And Mr. Darcy said, ‘What did you say of me, that I did not deserve?’ I was sitting on the cold floor and I wept till my shivering hands couldn’t clutch the curtains I sat amidst. I wept for someone who had told me that. It was only him telling me I was still sane when I told him he deserved every last thing he feared. Because it was only an apology. Because I would mortify his pride and he would mortify mine but we would not amount to anything else.

When Rochester and Jane spoke of birds and unearthly beings, I was on the underground. I would be on that underground for a very long time. Men pushed past and there were no seats and my father refused to send me away to university. I wondered why Jane Eyre would not go to sea foam and brine while she could. I read some more.

I picked up The Reader in the bookshop beside the tattoo parlour and emptied the book in one drag. I had another sigil on my skin. There was ink dripping down my wrists, trickling down my sides. They looked at the puncture on my hand and said I had ruined myself. I laughed till the ink bled. There are much worse things to do. Such worse things.

And in my mother’s bedroom one afternoon, I read Borrasca. The curtains were drawn and I squinted into her phone. I didn’t know how to tell her I was more horrified by a story than by the cerebrospinal fluid collecting obscenely in her dying brain.

Maybe it is because I don’t play pretend as often. Maybe I should; I would have fewer visions of taking the bones of a happy girl in my hands, of saying to them, I wrote as much of the book as you did, Jane. Or maybe it is because I am always aware of what I am fleeing from. Our stories are become inextricably entwined.

Amogha Sridhar writes poetry and children’s stories and once wrote for The Times of India as a student correspondent. She currently holds an offer from the University of Exeter to study Literature. She can be found @NotAmortentia where she discusses character arcs at hours past midnight.

:: more from this issue ::

Three Poems

Francine Cunningham

Three Poems

Mahan Ellison

Bones and playing pretend

Amogha Sridhar

City Folk

Nonnie Augustine

Four Poems

Fisayo Adeyeye

Two Poems

Sunayana Bhargava

Desk Job

Makai Andrews

Two Poems

Wilderness Sarchild