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How I realised I was demi, and some other bits in between

2020.09.18 19:15 Bi_Bibliophile How I realised I was demi, and some other bits in between

I'd don't really know how to start this so I'll just start I guess. I'm a 24yo bisexual woman, I realised I was bi when I was around 13 and came out to my mum when I was 16, she didn't bat an eyelid. It wasn't until I was about 16 that I really started feeling attracted to anyone and it was when I'd been talking to this guy (let's call him Dave) on a dating site and he was brilliant, we talked so much and over time there was a deeper connection created for both of us, the problem was we lived quite far apart so the chances of us meeting always seemed minuscule. We stopped talking when I was about 18, I'd had a rough time because my mum had passed away and I was all over the place, it was idea to stop talking because I just couldn't take the heartache of losing my mum and not be able to be with the person I just needed so badly at the time. It was one of the worst decisions of my life. Anyway, since then I never really felt anything for anyone, I always thought it was because I always compared people to Dave.
It wasn't until I went on a night out when I was 20 with my bestfriend (let's call him Jay) that I even heard the term "demisexual". We met up with one of Jay's friends and somehow ended up on a conversation about relationships and our sex lives as you do. Now I've never really been in a "proper" relationship and definitely not a sexual one. When I told Jay's friend this and told him that I don't see the point in sex unless you have a meaningful emotional connection with someone he suggested I may be demi. I didn't hear him, we were at a night club, those places are noisy as hell. Anyway, he repeated it and I asked what he meant and explained the basics of demisexuality. It made so much sense to me in that moment. Why I'd never really had any interest in anyone besides saying I had crushes on people in school to "fit in". All of a sudden this idea of demisexuality seemed so right and it was like seeing a part of myself that I'd never noticed before.
When I was about 21 I went on to date another guy, it didn't work out unfortunately but at least that guy I actually met and went on a couple of dates with. Since then I've not really tried to date and with the world how it is at the moment the idea just seems difficult right now. For now I'm happy as I am, and I am single, I'm bi and I'm demi. For now, that's good enough.
Sorry this was so rambling, I just wanted to get it off my chest I suppose. If you got this far then thanks for reading my overly long and detailed story about how I found out I'm demisexual.
submitted by Bi_Bibliophile to demisexuality [link] [comments]


2020.09.15 23:56 Environmental-Art168 My Shitty Life

(Trigger warning, abuse, self harm, depression)
Hello, I'm the oldest of 3 and somehow became the burden and forgotten child of my family, I'm not sure where exactly to start and I can't really remember much because of memory issues so I'll start at childhood. My dad was a marine honorable discharged and would often use corporal punishments on us such as spanking us with a handmade wooden paddle he made, a belt and make us sit in an invisible chair with our arms stretched out for hours and if we fell down or our arms fell down he'd scream in our faces and make us do it again, that was only the beginning of the abuse, one time I accidentally fell asleep in my parents room and he woke me up with smelling salts and one time dumped cold water on me because I fell asleep during the day. I prayed they'd get a divorce everyday and when I was 11 they separated, but the emotional and verbal abuse didn't stop there and even happened when I was forced to go over to where he was staying at the time(family friend's parent's house.) I had to go to the ER twice due to my eye swelling shut from poison ivy going into my eye, and I wanted to go home with my mum but when I went out to the parking lot she told me "no, it's your dad's weekend" and she drove off in the car with her boyfriend(B) and this happened twice where I got abandoned by my own mum
When I was at my dad's for every other weekend it became awkward and I started to develop a fear of eating in front of people which I still suffer from to this day, so I'd barely eat and one event that started my PTSD was idk what it'd even be called. But one night I was sitting in bed at my dad's watching tv with the lights off and my dad was at his girlfriends or something and the door opens and the family friend(male) walked in and hopped on the bed next to me and asked "Wanna fool around" at this time I was 14 or 15 and I was super uncomfortable moving towards the wall with him getting closer and then laughing in my face saying he was joking and left. That event made me so uncomfortable when my younger brother(13 or 14) came into the room minutes later I told him but he didn't really do anything except say "wow we need to tell dad" but nothing came of it and he still doesn't even know, not that it'd matter because he probably wouldn't believe me anyway. But after that my mum met her first boyfriend, we'll call him Boyfriend B. He seemed nice at first but once we moved in with him things started to change, he took my bedroom door off because I locked it once, and called me a bitch for no reason and treated his own daughter like a princess while she locked her door constantly, and snuck out and drank while underaged but I was the bad one, we moved out of his place when I was in the 10th grade and moved to a new place.
I was and still am extremely quiet and my social anxiety had only gotten worse and felt like everyone was laughing and making fun of me, which a few did such as a popular girl rudely asking if I knew what a shower was in gym class once and I frequently cried to myself in my closet(my father taught me that if I cry in front of someone I'm weak) and I began self harming and contemplating killing myself and it only got worse after an event involving a close friend. I asked my closed friend(H) who I began to have feelings for and thought she was single so I asked her by making a cute note that asked if she'd go out with me with the whole check yes and check no and I got it back with a check yes and was so happy then the next day and texted when our first date would be and she said "Sorry but I forgot I had a girlfriend I still see her at anime club" and it broke me it was the first time I asked someone else and a male friend got worried about me and called the cops and I woke up at 5am by the police at my door and was sent to a mental hospital for a week at 16 years old and spent 8 days there. After I got back to school my friend's group dissolved and Friend H was no longer my friend as it felt too awkward to even look her in the eye or talk to her, she did message me on Google hangouts asking what happened but that was the last time I talked to her.
By the end of 11th grade we have gotten evicted from our apartment in Mount Joy and my mom drove me to her friends house, a complete stranger to me and she abandoned me there where I had to listen to her friend and his girlfriend have sex almost every night and if it wasn't that it was his daughter crying not wanting to go to bed. When my mom came over one night her friend got new speakers he blared it loud and I asked if he could turn it off cause my mom was asleep and he got into my face saying “is this your house?” “Do you pay the rent?” “Whose house is it? Right it's mine” I felt so humiliated and my mom didn't even defend me, I cried silently with my head under the blanket wishing someone would actually care about me. The next incident was maybe a week later and my mom wasn't there, I was asleep in a light sleep when her friend and girlfriend came in drunk, and again they had sex and I tried my hardest to drown it out with music but my one earbud broke and I started playing music as loud as I could when he came out and told me to grab my shit and go, which I did. I was trying to contact my mom and tried to figure a way to get to my grandparents and even thought about hitchhiking when he came out telling me I can't be doing that and I need to help around the house, which I been doing and his girlfriend told him not to blame me but to blame my mom for just leaving me here. I still have flashbacks to that month I was basically left there all alone
Then we moved to a duplex in a city and from 18-19 my panic attacks turned into panic disorder to the point I couldn't even be in my own room without having a panic attack, and that's when Boyfriend P who my mum met while we moved into the new place after Boyfriend B well Boyfriend P moved in after Christmas and me and my siblings were against it but it didn't matter what we said he moved in anyway. By this time my brother had moved out even though he was 17 and would later find out he was unofficially adopted by his friend's mum. So it was just me and my sister there, I was supposed to be doing my last year of high school but my mum never set me up for the cyber school program and kept blaming me that I didn't want to get vaccinated to be able to go into the program to my grandma yet she never told me when the appointment was and had no way of getting there without her. And then on May 18th, 2017 a fire destroyed the duplex and a few days before I was already at my dads with a few items and when the fire started I basically lost everything, my drawings, books, DVDs, a birthday gift I got from a friend and a console I got from my dad that I played on for a day before the fire. And then I started talking to who I refer to as Psycho, he was a guy I met on a site and started talking to and was planning to meet one day but he stood me up and claimed he got heat stroke and soon spiraled down into a psychopath who would blackmail me with my own explicit photos and videos saying if I didn’t have sex with him he’d post them online and to my family and it got worse to the point I had to tell my dad, I feel like he still tries to contact me and my sister. Then I went on my first date with a man I think 30 or something he was shorter than me and we went to two movies to Kmart to browse then McDonalds I ended up hugging him goodnight and never heard from him again.
After that Me, My dad and sister had moved in with his girlfriend and it all started to go to shit, I was practically free labor to them, I had to rake their entire backyard, shovel their entire driveway while my dad stood on the porch and watched criticizing every thing I did. Dad's girlfriend would make a long ass list of chores for me to do every morning and If I didn't do the chores good enough she'd bitch at me for doing nothing even though there were 4 other people there who didn't do anything. I'd have to clean the ferret cages when others were around doing nothing, had to take the trash out, and on new years eve I got kicked out because dad's gf claimed she came into the room told me to get up and she'd "teach" me how to rake the yard and just went back to sleep yet I don't remember her coming into the room or anything(at this time our door was taken off because of a stupid rule of no eating or drinking in the room yet her daughter did it and still had her door) and before this I had gone to the ER due to an infection and was told to rest so once again it was bullshit and I was shipped off to my mums who I currently live with. Recent events that happened were my mum's bf bitched at me over a $1 candy bar telling me it was for his lunch yet he has a whole damn pantry full of candy bars, and then when my sister came over after just getting out of a mental hospital Bf P calls her a little bitch for defending me and she comes into my part of the house(live in the addition of my mums house which is basically my own apartment) crying and I was about to run over and confront him but if I did I'd likely go to jail so my sister called my dad and he came over and we found out Boyfriend P is a heroine addict and we stayed the night at dad's.

Sorry for the long post just venting my shitty life, some memories aren't in here due to memory issues so I might edit if I remember anymore shit or future shit that happens

*Edit* I just remembered one thing that happened while I was living with my dad, and it was the fact I was crying to myself and self harming and my dad tells me my depression is fake, then another time while we are eating dinner he tells me to show the table my cuts and says "the next time you self harm you should use the bearded dragons claws" and this is coming from my father the one whose supposed to care about me.
submitted by Environmental-Art168 to abusiveparents [link] [comments]


2020.09.01 09:05 marekvse A religion-less society actually exists right now!

Hello Jodan,

I'm sending this letter to you, Sam Harris and Douglas Murray, and hoping that it will reach at least one of you directly as I believe it could move all of your individual viewpoints as well as your future conversations forward. I'm sending it in the interest of possibly alerting you to at least one country, the one I grew up in, which seem to have completely evaded your research efforts and leaving you all, it would seem, agree on one, to me a very curious and strange point, that a successful and happy society without a (major) role of religion in it does not exist or have ever been tried. Sam is sure it would work, you say it did not work in Stalin's Russia case (you also add Hitler, who clearly was not an atheist and his most brutal forces had "God is with us" written right on their belt buckles which pretty much destroys the non-religious assertion), but none of you seem to be aware that it worked and is still currently working already very well.

I respect all of you greatly. I identify most with Sam's points of view at matters - perhaps unsurprisingly given the country I grew up in and the personality I am - and least with you Jordan, but that's only because of the religious part of views he seems to insist on deeply. I admire Jordan for your abilities to reason and, most of the time, reason so for clearly logical things. I admire the other two for the same reason without the need for that exception.

I've watched a great many videos featuring you 3 plus of course other very intelligent people like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and others in the past few years. The one thing that always keeps surprising me is the point where the discussion gets to the point of arguing about "how viable would a theoretical society" built basically purely on reason and no religion look like and what state it would end up in. Not even Christopher Hitchens seemed to ever have any other answers than a very good, but yet still purely theoretical arguments regarding such a society. From all of those occasions in those conversations, I am basically forced to believe that you all guys, however much-traveled and intelligent, have completely missed at least this one real-life, well-working example, which is my country - The Czech Republic. I think that if you haven't and if you then talked to a few people who grew up there at least at the time when I did - born 1973 - you would find not theoretical, but very real examples of a great many people who not only grew up completely without any religion or any stories coming from it and yet, still grew up very nice, intelligent and maybe surprisingly to you all VERY HAPPY people.

I'm not sure how many people exactly like me you would find because I really set up my life to be very happy, not even knowing how exactly stress would feel - I just maybe get hints of what it may feel like when I'm cold, which is why I have relocated to Queensland, Australia a long time ago - but you would definitely find heaps and heaps of people who are undergoing the same stresses in life as in any other western-type society with handling family, work and the other aspects of life, yet without any regard whatsoever to notions of any religion or any need to any type of any kind of comforting mythical stories.

That, of course, is not to say that many of us do not enjoy fiction books or entertaining stories in the form of books, tales, or other arts. We can enjoy it all the same with the full knowledge that those are fiction.

All the above is the result of the socialist/communist system we grew up in which not necessarily stifled but certainly did not promote any religion. It is the one thing I am grateful for to that system I grew up in, apart from a very happy childhood since nobody's parents had existential struggles. I do believe that there were efforts to eradicate the religion, many of which may probably be identified as forceful, but we've always kept our history including its buildings like castles and churches as opposed to destroying them, which would be an extreme way to get rid of something. Even clergy was tolerated and some very tiny minority of mostly the old-times people were attending services even at those times.

The actual real fact of life was, however, that we never were taught about religion apart from being a part of history, including ours. And we would still go on school trips some of which may include admiring a great cathedral purely for its architecture and art.

Strangely, even the name of the "person" who brings the presents at Chrismas (which in the Czech language is called "vanoce", which has nothing to do with Christianity - at least not obviously - I did not study its etymological roots) is "Jezisek", which, funnily and very interestingly enough I personally only realized when I was about 14 years old, means "a little Jezis = Jesus - "little" here meaning a kid, a baby). So the presents were being brought by a baby Jesus and yet, for almost all of us it was just a name, same as the west had Santa Claus or any other name you could use for a fictional character. It had NO religious meaning whatsoever to us, nor any story was attached to it at all. It was (and is for us) simply a holiday with the ritual of decorating a tree and having a very nice, extraordinary family dinner before (mostly the kids) would enjoy the present unwrapping under the tree. (Yes, our Christmas all happen on 24th Dec). We had no idea that it was originally a celebration of the winter solstice or that it was then stolen as a Christian holiday. We enjoyed it and frankly still enjoy it for the same family reasons, all the same. Actually now knowing that it has been for the past many hundreds of years appropriated by a religious cult if anything taints the experience. It probably would not if that cult was a thing simply belonging and part of the history of "less educated" times of us humans. The fact that this magical thinking still sways great sections of global citizens' everyday lives is what taints Christmas for some us Czechs. It surely does for me. I feel more at ease with it knowing that actually it is the winter solstice celebration. I would surely be more fine with it if it was just a date that someone decided to arbitrarily put on a calendar rather than thinking of it in terms of a cult that brutally killed and tortured so many innocent people in history and still thinks that magical thinking is just a fine idea.

Similar to Christmas, we in the Czech Republic also celebrate Easter (another holiday appropriated for itself by Christianity as I learned much later in my life). We also enjoy it purely for the tradition or maybe just for the fact that it is a day off work :). In Czech, a part of the tradition regarding Easter is that man create a nice looking weaved supple "sticks" from the branches of a willow tree, and in the morning we go around as many girls/women we know as possible to "hit" their behinds with it so that they stay young and supple too. I'm sure that in today's "politically correct" society many would find something very wrong with it, but the simple fact was that it ended up being a very nice and very social day for everyone. (By the way, I never knew that anybody would consider women as any lesser than men. I grew up in a society where had no reason to even suspect such a thing.) In the afternoon the girls and women had the right on the other hand to pour buckets of water over the men's' heads, even though that part was never really practiced. (At least in our parts of the Czech Republic. There are more traditional areas.) I suppose that is because it is not as convenient to run around with buckets of water around than it would be with sticks. Also, we - boys and men - would get a colorful ribbon bound to the ends of the sticks by each female we've visited and "paid off" - we don't really call it hitting or beating. It would leave the omitted girls and women feel neglected rather than happy not to get hit. I'm sure that the absolute majority of us were always as gentle as myself and my friends in performing that "stick-and-behind" ritual. I actually never wanted or was planning to do this whole thing, but I had a friend who always came on the morning of Easter Monday to my home with a couple of those "sticks" - one for himself, one for me, and basically had to talk me into joining him every single year. And it always ended up being one of the best days of the year, finishing in a mixed group having a great time (including a bit of drinking in our later teenage years). It was very nice and social and NOTHING to do with any religion or anything other than "this tradition actually turns out to be fun" and we did not need some deep explanation for it that I'm sure Jordan would try to dig out at this point. It was the same fun we can end up with when we come up with brand new social events, out of which, when they turn out fun, we often try to make a tradition of too. All that being completely atheist and secular. I really don't understand what seems to be so hard to comprehend even to Sam - not that he could not seem to be able to imagine it - clearly, he very much is - but that it actually has already been tried and is still going on successfully. Admittedly though, traditions like the Easter ones in Czech are fading as the capitalist style of life requiring most of us to work more and more puts a strain on that too, together with an overload of other modern culture distractions obviously.

In any case, my point is that what Sam is saying, what Christopher used to say and others too, is NOT a theoretically working "utopia", it IS a reality for millions in just my own country of origin and we suffer no ill effects from it!

On the contrary, despite being a tiny nation of 10 million people we have (even though thanks to globalization, corruption, and not in small part thanks to the totalitarianism of the European Union) we are loosing great industry and very clever people. We used to be (before EU) totally self-sufficient in basically everything, were exporting fighter jets, cars, atomic reactors, locomotives, food, and much more to the rest of the world, gave the world some amazing people and inventions like contact lenses, nanofibres, the lighting rod, or even small things like sugar cubes, pencils or Koh-i-Noor snaps for our jeans :) and we needed no religion or the related stories to do that. And that is the one thing I'm happy the "communist" regime gave us - true freedom from religion, freedom from bullshit stories if you pardon me. It lets us concentrate on interesting and important stuff in life instead of trying to solve mute problems like why are we here. We are, so enjoy it. I must say that without the religious ideas surrounding us that most of us don't even think about it as something to worry about. We worry about "we are here now, what can we do to live well" and some of us also "what can we do to leave my imprint on humanity". The more curious of us sure ask "how" did we get here and maybe do think about how in the great scheme of things we are totally insignificant, but I don't think it makes us unhappy. I know it does not make me unhappy for sure. I enjoy learning new things, discovering, making logical conclusions, and, apart from other things, being truthful to myself and others, which is probably why I'm also so happy in my life and have always been, which all of you I'm sure will very easily understand.

All of you guys seem to imply or straight away say that "sure, there is not a person who would not have major problems in life, who would not have "demons"" etc. Well, sure, I've encountered problems in my life. I'm solving software problems every day (I'm a software engineer) I've traveled around the world on a motorbike so I've encountered life-threatening situations, I've lost family members (fortunately for me just the ones who naturally died of old age, no tragedies so far, so yes, I've been lucky in that respect). But problems are here, to my eye, to be solved. They are a challenge, not a tragedy. They make life interesting. And demons? No, I do not have any. Things I regret? Maybe, a tiny little ones like not asking that beautiful girl on a bus for a coffee. But I've never done anything I would be ashamed of. That does not mean that I never failed of course. But I freely admit and not try to hide my failings so I have no demons. Am I really the only person in the world you think? I may be rare, but I'm sure I'm not alone.

Regardless, many, or basically I'd say almost all of my friends, much as they may have more normal everyday problems and stresses than I have (and it is not at all related to money - I'm not wealthy at all - we even still rent the place where we live), would tell you the same thing regarding the role of religion or religious stories in their lives and their decisions - NONE whatsoever.

The Czech Republic is very rich in culture too. Our country has one of the biggest concentrations of castles for example. I do not think that religion was necessary for those structures to be built for powerful people in our history. Yes, many, many churches too. Beautiful buildings. Some of them truly amazing, as some of the castles, too. And our secular society still builds and creates amazing things with no religion required for it. Just yesterday I was sent a link to a video about the biggest chandelier and at the same time, the biggest jewel ever built anywhere. (Link here if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/embed/AQ2udSvqx28 .) It could very well hang in a cathedral of some type. But it was built by a Czech company for a Saipan casino. Only human talent, work, and lots of money was needed to build this wonder. No religion whatsoever. So I'm pretty sure, Jordan, that you can stop worrying about losing culture if there was no religion. Sure, cassino may not be considered culture by many, but it is simply a fact of today's world that casinos are one of the areas where the money is. If you want to start to argue that we need religion as a way of extracting money from the population to build such marvels, as was historically exactly one of its functions and is one of the reasons those grand structures like great cathedrals exist, then fine. I would, like Sam, argue that it is possible to do without the pretense of magic, but at least that would be a simple point to defend. Not the only way though!! An example - and I'm sure there are also many modern ones too.. The National Theatre in Prague... It is a grandiose building with high ceilings covered with similar gold ornamentry and paintings to any cathedral you may find. It also has a huge painted curtain - a great painting of its own right. This all was built from money collected from donations of the citizens expressly towards building a national theatre, which was opened in 1881. The first idea came in 1844 at a congregation of Czech patriots. As far as I can tell no religion was involved. Certainly, none needed. And that great building is also a part of our and the world's registered cultural heritage sites.

So to summarize, the reason for this letter was to let all of you three guys know that you can stop only theorizing about a society without religion. Look at the Czech Republic especially before the Velvet Revolution (after which slowly more and more religion starts very slowly creeping in again), but where still today three-quarters of the population are completely irreligious. We are one of the safest, most educated, and happiest countries in the world. And if you look over the state ideology at any one time, where communism was making some people unhappy with restrictions on travel for example, and capitalism in its demands on sacrificing more of one's private / family time for work time, we are generally really happy people, nice to each other (without having to be threatened by hell or whatever other stupid magic idea), helping each other. And it is probably partly thanks to the LACK of any religion that we are that way. There is one less thing to partition us into opposing groups which argue about something they actually cannot even know.

Actually, that makes me think about my friends and people I know. I know and have experienced that my friends or even friends of my parents, for example, would (and in the past have) helped me when I really needed help, despite it being a great inconvenience for them. Yet, I was in similar situations when I only had a religious person to help me and they would not. It would seem to me that religious people like to listen to the stories that Jordan insists are shaping majorly their principles and behavior, rather than actually behave according to them. And then some feel great to tell you how good they are thanks to Jesus.

Ok, I think that concrete examples would be good here:
I know, that every time I go back to the Czech Republic for the summer I have offers from my friends to take me to the airport - both in Czech and in Australia (still from Czech friends interestingly enough). In both cases, it is over 100km and I do not want to inconvenience them if it is not necessary so I thank them and decline. But I know that even if I called them at three in the morning that I needed an urgent lift to the airport they would just tell me how long it would take them to pick me up.
Contrast that with this:
I've known a great person for 7 years and actually shared a house with her for 5 of those years. I consider her a very nice person and considered her a very good friend. I still visit her once a year or so when I have a chance, but thinking back on the story I'm about to tell you certainly makes me feel less worm towards her than I always thought she otherwise deserved.

So the story: I found a new life partner while again staying for the whole European summer in the Czech Republic. For reasons irrelevant to this story she could not join me permanently in Australia for the first few years of being together, so we were overcoming that problem by her periodically visiting me in Australia for 3 months, then we would not see each other for another 3, then I would go to Czech for 3 and a bit, again 3 months apart and then the cycle would repeat.

At the end of one of her stays in Australia with me, while I was still sharing the house with my friend, Jean, my partner was flying home the next day and I, shortly before that, decided I would actually fly back with her. I could not get a seat on the same flight so my flight was at 8 AM and hers the same day at 1 PM. My partner is a bit lost when traveling and she did not speak English at that time yet either, so we decided to travel the 150km to Brisbane in the evening before and arranged to stay with a friend there overnight. We were supposed to catch the second one of the only two trains that goes from that place to Brisbane daily. It was leaving around 9 PM. The nearest train station is about 8km from the place I lived in with Jean, who agreed or maybe even offered to take us to that train station, I can't remember that bit for sure. What is for sure is that once we got there it become clear that the train was not coming as the train tracks were not there and the workers currently working there under the floodlights confirmed that the trains were not operating on that track for the past 14 days and will not be going for another 14 more. I was amazed and surprised, especially after we got back home and I confirmed on the computer that the online time schedule directly on the Queensland Rail website still insists that there are no exceptions or delays and that that train is scheduled as per normal.

There was no other public transport for us to use from that place. So after another couple of hours of trying to figure out any other possibility of getting us there on time, I finally asked Jean if she would be so kind and took us to the airport (we did not want to bother the friend in Brisbane to sleep over anymore because we would arrive too late for that we felt) so that we could make our flights. Jean told us that "she would but that she promised her sister to accompany her to a church service the next morning and that if she took us she would be too sleepy for that the next day"..................

I probably don't have to say that I was a bit disappointed that someone I considered a friend and a good person would refuse to help us in a situation in which I would have no other safe viable option. I never analyzed it further beyond the disappointment. However, a couple of years later I was telling this story to a friend and he, I think very spot on, pointed out that "So she would rather go to church to listen to the preacher to tell her that she should be helping people rather than take the opportunity to actually help someone in a real need.". How is that for "Christian" values? I know my non-religious friends would not hesitate to help me in that situation as I'll give you an example of in a couple of lines.

Just to finish the story, Jean was "nice enough" to suggest that we can try hitchhiking on the highway (at 1 AM no less!!) and "kindly" offered to take us there. We had no other choice so we accepted. To start with, there were literally 2 cars in 40 minutes we stood there. Fortunately, the second car actually stopped for us, and also fortunately we survived that. I say the second "fortunately" since it was a German traveler who told us that he stopped because he needed someone to keep him awake since he has been driving at that point non-stop for 16 hours from Cairns. Needless to say that traveling in a car 20km over the highway speed limit with someone who is grossly falling to sleep is quite scary... The story still developed into having quite a few very interesting twists, but those are not relevant to this anymore.

So now a concrete matching example:
When I was 15 I was to travel by bus 150 km to my brand new high school. I was obviously gonna have to be staying at a boarding school there so I wanted to take an earlier Sunday bus to have a chance to choose my new bed. But after waiting over an hour over the scheduled time for the bus I concluded that it was not coming and I was going to have to take the late afternoon one. After returning to the bus station and waiting for that one for almost an hour again I finally figured out that it was actually a brand new holiday celebrating the two (religious - interestingly enough :)) men who managed to enforce the recognition of our language as a language recognized by the religion, based and thanks to which our writing was established. (Religion would not allow our writing if it did not recognize the language as being worthy.) It was never celebrated before as it was shortly after the Velvet Revolution so I had no idea. Anyway, the result was that there was no other bus that day and that not only I would arrive dead last to the boarding school, but I would also miss probably the important first half of the first day at the actual new school as a freshman since my dad was away somewhere at that time with our only car.

That evening, at about 10 PM, a neighbor and my parent's friend came to pick something up from my mum. He was surprised to see me still at home and so he asked how come? When we told him he said that we should have told him earlier because he would have taken me there. He also told us that he was supposed to be at work the next day at 5 or 6 AM so it was too late to drive me there now. I remember thinking that it is easy to say now if he can't prove he would have done it anyway. Three minutes later I hear him saying: "You know what, let's go, I'll take you there." It was a 3-hour drive one way!!! The Czech Republic is quite dense with towns and villages and there were at that time many quite large detours on the way, too. So this man would get home about an hour or two before having to go to work!

How big of a difference this is to a church on Sunday where you go by your own volition, you are not required to go and being able to take the highway instead of in that case basically the whole way, so that trip would have cost Jean 3 hours max!

So the person who is NOT compulsed to help me for fear of any hell or any other even slightly unpleasant result helps me for purely the good feeling that one gets from helping others by his own choice despite majorly inconveniencing himself is the one that actually helps me and the one that thinks of themselves as the chosen and the most kind people chooses to go listening about how kind they are rather than actually be. Does not that give you a pause? :)

Another example. I was renting a room in a home of another of my friends and I happened to accidentally either drop the clear plastic fridge bucket for fruits and veggies or drop something on it (I cannot remember), resulting in its cracking. The, for me absolutely obvious thing to do, despite that it was "just a crack" and the bucket was still capable of fulfilling its function (and in fact until this day I still use it in my garage to store stuff in), I went ahead and spent almost a whole day trying to find where I could buy the correct replacement and spent something like 60 bucks on it at a time I did not have much money at all. Just because it was a normal logical thing for me to do for the pure "golden rule" reason. And Jordan would maybe say "ha, see, Christian values". And I, same as Sam or Christopher or probably Douglas too, would say that that rule is very logical, self-evident, and much older than the Christianity that appropriates that too for itself. It is just logical. I did not ever need any kind of story behind it and definitely not one where I would be punished other than that others may start doing the same to me seeing me do that to others. And since I want others to be nice to me, I, quite logically and without complicated explanations that some try to fit to some ancient stories they happen to believe in, will behave nicely to them.

And now again, contrast this to a very similar situation the other way around, this time, however, the other person is a church-going Christian.

I now live in a nice big house, which we rent as I mentioned. For the past 10 years, it has been our home and we can only afford it because we are sub-letting one of its rooms directly connected to the main bathroom. And we do this because we fell in love with the house and felt immediately at home as soon as we inspected it. And we originally inspected it purely just as a point of comparison with other houses we went to see afterward because it was available for inspection first that day. Later, comparing it to the other houses, I realized we could make it affordable (same price as the others) by renting out just those two of the 4 rooms that were on the top of what we actually needed. So we did and it has been 10 years since.

We look for people who want to stay longer-terms. Last year, a guy from the Christian part of Nigeria was finishing his stay of over 2 years with us. He would go to church every Sunday without fail and was obviously a devout Christian. He was studying nursing and was working as well, earning quite good money too. In the home, we usually all fit in our big fridge together with our boarder. This one, however, said he needed more space so we bought an additional fridge for him. It was one of the smaller ones which still needs to be periodically defrosted. When we noticed that he is leaving the freezer to become overgrown with ice we told him that he will need to do that so that the fridge does not break. We asked him to do that several times over several months until the plastic hinge of the plastic freezer door broke by the ice pushing it out. It was obviously not even an accident. He would ignore that. So eventually I told him that now he, unfortunately, had to find a replacement freezer door for it because otherwise, the fridge will be consuming much more energy (and we are paying all the energy bills, the boarders have it included in a single unchanging rent amount, which is by the way cheapest in this area) and that it will freeze over faster and that the person after him will surely need the door, too. Nothing at all happened until he left.

I meant to force him to do that before I'd return his bond when he would eventually be leaving, but it happened just at a time when we were holidaying aborad and I forgot about the freezer door. So I remotely returned his full bond. Sometime after that, when he came to pick up some of his post that he still did not change the address for, I gave him the broken door and asked him if he could please finally get a replacement. It's been almost a year now and he tells me he did not find it. So I asked him obviously if he actually tried. He said he did. A couple of simple questions later it is clear that he actually did not even try but is happy to lie about it. So what exactly has the church taught him?? I know it has neither taught him for sure to be responsible for his own actions nor to be honest. Clearly. Qualities that I and all of my close friends who I grew up with, who have never been touched by religion of any kind, have.

I am not necessarily saying that these almost exactly one-to-one comparable examples are totally indicative of the difference of morals between Christians and completely irreligious people, but since it does fit pretty well with many others we see in history and also currently around us, I think it is time to stop theorizing about the necessity or even utility of religious values for modern people. I'm not disputing that religion does have utility for people who follow it, but it certainly is not the necessary or even important tool for people in general.

It seems to me that religion has a utility of a rock that you use to beat in a nail. Take the rock from me and you leave me with a hammer that actually makes much more sense, similarly to taking away the stories and threat of hell and replacing it with something that has been there all along - the genuinely nice feeling of helping someone even if I am otherwise not compelled by anything else than the great feeling and the very logical realization that I have a much better chance to be treated nicely if I treat everybody else nicely. And that I am much more likely to be helped by others if I unconditionally help them. And I may help someone who never helps me, but helps somebody else. And somebody I never helped may actually help me because he was also at some point helped or at least sees it as all so logical how this works.

Jordan, your well-researched arguments on many societal topics are great and helpful and make sense. But I must say that even though I heard a couple of ways you very interestingly matched biblical stories on some current situations or general human behavior, I also think that you are totally overcomplicating stuff in these cases and you are getting many, myself included, lost as to what you are in fact trying to do other than somehow trying to reconcile your Christian belief with current reality and as you just discussed during the talks with Douglas and Sam, smuggling the Jesus into it where really, it is not necessary at all, objectively.

I understand that it is important to many, you including, but it really is not necessary. We can very nicely do completely without it. As an exercise in reasoning it is, or can be, for sure interesting, especially for scholars like you. For us, normal people (or normal engineers like myself :)) it seems pretty pointless otherwise. And the case of the Czech Republic, I think, even takes a base from your case completely, even though I'm sure you could find connections.

As an engineer I can tell you I can map anything to anything if I put enough abstractions in between. But the simple truth is, that almost everybody in a real country that has been historically doing well, grew up a perfectly decent person, arguably in a bigger percentage more decent than the majority in much more religious countries. And we do not suffer. Again, I'd say we suffer less because we are not burdened by any traumas like worrying about ending up in hell.

Sure, in our folklore we have another tradition where St. Nicholas (we never used the "St" part, for us it was just "Mikulas") comes on 5. December together with one or more devils to our home and gives our children presents or coal if "they were not good". And yes, for most children the devils are scary and some parents use that to elicit the promise of being good "from now on", but I think that at least most parents (certainly mine) were not trying to persuade us these were real beings.

It was a (scary) theatre happening in almost everybody's homes. And as soon as you figure out those under the masks are just normal people you feel clever as a kid. And you feel like you've grown and maybe also that you outsmarted the adults who would not tell you straight away those are just people. When you are like 6, 7, or 8, you are looking forward to running outside with the Mikulases and devils despite sometimes still being scared by them if they play the role well. It is thrilling. But it never needed to be shoved down our throats as a reality and not even a story was needed.

We have folklore fairytales that feature devils punishing bad people, yes. But we do not need them to tell us what is right and what is wrong. We can figure that out for ourselves and the stories are just a nice entertainment, if done well. And yes, we can see the useful allegory in it. We would still, however, know quite naturally the difference between clear right and wrong, between hurting others and not hurting others. But we recognize the difference between entertainment and reality. We still enjoy stories all the same.

You do not need organizations that actually believe those, are exempt from paying taxes and are praying on those who cannot reason themselves out well enough or prevent themselves being reasoned in by these fantastical stories and the ability of the storyteller to manipulate. I'd say that the about 25% of people in the Czech Republic who identify themselves as somehow religious are exactly those types of people. Ones who severely lack logical thinking. I have an uncle and a stepdaughter both like that. Neither of them has very good reasoning ability and so they are hanging there to be hooked on by the use of fantastical and magical stories, despite the fact that they were not indoctrinated into it as children, which then makes it more understandable when even pretty intelligent people still have this illogical partition in their brain reserved for god.

OK, that's it. Quite a bit longer than I intended it to be, but I hope it will eventually reach at least one of you in person and maybe give you some more arsenal for good arguments. It is obvious that you are very busy people so I do not expect any reply at all, but it would be great to get something like: "Hey Marek, it reached me, thanks." so that I know that I haven't completely wasted almost the whole day today instead of fixing my server and getting back to my coding in which I'm so much behind.

Wish you all all the best.

