It was then that I realised he had been with me from the beginning. Slithering, serpent-like around my neck without me ever noticing. Thinking about it hurts so much I have to look away. Bury myself in dreams of ghettos and rail tracks and a hug from a leather jacket I never thought I’d see again. Rich, earthy, sweet. A second skin and a mask for the one I cannot escape. But still he strangles, denying me air. He restricts, smothers, crushes.

Away from the tracks and into the house, now. Through the weeds. There is protection here, vaguely tinted with threat. Betrayal comes from my heartbeat, though, which never was on my side. Thumping wildly, it takes a swing at the grimy windows and sand starts to pour in. Time is running out. A thousand tiny serpents growing among the grains, teeth becoming stronger, muscles becoming tighter. In through the throat and out through the neck. I gasp. Take a mouthful of smoke and one-way tickets. It’s no good. He’ll be with me until the end.

Serpent is part of an autofiction/automatic fiction hybrid project, in which the ordinary thinking mind is bypassed to access the symbol-rich world of the unconscious. It is an experiment in writing with dream-like logic and in capturing the mood of our inner worlds.

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