Feed me Ritalin as if they were smarties, and then tuck me into bed as my hands shake from a lack of alcohol. Kiss me on the forehead and say it will blow over, then read me a story from the local newspaper about a priest who’s been stabbed in the throat and urinated on while making his way down an alley I used to walk through on my way back home from school. Sometimes, it feels as if this is all too much. Sometimes, I wish by miraculous intervention that it will get better, that this sadness will lift and my heart will sway like it used to. But these days, they are long, and they never seem to end. There was a time when the hours used to flow like wine, but now it’s a river of mud, and no matter how much I kick and struggle against it, I’m getting nowhere. Fucking nowhere, I tell you. No matter how much I write, these moods never seem to shift. They choke me until all I can do is sit in silence for days on end not doing anything other than huffing and puffing at nothing in particular. Unwashed. Unkempt. There’s dirt beneath my fingernails, but it requires too much effort to clean them, so instead I mooch around trying to read the Bible, only it morphs into a paperback copy of The Exorcist. I always thought that Bethany would one day grow up to look like a young Linda Blair, with me resembling Father Karras. I guess I have, to an extent, as I seem to have lost my faith somehow. Maybe I need a witch doctor? Maybe I need to sleep with a crucifix under my pillow just in case a demon is on the prowl looking for a damaged soul to claim for his own? Cigarettes. Possession. The waters of the womb that trickle over my face during sleep that cause me to choke and cry out your name. Is there a place where this shell belongs? Is there a moment not yet lived that will bring me in from exile? When I close my eyes, I see a lawn someplace in America. There are leaves, many leaves, and each one of them symbolises that which is slipping from my grasp.