Sincerely,

Marek Vsechovsky


Aside:
As I'm reading what I wrote after myself I realize that although not absolutely necessary to explain this, you may wonder if I'm not "telling you stories" since at one point I mention that I am a software engineer and in another talk about affordability of rent. Well, I really don't revolve my life around money. And since I very much enjoy my job and have large amounts of ideas, I'm trying to implement them running it as my own business. However, I am kind of a Wozniak without a Jobs, meaning that rather than marketing a finished product I immediately start working on the next one since I just can't wait to work on it, so I end up with no income to my business and so from time to time I have to accept a paid outside contract. Since my expertise is large and well valued, and since I am a very frugal person (if I compare myself to most other people who say they are too :) ) I only need to work for about 3 months to be able to live from that for the next two years developing my own ideas. That's why I'm still renting rather than owning. I do what I love, I spend as much time on it as I want and I live at a very nice place where I can take a 30-minute holiday jumping in the surf basically all-year-round, so I'm really happy.
submitted by marekvse to JordanPeterson [link] [comments]


2020.08.27 17:06 Aceofdave13 Throwback Write-Up #18: El-P - Fantastic Damage

Artist: EL-P
Album: Fantastic Damage
Label: Definitive Jux
Release Date: May 14, 2002

Background/Context:

The 3rd album released under EL-P's own label: Definitive Jux, Fantastic Damage stands out as one of the first major Hip-Hop releases released in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Despite its release date, the album was actually recorded before 9/11 actually happened. Regardless, the paranoia laced throughout the album resonated with the people who listened to it at the time immensely. It became enough of an underground success to be on the Billboard 200 charts and was also a critical darling for many review sites. It took many years for this album to emerge out of the underground despite EL-P enjoying mainstream success with Run the Jewels for 7 years. Hell, this album wasn't even put out on streaming services until just 3 months ago (physical copies have also never seen a repress in ages as well). With what's going on currently in the world, Fantastic Damage's reemergence couldn't have come at a better time and serves as an important reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Album Analysis: Themes

Fantastic Damage covers a myriad of themes throughout the 16 songs on the track listing: war, parental abuse, drug-induced paranoia, media fear frenzies, corporations shitting on artistic integrity in entertainment, EL's personal relationship issues, and the general paranoia that everything wrong with the world currently is only going to get so, so much worse. These themes reflect EL-P's upbringing and adult life in NYC leading into the 21st century. He had already dissolved his original group Company Flow despite riding off of the momentum of "Funcrusher Plus" and the falling out with Rawkus Records was even more pronounced ("Sign to Rawkus? I'd rather me mouthfucked by Nazis unconscious"). Dead Disney reflects the corporate fuckery that EL had to deal with during the founding of Definitive Jux. It was originally just "Def Jux", but Def Jam filed a lawsuit for the name and thus he had to change it. The rest of the song dives into a vigilante killing spree against Disney's characters and destroying Disney World itself. He makes similar comments on the entertainer industry in "Delorean" and the title track with references to both Star Wars and Back to the Future being uttered in his lyrics.
It's no shock that dystopian authors like George Orwell (1984, Animal Farm) and Phillip K Dick (The Man in the High Castle) were massive inspirations for much of the album. "Accidents Don't Happen" flat-out samples a scene from the film adaptation of 1984. Particularly the scene in Room 101 where O'Brien interrogates Winston and reveals the whole purpose of Big Brother. Clips of O'Brien's dialogue are spread throughout the song as EL-P, Cage, and the late Camu Tao unleash dense verses paralleling the themes of 1984 into what the US government had been rapidly turning into in the late 90s and early 2000s as information warfare and the "war on terror" were ramping up into full gear as a means to mortgage more of our fundamental rights away. The song that precedes this (The Nang, the Front, The Bush, and the Shit) uses the backdrop of the Vietnam War as a means to highlight how the government manipulates teenagers into signing up to the military only to have their lives thrown away over a pointless political endeavor. The lead single and most well known track off of this album (Deep Space 9mm) dives into how EL is detached from the decadency and corruption prevalent in NYC. The world is run by a few cronies that drain everyone's will to live through mindless consumerism and paranoia and all we're doing is sitting on our asses not doing anything about it and if anything, killing each other over stupid shit. Which includes EL-P himself on the hook ("Tell the historians I'm right here holding my nuts").
There are two songs on Fantastic Damage that primarily tackle the 3rd major theme with the record, that being EL's personal issues and anxieties surrounding both his childhood and his struggles with finding himself and caring about people he's loved in the past. The first song: Stepfather factory uses the concept of a corporation producing robotic stepfathers to both console and assist single mothers with raising a family. The consequences of these "stepfathers" is that they're simply cold, indifferent providers instead of actual parents and their fuel source is alcohol which has a side effect of leading the robots to attack the families they were designed to protect. EL-P is not shy about talking about the abuse that him and his mother faced at the hands of an abusive stepfather and this song is a poignant metaphor for not just EL's personal hardships, but the crumbling family structure of society in general. In fact, this is one of 3 songs (Company Flow- Last Good Sleep and another solo song titled "For My Upstairs Neighbor (Mums the Word)"). The second song (TOJ) is meant to lyrically be a love letter to an ex of EL-P that shows that in spite of the relationship crumbling between them, he had eventually been able to see the good in himself that she had seen in him and profusely thanked her for that revelation.

Album Analysis: Production

The dense and diverse lyricism and themes present on this album can't hide the fact that the main reason why this album is so revered is its production. EL's use of sampling and genre-bending create a dissonant, industrial, and... funky soundscape to which the album plays through. Production as classically "street" as 90s boom bap hip hop was as it is "industrial" and "progressive" like contemporary artists such as Dälek were doing at the very same time. Dissonant droning intros are very common in this album. "Accidents Don't Happen, "The Nang, the Front, The Bush, and the Shit", and the title track all use this to help set up the dystopian themes that these songs explore. "Truancy" dedicates the last few minutes of the track to an instrumental with no verse layered over it. EL allows the song to essentially break itself down until it is slowly manipulated into resembling the intro of "The Nang...". The second half of the album showcases examples of funk-infused hip-hop beats throughout many tracks such as "Lazerface's Warning", "Blood" and "Dr. Hellno and the Praying Mantus". It's also impossible to forget the jazz influences that are laced in much of the production. EL uses jazz drumming samples on songs such as "Deep Space 9mm" and "Truancy" and it greatly enhances the tone that each beat has laid out. One line in "Squeegee Man Shooting" cites his biological father as the main reason why he often samples jazz in many of his beats ("Dad played jazz when he drank, it's no accident Hands on the piano and make my foot tap to it Different path, same love, Dad, thanks for passing it").
Every style that EL pursues on each beat is a masterclass in Hip-Hop production and allows for a wider appeal than the experimental and esoteric reputation that this album has will lead you to believe. My personal favorite beats off this record include "Accidents Don't Happen", "Truancy", and "Tuned Mass Damper". Each song captures specific aspects of NYC that EL-P tries to describe in these songs and they help visualize the mayhem that goes on in that city perfectly. The droning industrial rhythms of "Accidents Don't happen help visualize the dark and gritty reality of being in a dense, disgusting, and over-policed city where everything that you do either is monitored, or feels like it's being monitored. "Truancy's" beat helps paint the mayhem of EL's rebellious and rambunctious childhood in the streets of New York. Skipping school, getting into fights with figures of authority, and his random interactions with the crazies that the city provides plenty of. And "Tuned Mass Damper" to me feels like the ultimate "walking the streets of New York" feel to it. I'm amazed that out of all the movies that does the same "panning shots of NYC" at the beginning of every damn movie taking place there, not one of those scenes uses this song to complement the scenery. I've been to NYC multiple times visiting family or just exploring shit and it's been the main staple of the shitty earbuds I use to listen to music on the streets to avoid getting robbed.

Album Analysis: 3 Most Notable Verses

Narrowing such a lyrical album to just going into 3 verses is drastically understating what EL says throughout this album, but these are the particular standouts that have stuck with me throughout all the years I've been listening to this album"
  1. "The Nang, the Front, the Bush, and the Shit"- Verse 1: EL dives into the lies that military recruiters use to hype up the army to susceptible kids wanting to go out and blow shit up and be respected by their peers. The verse contains the most poignant line in the entire album and something that perfectly condenses the message of the song ("I'm not a mechanism born from disdain, I had to be trained"). It proceeds to describe the perspective of a soldier stuck in Saigon in 1975 as the US Embassy is being overrun with NVA troops and is trying to get on the last helicopter evacuating the last remaining Americans in Vietnam. The verse then transitions into a flashback to when the said soldier is being lectured about the joys of the military by the recruiter. He's told that he can pay for school after his service and get tons of women with uniform fetishes trying to get into his pants. That he'll be a hero to his country and that everyone will suddenly respect him more as a result. He enthusiastically signs up for the army as a result but it's very clear that this is a man that 100% regretted his decision and he now knows that he was simply being used by his government.
    (Pass me the tiger piss) I tunnel rat into the hidden habits of collage dog inferno No turning paths back(charlie attack!) The half man have orders to burn the village And come out with both hands intact I'm not a mechanism born from disdain, I had to be trained Now I catcall with dead walkers I'll send a postcard form the Nang If I can get onto the roof in time to hang From the leg of this last chopper
Son of an obese burner perturbed to grow in a row Of rotating blood colors on brick textures And others modified climates make nasty tongue plunge (head shots) With opposite of chameleon blends from cartoon dreadnoughts There was this parasite inside my wide intestinal tract That took over my bark box before I had a chance to take my life back And his deformed banter suprised me (where at?) At the recruiters office, learning how to get a head in advertising He said: "Sure, others have passed, this is a gate to definition But thats not the singular attraction to the setup Not the action or the sacrifice of past draftees Actually more of a layaway ducats plan For the young get up and go out motivators See the new soldiers smolder different From that antiquated taste of stately hatred" Well I came from melting options on the D train to the lobby See academics played second in my life To unmatriculated brain hobbies And I admire the dedication to you ranks Plus want the training Loss is not a big problem it's all about what I'd be gaining, "Well you'll get power, respect, an audience, a check, a car, Money for school, honey with uniform fetish on your tool, You'll travel, form bonds, be a part of something have a structure, catch bullets..." (catch bullets?) "...I meant cash bonus See this gold plaque, you could own it After killing half a million It's such a good feeling To earn your country's respect and love So what do you say son, are you my man?" Fuck it, sign me up
  1. "Accidents Don't Happen"- Verse 3 (Camu Tao)- Not a verse done by EL-P, but Camus verse on this song absolutely bangs on top of having some of the most memorable lines on the entire album. Going off on how the war on drugs has given the government a blank check to violate peoples' rights just because they use drugs. So much money is put into combating the drug industry and it's only resulted in an over-policed society where we think we're afforded many freedoms, but doing something as basic as smoking weed can ruin your entire life by being forced through the US prison system. A system that focuses on punishment rather than rehabilitation.
It's the year 2010, you can say what you want But I bet if you light this blunt, dummy, the feds'll come runnin' Lock you up, lock you out, you ain't tryin' to listen Cameras in your food, dude, look they're trying to listen Lock you up, lock you out, we got bugs in the house We're being monitored, they know we got thugs in the house Don't light your blunt, bitch, they'll hit you with a switch Hit you with a beam, hit you in the brain, make you go totally insane Wild out, guns in the spot, flippin' on you niggas They take you out, then the Feds push guns on the roof They take 'em out, melt you out 'cause you know too much After that you know your ho's get touched Look, Then the meaning starts Download your chip to a memory card Give your chips and send 'em to a city job
  1. "Stepfather Factory"- Verse 1- EL takes the perspective of a CEO of a company that's been developing robotic stepfathers to help combat the epidemic of single mothers in America. He describes how single mothers are often driven to the brink by the stresses of both parenting and the loneliness caused by not having a significant other in their life. He criticizes how technological advancements have often been used to distract people from problems rather than solve them head on. He proposes that these robots will actually serve to end the issue of faithlessness once and for all. As his speech goes on though there are subtle hints that he's losing his confidence towards his product as he stutters over his lines when it comes to describing the robot's features and composition. It shows how corporations pander to social issues and pretend to fight for social issues when it's clear that they only care that people buy their product.
Spilling the leftovers of [creational clique] We grew with the concept now we're ready to go public Today's a big day for the company A big step for the little-steppers who slept for years uncomfortably Little man, little lady, cute little baby Reach your hand out to the future of automated robotics On display here for the first time in under a year here At the World's fair - but is it really? Ladies and Gentlemen I propose that the market is sinking under the weight of useless contraptions added to the shopping carts of all hard-working families Electric doodads and wizard hats [exist] to keep the munchkins entertained But get replaced by newer versions such as breakdown systematically Mothers - how many times have you debated sub-euthanasia tablets for breakfast snacks When restlessness attacks seemingly at random? With an emptiness inside that's hard to identify, maybe Pursuing obvious like pill-popping [the cossanova edict] Chances are you've been abandoned Well I'm no scientist, that's not what I went to school for And I'm not a doctor, so I don't know much about medicine But I'm willing to bet that you, yes you little what's your name sweetheart? (dada) yeah, whatever Get a funny feeling in your tummy when your mommy cries Something between woozy and confusion And you spend your thoughts on how the sadnessin your mommy can be rooted out, burned, scorched, turned out, forgotten Different concepts than the candy and little baby dolls or Whatever it is that normal kids get to think about Well I can honestly say that this invention is, Let me start by saying we've grafted only the finest stuff Inserted the most high tech, state of the art, with brain charted for authentic Truly human emotion and trained to be domestic Made from the most easily available materials and, uh, loosely inspected Guaranteed to revolutionize Perfectly realistic and even somewhat institutionally respected Robotic relative

Addendum

Fantastic Damage is my all-time favorite Hip-Hop album and one of my top 3 albums of any genre. It's been an extremely influential album both in my musical journey and my personal worldview as a whole. The production still feels light years ahead of its time and for a 70 min-long album, it's a shockingly easy listen for me. As I've been writing this, I've listened to the album almost a dozen times back-to-back-to-back-to-back and it never felt tiring. It's an amazing thing that EL is finally putting out his older material again because in my opinion, I believe that is solo work as well as Company Flow are much more interesting and creative and engaging than Run the Jewels despite being a very big fan of RTJ in spite of my own comment.

Favorite Lyrics:

  1. "I'm not a mechanism born from disdain, I had to be trained"- The Nang, the Front, the Bush, and the Shit
  2. It's the year 2010, you can say what you want But I bet if you light this blunt, dummy, the feds'll come runnin'- Accidents Don't Happen
  3. "Sign to Rawkus? I'd rather be mouthfucked by Nazis Unconscious"- Deep Space 9mm
  4. "And now I'm grown and I still can't protect my sister But I know she has her mother's strength within her And maybe I can tap that strength and burn with greatness EXPOSE THESE ALCOHOLIC STEPFATHERS AND RAPISTS!"- Constellation Funk
  5. "It's like the Bilderburgs came to dinner with filthy birds they pussy all infected I'm lookin for milky words they pulled my third eye out then they let it dry out had to pour my belief in Christ to find out"- Accidents Don't Happen

Favorite Songs

  1. Accidents Don't Happen
  2. Tuned Mass Damper
  3. The Nang, the Front, the Bush, and the Shit
  4. Stepfather Factory
  5. Truancy

Discussion Questions

  1. How does this album hold up compared to EL-P's other albums as well as the stuff that he's done in both Company Flow and Run the Jewels? Is this your favorite era of EL's music? Or does something feel lacking with his style at this point in his career?
  2. When did you first listen to Fantastic Damage? Are you a (relative) newcomer to his older music? Or are you an OG that's been listening to him since the 90s?
  3. What is your favorite album that was released through Definitive Jux? If it's also Fantastic Damage feel free to add on to any characteristics I might have missed out on in this write up.
  4. How does the messaging of Fantastic Damage hold up in 2020? Are there certain lyrics and references that date the album too much to truly be an "ageless" record?
  5. What's your favorite album that EL-P has done? It can also extent to albums that he's produced and not just rapped on as well.
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2020.08.24 15:27 dataiskings How to create the perfect Tinder profile

When Liam moved to Manchester from south Wales in 2017, he thought he was doing it for lasting love. Dating his girlfriend long distance for over a year, he found a job as a prison officer and moved north to be with her. But after a year he found himself single again and hasn’t managed to date anyone seriously since. He desperately wants a committed, long-term relationship, but is struggling to make it past consistent hook-ups.
When Holly’s relationship fell apart a few months ago, she left London after 13 years of living there, moving with her brand-new dachshund puppy to her hometown of Hastings. But trying to date other women in Hastings has proved less than fruitful.
Dan’s life in London has been pretty good. A graphic designer, just finishing his masters at UCL, he’s got most of it figured out. But at 29, he’s realised that the gay clubbing scene is making it more difficult to meet romantic partners with whom he really connects and is struggling to find someone to date for more than a couple months.
While all three of these people are in vastly situations, one thing unites them: they all absolutely despise their online dating profiles. From Tinder to Bumble to Her to Hinge, they feel cringed-out, awkward and unfulfilled by how they present themselves and feel their dating profile is holding them back.
This is a major problem for online daters. You can be charming, funny and genuinely interesting, but when it comes to writing a bio your mind can go blank. It’s hard to make profiles read the same (see: “I love gin!”, “My pet peeve is slow walkers”) and it’s hard to make your real self stand out. In the US, dating profile styling agencies are even starting to pop up, where people can pay to have this increasingly common dating problem professionally solved. But for those who don’t have hundreds to shell out on professionals, the question still persists: what do you need to do to make your dating profile better?
Liam, Dan and Holly have gotten this question answered. Working with three romantic professionals – a relationships therapist, a dating expert and a professional advertising creative – they have willingly handed over their profiles, histories, and insecurities to be molded into a more authentic version of themselves and get desperately needed news on how to make their dating profile dateable.
The datersLiam
The basics: 28 years old, Welsh, straight, prison officer. Describes himself as a regular guy, interested in sport, going out with his friends, spending time with his family and looking after his dog, Jasper.
Dating history: Has had three serious relationships and says that all of them petered out at the same time – around the two-year mark.
Dating profile description: Mostly selfies, mostly taken in dark rooms, one topless, mostly bordering on scary faces. Bio reads, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing / Beards make the world go round / Never watched Game Of Thrones, which is apparently a huge deal? / Welsh boy trespassing in the North, tryna not get kicked out after Brexit...”
Dating problems: Liam’s problem is two-fold. Although his job as a prisoner officer is interesting, it’s not something that defines him – however, it’s the only thing on dating apps that women seem to be interested in talking about. His second problem is that, when he does meet people, there’s miscommunication about what each other wants and he ends up thinking it’s becoming serious when all she wants is something casual.
Looking for: A serious relationship. “What’s the point in having fun if there’s nobody there when you have a rubbish day at work? Who’s there to share your good and bad days, your achievements? Who’s there to pick you up when you’re down? And, ideally, that’s what I’m after. Something real. Something proper.”
Holly
The basics: 31 years old, English, bisexual, working-from-home office manager, dachshund dog mum. Describes herself as multifaceted – funny, smart, well-read and interested in everything from politics to the Kardashians.
Dating history: Has had two serious relationships, one with a man and one with a woman, but is looking to just date women for the time being.
Dating profile description: Mostly close-up selfies, one picture with her dog. Bio reads, “Office manager by day, mum to a mini sausage all the time / Love long conversations, walks with the pup, binge watching Netflix, exploring bars and restaurants, blogging / Looking to meet someone to enjoy my next thing with!”
Dating problems: Holly has paralysis when it comes to talking about herself in a positive way and is terrified of coming off as boastful, cringey or cocky. “I’m down to earth, have a great personality, and I'm quite an all-rounded person. But explaining that to somebody in a few short sentences, to catch somebody's interest and not come off like an absolute knob, is really hard!”
Looking for: Nothing too serious, but someone to actually connect with.
Dan
The basics: 29 years old, half-English, half-Paraguayan, gay, graphic designer, master's student in urban studies. Describes himself as outgoing and adventurous and knows his own self-worth, but he’s growing increasingly tired of dating via the club scene.
Dating history: Has had three boyfriends, none lasting longer than nine months, and has only been on five or six “real dates” in his whole life.
Dating profile description: Mostly semi-ironic bad selfies, two topless, one picture of himself out cycling, one picture with a friend. Bio reads, “Happy, creative, driven, calm and introspective / Once had a full-blown 20-minute argument with Boris Johnson whilst cycling to work / I’m a student with a research interest in queer space, cycling and community-led projects / I’m also a graphic designer on the side. Sometimes an art school tutor. Sometimes a van man / Half-English, half-Paraguayan, born in Hastings / 5’10”.”
Dating problems: Dan is afraid that his profile isn’t drawing in the right person. He thinks he’s more interesting than his profile indicates and doesn’t convey his personality and, therefore, isn’t matching with guys he will actually connect with. He wants his profile to make him appear like someone dateable, not just someone to sleep with.
Looking for: Dating people who he might genuinely get on with, with the possibility for something more serious. “I would like to find guys who are suited to me. And by communicating what I am or who I am in a better way on my dating profile, I might attract the right kind of guys.”
The experts weigh inThe relationships therapist
Sally Baker is a relationships therapist who has appeared on the BBC, in the Observer and in New York Magazine. She says almost all daters do their dating profiles wrong: setting their own personal pitch to low.
“Online dating can be particularly challenging if the person writing their profile isn’t sure what they want for themselves,” Sally says. “Their ambivalence can make their profile read as wishy-washy or uninspiring. Profiles that are written without clarity usually mean you attract the kind of people that aren’t right for you either on a casual basis or for something more serious and long term.
“Of course, it's not about being egotistical or showing off either, as that’s just another kind of knob-head behaviour,” she adds. “It is, however, about describing yourself and what you want in a real, approachable way that would resonate with the right people for you.”
Sally takes all three daters through an exercise she does with all her clients, called “Perfect Day”, getting them to describe what their perfect day would look like, from the location to the activities to with whom that perfect day would ideally be spent. Sally encourages her clients to forget about realistic boundaries and to “dream big” about what their day would look like. “This is so if you only achieve half of what you want in your perfect day it will still be amazing,” she says.
Liam’s perfect day is actually pretty simple: nice meals, walking his dog, spending time with his family and skydiving for the first time. But despite his intense interest in being in a serious, romantic relationship, his day doesn’t mention a partner at all. Instead, it mentions dating as happening the night before and meeting potential prospects at random points between other activities.
“In reality, he seems very much of the casual dating mindset,” Sally says. “He is intrigued by seeing who catches his eye. For sure his day was bookended with the afterglow of a great date and included possibilities with a new woman he met. However, the women mentioned were peripheral to his main story.”
Sally believes that Liam needs to change up his dating profile and whole dating approach; to be less focused on finding a long-term commitment and shifting his profile to encourage something less intense. “I feel that the more comfortable he is taking his time and meeting a variety of partners without putting himself under any commitment pressures, the sooner he will gain clarity about what he needs for himself and bring his life into greater balance,” Sally argues. “When he has greater clarity, he'll find the right woman for him.”
Holly’s day, while similarly simple – nice meals, drinks and dinner with friends, trips to the beach, playing with the dog – lays out huge signposts for something more serious: a long-standing, committed relationship, emotional and physical intimacy and even mentions exploring parenthood at the end of the day.
“Holly is ready for the next stage of her life more than her profile alludes to,” Sally says. “She is ready to meet her significant other and embrace all the possibilities that could bring for her and her partner, including starting their own family.”
Sally believes that Holly’s profile could shout more about herself. “Her profile should show more about how she feels successful in many areas of her life and she can also rightly say how proud she is with the life she’s made for herself. From this place of feeling grounded and content in who she is, she recognises what's missing for her now is the love of her life and that’s who she’s looking for.”
Dan’s perfect day is the most elaborate: living in an apartment in Barcelona, cycling to a lake and going freshwater swimming, drinks with friends, a spontaneous trip out to a warehouse party and staying out until 8am. Sally believes that this excitement, colour and adventurousness should be relayed in Dan’s profile, which, at the moment, reads more like a CV.
“Specifying Latin heritage, or how much he enjoys the way of life in places like Barcelona, could be added to his profile,” Sally says. “I don’t know how Dan would feel about niching down his profile to say exactly what he wants – I think he should. Other people aren’t psychic so sometimes you need to put what you want out there in a straightforward way and see what happens.”
The dating expert
Dami Olonisakin, better known as Oloni, is a dating expert and sex blogger who has been consulting on relationships for the past ten years. She is known for her viral Twitter threads, in which she anonymously shares her readers’ wildest sex stories, as well as her podcast, Laid Bare, which has a listernership reaching the six-figure mark. She also has a dating show coming out with BBC Three at the end of this year called My Mates Are Bad Dates, in which she will consult terrible daters on how to do dating better.
“Whew, people are really bad at taking photos,” she tells me after looking at the three daters’ profiles. Liam, specifically, she thinks needs a major change-up. “There's been research that shows that dating profiles that usually do well are those who basically show off that they're either athletic or that they're into the gym or that they like to keep fit. So if he loves his sport, he needs photos of himself where he's at a match or something, to show that side of him... rather than the dark, gory photos that he's got and sharing that he's a prison officer.”
Oloni agrees that many of Liam’s dating app problems stem from him revealing his job title. “He needs to tone down what he does,” she says, “and when it comes to a job like that, it's not really something you should be screaming about on the internet anyway. Dating profiles are supposed to be fun and quirky, so he needs to show that he’s an outgoing person. It's not supposed to be taken too seriously and he needs to remember that.”
Alongside better pictures – “they all need better photos” – Oloni thinks that Holly is being way too vague in her profile. “She needs to show us a bit more of her personality,” she says. “If she’s well-rounded, if she’s multifaceted, she needs to show that.”
Oloni notes Holly’s apprehension about coming off arrogant or boastful and says that, while it’s entirely normal to hype yourself on your profile, there are some easy ways to signpost features of your personality without blatantly bragging about your best traits.
“If she wants to show us that she's smart, she can probably share that she's a ‘booklover’,” Oloni argues. “No different from someone who's sharing their love for the arts saying that they love going to the movies or that they watched 300 films. I think she just needs to find ways to get it across without saying, ‘I am funny ha ha ha.’ If you're funny, say something that you find hilarious. It can be one-liners, for example, that she feels comfortable expressing. Simply sharing a joke that's not OTT.”
When it comes to Dan’s profile issues, Oloni summarises quite succinctly: “This isn’t your Instagram bio, this is a dating profile.” Dan’s problem she argues, is that he simply lists basic biographical information about himself rather than revealing things about himself that show why he could be a good date – or even an interesting person to get to know.
“He needs to put a bit more effort into his dating profile and to switch things up,” she tells me. “Tell us something interesting about you. What's a fun fact about yourself? What are your interests? What are your hobbies? Put a bit more effort in and you can basically attract someone with the same hobbies or interests.”
“He needs to put more effort in with photos as well,” Oloni says. “He needs to take better photos, find photos of himself where he's gone on holiday. He needs to ask himself as well, if he saw his own dating profile, would he think that person is serious about dating? Not a commitment, but even just looking to date properly and seeing if it could go somewhere, or do they think that that person would just be down to fuck? What would he think? You know, you can tell when you look at a person's profile if they're quite serious or if they're looking to date or if they're just there for a hook-up. You can kind of get that. So he needs to ask himself what is this reflecting? And just give himself a total brand-new start.”
The advertiser
Charlie Palmer is a Planner at Uncommon – a creative agency in London that has worked with brands such as ITV, the World Wildlife Fund and YouTube. “A dating profile, like an advert, has a specific goal,” he tells me. “It has a specific behaviour it wants to promote. In this case, the goal is just to start a conversation. That’s the furthest the profile can get you – after that, your actual personality has to take over. The profile doesn’t get you a girlfriend, or even a date. There’s no point trying to say loads of different things in your Tinder bio.”
With that in mind, he says Liam has several major issues. “Liam needs to simplify that bio,” Charlie argues. “Communicating one thing well is better than communicating four things badly. People are looking through hundreds of profiles – they don’t care enough to read a list of stuff.
“The selfies are a problem on a few levels,” he also says. “Liam’s a very sociable guy, but his profile looks like he doesn’t have any mates to take photos of him. It looks like far too much effort has gone into taking selfies specifically to put on the profile, and, most importantly, a selfie taken in your bedroom is a conversational non-starter.”
Like the other professionals, Charlie argues that Holly needs to sell herself a bit more. “Holly’s profile feels a little like she’s trying to persuade people on the app that she’s good enough for them,” he says. “But she should try the opposite. You want people to be doubting whether they’re good enough for you.”
Charlie says that Holly needs to inject a bit more personality into her bio. “Her bio should be less like a shop window with a sale on and more like a club with a massive (but friendly) bouncer on the door. She should try baby steps to begin with, like, ‘If you don’t like dachshunds this isn’t going to work’ or ‘I have strong views on the Kardashians.’” He also thinks less staged, more candid pictures could go a long way. “Nobody likes an advert that feels like an advert. Everyone likes an advert that feels like an exclusive invitation.”
Dan’s profile, Charlie says, reads too much like a dispassionate list of his features. “Dan needs to show rather than tell,” he tells me. “On paper, it does the job, but he needs to think about his audience a bit more. The profile is designed to give an idea of what it’s like to hang out with you. It’s not a list of qualifications.”
He says that Dan’s pictures could do more to convey his personality too. “If he has photos of himself in context, he should use more of them,” Charlie argues. “He’s listed lots of attributes and interests in the bio that aren’t coming through in the pictures, and the vast majority of communication is visual. It’s particularly difficult to get an idea of what you’re like when you’ve got the same expression in every photo. Mix it up a bit for a more rounded profile.”
Finally, Charlie suggests Dan appeals to the emotional side of his personality to make his profile read less like a CV. “The best advertising is emotional not rational – focus on how you want your profile to feel, not just the things it describes. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re charming, be charming. What you say or show matters less than how you say it or show it.”
In conclusion
Dating cannot be mastered with just a good profile, and a good profile doesn’t mean you’ve mastered a dating app. Without a decent opening line, an ability to converse like a normal human being and the grace to ask to meet someone IRL without sounding like a serial killer, daters will struggle to get anywhere online. But in order to get to any of those points, a good profile is a necessity, and for Liam, Dan and Holly, theirs can be dramatically – and expertly – improved. And while it may not guarantee that they’ll find the person of their dreams, it is a good, and perhaps the only, place to start. CLICK HERE TO SEE A VIDEO PRESENTATION
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2020.08.24 15:07 dataiskings How to create the perfect Tinder profile

