words Leon Taylor
I’m so sorry pumpkin boy, maybe I’m the one that’s rotting after all.
I look in the mirror and hollow eyes stare back at me. Worms replace tears, crawling out of the newly empty sockets; whispering secrets in foreign tongue. I reach up and place a tender hand onto my skin. Flesh tears as contact is made, but there is no blood. Only rot.
Have I turned into those I hated? I wanted to be better. To be clean.
A tender touch turns into agony, pumpkin pulp under my nails. Chunks of flesh fall to the flood, exposing the mould and bruises that lay beneath. It is ugly. I am ugly.
I have seen this rot before. We are not unacquainted. The sour smell of rotting vegetables assaults my nostrils but I welcome it with open arms. Slowly, I
lean forward as the vomit in my stomach begins to surface simultaneously with the memories I had long forgotten.
But only flies escape my mouth, their buzz a familiar hum I am all but too used to. Their wings flap back and forward, a rhythm only insects could follow. They are hungry and wish to feast on me.
My hand extends neatly decorated by the pulp which was once my cheeks. As I watch the fly approach my hand as if it were a dog gifted with a new bone, the empty feeling in my stomach grows larger, consuming me at a minute’s notice. My mind races with thoughts, yet it is still empty.
I stand in my own bathroom but I am lost. Not only have I lost myself, but I have
I am powerless yet I am my own destruction.
Deep down I know it is too late for me, for I will never truly be able to change. I could paint my face back orange, use pretty perfumes to hide the sour odour.
But you would know. I have always been rotting to you.
The emptiness mixes with doubt, questions blooming like flowers in the garden bed
of my mind. Have you been feeding me a beautiful lie? Had you known from the start that I was this way? I warned you, but you decided to stay.
Staying is easy but loving is difficult.
I will never know if you did love me, or if it was a façade of compost to make the rot come quicker.
My legs grow weak for I am sick. I want
to scream, to ask you for forgiveness, for help, to explain, anything. But as my mouth opens, I am met only with silence before more flies escape the prison that was once my mind.
I am a child, yet I am a monster. I yearn for the familiarity that plagued my past. Passion that is nothing but toxicity with a bow wrapped around it.
The truth is pumpkin boy, I don’t know
how to be healthy. I don’t know how to stop the rot.
There are many of us, but I am one of few. Millions of us have pumpkins for heads, a lot have started to decay. But my decay is powerful, a burden grown over years. It has grown like a disease, fed by others rotting vegetables I had gotten too close to.
You see, the rot does not start on its own. It spreads like a parasite, fed by those too reckless to care. I have tried for so long not to fester yet here I stand, soft orange tones overwhelmed by brown and black ooze.
As you lay in your slumber, I stand awake and alone, knowing my words have lost
all of their meaning. I stand in fear, for
I am not brave enough to compromise your rest. Is it that, or am I scared that you will see the disfigurement that has now consumed me?
How many spare parts will I have to find before you will believe that it has gone away? I could get a new nose or eyes. Flashy and bold, uncontaminated by the rot eating at my brain. But it is pointless,
I have tried so hard to hide it already, a battle inevitably lost. If only surgeries and transplants could give me my dignity back.
With unwashed hands and a mutilated face, I exit the bathroom. The worms and flies find a way back into my brain, digging their way through the hardened outer skin. As I walk between rooms they dig further, desperation in their movements as my skin begins to give way. These insects hide from what I must face.
I wish I could tell you I’m sorry, but I know it is too late. Your rot is so little, untouched and un- spread, who am I to nourish it?
My heart thumps tormented by powerlessness. Its shackles grow tighter as I gaze upon you. Could I be so stupid to take your arm and place it upon myself? We could play house, pretending everything is okay. I could sleep, not consumed by the guilt of the words I did not have the courage to say.
If I was to lay next to you in silence, pretending there is a brand-new pumpkin upon my face, would the worms crawl out and eat you too?
It appears so, for I have hurt you more than they ever will.