Of Heart And Mind by Kristy Armitage

Anger. Burning, red hot anger. An evil substance which flowed as freely through the veins of the boy as the music through his head. He referred to one as ‘The Poison’ and one as ‘The Antidote’, but they were interchangeable. Neither were safe, but neither were dangerous. The boy possessed an overwhelming enjoyment for one, and a consuming hatred for the other, but they were interchangeable. When anger was love, music was hate. When music was love, anger was hate, and the boy basked in the knowledge that either could harm and either could heal.

 

The boy felt The Poison. He felt The Poison when his fingers brushed the cold stones which lay over their cold remains. He felt The Poison when his bare feet left history in the surface where the same ground had left history on their bare skin. He felt The Poison during his rare glances through the window of their abandoned room, and he wondered why there were no bright lights in his darkness like there were in the night sky. The heat of The Poison always started and ended in his heart. The boy despised this, because “the heart is precious”. He remembered her words when the pain starts, and he doubted her words when it returns, because precious things are special, and special things should be protected. He warped his body into a ball, but he knew it was useless, because his heart ached. And if his heart ached, it is not protected. And if it is not protected, then it is not precious. And if it is not precious, it is not special. He let his heart hurt, because it was not worth healing.

 

It was in these moments where he reached for The Antidote, revelling in the way the strings vibrated and hummed reassuringly, and how the melody flew out from his fingers and back in through his ears, a therapy like no other. But then the boy stopped, because that is a cycle. Cycles are circles, and circles have no end. The Poison and The Antidote are a cycle, and while one exists, so must the other. The Poison cannot exist without The Antidote, the boy believed, because the world would not be so cruel. The Antidote doesn’t exist without The Poison, because without any harm, there is nothing to heal. And so the boy put down The Antidote and walked away, so that The Poison will be a straight line. The boy hoped that the line isn’t as infinite as his sorrowful imagination, but he didn’t know whether hope was a Poison or an Antidote.

The boy felt The Poison. He felt The Poison when his fingers found the notes that perfectly replicated the music in his head. He felt The Poison when the chords created an atmosphere tense with misery and despair, loneliness and guilt. He felt The Poison when the tune matched the one in his memory, and made him worry about tainting his final memory of them with the sadness which filled their absence. When he felt this, he put down the weapon. He remembered why he chose to keep it, and it angered him. The cause and the effect, the irony that the only thing left unbroken was the very thing that shattered the peaceful world around it. He looked at the broken hairs on his bow and he compared them to his heart. Slowly breaking, slowly being worn down. With this, he turned and ran away from The Poison.

It was in these moments where he reached for The Antidote, and he felt whole with the heat that ran like a river through his body. The hatred made him feel as if he was flying, and freedom was something he could rarely enjoy. Self-loathing pleasured him like nothing else could, and it made him feel alive. Whenever he went flying, he wished he could leave his mind behind, because it was a reminder that he as soon as he landed, the darkness would consume him once again. But he didn’t really mind, because at that moment, he rejoiced in his repulsion he felt towards himself. If he hadn’t placed his bow on The Poison, if he hadn’t created a distraction, if he hadn’t being in the vehicle, he wouldn’t be alone. In these moments, he thrived on knowing that there was no one else to blame. He thrived on knowing the deceitfulness of The Poison, and the pure form in which it can take. He thrived on knowing that nothing can be trusted, especially not The Poison and especially not himself. He smiled a rare smile, and let the darkness take over. After all, it was what he deserved.

Once a month, he would recreate that day. Once a month he would leave his lonely house and trek down the lonely road, and his eyes would never leave the ground. The blackness of the bitumen matched the blackness of his room, the blackness of his mind and the blackness of his heart. He would spend every other day of that month alone in his darkness with the things he knew as The Poison and The Antidote. However, the boy knew. He knew why his darkness stretched out longer than his imagination would prove possible. He knew why his cycle of harming with Poison and healing with Antidote was as endless and unforgiving as the accident which left him stranded, and those he loved buried. Music and Anger were not The Poison. Music and Anger were not the Antidote. The boy knew. The Poison was his mind, the Antidote his heart. But his heart was broken for he had let The Poison overrule. And the more he despaired in the truth that he destroyed his own cure, the darker it grew. The darker it grew, the smaller the circle became. It was no longer a cycle of hurting and healing, of flying and landing, of music and anger. It was a cycle of thoughts and of feelings, of guilt and of loneliness, of heart and mind.