“I Am the Devil’s Phone Background” & “Babe I’m Ice Skating Towards You”
by Freya Robinson
I Am the Devil’s Phone Background
whenever I have a sensitive thought, my brain crunches up, like it’s biting into ice cream,
and wiping the bad feelings on my sleeve. they’re on me like the big prosthetics on a buffy
villain. turning me into undiluted squash, or a haunted doll; as cringe as landfill.
it’s very uncool to be this embarrassed, which makes it even more embarrassing. it’s like
your stomach flipping inside out at the tip of a rollercoaster and spilling convulsive green
vomit over you. it’s a pair of trousers I wouldn’t sit down in. it’s swathes of vast, disgusting
anger that could make me scream through the transaction of buying an entire desert.
In the aftermath, buried in the depths of the dusty library in my head, I find an
encyclopaedia of everything I've ever done wrong. I know what's about to happen. the
devil on my shoulder is lying like a used-car salesman, pointing me towards self-hatred as
it shines and stalls all over the forecourt. as soon as I touch it’s snowballing - an exploded
dirt factory seeping out into the night, ready for me to give myself some horrible
destruction: the plastic boulder chasing indiana jones, a nigerian prince with my bank
account details, a christmas day where the snow has been torn to shreds.
for now, though, I’ll slip into something more comfortable, which is being sad. looking
through the sadness like a stained glass window I’ll see that my writing is actually really
crispy. straight denim. and that pushing through this again feels like typing out an apology
on a keyboard where the vowels don’t work. a prison sentence with a recurring decimal.
the feeling tie-dyes all over me, and I notice a familiar safety. sadness has a reassuring
haircut and wears chunky glasses while it takes a chainsaw to your life, and you can’t help
but realise that a capri sun is just a bag of juice. a vampire is just a big flea.
Babe I’m Ice Skating Towards You
so I pray to god you catch me. on the sidelines we watch the pro spinning so fast the ice
sparkles on their dress, knowing that, meanwhile, we’re shucking away youth like corn
from the cob. babe I’m ice skating towards you & I need to order off the kids menu. this
house has become a very strong coat, and I don’t want to take it off.
I know you see me burning through the meaty part of life, bouncing around and never
hitting the target like a dvd screensaver. I prepare for things as simple as getting the bus
as if they’re a talent show: deciding to wear my best dark lipstick and corduroy slacks, sure
that I could sing a fiona apple song on cue - but when the spotlight comes up I cringe like a
vampire at dawn.
memories shiver through me like a horse’s neigh. like the whir of aol dial up. I’ll remember
this. well, my brain will do its own amateur dramatics rendition of what actually happened.
the idea’s already baked into my own assumptions, like toad-in-the-hole. and when you try
not to think about something it only grips tighter. wrestling something out of a dog’s mouth
it doesn’t know it shouldn’t eat.
and that’s the thing: I don’t know how to let go. what does it mean when you’ve killed a
friendship but can’t find anywhere to hide the body? running back and forth through a
January night’s snow, it haunts me.
tears come melting out and stick to my face like the drips of a birthday candle. if you play
with my hair I can block it all out. it’s now my frozen head at the end of The Shining. I’ll be
fine when I put on pyjamas that feel like a big sigh out. slicing through it all. gliding around.
when we ice skate together.
Freya Robinson is a UK-based writer with a love of history and pop-culture. Published in various magazines, including Nerve, The Rally and Luna Collective, as well as Flapjack Press’ anthology NeurodiVERSE, their work entwines fantasy with everyday life in order to explore themes of friendship, vulnerability and modern life as an autistic person. You can find them horsing around on Instagram @tigerlilyrob.
Alex Luciano is an illustrator, printmaker and art educator located in Richmond, VA. When she’s not teaching classes or geeking out over Riso, you can find her wrangling her hound pup, Cowboy. Come hang out on the internet with her — ig: @g_a_l_e_x.