Charlotte Street Church

Sometimes I feel like a ghost wrapped in human skin, an empty shell, dead inside, faking my way through life. I see people walking, talking and I don’t feel one of them. It’s like I’m forever on the outside and I can’t even look in, everything and everyone obscured behind smoke and mirrors.

I’m not lonely though. To be lonely, you have to have known other people and in this world I seem to stumble through there aren’t any people, just shadows, echoes of lives I could have had if I had made a better choice here, acted then, said the right thing. If surrounded by the ghosts of if and when and like them I’m a ghost too, a walking corpse of life devoid of meaning.

I sound melodramatic and cliche, even to myself, and I hate it as if I didn’t have enough self-loathing. Every word from my lips feels like a venomous lie, a serpents tongue flickering on my cheek, mocking me with my own grating voice. I wish I was dead, but that’s all it’ll ever be, a wish. Like all the rest of my life, I failed. I couldn’t even end it.

I saw a man filling a bucket full of water today as I walked home. It meant nothing to me. I didn’t see a person, just an empty void with a face, filling up an empty blackness with all the things I can never understand. I felt like he was pouring me into that bucket, like I was drowning in myself, in the stormy sea of the alien thoughts in my head, struggling to stay afloat as he gazed back, confused at my observations. I can’t communicate with other people, I don’t know how and the simplest things, a glance, a smile, a sneer or growl have no meaning to me. I don’t see them, just a reflection of myself, the same empty blank space that’s always threatening to implode under the weight of the world but sadly never does.

As I think these thoughts they always take me down to Charlotte Street. The street is a short one, barely three houses to a side and in between two, tucked away as if afraid to show it’s face, lurks a church. It hides there between it’s more popular brothers, ashamed and broken, run down and grey and I feel a fleeting sense of kinship with it as it calls me here, but it passes all too quickly, like ice-cold water draining through a sponge. It’s been here a long time, the church, longer than I have been on this earth. Like me it’s unsure of it’s place, it doesn’t fit. It’s served it’s time under the tyranny of every faith, at one time a mosque, a synagogue, a church, the building shows it’s scars in every angle of it’s baroque architecture, a frankenstein of conflicting styles mashed together over years of remodelling unfinished and re-purposing incomplete.

Whenever my thoughts weigh heavy on my mind I walk away with no destination in mind, only the goal of escape in my head but all roads lead to Charlotte Street and I find myself with my stony brother, staring into his chained and rusty maw. Forlorn and alone he sags between two shiny sentinels, full of whining babies and happy family units I can’t begin to comprehend and he sings a silent song, like a siren drawing me in.

I’ve never entered. The church is abandoned, chained and signposted. Entry forbidden. Keep out. I’ve always been a stickler for the rules, they’re the only things that make sense in this world. Instead I find myself walking past or, if things are bad, pressed against the gates, my face against the cool iron rods of the gate, something soft escaping my throat like a woman in need. Something is waiting for me in there, some missing part of myself lost at birth. When the doctors cut me out they left something behind, or cut too deeply and whatever it was, somehow I know it found it’s way here, before I was born, before I ever knew this place existed. I need it, but the rules remain a wall I can not pass and so I wander, every day and every path I take leads me back.

Back to Charlotte Street Church.