When Liam moved to Manchester from south Wales in 2017, he thought he was doing it for lasting love. Dating his girlfriend long distance for over a year, he found a job as a prison officer and moved north to be with her. But after a year he found himself single again and hasn’t managed to date anyone seriously since. He desperately wants a committed, long-term relationship, but is struggling to make it past consistent hook-ups.
When Holly’s relationship fell apart a few months ago, she left London after 13 years of living there, moving with her brand-new dachshund puppy to her hometown of Hastings. But trying to date other women in Hastings has proved less than fruitful.
Dan’s life in London has been pretty good. A graphic designer, just finishing his masters at UCL, he’s got most of it figured out. But at 29, he’s realised that the gay clubbing scene is making it more difficult to meet romantic partners with whom he really connects and is struggling to find someone to date for more than a couple months.
While all three of these people are in vastly situations, one thing unites them: they all absolutely despise their online dating profiles. From Tinder to Bumble to Her to Hinge, they feel cringed-out, awkward and unfulfilled by how they present themselves and feel their dating profile is holding them back.
This is a major problem for online daters. You can be charming, funny and genuinely interesting, but when it comes to writing a bio your mind can go blank. It’s hard to make profiles read the same (see: “I love gin!”, “My pet peeve is slow walkers”) and it’s hard to make your real self stand out. In the US, dating profile styling agencies are even starting to pop up, where people can pay to have this increasingly common dating problem professionally solved. But for those who don’t have hundreds to shell out on professionals, the question still persists: what do you need to do to make your dating profile better?
Liam, Dan and Holly have gotten this question answered. Working with three romantic professionals – a relationships therapist, a dating expert and a professional advertising creative – they have willingly handed over their profiles, histories, and insecurities to be molded into a more authentic version of themselves and get desperately needed news on how to make their dating profile dateable.
The datersLiam
The basics: 28 years old, Welsh, straight, prison officer. Describes himself as a regular guy, interested in sport, going out with his friends, spending time with his family and looking after his dog, Jasper.
Dating history: Has had three serious relationships and says that all of them petered out at the same time – around the two-year mark.
Dating profile description: Mostly selfies, mostly taken in dark rooms, one topless, mostly bordering on scary faces. Bio reads, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing / Beards make the world go round / Never watched Game Of Thrones, which is apparently a huge deal? / Welsh boy trespassing in the North, tryna not get kicked out after Brexit...”
Dating problems: Liam’s problem is two-fold. Although his job as a prisoner officer is interesting, it’s not something that defines him – however, it’s the only thing on dating apps that women seem to be interested in talking about. His second problem is that, when he does meet people, there’s miscommunication about what each other wants and he ends up thinking it’s becoming serious when all she wants is something casual.
Looking for: A serious relationship. “What’s the point in having fun if there’s nobody there when you have a rubbish day at work? Who’s there to share your good and bad days, your achievements? Who’s there to pick you up when you’re down? And, ideally, that’s what I’m after. Something real. Something proper.”
Holly
The basics: 31 years old, English, bisexual, working-from-home office manager, dachshund dog mum. Describes herself as multifaceted – funny, smart, well-read and interested in everything from politics to the Kardashians.
Dating history: Has had two serious relationships, one with a man and one with a woman, but is looking to just date women for the time being.
Dating profile description: Mostly close-up selfies, one picture with her dog. Bio reads, “Office manager by day, mum to a mini sausage all the time / Love long conversations, walks with the pup, binge watching Netflix, exploring bars and restaurants, blogging / Looking to meet someone to enjoy my next thing with!”
Dating problems: Holly has paralysis when it comes to talking about herself in a positive way and is terrified of coming off as boastful, cringey or cocky. “I’m down to earth, have a great personality, and I'm quite an all-rounded person. But explaining that to somebody in a few short sentences, to catch somebody's interest and not come off like an absolute knob, is really hard!”
Looking for: Nothing too serious, but someone to actually connect with.
Dan
The basics: 29 years old, half-English, half-Paraguayan, gay, graphic designer, master's student in urban studies. Describes himself as outgoing and adventurous and knows his own self-worth, but he’s growing increasingly tired of dating via the club scene.
Dating history: Has had three boyfriends, none lasting longer than nine months, and has only been on five or six “real dates” in his whole life.
Dating profile description: Mostly semi-ironic bad selfies, two topless, one picture of himself out cycling, one picture with a friend. Bio reads, “Happy, creative, driven, calm and introspective / Once had a full-blown 20-minute argument with Boris Johnson whilst cycling to work / I’m a student with a research interest in queer space, cycling and community-led projects / I’m also a graphic designer on the side. Sometimes an art school tutor. Sometimes a van man / Half-English, half-Paraguayan, born in Hastings / 5’10”.”
Dating problems: Dan is afraid that his profile isn’t drawing in the right person. He thinks he’s more interesting than his profile indicates and doesn’t convey his personality and, therefore, isn’t matching with guys he will actually connect with. He wants his profile to make him appear like someone dateable, not just someone to sleep with.
Looking for: Dating people who he might genuinely get on with, with the possibility for something more serious. “I would like to find guys who are suited to me. And by communicating what I am or who I am in a better way on my dating profile, I might attract the right kind of guys.”
The experts weigh inThe relationships therapist
Sally Baker is a relationships therapist who has appeared on the BBC, in the Observer and in New York Magazine. She says almost all daters do their dating profiles wrong: setting their own personal pitch to low.
“Online dating can be particularly challenging if the person writing their profile isn’t sure what they want for themselves,” Sally says. “Their ambivalence can make their profile read as wishy-washy or uninspiring. Profiles that are written without clarity usually mean you attract the kind of people that aren’t right for you either on a casual basis or for something more serious and long term.
“Of course, it's not about being egotistical or showing off either, as that’s just another kind of knob-head behaviour,” she adds. “It is, however, about describing yourself and what you want in a real, approachable way that would resonate with the right people for you.”
Sally takes all three daters through an exercise she does with all her clients, called “Perfect Day”, getting them to describe what their perfect day would look like, from the location to the activities to with whom that perfect day would ideally be spent. Sally encourages her clients to forget about realistic boundaries and to “dream big” about what their day would look like. “This is so if you only achieve half of what you want in your perfect day it will still be amazing,” she says.
Liam’s perfect day is actually pretty simple: nice meals, walking his dog, spending time with his family and skydiving for the first time. But despite his intense interest in being in a serious, romantic relationship, his day doesn’t mention a partner at all. Instead, it mentions dating as happening the night before and meeting potential prospects at random points between other activities.
“In reality, he seems very much of the casual dating mindset,” Sally says. “He is intrigued by seeing who catches his eye. For sure his day was bookended with the afterglow of a great date and included possibilities with a new woman he met. However, the women mentioned were peripheral to his main story.”
Sally believes that Liam needs to change up his dating profile and whole dating approach; to be less focused on finding a long-term commitment and shifting his profile to encourage something less intense. “I feel that the more comfortable he is taking his time and meeting a variety of partners without putting himself under any commitment pressures, the sooner he will gain clarity about what he needs for himself and bring his life into greater balance,” Sally argues. “When he has greater clarity, he'll find the right woman for him.”
Holly’s day, while similarly simple – nice meals, drinks and dinner with friends, trips to the beach, playing with the dog – lays out huge signposts for something more serious: a long-standing, committed relationship, emotional and physical intimacy and even mentions exploring parenthood at the end of the day.
“Holly is ready for the next stage of her life more than her profile alludes to,” Sally says. “She is ready to meet her significant other and embrace all the possibilities that could bring for her and her partner, including starting their own family.”
Sally believes that Holly’s profile could shout more about herself. “Her profile should show more about how she feels successful in many areas of her life and she can also rightly say how proud she is with the life she’s made for herself. From this place of feeling grounded and content in who she is, she recognises what's missing for her now is the love of her life and that’s who she’s looking for.”
Dan’s perfect day is the most elaborate: living in an apartment in Barcelona, cycling to a lake and going freshwater swimming, drinks with friends, a spontaneous trip out to a warehouse party and staying out until 8am. Sally believes that this excitement, colour and adventurousness should be relayed in Dan’s profile, which, at the moment, reads more like a CV.
“Specifying Latin heritage, or how much he enjoys the way of life in places like Barcelona, could be added to his profile,” Sally says. “I don’t know how Dan would feel about niching down his profile to say exactly what he wants – I think he should. Other people aren’t psychic so sometimes you need to put what you want out there in a straightforward way and see what happens.”
The dating expert
Dami Olonisakin, better known as Oloni, is a dating expert and sex blogger who has been consulting on relationships for the past ten years. She is known for her viral Twitter threads, in which she anonymously shares her readers’ wildest sex stories, as well as her podcast, Laid Bare, which has a listernership reaching the six-figure mark. She also has a dating show coming out with BBC Three at the end of this year called My Mates Are Bad Dates, in which she will consult terrible daters on how to do dating better.
“Whew, people are really bad at taking photos,” she tells me after looking at the three daters’ profiles. Liam, specifically, she thinks needs a major change-up. “There's been research that shows that dating profiles that usually do well are those who basically show off that they're either athletic or that they're into the gym or that they like to keep fit. So if he loves his sport, he needs photos of himself where he's at a match or something, to show that side of him... rather than the dark, gory photos that he's got and sharing that he's a prison officer.”
Oloni agrees that many of Liam’s dating app problems stem from him revealing his job title. “He needs to tone down what he does,” she says, “and when it comes to a job like that, it's not really something you should be screaming about on the internet anyway. Dating profiles are supposed to be fun and quirky, so he needs to show that he’s an outgoing person. It's not supposed to be taken too seriously and he needs to remember that.”
Alongside better pictures – “they all need better photos” – Oloni thinks that Holly is being way too vague in her profile. “She needs to show us a bit more of her personality,” she says. “If she’s well-rounded, if she’s multifaceted, she needs to show that.”
Oloni notes Holly’s apprehension about coming off arrogant or boastful and says that, while it’s entirely normal to hype yourself on your profile, there are some easy ways to signpost features of your personality without blatantly bragging about your best traits.
“If she wants to show us that she's smart, she can probably share that she's a ‘booklover’,” Oloni argues. “No different from someone who's sharing their love for the arts saying that they love going to the movies or that they watched 300 films. I think she just needs to find ways to get it across without saying, ‘I am funny ha ha ha.’ If you're funny, say something that you find hilarious. It can be one-liners, for example, that she feels comfortable expressing. Simply sharing a joke that's not OTT.”
When it comes to Dan’s profile issues, Oloni summarises quite succinctly: “This isn’t your Instagram bio, this is a dating profile.” Dan’s problem she argues, is that he simply lists basic biographical information about himself rather than revealing things about himself that show why he could be a good date – or even an interesting person to get to know.
“He needs to put a bit more effort into his dating profile and to switch things up,” she tells me. “Tell us something interesting about you. What's a fun fact about yourself? What are your interests? What are your hobbies? Put a bit more effort in and you can basically attract someone with the same hobbies or interests.”
“He needs to put more effort in with photos as well,” Oloni says. “He needs to take better photos, find photos of himself where he's gone on holiday. He needs to ask himself as well, if he saw his own dating profile, would he think that person is serious about dating? Not a commitment, but even just looking to date properly and seeing if it could go somewhere, or do they think that that person would just be down to fuck? What would he think? You know, you can tell when you look at a person's profile if they're quite serious or if they're looking to date or if they're just there for a hook-up. You can kind of get that. So he needs to ask himself what is this reflecting? And just give himself a total brand-new start.”
The advertiser
Charlie Palmer is a Planner at Uncommon – a creative agency in London that has worked with brands such as ITV, the World Wildlife Fund and YouTube. “A dating profile, like an advert, has a specific goal,” he tells me. “It has a specific behaviour it wants to promote. In this case, the goal is just to start a conversation. That’s the furthest the profile can get you – after that, your actual personality has to take over. The profile doesn’t get you a girlfriend, or even a date. There’s no point trying to say loads of different things in your Tinder bio.”
With that in mind, he says Liam has several major issues. “Liam needs to simplify that bio,” Charlie argues. “Communicating one thing well is better than communicating four things badly. People are looking through hundreds of profiles – they don’t care enough to read a list of stuff.
“The selfies are a problem on a few levels,” he also says. “Liam’s a very sociable guy, but his profile looks like he doesn’t have any mates to take photos of him. It looks like far too much effort has gone into taking selfies specifically to put on the profile, and, most importantly, a selfie taken in your bedroom is a conversational non-starter.”
Like the other professionals, Charlie argues that Holly needs to sell herself a bit more. “Holly’s profile feels a little like she’s trying to persuade people on the app that she’s good enough for them,” he says. “But she should try the opposite. You want people to be doubting whether they’re good enough for you.”
Charlie says that Holly needs to inject a bit more personality into her bio. “Her bio should be less like a shop window with a sale on and more like a club with a massive (but friendly) bouncer on the door. She should try baby steps to begin with, like, ‘If you don’t like dachshunds this isn’t going to work’ or ‘I have strong views on the Kardashians.’” He also thinks less staged, more candid pictures could go a long way. “Nobody likes an advert that feels like an advert. Everyone likes an advert that feels like an exclusive invitation.”
Dan’s profile, Charlie says, reads too much like a dispassionate list of his features. “Dan needs to show rather than tell,” he tells me. “On paper, it does the job, but he needs to think about his audience a bit more. The profile is designed to give an idea of what it’s like to hang out with you. It’s not a list of qualifications.”
He says that Dan’s pictures could do more to convey his personality too. “If he has photos of himself in context, he should use more of them,” Charlie argues. “He’s listed lots of attributes and interests in the bio that aren’t coming through in the pictures, and the vast majority of communication is visual. It’s particularly difficult to get an idea of what you’re like when you’ve got the same expression in every photo. Mix it up a bit for a more rounded profile.”
Finally, Charlie suggests Dan appeals to the emotional side of his personality to make his profile read less like a CV. “The best advertising is emotional not rational – focus on how you want your profile to feel, not just the things it describes. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re charming, be charming. What you say or show matters less than how you say it or show it.”
In conclusion
Dating cannot be mastered with just a good profile, and a good profile doesn’t mean you’ve mastered a dating app. Without a decent opening line, an ability to converse like a normal human being and the grace to ask to meet someone IRL without sounding like a serial killer, daters will struggle to get anywhere online. But in order to get to any of those points, a good profile is a necessity, and for Liam, Dan and Holly, theirs can be dramatically – and expertly – improved. And while it may not guarantee that they’ll find the person of their dreams, it is a good, and perhaps the only, place to start. CLICK HERE TO SEE A VIDEO PRESENTATION
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2020.08.24 06:45 tHisisTeaTime How do I help my dad feel less demotivated?

So my dad is 55 and has been dating on and off for 10 years since his split with my mum. He since has had lots of dates(99% online, specifically POF), but only a small handful developing into relationships, and the long best was probably 1 1/2 years. He always finds a problem with them and blows it up.
To make matters harder, he has a lot of health issues that prevent him from working too much.
Because he is single and doesn’t have any work, he feels like he hasn’t really amounted in much, and that he isn’t where he thinks he should be in life, so he’s very demotivated and depressed recently and it’s starting to worry me.
I’m just wondering if anyone has gone through this themselves or with a parent, and how I can support him through it? Are there any dating sites, methods or locations anyone has had success in? Any tips for boosting moral in a situation like this? He can’t afford therapy and doesn’t love the idea anyway, so my main suggestion always is met with resistance :(
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2020.08.13 23:14 geekgirl_pink Help! I don't know how to come out or even if I should.

I'm 35f and I've known I am Bi since I was about 15 I guess.
I am not out to really anyone, only on Twitter because I do not follow nor am I followed by anyone I know, it's my safe space. I did tell a bunch of my friends I was Bi when I was a teenager, but I don't have much to do with them anymore and feel like they probably thought I was "experimenting in uni" anyway, as although I have slept with women, I have never had a relationship with one.
I have been single for 5 years after my ex and I broke up, I've never really dated (only hook ups) since then tbh because I was quite happy being single and focusing on myself and my kids. However I feel like I want to get back out there now, hopefully find someone I can have a relationship with eventually. Obviously I really don't care if that relationship is with a man or a woman, but I live in a small town and while I realise that at 35 I shouldn't care what people think, I do. I have literally heard people in my acquaintance say Bisexuality is just attention seeking, isn't real, etc. I'm sure you've heard it all before.
I guess I have some issues because from a young age people (my brother, 15 years my senior among them) would call me a lesbian, KD Lang, dyke, etc. because I've never really been a traditionally feminine person, at least not a majority of the time. I look back now and try to not care because there's nothing insulting in being a lesbian, so why care that people called me that? But I can't shake the fact that it was meant as an insult, something shameful, and this is making me really nervous about coming out.
I guess I'm just looking for some general advice. Do I even need to come out? I literally wouldn't care if people just found out I was in a relationship with a woman and that was it. I'm more anxious about being on dating sites or whatever and it getting around that I'm bi that way, pathetic I know and a total cop out. I would obviously tell my kids, mum and big sister as I know they would be supportive but kinda think fuck everyone else.
Am I being a total twat here? Any advice at all is appreciated. I don't have many friends tbh, and those I do have are all straight, I have queer acquaintances I suppose I could reach out to but I thought I would try here first.
Thanks in advance for any advice, words of wisdom, etc.
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2020.08.10 07:37 chrischangwrites Stories assorted by their primary VIBE: fun, sad, aww, everything else

FUN :D
[WP] When you chose to adopt instead of conceive, you said you would have no problem with ‘special needs’ children. Its a little suspicious when the agency was so desperate on you adopting these 5 ‘special’ children. You now have a family of a werewolf, vampire, merman, alien and phoenix
[WP] Write about a ‘normal’ day, where the character keeps avoiding the plot while the narrator gets more and more frustrated. - a personal fav
[WP] Instead of a hero, a junkie on a two week bender is summoned to fight. And they have a lot of Mexican sugar to fuel him.
[WP] A Detective encounters a serial killer, with possibly one of the largest amount of murders to date in history. Their reasons for every murder? They killed the vibe, and needed a vibe check.
[WP] You've been crazing your mum for a pet chicken for years but when you finally get one there's a knock on the door from the secret services.
[WP] You are the world's powerful Superhero. You have Super-Strength, Super-Speed, Flight, Telekinesis, Healing Powers, Shapeshifting, the ability to breathe in space and underwater, Fire Powers...and Crippling Social Anxiety. - This one's funny / aww (organizing stories isn't an exact science yet)
[WP] William has died. He then walks across a verdant field until he sees a huge statue of two goats mid-headbutt. "Where am I?" he asks himself. "This land is only for heroic goats, Baa-aalhalla," said an unseen voice. "Who are you, interloper?" it continued. "William, but friends call me Billy."
[WP] One day a homeless woman curses you. The effect? You are cursed to forever fall in love with your meals right before eating. - I really liked this one lol
[WP] You were finally summoned only to find out you were summoned by a lonely little girl who didn’t know what book she read from. And now you, a demon lord, are “forced” to be a fairy godmother for her. Still, it was nice to be in the company of a human with such a pure soul. - Another funny / aww... (I know! Stop yelling at me!)
[WP] There are plenty of schools for super-powered children in the world, but this one is different. Instead of teaching the students how to fight the focus is on how to use their abilities in every day civilian life.
[WP] You discover a transparent geode that has water trapped inside. Against your better judgement, you crack it open and take a swig. You're immediately transported back in time to when the water was first trapped in the rock.
[WP] A mercenary spy finds himself out of work when his group is disbanded. Distressed at not knowing how to integrate with civilian life and society, he is oblivious to the skills he developed faking mundane jobs.
[WP] A world where everyone gets super-powers, of varying degrees of might, not in their teens, but when they turn forty.
[WP] Your whole life you've been able to summon an older version of yourself to take over your body and help you in difficult situations. Now as an adult you find yourself being the one summoned.
[WP]The heroes confront you with the legendary mystical weapon that can defeat you. Unbeknownst to them, it's actually the one thing you needed to conquer the world. You were having trouble finding it, so you started the legend of the weapon yourself, to get some poor schmuck to find it for you.
[WP] You are a competitive eater, shoveling down cheeseburgers to hit the world record. You’re doing great until your heart stops, keeling over in the middle of your tenth. Suddenly you are in front of a massive door manned by a bored viking. “Good news, you technically qualify for Valhalla”
[WP] Although technologically backward by galactic standards, humans are highly regarded throughout known space. The reason? Introducing the concept of cooking food before consuming.
[WP] You’re on the edge of achieving world peace, and God realizing that this could limit his influence decides to send his top assassin, Jesus Christ. - Don't read this if you're Christian
[WP] As a devout Christian you were devastated when the rapture came and you were one of the ones left behind, but you settled on that he just forgot. Now there are beasts bowing to you and one says “how may we serve you Master” you realize they think you’re the anti-Christ. - Christians, you're good to go on this one
[WP] You have died and gone to Hell. You wonder what your eternal punishment will be as you see Satan approach. He is quite happy to see you, stating that he is impressed with what you've done with your life and offers to promote you to be the 8th Deadly Sin. - Don't read this if you watch hentai
SAD D:
[WP] Years after the world has ended, you set out on a quest to gather the ingredients for a birthday cake for your estranged child. Who would’ve thought it would be so difficult and dangerous...
[EU] Every Pokemon battle ends with the death of a trainer and their pokemon. You send out your final Pokemon (who happened to be the starter you've kept since the very beginning of your journey all those years ago) on its last battle against the Pokemon league champion. - R-rated Pokemon
[WP]You have lived an adventurous 20 years, now aged thirty. You're a successful entrepreneur. Only on your 30th birthday, you awake in the hospital, aged 10. Your bike accident resulted in a coma, and now you're awake.
[WP] You might have been the biggest loser in the 10th grade, but everything's changed after a grandpa you never knew left you a $100M inheritance. The only catch? You must spend at least $1M per month on making your non-existent friends happy. Luckily, you found some new friends...
[WP] Your life is in pieces. So, you buy a pair of retinal implants. When worn, they signal the brain’s reaction to all five senses, allowing you to try new foods, conjure up loved ones, and travel all over the world. But, the longer they’re worn, the harder it is to tell what’s real and what isn’t. - a long one
[WP] Your name, age, height, weight, and race all flash across the T.V. screen. You look in horror as you see your dead body being dragged out of a river as a reporter announces that you've been brutally murdered by an infamous serial killer who has been on the run for years.
[WP] The FBI released information on how many times each citizen has had their memories erased. Most people say zero. A few people say 1 or 2. Your name, however, says 26.
AWW ;o
[WP] As a lonely child, you turned to a ouija board for a friend and found a lonely demon doing the same thing. After 20 years of being inter dimensional pen pals, they’ve asked to meet for real
[WP] the grim reaper has only ever refused one job: an elderly lady he was supposed to take. He now visits her every week to vent about his gruesome profession.
[WP] What started out as a prank became a tradition, and now on Christmas Eves the villains and superheroes exchange gifts. The heroes, of course, are generous with their gifts. The ones from the villains, however, are surprisingly thoughtful.
[WP] Local Necromancer tries to show a person they love them, the problem is that Necromancers aren't exactly known to be good at socializing.
[WP] A level superheroes protect the universe, B level superheroes protect the Galaxy, C level superheroes protect the Earth and so on. You are a Z level superhero. You protect...a single street in a small village.
[WP] Sick of the corruption and politics of your own country, you create a flag and declare your family farm its own sovereign land. The next day you find a mass of people on your doorstep looking for somewhere to start fresh.
[WP] Everything in life is going wrong. From spilling your water after waking up to getting fired from work. After years of living like this you and your best friend decide to steal a large ship and live your lives on the sea.
EVERYTHING ELSE 0.0
[WP] The zombie apocalypse wasn't that bad at first, after all zombies are quite slow and dumb, problem was when the old time superheroes started to come back, suddenly there were flying zombies, laser eyes zombies, superfast zombies, all we could do was retreat underground hoping for a miracle
[WP] A group of humans dwelling underground after the end find an old PC and monitor hooked up to a solar array, with only an E-Mail program open. Decades later, spam bots still send E-Mails to that PC, which are revered as the words of the gods.
[WP] It’s there every night. You hear it above you, creaking, breathing. You hunker down when you see his eyes searching for you. But it roars in anger, and the room floods with light. You hide in the little bit of darkness left. You are the monster under the bed.
[WP] You die once physically and die again when you’re forgotten by the world. While in the afterlife, you see someone appear next to you after his name was discovered in an archaeological dig site. When you ask him what was after the second death, he just looks at you and screams.
[EU] (Cyberpunk) once again everyone thinks that the Avatar Is dead and didn't get reborn into the next cycle but the mega corporations know better they had the new avatar kidnapped and experimented on them.
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2020.08.09 16:17 Sheldorthefifth Do you have any advice for a guy who likes who he is but still lacks confidence when around girls he is attracted to?

I (23m) am able to recognise that I have qualities I think are good. I enjoy my own company (love going to the movies by myself) and am pretty independent, I have a family that loves me, I cook food that tastes nice, I’m attractive (or at least I think I am), I’m funny, I have friends, I like my style, photography is my hobby and I’m good at it, I have a good work ethic and can save money, I work my 40-45 hours a week in a job that’s hopefully setting me up for a career in the film industry (to be a cinematographer is my dream), I know for sure what I want to do with the rest of my life which can’t be said for many people my age, I’ve traveled on my own for an extended bit of time to America and Canada, I’m kind, caring, a good listener and I have a lot of love to give... yet I’ve been single my whole life.
I have never been intimate with a girl on any level; never had sex, never kissed, never even held hands. I have a pretty tight knit group of friends and am slowly expanding that but I’m definitely the most introverted one, the one that feels the least inclined to hang out all the time. Recently I’ve been going out to pubs more (nightclubs don’t really suit me) to give myself more opportunities to talk to girls but I always fall short of my own hopes and expectations. I imagine all day beforehand that I’m going to strike up a conversation with some girl and be super witty and flirtatious but when it comes down to it I just lack the confidence.
I don’t so much fear rejection as much as I do fear being boring. My counselor said (with good intentions) that I’ve just skipped the horny teen phase and the “figuring out what I want to to with my life” phase and gone straight to being a 30 year old and eventually people are going to respect me and be attracted to me for who I am. Personally, I don’t want to wait 7 years for this to maybe happen. In my head, girls my age are more attracted to confident, exciting, spontaneous guys who know how to please a woman and have maybe dabbled in a bit of rebellious behaviour. I am none, and have never done, any of these things.
Approaching a complete stranger that I have no reason to be talking to is out of character for me, so I think that if I ever approached a girl, within just a few minutes she might realise that I’m putting on an act and that the real me isn’t all that interesting. In all honesty, are girls in their early/mid 20s looking for the kind of guys I think they are? This is the one road block in my life and it’s stopping me from being happy. I’ve seen a counselor, spoken to my mum and the closest person I’ve ever had to being a girlfriend (lives in the US), watched countless TED Talks and Youtube videos on curing approach anxiety and gaining confidence and I just don’t know what to do with myself. I feel like a 15yo trapped inside a 23yo body with my lack of sexual experience. I know that the solution lies in me and I’m the only one who can fix this but I don’t know where else to go.
TL;DR Are girls in their early/mid 20s more attracted to fun, flirtatious, exciting, spontaneous, sexually experienced guys than introverted, quiet, relationship and sexual virgins who have life goals and are on their way? Please be honest.
I think I’m a catch :) and have just had enough of being alone. Oh and I’m currently on several online dating sites and apps; not the best for your self esteem ay?
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2020.08.03 01:51 LetsRead_YouTube Scary Craigslist Stories 5

Maybe two and a half years back I met a chick at a bar. She had been stood up and I had just knocked off for the day. I didn’t go there with any idea to score. I just wanted a couple of pints to help me unwind. I’d been there around forty-five minutes when the bartender slipped me a note. It was from a girl sitting at the end of the bar. She asked me to grab a table with her so we could talk. My curiosity was peeked. So, I looked to my right and locked eyes with, possibly the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I thought maybe, I’d been given the note accidently. No way a girl that hot was interested at me. To make sure, I pointed at the note and mouthed, “Was this for me?”, then I pointed to myself. To my amazement, she nodded yes. That’s where our evening began. I grabbed a quiet table in the corner, and she joined me. We introduced ourselves before getting to the small talk. Her name was Amber, and she was 25. Close up, she was even more beautiful. I asked her why she’d written the note. I was genuinely curious. While I’m not a walking mess, I was nowhere near her level. The possibility I was being tricked came to mind. So, I asked if I was being pranked, but she said no. It wouldn’t be the first time. My “friends” seemed to think it was funny any girl would like me. They put notes on my windshield at least twice, pretending to be from a secret admirer. I never fell for it. I’m far smarter than they think I am. This, however, looked to be a real encounter. If it was, I was going to play it all the way through. The “getting to know each other” continued another hour until she asked if I wanted to take her home. I jumped on it and we walked the few blocks to my apartment.
We had a few more drinks and started messing around. I don’t kiss and tell, so I’ll just say we “enjoyed one another’s presence” for the rest of the night. When I awakened the next morning, she’d already gone. I wrote it off as an amazing dream and hit the head. When I came out, a pair of beer bottles caught my eye. I walked over to get a closer look. One had lipstick residue on the mouth. I still wasn’t positive. I walked over to the bed and sniffed the pillow opposite mine. The wonderful smell threw me back to the previous evening. There was no doubt. It had really happened. I was over the moon for a long time. I hoped to see her again. I went as far as asking some employees if they knew how to find her, but none did. As time went by, however, I wrote it off as a one- night stand. I began dating a new girl. A wonderful, fun chic to be around, but Amber stayed in the forefront of my mind. This new relationship never really went anywhere, and we ended things a few months in. Being newly single, I hoped to track Amber down and maybe pick back up where we’d left off. I returned to the bar and asked around again. I got the same answer. I didn’t have the money to hire a detective. Without a last name, I couldn’t do a search on the internet. Providence would arrive in the form of Craigslist. I was browsing the site and came across the “Missed Connections” section. It looked to be just as good as any other avenue, so I made a short description of our night together and how I’d like to meet again. I posted it and went on with my life. All was quiet until day 8. A message came from someone claiming to be Amber. I asked a few questions. They knew all the answers and even added things no one else could have known. I was overjoyed to be talking to her again and asked if we could meet for drinks. She agreed and suggested the place we first met. It sounded perfect, almost romantic. I started to believe this may go somewhere.
My months long search was over. For the rest of the week, my stomach was in knots. I was counting the hours. Saturday eventually arrived and I made my way to meet her. She was visible from outside and more beautiful than I remembered. I joined her at the table and the night went much as it had on our first meeting. All but one thing. Throughout the evening, she checked her phone many times. I assumed she was just nervous and tried to ignore it. It was a few hours before she suggested we go back to her place. I’d been looking forward to this for months. On our way out, I visited the head. As I walked away, I noticed she was fiddling with her phone, again. However, now she was making a call. I didn’t give a crap. Besides, maybe she was calling her roommate. She was basically a stranger to me. For all I knew, she had kids. Once again, I didn’t give a crap. She’d hung up by the time I returned anyway, and we made our way to her car. I stumbled my way down the street until she pointed at this plain four-door sedan and I shuffled up to the passenger door. She unlocked it and I fell into the seat. We closed our doors, but instead of starting the car, she looked just sat there and smiled at me. “Oh, she wants to make out.” The idea perked me up. When I leaned over to kiss her, a strange male voice told me to stop. “What?” I was so drunk I had a difficult time assessing the situation. I turned my head to the back seat and saw a large masked man pointing a gun at me. “Don’t make me shoot you cowboy!” Instantly, I sobered up. I could tell he meant every word. I looked over to Amber. Our eyes met and I knew I’d been tricked. They were cold, lacking any empathy. I was devastated. I’d lost my desire to live in that moment. Moving much faster than I should have, I yanked my wallet from my pocket and threw it into the back seat. I think my nonchalance caught the man off guard. He said nothing, even as I stepped from the car and slammed the door.
I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood mute, staring at the pavement. It remained quiet for around 30 seconds until I heard the car start and speed away. It wasn’t long before I had a massive adrenaline dump. The seriousness of what had occurred mere moments prior, hit me like a truck. I hunched over and began vomiting. Massive amounts of booze and nachos poured from my guts. I eventually ran dry and returned to my feet. I wiped my mouth and made my way home. I wanted nothing but to sleep and didn’t even bother to undress before falling into bed. Most of the day was gone when I woke up. I chugged a bottle of Gatorade (my hangover cure). The events of the previous night became clearer by the second. I felt so stupid. All the time I’d wasted looking for her. Then I got angry and my desire for revenge kicked in. A quick shower and a two mile walk later, I found myself filing a report. In Chicago, stick-ups generally don’t get much attention. When the detective handed me some mug shots, I got the idea I’d stumbled into something a tad more serious. I was shocked to see the faces of Amber and her accomplice staring back at me. I pointed them out, and the detective gave me the low down. Only at that moment, did I realize just how lucky I’d been. According to him, I had fallen prey to a scam. Amber’s real name was Shannon and she’d been a career con artist. The pair had been targeting single men for the last six months or more. I was thought to be their fifth victim and the previous three, had been killed. I felt a shudder through my body. The detective was unsure why I’d been allowed to live. That made two of us. Perhaps our history made me too much of a risk. Maybe she’d been pressured into doing it by her partner. I’ll probably never know. It was hoped I had some new information to give him, but I ended up being no help.
We spoke a little longer before he sent me home. Now, I was even more confused. I was happy to be alive. On the other hand, however, I wondered why I’d been spared. I have one particularly funny theory, that they didn’t consider $23 and a maxed-out card worth killing over, but the truth is, it’s not really a joking matter. Things wouldn’t get any clearer when Amber’s accomplice was arrested. He’d be brought in on unrelated charges, only to lawyer up the second he was asked any questions. He’ll stay mum more than likely. Even when presented with the possibility of execution. The detective on my case thinks Amber probably won’t be caught for a long time. And even if she is, she’ll go the way of silence, too. If and when, she is caught, I hope I can get a few minutes alone with her. Not because I wish her any harm. I’ve come to terms with her role in the crime. Instead rather, I’d like to ask why I was spared when others weren’t. I’d like to think it’s because we’d made some type of connection on an emotional level. Then again, that’s probably just my romantic side thinking out loud. In truth, it probably just wasn’t my time.
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2020.07.31 18:59 thecambridgegeek Audio Drama/Fiction/RPG Debuts - July 2020

I've got what I think is a mostly exhaustive list of the new audio drama series that came out in July, which may be of interest to those looking for new shows. See below. Anyone want to tell me any I've missed, and I'll update it? (Note, "new" here means that the Ep1 of the RSS feed was released, or a previously non-fiction feed started producing fiction.) Listened to any of them that you would recommend?
Previous months are available here:
https://www.thecambridgegeek.com/results.php?proof=Releases&tag1=Audio%20fiction
And the ongoing updates (just in case you don't want to wait for the end of the month) are available here:
https://twitter.com/AudioDramaDebut
And I do a weekly podcast collecting a few trailers here:
https://www.thecambridgegeek.com/archive/add/add.php

7/1: A Girl's Fiction (Fiction - Anthology)
Site: https://anchor.fm/a-girls-fiction/
Synopsis: Hi guys! And welcome to A Girl's Fiction. This is a podcast where I'll be writing stories exclusively for this podcast and will be sharing them with you. I hope that you're able to relate with some of these stories. If not, I hope that you can find some enjoyment in these stories.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/2808ddc4/podcast/rss

7/1: Citadel Goes Viral (Dramatised - Slice of life)
Site: http://www.citadelgoesviral.com/
Synopsis: Hi! This is Citadel Arts Group, a Leith based theatre company dedicated to giving a voice to older people. When the Covid virus hit the country, all our projects had to go on hold. That was when we turned to Zoom and we gave our playwrights group the challenge of creating short audio scripts for Citadel to record using the new technology - well, new to us anyway!

7/1: Piano Teeth (Fiction - Anthology)
Site: https://www.pianoteeth.co.uk/mutterings-1
Synopsis: A podcast from Piano Teeth. The voice inside your head. Expect darkly-comic, surreal and strange adventures all from the comfort of your own mind.
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/pianoteeth/feed.xml

7/1: Shadow of Arcanum (RPG - Urban fantasy)
Site: https://anchor.fm/shadowofarcanum
Synopsis: It has been 20 years since Vecna was defeated and Exandria has only gotten darker and crueller. Five companions set out on an adventure that will change their lives forever and will make them question everything they thought they knew. Shadow of Arcanum is a full POC lgbtq+ Actual play Drama.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/236ff5e0/podcast/rss

7/1: The Eternity Archives (RPG - Anthology)
Site: https://www.theeternityarchives.com/
Synopsis: A biweekly actual play TTRPG podcast. Join us as we venture A between realms to protect the fabric of reality by exploring everything the tabletop world has to offer!
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/www.theeternityarchives.com/feed.xml

7/1: The Mistress Files (Dramatised - Crime/Mystery)
Site: http://www.buzzsprout.com/870172
Synopsis: There's no such thing as true evil in this world. Evil is only defined by which side of the line one stands. Follow the tales of The Mistress, one of the most feared criminal masterminds the world has ever known, and ask yourself: Which side are you on?
RSS Feed: https://feeds.buzzsprout.com/870172.rss

7/2: The One Stars (Dramatised - Comedy)
Site: https://theonestars.libsyn.com/
Synopsis: The One Stars is a Comedy Fiction Podcast. Join our host Negative Nancy and her only friend Chatbot as they fly through space aboard the decrepit Space Windu. The One Stars features 'One Star Reviews from All Across the Multiverse. All reviews in The One Stars are fictional except when otherwise noted.
RSS Feed: https://theonestars.libsyn.com/rss

7/3: Cape Lock (Dramatised - Urban fantasy)
Site: https://anchor.fm/cape-lock/
Synopsis: KINH's investigative reporter Christina Glass looks into a town that only exists in peoples minds.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/20ada960/podcast/rss

7/3: Please Tell Me What To Do (Fiction - Interactive)
Site: https://soundcloud.com/law-kaaw
Synopsis: Speed-written audio drama. I release Friday, you vote what to do next over the weekend, we do it all over again. It's like goosebumps if the kids grew up but the author did not.

7/3: Ritual (Dramatised - Anthology)
Site: http://www.dirtyprotesttheatre.co.uk/ritual-plays
Synopsis: Three short plays from Dirty Protest Theatre in partnership with National Theatre Wales and Sherman Theatre in association with BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Arts.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/23df6b14/podcast/rss

7/3: Scared By Scott (Fiction - Horror)
Site: https://anchor.fm/scaredbyscott/
Synopsis: Do you like listening to scary or spooky stories? Then sit back and listen to short horror stories presented to you with minimal music and sound effects for that campfire story feel. Try not to get scared…
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/24176334/podcast/rss

7/3: The Pulp Cast (Dramatised - Anthology)
Site: https://anchor.fm/thepulpcast
Synopsis: The Pulp Cast is a fictional audio drama presentation in nostalgic anthology style. 21st Century stories with old school panache. Depressed detectives, dangerous dames, far-out journeys to outer space, and deep into the human mind. Enjoy original teleplays and new adaptations of forgotten gems from the under-appreciated underbelly of the Golden Age, reshaped and brought to life by the Pulp Cast's creators who are joined by an endearing and enthusiastic cast of guest voice actors. Grab your flashlight and pull the sheets up high, as we leap full speed ahead into the past!
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/247dd6f0/podcast/rss

7/4: Apocalypse Songs (Dramatised - Urban fantasy)
Site: https://anchor.fm/apocalypse-songs
Synopsis: Red Scare Theatre Company presents a five part audio drama experience. A supernatural thriller about music journalist Amy Louise Chen (Cassandra Tse) whose investigation into an obscure 1960s musician leads her down an unexpected path.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/26ce8ee0/podcast/rss

7/4: Daring Adventures (RPG - Fantasy)
Site: https://buzzedandboard.com/daring/
Synopsis: Follow along with this intrepid crew as they set out on Daring Adventures.
RSS Feed: https://hibiscus-mandarin-x69k.squarespace.com/daring?format=rss

7/4: Figuring Out Will: A Radio Play (Dramatised - Slice of life)
Site: https://soundcloud.com/user-644927447
Synopsis: In a world full of emotional pitfalls, one geeky teen will join forces with his two best friends to face his insecurities and escape the friend zone by realizing it never even existed in the first place. Comedy. Drama. Doritos. Get ready to figure out Will. “Figuring Out Will” is a coming-of-age story set in a video store written by Alec Kerr that made its debut at the NYSummerfest Theater Festival at the Hudson Guild Theater in Manhattan August 2018.

7/4: Green Door Theatre Company (Dramatised - Comedy)
Site: https://soundcloud.com/greendoortheatrecompany
Synopsis: Just imagine: it's Halloween night, winds are whistling through the crooked trees, darkness falls - and you begin to listen to the spookiest radio play ever recorded by Green Door Theatre!

7/4: Surely You Quest (RPG - Fantasy)
Site: https://www.lunarlightstudio.com/
Synopsis: Avast and Ahoy! Prepare yourselves for high seas adventures and shenanigans as 3 heroes find out what awaits them in the mysterious oceanic world of the Chroma Archipelago. Jenny (Played by Hayley Rose), Lenny (Played by Mike Patten), and Pidge (Played by Blue Lennox), embark into the world of DM, Ryan Mitchum's, creation. What awaits will be incredible, daring, or at the very least hilarious.
RSS Feed: https://pinecast.com/feed/surely-you-quest

7/4: Tales of the Resistance (Dramatised - Anthology)
Site: https://www.sfmt.org/talesoftheresistance
Synopsis: The San Francisco Mime Troupe present four two-part original political comedy audio plays, broadcast bi-weekly, each written and performed by Mime Troupe veterans and newcomers, and each in a different style. Each episode will be about 25 minutes long, and presented as podcasts and as radio shows on stations across the country.

7/4: This American Wasteland (Dramatised - Post-apocalypse)
Site: http://thisamericanwasteland.com/
Synopsis: This American Wasteland is an audio drama that follows an aftermath. Archived accounts narrate this story of a post-apocalyptic America.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.captivate.fm/this-american-wasteland/

7/4: Welcome to the Revolution…Go Pats (Dramatised - Comedy)
Site: https://kevanglin.wixsite.com/gopats
Synopsis: A comedy audio-play about the American Revolution.
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/gopats/feed.xml

7/5: Lost and Broken Things (Fiction - Horror)
Site: https://audioboom.com/channels/5027088
Synopsis: Lost and Broken Things is a podcast featuring tales of original short fiction, generally exploring topics of a dark and disturbing nature.
RSS Feed: https://audioboom.com/channels/5027088.rss

7/6: Dungeon Dive Bar (RPG - Fantasy)
Site: https://dungeondivebar.podbean.com/
Synopsis: Join seven friends as they delve deep into the ancient and mysterious Emerald Spire!
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/dungeondivebafeed.xml

7/6: Once Upon A Time In Trieste (Dramatised - Historical)
Site: https://silverpineproductions.com/2020/07/05/once-upon-a-time-in-trieste-the-audio-drama/
Synopsis: A 19th Century princess and a 20th Century revolutionary are trapped in a fairy tale castle, both struggling to come to terms with momentous events they have helped to shape. Over a night of prayer, cards and violence, they confront each other – and their own inner demons. By morning, only one of them is left.

