It’s nothing but a story. A story that constantly changes, just like the road I’m on. From the chanting corpses in Hell to the crying angels in Paradise, the road makes no sense. Or maybe…maybe that’s just how I see it. There’s a gigantic tree, with the finest greenest grass, and buffalos all around. I feel the wind on my face and enjoy the rays of the sun, mentally confessing that I’ve missed them. Two weeks of rain is just too much. There’s soft music and happy thoughts…
( and a dead woman on a chair, she’s– )
and many people out there, the smell of barbecues. Over all, it’s a peaceful day. I wipe the drool off my jaw, like I always do. Doctors tried to explain to me why I drool constantly, but their words made no sense. I like things that don’t make sense, except when they’re supposed to make sense, because in that case, it’s a mistake. Errors and mistakes are part of nature, but I don’t like them.
( my dear sweet Delphalilah )
Do you? The road is changing again. Now it’s nothing but a gray and desolating landscape, a dark sky and broken houses, where the people look deader by the second. I watch with no fear but mere curiosity at a bird shooting through the air to finally crash on this cold looking floor. The people are looking skinnier and skinnier, and the cows are as thin as paper with lizard faces, their black hole eyes popping out of their orbits. The music turns morbid. But ha! I look at the road once more, and the sun is back, the peacefulness there, except that if I slit my eyes a bit, I can see under the camouflage, I can see the decomposing bodies and the dead things. A humongous tree is so bent that you’d think it would crack. It seems as though it has lost something there in the grass and wants to pick it up. I tell my mother to stop the car so that I can pick up the tree’s lost possession, but she ignores me and goes on. We lack so much of charity in this world. Ah, there it is again.
The road is back to being dead and desolated. My heart pumps faster and here I am, overfilled with warmth and joy. I shall see my Love soon. This landscape is far from being as unique, as wonderful as hers, but it’s already closer than the sun and peacefulness. Delphalilah is my Love, you see. She is wonderful in every way, and the only one to understand me. The only one who’s ever understood me. Just being with her makes me so happy, it makes me feel so warm, so complete. I cannot wait to introduce you to my Love, Delphalilah.
The road is changing again. Now, when I look out my window, I see a guy on a motorbike. When he turns around, I see that in reality, he’s dead, and half his face is peeling off, with only the side possessing the remaining eye staring at me. His lips too, have been partly torn off, but I can tell that he is grinning at me. I wave and smile, and he does the same. He then accelerates and drives away, far ahead of us, on the road which is now as dark as charcoal, as dead as the man on the motorbike. As beautiful and deadly as Delphalilah.
How must I describe my one true Love? She is simply perfect, as perfect as nobody, yet as eternal as everything is ephemeral. Her skin as blue as the darkest oceans, with a heart tattoo on her left arm, her lips are as red as fresh blood, and her long hair is of the brightest and most vivid orange you’ve ever seen … trust me when I say that no one is like my Delphalilah. I like to bend over – because she’s always seated, she who is so tall – and kiss the black buttons she uses for eyes.
Yes. There is only one like her. I almost cried when I met her, of emotion because all my short life I had been waiting for someone exactly like her, for someone who would understand me like she. Never have I felt as complete as during my time seated at the red table with Delphalilah. There has only been one thing which has caused me stress and wonder at the Madhouse. It’s the glass bottle.
It’s black, with the painting of a skeleton head on it, one obviously meaning something that has to do with death. Never once has this bottle moved from its same exact spot in front of Delphalilah, right on the red table. I have always wondered about the origin of this bottle, but most of all, its effects. Did Delphalilah drink the bottle? Is that how she became what she is now, or was she always this eternal, this stoic, this blue? If I drank some of the bottle, would I be even closer to her, would I see things her way? I would be there, seated on the other chair at the table, the one which remains constantly empty when I’m not there. And if that were the case, me and Delphalilah would be eternal and together forever. The fear I had of losing her support, her in general, her perfection, was beyond limits. I knew that if I lost her, I would let myself go, and all insanity would lose sanity, with all colors fading to white. White, because black is just the start of another story.
We’ve arrived; the car comes to a halt. Now this you see…this is where Delphalilah is. This is all that matters. It’s a deserted ground, if not for one huge mansion. Tall, impressive, dark and sinister, with the windows reflecting red shades. A few unidentified skeletons on the floor, discarded here and there, and the only living things are the hordes of black cats, hissing and running in confusing circles. One of them, much bigger than the others, walks up to me with its smug, elegant demarche.
