it’s only in my mind. I’m no grown-up am I? But looking around the table, I know that I fit in too well with this group of conquered teens, dad’s tie hanging like a noose around my neck, the ill-fitting jacket too similar to a straight jacket for me to feel comfortable in it. It seemed easier to give in to mum’s pleas for respectability just for tonight, but it was a mistake and the civil war inside me is taking it as a victory for the side that wants what they want me to, wants the four, grey, moveable walls of a cubicle life. It’s written on their faces in the greying folds of flesh, the bags under their eyes not quite hidden with layers of artfully applied make-up, they see me as one of them, or someone who soon will be. They disgust me in their decrepitude. The civil war is won, and its clear to me that I don’t want this. Tweed, ties and twin-sets sitting around the table like a uniform, breathing into their wine glasses like it’s their salvation. Even at their age, the liquor’s still the main event. Sitting there, a grown-up, I looked around and saw the truth. Good guys don’t wear uniforms, and my life is wearing out its welcome. The screaming in the back of my mind is finally making sense, and it’s telling me it’s time to get out of here.

    I’m coming skyscrapers.

    - James

    To anyone who cares,

    I held up a dairy to get the money for a bus out of town. Actually, I stole it from mum’s wallet. Actually, she lent me the cash for ‘school books.’ I booked my seat on the bus, and then snuck away this morning while they were still sleeping off a hangover. I’m finally getting somewhere (or is that nowhere?). They’re always ‘sleeping it off’, probably hoping that if they sleep long enough Claire and I will disappear like their morning-after headache. We’re both mistakes and we all know it. ‘Surprises’ is what they tell us when we ask, but the words mean the same thing. I am a broken condom, and Claire a drunken birthday celebration. But what I am doesn’t matter anymore, does it? That’s my old life and nothing from it matters anymore. As I write, my pen quivers from the shaking of my hand and the bus creaks along in time to the beatings of my heart, coming thick and fast against my chest. This is better than any drug trip could be, watching the town turn to country, the fields speed by. This is freedom. No more James, failed son of Mary and Steven, no more expectations, pressures building against my shoulders, no more grown-up future. In a little while they’ll read the note I plastered to the fridge, somewhere I knew one of them would find it. It’s the first place they go after they roll their gelatinous bodies out of bed. I savour the anticipation as the scratchy fabric of the seat itches against my thighs even through my jeans, wait for them to call my phone, am gagging to hear their voices growing more and more hysterical as they realise I’m really gone. Or perhaps they wont, maybe they’ll simply shrug on their uniforms and go through the motions of their lives, telling no one that they’re secretly desperately pleased to be rid of me. The bus driver swears and I can hear the bump as we trundle over a rabbit. It brings me back to this dirty bus reality, away from my thoughts. No one looks back at the corpse, too wrapped up in their own problems to worry about one dead animal. Neither do I, I’m busy, my smile‘s splitting open my face, and for once I don’t want to pretend to be anything but what I am. Free. The voice in the back of my mind has finally stopped screaming at me. But it whispers still, murmurs that it’s proud of my freedom and me. It tells me its name is St. Jimmy. I’m on the verge of something here, something big.

    - J.


    You’d always said I was a survivor. I’m surviving in the city, no, better than that I’m thriving. This is nothing and everything like I thought it would be. The sun comes up grey every morning, dwarfed by buildings grasping at the sky. At least it’s not wearing tweed, right? I’ve got places to stay for now, not a street kid yet. Yeah, I’m on a couch tour of the living rooms of kids I met on the Internet but it’s a place to sleep. It might be hell but at least it’s warm. Funny thing is, the city’s just like home. Bypass the traffic and the suits in sneakers hurrying to work, and it’s still exactly the same. Twin-sets and ties everywhere you look. Not around my neck though. Still got a few bucks left so I should be okay for a while yet, though some extra cash wouldn’t go astray. No job yet, but I’m working on it. Not really but I probably should be. Made a friend, I guess you could say, he calls himself Saint Jimmy. The patron Saint of liars and denial, that’s him (me). I shot drugs for the first time today, thanks to him, and my a** took a beating when he wouldn’t pay. Three guys versus two (one if you don’t count Saint Jimmy, he just sat in my head and laughed anyway). Maybe you’d say he’s a bad influence. He’s in my head though (he’s getting to me), changing the way things are. One thing’s for sure, the smog and the skyscrapers is everything I was dreaming of. Send my love (Saint Jimmy says to send my hate) to Dad. Don’t worry about me; Saint Jimmy said he’d take care of me.

