Not Sadness by Rachel Holmes


Rebecca lived in some sort of communal residence. She found herself among many faces and bodies. People that had come to die of sickness, disease, heartbreak. She did not know if they were real or of the past reincarnated as Melissa, Sarah, Julie, Edward. The eyes with which she conversed over soupy rice and chicken in the canteen.

They exchanged pleasantries, small talk, comments on the state of the building grounds, what the janitor was doing. Sometimes they exchanged stories. Mostly she listened. Enough to generate the light she needed to illuminate her own.

"When I was younger..." they began.

"And that's how I ended up here..."

Sometimes they were so carried away their tellings grew wings and fluttered from the earth.

And then I found them. Writhing together like snakes. I threw my bag at the mirror, and everything shattered around us. That's how I ended up here.

Rebecca withdrew into the shadows.


Not even punctuation delineating the thought. Not even the time taken to pronounce.

To hide between jobs, train stops, wavering brain waves and whirls of ink cascading to criminal writings in public cafes. Nothing but the bottom of the bottom conspiring to the end-beginning. Swallowing consciousness before even glimpses of the idol descending into reality with burning nostalgia. The torturous memory bathed in sunlight and children's laughter before our faces collided.

Shrieking and screaming cloning itself until the sound forged a ceiling for this once unexpressed universe pulsing in the stillness of what had been; so vast it drizzels through worlds.

From somewhere deep in that absolute darkness a secret planted by some tragic logic of revelation began to throb. The great mystery contorted itself into a mouth and spoke. The sound ricocheted against its own limits so frantically it finally convulsed into form. The form bubbled, gurgled, and emitted outbursts of molten lava; it was the holy word materialized.

But from high up, where Rebecca watched, belonged to no language, to whom did it speak in its complete sovereignty?

The noise whence we deduced all our articulations and conversation thereafter.

The exclamation that did not refer to anything but its own exclamation, the free floating word, meant nothing and everything. It meant I and totality floating in the dark. Verbose, the terrible shriek which rifts a black hole.

Faces appeared and spoke so much that language sanitized their shameless faces, fragmented into soundbites that haunt after the first word, which permeates the atmosphere. That terrible, first shriek, so sudden that it wrenched Rebecca from sleep. She woke in the dark where voices spoke, "She doesn't believe in anything." "She's no good." "She told me she believes in beauty." "It's just an excuse." "It doesn't mean anything."


Half dreams float to Rebecca. She doesn't know the precise weight of her dreams, but whatever it is it's heavy.

Is the whole weight of wakeful existence squeezed between temples that only watch.

Three Faces simmer in an abyss, they shine and smile and replace the happiness that flees every morning, carry her into their absence, where no light cast from sparkling eyes submerges her giddy form. Covers her in longing and admiration, conceals and shines her until she disappears into a puff of laughter because she cannot contain the universe proffered in such eyes, ravaging her body in hiccups and hilarious whoops. Expansive, transformative, hilarious ceaseless as words dribbling onto paper as if they could be serious, as if they ever even considered it.

First among the three is chiseled and swarthy. Second is pale and luminous. She always imagined him with glowing skin and pink-yellow hair. The last face she barely perceives as she knows his beauty cannot be represented in such depraved dreams.


Around Rebecca and the first, the air twitched and candles flickered, Rebecca even forgot her name. She didn't need it anymore: anyone who addressed her was simply passing through a mirage to them. Such was the beginning such was the end. They didn't speak, they exhausted all language.

The gulf appears between worlds. In black spots of the imagination, it is like a gag reflex launching cuss after vivid cuss, always failing to make the point: "bitch" "wanker" "fucker" "prick" "cunt." There will be no smoking bullet. No penetration of flesh. No fountain of blood or final truth.

No pain. Just bright white light reflected on clinic walls, her pathetic body and its nudity rendered invisible by rubber gloves, instruments pressed against her skin, the place was too numb to feel the place. It was so invasive and despotic she retreated into what she could understand.

