Where the Dead Man Lost Himself / Tristan Foster

Where did you lose yourself, Dead Man, I mean, if you take a moment to think it through, like, was it a time or maybe a place, or a period or something else entirely, because I remember a situation which I don’t especially want to go into but it involved a girl, we were kids, or not quite kids but, thinking about myself back then, childish or immature or simply inexperienced, but anyway, it was exactly one of those situations everyone goes through at least once, one of those times that burns you, marks your heart, your soul, returns to you again and again in your dawn nightmares, alcohol was involved, fatigue, it was late, we’d been out with friends and I can’t even remember what the whole thing was about now, something was said or something happened in the car, a wrong turn or someone hit the brakes too hard, not that exactly, but you know what I mean, I don’t remember what but you know how silly these things can be when you’re young and you push off down that path, as if you’ve locked onto a pair of rails and you’re gliding along and there’s no stopping it, heart rate high and pulsing inside your eyes, and the thing is neither of us were even driving, it was a friend’s car or a taxi, and the argument started somewhere during the drive then continued when we were on the street and we fought there for a while, not even overly aggressive, probably not even overly articulate or belabouring a certain point, I guess you could say now, looking back, it was destiny, it was meant to be, it had to happen, if not then then eventually, sometime soon, ideally, because we have to sever those ties from youth or, more precisely, those ties of youthful inference, I think it has to happen one day, you need it to happen, otherwise you are forever chasing shadows, fantasies, and you meet these people in life, those still stuck in that world, you meet them and wonder how they manage, how they pay their bills or keep their relationships, a constant, steady friction between reality and their dreamworld, but you know, Dead Man, and I know you know, or maybe you don’t but you should, that severing this tie is not always a good thing, it’s not all positives, no, it is the link to innocence, to hope, to curiosity or wonder, the two as different as concrete and clouds, and for me, on that night, we argued on the street and somebody even shushed us because it was so late, dogs barked to match our shouting, and it, the argument, then followed us to the yard, and it was there that the whole thing ended, collapsed in on itself like that, she storming off and me watching and shouting down the street after her, incensed without a real reason, then stomping into the house and shutting the door and feeling, I mean really feeling, deeply experiencing and knowing in that moment that something within me had changed, had been rearranged or maybe simply removed, it was, right then and there, a feeling of resignation and having been hollowed out, yes, emptied of those childish ideas and perceptions and then spending the coming years, decades, maybe even through to today and beyond, putting new notions into their place, and that’s the scary part, the gap remains, yet it is slowly, endlessly filled with things I have no power over, no control, so that, sometimes, I catch myself forgetting the me of today and remembering the me of old and being shocked I am thinking certain things or saying certain things, holding certain attitudes, even, because I don’t, Dead Man, I don’t, that’s not me, I mean, you know me, Dead Man, it’s not, it’s really not, is it?

Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. He is the author of two books, the short story collection Letter to the Author of the Letter to the Father and 926 Years with Kyle Coma-Thompson. Midnight Grotesques, with Michelle Lynn Dyrness, is forthcoming from Sublunary Editions.


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