I call them ‘the friends’. Other people may call them something different. Other people again maybe don’t call them anything at all. To me they are ‘the friends’ however. For me this simple appellation suffices perfectly well. The friends communicate to me with slow semaphore-like motions of their arms – they have no mouths to speak from. Their faces are always hidden in shadow. Sometimes however they contrive to mewl like kittens, a peculiar noise that seems to emanate from deep inside them. It’s a sound of suffering and acute distemper. The friends gather together in the streets late at night in packs, walking up and down aimlessly, milling around as if they’re waiting for something. Sometimes I think it’s me that they’re waiting for – sometimes I get the impression that there waiting for me to join them. They are waiting for me to come out and play.
Everything that could go wrong in my life did go wrong. That’s how I would explain it – absolutely everything that could go wrong did go wrong. My very molecules are jinxed. The very atoms making up my body are bad luck. Unlucky atoms drifting around the universe, finally coming together to create a person, and that person is me. What are the chances? I know people will say that they can’t be any such thing as ‘an unlucky atom’, but they only say this because they are made up of the right sort of atoms, not the wrong sort like me. They cannot even begin to conceive of the type of thing that I’m talking about here – they have got no imagination for this sort of thing at all. I don’t actually think they have any sort of imagination worthy of the name. They are shallow and smug.
The world is evidently divided between those who – through intimate personal experience – know of what I like to call ‘the photographic inverse of life’, and those who don’t. Those who don’t are very prone to posting generic inspirational quotations on the various social media platforms. They happily repeat empty self-affirmations in front of the mirror to remind themselves of how worthwhile and meaningful their lives are. They like to make statements that are ‘positive’ and ‘uplifting’. Those of us who do know about the photographic inverse of life take a somewhat dimmer view of things, as I’m sure you can appreciate.
As I sit here, trying to gather my scattered thoughts as best I can, I can hear muffled mewling sounds drifting up from the dark streets below. I know that these tortured mewling sounds are the friends’ attempts to communicate with me. It’s an eerie and disturbing sound, and I do my best to pretend that I can’t hear it. I know that the friends are out there however, as much as I would like to pretend that they’re not. They are possessed of remarkable patience, these friends – for as long as I am able to keep on ignoring them, they are equally capable of waiting for me to acknowledge their presence, as one day I must do. It’s as if time itself doesn’t exist for them. For the friends, the future is a stone cold fact and so they can afford to wait. They are no hurry to get there. In the future the friends have already won – they have already got what they wanted and that doesn’t bode well for me. It doesn’t bode well for me at all…