I’m an avid thrifter. It’s been a hobby of mine since I was about twelve years old. I just love the smell and feel of objects that have some sort of permanent historical sentience, that’ve been passed down through the ages and probably been owned by ten different pairs of hands. I’ll most likely be one of those people who ends up with a garage brimming to the ceiling with forty three different chairs and sixty stacks of old magazines. I’ve been fortunate enough to come across some real gems in the past, but the things that always get me the most are what I call twofers. Two-for-ones. Maybe you find an old dresser and manage to crack open the locked top drawer, only to find it overflowing with old family photos, dead-eye relatives staring coldly from worn black and white portraits. I like these little treats, these portals into another person’s world and past. I’ve found handmade dolls and other toys, books, clothing, and even a locked box within a chest inside a suitcase.
Some of these objects, I don’t feel right keeping. Some of them send a shock of uneasiness down my spine that I just can’t shake as soon I touch them. Some things just aren’t my style. There’s only one thing, however, that I wish I’d never found locked away in the bottom drawer of a small wooden writing desk. No matter how much I distance myself from it, I think this will follow me to my grave.
The following are entries from a worn out, waterstained red journal, exactly as they appear. The italicized portions are where the handwriting goes from a normal and coherent style to what my sixth grade teacher would call chicken scratch. But there’s something more behind the words. Something dark. A lot of it, especially towards the end, was hard to read, but I think I’ve managed get everything. Even transcribing these words makes me feel sick. Honestly, I think my days of thrifting might be coming to an end.
6/19/07 – 10:49 AM
Two days. It’s been two days with no real food or water. Two days of floating aimlessly on this big yellow raft, feeling like the abandoned plaything of a malevolent god. Two days of an inferno’s worth of sun beating down on our backs. You don’t realize what hunger truly is until you can’t pop down the stairs to the kitchen or your favorite takeout is no longer a phone call away. The crash was absolute hell. Wing caught fire, engines started to fail, and we just plummeted. It’s not like it seems in the movies. On film, it’s all sucking air, cutshots, people being flung from floor to ceiling. In reality, a plane crash takes forever. One minute you’re floating, the next you’re rocketing toward the ground at almost a thousand miles per hour. Your stomach’s in your throat and all of the air in the cabin seems to crush around your head like a vice. Everyone is screaming, spilling prayers between unsteady hands clasped to faces. But you can’t hear anything over the white noise roar of wind ripping through a wasted fuselage. The sound we made when we hit the water was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was like a thousand gongs being smashed with glass hammers, like a chorus of frogs croaking in a canyon, reverberating ten thousand times back at you. It was louder than sound can be.
My arm is broken in god knows how many places and I can’t see out of my left eye. Hit my head pretty hard on the window, enough to crack it. I watched as my wife’s neck snapped, the look of fear frozen dead in her eyes as the life sapped from them in under a second. She had taken our daughter Stephy to the bathroom near the front of the plane right before we went down. I watched as the cabin rocked back and forth, flinging her body into a row of chairs, and then slamming it into the wall, the sound of her spine breaking something I now realize my mind conjured up in some sick fantasy. I watched as the refreshment cart slipped from the front row and flew towards Stephy. I watched as it connected with the back of her head, watched the ark or her blood dance across the cabin floor, and knew she was dead before she hit the ground. All of this took probably ten seconds at most but it felt like hours, days. Alex, my son, somehow slept throughout the entire thing. I think he’s in shock now. He keeps asking things like “daddy when do we go home” and “where are mommy and stephy”. They’re dead. Everyone else, as far as I know, is dead. The crash took all of them. I don’t know how we survived but a large part of me wishes we hadn’t.
6/20/07 – 12:19 PM
Four days. This packet of peanuts I have in my jacket is a sort of cruel poetic joke. Lightly salted. We’re surrounded by water we can’t drink and I’ve got salty peanuts. Might as well be eating sand.