"Today I feel fine thanks. I enjoyed breakfast. I had muesli and yoghurt. Has anyone called for me?" "No one?" "Not even Simon?"

She nodded her head. This was no place for love. Love requires hotel rooms, requires contagious laughter among friends, party dresses, slender ankles, and glittering eyes in shafts of light. Here, was none of that; nothing she knew how to describe in the sunshine, except to say, "How did you come to be here, Rebecca?" "I floated from heaven in an acorn."


"Speak plainly. Don't recite so much poetry." Simon could have left her freely, gathering cliches from the floor. But he didn't because it was only poetry.

They disappear you from the surface, from empty days and white walls, from your own watchful eyes watching others watching you, from things you don't know how to say when all you want to do is lie down and wasn't his absence the inspiration that embodied itself in language desperately coining the elusive, Beloved? Wasn't his proximity anticipated in writer's block, in the silence of dawn filled with Saturday nights with bingo. Wasn't this the moment of revelation to end all meanings?

Except the great beginning that first described the indescribable; except, a voice murmuring in the wilderness. "Patient 246." To report to the warden's office and there she remains, left with so few words, "Reality," "Madness," "Memory," "Soulmate" "Heartbreaker." Only "Shit" only less mellifluous. Just ringing bells echoing in the gulf of the absence of everything else every time recess was called.


In the darkness cast between constellations flickered another face its lips whispered Rebecca and gently led her from one dream to another. She was pulling weeds in the rose garden beneath a sky so lonely and cold it pressed its whole body against the earth heavy as the hysteria of mad women trickling to witchcraft. It was a witching hour: the whole grounds was witched and she passed through ghosts as she worked.

Having hardly spoken, darkness poured from his eyes like the end, devoured whole skies and swallowed them both entirely into silence except her creaking bones as she bent to pull up weeds and hummed to herself.

There was nothing to say because nothing existed to describe. Not "the woman across the table," not "my childhood bestfriend," not "the star in the sky." The earth had been emptied of content to make language superfluous so that it only mattered for reciting poetry which made him grimace anyway.

So they didn't speak, they listened to drum and bass and got high. His name was Lesley but he was neither a human being nor a name. Barely even a he. Together Rebecca was no more than a groan unfurling in the humid evenings, a vision of the full moon trickling down the ocean's horizon like all the earth's tragic desire or the distant moment of consciousness from which she had been derived, in which she would be finalized.

Only the space since and to then was known as Rebecca. "Rebecca" "Rebecca!" "Rebecca, why don't you share something with the group?"

Her name searched the inside of his mouth, seeped into darkness, changing irreversibly, ad became an utterance. The pronouncing of her lips and tongue and teeth extinguished before it was even spoken; "Rebecca."

He meant burning round eyes and a face flickering confusion, straw hair, freckled skin and a mirage incarnate in language; The Sun.

This strange bashful creature had appeared suddenly but only in glimpses at what was never fully realized; only, figment of imagination summoned from silence. "Rebecca why do you write so much about love?"

"Because I love stories."


She didn't love stories. There was not enough distance. There is no "I" distinct from fiction and fairytale, no otherness to repossess with feeble love. I cannot possess what I am, I can only dance and sing or explode.

Rebecca treads on golden threads beneath her, the sky ripples into multicolored pools teaming with magical demons with eyes glistening with legends of romantic tragic heroism, backs ridged with nobility and sacrifice.

Night lights and corridor lamps spiral around Rebecca into the make believe. All reality is what we made believe: even her fictitious figure, sitting here, at three a.m. behind the back of the great machinery that engineered her incarceration, writing words that have been cast out into a collective delusion

These words don't even exist, they are just a story; the dribblings of excess, stolen time; erecting new worlds and blasphemies, writing "Rebecca."

Read and be conceived as love, mind filled and floats into space its being being read.


