Written by Neive Jones
I lost count of my birthday’s years ago when I started taking others away. I have stolen so many moments and things that weren’t mine over time, but there were opportunities for people to walk side by side with me. Each human I have conversed with all believed they had a time. A purpose. It’s difficult for me to have empathy for others. I believe this is why I’m constantly running off with different humans to help feel pain in happiness.
I view humans as dandelions. They always seem comfortably composed when they are grounded. Yet, when I pick them up, they are just floating in their own minds, no worries. These humans have lost all their colour and growth; turning into me, a monochrome emotionless omnipresent being. I’ve met so many dandelions, yet Neive had a unique sense of style to our interactions, like no one else before her.
We met about 15 years ago. She’s a girl with at least 9 lives. Each time we meet, she always finds a way to take back what I stole.
Expired 2005: The Colours of Heartbreak
Our first encounter was through Lenny Piro, a beautiful Italian man from a small town near Naples. A hard-worker and hard-lover to Olga, Lenny’s heart was filled with gold. He gave so much of it to Neive before he left his legacy behind.
I was woken from my sleep from a frantically calm mother on the phone. It was her mum. Her face was sheet white, much like Lenny’s when we came back to meet him. He was declared dead for an hour before he spoke to Neive. He was clutching my hand as he slowly lifted himself up to talk to her, whispering, ‘Go grab an ice cream out of the freezer,’ before physically leaving her forever. A piece of her heart and mind died with Lenny when he passed.
“I view humans as dandelions…”
The dude was quite funny. I mean, he tried to take her with him. He already knew he couldn’t, but… he was beyond fond of her. Which is why I encouraged him to give her a goodbye. Classic ending. I probably shouldn’t have interfered, but I thought that instead of taking her, she could get that closure.
She did not. I think it made it worse. She pushed back. Constantly cried for him. It was horrendous. The piercing sounds of a 5-year-old shredding through tissue boxes. Imagine being 5 years old and wanting to join the only one who’s not physically with her on earth. I watched Lenny watch over her, like some sort of guardian angel, for every mistake she made. There were so many already!
The second time Neive lost a piece of her heart, it wasn’t her fault. I didn’t get to properly meet her, but I met her essence. Her soul was just whisked away from a relationship she’d lost all control over. I didn’t even get credit for this one. She was always trying to take back what I stole, even if I didn’t steal this one. In all my years, I have never heard of anyone giving them their leftover soul, but Lenny did. As she began losing her essence, still being in her physical body, he did all the paperwork to let her borrow his, just for her to continue and be herself as he knew her. He couldn’t bear to see her crying in her room every time he came over. She wasn’t strong enough to walk away.
Souls regrow over time. It took him a few years to get back before her’s regrew. Souls regrow only if a human lets it. Depression may not be curable, but it forces a fixed or growth mindset to be the basis for regrowth. Not everyone knows that secret though, which is why people get stuck. But that’s okay. The only cure is to become part of society. Although if their essence has died inside their physical body there’s no return. The feeling that they are accommodating my happiness makes them… perhaps in more pain than I’d have liked.
Not everyone has a “guardian angel” who is kind enough to lend their soul. Not everyone has a Lenny who is willing to fight through documents to help a human recover. In this part of her story, she’s already had two extra lives than I would’ve hoped. She’s skipped her own death from her saviour. Although… I think all the women that stay with me would’ve been the first to save her from this, because everyone has been through it. The process of giving your soul to a living human once they’ve met me is truly difficult, the documents are as long as you have lived. Some women would’ve been 15, the same as Neive, and they would’ve fought for her. It’s been done before, I’ve seen it so many times. It’s a bit ridiculous. I might’ve gotten over the emotions that I sometimes feel but I will never get over the amount of men who have a lack of respect for women.
“Souls regrow over time…”
Although she was still functioning in her physical body with her essence back, she still felt inconsistent in her movements. She tried everything to find the root of the issue. She tried counselling, therapy, going for walks, reading, music, running… nothing was sticking. She was a broken record; scratched and broken. Feeling stuck and lost. I was a bit sick of the complaining and whinging. Like, c’mon, darl, we get it, your grandpa died when you were 5 and then a boy was a total dick to you… welcome to your life!