– This notebook and pen
– Packet of salted peanuts from hell hell
– The watch Samantha gave me on my thirty second birthday
– One life jacket ttt ttttt
Not much. Alex doesn’t do much but sleep lately. I try to keep him covered with my jacket as much as I can. I know it’s going to make things so much worse, but I’ll suck the salt from these peanuts and feed them to him if I have to. if i have to have to if everything keeps flashing by in short bursts of memory. The four of us family boarding the plane in San Francisco we were going on a vacation to Adelaide. We were going to visit Samantha’s sister we were going going
6/22/077 – 19:100 PM
six six6 six 66
strained. alex isn’t talking much. I’m not talking much TALK things are strained. keep seeing land on the horizon just an oil spill of a vision sucking away at the last ounce of my sense and and sanity SEEP hunger is something i’ve never felt before EAT the kind that sits rancid in your gut and reminds you that the bile is the only thing left / alex sits and sleeps sits crooked in my knees EAT so small and frail i can hear the water speaking to me in small waves ,, birds don’t circle fish don’t come nothing comes nothing comes
nine you need to eat alex is slowly slipping away he’s not going to make it i noticed something last night. in the water.
the wreckage of the plane before now was still in my field of vision you can see the blood it just slipped away right before dusk in his veins in his heart
last night in the water i saw something floating and i don’t know how because it was pitch black but suddenly the water became darker underneath us
Stretching out a hundred feet in every direction, it seemed like one giant mouth was talking to me through the water
you need to eat what are you
there’s nothing else to be done, nothing else to be said, you must eat there’s no food
he’s not going to make it, he’s going to succumb i can’t hurt him
if you don’t take him, we will
i can’t hurt him, but i don’t know what else will what will
jun two 7 jun
watch stopped hands are gone
drank my piss last night tried to get some into alex’s mouth but his lips weren’t greedy enough
the water speaks to me every night now. it speaks to me and it sings. it speaks to me in six languages, two i’ve heard of and four that don’t exist
we will sing your hands to his throat
last night the darkness rose from the water and revealed itself
it is almost formless yet is the most solid thing
climb through the veil of your son’s life and tear away what you need
i need to eat
you must take him violently or not at all
fourteen it was almost too easy easy enough i just put my hand over his mouth and closed his nostrils you wanted to do it his little eyes fluttered open and i saw first confusion then fear then everything flooding in at once you needed to do it i held my hand there and he started to kick and then he bit me that made you angry it made me angry so i clamped harder and then everything just boiled over you loved it i couldn’t help myself i just grabbed his skin in handfuls and started pulling and tearing you tore and he bled and you loved it it was all i could do to stop i put my fingers in his mouth and broke his jaw i bent his fingers back until they snapped i ripped hair out in chunks and i twisted his neck til it popped the sound and then i tasted him i tasted him and you loved it i ate i bit through his cheek and tasted the sweet meat in my mouth from his and his blood ran hot and wet down my throat i ate everything i could put in my mouth with shaking fingers and i was bliss
the form in the dark greeted me in the night proud it swelled and rose up before me and took alex’s broken form, his hot hot bones and pockets of blood and sweet wrecked face and it swelled and threw his body a hundred feet away so i wouldn’t have to see the face that looks so much like mine and samantha’s and it flew him there and there he floated and my stomach is full and my heart is empty and my head is heaving. i don’t know what’s harder human bones and flesh or the promises you make to yourself to others it’s sick i’m sick it’s all gone now he’s better now i’ll die out here but at least i’ll die with him inside me at least he could die in loved company sick sick sick
it is morning
there’s a boat in the distance – headed straight for me. It sees me. they see me. the blood washes off in the sea. the sea keeps my secrets. the seagulls flock that 100 feet away. the gulls will take my boy and lead him into the light. the gulls will carry on tattered wings and he will be with mommy and stephy soon. i will always carry alex with me wherever i go.