7/6: Room Infinity (Dramatised - Thriller)
Site: https://www.spreaker.com/show/room-infinity
Synopsis: Mark Infinity, a survivor of an accident that had just occurred a year ago. Although Mark was released from the hospital in a fair good state, he had one major problem! His memory of that event that put him there where mysteriously gone. With only sparks coming back through a multitude of headaches, unknown people who somehow know who he is and especially the people in the black suits who are called “The Marked Ones”.
RSS Feed: https://www.spreaker.com/show/4491449/episodes/feed

7/6: The Drunken Geek (RPG - Fantasy)
Site: https://thedrunkengeek.com/
Synopsis: The Drunken Geek is your chance to listen in on some nerds playing roleplaying games, starting with Pathfinder 2nd Edition. Fortunately, as they're all pub quiz hosts, they're pretty funny nerds.
RSS Feed: https://drunkengeek.libsyn.com/rss

7/7: Beyond the Dark (Fiction - Science fiction)
Site: https://beyondthedark.podbean.com/
Synopsis: Atmospheric sci-fi stories. Each episode is a new world to explore. You might find yourself in the heart of a cyberpunk metropolis, a post-apocalyptic wasteland, or a strange alien world. Every story has its own professional cast, an original score and accompanying sound effects for a truly immersive experience.
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/beyondthedark/feed.xml

7/7: Craiglockhart (Dramatised - Historical)
Site: https://craiglockhart.simplecast.com/
Synopsis: WW1 - 1917. When DAVID ALLISTER, a facially disfigured war hero, writes a biting condemnation of the war, he is placed in the care of DR ETHAN DRURY at Craiglockhart mental hospital until he agrees to publish a retraction. While there, he meets ARTHUR BRIDGELAND, a shell-shocked soldier obsessed with returning to battle after having been labeled a coward. David delights in tormenting Arthur until he meets and falls in love with Arthur’s suffragette sister, LUCY. Steam Punk meets James Whale by way of MASTERPIECE THEATRE.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.simplecast.com/2USktUnT

7/7: Eternal Future Productions (Dramatised - Historical)
Site: https://www.eternalfutureproductions.com/
Synopsis: Welcome to Eternal Future Productions! We strive to create good-quality audio productions that will reach listeners of all ages with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With a brand that is wholesome and uplifting, we hope to creatively inspire, encourage and challenge in ways that not only exceed general entertainment, but reminds us of our purpose.
RSS Feed: https://eternalfutureproductions.libsyn.com/rss

7/7: Ship of Fools (RPG - Fantasy)
Site: https://shipoffools.podbean.com/
Synopsis: Join 4 friends on a D&D adventure through the magical seas of the Lunluma Ocean, seeking fame, fortune, and French fries. Hijinks? Guaranteed. Good decisions? Not so much.
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/shipoffools/feed.xml

7/8: Would You Rather… (Dramatised - Interactive)
Site: https://player.whooshkaa.com/shows/would-you-rather-1
Synopsis: Would you rather... the conversation starter where the participants can never really win. Decisions made when nothing is at stake - our answers are perhaps crowd pleasing rather than truthful. But what if these hypotheticals actually happened? What if your or your loved one's lives depended on it? The Would You Rather... podcast is based on making choices and the repercussions which follow.
RSS Feed: https://rss.whooshkaa.com/rss/podcast/id/12632

7/10: Arsen (Dramatised - Fantasy)
Site: https://arsen.pinecast.co/
Synopsis: Arsen Audio Drama follows a young woman named Aurelie who, after the death of her parents embarks on a quest to learn the truth her family and her identity in the magical world of LaFresia.
RSS Feed: https://pinecast.com/feed/arsen

7/10: Eastmouth (Dramatised - Urban fantasy)
Site: https://eastmouth.podbean.com/
Synopsis: Pirate radio for a coastal town that is bathed in mystery. Shh, don't talk to the town council.
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/eastmouth/feed.xml

7/10: Harpy Productions (Dramatised - Horror)
Site: https://www.harpyproductions.com/
Synopsis: Based on a short horror story by Edwin Crowe (first published as a creepypasta) "My Father Punished Me When I Talked to Ghosts" tells the story of Sean, a blind boy living alone with his father near the edges of reality- where the dead slip back to the world of the living. This strange coming of age story deals with themes of abuse, disability, and he power of friendship to those above them both.

7/10: Like Panties for Dishrags (Dramatised - Comedy)
Site: http://www.buzzsprout.com/1189616
Synopsis: Created entirely in lockdown, Like Panties for Dishrags is an audio comedy for adults written by BBC Talent award-winner Jon Blake, also shortlisted for a Writers Guild Award, the Children’s Book Award and the Laugh Out Loud awards. Be transported for 73 minutes to the notorious Tresedd estate where hapless tutor Dominic Kingdom Duff (played by Everyman Theatre’s Peter Harding-Roberts) wades hopelessly out of his depth to bring creative writing to the locals...with surprising results.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.buzzsprout.com/1189616.rss

7/10: The Visit (Dramatised - Slice of life)
Site: https://everymanplayhouse-the-visit.buzzsprout.com/
Synopsis: This programme has been made entirely in Lockdown, over zoom, and in total isolation. We hope you enjoy it! Ashley and Annie met at uni. Now it’s reading week, and Ashley has travelled to Annie’s family home; a world of Waitrose, Boris the Yorkshire Terrier, and 4 cars on the driveway. But, the O’Niell family are just like any other and love a night sitting around the telly with a cup of tea, or a glass of Chablis for Mum, Julia. In this seven episode series we follow the O’Neil family through a week of madness, cultural shocks, and maybe get a little too absorbed by the telly...
RSS Feed: https://feeds.buzzsprout.com/1198445.rss

7/10: We Never Left (Dramatised - Urban fantasy)
Site: https://anchor.fm/lindsay-jackman
Synopsis: A gothic audio drama about a college graduate who returns to her small town and confronts the mysterious curse that resides in it.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/2a85d638/podcast/rss

7/12: Seen and Not Heard (Dramatised - Slice of life)
Site: https://anchor.fm/seenandnotheard
Synopsis: What happens when you lose something you thought you'd always have? What happens when the thing you lose is one of your senses? Bet Kline is deaf. That wasn't the case a year ago. Now that her life has been upended, she has to figure out how to carve out a new path for herself and navigate her way down it. Easier said than done.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/138f48d8/podcast/rss

7/12: To Sleep Perchance to Dream (Dramatised - Science fiction)
Site: https://anchor.fm/bruce-miller94
Synopsis: An original sci-fi audio drama. It was supposed to be a way to get away from problems on earth and earn some real cash, but on their return from a distant asteroid, the mining crew awakes to alarms and difficult decisions.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/2b6550c4/podcast/rss
7/13: Dirty Diana (Dramatised - Erotica)
Site: https://dirty-diana.simplecast.com
Synopsis: As an escape from her carefully curated life and dying marriage, Diana secretly runs an erotic website where women reveal their intimate sexual fantasies.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.simplecast.com/Anmhcr83
7/13: Gates (Fiction - Science fiction)
Site: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1216082
Synopsis: A secret war is being fought in the shadows after three people were infected by a four hundred an eighty million year old race of super beings and one of the original inhabitants of Earth.The infection has spread further and now in our time it will hit the fan. Dillon and Paul, along with Evil Bill can change into anything and slip inside the very shadows cast on the ground their enemies stand on, but only when Evil Bill wills it because they are now his puppets to command.This action packed Sci-Fi follows Evil Bill, his son Paul and Dillon Briggs as they fight Sensei Shisuki and look to uncoverthe mystery of their changes!
RSS Feed: https://feeds.buzzsprout.com/1216082.rss
7/13: Lost Terminal (Dramatised - Science fiction)
Site: https://www.spreaker.com/show/lost-terminal
Synopsis: A sci-fi podcast searching for a response to "Hello world".
RSS Feed: https://www.spreaker.com/show/4488937/episodes/feed

7/13: Para.docx (Dramatised - Urban fantasy)
Site: https://blacklilac.podbean.com
Synopsis: Para.docx is a supernatural podcast following the work of the NCRD’s filing staff as they handle reports from all across America — assuming the reports themselves behave.
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/blacklilac/feed.xml

7/13: Wire Canaries (Dramatised - Crime/Mystery)
Site: https://wirecanariespodcast.carrd.co/
Synopsis: Wire Canaries are live, it's 11am on the 8th September 2070... A monthly amateur podcast in which two underground radio presenters, one frantic researcher, and one ex-cop struggle to uncover what's been hidden behind the dead-end investigations of eight missing people in the isolated city of Malingate.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/2ba46854/podcast/rss
7/14: Endeavour: Through the Maelstrom (RPG - Fanfiction)
Site: https://www.endeavourshow.com/
Synopsis: A new ship. A new crew. A new era!Endeavour: Through the Maelstrom is a Star Trek Adventures actual play set in the 25th century, decades after Star Trek: Picard. Join us as we build transwarp conduits into uncharted space.
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/endeavourshow/feed.xml
7/14: The Great Chameleon War (Fiction - Science fiction)
Site: https://www.thegreatchameleonwar.com/
Synopsis: Welcome to the Nesting Zone: a surreal rim of jungle around Mt. Tahoma prowled by transdimensional reptiles. The Amanuensis catalogues his expedition up the volcano slope and records stories of explorers caught in the evolving dreamscape. Paleo-mythic lizard pyromancy. Blood whisper secrets. Carnivorous astronauts. Cursed poem hallucinations. Staying sane is not an option.
RSS Feed: https://greatchameleonwar.libsyn.com/rss
7/14: WG3 - Wrestling: Grit, Guts, & Glory (Dramatised - Sport)
Site: https://wg3wrestling.com/
Synopsis: The official podcast for WG3 - Wrestling: Grit, Guts, and Glory! Every week we will break down all the action on Monday Night Substance, livestream Pay-per-views, conduct interviews with your favorite wrestlers, and dish out all the 100% unfiltered and uncensored dirt in the world of your favorite fictional wrestling world. Hardcore wrestling fiction for hardcore wrestling fans!
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/2102e100/podcast/rss

7/15: ConSensual (Dramatised - Romance)
Site: https://consensual.sounder.fm/
Synopsis: Romance for riot grrrls. Join us for season one, Ten Week Turnabout, a contemporary romance story featuring a strong heroine in New York City and her small town turnabout date from the life she thought she left behind.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.sounder.fm/3182/rss.xml

7/15: Fast Times at D&D High (RPG - Urban fantasy)
Site: https://fasttimesdnd.com/
Synopsis: Fast Times at D&D High is a new Actual Play podcast set in a magical homebrew world from the mind of Dungeon Master Persephone!
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/fasttimesdnd/feed.xml
7/16: Dying Breeds (Dramatised - Comedy)
Site: https://linktr.ee/dyingbreeds
Synopsis: Dying Breeds is a mockumentary series about clinging onto the old ways. Your host and roving reporter, Gervaise Sareen, searches out the people and professions of yesteryear to see if their days are numbered, or whether there's life in the old dogs yet.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.acast.com/public/shows/5f06236f93c905058972fff1
7/16: The Long Short Road (Dramatised - Slice of life)
Site: https://soundcloud.com/user-649069426/the-long-short-road-radio-drama
Synopsis: A quick tale of one woman's interactions with charity.
7/16: The Vertical Path (Dramatised - Science fiction)
Site: https://soundcloud.com/theverticalpath
Synopsis: When Earth catches a glimpse of a war raging on a distant world, human civilization begins to develop a conflict of its own.
7/17: CALLISTO (Dramatised - Horror)
Site: https://anchor.fm/elliot-somerfield/
Synopsis: "I know that there is something down there beneath the surface of this moon. It’s been there billions of years, entirely alone, waiting, until we arrived - and it knows that we are here." When five astronauts are sent to one of Jupiter's moons to research its sustainability for a potential colony, they discover a mysterious signal coming from below the surface, a signal which raises the suspicion that they may not be as alone as they thought.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/229b3184/podcast/rss

7/17: The Jeane Dixon Effect (Dramatised - Historical)
Site: http://www.buzzsprout.com/1217390
Synopsis: Jeane Dixon, America’s first “celebrity psychic,” comes to life in Joseph Rodota’s play, THE JEANE DIXON EFFECT. The former Southern California housewife predicted everything from presidential assassinations to Hollywood marriages, captivating television talk show hosts and dominating supermarket tabloids. Was she a genuine psychic? Or simply delusional? And did her cat really have ESP? Starring Valerie Leonard as Jeane Dixon.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.buzzsprout.com/1217390.rss

7/17: This Mortal Coil (Dramatised - Comedy)
Site: https://aulosproductions.com/this-mortal-coil-2020/
Synopsis: When a Hamlet-inspired murder ruins her dress rehearsal, Elissa’s delighted. The detective’s an old actor pal and she’d forgotten her lines anyway. Lured in by the promise of Jammie Dodgers, Elissa pursues a dastardly killer with a penchant for Shakespeare. A comedy audio murder mystery by award-winning writer James Beagon.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.soundcloud.com/playlists/soundcloud:playlists:1093699855/sounds.rss
7/17: Voices from the Unknown (Dramatised - Slice of life)
Site: https://soundcloud.com/voicesfromtheunknown
Synopsis: Write. Record. Listen. A self-publishing audio platform for new writing. Writing submissions can be sent to: [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]). The first show is Lockdown Quiz, perhaps unsurprisingly about a quiz during lockdown.
7/18: Red Dirt DnD (RPG - Western)
Site: https://www.reddirtdnd.com/
Synopsis: Red Dirt DnD mashes together fantasy with the Wild West. The actual play Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons podcast takes place in the fictional country of Rutoya as four adventurers map the Ka’alban Frontier for the Dwarven train barons. Elves and Orcs collide with saloons and sheriffs in this show featuring local Oklahoma actors and D&D veterans.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.captivate.fm/reddirtdnd/
7/18: White Heron Theatre (Dramatised - Anthology)
Site: https://www.whiteherontheatre.org/white-heron-radio-theatre-3/
Synopsis: In the theatre we have a tradition. Whenever the stage goes dark between performances, we always like to leave a single light burning in the house until the curtain can rise again. We call it - a “ghost light.” And until we can all meet once more at White Heron, we’re pleased to offer you something we like to call our Ghost Light Series. Original Radio Drama created especially for you, our Nantucket audience. Nantucket's White Heron Theatre Company presents White Heron Radio Theatre. Our first series, The Ghost Light Series, is adapted by Mark Shanahan from Blue Baillett's book Nantucket Ghosts, 44 True Accounts. Performed by White Heron's award-winning actors. Original music, sound design and audio production by John Gromada. Produced by White Heron Theatre Company.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.simplecast.com/aV1QngEo

7/19: Echo Chamber Audio Plays (Dramatised - Slice of life)
Site: https://linktr.ee/echochamberaudio
Synopsis: Passionate about new-writing, we develop scripts through virtual table reads, and we make audio plays. We are interested in telling stories we dont often hear, by people we want to hear more from. All are welcome here. We want to evolve into a community of people that make and take the form forward - a true audio collective.
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/echochambefeed.xml

7/19: Parallel Lies (Dramatised - Science fiction)
Site: https://parallelliespodcast.tumblr.com/
Synopsis: In which a space pirate and an AI have a really long conversation... In the distant future (and in space), Deryn wakes up in a doorless room, with only a disembodied AI voice to keep her company. Bored (and slowly losing her mind), Deryn tells Tobias her story. But not everything is as it seems.
RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/2cc1b700/podcast/rss
7/19: Rise of the Shattered Sun (Dramatised - Science fiction)
Site: https://davidewright.com/
Synopsis: Rise of the Shattered Sun is an Audio Drama set 800 years in the future. After a global conflict, an unlikely source wrested peace from the jaws of chaos. The Sol system has changed, and humanity is not just for humans.
RSS Feed: https://rotsspod.libsyn.com/rss
7/20: Low Tide (Dramatised - Comedy)
Site: https://lowtide.fm
Synopsis: In our world, Low Tide is a scripted comedy podcast. But in fictional Conch County, Low Tide is a popular news and culture radio program that airs on Conch Public Radio. If you're a fan of NPR, Parks and Recreation, or Welcome To Night Vale, tune in to Low Tide. We have tote bags.
RSS Feed: https://feeds.simplecast.com/mmzP_KsS
7/20: The Case Files of Donovan Thane (Dramatised - Horror)
Site: https://thecasefilesofdonovanthane.podbean.com/
Synopsis: Vampire Detective Donovan Thane takes on any case. Even those of the macabre and other worldly.
RSS Feed: https://feed.podbean.com/thecasefilesofdonovanthane/feed.xml

7/20: The Landscape of a Heart (Fiction - Thriller)
Site: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-landscape-of-a-heart-audio-book
Synopsis: Returning home from war, recovering from what should have been fatal injuries, Matt Blair has spent months in isolation in his childhood bedroom. He has been welcomed and celebrated as a war hero by his family. As summer wanes, Matt decides it's time for him to put it all behind him and move on. In a seemingly manic episode and to his family's surprise, he embarks on a vacation alone. But the world would soon crumble around him making the tragedy he was trying to move on from, just the beginning.

A rescue operation through the desolate wasteland that was once the midwest of the United States and the fateful connection to the destruction is too much to be only a coincidence.
Matt begins his true journey. A journey that will exceed the boundaries of his own life and sanity, his pain and the human collective unconscious ensues. The true Landscape of a Human Heart is revealed.
RSS Feed: https://www.spreaker.com/show/4453956/episodes/feed
submitted by thecambridgegeek to audiodrama [link] [comments]


2020.07.31 12:28 ridonkoulous My Deconversion Story

Hey everyone,
This was originally posted to the exchristian subreddit but it was recommended that I post it here as well.
First, some background:
I (22M) was born in Nigeria and my family relocated to Ireland to live abroad with my Dad when I was 7. I and my siblings grew up there, completing both the rest of our primary and secondary school education. My parents were both devout Christians before and after marriage. So we have always been a very devout Christian family and not only do we hold virtually all fundamentalist Christian beliefs but we also believe very strongly in the devil, witchcraft, ancestral occultism and many types of demons & 'perosnalities' (spirit entities). These sort of beliefs are rife and commonly held in Nigeria so this is where they picked them up from.
This of course, heavily affected how we were raised and right from a very young age (I'm not sure exactly at what age at the time of typing this but according to them we weren't able to pronounce certain letters yet) they had us memorize scripture by reciting them. Fom 10 or 11 years old we were fasting till noon (they believe fasting is an essential part of Christian living-that it "keeps the flesh (body) and its desires subdued and allows your spirit to grow"). I still live with my family and we have to fast till 5:30 every Monday.
When I was a teenager (man I feel old saying that) we had quite a few restrictions on our relationships with other teens our age who weren't Christians and even with Christian families our parents didn't think were trustworthy. We weren't allowed to go out at night or hang out with any friends whose parents ours didn't know. We definitely weren't allowed to visit our school friends' homes because my parents thought "what if the family is hiding something dark and the police found out and we happened to be there?" My parents had a general mistrust of unbelievers due to their beliefs although racism also played a part in this.
We were only allowed to play or hang out around the park behind our house (and even then my mum would get in her car and park in front of one of the houses right next to the park to keep an eye on us, which was SUPER embarrassing because my friends caught on to it and started making fun of me because of it) and it was only until we were 16 that we were allowed to go around our area and see our friends, most of whom didn't live in our area. Facebook and Twitter weren't allowed because they felt it would make me 'wayward'. So any real friendships we had really only existed in school and Church (even other parents' kids were given more freedom than ours ffs) and our friends soon formed stronger friendships with other kids who they could see more frequently, making our only support system our immediate family. As you can imagine, my self confidence and relationship with friends were heavily affected. I was your classic introvert teenager. Shy, socially awkward, not an attractive guy and to make things worse I started losing my hair later on for which I was bullied by classmates.
But at 15 I became a devout Christian myself and did so because I thought I was initially living a life that wasn't 'right'. Though I took my schoolwork more seriously than most, I felt I wasn't serious with my studies because my grades were average, and I was doing some things I wasn't proud of, like being dishonest and not being respectful enough to my parents. I thought that the only way I could make things right was to live the way that I was taught was the only right way to live. So I turned a new leaf entirely and began embracing my parents' Christian beliefs and lifestyle. And my parents were thrilled. They were more than happy to answer any questions I had and further indoctrinated me into the faith. Despite all the problems it caused me in my social life and self esteem, I felt happy that I was living life the right way and felt very lucky to be born into the family that knows the life-saving truth so many others don't.
Internal struggles:
My spiritual life became inconsistent (that's what we refer to our Christian lifestyle as) mainly because of the constant feeling of being left out of a lot of things my friends were enjoying. I couldn't enjoy any conversations other than small talk without getting worried about hearing (and therefore endorsing, as I then believed) swear words or laughing at sex jokes or anything I thought was inappropriate, and 'backsliding' (regressing back into the 'sinful lifestyle'). I didn't live near any of my friends at Church, hell I hardly even had any friends at the Church we went to as most of my old friends were at my former one which we left because we thought some occultic shit was going on behind the scenes.
Anyway, I wanted to enjoy music, going to the cinema (which was also banned), have fun with my friends, be accepted into the big social circle, know so many people there and date the girls I Chad crushes on. I wanted to enjoy a lot of what we consider to be 'worldly pleasures and lusts' and that was what would frequently pull me in. I would temporarily enjoy some of these things before feeling guilty/being made to feel very guilty about it by either a weekly bible study sermon or by my parents, and return to the strict, devout Christian lifestyle. It was like this for over a year.
I struggled internally with sexual arousal & feelings of sexual attraction towards the opposite sex the most. As you can imagine, at that age hormones are raging and these emotions are hardest to deal with, moreso when a very negative connotation is attached to anything remotely sexual. My dad taught me that these were feelings of lust, that they were 'unclean' and were there because some satanic seed was planted into me either through my dream (we strongly believe dreams are hugely significant and that the devil can attack/affect you physically or spiritually through dreams) or by watching/consuming porn or anything of a sexual nature, in order to 'pollute' me and make me perpetually 'lust' after women. It got to a point that I thought sex for pleasure was forbidden between husband and wife! Having a girlfriend of course, is also a big NO and is seen as practising sexual immorality so I was discouraged from developing any friendships with girls, taught instead to keep relationships with the opposite sex superficial.
Corporal punishment and spanking is allowed and seen as a good thing in my family, so anytime my dad or mum caught me looking at inappropriate content online or masturbating, I was beaten thoroughly with a belt either on my hand, all over my body or on my backside and was left with welts on my skin. I also had my phone confiscated. The shaming and punishment made it harder for me to open up about all these intense emotions because I always felt they would have me fast and pray, or punish me for looking at adult content. I became solely reliant on praying to God to 'cleanse' me and get rid of my 'Adamic' nature (sinful nature inherited from Adam) so I could be 'sanctified'. This went on for another year.
6th (Final) Year in Secondary school (2014/15):
As I got older I struggled even more with sexual arousal as a result of having no one to open up to or give me practical advice on how to stop watching adult content, and things were about to get worse in my final year in 2015. I became clinically depressed (though I would only come to realise it a year later) and it absolutely wrecked my life. I couldn't do the simplest of things, let alone homework or studying and I got ripped into by my teachers & parents for my massive slump in performance. I was seen as lazy and unserious about school, especially by my parents and despite efforts to talk me out of the 'laziness' and to take me to a more prayer-oriented Church, nothing changed. It affected my studying for my final exams heavily and I was under huge stress because of it.
It also impacted my spiritual life as it became really difficult for me to read or pray, and I thought it was some kind of attack on me by the devil. I tried all I could to pray away these problems, begging God to take away the horrible feeling of apathy that made life so damn bleak and unenjoyable. I prayed all manner of prayers against evil spirits and demons, but all to no avail. Several months later in the year after so much struggling I eventually concluded that my problems must be because I'm still practicing sexual immorality by watching porn after I had yet again been caught by my Dad on my phone and falsely accused of doing something wrong.
Easter Holidays (Study period for final Exams):
I was punished but this time I was determined to take the opportunity to try and make a U-turn in my Christian life. And for a while, I really thought I had restored my relationship with God. I was no longer masturbating, I was praying regularly and reading the bible, and was even watching Christian movies with the family on YouTube. I wasn't enjoyed any of it, as my depression made enjoying anything literally impossible, but I was rather relieved and satisfied that my ways were right with God.
But that too proved to be a false dawn. And it went steeply downhill from there.
Because I was unaware that stress (from long hrs of studying every blessed day, courtesy of my dad, to help me pass my final exams) is practically a catalyst for unhealthy habits like porn addiction and masturbation (which I had been having a hard time with throughout the year) or that my depression accentuated the problem by making it harder to replace it with healthier, more enjoyable habits, it was only a matter of time before I relapsed back into it and it just became harder and harder to quit. Intense feelings of guilt and shame drove me to try and tell my mum about it, hoping she would be more understanding and less condemning considering my change in behaviour.
I was dead wrong. Her face dropped as she heard me admit it and she went to tell my dad. Like before, I was beaten with his belt and I remember crying to him that I was trying to change, and him saying that the holy spirit was telling him I was lying. From then on I never told them about any of my relapses. I tried my best to overcome my addiction, asking God for forgiveness over and over again after several relapses. It all proved futile.
Eventually, (this part I'll try to recall accurately but the memory is vague for some reason) I think I became so ridden with guilt and fear of God leaving me, but at the same time couldn't stop masturbating, that I began instinctively telling myself that the holy spirit understood me, understood my situation and why I couldn't stop. I got so used to telling myself that, that when I realized this was incompatible with my beliefs, I became afraid immediately and started pleading for mercy from God.
What followed scared me even more. I wasn't able to stop like I had been before after praying for forgiveness. God wasn't answering me. I thought "that's ridiculous!" and prayed again and again and again. No change. No grace to overcome these temptations. I became very afraid and no longer felt safe from the dark horrors the devil could unleash on me. Why on earth was he not answering?! Have I crossed the line?? It took some weeks before the reality of the bizarre situation sunk in. I was alone. I couldn't rely on God to heal me of whatever mental struggles I was enduring (my depression) and I couldn't tell my parents because I would surely be accused of being the one who offended God. But I knew very well I tried my absolute hardest not to. I was seriously stuck.
This state of limbo carried on through the summer and it took its toll on me. I told my dad I didn't want to go to Uni, that I really needed to sort my head out and wasn't ready for the whole life change. But he insisted, believing there was nothing really wrong with me. I got admission into the University of Westminster in the UK to study Biomedical Sciences and so I essentially had to embrace the change of lifestyle as I would now be living on my own.
I was not prepared for that change at all.
Not socially, because my upbringing stifled my social development and social skills, which were further hampered by the severe anxiety I developed. Not emotionally, because I had never ever lived or spent time away from my family, my only support system, before in my life. And of course not mentally, because of all the shit I was going through at the time and as a result, I could no longer maintain my Christian lifestyle. My first year in Uni flopped so badly. My depression grew worse and I couldn't go to lectures at all in campus which was an hour away in the middle of London. I stayed holed up in my room, binge eating and watching anime/YouTube on my laptop. My anxiety was so bad that I could only muster up enough courage to go to the shop to buy food and back.
My dad who was living with my aunt in Harrow would frequently come and check up on me, and when he found out I wasn't attending lectures band and was lying about it, he and my mum ripped into me for being so lazy and unserious. I tried desperately to tell them I wasn't, that I found out I was depressed, but they wouldn't have any of it. They believed that as long as your ways are right with God, mental health should never be a problem. If anything was wrong, it was you for allowing the devil to into your life to plague you with these problems. They also believe that what you say actually happens and that if you literally admit to being depressed then it will happen. So I was essentially in a double bind. If there was no mental health issue (which they wanted to believe) then I was making a mountain out of a molehill and using it as an excuse to be lazy. If there was a mental health problem then I was either committing sin or talking negatively and making it happen.
I would pray and pray and beg for as long as I could for God to help me, to vindicate me and somehow tell them I wasn't at fault, that I was trying so goddamn hard to make the most of my situation, to help me overcome my addiction and anxiety. Nothing changed. I became afraid, scared that I was so vulnerable to evil attacks. My whole life was being wrecked and I couldn't do anything to stop it. And my clinging to the belief that I was the problem, despite how painful it was to tell myself, and that God would forgive and help me was my last desperate attempt at gaining control of the situation.
I did have an incredibly encouraging and uplifting dream of a man of God telling me that I wasn't to blame and that God was impressed with how I'd coped and would reward me, but that was where it ended. It got so bad I started having suicidal thoughts and at one point they grew strong enough for me to want to act on them while I was in my student room. I still believe that the only reason that I was able to call the ambulance and not pick something sharp to slit my throat with that day was because I didn't find anything sharp in my room when looking for it.
My family was shocked to hear this and my mum was rushed to hospital because of the shock though thankfully she recovered well from it. My parents decided that it was best if I stayed with my dad who now lived in Cardiff (in Wales) because of work, and he introduced me to a doctor who was also a devout Christian and attended the same Church. I was actually relieved to meet him, and hoped that FINALLY someone would actually understand what I was going through and not tell me I was the problem. Boy was I wrong! He practically echoed my dad's opinion on the matter, telling me not to accept that I was depressed, that it wasn't going to help, but to instead rely on the power of God to heal me. I was certain that was the last time I was ever going to open up to ANY Christian about my struggles. I'm only ever going to be the fucking problem in their eyes.
That year ended and I spent the summer back in Ireland, receiving nothing but criticism from my parents. I got so sick and fed up with everything at one point that I had a physical fight with my dad and grew distant from my parents even though we were in the same house. It was after this that they were finally willing to admit that maybe I should seek professional help. But they still insisted on me going back to Uni. While I understood their reasons (they felt going into Uni in the same year as my younger brother would boost my confidence and not let my siblings look down on me while I'd stayed at home), I didn't agree with it at all as I couldn't bear the idea of going through the stress of Uni again. But once again, they insisted and I got admission into the University of Central Lancashire.
Unsurprisingly, I had a torrid first and second year and the problems of the previous year resurfaced. I couldn't go to lectures, struggled to complete assignments, and was again blamed for being lazy, complacent and was nearly dropped from the course for not attending enough classes. According to my mum: "I didn't have a lion's heart and couldn't face the reality of life". I was so baffled and confused as to why God was so silent and wouldn't speak to me, but I had no one to help explain these experiences and just had to trust that he would vindicate me, tell my family the truth and make life more enjoyable than it had ever been in a long time, all based on that dream I had. I very slowly started to get better and better and the dream really seemed to be happening after so long. But spiritually things remained the exact same. I didn't get any answers to my questions and prayers on why he wouldn't answer me or give me grace to live as true Christian again.
It was a very puzzling experience, and I did not tell anyone because I didn't want to go through the emotional turmoil of being blamed and wrestling with intense guilt again, especially when I knew full well that I did everything in my power to change. But the more I tried to make sense of it myself, the more baffling it was. Why on earth would God deliberately take away my salvation but heal me physically? Wasn't your soul and eternal fate the most important thing to him? More important than physical or mental health? Why was I getting better physically but not spiritually? When I tried to search for answers in the bible I became so intimidated by the magnitude of the task of finding something I knew was never there, that I was put off from doing so after several attempts. I was in this same limbo state for a long time all the while struggling with porn addiction, anxiety, and pressure from family to improve my grades.
My continuous struggles and my growing irritation at being so stagnant spiritually with God being so damn silent drove me to the point where I was willing to admit that maybe, just MAYBE everything I had been brought up to believe about Christianity wasn't actually true. That took long to admit but and although it felt SO freaking liberating it felt like uncomfortable. How on earth could the entire Church, Pastors, leaders, teachers, my PARENTS, all be wrong about Christianity?? But...I was sure I was doing everything the bible demanded within my power and nothing was changing. That's when I realized that if what I'm going through is valid then I can't be the only one experiencing this. That's when I decided to search for any online exchristian communities and I found this subreddit.
The more I began to learn about dogma and manipulative tactics employed by dogmatic groups, the more my whole view of the world began to change. EVERYTHING I had been experiencing up till this point all made so much sense. Some things I'm still trying to figure out but since March when I joined this subreddit, I have been literally binging atheist/exchristian content non-stop. The idea of not doubting my beliefs was the first thing that changed. After watching a video by the atheist YouTuber Theramintrees on 'Punishing doubt', it was clear how claiming to have the infallible truth and at the same time discouraging doubt was counter-intuitive. How can you say the bible is the literal truth and then not be willing to critically analyse it, but dismiss any valid objection to it as "the deception of the enemy" or deny any form of actual evidence that conflicts with the bible? That's when I realised "faith" is the perfect system for protecting inconsistencies and encouraging intellectual dishonesty.
The concept of hell was something I'd been very scared of my entire life but I overcame that quicker than I expected. Part of this was due to the fact that prior to my willingness to doubt my faith, I believed that despite living in sin, God knew he didn't give me the power not to live that way and wouldn't ever send me to hell for it because he was a righteous judge of man. He surely had SOME reason for this, and I would know it in good time. So when I realized that sending people who have been indoctrinated into other religions through no fault or desire of their own, which will create a powerful bias towards their religion, sending people who have lived genuinely good and selfless lives on earth but for some reason didn't accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, to ETERNAL TORTURE, was unimaginably cruel and immoral. Hell, (in all irony) sending anyone to suffer FOREVER was unnecessarily excessive. The world, as diverse as it is with so many different individual situations is supposed to be judged by one single standard?? Moronic. From then on hell looked a lot more like an effective fear mongering tactic to scare people away from ever doubting than an actual punishment dished out by a supposed 'all-loving' God.
However, the more I learnt the more uncomfortable and intolerant I became of my family's beliefs. The thought of having to leave them/come out as an agnostic to them has been so terrifying that I've struggled to get it out of my head for a good while. Lockdown and the pandemic only made things worse, because we now have to listen to constant sermons of the rapture, hell, dangers of sin and it got to a point where my discomfort became obvious to everyone and I broke down in front of my parents, telling them what I had been through and why I made the decisions I made right from 5 years ago till now.
They said I was wrong for not wanting to open up to anyone, and said I should've opened up to the Church pastor or some other leader. I was quite hysterical at the time and didn't remember to tell them that my experience with the doctor had made me lose all trust in telling any Christian about my mental illness, and I also couldn't open up to them because of how much they'd shame me and punish me for my porn addiction. They also said I was wrong for visiting 'bad' (atheist/exchristian) sites and that that was why I had backslidden.
I WANTED to tell them so damn badly, but I couldn't no matter how much I tried to bring myself to, and the one time I tried opening up about it I was thoroughly beaten by my dad. What other option did I have?? Who did I have to tell that wouldn't point the finger at me, telling me I was the reason for my depression and addiction?? This constant need to pin the blame on someone when their story conflicts with their beliefs is what triggers me the FUCKING MOST. Am I wrong for searching for answers elsewhere when all the bible and God could give me was FUCK ALL?? How many times did I cry and cry, beg and BEG for help from their supposed Almighty God and was left to suffer on my own?? Now they want to try and sell me this bullshit idea that I was the reason I couldn't open up not God. Fucking nonsense.
I need you guys to please tell me if I'm wrong at all or could've done anything different. I tried seeing a therapist at Westminster Uni, but I couldn't go regularly because: 1) The campus was over an hour and a half away and I struggled to even leave my room 2) The sessions weren't frequent at all and 3) During my first session I became paranoid that my counsellor was trying to explain my anxiety away as an issue that had always existed, and not acknowledge that I was going through a level of anxiety I have never experienced before. This deterred me from continuing the sessions.
My parents tried taking me to a therapist in Cardiff but because my mum was always coming with me I couldn't open up fully to the therapist and admit that I was depressed. I was having words put in my mouth and didn't want to tell her not to come as I thought it would cause a load of drama.
I tried so hard these past 5 years to live truthfully as a Christian. How am I then wrong for no longer believing in God for fucks sake??
Thanks for reading
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submitted by elvis27JJul to u/elvis27JJul [link] [comments]


2020.07.24 14:57 DangerDave1988 M/31/Lawyer fatigued and disillusioned by life itself despite having everything I ver wished for. Feeling guilty because of that.

