Rolled-up sails/stories about pirates (and something about covid), short story and essay, twin publication, visual material, embroidery, cotton, 2022

The party starts like most others.
As in it doesn’t really.
Just one moment it's not there, there's nothing, and then in another, it is.
Happening. Noise and life. Or maybe not. Maybe it took time, the first there, and then waiting, patience. Party.
Maybe it just didn’t happen at all. Maybe I was constricted to my room and passing acknowledgments, quick congratulations, then moving on to their own forgotten celebrations. But for the sake of now let’s say it happened.
It didn’t start, it just happened.
Early spring, first proper sunny day of the year. U used to say it marked the beginning of summer. I’m pretty sure that if I was around to hear it if I had the chance to spend that one day out of the year with her, I’d hear her say it again. It means that the last year has been good, even if it hasn’t, or that the next one will be, even if I really doubt it. The deck shines wet, reflective pictures moving around- allowing themselves a day of ignorance and bliss. Dancing, talking, just moving.
I never really enjoyed celebrating my birthday, I’m too much stuck in the limb of needing to be part of everything and hating being the center of anything.
I think somebody walked the plank.
The water looks still, undisturbed.

- That children’s pig cartoon character ‘what’s her name again? -
- Gurli? -
- Peppa -
- Right fucking Peppa, Peppa Pig, you're Peppa Pig -
- and that’s a point for A, Peppa Pig is the right answer, K your turn -

“The spy from a Stratego game”, what the fuck am I supposed to do with that. Desperately try to look overly unnecessarily sexy- uncalled for in most situations?

I think somebody walked the plank.
The water looks still, still undisturbed.
Behind me, it towers up high, but no one has climbed the ropes in what feels like years and I’m sitting surrounded by rolled-up sails.


and so the screaming begins. It’s been a tradition now for years, cutting the cake and screaming. U always bakes makes the cakes. Makes bakes them in a shape just humanoid enough to register as a human, four limbs and a head, but never specific enough to really look human at all. Makes bakes them and brings them to the parties. Then the cutting begins. Limb by limb the cake is cut apart. An arm, then the opposite leg, then the second arm, the last leg, and if U is in a really murderous fun mood a little cutting into the body will be added, before at last the suffering is ended and the head is cut off.
A long toutorous effort. But the cake is never alone, it's never left to endure its torture silently by itself, it’s given vocal chords by everyone gathered around the scene. Screaming, as loud as possible with every cut. Giving voice to this delicious sweet cake wearing only candy as clothing. Piratos. And again we go


I think somebody walked the plank. And then another person did too.
The water looks still, still undisturbed.
Still towering up the mast behind me, empty as ever. The sails will last longer, rolled up and unused, no incidental tears, but like this, they have no purpose.
- Seven shots twice, fourteen -
- If I take fourteen shots in a row I’ll die. -
- That's the rule though - Why we split it in two -
- I'll do it through the night but I won't die for this -
I think somebody walked the plank. And then another person did too. The water is not very warm but the air is and that mostly makes up for it.
The water looks still, still undisturbed. Empty masts and ropes surrounded by pointless sails.

I haven’t seen her in what feels like years, and I’m not seeing her tonight either. There are a lot of people I’m not seeing tonight. I think C wanted to send me flowers, but she never checked in with me, and flowers are hard to deliver to ship isolated in the middle of nowhere. The music is still playing loudly, probably too loud but no one has complained yet so let it play, I can see A dancing out of the corner of my eye. I think I want to dance too but there's nobody around and dancing by myself always felt a bit too pathetic.

I think somebody walked the plank. And then another person did too. The water is not very warm but the air is and that mostly makes up for it. The people forgo the plank and just jump in from anywhere. The water looks still, still undisturbed. Empty masts and ropes surrounded by pointless sails. Useless sails, used less sails.

I’m quite drunk
or very drunk
The water is not completely still, it never is this far out, but I also wouldn’t describe the movement as waves. No rolling or sloshing. It’s more a slow caressing of the wood. The party's all over now, just A still hanging back, he always does. That’s when I hear it.
Ships are full of noise.
Noises well known, noises you don’t hear anywhere else. Just like the outside world, the stubbornly stagnant land is full of noises you don’t hear on ships. This is something in between. It belongs to the noises of land, on land, but from time to time it sneaks onto our world. The ships. Must have picked it up last time we were docked. Just over a week ago now. I recognize the sound of the teeth,
biting, the constant pitifully aggressive high-pitched whines. As I follow the sounds I find horrible pudgy angry little eyes. The rat doesn’t stare, it just keeps biting. Trying to free itself from the tiny prison it's run itself into.
A hole in the wood.
Quite thick wood.
A small tunnel.

I imagine its back legs hanging freely, trying to find a purchase to push itself off of. Herself? himself? Itself. Keeps biting, as if enough determination could convince the wood around it that being is overrated, hoping this specific plank of wood would up and decide it's tired of being a square flat piece of a puzzle in a ship, and would much rather be sawdust. Disintegrating itself and freeing the rat in the process. In my search for it, the rat, I’ve picked up a bucket of water. dirty. Left over from the pre-party cleaning to help with the post-party cleaning.

- Don’t do that - a’s voice calls from just over my shoulder. staring at the water.
- It's a rat, I just want to flush it out.-
- Yeah.
You’ll kill it tho -
- It's a rat. It can’t eat the ship, it’ll die anyway. This way maybe?
I just want to help -
- Yeah -
And not touch it.

