Nicola Cayless.
Looking for light in words.

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There it is. The rain.

There is something magical about the rain. Whenever it falls, you cannot help but for a moment be transported out of the present, to transcend time for what it is and escape into the mutable recesses of human memory. The rain, as it falls, seems to soak up my soul, seems to infiltrate my skin until I am just another droplet in a storm. I can feel all at once every other time that it has rained, can feel memories overwhelm me. I remember my sixth birthday party by the ocean, looking out over to the horizon. My father barbecued, and we warily watched the ominous clouds roll in over the headland. When the heavens opened up on us, like ancient Gods declaring war, we shrieked with laughter and ran for the cover of the cars, the sausages & steaks sizzlingly dismally on a water-soaked barbecue. I remember being completely soaked, drenched in every nook and cranny, like the rain was playing a game with itself, aiming to explore and map the human body. I can also remember the time just last month, that I sat naked in the backyard, on the bench that no one in our family has ever sat on. I let the sky drift down onto my bare breasts and stomach, let the water cleanse me, a baptism of sorts, a baptism into understanding and gentleness. I walked with softer steps after that day. I’d been resurrected by the autumn storm. 

I’ve been lonely these past months, broken, questioning. I’ve been trying to remember what beauty is, lately. I can no longer seem to recall just what made my heart beat slower, with contentment. I can’t remember the list that I made to remind myself, so I will start another.

The rain is something beautiful.

  • You realise that you mean very little.
  • You realise that your heartbeat is only a tiny part of the collective Pulse.
  • You realise that you could vanish tomorrow, and only the trees outside your bedroom window would notice that the light no longer flickers on and off. 
  • You realise that you are made of borrowed atoms, that you are composite and connected infinitely to a chain of beings.
  • You realise that nothing that you touch will last very much longer than you, except the hard hard crust of this turning world.
  • You realise that if you stand in one place for a very long time in complete silence, it is as if you are simply a part of the wallpaper.
  • You realise that no one really cares who you are or why you choose to keep walking, and that it is expected of you that you will keep quiet and create.
  • You realise that you have a duty to the cosmos to keep writing, that you are not designing poetry and prose out of enjoyment, but out of obligation.
  • You realise that you mean very little.
  • You realise that your work means the universe.
  • You realise that you will slowly vanish, but your ink will remain, and that someone somewhere will feel something because of a single word you wrote.
  • You realise that you were born to write something that lasts forever.

It’s funny how love is so often accompanied by Despair. It’s like life has decided that in order to keep the world turning, it must break you at some point or another in order for you to be truly happy. I cannot tell you how many nights I have fallen asleep, cradled by Uselessness & Worry. While my heart beats for you, you begin to fade, to vanish, to disappear completely. I am left searching for the person I once knew, and I will break when I realise that they no longer exist. I think, throughout our lifetimes, we are made up of little pieces of everybody else. I am not just me, but I am you & her & him. When I am excited, my breath hitches like hers did, and my left wrist shivers in the cold like his used to. I am composite. I am a collective of everybody I have ever loved. You are buried deep inside me, and I wonder if you will take any part of me with you—because I am offering it all. 


I think there are different kinds of loneliness. I think, throughout our lives, we will gather each kind to our chest, labelling them and holding them close. Sometimes, loneliness can be a buoy, something to cling on to amidst the storm. You will look back on your short, short life, and think, “I was lonely, once. I will be lonely again.” You will accept loneliness because you must. You will accept it, because otherwise the night will last forever, and you will waste away. You will pale, and thin, and vanish. Take pride in your loneliness. Hold it close against you. Remember that it is the only thing that will never desert you. Loneliness, your lover. 

          I.     I long to lace my fingers with yours. I desire the rise and fall of your chest in the moonlight. I imagine you wrapped in silk sheets, purple against your pale milk skin, breathing softly in the starlight. I create fallacy after fallacy to hold myself afloat, to dispel reality with a favourable illusion. I will croon your name to the Sun as she rises, and she will listen to my story as long as she is awake. I carry your gaze within my heart. I remember the time your opal eyes locked onto my deep chocolate ones. I remember the way you shook your head at me, and took another woman’s hand. I remember going home alone. I exhale in the morning, starting another day without you—unchosen, unwanted, alone.

          II.     Voices. I choke on words, suffocating on the speech patterns of others, holding rhythms inside my oesophagus, thought processes which threaten to rot away my soul. I hear your arguments clash against his, like waves in an ocean storm against the headland. I feel vibrations ripple through me, a shock wave, shaking my very foundations. I want to scream. I want to make my presence known, to have you hear my heartbeat and recognise my words. I want you to listen to me. You give me empty compliments in the hope that I will return the favour, and yet I cannot. I cannot breathe for you. When one is breaking, one does not fix them with make up and bandages. One must stitch the wound. Dig deep inside me. Find the root of the cancer. Rip it out. It will hurt, but then, maybe, you will care. I do not want the empty sound of your voice to be the last thing that I hear, as I fade away.

          III.     I lean against the kitchen counter, boiling the kettle one last time before bed. I know that when I go upstairs, I will have to unlace my purple silk robe, and walk naked, exposed before your dull gaze. I know that you will watch my figure sway in the moonlight, but that you will feel no desire, no lust. I know that once I leave the kitchen, I will have to take inevitable steps which lead to me falling asleep in your arms, uncomfortable, aching, the stink of stale sweat suffocating me. I know that we will fall asleep together, in a mandatory embrace that we resigned ourselves to all those years ago. I know, that when I awake, your morning breath will make me want to gag, and I’ll leave the house quickly for work. I know that I will loathe myself for returning that evening, and repeating the cycle. And yet, I hope, that one day, passion will reignite and you will remember what my name is.

I will be lonely because you said no. I will be lonely because you spoke over me. I will be lonely because you said yes. I will be lonely for a thousand and one reasons. But I will write a list, of each and every time I felt lonely, and I will describe the hollow ache inside me with beautiful, empty words. In the moments before I die, I will read through the list, and think to myself: I lived. I lived a lonely life, and I lived it completely. 

And I will die content.