    - J

    Dear nowhere;

    My heart is like a bomb, ready to explode. Went to a show this weekend (the band sucked). She was dancing in the crowd like no one was watching her, only everyone was. Hands above her head, she was like a drum pounding out of time, no one was paying attention to anything else. Gyrating against the heavy guitars, giving herself to the music like a sacrificial virgin. Only there’s nothing virginal about her. But she’s got china doll skin and my mother’s eyes. Blue like the dreams I had about her last night. I call her Glory (Gloria) and she calls me Jimmy. It’s better than “what’s his name” so I’m not complaining. It’s close enough anyway. St Jimmy doesn’t like it; he’s seeing clouds on the horizon. But what does he know? The patron of lies and denial doesn’t know about love. She’s got abandon that I wish I had. Nothing matters to Glory, nothing but the music. She took me home to spend the night, and we talked till the sun rose. She thinks I’m full of s**t, but she think’s I’m cute. Or was it the other way around?

    - Jimmy.

    To the city;

    Where have all my riots gone? All the rage seems to have disappeared into the early-morning smog. In a big pond like this, what’s one more angry fish? When you don’t get any reaction, there’s really no point to it anymore. The neon city lights are starting to dim, and couches aren’t looking so good anymore. I’m sick of my duffel bag life and ramen every night. I’m in denial. No, wait, I am the denial, that’s better, that’s what Saint Jimmy would say. Lives in silhouette, there’s black everywhere I look. The kids here all wear black like it’s a uniform. I thought I had run away from uniforms? Even worse, I’m starting to look like one of them. The outfit’s change, but the uniforms mean the same thing. They’ve all got expectations about who I am and how I should be acting. It’s the antithesis of everything my parents wanted for me, but it’s still not about what I want. I’ve just got a new set of standards to live up to. Didn’t I come here to escape expectations? The bars might have changed but they still make a cage. They all call me Jimmy now, but even he’s disappearing under the weight of everyone telling me what I should be. I just don’t know what to do anymore, so Saint Jimmy’s taking care of me (taking over). He’s not just in the back of my mind anymore, most of the time he’s wearing my body like a suit. He says it’s better that way, but I’m not sure I agree.We don’t agree on anything anymore, Saint Jimmy and I. People keep telling me he’s a figment of my imagination, but he must be real, because without him I’ve got nothing. He keeps telling me that at least someone’s looking out for me, because I definitely can’t do it for myself. His voice is persuasive, soft and calm, rational above everything else. It’s easier most of the time to listen to him. I’ve still got Glory though. We spend most nights together now (her parents hate me). We slept last night on the roof of her house, backs pressed against the hard ridges of the corrugated iron. We stared up at a nearly empty sky (that close to town there are no stars) and the moon looked back. Glory thinks that it’s watching over us, keeping us safe from what’s out there in the dark. But Saint Jimmy told me the truth. It only shines so ‘what’s out there’ can find us easier. We have a kinship though, the moon and I. It’s as trapped as I am, bound to look to the sun for its light. Just like me, bound to Saint Jimmy to take care of me. I’m not sure I can take it much longer. I tried to explain it to Glory, but she laughed it off and rolled on top of me, blocking its stolen rays of light from my view. Even she thinks I’m losing it, and I’m losing her because of it.

    - (Saint) Jimmy

    Dear Mum;

    Life’s imitating tragedy. Freedom isn’t everything I thought it was. I’m trapped by my choices now more than ever. Dad always thought I wouldn’t amount to anything. Well I’ve gone him one better. I amount to nothing. I bet he’s proud of me now isn’t he? I finally managed to do something right (wrong). Can’t make it on my own, cant make it back home. So where do I belong? My dreams all turned grey and faded away. I met a girl, Glory. Did I tell you about her? It’s hard for me to untangle my thoughts these days. It doesn’t matter either way, she’s dead now. To me anyway. I hope they’re happy together (no I don’t). She could’ve told me before she moved on. But I should’ve known. China doll skin cant hide that she’s got less spine than jellyfish. This city doesn’t want me anymore; I’ve worn out my welcome (just like before). I knew this was going to end in tears. Never thought they’d be mine though. Saint Jimmy died as well; it’s been a big week for death. I murdered him, carved him out of my brain one thought at a time. You were right he was a bad influence. It turns out the good guys do wear uniforms, everyone does. Doesn’t matter what they look like, we’re all someone else’s idea of a cliché. Hippy, punk, trash (that’s me), we’re all living up to someone else’s expectations, what we want doesn’t matter. It’s time I stopped fighting against it. I booked a bus back with the money I stole from Glory before she died. You win, and I’ll live the life you want. Home is where the heart is, but my heart’s been stomped on with careless feet and thrown in the trash. No heart, no home, and no girl. So I’m not coming home, but I’m coming back. At least I wont be sleeping on couches anymore.