Naked in the cramped cottage bedroom, I sit up and take a deep breath of musky air. The bed is wrapped in flower-patterned sheets. The room is vaguely lit by my iPhone charging in the corner. Creeping out of bed, I hear Leah waking up. She turns over onto her back. I feel the floor's wooden grain on my bare feet as I lumber over to my pile of clothes.
As the sun creeps towards the horizon, a comforting glow illuminates the wooded landscape. A strong gust of wind rustles the leaves around us. Specks of sunlight shine through the canopy above like dancing stars. Twigs and branches break at our feet as we tread towards the clearing ahead. In the clearing hangs the decaying trunk of a dead birch tree hunching over a grass-less patch on the dirt ground.
My throat is sore from the dozens of cigarettes I smoked on the four hour drive littered with stops at coffee shops and service stations. We are minutes away from the cottage, driving the used Civic up a dirt road through the forest. The road is much narrower than in my memory. A thick ceiling of tumbling clouds hovers above, and a cold chill blows in through the vents. The road winds and drops into a mud pool and I'm worried we might get stuck but we don't. The forest on either side of the road is thick and green. There are blackberries on the bushes that line the road and crows are gorging on them.
My apartment seems smaller now—suffocating me. I open all the windows and cool air trudges in. On Craigslist, I search for a used car and find a champagne colored 2008 Civic for $1200.
Leah holds the tote bag open as I dump my dirty clothes inside. I inhale the fresh laundry smell of the clothes I'm wearing, that Leah had brought me from home, and I'm glad to be checking out of the hospital. I say goodbye to the nurses and walk out into the busy streets of downtown.
In the stale quietness of the hospital room, I wake up to the disappointment of not having died last night. Already in a room tight enough for a tomb, I lie there, craving for oblivion. But Leah has other plans for me. She is beside me, thumbing the space on my forehead between my eyebrows. I hear the beeping of a heart monitor. Every time I blink, Leah's face doubles, then slowly merges back into one face, then doubles again with another blink.
I walk into fire, trees rumbling in flames surround me, but I feel no heat. I tread down a path, fire licking at my arms, ashes fluttering upwards into the night sky like millions of gray moths.
Rising up out of the subway staircase and into the busy street, I pulled Leah closer to me. The pavement was still wet from rain, puddles gathered by the curb. We strolled arm in arm, listening to the sounds of downtown traffic, absorbing the odors of diesel from TTC buses and fried grease from Korean restaurants. A white van with Manitoba plates drove by.
A little boy stared up at me, faceless, bald, his skin marble black, marked with paint splatter and scattered text, white, yellow, green and purple. It was my Psychedelics Anonymous Genesis, but as a child. We both stood in a dark void, facing each other.
I felt a drop of rain on my wrist and another on my lip. I walked faster down the row of townhouses heading to Leah's place. It was almost noon and the darkening clouds looked the way clouds look before it pours.
I stretched out on the sofa, the laptop resting on my stomach. I scrolled through William's final items. They were elaborate, once again describing the details of his abundant life. The items described the lemon smell of a motel room, roaming the city streets, stopping to admire the architecture of a church, smelling the strawberries in Kensington Market.
In the forest, wind sifted through the cedar and birch trees, and I struggled to adjust my eyes to the darkness. I could feel the presence of night owls with bloated chests and long-faced coyotes stalking the wooded hillside, reminding me that despite the deed of land my parents owned, the land was never quite ours.
The bar was so dark that I couldn't see the coffee in my own cup, which was a good thing, I thought. It smelled like shit, tasted like shit, and if I saw it in proper light, it would probably look like shit. Soft sounds of salsa music played in the background. There was a sticker of Rick and Morty on the cash register behind the bar, and the smell of fried onions hovered nose level throughout the place.
We slept through the day—a deep long sleep that we both needed. It was nighttime again and she had not woken up. Her mouth hung slightly open and her eyes darted around under her eyelids. I tried to fall back to sleep, but wakefulness seeped into my mind, and with it, came thoughts of William.
My footsteps echoed off the face of a building towering over me. It was three in the morning, the air was void of daytime noises. I pushed forward, fingering the Zippo lighter in my pocket, rushing to buy smokes so I could go back home—go back to William.
I laid awake in my bed, the rhythm of passing cars outside on loop. I couldn't sleep without the pills. Leah was working night shift. I shifted around trying to find that comfortable spot on my bed where sleep would take over, but it was nowhere to be found. I threw the covers off myself and slipped on a pair of boxers.
I woke up confused—the shattered remnants of a nightmare inside my head remained. Opening my eyes, I thought I'd see Leah's purple walls, but instead I squinted through the morning dimness and saw my bare, empty walls, eggshell white.
Walking into my apartment, the smell seemed foreign to me, vaguely familiar. It was late at night. I didn't remember the last time I saw William. Days maybe? Weeks? I wondered if he was home, and then I heard his bed creak in his room. Sitting on the sofa, I burnt through two cigarettes thinking about how I would tell him.
Posted on May 6
I woke up to Leah lying beside me, rubbing my arm. A mahogany dresser guarded the foot of the bed. In the dresser mirror, that was visible over our toes, I saw the reflection of a crucifix hanging on the wall above our heads.
For weeks, she made me feel like someone—validating me with every kiss, every cuddle, every sly look. We shared food together, and dreamed up plans for the future, from exploring the caves at Lake Simcoe to driving to the Maritimes.
For the last few weeks I was Michael Anderson. I stole all my pics from some guy in Australia named Aleksander Vukcevic. Posts filled my page like a list of attributes—my dirt bike, my cat, me on a boat. My bio read, “Eat well. Stay in shape. Die anyway.”
I was in Rachel Darwish’s DMs. The top part of her face was cut off in her profile pic, showing just her toothy smile and dark hair falling onto her shoulders. Her posts were mostly food pics, inspirational quotes, concert pics of Prince, sunsets, and photos of her taken at angles that hide her face. I first slid into her DMs like this:
In the spring of 2022, the 44 Division of the Toronto Police Service discovered the burnt remains of Rachel Amina Darwish, Daniel Brewer, and Mitig Biskane, in southern Ontario, Canada. The only clues offering an explanation for the three deaths were found in an anonymous blog written by an unknown individual.
The following content was taken from the blog website, everyoneandnoone.org.
The blog posts begin on March 13.