Hi guys,
initially, I wanted to start this post with „the reason for this post is…“, but then I realized: There is none. At least not that I am aware of. But does there has to be one?
If I had to pinpoint a reason for this post it’s that I need new perspectives on my life and how I handle things. I guess. I need new perspectives because with my current way of dealing with life, I constantly get sadder, afraid of spiralling into something I neither can control nor stop by myself. And control is the most important part of my life, my safety, my haven. Being able to control what’s happening to me and my surroundings, based on my actions, is an essential part of my self-understanding and gives me stability.
So why do I get progressively sadder although everything in my life is how I ever wanted it to be?
In order to contextualize my problem, I will tell you about my life. Maybe this isn’t even necessary, but deep down inside of me I am sure that I write my life down for the first time ever to gain new insights about me, to take a look at my life from the perspective of a bystander. Heard that helps.
My name is David, I’m 31 and I currently work at a really big authority. Since I’m also German, the term “authority” might be wrong. What I mean is I work at a company that’s buying IT-stuff with taxpayers money. Procurement law is what it’s called. And since my company is really big and funded by tax money, the work conditions are great and it will never ever go bankrupt so my job is also very safe and secure. The ideal vacancy, one would say.
But chronologically.
I grew up well pampered as an only child in a small village. It had cows and sheep and all that jazz. I wasn’t spoiled for an only child, had my Legos, my Discman and an N64 relatively early, but that’s about it. No brand clothing, no luxury (although I’m aware that’s a matter of perspective).
When I was 7, my parents got a divorce and for the better. I stayed at my mums, my dad moved out and joined another family. I never heard my parents fighting and years later, my dad told me that was mainly because he protected me when my mum started shouting. He would take me upstairs and play Lego with me, not engaging in the argument my mother started. She would calm down rather soon because suddenly there was no one to shout at since my father was in my room with me.
I then started to visit my father at his new family periodically, like every second weekend. His new wife had kids, two girls who soon started to refer to me as “their brother”. A term that still feels wrong and I avoid wherever possible. Soon after moving together, my step-mom asked me whether it was okay for me when the girls would call my father “dad” (their own dad was an alcoholic and addicted to gambling, he left them pretty early).
And I was like: ??? Sure…?
I mean, I was 8 or 9 years old. What kind of question is that? If I was asked the same question today, my answer would be the most definite “Hell naw!”, but at this young age, I did not understand the meaning and gravity of what the term “Dad” meant, what being a dad was all about. Now I know better.
As I got older, I started to feel more and more uncomfortable around this “new family” my dad was living in. I always felt like I was the guest…at my fathers house while the girls treated him like the father they never had. I mean, I can’t blame them for I would’ve acted the same for sure, but it still hurts to this day.
Today, I can’t stand neither the girls nor my step mom, albeit for different reasons. The latter is selfish, simple-minded, talks over my father and is the one who’s deciding things. One that has to have an opinion on everything, even topics she does not know about. She has to have an opinion, no matter how stupid it may be. And the worst thing – she’s so convinced of herself and her intellect that I had to swallow multiple times on multiple occasions for peace’s sake at the dinner table. The older one of the girls (about my age) is even more simple-minded, but has a good heart. Still it’s impossible for me to talk to her for more than 5 minutes because there are no topics we share mutual interest in. Like, none. It’s so…exhausting to talk to her, it almost hurts. The younger one is smarter, but I still couldn’t care less for her well-being.
My father, of simple origin himself, realized the trench between me and “his family”, trying to push and convince me for years to “call the girls” cause “they missed hearing from me” and I just did not do it because it would feel so fucking fake and would send the wrong signals to everyone involved. I just do not care for any of them except for my father.
Jealousy, yeah. Pretty obvious. And yet here I am, wishing I had my old father back who’s only a shadow of his former self. My mother once described my father as somebody who likes to walk the path of least resistance – why stand your man, why fight when all you have to do is go to work? There’s always food on the table, his clothes are always clean and they go on vacation 2-3 times a year. All for the price of…not acting up and have a different opinion than his wife.
I love my dad, but nothing remained of the man who loved to tinker on his cars, wore leather jackets and a sick moustache. I mean sure, he got older and things change on their own, I’m aware of that. But I still miss his former self, the image of him that’s imprinted on the canvas of my consciousness forever.
What I cannot fathom is that he is happy. You can ask him a question directly and his wife would answer for him. I confronted him about this rude behaviour and he appeased; “I would’ve answered the same anyways, so what’s the deal?”
I was like…surprised Pikachu. He rally did not bother. And I know my father, he is happy with that women who I wouldn’t want as a neighbour. He is fucking happy with this life for almost 25 years now. I do not recognize my father anymore which makes me…sad, I guess. When we meet every two-three weeks, we talk about the same stuff I would with my co-workers. Weather, job, girlfriend, health. Superficial shit. After Half an hour or so we run out of things to discuss and it gets really tense between us. You can feel us both silently searching for things to say, but everything comes out forced and stiff. It’s exhausting, guys. It feels like we are alienating, a little more each time we meet. And there’s nothing I can do about it. All I know is that it feels wrong and not…good. It hurts.
Welp, so much for “chronologically”.
At 17, I met my first girlfriend who I spent almost 9 years with. I eventually cheated on her, today I tell myself I knew why. It was my first relationship ever and it developed really smoothly. We moved in together, created our own first home and it felt beautiful. There were no other girls, of course. Till there were. After 6-7 years, I realized that our need developed on diverging paths. She was rather prudish, her parents strict catholics, while I was not. He not being able to provide what I thought I needed in a relationship, I started to realize that there were other girls that found me interesting. Maybe they could give me what I missed? The could. And they did. What I did not understand at this time was that a relationship is not a one way street, that a relationship demands attention, sacrifice, communication, compromising, listening, understanding. I was under the (false) assumption that this relationship has reached its “best before”-date, so I was legitimised to try other “products”.
Yeah, I should not have done that. It not only destroyed her life, but damaged my inner self in a gravity I could not have anticipated, but retrospectively understand. Even now, 5 years after I moved out because I couldn’t take it anymore, I feel guilty for what I did. We maintained contact for 2 years after we broke up and today I ask myself why I did that. It was 2 years after I broke up with her that I confessed to her what I did. I will never forget the sound of her cries, the look in her eyes, the pain she felt. She really loved me, today I know that. And I loved her too. Writing that, I really have to struggle not to cry like a little bitch.
Today I know it would not have worked out with us as a couple which kinda makes it all the more painful. She wanted to keep me so badly, she did everything to make me happy, to hold me, to make it the way it once was. And in the meantime, I was fucking other girls. How could I. It’s so hard to write this down for the first time of my life and I feel so lousy and ashamed. Shortly before I cancelled my contact to her she told me she forgave me for what I did to her which made me cry for hours (us both, actually). It did not matter, I would not have worked out between us and there is nothing I can do about this.
After the break up, I discovered Tinder and for a few years, everything was fine. I had two relationships that didn’t last very long (for different reasons than before, though), finished studying law, lost all my 4 grandparents shortly after and began working as a lawyer in last year.
Everything was fine; I was a fucking lawyer, made good money, had status. Soon, that image I had envisioned in my head of how my life would develop began to fade and is currently at a point at which I just don’t know what to do or even if it’s actually necessary.
Let me be clear about what the circumstances are that I’m in right now: I have a stable job with the best work-life-balance imaginable, make modest money (more than enough to be honest), have my own (small, but very personal) flat, enough friends that care about me, I’m tall, muscular (gym 3 times the week) and pretty decent looking. I have a pretty girlfriend (for 6 months now) who’s a PhD, also a lawyer, waaay smarter than I am. We got a cat recently which was the best fucking idea (unironically, cats are the best!) I am healthy, I neither drink alcohol nor eat meat or fish, don’t own a car because I don’t want or need one, I eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, smoke weed occasionally and - objectively – could not be happier with what I have in my life.
Yet, I am sad. Fatigued, disillusioned by life. Is that all there is? Are my expectations too high? I honestly like my job, it’s fun and I have all the freedom in the world.
Yet, I am sad and I feel guilty for it since there is no reason. None. None at all. I mean yeah, technically you could argue that the bad relationship with my dad burdens me and I couldn’t even deny it, but I feel that’s not the reason for my sadness and low energy.
If I had to guess when it started to worsen significantly I would reckon it was at the time I got my unlimited contract at work. At that point I began to ask myself – do I really want to go to the office every morning, sit in front of my desk, press buttons and write emails the whole day?
The answer is no. No, I do not want to do that for the rest of my life (38 years currently). It feels unfulfilling. Dull. Not boring, but…irrelevant. I never wanted to be in a leading position or take responsibility for others.
I go home after work and feel empty. I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything that actually matters or improves the life of somebody. Every day, I pass several construction sites on my way to work. I worked at one while studying and today I can say that that was the best time of my life. You have to dig a hole? You grab your shovel, put a cigarette in your mouth, turn the radio up and begin to dig. When you’re exhausted, you pause and look at the progress you’ve made. It starts to rain, you wait in the car till it’s over. You continue digging in the mud, you curse because the ground is hard and stony, you smoke another cigarette and at the end of the day, there is a hole that you dug. With your hands. You are dirty, reminder of your accomplishment. It’s a simple, yet extremely rewarding and motivating task. When I finished working at the site, I went home and I was happy. My body was exhausted, but my mind was happy.
I miss that.
Working at a construction site would also mean that I earned half of what I do now. It would also mean that by the age of 50, I will have physical conditions due to the hard manual labour.
I do not want that.
On top of that, things that I enjoyed in the past are not enjoyable anymore. I spent several thousand hours (!) in front of my PS4 (Fallout 4 and Bloodborne, mainly) and I also played Magic: The Gathering since 1998. I stopped playing MtG actively a few years ago, since I didn’t have the time to do so on a regular basis. I enjoyed coop-gaming with a friend of mine I became acquainted with via Playstation: She helped me slaying a boss in Bloodborne, we chatted for a while and now she’s one of the few persons I share the most private things that I do not even tell my parents (or my girlfriend, for that matter. I am afraid of losing her if she read this, I will be honest about that. I know she’d be supportive if she knew about my state of the mind, but ultimately helpless in making it better. Her job is stressful enough, I do not want to burden her with my problems when not absolutely necessary).
When I play MtG now with my old colleagues, it’s fun for a few hours, but it’s not like it used to be. Eventually, it gets boring and I want to stop. I never wanted to stop playing when I was younger. Maybe that’s normal and I developed, grew up, became an adult. Same thing with gaming: I was looking forward to a video game (The Last of Us 2) for such a long time, positive that it would reignite my passion for gaming.
It did not. I played it for a few hours and it was fun, but it grew stale very fast. Now I’m at a tricky part, died a few times and have zero motivation to continue. Why is that?
When I go to the gym, I don’t do it because I think I want to, but because I have to. I train routinely for 2 hours and go home. It’s not fun anymore although I have to admit I enjoy seeing the results. If that wasn’t the case, I don’t know if I still went to gym. I do not feel exhausted after my training, en contraire. I feel agitated, aggressive, twitchy. May be the testosterone, I don’t know. I doesn’t feel natural, not like it did in former times where I went home and was like “Yes! This was a nice training, I really enjoyed that!”. I do not anymore.
With my friends it’s similar. A high percentage of my friends are also lawyers and make lots of money for lots of working hours and really seem to enjoy that. I work 40 hours a week and that’s plenty enough for me. I fail to understand how one can have a burning passion for a job that doesn’t leave you free time, time for yourself. I can’t really tell if they are happy or just wearing a mask constantly and I’m not jealous of their salary (if I worked 60 hours instead of 40, I’d earn the same mathematically. The only difference is that I do not have to work 60 hours a week if I do not want to; they do). When I want to meet with them I have to make an appointment 2-3 weeks in advance cause their lifes are so busy with stuff that life brings with it that they lack time for friendships. I mean yeah, some people just love working their asses off, I get that. What I did not know it that these people are my friends. It annoys and irritates me that apparently I am the big exception for evaluating my free time a lot higher than they and everyone around me does. There is this saying: I do not want to live to work, but work to live. And I take that very seriously. I know that it’s wrong set my understanding of happiness as canon, as a standard for my friends. “It’s more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than in a sedan”, my old chef once said. Well, true…I guess? But what if I don’t want to have to cry in the first place?
When I finally meet up with my friends, it also feels like a chore. “You have to care for friendships” my brain tells me and I know that it’s true. But when the day comes and we’re about to meet up at a bar, I much rather not go for no apparent reason. I feel like I already know what is gonna happen: They will tell me about their job, their life and what’s going on and then it’s my turn. Except…it gives me nothing. I will sit their and chat with them about the same, superficial things (job, partner, life, weather…) and then go home. I feel no accomplishment after meeting with them, I feel like “okay, now you’ll have your peace for 2 weeks at least before you have to meet them again so that it doesn’t feel weird”.
That’s not what you’re supposed to feel after meeting with your friends, right? It doesn’t feel good, that’s for sure.
All the things I described above led to a physical state in which I sleep well, but it get’s harder and harder for me to make my way to the office. I do home office whenever possible, but I’m not productive at home. I catch myself looking out of the window of my very small flat (1 room), letting my mind wander and wait for mails or calls. When I have to create documents or solve cases, it feels incredibly difficult and exhausting to concentrate on this task and this task alone. Instead, I browse Imgur or random memes instead of working to a point where I have to do the task literally now. And I do them all. At work I’m unfocused at times, I need a few seconds longer than anybody else so to accommodate my attention to a certain topic. It’s like my brain works slower than it should, forcing me to pause my sentences to actively thinking about a problem which is irritating in a face to face talk. For both sides.
In the beginning, I mostly worked standing up at my desk, but now that’s too exhausting so I prefer sitting on my ass the whole day. Everything I do at work just feels like a chore. When I get an email I think “come on, what do you want?” That does not feel healthy, it feels toxic.
And regarding my girlfriend: I really enjoy spending time with her, so much in fact that I rather be with her than being alone (which never has happened ever before in my life; I usually favour spending time alone than with anyone I know). I love that small woman, although I never told her. Yet. I am certain that I want spend my life with her, 100%. She makes me feel…wanted. Relevant. For the first time in my life, I experienced jealousy, was afraid of losing her. Under tears I confessed to her that I was jealous of her best friend who is male, but also who I know and like very much! But then she wrote me that he visited her in her office (and I knew she was alone that day) and if I wanted, I could join them after I finished working. She asked my if I could bring some beer which I did. Here’s the crazy thing: I know that he is no competition and never will be. But still my mood was on the lowest point imaginable when I joined them. My mind reeled with possibilities as I took the elevator up to her office. Before I rang, I listened through the door, wondering if there were noises that I definitely would’ve misinterpreted. But there were none. They were just sitting there and talking…like best friends do. I never felt threatened by another human being in my life, neither physically nor mentally. Feeling threatened made me feel terrible, vulnerable, just wanting to leave the office. I managed to smalltalk with him (my girlfriend had to take a call) and in retrospect I had to realize how much energy these 30 minutes cost me. I got headache, my stomach rumbled and I shifted on the chair uneasily, sweating and not being able to focus on the talk. I repeat: I like this guy, I really do! And yet I felt threatened by him. That’s new and odd. I told her how I feel about this situation and she was very understanding and could calm my sorrows. I never lost a partner (to cheating or in any other form); I was the one that left. Every single time. And now I’m afraid of being left alone, although there is no indication whatsoever that this could happen any time soon. There’s just one thing about her that’s annoying me more than it probably should: She’s constantly on her smartphone. Like constantly. The first thing when she opens her eyes is to grab her phone, same when going to sleep. Since we have a cat, she got Instagram for her (…) which I view rather indifferently. I’m not on social media, never was and probably never will be. I don’t judge people who are, I just couldn’t possibly care less and she knows and respects that. But when we lay in bed or watch a movie, her phone is constantly vibrating or ringing cause somebody wrote her. She has a way bigger circle of friends than I do. Not that I was envious of that, it’s exhausting enough to maintain the relationship to the friends I have. But she’s the guy that hat lots of friends and is constantly texting them, on top of that she’s on Insta for long periods of time (checking them likes for #cutesleepingcat). I, on the other hand, enjoy when I can leave my phone at home when I go grocery shopping or for a walk with her. It’s pure relaxation when I don’t constantly have to be focused on my phone ringing or vibrating because someone sent memes. While I try to detox from anything technical, she’s so much into it that it sometimes frightens me. I never told her that and I don’t know how to wrap it. I don’t want to change her and if I told her her constantly being on the phone bothers me, I don’t know how she would react. I fear she would perhaps compromise and leave her handy at least outside her reach for the duration of one movie, but would not be able to understand me since being on your smartphone 24/7 is just normal nowadays.
Geez, that’s way longer than I wanted it to be. It just came out like this and I already feel better.
I don’t know what I want to hear from you guys, I’ll be honest. If I had to guess I’d say my life lacks guidance, purpose. But since I have everything I could possibly wish for, what do I seriously expect form life? Why am I not happy although I should be?
Thanks for any input or advice you guys have for me. Anything helps.
submitted by DangerDave1988 to depression [link] [comments]


2020.07.24 11:24 DangerDave1988 M/31 fatigued and sad for no reason since I got my unlimited contract at work. Everything in my life is great, I cannot fathom my emotions and feel guilty

Hi guys,
initially, I wanted to start this post with „the reason for this post is…“, but then I realized: There is none. At least not that I am aware of. But does there has to be one?
If I had to pinpoint a reason for this post it’s that I need new perspectives on my life and how I handle things. I guess. I need new perspectives because with my current way of dealing with life, I constantly get sadder, afraid of spiralling into something I neither can control nor stop by myself. And control is the most important part of my life, my safety, my haven. Being able to control what’s happening to me and my surroundings, based on my actions, is an essential part of my self-understanding and gives me stability.
So why do I get progressively sadder although everything in my life is how I ever wanted it to be?
In order to contextualize my problem, I will tell you about my life. Maybe this isn’t even necessary, but deep down inside of me I am sure that I write my life down for the first time ever to gain new insights about me, to take a look at my life from the perspective of a bystander. Heard that helps.
My name is David, I’m 31 and I currently work at a really big authority. Since I’m also German, the term “authority” might be wrong. What I mean is I work at a company that’s buying IT-stuff with taxpayers money. Procurement law is what it’s called. And since my company is really big and funded by tax money, the work conditions are great and it will never ever go bankrupt so my job is also very safe and secure. The ideal vacancy, one would say.
But chronologically.
I grew up well pampered as an only child in a small village. It had cows and sheep and all that jazz. I wasn’t spoiled for an only child, had my Legos, my Discman and an N64 relatively early, but that’s about it. No brand clothing, no luxury (although I’m aware that’s a matter of perspective).
When I was 7, my parents got a divorce and for the better. I stayed at my mums, my das moved out and joined another family. I never heard my parents fighting and years later, my dad told me that was mainly because he protected me when my mum started shouting. He would take me upstairs and play Lego with me, not engaging in the argument my mother started. She would calm down rather soon because suddenly there was no one to shout at since my father was in my room with me.
I then started to visit my father at his new family periodically, like every second weekend. His new wife had kids, two girls who soon started to refer to me as “their brother”. A term that still feels wrong and I avoid wherever possible. Soon after moving together, my step-mom asked me whether it was okay for me when the girls would call my father “dad” (their own dad was an alcoholic and addicted to gambling, he left them pretty early).
And I was like: ??? Sure…?
I mean, I was 8 or 9 years old. What kind of question is that? If I was asked the same question today, my answer would be the most definite “Hell naw!”, but at this young age, I did not understand the meaning and gravity of what the term “Dad” meant, what being a dad was all about. Now I know better.
As I got older, I started to feel more and more uncomfortable around this “new family” my dad was living in. I always felt like I was the guest…at my fathers house while the girls treated him like the father they never had. I mean, I can’t blame them for I would’ve acted the same for sure, but it still hurts to this day.
Today, I can’t stand neither the girls nor my step mom, albeit for different reasons. The latter is selfish, simple-minded, talks over my father and is the one who’s deciding things. One that has to have an opinion on everything, even topics she does not know about. She has to have an opinion, no matter how stupid it may be. And the worst thing – she’s so convinced of herself and her intellect that I had to swallow multiple times on multiple occasions for peace’s sake at the dinner table. The older one of the girls (about my age) is even more simple-minded, but has a good heart. Still it’s impossible for me to talk to her for more than 5 minutes because there are no topics we share mutual interest in. Like, none. It’s so…exhausting to talk to her, it almost hurts. The younger one is smarter, but I still couldn’t care less for her well-being.
My father, of simple origin himself, realized the trench between me and “his family”, trying to push and convince me for years to “call the girls” cause “they missed hearing from me” and I just did not do it because it would feel so fucking fake and would send the wrong signals to everyone involved. I just do not care for any of them except for my father.
Jealousy, yeah. Pretty obvious. And yet here I am, wishing I das my old father back who’s only a shadow of his former self. My mother once described my father as somebody who likes to walk the path of least resistance – why stand your man, why fight when all you have to do is go to work? There’s always food on the table, his clothes are always clean and they go on vacation 2-3 times a year. All for the price of…not acting up and have a different opinion than his wife.
I love my dad, but nothing remained of the man who loved to tinker on his cars, wore leather jacket and a sick moustache. I mean sure, he got older and things change on their own, I’m aware of that. But I still miss his former self, the image of him that’s imprinted on the canvas of my consciousness forever.
What I cannot fathom is that he is happy. You can ask him a question directly and his wife would answer for him. I confronted him about this rude behaviour and he appeased; “I would’ve answered the same anyways, so what’s the deal?”
I was like…surprised Pikachu. He rally did not bother. And I know my father, he is happy with that women who I wouldn’t want as a neighbour. He is fucking happy with this life for almost 25 years now. I do not recognize my father anymore which makes me…sad, I guess. When we meet every two-three weeks, we talk about the same stuff I would with my co-workers. Weather, job, girlfriend, health. Superficial shit. After Half an hour or so we run out of things to discuss and it gets really tense between us. You can feel us both silently searching for things to say, but everything comes out forced and stiff. It’s exhausting, guys. It feels like we are alienating, a little more each time we meet. And there’s nothing I can do about it. All I know is that it feels wrong and not…good. It hurts.
Welp, so much for “chronologically”.
At 17, I met my first girlfriend who I spent almost 9 years with. I eventually cheated on her, today I tell myself I knew why. It was my first relationship ever and it developed really smoothly. We moved in together, created our own first home and it felt beautiful. There were no other girls, of course. Till there were. After 6-7 years, I realized that our need developed on diverging paths. She was rather prudish, her parents strict catholics, while I was not. He not being able to provide what I thought I needed in a relationship, I started to realize that there were other girls that found me interesting. Maybe they could give me what I missed? The could. And they did. What I did not understand at this time was that a relationship is not a one way street, that a relationship demands attention, sacrifice, communication, compromising, listening, understanding. I was under the (false) assumption that this relationship has reached its “best before”-date, so I was legitimised to try other “products”.
Yeah, I should not have done that. It not only destroyed her life, but damaged my inner self in a gravity I could not have anticipated, but retrospectively understand. Even now, 5 years after I moved out because I couldn’t take it anymore, I feel guilty for what I did. We maintained contact for 2 years after we broke up and today I ask myself why I did that. It was 2 years after I broke up with her that I confessed to her what I did. I will never forget the sound of her cries, the look in her eyes, the pain she felt. She really loved me, today I know that. And I loved her too. Writing that, I really have to struggle not to cry like a little bitch.
Today I know it would not have worked out with us as a couple which kinda makes it all the more painful. She wanted to keep me so badly, she did everything to make me happy, to hold me, to make it the way it once was. And in the meantime, I was fucking other girls. How could I. It’s so hard to write this down for the first time of my life and I feel so lousy and ashamed. Shortly before I cancelled my contact to her she told me she forgave me for what I did to her which made me cry for hours (us both, actually). It did not matter, I would not have worked out between us and there is nothing I can do about this.
After the break up, I discovered Tinder and for a few years, everything was fine. I had two relationships that didn’t last very long (for different reasons than before, though), finished studying law, lost all my 4 grandparents shortly after and began working as a lawyer in last year.
Everything was fine; I was a fucking lawyer, made good money, had status. Soon, that image I had envisioned in my head of how my life would develop began to fade and is currently at a point at which I just don’t know what to do or even if it’s actually necessary.
Let me be clear about what the circumstances are that I’m in right now: I have a stable job with the best work-life-balance imaginable, make modest money (more than enough to be honest), have my own (small, but very personal) flat, enough friends that care about me, I’m tall, muscular (gym 3 times the week) and pretty decent looking. I have a pretty girlfriend (for 6 months now) who’s a PhD, also a lawyer, waaay smarter than I am. We got a cat recently which was the best fucking idea (unironically, cats are the best!) I am healthy, I neither drink alcohol nor eat meat or fish, don’t own a car because I don’t want or need one, I eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, smoke weed occasionally and - objectively – could not be happier with what I have in my life.
Yet, I am sad. Fatigued, disillusioned by life. Is that all there is? Are my expectations too high? I honestly like my job, it’s fun and I have all the freedom in the world.
Yet, I am sad and I feel guilty for it since there is no reason. None. None at all. I mean yeah, technically you could argue that the bad relationship with my dad burdens me and I couldn’t even deny it, but I feel that’s not the reason for my sadness and low energy.
If I had to guess when it started to worsen significantly I would reckon it was at the time I got my unlimited contract at work. At that point I began to ask myself – do I really want to go to the office every morning, sit in front of my desk, press buttons and write emails the whole day?
The answer is no. No, I do not want to do that for the rest of my life (38 years currently). It feels unfulfilling. Dull. Not boring, but…irrelevant. I never wanted to be in a leading position or take responsibility for others.
I go home after work and feel empty. I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything that actually matters or improves the life of somebody. Every day, I pass several construction sites on my way to work. I worked at one while studying and today I can say that that was the best time of my life. You have to dig a hole? You grab your shovel, put a cigarette in your mouth, turn the radio up and begin to dig. When you’re exhausted, you pause and look at the progress you’ve made. It starts to rain, you wait in the car till it’s over. You continue digging in the mud, you curse because the ground is hard and stony, you smoke another cigarette and at the end of the day, there is a hole that you dug. With your hands. You are dirty, reminder of your accomplishment. It’s a simple, yet extremely rewarding and motivating task. When I finished working at the site, I went home and I was happy. My body was exhausted, but my mind was happy.
I miss that.
Working at a construction site would also mean that I earned half of what I do now. It would also mean that by the age of 50, I will have physical conditions due to the hard manual labour.
I do not want that.
On top of that, things that I enjoyed in the past are not enjoyable anymore. I spent several thousand hours (!) in front of my PS4 (Fallout 4 and Bloodborne, mainly) and I also played Magic: The Gathering since 1998. I stopped playing MtG actively a few years ago, since I didn’t have the time to do so on a regular basis. I enjoyed coop-gaming with a friend of mine I became acquainted with via Playstation: She helped me slaying a boss in Bloodborne, we chatted for a while and now she’s one of the few persons I share the most private things that I do not even tell my parents (or my girlfriend, for that matter. I am afraid of losing her if she read this, I will be honest about that. I know she’d be supportive if she knew about my state of the mind, but ultimately helpless in making it better. Her job is stressful enough, I do not want to burden her with my problems when not absolutely necessary).
When I play MtG now with my old colleagues, it’s fun for a few hours, but it’s not like it used to be. Eventually, it gets boring and I want to stop. I never wanted to stop playing when I was younger. Maybe that’s normal and I developed, grew up, became an adult. Same thing with gaming: I was looking forward to a video game (The Last of Us 2) for such a long time, positive that it would reignite my passion for gaming.
It did not. I played it for a few hours and it was fun, but it grew stale very fast. Now I’m at a tricky part, died a few times and have zero motivation to continue. Why is that?
When I go to the gym, I don’t do it because I think I want to, but because I have to. I train routinely for 2 hours and go home. It’s not fun anymore although I have to admit I enjoy seeing the results. If that wasn’t the case, I don’t know if I still went to gym. I do not feel exhausted after my training, en contraire. I feel agitated, aggressive, twitchy. May be the testosterone, I don’t know. I doesn’t feel natural, not like it did in former times where I went home and was like “Yes! This was a nice training, I really enjoyed that!”. I do not anymore.
With my friends it’s similar. A high percentage of my friends are also lawyers and make lots of money for lots of working hours and really seem to enjoy that. I work 40 hours a week and that’s plenty enough for me. I fail to understand how one can have a burning passion for a job that doesn’t leave you free time, time for yourself. I can’t really tell if they are happy or just wearing a mask constantly and I’m not jealous of their salary (if I worked 60 hours instead of 40, I’d earn the same mathematically. The only difference is that I do not have to work 60 hours a week if I do not want to; they do). When I want to meet with them I have to make an appointment 2-3 weeks in advance cause their lifes are so busy with stuff that life brings with it that they lack time for friendships. I mean yeah, some people just love working their asses off, I get that. What I did not know it that these people are my friends. It annoys and irritates me that apparently I am the big exception for evaluating my free time a lot higher than they and everyone around me does. There is this saying: I do not want to live to work, but work to live. And I take that very seriously. I know that it’s wrong set my understanding of happiness as canon, as a standard for my friends. “It’s more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than in a sedan”, my old chef once said. Well, true…I guess? But what if I don’t want to have to cry in the first place?
When I finally meet up with my friends, it also feels like a chore. “You have to care for friendships” my brain tells me and I know that it’s true. But when the day comes and we’re about to meet up at a bar, I much rather not go for no apparent reason. I feel like I already know what is gonna happen: They will tell me about their job, their life and what’s going on and then it’s my turn. Except…it gives me nothing. I will sit their and chat with them about the same, superficial things (job, partner, life, weather…) and then go home. I feel no accomplishment after meeting with them, I feel like “okay, now you’ll have your peace for 2 weeks at least before you have to meet them again so that it doesn’t feel weird”.
That’s not what you’re supposed to feel after meeting with your friends, right? It doesn’t feel good, that’s for sure.
All the things I described above led to a physical state in which I sleep well, but it get’s harder and harder for me to make my way to the office. I do home office whenever possible, but I’m not productive at home. I catch myself looking out of the window of my very small flat (1 room), letting my mind wander and wait for mails or calls. When I have to create documents or solve cases, it feels incredibly difficult and exhausting to concentrate on this task and this task alone. Instead, I browse Imgur or random memes instead of working to a point where I have to do the task literally now. And I do them all. At work I’m unfocused at times, I need a few seconds longer than anybody else so to accommodate my attention to a certain topic. It’s like my brain works slower than it should, forcing me to pause my sentences to actively thinking about a problem which is irritating in a face to face talk. For both sides.
In the beginning, I mostly worked standing up at my desk, but now that’s too exhausting so I prefer sitting on my ass the whole day. Everything I do at work just feels like a chore. When I get an email I think “come on, what do you want?” That does not feel healthy, it feels toxic.
And regarding my girlfriend: I really enjoy spending time with her, so much in fact that I rather be with her than being alone (which never has happened ever before in my life; I usually favour spending time alone than with anyone I know). I love that small woman, although I never told her. Yet. I am certain that I want spend my life with her, 100%. She makes me feel…wanted. Relevant. For the first time in my life, I experienced jealousy, was afraid of losing her. Under tears I confessed to her that I was jealous of her best friend who is male, but also who I know and like very much! But then she wrote me that he visited her in her office (and I knew she was alone that day) and if I wanted, I could join them after I finished working. She asked my if I could bring some beer which I did. Here’s the crazy thing: I know that he is no competition and never will be. But still my mood was on the lowest point imaginable when I joined them. My mind reeled with possibilities as I took the elevator up to her office. Before I rang, I listened through the door, wondering if there were noises that I definitely would’ve misinterpreted. But there were none. They were just sitting there and talking…like best friends do. I never felt threatened by another human being in my life, neither physically nor mentally. Feeling threatened made me feel terrible, vulnerable, just wanting to leave the office. I managed to smalltalk with him (my girlfriend had to take a call) and in retrospect I had to realize how much energy these 30 minutes cost me. I got headache, my stomach rumbled and I shifted on the chair uneasily, sweating and not being able to focus on the talk. I repeat: I like this guy, I really do! And yet I felt threatened by him. That’s new and odd. I told her how I feel about this situation and she was very understanding and could calm my sorrows. I never lost a partner (to cheating or in any other form); I was the one that left. Every single time. And now I’m afraid of being left alone, although there is no indication whatsoever that this could happen any time soon. There’s just one thing about her that’s annoying me more than it probably should: She’s constantly on her smartphone. Like constantly. The first thing when she opens her eyes is to grab her phone, same when going to sleep. Since we have a cat, she got Instagram for her (…) which I view rather indifferently. I’m not on social media, never was and probably never will be. I don’t judge people who are, I just couldn’t possibly care less and she knows and respects that. But when we lay in bed or watch a movie, her phone is constantly vibrating or ringing cause somebody wrote her. She has a way bigger circle of friends than I do. Not that I was envious of that, it’s exhausting enough to maintain the relationship to the friends I have. But she’s the guy that hat lots of friends and is constantly texting them, on top of that she’s on Insta for long periods of time (checking them likes for #cutesleepingcat). I, on the other hand, enjoy when I can leave my phone at home when I go grocery shopping or for a walk with her. It’s pure relaxation when I don’t constantly have to be focused on my phone ringing or vibrating because someone sent memes. While I try to detox from anything technical, she’s so much into it that it sometimes frightens me. I never told her that and I don’t know how to wrap it. I don’t want to change her and if I told her her constantly being on the phone bothers me, I don’t know how she would react. I fear she would perhaps compromise and leave her handy at least outside her reach for the duration of one movie, but would not be able to understand me since being on your smartphone 24/7 is just normal nowadays.
Geez, that’s way longer than I wanted it to be. It just came out like this and I already feel better.
I don’t know what I want to hear from you guys, I’ll be honest. If I had to guess I’d say my life lacks guidance, purpose. But since I have everything I could possibly wish for, what do I seriously expect form life? Why am I not happy although I should be?
Thanks for any input or advice you guys have for me. Anything helps.
submitted by DangerDave1988 to depression [link] [comments]


2020.07.18 15:47 multirealman Should I date this single mum (49F) (divorced twice, two baby fathers)?

