Crystalline & Ruminations on Scarcity
Updated: Apr 5, 2021
Author: Alex Alymov
I lie in my bed. It is dark, and it is quiet. For the most part, that is. A car speeds by, blaring music that I still hear despite the windows being closed. Moonlight and the soft orange glow of the streetlamps filters in from the street and cast themselves across me.
The glass digs through the roof of my upper jaw.
I run my tongue over it again.
The sharpness of the glossy surface is acute, and it gently pricks the flesh of my tongue. A subtle popping sound, and the faint taste of blood.
I close my eyes, but I do not sleep.
I don’t know how long I’ve had this piece written in my head, etched by shards of glass into the folds of my mouth, but in many ways, it’s not something I’ve been able to put into words for one reason or another. It's a different thing to - for once - have the time to sit down and just be. To have it up on the screen. I don’t need to speak it aloud. Because in many ways, I’ve never needed to.
It baffled me when others didn’t see the same shards that patterned across their own skins. They tore at them when they danced and twisted amongst each other, and the colours that shone underneath were dappled by long dried stains of cloudy red and bruises and cuts that had never healed over. For some, it was not their skins, but their teeth and knuckles that carried the glass, dented and deformed, hidden by mouths - pristine, and pockets or gloves of silk betrayed by the shape that revealed their contents. Now, my own skin was not unblemished, but what was most curious to me, was that while all my stitches and scrapes remained unhidden, they were still unobserved.
I took a couple lifeguarding and first aid courses earlier in my life, and one of the most important things you’re taught is to never remove impaled objects. Sharp and serrated edges especially are some of the most deadly things imaginable in the medical world when it comes to physical trauma, and as many first aid responders can tell you, the only thing more lethal than an entry wound is an exit wound to match.
So, while it hurt to see the people around me with their bodies torn and battered, I will not say that it was something I cared to explore. It was an oddity, sure, but nobody really seemed to notice, so it just slipped by: some secret that everyone knew but never spoke of, which I’d learn in time too. The glass pierces the surface with its jagged edges and sticks into my skin.
It is, of course, rude to talk of something so upsetting.
And it just makes sense. Since we all have blood beneath us, it’s then just right for us to bleed.
I remember the date when one of my friends came out to me as bisexual, and even though our friend groups may have slowly drifted away and we talked less and less, I still remember the look in his eyes. It was crystalline. I saw in them reflected something he held deep within him - beneath his pupils - that scattered itself into every part of what he saw and was. It was not the same shards I saw, but there was something there that has not left me since. I’ve had a couple more closeted friends come out to me, and despite the differences of what I saw, the look in their eyes: it was the same.
A few years down the line, I learned I was asexual. I’m not sure I really enjoyed that realization as much as I do now, and I’ve only consciously started using the label rather recently, as part of that comes down to a polarizing sense of otherness that comes with seeing something as others do not. Of feeling things that others do not.
The glass digs itself further down.
Since then, I’ve noticed that I’ve immersed myself in a lot of queer spaces. I don’t think it was an intentional choice on my part, and I honestly don’t think it was a subconscious one either. Sometimes those alike drift together by nothing but coincidence.
I’ve met plenty of interesting people since, and I’ve seen so much more of the world through the eyes of others as I saw that first time through the eyes of my friend. There’s a pull between queer folks I notice. Not an attraction in the conventional sense, but a kinship. Something that tells you that you don’t need to explain. That you’re seen and understood. It means we’re blood. What flows through me flows through them too, and while their shards may be somewhere else, they have them just the same. They understand me. And I understand them.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting someone else that sees the shards as I do. She was someone I’d played tabletop rpgs with before, and it was one of the best moments in my life to hear her say what I’ve felt before. I’d talked with others who’ve felt the same way, but it’s a different thing to have a person to connect that to. It’s exhilarating in a way that non-otherized folks can never fully understand. That feeling of pure belonging that you don’t notice you’ve missed until you’ve become the other.
