Not quite delirium: a monologue by Steph Conroy
[Int. Dishevelled bed in bungalow, Bali – night].
[Writhing around, decide]
I can’t go on like this. I literally cannot wipe my arse one-more-time. I feel hollow. Wasted. Oh, bloody hell. What if I can never eat again because I have a rare kind of bacteria or something gnawing away at my insides, and I eventually die? Me, a bundle of sallow sticks with drips hanging out of my arms. I’m sorry, we did all we could. Urgh! I’ve accidently-
[brushed a hot foot across the sheet]. [Recoil! -]
like I’ve seen a cockroach on my toothbrush, and yes, that really happened today.
Again! My feet are super rough on the bottoms from walking around on the boiling hot sand and on the equally boiling hot concrete roads so much. But putting on a sandal I’ve just banged the bottom of, only to slip it on and find it’s still filled with grainy bits of sand, and then have it accumulate more grainy bits of sand and dirt, feels just horrible. No thanks. Anyway, that’s not my primary concern right now. I have been throwing up for the past three days and shitting a-LOT. Coming out both ends! as dads and not-funny people who joke with utterly bored cash register (workers?) who swipe their cards and ask: savings? and they reply: more like spendings! would say. But really, how much longer can I vomit nothing and not eat before I actually waste away? Just shrivel up like a dead leaf or a sundried tomato? Maybe I’ll get so skinny people will be worried like oh my God, have you seen Rachel lately? She has lost so much weight. She was always on the thicker side but now she just looks unhealthy.
When I lie sideways like this my tummy still looks like it’s made of flesh-coloured jelly. I like poking it and kneading it, taking its impossible softness in my hands, cupping the flab. And then I am repulsed and I hate it. Poison. I guess fat is a sort of sign your body is poisoned. Food poisoning, fat poisoning; it’s all related. No. What?
[Flop onto back]
Ridiculous idea. Am I…hallucinating?
[Look down at two toneless but very brown thighs]
Fuck, you really have let yourself go though. What happened to your muscles, so hard and sleek under the skin? No exercise for what, five weeks? And after all that work you put in. All that money you threw at the personal trainer. Unbelievable. What a waste! Oh hush! Hush, Shelby. What about all that body positive shit you suspect you should believe in? Beauty at any size! Well, that’s all well and good Saint Brain but this is REAL. LIFE.
Good sign! Maybe I won’t die of malnutrition after all. But it’s 10:44 pm and I’m not allowed any food in the bungalow because it attracts the monkeys. They broke in and stole my Hydrolyte the other day, you know? I could really use that right now. Like, actually. And I can’t run here- by the way- because it’s almost always 30 something degrees and unless I want to die of heatstroke, or worse, be chased along the beach by a pack of savage dogs who can smell my fear and want to gnaw on my hand like it’s raw steak and not let go and I try to kick them but then another one latches onto my foot and I cry out but it’s really early and everyone’s still asleep- and yes, that’s a real threat here actually because just the other day a stupid tourist lunged at a litter of adorable wild pups and the mother dog bit her and the woman carried on like pork chop and had to be whisked away to get rabies shots- anyway unless I want that I actually cannot run here. Okay, so I guess it’s die of mystery food poisoning which maybe isn’t such a mystery because that ice box was really- oh, FUCK!
[Sit bolt upright]
What if it’s not run-of-the-mill, just-your-average food poisoning, but actually dengue fever! The early stages of malaria?! Do my bones hurt? I could have sworn I felt an abnormal stabbing sensation near my knee earlier…
[Scratch. Miniscule flap of dry foot skin catches on sheet]
Oh-my-GOD, I MUST moisturise my feet now, or at least when I get up to pee-shit next. Seriously, when they rub together they make a sound like sandpaper brushing over a piece of balsa wood, or an old lady crossing and uncrossing her papery, veined, swollen ankles which are always made additionally disconcerting by their blotches of ominous black and blue and flushes of red and those little pink and white circles with the skin flaking off. Yuck! No! That’s cruel; a cruel thing to think. One day I will have that, although I know I think that I actually won’t. Why do they always have it though?! Because they don’t fucking moisturise, Rachel. That’s why. Mum always says make sure you put some Vaseline on that and her skin seems okay. Still, how is rubbing petroleum (i.e. PETROL) jelly into thirsty limb and lip supposed to keep your skin supple, Mum? Puhlease. I do really miss her now though.
[Slump down again, stroke tummy-]
and try to say something comforting to myself like mum would. I try: Poor baby. Poor little possum chop. Do you need anything? Some lemonade? The remote? Want me to heat you up some tomato soup from the tin?
I could kill a man for a bowl of that soup. Could probably kill one anyway. Ha ha! Nah. Not really. But a bit. I mean there’s literally not many good ones out there. Men that is. Fucksake, Rachel, is now really the time? Saint Brain: try one of those mantras, will you? A bit of self-compassion now might be an idea, hmm?
Okay. So…you are… okay. Well not really, you’ve been shitting water for the past three days. Right. How about: you are safe, you are loved, be kind (rewind). Shh, this will pass; unless it’s malaria in which case it almost certainly won’t. You are enough. Live everyday as if it’s- no, not that. Live, laugh, love. Oh-my-God gurrrl, that’s like, my motto hun! Dance like nobody’s watching (yaaaaas)! Relax, you’re on island time now- oh, jeez.
[Rise from sweat-sodden bed, wrestle with mosquito net, lurch to toilet].