I am infested with selves, selves which bicker and squabble and complain late into the night.
I am infested with identities, half-forgotten identities that cling to me like so many voracious, major-league head-lice, biting and feeding on me as they will, annoying and tormenting me day and night, resting only briefly when they have eaten their fill.
I am infested with abandoned personae, personae which pose and posture before an imaginary audience.
I am infested with the shells of who I never was.
I am infested with the ghosts of my earlier selves, tenants of a building long-since demolished, denizens of a city buried by the sands of time.
They queue for buses that will never arrive, wait outside boarded up shops that will never again open, stare out blankly over vistas that no one else can ever see.
They wait for a restitution they will never receive.
These selves are dried-out, dusty old husks with no will of their own, husks which are blown around pointlessly by the wind, like tumble-weed in those classic 1950’s Hollywood films of the Wild West.
They draw up close, whispering inanely as they do so, and then draw away again.
They approach, gesturing impotently, and then sink slowly back down to the murky depths from which they emerged, satiated for a while, content for a while to pass back into obscurity.
Sometimes I can see them down there as they rest.
They are lined up in ragged rows, like the empty shells of long-dead crabs lying side-by-side on the sea-bed far below. Every now and again the restless currents of the deep catch hold of their hollow, frail, ghostly-white pincers and lift them up from their sides, moving them slowly from side to side in solemn grotesque unison, in a sad mockery of life.
These selves that infest me are husks of who I used to think I was.
They are the ghosts of a thousand thoughts and feelings that I never properly expressed. They are made up of the worries I was never able to let go of, the fears I never had the courage to confront, the obsessions I never had the strength to put behind me.
They are the dead things from a thousand forgotten yesterdays, dead things that still walk and talk and clamour – however briefly – for attention.
They are dead things I never had the decency to lay to rest.
They are formed from fears I covered up, desires I never managed to satisfy, addictions I could not manage to satiate, yearnings I never even knew I had.
They are the sorrows that never saw the light of day.
So now, as if in revenge for my cowardice, they daily infest me.
They haunt me without mercy.
They eat me alive, though they themselves are long-since dead.