The poetry started when the therapy stopped. Neive became entranced with being trapped inside her own mind. Just writing what she knew. She knew she needed help sorting her thoughts. She knew she couldn’t go on if she were to progress her career. She knew she would have to jump out of her comfort zone.
The moment she became awakened with my presence, I was summoned in a small room, through the lady with the white eyes. Neive knew, at that moment, this was where she needed to be. The lady’s shrieks surrounded with crystals and lavender oils almost brought out my asthma. Her eyes lit up the dull room chanting:
Negative negative energies with Neive
Come forth or so hear my roar
With a flick and a kick
Or so hear my roar
Leave her mind, let her be
We are not naïve.
Negative negative energies with Neive
Let her grieve and leave her be.
The Lady’s chanting was drowned out as I was floating in the air. I was being pulled in and out of the aura. Neive saw a glimpse of me. That same figure she saw holding Lenny’s hand all those years ago. That same figure that’s appeared in her memories of Lenny at the footy ground. Before she could ask who I was, the chants blared into sounds of That’s Amore.
Lenny Lenny come out wherever you are
Push everyone out the way
Come sit with us,
I can hear you cough with clouds of smoke
Alas that’s amore, amore, amore… that’s amore.
Lenny Lenny come out wherever you are
Be here with us
Come sit with us
Alas that’s amore.
Lenny elbowed his way through the mosh of Neive’s negative aura that surrounded her. He heard his great granddaughter’s tears streaming over his name. Her body practically rose off the table as the lady and Lenny held her with love. I stood just rolling my eyes. It would be so easy to steal her. She’s vulnerable. I was locked out with a barrier. The lady’s chants weren’t just rhymes, it felt like a spell. I couldn’t get in. The wavelengths of our movements had changed as if the healer had shoved her into a portal into the other dimension. So, I just fucked off.
I promised myself in that lair that I would take her one day, when she’s not ready and the clouds are grey. The healer and the angel saved her this time, but I’m not sure if they’ll be there the next.
Expired 2018: Paris in the Rain
The second time I met her in the flesh, I bumped into her in Paris, where the walls ran fast. I felt squashed against the cold bricks. With a RRRGHH, the train came to a halt and I heard the words ‘Vous etes arrivees a Central Paris!’ Some unclean man tensed his body against her, as he ran his hands down her back. But she was so speedy; the benefits of being as tall as a dining room table. Crawling under the maze of humans, sneaking up the stairs, I blended into the white marbled staircase. It’s hard watching her get lost in a moment, recollecting the past when she was a borrowed soul. I see her skin tense as this happens. I guess it’s just something all women go through – I’m a bit sick of it. The journey to reach above ground felt like a video game. She was on fast play as she ducked right, left, left, right, up, back, stop. Every second was determining her future. She glided to the open air.
We emerged glorious, standing with the silver clouds that surrounded the city. The buildings winked at us with their golden complexions that shone through the clouds. I felt so scandalous.
Ratatouille and Monte Carlo were so wrong about this place. There are no swarms of rats and it is not consistently radiating love, though it feels powerful. Powerful enough to change a life. Like it did hers.
Everything happened only within minutes of being in Paris.
Sometimes when you dream and create an imaginary reality in your mind, you forget life isn’t a film. Her mum warned her about the men, and she’d lived with an exchange student for 6 weeks in Australia, but this was different. Mum had told her a tale of the Nigerian men looking for a wife and how she convinced them that she was a lesbian with her best friend. But nothing could’ve compared to this.
The first time she noticed was right in between le Louvre et Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. She looked like a tourist. That was the issue. It wasn’t her fault though.
It was the same unclean man as before on the train. He introduced himself. His name was Mohammed. He’d caught up to her. Normally, I’m pretty good at picking up danger. Not this time though. It felt like a comfortable environment. Shivers trickled down her neck. Neive introduced herself as an exchange student from Australia. Speedy thinking, like the pace on her. She stated, ‘I’m actually leaving tonight, I’m just on my way to say goodbye to all my favourite places.’ Mohammed started walking with her. She winced and waved her hand. ‘No.’ Heart pounding and body full of adrenaline. He believed that he was her guardian. He clutched her bags and grabbed her incoming call from Australia. I almost couldn’t save her from this touch of death. She “Kath and Kel” power-walked away from Mohammed. She was safe… for this day.
