Ayley

I’ve got so little time. I’m nineteen. Only yesterday, I was fifteen. That’s what it feels like. I open the window and the cold winter air pours into my bedroom.

I pick up the guitar and position my microphone and camera. I’ve only been out of bed five minutes but that’s the point. I catch sight of myself in the mirror. That’s one problem with having the place kitted out like a dance studio, it’s pretty much impossible to pretend that I look any different to how I do.

But that’s a good thing.

I’m coming to terms with myself.

I’m accepting myself for who I am.

I am.

I am.

This is the person I want to show the world. The person I have to show the world. I warm up my fingers by playing ‘Sugar Lips’. Its simple chords make it a good one to practise, a good one for a dimbo like me, who never learnt how to boil an egg let alone play an instrument.

Until now.

I know that people will say that I’m trying to be something I’m not. That I should be happy enough with my one lottery win.

I know they’ll say the gipsy girl is getting above her station.

They’ll say the bitch is too big for her boots.

They’ll say the fucking slut’s not grateful enough for striking it lucky once.

But I’m not looking to get lucky again. I want to achieve something on my own terms. I want to plan for it and work for it. I want it to be real in a way that I don’t feel anything I have now is real.

I press record and forget about my reflection.

My greasy hair.

My bad skin.

As I move my fingertips from fret to fret, I dive beneath the surface of all those things.

“I’m filled up with words left unsaid,” I sing. “Not to mention the feeling of dread.”

I’m aware of my voice cracking a little. It’s not the perfect performance but that’s what makes it perfect.

I let myself fall further into the music. The chord pattern is simple, but that’s okay, none of this is meant to be over-complicated. My own limitations fit with my intentions. We are what we are. That’s the message.

How to describe this feeling of putting my own song down in such a permanent form? I can feel my brain working on so many levels. I am so lost in the music, so absolutely deep in it, and yet I am like a clock, all my pieces moving in conjunction with each other. I am at once an unknowable black hole and a minutely detailed map.

When the song finishes, I realise my eyes are closed. I open them. My room comes back into focus. I stare into the camera for a moment, then I shut it off. Its red light stops blinking.

What will I do with the recording? Was this just a test run?

I don’t know what to do for the best. Why didn’t I stream the recording live?

Maybe it’s because I’m scared.

Maybe it’s because I’ve got a bigger plan.

Uploading this recording now would fuck it up.

That’s not an excuse.

It’s true.

It’s true.

Go back to chapter 1.

Chapter image by fotografierende.