I am a M in his early 50s (child free, not prior marriages) who recently went on a date with this single mum (49) from a dating site. Her first marriage in hers 20s resulted in one kid who is now around 20. When she was in her mid 40s she got married again and had another kid. There is like a 20 year age difference between her kids. She then quickly got divorced and started seeing another guy 10 years younger than her. She quickly moved in with him and bought a house. She is now single again.
She is really nice to me and is a great cook. However, I feel like there is too many red flags? Would you date this woman?
submitted by multirealman to relationship_advice [link] [comments]


2020.07.15 13:36 WatchfulBirds Gideon James

Gideon James wore brown and only brown, with one exception – a sea-blue scarf he was seldom seen without in the wintertime. If ever we asked him why he shrugged and said he liked it. Some theorised it was so he matched; his hair and eyes were the same colour. Light tan shirt, brown jacket, brown shoes, trousers. It was always a shock to the system when he donned a uniform for football or attended a dress-up party.
He cut his hair exactly once a year, usually in March, if you're wondering – he'd be away for a few days for some sort of family holiday and come back shaved. By the next holiday his hair would have reached his shoulders.
He lived about a mile inland from the beach. Almost every morning, no matter where he'd spent the night, he would take an hour to swim. I saw him once, lithe as an ocean creature, pale skin webbed with blue in the winter sea. He didn't care about the cold, he told me. He liked it. The salt water made him feel alive, like he was part of the land itself.
For all his idiosyncrasies, he had garnered himself a reputation, and that was this:
Gideon James got around.
Gideon James had plenty of lovers but no partner, plenty of friends but no one true love. He was careful, of course, and honest – he would never sleep with anyone without making sure they knew there were no strings attached. No-one in monogamous relationships. No-one under the influence. He had turned people down who he thought did not understand. Once I had asked him who they were and he'd laughed and shook his head, and said he didn't kiss and tell. He was discreet and unashamed. He stressed the importance of sexual health and was a regular for testing at the local clinic. Consent was established and able to be rescinded. As far as casual sex went, he did everything right.
While I knew this, I always worried he'd get into trouble, because there would always be someone who misunderstood, some overprotective father or a partner who caught feelings. But it was in his nature, and he had the charm and looks to pull it off. It would be like trying to keep a cat indoors.
We met at university. His best friend was Nazreen Jones, who I knew a little, and soon became close to myself. Our friendship grew naturally, and soon enough we took to studying together in the library. Occasionally we would go to Nazreen's or mine or someone else's place, but it was not until about three years into knowing him Gideon invited me round to his.
It was the day before the library closed for a conference. I said I still needed to finish my essay, and Gideon pulled on his backpack and gestured to me.
“Come round and study.”
“Come round?”
“Yes.”
“I've never been to your house.”
“Not till now. When you get there, meet me by the gate.” His eyes shone with warning. “Don't go through the gate without me, seriously. Do you understand?”
It sounds ridiculous, but the way he was looking at me, I believed it. So I nodded, and said “Yeah.” And we left it at that.
“His place is a little weird,” Nazreen told me after he had left. She had been around often. “Just follow the rules when you're walking up the track and don't go in without him. You'll be fine.”
The address he'd given me was in the woods, about a half-hour walk from town and another few minutes through the forest itself. I came in at the trail-head and followed the path until the bushes grew thick. A branch-off at the corner of my eye made me stop. A little trail had appeared on my left, there but hard to see, and obscured by loose branches like a quiet disguise. This was the place. I ducked underneath and, seeing no gate, followed the narrow path through the trees.
Gideon was waiting at the gate. I saw him five minutes in, leaning against the wood. He waved. I couldn't see the fence the gate was allegedly attached to, it seemed to blend into the foliage. There was a lot of foliage.
“Hey,” I said.
“Good morning,” he replied.
“Please come in,” he said, and unlatched the gate. It swung inwards. He shut it firmly behind me and we walked on. The sound of running water reached me, which was odd; I hadn't known there was a river near here. Gideon didn't react to it.
On the way, I followed him carefully. He walked over a large stone instead of going round it and checked to make sure I'd done the same. He kept glancing into the trees, but I didn't know what he was looking for.
Gideon lived in a little house near his parents'. His was a cottage, theirs a standard house. He explained to me on the approach that his family unit was close and they preferred to live nearby, so two little hideaways in the woods were ideal. And they often had family staying, so the larger house was useful.
I met his parents first. I had seen them around town on occasion and hadn't realised they were related, although I should have guessed – like Gideon, they both wore largely one colour. His mother, Delora, was pale and dark-haired and wore green, which matched her eyes. She shook my hand warmly and invited me in. His father, Edmund, was a little less pale, and had hair the colour of sun-tipped wheat. His clothes were brown as well, so light they were almost orange. He shook my hand and welcomed me with a mug of tea, some herbal blend I'd never tried.
After tea and conversation (or T&C, Nazreen would have said) we headed over to the cottage. Gideon's father reminded him to be in at seven. Then he turned to me and said, “We would invite you impromptu, Joe, but it is a family affair.”
I assured him I didn't mind.
Gideon's house was fantastic. It looked as old as the land, but inside there was electric lighting and a television in the corner. It had a surprisingly big living room for how small it looked outside – a huge window looked out over the sea, the sill lined with pebbles.
Gideon gave me a tour. A small kitchen, which charmed me the moment I saw string bags of onions hanging in clusters; the walls were white with a hint of brown, and dark beams crossed the ceiling. Down the hall there were carvings on the beams, little squirrels and fish and plants, and a long rug on the dark wood floor. Two bedrooms, the smaller of which was empty but for a small cupboard; a toilet; and a bathroom with light green walls, floral paintings in a line around the room, and the most peculiar looking bath I'd ever seen. Gideon saw me looking, and smiled.
“It's stone,” he said. “My granddad made it.”
“Iron clawfoot not eccentric enough for you?” I asked. He chuckled.
“You can try it sometime. Keeps the water warm.”
We hunkered down in the living room to study. The walls were pale blue, flecked with white in the corners. A wooden bookshelf stood along the wall, filled with stories, but for one shelf on which sat a copper sculpture, and there were two couches, one blue and one green. The table was wooden and old. I felt as though the ocean was far closer than a mile, spreading its arms through the land to touch this house. The night rose in scribbles and notes. By half six the sun had almost set, and Gideon put down his pen and said that was enough.
He said he'd show me out. Not wanting to trouble him, I said I could go myself; after all, the gate was only a few minutes away, I was a grown man who could walk in the dark. But he refused.
“I know this trail better than you,” he said. “Trust me. It's tricky in the dark.”
I shrugged on my jacket and let him lead the way. We stopped briefly to say goodbye to his parents and left. He was right about the trail. I hadn't counted on the lack of artificial light, and the way the trees touched overhead meant the moon came in patches. We were careful. He told me where to step and how to avoid snails and mushrooms, warned me in a low voice not to touch the vines around the willow tree, made me stand upon the stone again instead of walk around it. It was bizarre, but because it was Gideon, I didn't question it.
A shadow appeared in our path partway down. I thought it was a trick of the light at first, but Gideon put an arm in front of me and handed the shadow something from his pocket. It slipped peacefully away into the trees.
When we got to the end of the trail Gideon unlatched the gate and watched me go. I didn't say anything about how strange it was, just thanked him. He did not turn away until I was out of the woods.
When I was halfway down the road I saw two people going in the way I'd come. They did not see me. I noticed them at first because they were dressed so beautifully – like two kings in a fairytale. Soft cloaks, jewelled vests. They were dark-skinned and black-haired, one with loose curls down his back, the other with a beard short at his chin. And I noticed them again, when I realised where they were going.
One was dressed almost entirely in yellow, the other in green.
Yet I did not speak of this to Gideon, not the next day when he said the gathering had gone well, not the next week when he said the marks on his feet were from dancing. I suppose I had accepted his strangeness, and it didn't daunt me.
We were in the pub one night not long after that, talking over a drink, and the conversation had turned to sex. Gideon had a far more laissez-faire attitude to it that I had; while he was happy with casual sex, I'd had exactly zero one-night-stands. I found it hard to trust people that quickly. I didn't want to hurt someone by poorly communicating the short-term nature of it. I'd had relationships, but my last one had ended a year before and to put it bluntly I was horny as great horned toad. I didn't want to leap into a relationship just for sex and I didn't want to sleep with a stranger, even if, as Gideon said, I'd surely be fine with proper communication. I could do a friend with benefits, I said, but I wasn't sure of a friend with whom the attraction was mutual and it wouldn't make it weird.
Gideon James gave me a long look over the rim of his glass. “Really,” he said.
By the end of the night, we'd agreed to sleep together.
We arranged to meet at his house after university on Wednesday. I'd thought he usually went to his partners' houses and asked, and he said he did, usually, but I'd already been to his. I knew not to question the rules about the walkway and anyway, we were friends. It was different, he said.
I was nervous. We'd gone over ground rules and expectations, made sure we were on the same page regarding keeping it to friendship and sex, but not romance. I'd gotten tested. Gideon had provided me with a copy of his own results printed on clean white paper, with just enough of a flourish to make me laugh. I was excited, of course, and if experience was the best teacher then Gideon was a pro, but that didn't stop my stomach from knotting on the walk over.
He met me at the gate with a grin and a gleaming eye. “Hello,” he said.
“Hello.”
I'd bought a drink, a bottle of lime cordial from the market. It was Gideon's favourite. He accepted it with a grin.
“Brought you something.”
“Delicious!” He held it to the light, swung the gate open. “Mmm! Please come in.”
“I thought champagne was a bit presumptuous.”
“Didn't want to ply me with alcohol?”
“Thought it might give the wrong impression.”
He shut the gate. We linked arms and traipsed up to the house, chatting, me trying not to be awkward. Gideon was loose-limbed and gay, almost bizarrely relaxed. He'd washed. He smelled of salt and soap and brightness. Approaching the house I heard the bathroom fan buzzing, saw a mist of scattering condensation drift out the window.
It was warm inside, he had the fire going. I hung my jacket over a chair and left my shoes by the door. Gideon popped the cordial on the counter. “Drink?”
“Please.”
We drank lime cordial in the lounge room, watching the sun dip over the horizon until the sky turned blue to grey to blue-black. Shadows drifted outside and the sea glittered. In the night there was little moonlight through these trees, so the earth seemed dappled, secret. Birds spoke outside. If I went to the window I could just see stars peeping through the high branches. The scent of firewood inside was touched with what drifted through the open pane – a smell of oceans, grass, leaves, earth. It felt enchanted.
“I don't know why you don't bring everyone here,” I'd said. “It's brilliant.”
“It's a bit romantic – it's all right with you, we're already friends, you understand. I don't want to give people the wrong idea.”
It was true. I loved him, fiercely and without romance.
“Oh, and the journey here. I already have a reputation. There's a reason I meet you at the gate.”
“Who else has been here? Just me and Nazreen?”
“Who you know? Yes.” He shrugged. “I like privacy.”
We'd finished our cordial. I shifted in my seat. This was the hard bit, I thought. The actual going for it. “Should I – um – ”
He jumped. “Allow me!”
Gideon brushed down his shirt-front and stood before me, one arm out. It was a very formal pose. He cleared his throat, smiled.
“Joe.” He said. “Would you like to come to my room?”
I said yes.
He led me to his bedroom, up the almost-tan hallway, past the kitchen. His room was large and pleasant. Merry yellow walls, a soft grey rug over the floorboards, red and green curtains pulled tight over a long sill. There was a cupboard on one side, a bedside table, and a chair in the corner beside the window. His bed was large and blanketed in flannel. There were little lights winking from the sides of the room, fairy lights – these looked handmade, the holders thin metal and carved into the same shapes as the beams in the hallway.
“Nice room,” I said.
He closed the door.
“Thank you,” he said.
He turned to me with a smile. For just a moment he looked otherworldly. I thought of the rules of the track to the door, the strange shapes that shifted in the trees, the clothing of a single colour, his odd moments of formality – it twinkled in his eyes, the answers, but I found I did not need them answered, not yet. I did not ask as he moved toward me, simply took his hand, let the smell of salt and soap and brightness push the questions toward the back of my head as he led me to his bed.
Gideon James is good in bed.
Gideon James will press you down into the mattress and smile crafty into the nook of your neck and make you groan and flex beneath him. Gideon James will lay deft and dexterous hands upon you, whisper to you with a skilful tongue, envelop you in a warm embrace, push his chest against your back, squeeze you, pull, push forth with animalistic vim, will make you scream, will make you ball the bed-sheets into fists with incoherent hands, will make you strain with the very vigour of him.
Afterwards, when you have cleaned yourselves up, he will ask if you want to stay the night. If you say yes, as I did, he will lie with you, fold his arms around you as you sleep.
It became a regular thing after that. He seldom came to my house, though once he did – appeared at my window in the middle of the night. I opened it, already half-dressed to go to his.
“What's up, Peter Pan.”
“Hello Joe.”
He was perched on the tiles, dangerously close to slipping, though he did not seem worried.
“Nazreen says when you visit her you appear at the window instead of the door.”
“I can't help it if she's got a perfectly positioned tree.”
That was true. Her front door was perfectly good, big and heavy with an iron knocker, but the tree outside led directly to her window. There was no such tree beside my house, though.
“And how did you get up here?”
“Shimmied up the drainpipe.”
I let him in, and you know the rest.
I grew used to the journey to Gideon's house. Every time he would meet me at the gate, every time going up the track I would stick to the centre, climb over the rock, greet the unseen shadow in the trees and arrive safely. Every time I would ask no questions.
At the back of the local school there was an oval I usually cut across to get to Gideon's. He was late one night, and not answering his phone. I worried. For all his spontaneity he was usually punctual. I went out to look for him.
I took our usual route, calling him along the way. Halfway across the oval I began to hear his ringtone. “Gideon?” I shouted, but there was no answer. It made me uneasy.
The ringtone continued cheerfully. It grew in volume. I must have been almost upon him, I thought, unless he'd dropped it – the idea made the hair stand up on my back.
The light was so dim I almost tripped over him.
I would have thought I'd scream, but instead I froze. Gideon lay still on the ground in front of me. He was bloody. The pale skin of his face was bruised, limbs at wrong angles, the turf around him potted with shoe-marks. I knelt tentatively beside his and whispered his name, but he didn't move. I could feel no pulse at his neck, but he was cold. In a moment of desperation I shook him; all that happened was a gristly sound and the drop of his arm to the grass, which uncovered his phone sticking out of his pocket.
Shaking, I pulled it out. I was going to call an ambulance and was frantically trying to figure out how to explain which part of the oval I was on when I opened it. Two things jumped out at me right away. A note was written on the inside of his phone cover, and the phone was recording.
I read the note. It said IN EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY: Call my emergency contacts, NOT emergency services.
I turned off the recording. It had clearly been on for a while, over an hour. His emergency contacts were his mum and dad. I called them.
Delora picked up on the second ring. “Hello?”
“Something's happened to Gideon, he's – ” I couldn't say dead. I stumbled. “Unconscious. Bleeding.”
“Where are you.” It wasn't a question. Her tone was sharp.
“School oval,” I said.
“Wait there. Don't call anyone.” She hung up.
I tried CPR. I doubted very much it would work, it made noises that didn't sound right, but I kept on for a while. He tasted of metal, of blood. The phone glowed on the grass beside us. The witness.
The recording. With one hand still on his chest I opened it, pressed play. Turned the volume all the way up.
The video started with a jerky shot of fingers and the inside of a pocket. There was a bit of noise, then it stabilised. The oval. A shout from far away, then again, louder: “Hey! HEY!”
Gideon James had turned toward the treeline, where the video had captured four figures walking toward him. They'd been hiding in the trees. He must have noticed.
They came closer, faces set. Four men around our age. Two looked familiar.
He'd filmed the attack, I realised. Evidence.
They got right in his face. He was remarkably calm. “Evening,” he said, voice loud on the recording. “How can I help you?”
One of them leaned toward him. It was Ben Campbell. We'd gone to school together. Not friends. I could see a close-up of the pocket of his trousers; he was close. Gideon did not step back.
“Question,” he said.
Gideon said nothing.
“Are you fucking my sister?”
I could not believe, in the twenty-first century, we were still asking people 'Are you fucking my sister?'.
“I don't kiss and tell,” Gideon said, which seemed to enrage Ben.
“Rhetorical question, pal. I heard you. Right? She told me. Talking you up to her mates and everything.”
He paused, shifting his weight. “Anna,” he added.
“You're Ben,” said Gideon. “Ben Campbell.”
“That's right.” Gideon had angled his hip, catching more of Ben on the video. Clever. “And I've heard you've been sleeping with a few other people, haven't you? Cheating on my sister.”
“I haven't been cheating,” Gideon said. “It's consensual, and non-exclusive. No strings attached. That's the agreement. With everyone.”
“Boys too, I've heard.”
“Yes.”
One of the others muttered “Faggot.”
“You don't fuck my sister anymore,” Ben snarled. “You keep your filthy little AIDS cock away from her, you understand?”
“That's not how AIDS works.”
“Shut your fucking mouth.”
“It doesn't just magically appear during gay sex. I get tested regularly.”
“I said you shut it.”
“Ben. Your sister is safe. I'm not going to stop an activity between two consenting adults because you don't like it.”
Ben stepped back. He looked furious. “Don't you fucking make her dirty!” he shouted. “She isn't like that!”
“Your sister is an adult. She can make her own decisions.”
“Shut it,” one of the others said.
“She's an adult! Ask her. Ask her if she consents, anything you want; she can make her own choices.”
“I know what's best for her.”
“Why can you have sex but she can't?”
“What?”
“Why can you have sex but she can't?” Gideon still hadn't moved. “I admire you wanting to look after your family, I do, but if you ask her you will see it's all consensual. You have sex. You're both adults. Why can't she?”
His voice was a growl. “It's different for boys,” he said.
“So this isn't about me. This is about your sister's sexuality.” The camera moved slightly. “I'm sorry. I can't help you with that.”
There was a thud and then the camera jumped. Ben had hit him.
It was swift. Gideon fought hard, but he was on the ground quickly and it was four on one. In their rage they must not have noticed the camera there; it caught images of all four men. Gideon's grunts turned to gristle as the beating continued. I had to look away. The camera was still but for the aftershock of each punch, until one of the men, one I didn't recognise, said “Stop – STOP!”
They stopped. The man leaned in and reached across is body, filling the screen with a close-up of his arm. “He's not breathing,” he said. “Ben.”
“Check his pulse,” said Ben, off-screen. The arm moved again.
“Nothing.”
“Fuck.”
There was a whispered discussion. It culminated in one of the men saying “I'll call him an ambulance, let's get out of here.”
And they left. Then there was silence. I skipped through until the end. Nothing, except for Gideon's phone ringing, and my horrified face picking it up, and a close-up shot of the grass.
When Gideon's mother arrived I explained in fractured detail, while her hands shook with rage over her child's twisted body. His father arrived soon after. He growled at a frequency that made my hair stand on end.
I gave them the phone. No ambulance had arrived, despite the assurances of the man in the video. They watched it with grave faces, then asked me to explain again exactly what had happened. I gave them as much as I could, times, dates – anything.
“What are their names?”
“Ben Campbell and Ivor Newell, I don't know the others,” I said. And I added, “Anna Campbell – she wouldn't have set that up. It's not her fault.”
“We know,” Edmund said.
They gathered him up without a word and turned to go. Delora led the way, the man draped in her arms lolling with every step. Edmund laid a firm hand on my shoulder and said, quietly, “Do not go to the police. We will deal with this ourselves.”
I nodded, and he went.
It was cold that night. It was December. I did what they asked, went home and lay awake and did not call the police. I cried. In the morning, having barely slept, I went to tell Nazreen.
Something told me he wouldn't be in hospital but we tried anyway, holding tight each other's hand lest we drift away. Her face was pale, her arm shook. I, having had more time to process it, spoke to the reception staff at every local hospital we tried, but none of them had a patient matching the description.
“Do you think he's dead?” she whispered, eyes on me across the car.
“He didn't have a pulse, Nazreen.”
“There was an ambulance,” she said. “He didn't lie. On the video. I saw it go past, toward the oval.”
“He must have called it late. We have to tell them,” I said.
We wrote a letter to his parents explaining and offering our support. I wanted to send it in the post, but Nazreen said we should deliver it by hand. There was a letterbox by the gate, we didn't have to go up the track. It was more personal, she said. And if he was –
“Don't,” I said.
We drove in silence to the woods and went in. She knew the way. It was a shock not to see Gideon at the gate, leaning against the white wood with comfortable nonchalance. It was wrong.
Nazreen dropped the letter into the mailbox. Then she froze.
“Joe.”
I looked toward where she was pointing.
Delora and Edmund were walking through the woods, carrying Gideon between them.
Nazreen pulled me into the foliage. We watched in horror. Gideon. His body was limp and white, no colour in his cheeks. He was no longer bloody. They must have washed him. One arm flopped to the side, Delora folded it back over his chest. They did not speak.
We followed them silently along the track. I was relieved we didn't have to go through the gate; I didn't know what to give the shadow if it appeared. Soon enough they ducked into the trees and Nazreen and I saw them stop. We crouched together, pressed against a tree trunk.
Gideon James' parents had come out into a clearing. I grabbed Nazreen's hand when I noticed it.
They had dug a hole under the cedar tree.
Edmund held his son as Delora placed things in the hole. A blueish rock, two silver coins, and a bucket of sand. I focused on that because I couldn't look at Gideon. Cradled like a baby, but with limbs splayed and dead. It felt wrong.
Delora nodded at her husband. He knelt by the side of the hole and very gently placed Gideon within. Then they pushed the soil back in to cover him, staining their knees dark in the process.
This is what they meant by dealing with it themselves.
They shook things over his grave; handfuls of salt, herbs, dirt, dried plants, and other things I couldn't identify. Two copper cups were raised in the air, their contents poured over the grave; one looked like greenish oil, the other like seawater. Then Edmund drew a knife from his pocket and nicked the back of his hand with it. He handed it to his wife, who did the same. A few drips of blood fell to the earth over Gideon James.
I felt guilty for watching, it looked so intensely private. Yet I could not look away.
They began to chant.
It was a wavering sound, a strong thin note that dipped and stung. It wove through the surrounding trees, into the earth and up through the treetops; it was distilled, beautiful, pure – then it softened, became rhythmic, and some primal prickling took over my shoulders. There was heart in it. The woodland animals had stilled, silent. It continued, building into a staunch crescendo of ancient ritual; they danced around his grave like wild things, arms up, words I did not understand in impossible layers; Gaelic, perhaps, or Scandinavian, the beat disciplined, the movement full, it felt like hours we sat there with the cold wash of adrenaline fading from my stomach, watching a ritual we didn't understand. When it finished, it was with an assertive cry, and they looked once more upon the grave before, hand-in-hand, they left.
That was that then. Nazreen and I waited until the coast was clear and crept away, shaken. We felt it would be disrespectful to visit the grave so soon after his parents had buried him, but vowed we'd come back when we could.
And life returned to normal. Almost.
Nobody seemed to have registered Gideon James as dead, he just wasn't there anymore. I didn't see his parents for a while. Anna Campbell, who Nazreen knew quite well, had asked around a few times, wanting to know where Gideon was. I felt bad about her unwilling part in this, and sent Gideon James' parents a letter asking what I should tell her. They replied, She will know in time. So I didn't tell her.
Something else I found out, through Anna and Nazreen, was interesting.
Ben Campbell had begun sleepwalking.
Every night, Nazreen told me, every night he would rise from his bed and trudge in a deep sleep to the school oval. There he would have a nightmare and wake up screaming. He'd been to the doctor, to the hospital even, done a sleep study, and woken up in a hospital gown in the grass. According to the nurse on duty, he'd torn himself off of the monitoring equipment and walked blindly through security. Surprisingly strong, they'd said.
It wasn't just Ben. Ivor Newell, one of the other men there that day, and the two others who Nazreen told me were called Trent Grade and Brayden McMahon, had also woken up screaming on the oval recently. At first it was once or twice a week, then it became every night. I saw them once. It was a horrible sight. Four young men moving sluggishly along the grass, to the corner of the oval, stopping – then one of them would suddenly scream in fear and flail his arms helplessly, as though fending off an invisible attacker. This would set the others off and become a cacophony until each one, by now on the floor, would wake with a start.
I wondered if they were dreaming of Gideon.
They would shuffle back to their homes with haunted faces. The lack of sleep showed. Nazreen told me everything. She said Ben had refused to tell Anna what the dreams were about. He'd tried tying himself to the bed and setting up bells on every door in his house, tried an alarm – nothing. He would rise in slumber and unknowingly pick the knots apart. Then walk. He complained of strange figures outside his window, something about green and brown coats. Anna didn't know them.
They were trying to convince him to go to therapy, she had confided, but there was only so much they could do, with him being a young adult. Nazreen had also said, according to Anna, Ben had threatened every one of her boyfriends and sexual partners, and she was worried he might have bullied Gideon and scared him off. She didn't know how right she was.
It was January when Nazreen and I saw Ben Campbell entering the Sexual Health Clinic. He looked agitated and exhausted. Anna informed us that, from what she could gather, he'd gotten a very visible case of genital warts, usually a quick fix, but his were awfully persistent. It just didn't seem to be going away.
As the months wore on, the four men who had attacked Gideon James grew more and more like ghosts. Only one of them had any reprieve. While Ben, Brayden and Ivor woke up shivering on the oval every night, Trent managed to stay in his own bed till morning about twice a week.
Nobody told us, but Nazreen and I knew without a shadow of a doubt, he had called the ambulance for Gideon.
We went back to the woods to visit Gideon's grave. It was hard to find, but we managed. We stood and spoke above him, leaving foot-marks in the frosty grass which fringed the site, noses filled with the sharp cold smell of earth and foliage.
March came, with Spring. Still the four men woke nightly on the dew-bitten grass, still I wondered why the James' had not gone to the police. I thought of Gideon, who should now be going on holiday and coming back short-haired and twinkling, who should have spent the last four months swimming at the beach and strolling catlike around town to visit his lovers, alive and bright.
It was the end of March when I heard it.
I thought I'd dreamt it. But there it came again. Tap. A stone. My window twitched in its frame.
Sleepily I stumbled to the window and opened it, and very nearly tipped right out.
Gideon James smiled up at me.
“Hello, Joe,” he said. “Can I come in?”
Once the shock had subsided enough I was able to move I said yes. He scurried up the drainpipe like a squirrel and threw himself at me. I hugged him. He was alive. It was impossible, I'd seen him buried, but he was – he was alive, and well, and warm; he smelled of dirt and salt and I could feel his heartbeat against me. Unless it was mine, so I pulled away and pressed my fingers to his neck, not the thumb, and felt it there, his pulse, as though he had never been buried underground. He laughed delightedly at my face.
“Missed me?” he asked, and I laughed, but it came out as more of a shriek, and then I gathered myself enough to step back and just look at him.
No scars. No blood. Just soft dark hair and bright eyes and an impish smile. I shook my head.
“You'd better explain,” I said.
“I know,” he said.
“I saw them bury you,” I said.
“I know.”
I pinched myself. Awake.
“Have you told Nazreen?”
“Yes. She seemed quite pleased.”
Quite pleased. I was pretty sure she would have cried.
“Fuck,” I mumbled, which made Gideon laugh more. He kissed me clumsily on the cheek and hugged me again. I felt him lurch a bit. He steadied himself on me.
“Sorry,” he said. “I should have had another week to get the equilibrium back but I couldn't wait to see you.”
“You are seriously going to have to explain everything.”
“I will, I promise.” He squeezed my hand. “Come for a walk? Nazreen's coming.”
“Yes. Definitely.” I grabbed a jacket. “Where are we going?”
“We're going to the oval,” he said. “I have a score to settle.”
submitted by WatchfulBirds to Odd_directions [link] [comments]