The next day, snow hit her nose with a soft good morning kiss. The clouds were no longer silver but black and the buildings were glistening with the shade of death. She stood waiting for her friend, Angela, at La Tour Eiffel. But Angela never showed. She’d ended up going to the museum, forgetting to tell Neive. The snow slushed away her dreams of the picturesque city view, so she slushed her way to the next iconic destination.
Ali stopped her.
He wasn’t like the tales told by mum. He smiled and just wanted to chat. He seemed lonely. Neive was feeling lonely. I was feeling lonely and a bit pissed. She could’ve come with me yesterday, but she outsmarted Mohammed.
I began to panic. If she can’t escape this, she’ll have to come with me. I don’t think I’m ready for that. She’ll bug me with questions.
I walked a few steps behind in case I needed to intervene. She stated her name was Mia from London just visiting her friend; she went through a whole backstory emphasising she was late to her meeting. He tugged at her arm and turned her around, pulling her close to his face. His eyes were red. No incoming calls could save her today.
She spoke with a calm voice, she didn’t wanna alarm him. His grip was tight. She could see something sticking out of his pocket. So, she stood as still as a flamingo. There were no tourists around to help her. It was just the two of them. She took two breaths in and out and politely thanked him for saying hi and that she’d come back, but she needed to go to the loo before they hung out. He started following her, his red eyes glowing. I don’t normally do this, but I intervened. I might’ve just tripped him enough so she could power walk out of there.
She was so strong. To say I had found empathy after meeting Neive would be untrue. She just had a way with people, consistently finding a magical way to escape me. But she was not escaping the pain these men had caused her. It was nothing in comparison to losing her soul.
When she broke down, I knew I’d done my job. I could take her pain for my happiness. I whispered softly into the snow that she was strong, before I whisked away.
She left Paris days later, feeling disillusioned. The picture perfect Paris was anything but and now is painted in her mind with a cynical charcoal. She wanted cinnamon skies and delectable dining, yet she got foul men with ugly hearts and faces.
Her heart dropped with an ‘Oh,’ and she let out her emotions in an ode to Paris…
An ode to Paris by Neive:
I see your desire and I long to return
With a glass of champagne on a golden terrace
In the hopes of getting a fresh, crisp sunburn
Feeling as though nothing can scare us
How I wish to see your face again,
Everything last time was honestly a menace.
Although I wish to not be taunted like the purge
I see the way you look at me
A second chance to feel your shimmering love
Be poured down onto me
In a moment I will be hypnotised
With the way that they say grace about your beauty and complexion
To forever be in lust with the city of love
To never feel broken or bruised, beat up or wound
To be locked in a spell screaming ‘Je t’aime Paris beaucoup, s’il te plait, J’ecire mes amies pour venir me trouver.’
An ode to Paris, for what I long for it to be encapsulated in my memories.
Expired 2019: Chasing Cars
I got her! It wasn’t her fault.
They do say that bad things come in threes.
She’s screaming simultaneously. ARGH, it’s so loud. Her internal thoughts are heard all round. I can see the words she is spewing. I feel terrible for her, I didn’t want to meet her this way. Everything happened within seconds before it was over. You could feel every emotion in her heart and see it in her eyes. She woke me up so early.
The obnoxious child acts all prestigious and superior. Classic gen z; doesn’t give a fuck about anyone else. It didn’t help that the uniform he’s wearing paints R I C H in the sky after every step. We get it bro; you go to Prince Alfred College.
He left her there, in the car, in the middle of the road, in peak hour traffic. The words her dad said replayed to me as she saw a glimpse of me, ‘If you’re ever going to ruin the car, you better write it off otherwise it’s not worth it.’ Not only was this our third proper encounter, it was her third car accident; one for every year she’s had her license. It’s just unfortunate.