To explain what that otherness is, is to tear out those shards. They scrape against you and shear your flesh. That is why you wait. You wait until you are somewhere you know will understand and care.
To put these pieces on display is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done, but to gather them up and repair and rebuild was one of the hardest.
I stand now, and I see.
I am not broken.
I am not shattered.
I am whole, and I am alive.
Ruminations on Scarcity
5:55 AM I think?
I am awake.
The water is cold, and I let out a breath. It is caught between my lips and the strands of water that envelop me, which curve inwards and dapple the inside of my mouth. I breathe in now, and the misty warmth of the air is gone, replaced with the splaying of a colder hand. Its fingers reach into my mouth, thin and shapeless. There’s a peace to the constant uneasiness that I feel, and in the back of my mind I know that it is more satisfying than the tender complacency of the heat. I turn the dial a little further right, and stand, breathing over top of the cold. Breathing in the smell of the soap. It’s one of those generic sports-themed body washes targeted at manly men. As far as scents, it’s not particularly enjoyable, but I’m reminded of the concept of smelling salts, and ask it to stay.
Water: off. The lights were already off. Out of the shower. Towel. Clothes. They have a roughly flat texture and still give off the faint odour of the detergent used in the wash yesterday.
Contemplate the blue light of dawn. I was too slow.
I should’ve woken up earlier.
Rifling through the fridge, there’s a moment of quiet and faceless panic as I worry there is nothing I can have or make for breakfast. But no. My eyes see lies. There is food. Of course there is. There always has been. Even in the worst of times.
And this is not the worst I’ve been through.
This is not the worst I’ve been.
I should savour the mediocrity.
Mediocrity calls for the already opened container of cottage cheese. When you take care to portion out things for yourself, eventually forethought becomes second nature. The container works out to roughly two portions, but even that feels like too much. It doesn’t matter though. Past me made that decision, and I feel lucky that I don’t have to.
I reach for a cabinet in which a neatly wrapped package of square-shaped cookies lies open. It’s made of the same glossy paper as other faux-rustic goods, and I let it brush against my fingers. There’s nothing special about it. I just like the touch. That’s one of my favourite parts of people. The physicality. The intimacy. People deserve to be flirted with. In its own way, the food provides, and I feel I owe it a convenience too.
Relating to an object. I should feel sad about it I suppose, but I do not.
I always loved the packaging on these types of cookies. They’ve been wrapped by a machine of course, but the neatly folded material makes it feel almost like a present. A touch of intricacy to the otherwise blandly colourful painting of a cow found on the too-regular, too smooth surface. I know I may take, but nothing can ever shake away the feeling that these gifts are not for me. I take two cookies and motion for a third, but I pull back and hesitate. Today is not the day for overindulgence.
On a good day I’d grab a pear, or orange, or some other fruit. But today is not a good day. It’s just one where it’s easier.
I sit outside and I recount the things I’ve done today. Shower, Tea, Got food. Ate. Not a lot by most standards, but it’s a lot to me.
It is cold outdoors on the back porch, but not cold enough to make me need a jacket. That’s a good thing, and I am glad, because jackets make things far too easy, and I’m not sure if easy is something I deserve. This porch is not something I deserve. I am living a lie.
The cottage cheese is about halfway finished as I grab for the first cookie, and I’m immediately thankful I did not take three. It’s sickly and dry and tastes like industry. I love it. Too much would spoil me, and I might become complacent.
I am good at creating scarcity.
And isn’t it through suffering through which great art is made?
I have had no revelations today, nor dreams of prophecy or flashes of terror. But I have written. I am left to wonder if that is worth something, or if I am foolish for hoping it is.
Perhaps I have suffered enough. I sure as hell have been told that enough times already. Though this isn’t the story of victimhood.
Much of my suffering is my own doing now, and this is what remains.
800 words in half an hour. Not great, but it’s something.
I can add “wrote” to the list of things I’ve done.