Our story haunts the rafters, written in some future time.

My Love.

For I will not write about sadness anymore. It's cliche, banal and narrow, cowering in the shadow of its despot as between my despot and me lies a gulf awaiting creation echoing poetry and love and still reverberating in the ecstasy of the first crying out.

My Love, take me into the Bigness of the Sun.


Slowly guilt crept up on Rebecca. Replaced space vacated by vanishing entities. By objects dematerialized sent to words she scattered into the wind. And their faces, all different, accosted Rebecca's own, presented themselves as undeniable facts. Coaxed the names "Simon" and "Lesley" from her lips. They were accusations: they accused her of sounding from the same breath of life from the same throat that prayed to god in song and said things like "I've never felt what I felt before." Or "Lesley, he isn't like anyone I've ever met, I love him." "I love him." What was she to do with such guilt?

She littered the words across all across creation and they entered the atmosphere engraving "Rebecca loved them" into the sky. The asylum changed for a while until it rained and washed away the trace, the spectre whose lips burned and glowing eyes shone from some other primeval existence where they had first met and been together.

She ran into glimpses of the face at every corner; a man, a woman, a nurse, a doctor. A feather. Not yet realized but on its way. Not yet manifest but becoming. His second and fourth coming like the infinite revolution.


So it was; the strange amble toward the future she knew only from the past, between them her pale startled face the only sign of existence, the referent referring to nothing at hand. But to something which had been; should be.

To contortions of dreams filling the present with diving wanderings.

Divinely she wandered, away even from echoes of her own voice filling the air with "Lesley," with "Simon." Away from voices repeating her name.

But we leap over the edge, we spring full force back into the sparkling turquoise bodies exploding in mid air; sprayed blood rendering the blinding sun visible for one instant; the shameful interior and humble organs cast out into daylight and the sound of screaming children. We slam into the cliff face or ship's hull and discombobulate. But by some freak irony of quantum physics find ourselves exactly as we were.

Toes peering over the edge. Transported to a parallel dimension in which the story continues, away she goes and returns to exactly the same spot, one stumble from the future.

For all its mystery there were certainties: she would leave the asylum, get a job, live in a house. PeRebeccaaps the final moment of consciousness would be watching T.V. on Sunday night. How was she so certain, who was so aloof and ungrateful? It was not so much certainty as pragmatism; what else could her purpose be.

She would simply be free, rendered in the vast silence of the beginning; that returns anyway, under the moon in moments of destiny when the eye turns on you and sees the silence you had written about before you even heard it.

When you gave words to yourself, when your writings, hidden, languished in places and diffused into air read only by God, writing God as he reads them.

Who else did you write to?

Why else would you write?

It was the third face. Barely described, hardly seen; known only in breezes of sea air. Not a future or a past, a present moment writing words delivered from psychic communion with voices of plants and wild animals; with stray thoughts of other residents. It was a face described by these writings that can't describe, only express creation unfurling under the night sky; express, bolts of light wavering under the surface; melancholy and happiness, and the terror that yokes them; the greatest beauty I have ever seen. For Spirit spilt. For Spirit trailing me in luminescent rivers I bathe in and breathe of; that baptise me in flashes of consciousness beneath the stars in the attic between book shelves beneath the stars.


Excluding her life up to that point, Lesley and Simon would be completely arbitrary. In her imagination they had been implanted, incubated; from between her own hips, had been extracted, rendered in the world and now sought return. They were real or unreal, they filled the horrifying silence. They turned away the eye, blinking at her through a magnifying glass and so she stopped writing about them because she will not write about sadness.

It is about Beyondness. It is about Bigness of the Sun. Lavishing life like sacred circles around the earth.

Not Sadness is an example of a short story by Rachel Holmes. Based in London, Rachel has been studying Philosophy for five years and plays as much capoeira as possible. She writes about Art at The Metropolist.

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Twitter: @r8shelle