What was fortunate was the fact that she got to meet me and see my face. Or what’s left of it. She heard my voice and felt my presence, but this was the first time we met face-to-face.
The white ute flashed into my living room and she looked so lost. I quickly grabbed my dressing gown and told her to take a seat on the couch. Neive paced in circles. She finally saw the light. My lord, was she annoying. She kept yelling, ‘I need to get to school, I have placement!’
Everyone always does this, they’re usually in the middle of something important. Occasionally, I just like to take them during this time because it’s a bit funny… they’re always extra devastated. No more important human work. No more life. Ha ha, I like ruining things. Except this.
She worked really hard to not get here. I have heard her voice screeching in the car about what it felt like or crying herself to sleep wishing she could die. I don’t think she ever pictured this, and I just didn’t want her there. It’s as though she always needs someone to save her and, this time, she just had no one. I couldn’t save her.
We had a chat. In the seconds it took for the boy in the PAC uniform to get off his high horse and come help push her car. Her hands and body were shaking, I promised her I didn’t want her to come with me yet, I wanted to spare her and explained that I’d already done it once and if I did it twice, I’d lose my job. I told her this was a choice she needed to make.
Are you ready to go?
Have you finished your time on earth?
Are you satisfied?
Have you lived your life to all your potential?
Are you in love?
Have you got people in your life that still love and care for you?
Will they miss you if you leave?
If human’s stump on the last question I send them back straight away, because secretly they know that there is someone who will miss them – there always will be.
Neive was stumped. On every question. She claimed she’d been in love, but even I knew the love wasn’t reciprocated.
Neive woke up in her car screaming, ‘ARGHHHHH.’ Everything happened within seconds and it was over. You could feel every emotion in her heart and see it in her eyes.
That evening, I convinced her to message that boy from work. And, by convince, I mean followed her around all day to make sure she was okay, and to tell her to talk to him. I don’t know his name, but Neive’s interested. I can see it in her eyes and feel it in her heart.
Writing is her process of trying to make sense of the world and control her emotions. She posed a bunch of questions in relation to ‘How to be Human?’
What does it mean to be human?
I don’t want to live in a world that could break because it’s stuck together with sticky tape when it really needs super glue. I’m tearing my soul from the inside out trying to piece together the purpose we have. Do we live in cycles? Does fashion become a cycle too? Are we all pretending to not lose it and just smile and say, ‘I know what I’m doing?’ Do we really become human when we find real love or is all love just lust, like Paris?
What comes after?
I’ve seen glimpses, but is that the human eye? Do we have a different eye? Or at least a new perspective of being? What does “after” even mean and for how long are we there? Does the figure take everyone, or do we get assigned a figure to be our guardian angel? It keeps happening to others around me, something inside me keeps screaming, ‘you should be here with us.’ I feel monochrome in emotions. I feel damaged.
What is truth if I’ve experienced two out of body experiences?
Is it when we experience natural elements deemed illegal or is it when we stop drinking the government infested waters? Do we find the truth with a loss of love and life when a part of you feels missing?
Although she feels more anxious and confused now after writing, I was proud of her for stumping. She has so much more potential and she’s going to make something of herself. That day was a turning point for her. It brought her a new life, much like all her other near-death experiences had.
“There’s something beautiful about the way that humans believe in things…”
She has slipped my grasp too many times. The first time Lenny saved her and the second I saved her, but this last time she saved herself. She knows that there’s too much ambiguity to not go searching and grab what she’s always wanted – someone who loves her as much as Lenny did. I think this boy does.
I lost count of how many people I’ve taken years ago; it was as if meeting Neive just changed my whole demeanour and understanding of the way I perceive my own life. I didn’t spare her life because I saw the potential in her eyes. I spared her life because I know we will continue to meet, and I want to see her fight for it. There’s something beautiful about the way that humans believe in things, like having faith that what’s happening is for a greater purpose. It’s cute. It’s unrealistic, but I understand the premise of it. They just don’t know about their guardian angels and souls until they meet me, where they come to find peace. People want to fight to hold on, even if they have convinced themselves otherwise. It’s like how when you blow out a dandelion and you always get one strand that stays.
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