I scream
Anya Hindmarch.

Sun was a piss-yellow lemon, world a gris soup,
but me? I was a goddamn comet, tail blazing.
Woke up with a rhythm poundin’ in my skull,
like a drunk piano player tryin’ to tune a chainsaw.
Got out of bed, stiff as a rusty gate,
and started to move. Not dance, more like a desperate plea
to somethin’ out there, maybe a pissed-off gopher.

Universe, you big, indifferent zero, watch this:
I’m a broken record scratchin’ out a tune to nowhere.
I’m flailin’ and stompin’ and singin’ off-key,
a one-man band at a deaf school.
Yeah, I’m a joke, a stain, a cosmic accident,
but I’m still here, still movin’.
So laugh, you cold, empty bastard, laugh.
But watch me dance.

Streetlights flickered, casting long shadows that danced on the worn cafe floor. Smoke curled from Pilgrim’s cigarette, a foreign aroma in the cool evening air. He had no satchel, just a presence that seemed to hold a thousand journeys.

“Japan,” he murmured, his voice a low rumble with a hint of accent. His eyes, deep and dark, held stories whispered in ancient temples and shouted over the roar of bullet trains.

I leaned closer, captivated. The cafe faded away, replaced by vibrant visions. Cherry blossoms unfurled, painting the world a delicate pink. I stood reverent before majestic shrines, the weight of history pressing down. The rush of a bullet train blurred the landscape, a symphony of speed and steel.

His voice spoke of haikus, capturing fleeting moments with a poet’s touch. I tasted rain-washed streets and the quiet hum of a life lived in harmony with nature. Time warped and stretched, the city a distant hum outside our shared world.

When I finally emerged, blinking into the city lights, it felt different. Neon signs held a new mystery, a reflection of the Tokyo moon he’d described. There were no goodbyes, just a lingering smile and a warmth in my chest. The embers of wanderlust fanned into a blaze.

The weight of Mondey pressed heavy. A suffocating hum in the air, mirroring the dull ache in my chest. Even the relentless Chiang Mai sun seemed dulled, a pale reflection of the vibrant life it once promised. Nim, ever the optimist, their smile a beacon in the gloom, suggested something new. “Wood Ball,” they chirped, their voice laced with an unwelcome cheer.

Wood Ball. The name itself held a dubious charm, a folksy naivety that grated against my mood. Yet, with a sigh that mirrored the city’s smog, I found myself following Nim, the worn wooden ball heavy in my hand. The rules were simple, the game childish. But beneath the surface, a primal urge flickered. The smack of wood on wood, the satisfying thud as the ball found its mark, a silent rebellion against the crushing weight of the day.

With each throw, a sliver of tension loosened. The rhythmic thud became a mantra, pushing back the oppressive silence within. Nim, a whirlwind of playful jabs, became the antagonist, the target of my frustrations. The game, a brutal ballet of pent-up emotions disguised as merriment.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, painting the sky in hues of bruised purple and fiery orange, a strange sense of catharsis washed over me. The ache in my chest remained, but it was dulled, a distant echo. The wooden ball, once a symbol of banality, now lay discarded, a silent testament to a victory hard-won. Wood Ball. A stupid name for a brutal game, a perfect metaphor for the day, and perhaps, a sliver of hope for the battles yet to come.