Proletariat

If you lean back far enough into the water, gravity claims you. I flex my ankles against the taps and lie there, floating, staring up at the hum of the light switch and the white of the ceiling. I can’t rinse away the cold.

It’s a while, several minutes, until I can feel my palms and feet. I’m suddenly overcome with exhaustion, too tired to sit upright and pull myself out. It’s eleven at night. I rose at four. My vision stings as I attempt to calculate how long I’ve been working. Stop. Rest. I add more hot water and give myself a few more seconds of nothingness.

No phone, no emails, no calls, no texts, no draft, no sound

Just the sanctuary of a locked door and almost silence. A rare, almost religious moment in a life racing to the next day. I’m alone. For now, I’ll pretend nothing further is required of me. All has blown away, like papers released by a wide window, and I am free with every word in my body and thought in my mind.

I wrap myself up with a dressing gown, lock my door and collapse onto my bed. My mind blurs with commands I cannot afford to ignore. I feel raw, hunted, persued. I’ll wake to a hundred more. I answer a few until my hands become too listless to type. Paracetamol, water, biotin, moisturiser, toothpaste, the detritus of an oncoming slumber.

I realise my tights for tomorrow are laddered and fix the unravelling web with clear polish. My mind flickers enviously to the Marylebone women who throw away anything that breaks or splits without a flicker of concern. I can’t walk with bare legs through the rest of winter

It could be worse.

I think of the sallow faced women in the rain by Finchley Road, pawing at the ground in stilettos that crunch discarded cigarettes into the tarmac. I still own the final dignity of my body even if I own nothing else. Their figures haunt me when I consider rest. How much further I could fall.

Men who seek quick company rarely do so with kindness

I shut my eyes, willing my muscles to stop shuddering. I will escape the poverty that haunts my body and hungers after each breath. I’ll get out. I won’t be cold, I won’t be hungry, I won’t be tired. I’ll work harder. I’ll push myself until I cannot stand. I’ll think of nothing else. I’ll do whatever it takes to be free.

I feel my body twist at the cold.

I’ll do what it takes to be free.

I’ll do what it takes to be free.

24 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually. madelaine@madelainehanson.co.uk

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