Words by Nicole (she/her) 29 QLD 

It starts with a lonely thought. Too short. Swipe. Too Basic. Swipe. Not my type. Swipe. A guilty game. Look in the mirror. Objectification of them. Objectification of me. Put down the phone. No match. Go outside. Too hot. Too many people around. Too much for today.

Bored. Go to the gym? Chase that idea away. But… maybe today is a new start? Tie up my laces. Pop in AirPods. Drown out the noise. Look in the mirror. Remember, Gym Bros move in packs. Look in the mirror. No gym today.

Open Instagram. GRWMs, Pilates, clothes, sunsets, Paris, friends, fun, travel, makeup, fashion, hair, opulence, smiles, luxury, false, liars, fake, resent, jealous, loath. Bleh. Open TikTok. Trending, fashion, poetry, lip-sync, Lana Del Ray, manifestation, tarot, thinspiration, the next thing, the next thing, fast, vicious, vapour, smoke, sucked in. Absorb it all through my skin. Drag me down the rabbit hole and call me Alice. Shut my eyes and still see it all through the dark.

Alarm goes off, peek through an eyelid and reach for snooze. Hit it again, and again, and once more. Roll over, sit up, shower, coffee, slippers, plug in. Where home is work and work is home. Epidemic. Switch into faces through screens and running words filtered through a toneless void. Change this, move that, love that, delete this, move, click here and click there, backspace. Repeat. Create and then destroy between the spaces and faces of technology. Contact of circuits and wires and invisible information transporting through man-made objects. Sucking on inspiration. I’ll do it all again tomorrow.

Clothes in a pile on the floor next to abandoned sketch books and potential. Defining silence. Sunglasses to cover up the makeup I don’t wear. Eyebrows lay bare. Should have filled them in. Dark circles under my eyes. Cruise the streets. Turn up the radio. Sing along. Fuel the fatigue with addiction. Memorise my order. Say it to myself. Roll down the window. Speak through a box. What was that? The box asks. Mumble. Grande Iced Latte on the original blend. Bite the insides of my cheeks. Move up in the line. Watch the transferal of caffeine. From one hand to another. Creep forward. Flinch. The Barista asks how my day has been. Smile tight. Fine. Small talk speaks through me with an aching heart. Fingers meet, a false and fleeting relationship blooms and dies. Coffee from the angel in the window to the fiend in the car. Secured. Breathe. Drive away.

Visit my childhood park. See the phantom bikes riding circles around the thing I really crave. Dreams of sleeping in the grass and swinging until my feet hit the sky. Launch my body without hesitation. I fly. Cut it off with a jarring buzz. Jump out of my skin. Pull the culprit from my pocket. A phone that notifies, bings, alerts but seldom rings. It’s an imposter. Throw it in the creek and walk away. Follow the path where scraped knees, unbridled laughter and tangible connection lives.


Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio

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