Comfortable Torture

NOTE: We have posted this for Wesley Boyd Copp. Entry submitted via email.

Comfortable Torture

By Wesley Boyd Copp

Our fond or fearful memories — that first kiss or a bump in the night — leave memory traces that we may conjure up in the remembrance of things past, complete with time, place and all the sensations of the experience. Neuroscientists call these traces memory engrams.  –Cathryn Delude, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory 
March 22, 2012

Alex with Emily, listens to the black river whisperings as ossified remnants of engram cut deep into his mind surging to the fore within the safety and solace of this kiss.  As these two embrace with only the harbour, the dark water, the lights of town projecting ghostly faces in the low-lying cloud cover Alex and Emily, who here and now have found each other once again entangled in themselves, kiss. Alex, eyes shut, lips sewn with Emily’s, recalls an uninvited memory which until this second, he’d swore wasn’t real, hoped wasn’t true.

 The turncoat memory, lost until this moment, shares in this new kiss with Emily, souring the taste of her lips he laps strangely comforted with the perplexity of it. The engram surges and burns, here and now, with the kiss they shared and had mutually forgotten. Within Alex, the young faces languish before finding one another’s; forging danger and will and newness in these two vacuous vessels. The two innocents find, in their youthful ignorance, something where there once was nothing. The ability to humour fire is born in experience though this is the flint taking flame too early. Vapidity of youth, tries all at once, consequence be damned. But here, on this dark night whiling in the bliss of friendly romance, the thought of that day so many years gone contains a toxic butterfly flying towards an oscillating fan.

Young Alex, fleeing after the kiss of his five-year-old self, confused at the rush of power and with it, a drunkenness, bolted out of the pinkness of Emily’s bedroom. He jumped and lurched. Quietly spoke ‘like the adults do’ with his waiting group of friends. They howled and laughed at the cold daytime air. The sun was bright as they chased plumes of winter breath. Before the thought could form words, could manifest, he wanted to yell it in their faces, the music he felt from that kiss; he couldn’t say, couldn’t think, he could only act, needed to act, needed to purge this feeling of he knew not what before the kiss encysted. The target of love’s first kiss, this cat, homeless or not no one knew or cared, sauntered into the mad tribe of juveniles. Its lonely aches for warmth, cries for food, made no impression on the children at play, one of which was insane with the newness of things. Alex aimed clearly at the vulnerable feline to exorcise his ignorance and breathe life into some strange burning within him.

 The cat trotted into the trap unknowingly set before it. The puddle of ice- they wanted to watch it skate, bubbled underneath. As the cat danced tragically upon the encasement of winter water the thought of it swimming caught Alex’s imagination, to which he, maniacally, stamped his boot down to separate the ice and unearth the frozen puddle. Surrounded, the cat fell in, helpless. They danced and watched the cat wail for its life. The unlucky feline waded toward the circling wall of wild eyed children. Weakly and timidly it cowered in the open sore of the puddle. Too feeble to abscond, the torture of the boots propelling the icy puddle water covered the damned, soaked cat. This rosy ring of contact love- drunk imps circled and fed off the surge of this power shared by Alex. They splashed wave after wave of winter chilled water from the puddle upon the shivering, trapped animal.

 These images: the cat, the circle, the sun, the cold all a split- second dream imagined in the hollow of this new second kiss. He can’t remember what became of the cat. He could remember only his own cruelty. This long-forgotten kiss, with the same lips he touched that murderous day, tastes damnably sweet. The correlation between the kisses, the torture and sweetness, coagulates in his mind and caustically renders him sedate and hypnotized. “What is that?” She ends the kiss with this question.

                “What?” He asks, confused.

                “That look, your eyes are cloudy. Was it that good?” She pressed.

                 He entertained the notion that the kiss had offered a doorway into his mind through which this soft soul could peek. She presses further, “I’ve known you my entire life, from that first kiss long before until our second. I know you; I knew you then. You’ve left again?”

                “You’re being dramatic.” He offers, not sure what to say, he looks away.

                “Yes, I’m dramatic. I’m not hearing answers. Now my curiosity is wild as you turn away.” She muses, tender laughs murmuring under her breath.

                He feels interrogated; he has nowhere to run or hide. “It’s nothing. We kissed. You didn’t like it?”

                Laughing, she spars, “I’ve had better.”

                “Have you?” They embrace playfully, sarcasm is their tonic of attraction. “I suggest another, since I didn’t get it right the first time. And I’m keeping my eyes shut.” He taunts smiling wryly.

                 “How romantic.” She muses.

                “We’ve known each other too long. You know I have no sense of humor. I rarely listen when you speak anyway.” Alex says with a glint of malicious delight in his right eye, like a flint freshly lit.

                She laughs graciously. Their words an act of willing, frivolous, cruelty enjoyed as code. These don’t hurt. They chain themselves at the elbows and walk away from the harbour, the icy water flowing black as the reflection of night. The corpse of some abandoned or orphaned cat, like an old wool rag, three legs, scarred and maligned, bloated and anemic, floats alongside the harbour quietly into memory.

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Author Notes

7 Comments for “Comfortable Torture”

Raymond Tobaygo


Good morning, Wesley

I have to agree with Dave. Excellent post. I belong to another site that has many published novelist and your writing is comparable with theirs. To me your style reminds me of Crichton and too a lesser degree Knootz. Well done.

Take care and stay safe,


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