2020.07.15 13:35 WatchfulBirds Gideon James

Gideon James wore brown and only brown, with one exception – a sea-blue scarf he was seldom seen without in the wintertime. If ever we asked him why he shrugged and said he liked it. Some theorised it was so he matched; his hair and eyes were the same colour. Light tan shirt, brown jacket, brown shoes, trousers. It was always a shock to the system when he donned a uniform for football or attended a dress-up party.
He cut his hair exactly once a year, usually in March, if you're wondering – he'd be away for a few days for some sort of family holiday and come back shaved. By the next holiday his hair would have reached his shoulders.
He lived about a mile inland from the beach. Almost every morning, no matter where he'd spent the night, he would take an hour to swim. I saw him once, lithe as an ocean creature, pale skin webbed with blue in the winter sea. He didn't care about the cold, he told me. He liked it. The salt water made him feel alive, like he was part of the land itself.
For all his idiosyncrasies, he had garnered himself a reputation, and that was this:
Gideon James got around.
Gideon James had plenty of lovers but no partner, plenty of friends but no one true love. He was careful, of course, and honest – he would never sleep with anyone without making sure they knew there were no strings attached. No-one in monogamous relationships. No-one under the influence. He had turned people down who he thought did not understand. Once I had asked him who they were and he'd laughed and shook his head, and said he didn't kiss and tell. He was discreet and unashamed. He stressed the importance of sexual health and was a regular for testing at the local clinic. Consent was established and able to be rescinded. As far as casual sex went, he did everything right.
While I knew this, I always worried he'd get into trouble, because there would always be someone who misunderstood, some overprotective father or a partner who caught feelings. But it was in his nature, and he had the charm and looks to pull it off. It would be like trying to keep a cat indoors.
We met at university. His best friend was Nazreen Jones, who I knew a little, and soon became close to myself. Our friendship grew naturally, and soon enough we took to studying together in the library. Occasionally we would go to Nazreen's or mine or someone else's place, but it was not until about three years into knowing him Gideon invited me round to his.
It was the day before the library closed for a conference. I said I still needed to finish my essay, and Gideon pulled on his backpack and gestured to me.
“Come round and study.”
“Come round?”
“Yes.”
“I've never been to your house.”
“Not till now. When you get there, meet me by the gate.” His eyes shone with warning. “Don't go through the gate without me, seriously. Do you understand?”
It sounds ridiculous, but the way he was looking at me, I believed it. So I nodded, and said “Yeah.” And we left it at that.
“His place is a little weird,” Nazreen told me after he had left. She had been around often. “Just follow the rules when you're walking up the track and don't go in without him. You'll be fine.”
The address he'd given me was in the woods, about a half-hour walk from town and another few minutes through the forest itself. I came in at the trail-head and followed the path until the bushes grew thick. A branch-off at the corner of my eye made me stop. A little trail had appeared on my left, there but hard to see, and obscured by loose branches like a quiet disguise. This was the place. I ducked underneath and, seeing no gate, followed the narrow path through the trees.
Gideon was waiting at the gate. I saw him five minutes in, leaning against the wood. He waved. I couldn't see the fence the gate was allegedly attached to, it seemed to blend into the foliage. There was a lot of foliage.
“Hey,” I said.
“Good morning,” he replied.
“Please come in,” he said, and unlatched the gate. It swung inwards. He shut it firmly behind me and we walked on. The sound of running water reached me, which was odd; I hadn't known there was a river near here. Gideon didn't react to it.
On the way, I followed him carefully. He walked over a large stone instead of going round it and checked to make sure I'd done the same. He kept glancing into the trees, but I didn't know what he was looking for.
Gideon lived in a little house near his parents'. His was a cottage, theirs a standard house. He explained to me on the approach that his family unit was close and they preferred to live nearby, so two little hideaways in the woods were ideal. And they often had family staying, so the larger house was useful.
I met his parents first. I had seen them around town on occasion and hadn't realised they were related, although I should have guessed – like Gideon, they both wore largely one colour. His mother, Delora, was pale and dark-haired and wore green, which matched her eyes. She shook my hand warmly and invited me in. His father, Edmund, was a little less pale, and had hair the colour of sun-tipped wheat. His clothes were brown as well, so light they were almost orange. He shook my hand and welcomed me with a mug of tea, some herbal blend I'd never tried.
After tea and conversation (or T&C, Nazreen would have said) we headed over to the cottage. Gideon's father reminded him to be in at seven. Then he turned to me and said, “We would invite you impromptu, Joe, but it is a family affair.”
I assured him I didn't mind.
Gideon's house was fantastic. It looked as old as the land, but inside there was electric lighting and a television in the corner. It had a surprisingly big living room for how small it looked outside – a huge window looked out over the sea, the sill lined with pebbles.
Gideon gave me a tour. A small kitchen, which charmed me the moment I saw string bags of onions hanging in clusters; the walls were white with a hint of brown, and dark beams crossed the ceiling. Down the hall there were carvings on the beams, little squirrels and fish and plants, and a long rug on the dark wood floor. Two bedrooms, the smaller of which was empty but for a small cupboard; a toilet; and a bathroom with light green walls, floral paintings in a line around the room, and the most peculiar looking bath I'd ever seen. Gideon saw me looking, and smiled.
“It's stone,” he said. “My granddad made it.”
“Iron clawfoot not eccentric enough for you?” I asked. He chuckled.
“You can try it sometime. Keeps the water warm.”
We hunkered down in the living room to study. The walls were pale blue, flecked with white in the corners. A wooden bookshelf stood along the wall, filled with stories, but for one shelf on which sat a copper sculpture, and there were two couches, one blue and one green. The table was wooden and old. I felt as though the ocean was far closer than a mile, spreading its arms through the land to touch this house. The night rose in scribbles and notes. By half six the sun had almost set, and Gideon put down his pen and said that was enough.
He said he'd show me out. Not wanting to trouble him, I said I could go myself; after all, the gate was only a few minutes away, I was a grown man who could walk in the dark. But he refused.
“I know this trail better than you,” he said. “Trust me. It's tricky in the dark.”
I shrugged on my jacket and let him lead the way. We stopped briefly to say goodbye to his parents and left. He was right about the trail. I hadn't counted on the lack of artificial light, and the way the trees touched overhead meant the moon came in patches. We were careful. He told me where to step and how to avoid snails and mushrooms, warned me in a low voice not to touch the vines around the willow tree, made me stand upon the stone again instead of walk around it. It was bizarre, but because it was Gideon, I didn't question it.
A shadow appeared in our path partway down. I thought it was a trick of the light at first, but Gideon put an arm in front of me and handed the shadow something from his pocket. It slipped peacefully away into the trees.
When we got to the end of the trail Gideon unlatched the gate and watched me go. I didn't say anything about how strange it was, just thanked him. He did not turn away until I was out of the woods.
When I was halfway down the road I saw two people going in the way I'd come. They did not see me. I noticed them at first because they were dressed so beautifully – like two kings in a fairytale. Soft cloaks, jewelled vests. They were dark-skinned and black-haired, one with loose curls down his back, the other with a beard short at his chin. And I noticed them again, when I realised where they were going.
One was dressed almost entirely in yellow, the other in green.
Yet I did not speak of this to Gideon, not the next day when he said the gathering had gone well, not the next week when he said the marks on his feet were from dancing. I suppose I had accepted his strangeness, and it didn't daunt me.
We were in the pub one night not long after that, talking over a drink, and the conversation had turned to sex. Gideon had a far more laissez-faire attitude to it that I had; while he was happy with casual sex, I'd had exactly zero one-night-stands. I found it hard to trust people that quickly. I didn't want to hurt someone by poorly communicating the short-term nature of it. I'd had relationships, but my last one had ended a year before and to put it bluntly I was horny as great horned toad. I didn't want to leap into a relationship just for sex and I didn't want to sleep with a stranger, even if, as Gideon said, I'd surely be fine with proper communication. I could do a friend with benefits, I said, but I wasn't sure of a friend with whom the attraction was mutual and it wouldn't make it weird.
Gideon James gave me a long look over the rim of his glass. “Really,” he said.
By the end of the night, we'd agreed to sleep together.
We arranged to meet at his house after university on Wednesday. I'd thought he usually went to his partners' houses and asked, and he said he did, usually, but I'd already been to his. I knew not to question the rules about the walkway and anyway, we were friends. It was different, he said.
I was nervous. We'd gone over ground rules and expectations, made sure we were on the same page regarding keeping it to friendship and sex, but not romance. I'd gotten tested. Gideon had provided me with a copy of his own results printed on clean white paper, with just enough of a flourish to make me laugh. I was excited, of course, and if experience was the best teacher then Gideon was a pro, but that didn't stop my stomach from knotting on the walk over.
He met me at the gate with a grin and a gleaming eye. “Hello,” he said.
“Hello.”
I'd bought a drink, a bottle of lime cordial from the market. It was Gideon's favourite. He accepted it with a grin.
“Brought you something.”
“Delicious!” He held it to the light, swung the gate open. “Mmm! Please come in.”
“I thought champagne was a bit presumptuous.”
“Didn't want to ply me with alcohol?”
“Thought it might give the wrong impression.”
He shut the gate. We linked arms and traipsed up to the house, chatting, me trying not to be awkward. Gideon was loose-limbed and gay, almost bizarrely relaxed. He'd washed. He smelled of salt and soap and brightness. Approaching the house I heard the bathroom fan buzzing, saw a mist of scattering condensation drift out the window.
It was warm inside, he had the fire going. I hung my jacket over a chair and left my shoes by the door. Gideon popped the cordial on the counter. “Drink?”
“Please.”
We drank lime cordial in the lounge room, watching the sun dip over the horizon until the sky turned blue to grey to blue-black. Shadows drifted outside and the sea glittered. In the night there was little moonlight through these trees, so the earth seemed dappled, secret. Birds spoke outside. If I went to the window I could just see stars peeping through the high branches. The scent of firewood inside was touched with what drifted through the open pane – a smell of oceans, grass, leaves, earth. It felt enchanted.
“I don't know why you don't bring everyone here,” I'd said. “It's brilliant.”
“It's a bit romantic – it's all right with you, we're already friends, you understand. I don't want to give people the wrong idea.”
It was true. I loved him, fiercely and without romance.
“Oh, and the journey here. I already have a reputation. There's a reason I meet you at the gate.”
“Who else has been here? Just me and Nazreen?”
“Who you know? Yes.” He shrugged. “I like privacy.”
We'd finished our cordial. I shifted in my seat. This was the hard bit, I thought. The actual going for it. “Should I – um – ”
He jumped. “Allow me!”
Gideon brushed down his shirt-front and stood before me, one arm out. It was a very formal pose. He cleared his throat, smiled.
“Joe.” He said. “Would you like to come to my room?”
I said yes.
He led me to his bedroom, up the almost-tan hallway, past the kitchen. His room was large and pleasant. Merry yellow walls, a soft grey rug over the floorboards, red and green curtains pulled tight over a long sill. There was a cupboard on one side, a bedside table, and a chair in the corner beside the window. His bed was large and blanketed in flannel. There were little lights winking from the sides of the room, fairy lights – these looked handmade, the holders thin metal and carved into the same shapes as the beams in the hallway.
“Nice room,” I said.
He closed the door.
“Thank you,” he said.
He turned to me with a smile. For just a moment he looked otherworldly. I thought of the rules of the track to the door, the strange shapes that shifted in the trees, the clothing of a single colour, his odd moments of formality – it twinkled in his eyes, the answers, but I found I did not need them answered, not yet. I did not ask as he moved toward me, simply took his hand, let the smell of salt and soap and brightness push the questions toward the back of my head as he led me to his bed.
Gideon James is good in bed.
Gideon James will press you down into the mattress and smile crafty into the nook of your neck and make you groan and flex beneath him. Gideon James will lay deft and dexterous hands upon you, whisper to you with a skilful tongue, envelop you in a warm embrace, push his chest against your back, squeeze you, pull, push forth with animalistic vim, will make you scream, will make you ball the bed-sheets into fists with incoherent hands, will make you strain with the very vigour of him.
Afterwards, when you have cleaned yourselves up, he will ask if you want to stay the night. If you say yes, as I did, he will lie with you, fold his arms around you as you sleep.
It became a regular thing after that. He seldom came to my house, though once he did – appeared at my window in the middle of the night. I opened it, already half-dressed to go to his.
“What's up, Peter Pan.”
“Hello Joe.”
He was perched on the tiles, dangerously close to slipping, though he did not seem worried.
“Nazreen says when you visit her you appear at the window instead of the door.”
“I can't help it if she's got a perfectly positioned tree.”
That was true. Her front door was perfectly good, big and heavy with an iron knocker, but the tree outside led directly to her window. There was no such tree beside my house, though.
“And how did you get up here?”
“Shimmied up the drainpipe.”
I let him in, and you know the rest.
I grew used to the journey to Gideon's house. Every time he would meet me at the gate, every time going up the track I would stick to the centre, climb over the rock, greet the unseen shadow in the trees and arrive safely. Every time I would ask no questions.
At the back of the local school there was an oval I usually cut across to get to Gideon's. He was late one night, and not answering his phone. I worried. For all his spontaneity he was usually punctual. I went out to look for him.
I took our usual route, calling him along the way. Halfway across the oval I began to hear his ringtone. “Gideon?” I shouted, but there was no answer. It made me uneasy.
The ringtone continued cheerfully. It grew in volume. I must have been almost upon him, I thought, unless he'd dropped it – the idea made the hair stand up on my back.
The light was so dim I almost tripped over him.
I would have thought I'd scream, but instead I froze. Gideon lay still on the ground in front of me. He was bloody. The pale skin of his face was bruised, limbs at wrong angles, the turf around him potted with shoe-marks. I knelt tentatively beside his and whispered his name, but he didn't move. I could feel no pulse at his neck, but he was cold. In a moment of desperation I shook him; all that happened was a gristly sound and the drop of his arm to the grass, which uncovered his phone sticking out of his pocket.
Shaking, I pulled it out. I was going to call an ambulance and was frantically trying to figure out how to explain which part of the oval I was on when I opened it. Two things jumped out at me right away. A note was written on the inside of his phone cover, and the phone was recording.
I read the note. It said IN EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY: Call my emergency contacts, NOT emergency services.
I turned off the recording. It had clearly been on for a while, over an hour. His emergency contacts were his mum and dad. I called them.
Delora picked up on the second ring. “Hello?”
“Something's happened to Gideon, he's – ” I couldn't say dead. I stumbled. “Unconscious. Bleeding.”
“Where are you.” It wasn't a question. Her tone was sharp.
“School oval,” I said.
“Wait there. Don't call anyone.” She hung up.
I tried CPR. I doubted very much it would work, it made noises that didn't sound right, but I kept on for a while. He tasted of metal, of blood. The phone glowed on the grass beside us. The witness.
The recording. With one hand still on his chest I opened it, pressed play. Turned the volume all the way up.
The video started with a jerky shot of fingers and the inside of a pocket. There was a bit of noise, then it stabilised. The oval. A shout from far away, then again, louder: “Hey! HEY!”
Gideon James had turned toward the treeline, where the video had captured four figures walking toward him. They'd been hiding in the trees. He must have noticed.
They came closer, faces set. Four men around our age. Two looked familiar.
He'd filmed the attack, I realised. Evidence.
They got right in his face. He was remarkably calm. “Evening,” he said, voice loud on the recording. “How can I help you?”
One of them leaned toward him. It was Ben Campbell. We'd gone to school together. Not friends. I could see a close-up of the pocket of his trousers; he was close. Gideon did not step back.
“Question,” he said.
Gideon said nothing.
“Are you fucking my sister?”
I could not believe, in the twenty-first century, we were still asking people 'Are you fucking my sister?'.
“I don't kiss and tell,” Gideon said, which seemed to enrage Ben.
“Rhetorical question, pal. I heard you. Right? She told me. Talking you up to her mates and everything.”
He paused, shifting his weight. “Anna,” he added.
“You're Ben,” said Gideon. “Ben Campbell.”
“That's right.” Gideon had angled his hip, catching more of Ben on the video. Clever. “And I've heard you've been sleeping with a few other people, haven't you? Cheating on my sister.”
“I haven't been cheating,” Gideon said. “It's consensual, and non-exclusive. No strings attached. That's the agreement. With everyone.”
“Boys too, I've heard.”
“Yes.”
One of the others muttered “Faggot.”
“You don't fuck my sister anymore,” Ben snarled. “You keep your filthy little AIDS cock away from her, you understand?”
“That's not how AIDS works.”
“Shut your fucking mouth.”
“It doesn't just magically appear during gay sex. I get tested regularly.”
“I said you shut it.”
“Ben. Your sister is safe. I'm not going to stop an activity between two consenting adults because you don't like it.”
Ben stepped back. He looked furious. “Don't you fucking make her dirty!” he shouted. “She isn't like that!”
“Your sister is an adult. She can make her own decisions.”
“Shut it,” one of the others said.
“She's an adult! Ask her. Ask her if she consents, anything you want; she can make her own choices.”
“I know what's best for her.”
“Why can you have sex but she can't?”
“What?”
“Why can you have sex but she can't?” Gideon still hadn't moved. “I admire you wanting to look after your family, I do, but if you ask her you will see it's all consensual. You have sex. You're both adults. Why can't she?”
His voice was a growl. “It's different for boys,” he said.
“So this isn't about me. This is about your sister's sexuality.” The camera moved slightly. “I'm sorry. I can't help you with that.”
There was a thud and then the camera jumped. Ben had hit him.
It was swift. Gideon fought hard, but he was on the ground quickly and it was four on one. In their rage they must not have noticed the camera there; it caught images of all four men. Gideon's grunts turned to gristle as the beating continued. I had to look away. The camera was still but for the aftershock of each punch, until one of the men, one I didn't recognise, said “Stop – STOP!”
They stopped. The man leaned in and reached across is body, filling the screen with a close-up of his arm. “He's not breathing,” he said. “Ben.”
“Check his pulse,” said Ben, off-screen. The arm moved again.
“Nothing.”
“Fuck.”
There was a whispered discussion. It culminated in one of the men saying “I'll call him an ambulance, let's get out of here.”
And they left. Then there was silence. I skipped through until the end. Nothing, except for Gideon's phone ringing, and my horrified face picking it up, and a close-up shot of the grass.
When Gideon's mother arrived I explained in fractured detail, while her hands shook with rage over her child's twisted body. His father arrived soon after. He growled at a frequency that made my hair stand on end.
I gave them the phone. No ambulance had arrived, despite the assurances of the man in the video. They watched it with grave faces, then asked me to explain again exactly what had happened. I gave them as much as I could, times, dates – anything.
“What are their names?”
“Ben Campbell and Ivor Newell, I don't know the others,” I said. And I added, “Anna Campbell – she wouldn't have set that up. It's not her fault.”
“We know,” Edmund said.
They gathered him up without a word and turned to go. Delora led the way, the man draped in her arms lolling with every step. Edmund laid a firm hand on my shoulder and said, quietly, “Do not go to the police. We will deal with this ourselves.”
I nodded, and he went.
It was cold that night. It was December. I did what they asked, went home and lay awake and did not call the police. I cried. In the morning, having barely slept, I went to tell Nazreen.
Something told me he wouldn't be in hospital but we tried anyway, holding tight each other's hand lest we drift away. Her face was pale, her arm shook. I, having had more time to process it, spoke to the reception staff at every local hospital we tried, but none of them had a patient matching the description.
“Do you think he's dead?” she whispered, eyes on me across the car.
“He didn't have a pulse, Nazreen.”
“There was an ambulance,” she said. “He didn't lie. On the video. I saw it go past, toward the oval.”
“He must have called it late. We have to tell them,” I said.
We wrote a letter to his parents explaining and offering our support. I wanted to send it in the post, but Nazreen said we should deliver it by hand. There was a letterbox by the gate, we didn't have to go up the track. It was more personal, she said. And if he was –
“Don't,” I said.
We drove in silence to the woods and went in. She knew the way. It was a shock not to see Gideon at the gate, leaning against the white wood with comfortable nonchalance. It was wrong.
Nazreen dropped the letter into the mailbox. Then she froze.
“Joe.”
I looked toward where she was pointing.
Delora and Edmund were walking through the woods, carrying Gideon between them.
Nazreen pulled me into the foliage. We watched in horror. Gideon. His body was limp and white, no colour in his cheeks. He was no longer bloody. They must have washed him. One arm flopped to the side, Delora folded it back over his chest. They did not speak.
We followed them silently along the track. I was relieved we didn't have to go through the gate; I didn't know what to give the shadow if it appeared. Soon enough they ducked into the trees and Nazreen and I saw them stop. We crouched together, pressed against a tree trunk.
Gideon James' parents had come out into a clearing. I grabbed Nazreen's hand when I noticed it.
They had dug a hole under the cedar tree.
Edmund held his son as Delora placed things in the hole. A blueish rock, two silver coins, and a bucket of sand. I focused on that because I couldn't look at Gideon. Cradled like a baby, but with limbs splayed and dead. It felt wrong.
Delora nodded at her husband. He knelt by the side of the hole and very gently placed Gideon within. Then they pushed the soil back in to cover him, staining their knees dark in the process.
This is what they meant by dealing with it themselves.
They shook things over his grave; handfuls of salt, herbs, dirt, dried plants, and other things I couldn't identify. Two copper cups were raised in the air, their contents poured over the grave; one looked like greenish oil, the other like seawater. Then Edmund drew a knife from his pocket and nicked the back of his hand with it. He handed it to his wife, who did the same. A few drips of blood fell to the earth over Gideon James.
I felt guilty for watching, it looked so intensely private. Yet I could not look away.
They began to chant.
It was a wavering sound, a strong thin note that dipped and stung. It wove through the surrounding trees, into the earth and up through the treetops; it was distilled, beautiful, pure – then it softened, became rhythmic, and some primal prickling took over my shoulders. There was heart in it. The woodland animals had stilled, silent. It continued, building into a staunch crescendo of ancient ritual; they danced around his grave like wild things, arms up, words I did not understand in impossible layers; Gaelic, perhaps, or Scandinavian, the beat disciplined, the movement full, it felt like hours we sat there with the cold wash of adrenaline fading from my stomach, watching a ritual we didn't understand. When it finished, it was with an assertive cry, and they looked once more upon the grave before, hand-in-hand, they left.
That was that then. Nazreen and I waited until the coast was clear and crept away, shaken. We felt it would be disrespectful to visit the grave so soon after his parents had buried him, but vowed we'd come back when we could.
And life returned to normal. Almost.
Nobody seemed to have registered Gideon James as dead, he just wasn't there anymore. I didn't see his parents for a while. Anna Campbell, who Nazreen knew quite well, had asked around a few times, wanting to know where Gideon was. I felt bad about her unwilling part in this, and sent Gideon James' parents a letter asking what I should tell her. They replied, She will know in time. So I didn't tell her.
Something else I found out, through Anna and Nazreen, was interesting.
Ben Campbell had begun sleepwalking.
Every night, Nazreen told me, every night he would rise from his bed and trudge in a deep sleep to the school oval. There he would have a nightmare and wake up screaming. He'd been to the doctor, to the hospital even, done a sleep study, and woken up in a hospital gown in the grass. According to the nurse on duty, he'd torn himself off of the monitoring equipment and walked blindly through security. Surprisingly strong, they'd said.
It wasn't just Ben. Ivor Newell, one of the other men there that day, and the two others who Nazreen told me were called Trent Grade and Brayden McMahon, had also woken up screaming on the oval recently. At first it was once or twice a week, then it became every night. I saw them once. It was a horrible sight. Four young men moving sluggishly along the grass, to the corner of the oval, stopping – then one of them would suddenly scream in fear and flail his arms helplessly, as though fending off an invisible attacker. This would set the others off and become a cacophony until each one, by now on the floor, would wake with a start.
I wondered if they were dreaming of Gideon.
They would shuffle back to their homes with haunted faces. The lack of sleep showed. Nazreen told me everything. She said Ben had refused to tell Anna what the dreams were about. He'd tried tying himself to the bed and setting up bells on every door in his house, tried an alarm – nothing. He would rise in slumber and unknowingly pick the knots apart. Then walk. He complained of strange figures outside his window, something about green and brown coats. Anna didn't know them.
They were trying to convince him to go to therapy, she had confided, but there was only so much they could do, with him being a young adult. Nazreen had also said, according to Anna, Ben had threatened every one of her boyfriends and sexual partners, and she was worried he might have bullied Gideon and scared him off. She didn't know how right she was.
It was January when Nazreen and I saw Ben Campbell entering the Sexual Health Clinic. He looked agitated and exhausted. Anna informed us that, from what she could gather, he'd gotten a very visible case of genital warts, usually a quick fix, but his were awfully persistent. It just didn't seem to be going away.
As the months wore on, the four men who had attacked Gideon James grew more and more like ghosts. Only one of them had any reprieve. While Ben, Brayden and Ivor woke up shivering on the oval every night, Trent managed to stay in his own bed till morning about twice a week.
Nobody told us, but Nazreen and I knew without a shadow of a doubt, he had called the ambulance for Gideon.
We went back to the woods to visit Gideon's grave. It was hard to find, but we managed. We stood and spoke above him, leaving foot-marks in the frosty grass which fringed the site, noses filled with the sharp cold smell of earth and foliage.
March came, with Spring. Still the four men woke nightly on the dew-bitten grass, still I wondered why the James' had not gone to the police. I thought of Gideon, who should now be going on holiday and coming back short-haired and twinkling, who should have spent the last four months swimming at the beach and strolling catlike around town to visit his lovers, alive and bright.
It was the end of March when I heard it.
I thought I'd dreamt it. But there it came again. Tap. A stone. My window twitched in its frame.
Sleepily I stumbled to the window and opened it, and very nearly tipped right out.
Gideon James smiled up at me.
“Hello, Joe,” he said. “Can I come in?”
Once the shock had subsided enough I was able to move I said yes. He scurried up the drainpipe like a squirrel and threw himself at me. I hugged him. He was alive. It was impossible, I'd seen him buried, but he was – he was alive, and well, and warm; he smelled of dirt and salt and I could feel his heartbeat against me. Unless it was mine, so I pulled away and pressed my fingers to his neck, not the thumb, and felt it there, his pulse, as though he had never been buried underground. He laughed delightedly at my face.
“Missed me?” he asked, and I laughed, but it came out as more of a shriek, and then I gathered myself enough to step back and just look at him.
No scars. No blood. Just soft dark hair and bright eyes and an impish smile. I shook my head.
“You'd better explain,” I said.
“I know,” he said.
“I saw them bury you,” I said.
“I know.”
I pinched myself. Awake.
“Have you told Nazreen?”
“Yes. She seemed quite pleased.”
Quite pleased. I was pretty sure she would have cried.
“Fuck,” I mumbled, which made Gideon laugh more. He kissed me clumsily on the cheek and hugged me again. I felt him lurch a bit. He steadied himself on me.
“Sorry,” he said. “I should have had another week to get the equilibrium back but I couldn't wait to see you.”
“You are seriously going to have to explain everything.”
“I will, I promise.” He squeezed my hand. “Come for a walk? Nazreen's coming.”
“Yes. Definitely.” I grabbed a jacket. “Where are we going?”
“We're going to the oval,” he said. “I have a score to settle.”
submitted by WatchfulBirds to SLEEPSPELL [link] [comments]


2020.07.15 13:35 WatchfulBirds Gideon James

Gideon James wore brown and only brown, with one exception – a sea-blue scarf he was seldom seen without in the wintertime. If ever we asked him why he shrugged and said he liked it. Some theorised it was so he matched; his hair and eyes were the same colour. Light tan shirt, brown jacket, brown shoes, trousers. It was always a shock to the system when he donned a uniform for football or attended a dress-up party.
He cut his hair exactly once a year, usually in March, if you're wondering – he'd be away for a few days for some sort of family holiday and come back shaved. By the next holiday his hair would have reached his shoulders.
He lived about a mile inland from the beach. Almost every morning, no matter where he'd spent the night, he would take an hour to swim. I saw him once, lithe as an ocean creature, pale skin webbed with blue in the winter sea. He didn't care about the cold, he told me. He liked it. The salt water made him feel alive, like he was part of the land itself.
For all his idiosyncrasies, he had garnered himself a reputation, and that was this:
Gideon James got around.
Gideon James had plenty of lovers but no partner, plenty of friends but no one true love. He was careful, of course, and honest – he would never sleep with anyone without making sure they knew there were no strings attached. No-one in monogamous relationships. No-one under the influence. He had turned people down who he thought did not understand. Once I had asked him who they were and he'd laughed and shook his head, and said he didn't kiss and tell. He was discreet and unashamed. He stressed the importance of sexual health and was a regular for testing at the local clinic. Consent was established and able to be rescinded. As far as casual sex went, he did everything right.
While I knew this, I always worried he'd get into trouble, because there would always be someone who misunderstood, some overprotective father or a partner who caught feelings. But it was in his nature, and he had the charm and looks to pull it off. It would be like trying to keep a cat indoors.
We met at university. His best friend was Nazreen Jones, who I knew a little, and soon became close to myself. Our friendship grew naturally, and soon enough we took to studying together in the library. Occasionally we would go to Nazreen's or mine or someone else's place, but it was not until about three years into knowing him Gideon invited me round to his.
It was the day before the library closed for a conference. I said I still needed to finish my essay, and Gideon pulled on his backpack and gestured to me.
“Come round and study.”
“Come round?”
“Yes.”
“I've never been to your house.”
“Not till now. When you get there, meet me by the gate.” His eyes shone with warning. “Don't go through the gate without me, seriously. Do you understand?”
It sounds ridiculous, but the way he was looking at me, I believed it. So I nodded, and said “Yeah.” And we left it at that.
“His place is a little weird,” Nazreen told me after he had left. She had been around often. “Just follow the rules when you're walking up the track and don't go in without him. You'll be fine.”
The address he'd given me was in the woods, about a half-hour walk from town and another few minutes through the forest itself. I came in at the trail-head and followed the path until the bushes grew thick. A branch-off at the corner of my eye made me stop. A little trail had appeared on my left, there but hard to see, and obscured by loose branches like a quiet disguise. This was the place. I ducked underneath and, seeing no gate, followed the narrow path through the trees.
Gideon was waiting at the gate. I saw him five minutes in, leaning against the wood. He waved. I couldn't see the fence the gate was allegedly attached to, it seemed to blend into the foliage. There was a lot of foliage.
“Hey,” I said.
“Good morning,” he replied.
“Please come in,” he said, and unlatched the gate. It swung inwards. He shut it firmly behind me and we walked on. The sound of running water reached me, which was odd; I hadn't known there was a river near here. Gideon didn't react to it.
On the way, I followed him carefully. He walked over a large stone instead of going round it and checked to make sure I'd done the same. He kept glancing into the trees, but I didn't know what he was looking for.
Gideon lived in a little house near his parents'. His was a cottage, theirs a standard house. He explained to me on the approach that his family unit was close and they preferred to live nearby, so two little hideaways in the woods were ideal. And they often had family staying, so the larger house was useful.
I met his parents first. I had seen them around town on occasion and hadn't realised they were related, although I should have guessed – like Gideon, they both wore largely one colour. His mother, Delora, was pale and dark-haired and wore green, which matched her eyes. She shook my hand warmly and invited me in. His father, Edmund, was a little less pale, and had hair the colour of sun-tipped wheat. His clothes were brown as well, so light they were almost orange. He shook my hand and welcomed me with a mug of tea, some herbal blend I'd never tried.
After tea and conversation (or T&C, Nazreen would have said) we headed over to the cottage. Gideon's father reminded him to be in at seven. Then he turned to me and said, “We would invite you impromptu, Joe, but it is a family affair.”
I assured him I didn't mind.
Gideon's house was fantastic. It looked as old as the land, but inside there was electric lighting and a television in the corner. It had a surprisingly big living room for how small it looked outside – a huge window looked out over the sea, the sill lined with pebbles.
Gideon gave me a tour. A small kitchen, which charmed me the moment I saw string bags of onions hanging in clusters; the walls were white with a hint of brown, and dark beams crossed the ceiling. Down the hall there were carvings on the beams, little squirrels and fish and plants, and a long rug on the dark wood floor. Two bedrooms, the smaller of which was empty but for a small cupboard; a toilet; and a bathroom with light green walls, floral paintings in a line around the room, and the most peculiar looking bath I'd ever seen. Gideon saw me looking, and smiled.
“It's stone,” he said. “My granddad made it.”
“Iron clawfoot not eccentric enough for you?” I asked. He chuckled.
“You can try it sometime. Keeps the water warm.”
We hunkered down in the living room to study. The walls were pale blue, flecked with white in the corners. A wooden bookshelf stood along the wall, filled with stories, but for one shelf on which sat a copper sculpture, and there were two couches, one blue and one green. The table was wooden and old. I felt as though the ocean was far closer than a mile, spreading its arms through the land to touch this house. The night rose in scribbles and notes. By half six the sun had almost set, and Gideon put down his pen and said that was enough.
He said he'd show me out. Not wanting to trouble him, I said I could go myself; after all, the gate was only a few minutes away, I was a grown man who could walk in the dark. But he refused.
“I know this trail better than you,” he said. “Trust me. It's tricky in the dark.”
I shrugged on my jacket and let him lead the way. We stopped briefly to say goodbye to his parents and left. He was right about the trail. I hadn't counted on the lack of artificial light, and the way the trees touched overhead meant the moon came in patches. We were careful. He told me where to step and how to avoid snails and mushrooms, warned me in a low voice not to touch the vines around the willow tree, made me stand upon the stone again instead of walk around it. It was bizarre, but because it was Gideon, I didn't question it.
A shadow appeared in our path partway down. I thought it was a trick of the light at first, but Gideon put an arm in front of me and handed the shadow something from his pocket. It slipped peacefully away into the trees.
When we got to the end of the trail Gideon unlatched the gate and watched me go. I didn't say anything about how strange it was, just thanked him. He did not turn away until I was out of the woods.
When I was halfway down the road I saw two people going in the way I'd come. They did not see me. I noticed them at first because they were dressed so beautifully – like two kings in a fairytale. Soft cloaks, jewelled vests. They were dark-skinned and black-haired, one with loose curls down his back, the other with a beard short at his chin. And I noticed them again, when I realised where they were going.
One was dressed almost entirely in yellow, the other in green.
Yet I did not speak of this to Gideon, not the next day when he said the gathering had gone well, not the next week when he said the marks on his feet were from dancing. I suppose I had accepted his strangeness, and it didn't daunt me.
We were in the pub one night not long after that, talking over a drink, and the conversation had turned to sex. Gideon had a far more laissez-faire attitude to it that I had; while he was happy with casual sex, I'd had exactly zero one-night-stands. I found it hard to trust people that quickly. I didn't want to hurt someone by poorly communicating the short-term nature of it. I'd had relationships, but my last one had ended a year before and to put it bluntly I was horny as great horned toad. I didn't want to leap into a relationship just for sex and I didn't want to sleep with a stranger, even if, as Gideon said, I'd surely be fine with proper communication. I could do a friend with benefits, I said, but I wasn't sure of a friend with whom the attraction was mutual and it wouldn't make it weird.
Gideon James gave me a long look over the rim of his glass. “Really,” he said.
By the end of the night, we'd agreed to sleep together.
We arranged to meet at his house after university on Wednesday. I'd thought he usually went to his partners' houses and asked, and he said he did, usually, but I'd already been to his. I knew not to question the rules about the walkway and anyway, we were friends. It was different, he said.
I was nervous. We'd gone over ground rules and expectations, made sure we were on the same page regarding keeping it to friendship and sex, but not romance. I'd gotten tested. Gideon had provided me with a copy of his own results printed on clean white paper, with just enough of a flourish to make me laugh. I was excited, of course, and if experience was the best teacher then Gideon was a pro, but that didn't stop my stomach from knotting on the walk over.
He met me at the gate with a grin and a gleaming eye. “Hello,” he said.
“Hello.”
I'd bought a drink, a bottle of lime cordial from the market. It was Gideon's favourite. He accepted it with a grin.
“Brought you something.”
“Delicious!” He held it to the light, swung the gate open. “Mmm! Please come in.”
“I thought champagne was a bit presumptuous.”
“Didn't want to ply me with alcohol?”
“Thought it might give the wrong impression.”
He shut the gate. We linked arms and traipsed up to the house, chatting, me trying not to be awkward. Gideon was loose-limbed and gay, almost bizarrely relaxed. He'd washed. He smelled of salt and soap and brightness. Approaching the house I heard the bathroom fan buzzing, saw a mist of scattering condensation drift out the window.
It was warm inside, he had the fire going. I hung my jacket over a chair and left my shoes by the door. Gideon popped the cordial on the counter. “Drink?”
“Please.”
We drank lime cordial in the lounge room, watching the sun dip over the horizon until the sky turned blue to grey to blue-black. Shadows drifted outside and the sea glittered. In the night there was little moonlight through these trees, so the earth seemed dappled, secret. Birds spoke outside. If I went to the window I could just see stars peeping through the high branches. The scent of firewood inside was touched with what drifted through the open pane – a smell of oceans, grass, leaves, earth. It felt enchanted.
“I don't know why you don't bring everyone here,” I'd said. “It's brilliant.”
“It's a bit romantic – it's all right with you, we're already friends, you understand. I don't want to give people the wrong idea.”
It was true. I loved him, fiercely and without romance.
“Oh, and the journey here. I already have a reputation. There's a reason I meet you at the gate.”
“Who else has been here? Just me and Nazreen?”
“Who you know? Yes.” He shrugged. “I like privacy.”
We'd finished our cordial. I shifted in my seat. This was the hard bit, I thought. The actual going for it. “Should I – um – ”
He jumped. “Allow me!”
Gideon brushed down his shirt-front and stood before me, one arm out. It was a very formal pose. He cleared his throat, smiled.
“Joe.” He said. “Would you like to come to my room?”
I said yes.
He led me to his bedroom, up the almost-tan hallway, past the kitchen. His room was large and pleasant. Merry yellow walls, a soft grey rug over the floorboards, red and green curtains pulled tight over a long sill. There was a cupboard on one side, a bedside table, and a chair in the corner beside the window. His bed was large and blanketed in flannel. There were little lights winking from the sides of the room, fairy lights – these looked handmade, the holders thin metal and carved into the same shapes as the beams in the hallway.
“Nice room,” I said.
He closed the door.
“Thank you,” he said.
He turned to me with a smile. For just a moment he looked otherworldly. I thought of the rules of the track to the door, the strange shapes that shifted in the trees, the clothing of a single colour, his odd moments of formality – it twinkled in his eyes, the answers, but I found I did not need them answered, not yet. I did not ask as he moved toward me, simply took his hand, let the smell of salt and soap and brightness push the questions toward the back of my head as he led me to his bed.
Gideon James is good in bed.
Gideon James will press you down into the mattress and smile crafty into the nook of your neck and make you groan and flex beneath him. Gideon James will lay deft and dexterous hands upon you, whisper to you with a skilful tongue, envelop you in a warm embrace, push his chest against your back, squeeze you, pull, push forth with animalistic vim, will make you scream, will make you ball the bed-sheets into fists with incoherent hands, will make you strain with the very vigour of him.
Afterwards, when you have cleaned yourselves up, he will ask if you want to stay the night. If you say yes, as I did, he will lie with you, fold his arms around you as you sleep.
It became a regular thing after that. He seldom came to my house, though once he did – appeared at my window in the middle of the night. I opened it, already half-dressed to go to his.
“What's up, Peter Pan.”
“Hello Joe.”
He was perched on the tiles, dangerously close to slipping, though he did not seem worried.
“Nazreen says when you visit her you appear at the window instead of the door.”
“I can't help it if she's got a perfectly positioned tree.”
That was true. Her front door was perfectly good, big and heavy with an iron knocker, but the tree outside led directly to her window. There was no such tree beside my house, though.
“And how did you get up here?”
“Shimmied up the drainpipe.”
I let him in, and you know the rest.
I grew used to the journey to Gideon's house. Every time he would meet me at the gate, every time going up the track I would stick to the centre, climb over the rock, greet the unseen shadow in the trees and arrive safely. Every time I would ask no questions.
At the back of the local school there was an oval I usually cut across to get to Gideon's. He was late one night, and not answering his phone. I worried. For all his spontaneity he was usually punctual. I went out to look for him.
I took our usual route, calling him along the way. Halfway across the oval I began to hear his ringtone. “Gideon?” I shouted, but there was no answer. It made me uneasy.
The ringtone continued cheerfully. It grew in volume. I must have been almost upon him, I thought, unless he'd dropped it – the idea made the hair stand up on my back.
The light was so dim I almost tripped over him.
I would have thought I'd scream, but instead I froze. Gideon lay still on the ground in front of me. He was bloody. The pale skin of his face was bruised, limbs at wrong angles, the turf around him potted with shoe-marks. I knelt tentatively beside his and whispered his name, but he didn't move. I could feel no pulse at his neck, but he was cold. In a moment of desperation I shook him; all that happened was a gristly sound and the drop of his arm to the grass, which uncovered his phone sticking out of his pocket.
Shaking, I pulled it out. I was going to call an ambulance and was frantically trying to figure out how to explain which part of the oval I was on when I opened it. Two things jumped out at me right away. A note was written on the inside of his phone cover, and the phone was recording.
I read the note. It said IN EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY: Call my emergency contacts, NOT emergency services.
I turned off the recording. It had clearly been on for a while, over an hour. His emergency contacts were his mum and dad. I called them.
Delora picked up on the second ring. “Hello?”
“Something's happened to Gideon, he's – ” I couldn't say dead. I stumbled. “Unconscious. Bleeding.”
“Where are you.” It wasn't a question. Her tone was sharp.
“School oval,” I said.
“Wait there. Don't call anyone.” She hung up.
I tried CPR. I doubted very much it would work, it made noises that didn't sound right, but I kept on for a while. He tasted of metal, of blood. The phone glowed on the grass beside us. The witness.
The recording. With one hand still on his chest I opened it, pressed play. Turned the volume all the way up.
The video started with a jerky shot of fingers and the inside of a pocket. There was a bit of noise, then it stabilised. The oval. A shout from far away, then again, louder: “Hey! HEY!”
Gideon James had turned toward the treeline, where the video had captured four figures walking toward him. They'd been hiding in the trees. He must have noticed.
They came closer, faces set. Four men around our age. Two looked familiar.
He'd filmed the attack, I realised. Evidence.
They got right in his face. He was remarkably calm. “Evening,” he said, voice loud on the recording. “How can I help you?”
One of them leaned toward him. It was Ben Campbell. We'd gone to school together. Not friends. I could see a close-up of the pocket of his trousers; he was close. Gideon did not step back.
“Question,” he said.
Gideon said nothing.
“Are you fucking my sister?”
I could not believe, in the twenty-first century, we were still asking people 'Are you fucking my sister?'.
“I don't kiss and tell,” Gideon said, which seemed to enrage Ben.
“Rhetorical question, pal. I heard you. Right? She told me. Talking you up to her mates and everything.”
He paused, shifting his weight. “Anna,” he added.
“You're Ben,” said Gideon. “Ben Campbell.”
“That's right.” Gideon had angled his hip, catching more of Ben on the video. Clever. “And I've heard you've been sleeping with a few other people, haven't you? Cheating on my sister.”
“I haven't been cheating,” Gideon said. “It's consensual, and non-exclusive. No strings attached. That's the agreement. With everyone.”
“Boys too, I've heard.”
“Yes.”
One of the others muttered “Faggot.”
“You don't fuck my sister anymore,” Ben snarled. “You keep your filthy little AIDS cock away from her, you understand?”
“That's not how AIDS works.”
“Shut your fucking mouth.”
“It doesn't just magically appear during gay sex. I get tested regularly.”
“I said you shut it.”
“Ben. Your sister is safe. I'm not going to stop an activity between two consenting adults because you don't like it.”
Ben stepped back. He looked furious. “Don't you fucking make her dirty!” he shouted. “She isn't like that!”
“Your sister is an adult. She can make her own decisions.”
“Shut it,” one of the others said.
“She's an adult! Ask her. Ask her if she consents, anything you want; she can make her own choices.”
“I know what's best for her.”
“Why can you have sex but she can't?”
“What?”
“Why can you have sex but she can't?” Gideon still hadn't moved. “I admire you wanting to look after your family, I do, but if you ask her you will see it's all consensual. You have sex. You're both adults. Why can't she?”
His voice was a growl. “It's different for boys,” he said.
“So this isn't about me. This is about your sister's sexuality.” The camera moved slightly. “I'm sorry. I can't help you with that.”
There was a thud and then the camera jumped. Ben had hit him.
It was swift. Gideon fought hard, but he was on the ground quickly and it was four on one. In their rage they must not have noticed the camera there; it caught images of all four men. Gideon's grunts turned to gristle as the beating continued. I had to look away. The camera was still but for the aftershock of each punch, until one of the men, one I didn't recognise, said “Stop – STOP!”
They stopped. The man leaned in and reached across his body, filling the screen with a close-up of his arm. “He's not breathing,” he said. “Ben.”
“Check his pulse,” said Ben, off-screen. The arm moved again.
“Nothing.”
“Fuck.”
There was a whispered discussion. It culminated in one of the men saying “I'll call him an ambulance, let's get out of here.”
And they left. Then there was silence. I skipped through until the end. Nothing, except for Gideon's phone ringing, and my horrified face picking it up, and a close-up shot of the grass.
When Gideon's mother arrived I explained in fractured detail, while her hands shook with rage over her child's twisted body. His father arrived soon after. He growled at a frequency that made my hair stand on end.
I gave them the phone. No ambulance had arrived, despite the assurances of the man in the video. They watched it with grave faces, then asked me to explain again exactly what had happened. I gave them as much as I could, times, dates – anything.
“What are their names?”
“Ben Campbell and Ivor Newell, I don't know the others,” I said. And I added, “Anna Campbell – she wouldn't have set that up. It's not her fault.”
“We know,” Edmund said.
They gathered him up without a word and turned to go. Delora led the way, the man draped in her arms lolling with every step. Edmund laid a firm hand on my shoulder and said, quietly, “Do not go to the police. We will deal with this ourselves.”
I nodded, and he went.
It was cold that night. It was December. I did what they asked, went home and lay awake and did not call the police. I cried. In the morning, having barely slept, I went to tell Nazreen.
Something told me he wouldn't be in hospital but we tried anyway, holding tight each other's hand lest we drift away. Her face was pale, her arm shook. I, having had more time to process it, spoke to the reception staff at every local hospital we tried, but none of them had a patient matching the description.
“Do you think he's dead?” she whispered, eyes on me across the car.
“He didn't have a pulse, Nazreen.”
“There was an ambulance,” she said. “He didn't lie. On the video. I saw it go past, toward the oval.”
“He must have called it late. We have to tell them,” I said.
We wrote a letter to his parents explaining and offering our support. I wanted to send it in the post, but Nazreen said we should deliver it by hand. There was a letterbox by the gate, we didn't have to go up the track. It was more personal, she said. And if he was –
“Don't,” I said.
We drove in silence to the woods and went in. She knew the way. It was a shock not to see Gideon at the gate, leaning against the white wood with comfortable nonchalance. It was wrong.
Nazreen dropped the letter into the mailbox. Then she froze.
“Joe.”
I looked toward where she was pointing.
Delora and Edmund were walking through the woods, carrying Gideon between them.
Nazreen pulled me into the foliage. We watched in horror. Gideon. His body was limp and white, no colour in his cheeks. He was no longer bloody. They must have washed him. One arm flopped to the side, Delora folded it back over his chest. They did not speak.
We followed them silently along the track. I was relieved we didn't have to go through the gate; I didn't know what to give the shadow if it appeared. Soon enough they ducked into the trees and Nazreen and I saw them stop. We crouched together, pressed against a tree trunk.
Gideon James' parents had come out into a clearing. I grabbed Nazreen's hand when I noticed it.
They had dug a hole under the cedar tree.
Edmund held his son as Delora placed things in the hole. A blueish rock, two silver coins, and a bucket of sand. I focused on that because I couldn't look at Gideon. Cradled like a baby, but with limbs splayed and dead. It felt wrong.
Delora nodded at her husband. He knelt by the side of the hole and very gently placed Gideon within. Then they pushed the soil back in to cover him, staining their knees dark in the process.
This is what they meant by dealing with it themselves.
They shook things over his grave; handfuls of salt, herbs, dirt, dried plants, and other things I couldn't identify. Two copper cups were raised in the air, their contents poured over the grave; one looked like greenish oil, the other like seawater. Then Edmund drew a knife from his pocket and nicked the back of his hand with it. He handed it to his wife, who did the same. A few drips of blood fell to the earth over Gideon James.
I felt guilty for watching, it looked so intensely private. Yet I could not look away.
They began to chant.
It was a wavering sound, a strong thin note that dipped and stung. It wove through the surrounding trees, into the earth and up through the treetops; it was distilled, beautiful, pure – then it softened, became rhythmic, and some primal prickling took over my shoulders. There was heart in it. The woodland animals had stilled, silent. It continued, building into a staunch crescendo of ancient ritual; they danced around his grave like wild things, arms up, words I did not understand in impossible layers; Gaelic, perhaps, or Scandinavian, the beat disciplined, the movement full, it felt like hours we sat there with the cold wash of adrenaline fading from my stomach, watching a ritual we didn't understand. When it finished, it was with an assertive cry, and they looked once more upon the grave before, hand-in-hand, they left.
That was that then. Nazreen and I waited until the coast was clear and crept away, shaken. We felt it would be disrespectful to visit the grave so soon after his parents had buried him, but vowed we'd come back when we could.
And life returned to normal. Almost.
Nobody seemed to have registered Gideon James as dead, he just wasn't there anymore. I didn't see his parents for a while. Anna Campbell, who Nazreen knew quite well, had asked around a few times, wanting to know where Gideon was. I felt bad about her unwilling part in this, and sent Gideon James' parents a letter asking what I should tell her. They replied, She will know in time. So I didn't tell her.
Something else I found out, through Anna and Nazreen, was interesting.
Ben Campbell had begun sleepwalking.
Every night, Nazreen told me, every night he would rise from his bed and trudge in a deep sleep to the school oval. There he would have a nightmare and wake up screaming. He'd been to the doctor, to the hospital even, done a sleep study, and woken up in a hospital gown in the grass. According to the nurse on duty, he'd torn himself off of the monitoring equipment and walked blindly through security. Surprisingly strong, they'd said.
It wasn't just Ben. Ivor Newell, one of the other men there that day, and the two others who Nazreen told me were called Trent Grade and Brayden McMahon, had also woken up screaming on the oval recently. At first it was once or twice a week, then it became every night. I saw them once. It was a horrible sight. Four young men moving sluggishly along the grass, to the corner of the oval, stopping – then one of them would suddenly scream in fear and flail his arms helplessly, as though fending off an invisible attacker. This would set the others off and become a cacophony until each one, by now on the floor, would wake with a start.
I wondered if they were dreaming of Gideon.
They would shuffle back to their homes with haunted faces. The lack of sleep showed. Nazreen told me everything. She said Ben had refused to tell Anna what the dreams were about. He'd tried tying himself to the bed and setting up bells on every door in his house, tried an alarm – nothing. He would rise in slumber and unknowingly pick the knots apart. Then walk. He complained of strange figures outside his window, something about green and brown coats. Anna didn't know them.
They were trying to convince him to go to therapy, she had confided, but there was only so much they could do, with him being a young adult. Nazreen had also said, according to Anna, Ben had threatened every one of her boyfriends and sexual partners, and she was worried he might have bullied Gideon and scared him off. She didn't know how right she was.
It was January when Nazreen and I saw Ben Campbell entering the Sexual Health Clinic. He looked agitated and exhausted. Anna informed us that, from what she could gather, he'd gotten a very visible case of genital warts, usually a quick fix, but his were awfully persistent. It just didn't seem to be going away.
As the months wore on, the four men who had attacked Gideon James grew more and more like ghosts. Only one of them had any reprieve. While Ben, Brayden and Ivor woke up shivering on the oval every night, Trent managed to stay in his own bed till morning about twice a week.
Nobody told us, but Nazreen and I knew without a shadow of a doubt, he had called the ambulance for Gideon.
We went back to the woods to visit Gideon's grave. It was hard to find, but we managed. We stood and spoke above him, leaving foot-marks in the frosty grass which fringed the site, noses filled with the sharp cold smell of earth and foliage.
March came, with Spring. Still the four men woke nightly on the dew-bitten grass, still I wondered why the James' had not gone to the police. I thought of Gideon, who should now be going on holiday and coming back short-haired and twinkling, who should have spent the last four months swimming at the beach and strolling catlike around town to visit his lovers, alive and bright.
It was the end of March when I heard it.
I thought I'd dreamt it. But there it came again. Tap. A stone. My window twitched in its frame.
Sleepily I stumbled to the window and opened it, and very nearly tipped right out.
Gideon James smiled up at me.
“Hello, Joe,” he said. “Can I come in?”
Once the shock had subsided enough I was able to move I said yes. He scurried up the drainpipe like a squirrel and threw himself at me. I hugged him. He was alive. It was impossible, I'd seen him buried, but he was – he was alive, and well, and warm; he smelled of dirt and salt and I could feel his heartbeat against me. Unless it was mine, so I pulled away and pressed my fingers to his neck, not the thumb, and felt it there, his pulse, as though he had never been buried underground. He laughed delightedly at my face.
“Missed me?” he asked, and I laughed, but it came out as more of a shriek, and then I gathered myself enough to step back and just look at him.
No scars. No blood. Just soft dark hair and bright eyes and an impish smile. I shook my head.
“You'd better explain,” I said.
“I know,” he said.
“I saw them bury you,” I said.
“I know.”
I pinched myself. Awake.
“Have you told Nazreen?”
“Yes. She seemed quite pleased.”
Quite pleased. I was pretty sure she would have cried.
“Fuck,” I mumbled, which made Gideon laugh more. He kissed me clumsily on the cheek and hugged me again. I felt him lurch a bit. He steadied himself on me.
“Sorry,” he said. “I should have had another week to get the equilibrium back but I couldn't wait to see you.”
“You are seriously going to have to explain everything.”
“I will, I promise.” He squeezed my hand. “Come for a walk? Nazreen's coming.”
“Yes. Definitely.” I grabbed a jacket. “Where are we going?”
“We're going to the oval,” he said. “I have a score to settle.”
submitted by WatchfulBirds to JustNotRight [link] [comments]


