Dreadless – Anna Rogala


The house stares back at me; a cold cup of tea, the beeswax candle I used to dread your hair, cutlery you’d nailed to the wall to keep the demons out.

I pause by your watercolour of the sea. One day, you said, we’d live by the shore. You’d paint our dream and we’d dive into it.

I remember the beauty that befell you in sleep; the rise and fall of your chest, the proportions of your soft, warm flesh. I remember the scaly psoriasis on the nape of your neck that no prescription would relieve. It used to drive you mad. I remember you wavering by the edge of the cliff, snapping with that Olympus around your neck. I daren’t look.

On the table, a half completed questionnaire.

Medications prescribed?

Stelazine, Olanzipine, Procyclidine.

            Do you have difficulties getting dressed?

The logos on lorries are controlling me. They want me to wear Topman and Ribena.

Do you experience problems communicating with others?

            BT cut my phone off.

Is there anything else we can help you with?

You left this blank.

What is the remedy for psychosis? What can they do when you’re baking curried mushroom cakes and eating them in the airing cupboard at 5am? Wants the solution when you’re wanking into Petri dishes and storing them in the fridge?

They section you. And then in a ward so riddled with kooks that you seem sane, some bloke with glassy eyes sucks your cock and for a moment you quite like it.

Then you remember what your neighbour did to you when you were twelve. Repulsed by yourself, you want to purge, purge, purge. Then they let you go.

I follow the trail of discarded climbing ropes and hacked-off dreadlocks up the stairs. I see you and my chest tightens like your windpipe. Bald as a monk, your head is bowed. The door bears the weight of your determination. The doorway frames your final breath. So many questions sink with your eyes. Why not the easy way out? I guess you’d taken enough pills to last a lifetime.