“Little Boy,” it purrs. To black cats, all boys under thirteen are little boys.
“Haidren?” I respond with a smile.
“Came you to see her Highness of the Red and Dead?” All the while it’s staring at me with its wide eyes, tinted yellow-green shades.
“As every other time.” Its eyes turn into slits, but following that he merely nods and walks away, inciting me to follow him, which I do, like every time. The door of the old manor creeks open before the cat, and finally shuts behind me once I enter. Red velvet in all angles and places, occasionally mixed with expensive-looking and quality wooden furniture. The inside of the House appeases me: eternal, red and beautiful. Like Delphalilah.
Finally, the cat vanishes after we’ve turned a few corridors. I know what this means and enter the first room before me, where my eyes finally lay upon her: Delphalilah.
“My Love,” I breathe with emotion. There she is, on a chair, stoic as always, with her blue skin and all the stitches covering it; and how wonderful she looks with her perfectly straight hair and her buttons for eyes. Her dress never changes: its swirls and circles of black and white covering her pointed, triangular breasts, almost as if she wants to hypnotize you. My heart skips a beat, and I run to hug her, though gently, of course.
“Delphie my Love, Delpha! How are you?”
Silence. She’s a shy one, you see.
“I’ve been thinking about you every day of my absence, as always.” She remains silent, and so I sit down on the other chair, facing her. I don’t know how long we stand there, gazing amorously into each other’s eyes. That is, until, once again, I notice the bottle. It is, as always, in the same spot, but there came the itch once more, the desire to open it and drink it. I know it will have some enormous impact if I do, but the curiosity is nagging me, stronger than ever, and with no desire to let go. I approach my face to the black glass’ surface.
( this is Deplhie’s bottle )
To drink or not to drink?
I look up at Delphalilah anxiously. Her soft gaze reassures me, and even though I am scared and anxious, the answer is already evident, deep inside of me. I know that this time, I will drink the bottle. Getting up, I timidly reach out to it, until my fingers brush and seize the cool surface. I sigh in relief. So far so good. Following that, I gaze at Delphie with fear, sadness, and regret. At that moment I know that I will never see her again, that nothing good will come out of the bottle, but that I am meant to drink it.
“Goodbye, my Love…” And I drink. Nothing happens for a while, and then…
“NO! NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO! I DON’T BELIEVE THIS, I DON’T BELIEVE YOU-”
( you’re insane and the WAR the WAR came and killed the cat, killed your mother, killed your brother, your sister, your father– )
“NO! SHUT UP! PLEASE! I DON’T BELIEVE YOU! WHAT YOU’RE SAYING MAKES NO SENSE!”
( Daddy was already dead, but the soldiers came in the house and they got Nadie, the soldiers came in the house and they got Timmy, then the soldiers got Mommy– )
“NO! SHUT UP! BE QUIET, PLEASE!” I cried to this inhuman voice, seizing at my head with both hands, lacerating my face.
( and they cut Mommy, they laughed at Mommy and they hurt Mommy a lot. And they had a spray can– )
“SHUT UP!” I didn’t know where I was anymore, but it was pitch black, yet somehow I managed to slam my head against a wall. “I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!”
( and that’s how Delphie was born, because when the soldiers were done they left, and you came out from the basement’s slightly open door )
I started crying and sobbing.
“No, please…” The tears are cascading down now.
( they later found you sleeping against Mommy’s blue corpse Hell only knows how long you had stayed there )
“And they brought you here, to a mental hospital, one in which you’ve been hiding from the truth inside your daydreams, inside the welcoming warmth of insanity. But this my boy, this –reality-, this is the real Madhouse.” I screeched until my lungs exploded, screamed covered in blood even, screamed and wailed, and then I truly saw Hell. I was locked in a white room, with demons coming to seize me, to bring me back with cruelty, to the Madhouse of Reality.
ANGELA HANNA GOULENE is a difficult to live with French, biracial intellectual with a love and adoration for children and cats, who hates pretty much everything else. She spends most of her time watching horror films and cartoons, as well as drawing, writing, singing, and just binge-watching anime. When she isn’t busy doing that, she loves to spend her budget on books that are thousands of pages long which she won’t have the time to read. The loves of her life are undoubtedly her Siamese cat Clea, storytelling, and traditional animation. She currently resides in Montreal where she spends most of her time writing or working on various show projects.
Copyright © 2018 by Angela Hanna Goulene. All rights reserved.