By karlina Veras

We introduce our new regular South London young columnist. First with a short monologue on the comforts of cheap booze in self-exile –
now made into a video – plus an exclusive note on the cruelty of strangers and the painful anonymity of adulthood

Flashing lights, rain, cyclists, and then us. Us, with our heads down – Nothing else but us and the screen. We forget the world around us. Suddenly, we can simply be – who we want to be, even if that implies being someone else. 

Let me break it down for you, in case you haven’t noticed. There is NO privacy on social media. No boundaries. Anything can happen. Everything can be told. Everyone is watching, through the open space.

Should we be open space? An open book? An open door? Window even? He. She. Her. Him. Us. We. We are nothing but a flock of feathers in the wind. 

There’s no need to pretend to be something else. 

As we all move, in unison, I roll my eyes. I pretend nothing is something. My brain – fried. 

I sleep on the way to work, on the way home. Back in the day, I would have come across with a kind stranger. He, she, they, would see the state of me and would have offered something. Water, chewing gum (for the booze breath), a hairband, a broken glass. Oh, London and its strangers! On the streets. On the tube. Breathing empty air. Recycled air. All of you, all of us, holding on to the bars available for us to hold on to. As if our lives depend on it. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. Holding on to something makes me feel something at least. Letting go, not so much. 

If only we could rely on each other. If only we knew that, yes! We are not alone, even when we are. When we think we are. Alone. 

That’s how I feel without the private space that I think is my phone. 

Squeak, Squeak. The sound of the rails. They need WD40. Baby oil. Vaseline and a mug of hot chocolate. So do I; all of it. I need all of it. Yet, I desire nothing. 

I drag my feet to the escalator. I look up for a mere second and there you are,  looking down, staring at your phones. 

You and your damned phones! 

I reach for my pocket. Nothing. I dive into my Mary Poppins bag. Nothing. 

Suddenly I’m public like a flower in a vase. I wait, patiently, until withered. 

I shake. 

The posters on the wall smile at me. They know how I feel. 

Public, shallow-minded, a tiny piece of whatever is not fit for purpose anymore. 

That’s how I feel without the private space that I think is my phone. 

I take a deep breath of cold air and pretend all is gravy. Other times, I pretend all is shit. When, in reality, a la Donald J. Trump, it is what it is. 

And yet, I still pretend. I pretend I am a Mandalorian. With my helmet and my armour and my set of fancy guns and say in a deep voice: This is the way.

Indeed it is. The way we are—the way we are meant to live our lives. 

Public, shallow-minded, a tiny piece of whatever is not fit for purpose anymore. 

How are we supposedly given gifts if given any at all? Some of us get nothing. We have to take it, and then something becomes ours; if they become at all. But why are gifts called gifts? Presents? Christmas, birthdays, El Día de Reyes, all way before my twenties come to mind. Now I get nothing. Nothing from you. He. She. They. 

I take me out for a burger. Then dive my head in the toilet. Throw it all away. I make the toilet my date. A playdate. A game. The things we tell ourselves. All that we are. The shadow that decided one day that it was done. It didn’t want to keep working twenty-four seven, without a break. For me. With me. Neither did my phone. They both went down the rabbit hole. I, chasing after them. Him. Her.

Karlina Veras‘ first collection of short stories Yun Yun (pa’ la calor) can be purchased here