A shakes his head but smiles anyway. He shakes his hand in a motion to tell me, impatient, to have a go at it then. First, it seems to work, the force of the water shuffles the body down, or just shuffles it I can’t tell. Then without me really noticing, the hole is wholly full, of water. It’s clear now that the water will slowly seep out from around the rat and drip downstairs, but not quick enough to save the rat. It will drown here. Tonight. Desperately angry eyes now staring up behind me, and I will stare down, look at it. I think somebody walked the plank.
I don’t know if it's today, it doesn’t really matter.

I think somebody walked the plank. And then another person did too. The water is not very warm but the air is and that mostly makes up for it. People jumping in from anywhere. Enjoying the water, the weather. Screaming again.

When the water is gone and the rat is dead I pull it out. I keep it in my hand. The warmth is slowly leaving its body but I don’t notice till it's already cold. Don’t really notice it's dead til I notice it's death. To me. It’s death, It's death in this moment I realize what death means. In the cold evening with A giving me that ever-supportive but judgemental look, holding a giant cold dead rat in my hands, I realize death.

I think somebody walked the plank. The water looks still, still undisturbed. Empty masts and ropes surrounded by pointless sails. And me. I think maybe nothing is happening. or maybe it is we only ever talk of the past or the future anyways. I think it doesn’t matter right now.

So the music is playing and people are dancing and I’m sitting in a corner thinking of rats and A.

I’ve been thinking a lot about pirates lately. Where it started is insignificant, maybe from something I saw or read or nothing.
It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that once they got stuck in my head, the pirates, they never really left. They dug their way into my head and decided to make it a house.

I don’t know why they feel so significant, why they stayed, but I’m gonna try and figure it out

They remind me of summer. They’re stuck in summer. On a ship, in the middle of a nowhere ocean, with the sun shining.

They remind me of freedom. Endless possibilities. Open sea. All those good old worn-out metaphors.

They don’t move around a lot. They have all the possibilities of the world. They live on a ship, a moving, not quite almost breathing, thing, and they just stay right there. Stuck in some isolated corner, that isn’t a corner- but instead a vast open space, of the ocean. They could go anywhere, but they stay right fucking there and it's making me really annoyed. I want them to move. I want them to do something. So that whenever I go to that little corner of my mind there’s Something.
Something new to explore. An adventure to watch.

But they don’t. They stay right fucking there and do nothing. I mean they do something. They swim, they talk, they read, they eat. They spent months of their life, their time, doing something, nothing, that can be summarised in a single boring fucking sentence.

I spent months of my life doing nothing more than could be explained with a single simple sentence. I had plans, ideas, goals, but when I think back nothing happened. Nothing big enough to have an influence on my life anyway.

I feel like I should have had some big revelation about life, myself.
I didn’t. I’m the same person as before.
I wasn’t productive.
I didn’t learn any new life skills and my creativity was at an all-time low. And now I feel a need to catch up, to go out.

It exhausts me.
I need to catch up on two years' worth of social life. I want to catch up on two years of missed events, but I just don’t have the energy. I want to, but every time someone suggests doing something, anything, that involves me leaving my home, or crossing out from that great barrier of school, or seeing people I don’t know, I get so fucking tired.

I feel it’s important to say that I’m not sad. I haven’t entered some socially induced depression. I feel the same as I did before. Except with no social stamina. Stamina I spent my whole life building. Habits of being social, of investing time and energy into other people, that took a life to build. Not a full life, just the whole of the one I’ve had so far, and now that habit is broken.

I read somewhere once that it takes two weeks to build a habit, now I’ve had two years for this new one of isolation, and I’m struggling with breaking it. Going back to old habits has always been expressed to be a bad thing, maybe that’s another habit to break.

I don’t have energy to produce new memories and produce work at the same time, so I end up never doing anything. Instead, I live through pirates in my head that also never do anything.

Until I make them.
Force them into some kind of action, but then all I can make them do is my memories. So it becomes some half-motivated adventure of a half-forgotten event from five years ago. I end up living vicariously through myself from years ago. Nothing happens now, so something must have happened then.

I don’t really know what I want to say with this. I don’t think I had anything I wanted to say when I started this.

I keep reading through this and every time it feels more and more depressive and less purposeful. It’s not that sad for me, it’s just nothing. I feel nothing.
Maybe that’s my point. I don’t feel like I’ve been allowed to process what’s been happening. Because processing takes time and space none of us are ever really allowed any time or space. Or reflection.

And when finally everything is over, or close to being done, and it feels like now is the time to sit down and reflect, the news cycle moves on. And newer, bigger, worse stuff happens and once again I’m not allowed the time to think. We always have to just work and produce. But we want to have the semblance that we’ve worked through it. So we write and read and talk, but we’re never really awarded the time to do anything but move on.

Move on.

So I sit and watch the pirates in my head. Who in turn sit and watch the water. They sit on a big grand ship. One of those with multiple sails hanging in front of each other, desperately trying to catch any wind, be drawn in and enveloped by any moving force. And it’s windy in my mind, not a lot, just a bit, just enough to pull the big grand ship along. But along with watching the water, the pirates watch their rolled-up sails lining the edges of the big grand ship. Because Maybe for now it's no longer a circumstance not to move, but a bit of a choice. Some time spent just standing still

not moving

to deal with the imposed “don’t move” order that’s been pretty steadily in place over the last two years. And then slowly, probably one by one, the sails will come up. Slow speed. Building up over time, I need to rebuild my stamina over time. I need to give myself the time to deal, to process, because it won’t be given by anyone else.
And I probably won’t be that productive, it’s gonna be a little slow. But I refuse, I will refuse, to feel in any way bad about it.
I will slowly, along with my pirates, hoist my sails one by one, no fucking matter how long it takes.