2020.07.15 13:33 WatchfulBirds Gideon James

Gideon James wore brown and only brown, with one exception – a sea-blue scarf he was seldom seen without in the wintertime. If ever we asked him why he shrugged and said he liked it. Some theorised it was so he matched; his hair and eyes were the same colour. Light tan shirt, brown jacket, brown shoes, trousers. It was always a shock to the system when he donned a uniform for football or attended a dress-up party.
He cut his hair exactly once a year, usually in March, if you're wondering – he'd be away for a few days for some sort of family holiday and come back shaved. By the next holiday his hair would have reached his shoulders.
He lived about a mile inland from the beach. Almost every morning, no matter where he'd spent the night, he would take an hour to swim. I saw him once, lithe as an ocean creature, pale skin webbed with blue in the winter sea. He didn't care about the cold, he told me. He liked it. The salt water made him feel alive, like he was part of the land itself.
For all his idiosyncrasies, he had garnered himself a reputation, and that was this:
Gideon James got around.
Gideon James had plenty of lovers but no partner, plenty of friends but no one true love. He was careful, of course, and honest – he would never sleep with anyone without making sure they knew there were no strings attached. No-one in monogamous relationships. No-one under the influence. He had turned people down who he thought did not understand. Once I had asked him who they were and he'd laughed and shook his head, and said he didn't kiss and tell. He was discreet and unashamed. He stressed the importance of sexual health and was a regular for testing at the local clinic. Consent was established and able to be rescinded. As far as casual sex went, he did everything right.
While I knew this, I always worried he'd get into trouble, because there would always be someone who misunderstood, some overprotective father or a partner who caught feelings. But it was in his nature, and he had the charm and looks to pull it off. It would be like trying to keep a cat indoors.
We met at university. His best friend was Nazreen Jones, who I knew a little, and soon became close to myself. Our friendship grew naturally, and soon enough we took to studying together in the library. Occasionally we would go to Nazreen's or mine or someone else's place, but it was not until about three years into knowing him Gideon invited me round to his.
It was the day before the library closed for a conference. I said I still needed to finish my essay, and Gideon pulled on his backpack and gestured to me.
“Come round and study.”
“Come round?”
“Yes.”
“I've never been to your house.”
“Not till now. When you get there, meet me by the gate.” His eyes shone with warning. “Don't go through the gate without me, seriously. Do you understand?”
It sounds ridiculous, but the way he was looking at me, I believed it. So I nodded, and said “Yeah.” And we left it at that.
“His place is a little weird,” Nazreen told me after he had left. She had been around often. “Just follow the rules when you're walking up the track and don't go in without him. You'll be fine.”
The address he'd given me was in the woods, about a half-hour walk from town and another few minutes through the forest itself. I came in at the trail-head and followed the path until the bushes grew thick. A branch-off at the corner of my eye made me stop. A little trail had appeared on my left, there but hard to see, and obscured by loose branches like a quiet disguise. This was the place. I ducked underneath and, seeing no gate, followed the narrow path through the trees.
Gideon was waiting at the gate. I saw him five minutes in, leaning against the wood. He waved. I couldn't see the fence the gate was allegedly attached to, it seemed to blend into the foliage. There was a lot of foliage.
“Hey,” I said.
“Good morning,” he replied.
“Please come in,” he said, and unlatched the gate. It swung inwards. He shut it firmly behind me and we walked on. The sound of running water reached me, which was odd; I hadn't known there was a river near here. Gideon didn't react to it.
On the way, I followed him carefully. He walked over a large stone instead of going round it and checked to make sure I'd done the same. He kept glancing into the trees, but I didn't know what he was looking for.
Gideon lived in a little house near his parents'. His was a cottage, theirs a standard house. He explained to me on the approach that his family unit was close and they preferred to live nearby, so two little hideaways in the woods were ideal. And they often had family staying, so the larger house was useful.
I met his parents first. I had seen them around town on occasion and hadn't realised they were related, although I should have guessed – like Gideon, they both wore largely one colour. His mother, Delora, was pale and dark-haired and wore green, which matched her eyes. She shook my hand warmly and invited me in. His father, Edmund, was a little less pale, and had hair the colour of sun-tipped wheat. His clothes were brown as well, so light they were almost orange. He shook my hand and welcomed me with a mug of tea, some herbal blend I'd never tried.
After tea and conversation (or T&C, Nazreen would have said) we headed over to the cottage. Gideon's father reminded him to be in at seven. Then he turned to me and said, “We would invite you impromptu, Joe, but it is a family affair.”
I assured him I didn't mind.
Gideon's house was fantastic. It looked as old as the land, but inside there was electric lighting and a television in the corner. It had a surprisingly big living room for how small it looked outside – a huge window looked out over the sea, the sill lined with pebbles.
Gideon gave me a tour. A small kitchen, which charmed me the moment I saw string bags of onions hanging in clusters; the walls were white with a hint of brown, and dark beams crossed the ceiling. Down the hall there were carvings on the beams, little squirrels and fish and plants, and a long rug on the dark wood floor. Two bedrooms, the smaller of which was empty but for a small cupboard; a toilet; and a bathroom with light green walls, floral paintings in a line around the room, and the most peculiar looking bath I'd ever seen. Gideon saw me looking, and smiled.
“It's stone,” he said. “My granddad made it.”
“Iron clawfoot not eccentric enough for you?” I asked. He chuckled.
“You can try it sometime. Keeps the water warm.”
We hunkered down in the living room to study. The walls were pale blue, flecked with white in the corners. A wooden bookshelf stood along the wall, filled with stories, but for one shelf on which sat a copper sculpture, and there were two couches, one blue and one green. The table was wooden and old. I felt as though the ocean was far closer than a mile, spreading its arms through the land to touch this house. The night rose in scribbles and notes. By half six the sun had almost set, and Gideon put down his pen and said that was enough.
He said he'd show me out. Not wanting to trouble him, I said I could go myself; after all, the gate was only a few minutes away, I was a grown man who could walk in the dark. But he refused.
“I know this trail better than you,” he said. “Trust me. It's tricky in the dark.”
I shrugged on my jacket and let him lead the way. We stopped briefly to say goodbye to his parents and left. He was right about the trail. I hadn't counted on the lack of artificial light, and the way the trees touched overhead meant the moon came in patches. We were careful. He told me where to step and how to avoid snails and mushrooms, warned me in a low voice not to touch the vines around the willow tree, made me stand upon the stone again instead of walk around it. It was bizarre, but because it was Gideon, I didn't question it.
A shadow appeared in our path partway down. I thought it was a trick of the light at first, but Gideon put an arm in front of me and handed the shadow something from his pocket. It slipped peacefully away into the trees.
When we got to the end of the trail Gideon unlatched the gate and watched me go. I didn't say anything about how strange it was, just thanked him. He did not turn away until I was out of the woods.
When I was halfway down the road I saw two people going in the way I'd come. They did not see me. I noticed them at first because they were dressed so beautifully – like two kings in a fairytale. Soft cloaks, jewelled vests. They were dark-skinned and black-haired, one with loose curls down his back, the other with a beard short at his chin. And I noticed them again, when I realised where they were going.
One was dressed almost entirely in yellow, the other in green.
Yet I did not speak of this to Gideon, not the next day when he said the gathering had gone well, not the next week when he said the marks on his feet were from dancing. I suppose I had accepted his strangeness, and it didn't daunt me.
We were in the pub one night not long after that, talking over a drink, and the conversation had turned to sex. Gideon had a far more laissez-faire attitude to it that I had; while he was happy with casual sex, I'd had exactly zero one-night-stands. I found it hard to trust people that quickly. I didn't want to hurt someone by poorly communicating the short-term nature of it. I'd had relationships, but my last one had ended a year before and to put it bluntly I was horny as great horned toad. I didn't want to leap into a relationship just for sex and I didn't want to sleep with a stranger, even if, as Gideon said, I'd surely be fine with proper communication. I could do a friend with benefits, I said, but I wasn't sure of a friend with whom the attraction was mutual and it wouldn't make it weird.
Gideon James gave me a long look over the rim of his glass. “Really,” he said.
By the end of the night, we'd agreed to sleep together.
We arranged to meet at his house after university on Wednesday. I'd thought he usually went to his partners' houses and asked, and he said he did, usually, but I'd already been to his. I knew not to question the rules about the walkway and anyway, we were friends. It was different, he said.
I was nervous. We'd gone over ground rules and expectations, made sure we were on the same page regarding keeping it to friendship and sex, but not romance. I'd gotten tested. Gideon had provided me with a copy of his own results printed on clean white paper, with just enough of a flourish to make me laugh. I was excited, of course, and if experience was the best teacher then Gideon was a pro, but that didn't stop my stomach from knotting on the walk over.
He met me at the gate with a grin and a gleaming eye. “Hello,” he said.
“Hello.”
I'd bought a drink, a bottle of lime cordial from the market. It was Gideon's favourite. He accepted it with a grin.
“Brought you something.”
“Delicious!” He held it to the light, swung the gate open. “Mmm! Please come in.”
“I thought champagne was a bit presumptuous.”
“Didn't want to ply me with alcohol?”
“Thought it might give the wrong impression.”
He shut the gate. We linked arms and traipsed up to the house, chatting, me trying not to be awkward. Gideon was loose-limbed and gay, almost bizarrely relaxed. He'd washed. He smelled of salt and soap and brightness. Approaching the house I heard the bathroom fan buzzing, saw a mist of scattering condensation drift out the window.
It was warm inside, he had the fire going. I hung my jacket over a chair and left my shoes by the door. Gideon popped the cordial on the counter. “Drink?”
“Please.”
We drank lime cordial in the lounge room, watching the sun dip over the horizon until the sky turned blue to grey to blue-black. Shadows drifted outside and the sea glittered. In the night there was little moonlight through these trees, so the earth seemed dappled, secret. Birds spoke outside. If I went to the window I could just see stars peeping through the high branches. The scent of firewood inside was touched with what drifted through the open pane – a smell of oceans, grass, leaves, earth. It felt enchanted.
“I don't know why you don't bring everyone here,” I'd said. “It's brilliant.”
“It's a bit romantic – it's all right with you, we're already friends, you understand. I don't want to give people the wrong idea.”
It was true. I loved him, fiercely and without romance.
“Oh, and the journey here. I already have a reputation. There's a reason I meet you at the gate.”
“Who else has been here? Just me and Nazreen?”
“Who you know? Yes.” He shrugged. “I like privacy.”
We'd finished our cordial. I shifted in my seat. This was the hard bit, I thought. The actual going for it. “Should I – um – ”
He jumped. “Allow me!”
Gideon brushed down his shirt-front and stood before me, one arm out. It was a very formal pose. He cleared his throat, smiled.
“Joe.” He said. “Would you like to come to my room?”
I said yes.
He led me to his bedroom, up the almost-tan hallway, past the kitchen. His room was large and pleasant. Merry yellow walls, a soft grey rug over the floorboards, red and green curtains pulled tight over a long sill. There was a cupboard on one side, a bedside table, and a chair in the corner beside the window. His bed was large and blanketed in flannel. There were little lights winking from the sides of the room, fairy lights – these looked handmade, the holders thin metal and carved into the same shapes as the beams in the hallway.
“Nice room,” I said.
He closed the door.
“Thank you,” he said.
He turned to me with a smile. For just a moment he looked otherworldly. I thought of the rules of the track to the door, the strange shapes that shifted in the trees, the clothing of a single colour, his odd moments of formality – it twinkled in his eyes, the answers, but I found I did not need them, not yet. I did not ask as he moved toward me, simply took his hand, let the smell of salt and soap and brightness push the questions toward the back of my head as he led me to his bed.
Gideon James is good in bed.
Gideon James will press you down into the mattress and smile crafty into the nook of your neck and make you groan and flex beneath him. Gideon James will lay deft and dexterous hands upon you, whisper to you with a skilful tongue, envelop you in a warm embrace, push his chest against your back, squeeze you, pull, push forth with animalistic vim, will make you scream, will make you ball the bed-sheets into fists with incoherent hands, will make you strain with the very vigour of him.
Afterwards, when you have cleaned yourselves up, he will ask if you want to stay the night. If you say yes, as I did, he will lie with you, fold his arms around you as you sleep.
It became a regular thing after that. He seldom came to my house, though once he did – appeared at my window in the middle of the night. I opened it, already half-dressed to go to his.
“What's up, Peter Pan.”
“Hello Joe.”
He was perched on the tiles, dangerously close to slipping, though he did not seem worried.
“Nazreen says when you visit her you appear at the window instead of the door.”
“I can't help it if she's got a perfectly positioned tree.”
That was true. Her front door was perfectly good, big and heavy with an iron knocker, but the tree outside led directly to her window. There was no such tree beside my house, though.
“And how did you get up here?”
“Shimmied up the drainpipe.”
I let him in, and you know the rest.
I grew used to the journey to Gideon's house. Every time he would meet me at the gate, every time going up the track I would stick to the centre, climb over the rock, greet the unseen shadow in the trees and arrive safely. Every time I would ask no questions.
At the back of the local school there was an oval I usually cut across to get to Gideon's. He was late one night, and not answering his phone. I worried. For all his spontaneity he was usually punctual. I went out to look for him.
I took our usual route, calling him along the way. Halfway across the oval I began to hear his ringtone. “Gideon?” I shouted, but there was no answer. It made me uneasy.
The ringtone continued cheerfully. It grew in volume. I must have been almost upon him, I thought, unless he'd dropped it – the idea made the hair stand up on my back.
The light was so dim I almost tripped over him.
I would have thought I'd scream, but instead I froze. Gideon lay still on the ground in front of me. He was bloody. The pale skin of his face was bruised, limbs at wrong angles, the turf around him potted with shoe-marks. I knelt tentatively beside his and whispered his name, but he didn't move. I could feel no pulse at his neck, but he was cold. In a moment of desperation I shook him; all that happened was a gristly sound and the drop of his arm to the grass, which uncovered his phone sticking out of his pocket.
Shaking, I pulled it out. I was going to call an ambulance and was frantically trying to figure out how to explain which part of the oval I was on when I opened it. Two things jumped out at me right away. A note was written on the inside of his phone cover, and the phone was recording.
I read the note. It said IN EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY: Call my emergency contacts, NOT emergency services.
I turned off the recording. It had clearly been on for a while, over an hour. His emergency contacts were his mum and dad. I called them.
Delora picked up on the second ring. “Hello?”
“Something's happened to Gideon, he's – ” I couldn't say dead. I stumbled. “Unconscious. Bleeding.”
“Where are you.” It wasn't a question. Her tone was sharp.
“School oval,” I said.
“Wait there. Don't call anyone.” She hung up.
I tried CPR. I doubted very much it would work, it made noises that didn't sound right, but I kept on for a while. He tasted of metal, of blood. The phone glowed on the grass beside us. The witness.
The recording. With one hand still on his chest I opened it, pressed play. Turned the volume all the way up.
The video started with a jerky shot of fingers and the inside of a pocket. There was a bit of noise, then it stabilised. The oval. A shout from far away, then again, louder: “Hey! HEY!”
Gideon James had turned toward the treeline, where the video had captured four figures walking toward him. They'd been hiding in the trees. He must have noticed.
They came closer, faces set. Four men around our age. Two looked familiar.
He'd filmed the attack, I realised. Evidence.
They got right in his face. He was remarkably calm. “Evening,” he said, voice loud on the recording. “How can I help you?”
One of them leaned toward him. It was Ben Campbell. We'd gone to school together. Not friends. I could see a close-up of the pocket of his trousers; he was close. Gideon did not step back.
“Question,” he said.
Gideon said nothing.
“Are you fucking my sister?”
I could not believe, in the twenty-first century, we were still asking people 'Are you fucking my sister?'.
“I don't kiss and tell,” Gideon said, which seemed to enrage Ben.
“Rhetorical question, pal. I heard you. Right? She told me. Talking you up to her mates and everything.”
He paused, shifting his weight. “Anna,” he added.
“You're Ben,” said Gideon. “Ben Campbell.”
“That's right.” Gideon had angled his hip, catching more of Ben on the video. Clever. “And I've heard you've been sleeping with a few other people, haven't you? Cheating on my sister.”
“I haven't been cheating,” Gideon said. “It's consensual, and non-exclusive. No strings attached. That's the agreement. With everyone.”
“Boys too, I've heard.”
“Yes.”
One of the others muttered “Faggot.”
“You don't fuck my sister anymore,” Ben snarled. “You keep your filthy little AIDS cock away from her, you understand?”
“That's not how AIDS works.”
“Shut your fucking mouth.”
“It doesn't just magically appear during gay sex. I get tested regularly.”
“I said you shut it.”
“Ben. Your sister is safe. I'm not going to stop an activity between two consenting adults because you don't like it.”
Ben stepped back. He looked furious. “Don't you fucking make her dirty!” he shouted. “She isn't like that!”
“Your sister is an adult. She can make her own decisions.”
“Shut it,” one of the others said.
“She's an adult! Ask her. Ask her if she consents, anything you want; she can make her own choices.”
“I know what's best for her.”
“Why can you have sex but she can't?”
“What?”
“Why can you have sex but she can't?” Gideon still hadn't moved. “I admire you wanting to look after your family, I do, but if you ask her you will see it's all consensual. You have sex. You're both adults. Why can't she?”
His voice was a growl. “It's different for boys,” he said.
“So this isn't about me. This is about your sister's sexuality.” The camera moved slightly. “I'm sorry. I can't help you with that.”
There was a thud and then the camera jumped. Ben had hit him.
It was swift. Gideon fought hard, but he was on the ground quickly and it was four on one. In their rage they must not have noticed the camera there; it caught images of all four men. Gideon's grunts turned to gristle as the beating continued. I had to look away. The camera was still but for the aftershock of each punch, until one of the men, one I didn't recognise, said “Stop – STOP!”
They stopped. The man leaned in and reached across is body, filling the screen with a close-up of his arm. “He's not breathing,” he said. “Ben.”
“Check his pulse,” said Ben, off-screen. The arm moved again.
“Nothing.”
“Fuck.”
There was a whispered discussion. It culminated in one of the men saying “I'll call him an ambulance, let's get out of here.”
And they left. Then there was silence. I skipped through until the end. Nothing, except for Gideon's phone ringing, and my horrified face picking it up, and a close-up shot of the grass.
When Gideon's mother arrived I explained in fractured detail, while her hands shook with rage over her child's twisted body. His father arrived soon after. He growled at a frequency that made my hair stand on end.
I gave them the phone. No ambulance had arrived, despite the assurances of the man in the video. They watched it with grave faces, then asked me to explain again exactly what had happened. I gave them as much as I could, times, dates – anything.
“What are their names?”
“Ben Campbell and Ivor Newell, I don't know the others,” I said. And I added, “Anna Campbell – she wouldn't have set that up. It's not her fault.”
“We know,” Edmund said.
They gathered him up without a word and turned to go. Delora led the way, the man draped in her arms lolling with every step. Edmund laid a firm hand on my shoulder and said, quietly, “Do not go to the police. We will deal with this ourselves.”
I nodded, and he went.
It was cold that night. It was December. I did what they asked, went home and lay awake and did not call the police. I cried. In the morning, having barely slept, I went to tell Nazreen.
Something told me he wouldn't be in hospital but we tried anyway, holding tight each other's hand lest we drift away. Her face was pale, her arm shook. I, having had more time to process it, spoke to the reception staff at every local hospital we tried, but none of them had a patient matching the description.
“Do you think he's dead?” she whispered, eyes on me across the car.
“He didn't have a pulse, Nazreen.”
“There was an ambulance,” she said. “He didn't lie. On the video. I saw it go past, toward the oval.”
“He must have called it late. We have to tell them,” I said.
We wrote a letter to his parents explaining and offering our support. I wanted to send it in the post, but Nazreen said we should deliver it by hand. There was a letterbox by the gate, we didn't have to go up the track. It was more personal, she said. And if he was –
“Don't,” I said.
We drove in silence to the woods and went in. She knew the way. It was a shock not to see Gideon at the gate, leaning against the white wood with comfortable nonchalance. It was wrong.
Nazreen dropped the letter into the mailbox. Then she froze.
“Joe.”
I looked toward where she was pointing.
Delora and Edmund were walking through the woods, carrying Gideon between them.
Nazreen pulled me into the foliage. We watched in horror. Gideon. His body was limp and white, no colour in his cheeks. He was no longer bloody. They must have washed him. One arm flopped to the side, Delora folded it back over his chest. They did not speak.
We followed them silently along the track. I was relieved we didn't have to go through the gate; I didn't know what to give the shadow if it appeared. Soon enough they ducked into the trees and Nazreen and I saw them stop. We crouched together, pressed against a tree trunk.
Gideon James' parents had come out into a clearing. I grabbed Nazreen's hand when I noticed it.
They had dug a hole under the cedar tree.
Edmund held his son as Delora placed things in the hole. A blueish rock, two silver coins, and a bucket of sand. I focused on that because I couldn't look at Gideon. Cradled like a baby, but with limbs splayed and dead. It felt wrong.
Delora nodded at her husband. He knelt by the side of the hole and very gently placed Gideon within. Then they pushed the soil back in to cover him, staining their knees dark in the process.
This is what they meant by dealing with it themselves.
They shook things over his grave; handfuls of salt, herbs, dirt, dried plants, and other things I couldn't identify. Two copper cups were raised in the air, their contents poured over the grave; one looked like greenish oil, the other like seawater. Then Edmund drew a knife from his pocket and nicked the back of his hand with it. He handed it to his wife, who did the same. A few drips of blood fell to the earth over Gideon James.
I felt guilty for watching, it looked so intensely private. Yet I could not look away.
They began to chant.
It was a wavering sound, a strong thin note that dipped and stung. It wove through the surrounding trees, into the earth and up through the treetops; it was distilled, beautiful, pure – then it softened, became rhythmic, and some primal prickling took over my shoulders. There was heart in it. The woodland animals had stilled, silent. It continued, building into a staunch crescendo of ancient ritual; they danced around his grave like wild things, arms up, words I did not understand in impossible layers; Gaelic, perhaps, or Scandinavian, the beat disciplined, the movement full, it felt like hours we sat there with the cold wash of adrenaline fading from my stomach, watching a ritual we didn't understand. When it finished, it was with an assertive cry, and they looked once more upon the grave before, hand-in-hand, they left.
That was that then. Nazreen and I waited until the coast was clear and crept away, shaken. We felt it would be disrespectful to visit the grave so soon after his parents had buried him, but vowed we'd come back when we could.
And life returned to normal. Almost.
Nobody seemed to have registered Gideon James as dead, he just wasn't there anymore. I didn't see his parents for a while. Anna Campbell, who Nazreen knew quite well, had asked around a few times, wanting to know where Gideon was. I felt bad about her unwilling part in this, and sent Gideon James' parents a letter asking what I should tell her. They replied, She will know in time. So I didn't tell her.
Something else I found out, through Anna and Nazreen, was interesting.
Ben Campbell had begun sleepwalking.
Every night, Nazreen told me, every night he would rise from his bed and trudge in a deep sleep to the school oval. There he would have a nightmare and wake up screaming. He'd been to the doctor, to the hospital even, done a sleep study, and woken up in a hospital gown in the grass. According to the nurse on duty, he'd torn himself off of the monitoring equipment and walked blindly through security. Surprisingly strong, they'd said.
It wasn't just Ben. Ivor Newell, one of the other men there that day, and the two others who Nazreen told me were called Trent Grade and Brayden McMahon, had also woken up screaming on the oval recently. At first it was once or twice a week, then it became every night. I saw them once. It was a horrible sight. Four young men moving sluggishly along the grass, to the corner of the oval, stopping – then one of them would suddenly scream in fear and flail his arms helplessly, as though fending off an invisible attacker. This would set the others off and become a cacophony until each one, by now on the floor, would wake with a start.
I wondered if they were dreaming of Gideon.
They would shuffle back to their homes with haunted faces. The lack of sleep showed. Nazreen told me everything. She said Ben had refused to tell Anna what the dreams were about. He'd tried tying himself to the bed and setting up bells on every door in his house, tried an alarm – nothing. He would rise in slumber and unknowingly pick the knots apart. Then walk. He complained of strange figures outside his window, something about green and brown coats. Anna didn't know them.
They were trying to convince him to go to therapy, she had confided, but there was only so much they could do, with him being a young adult. Nazreen had also said, according to Anna, Ben had threatened every one of her boyfriends and sexual partners, and she was worried he might have bullied Gideon and scared him off. She didn't know how right she was.
It was January when Nazreen and I saw Ben Campbell entering the Sexual Health Clinic. He looked agitated and exhausted. Anna informed us that, from what she could gather, he'd gotten a very visible case of genital warts, usually a quick fix, but his were awfully persistent. It just didn't seem to be going away.
As the months wore on, the four men who had attacked Gideon James grew more and more like ghosts. Only one of them had any reprieve. While Ben, Brayden and Ivor woke up shivering on the oval every night, Trent managed to stay in his own bed till morning about twice a week.
Nobody told us, but Nazreen and I knew without a shadow of a doubt, he had called the ambulance for Gideon.
We went back to the woods to visit Gideon's grave. It was hard to find, but we managed. We stood and spoke above him, leaving foot-marks in the frosty grass which fringed the site, noses filled with the sharp cold smell of earth and foliage.
March came, with Spring. Still the four men woke nightly on the dew-bitten grass, still I wondered why the James' had not gone to the police. I thought of Gideon, who should now be going on holiday and coming back short-haired and twinkling, who should have spent the last four months swimming at the beach and strolling catlike around town to visit his lovers, alive and bright.
It was the end of March when I heard it.
I thought I'd dreamt it. But there it came again. Tap. A stone. My window twitched in its frame.
Sleepily I stumbled to the window and opened it, and very nearly tipped right out.
Gideon James smiled up at me.
“Hello, Joe,” he said. “Can I come in?”
Once the shock had subsided enough I was able to move I said yes. He scurried up the drainpipe like a squirrel and threw himself at me. I hugged him. He was alive. It was impossible, I'd seen him buried, but he was – he was alive, and well, and warm; he smelled of dirt and salt and I could feel his heartbeat against me. Unless it was mine, so I pulled away and pressed my fingers to his neck, not the thumb, and felt it there, his pulse, as though he had never been buried underground. He laughed delightedly at my face.
“Missed me?” he asked, and I laughed, but it came out as more of a shriek, and then I gathered myself enough to step back and just look at him.
No scars. No blood. Just soft dark hair and bright eyes and an impish smile. I shook my head.
“You'd better explain,” I said.
“I know,” he said.
“I saw them bury you,” I said.
“I know.”
I pinched myself. Awake.
“Have you told Nazreen?”
“Yes. She seemed quite pleased.”
Quite pleased. I was pretty sure she would have cried.
“Fuck,” I mumbled, which made Gideon laugh more. He kissed me clumsily on the cheek and hugged me again. I felt him lurch a bit. He steadied himself on me.
“Sorry,” he said. “I should have had another week to get the equilibrium back but I couldn't wait to see you.”
“You are seriously going to have to explain everything.”
“I will, I promise.” He squeezed my hand. “Come for a walk? Nazreen's coming.”
“Yes. Definitely.” I grabbed a jacket. “Where are we going?”
“We're going to the oval,” he said. “I have a score to settle.”
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