They live on the streets and they wait to die and they hope that they'll take someone, anyone, with them. The lines of lives that snag them twitch and slacken as one tiny thread is cut free, the entire web shifting imperceptibly as a thin blade trims the edges; frayed bits come loose and fall into the quiet places the dark corners where the reject snips of thread lie and wait for something to take them away. Dust and blood wait there too, but so does everything else, everywhere else. They lie in wait and sometimes a spark of static or some gummy bit of dirt draws one bit to another. The memory of fabric serves to stick the castoff shreds together into a ball of fuzz and dirt and faded colors that, through some freak of chance, have remained in the fibers that make up the threads that made up the web. They take after themselves, pulling others in and clumping, staring the whole thing over and showing their true colors.
It's no secret that stitches don't last there's only so long that you need to keep the wound sewed up, and you always need to remove the damn things before the healing is complete. Otherwise they get caught and the flesh tears again when you try to rip them away.
He sits at his table and smokes cigarettes one after the other, letting ash crumble against white and fall like something that was good, hot snow slowly warping the old wooden table that sits like something that should have died a while ago in the checkerboard sea of cracked tile. Black and white squares face off at his feet, faded to nearly-indistinguishable shades of gray; water stains, grubby boxes, patches of concrete and brown plaster break the pattern that sometimes swims and shifts, just at the edge of his vision. The symmetry that surrounds him is the symmetry of spider webs, of cracked plaster and thin, crooked lines that mark him and stretch out from his pale body to swallow the world.
If he really focused he doesn't, of course, but if he wanted to he could remember some bullshit poem he heard a while ago, when he was younger. Something about a tiger and fire in a forest and fearful symmetry. The poem hasn't stuck with him he isn't some artfag with a fancy English degree up the asshole but even still he remembers the meaning behind the damn thing. He remembers God or whatever trying to reduce the whole thing and failing at it, failing to capture the beauty of all those lines in the big fucking jungle, moving and not always visible.
Sitting at the table, smoking, he can feel the world pass by. He can feel the vibrations and the brush of twine and he can feel the needles prick at him where they try to sew him into the whole damn thing like some grungy patch of denim. What he would give to be free of it all.
But there are always fucking strings attached.
Some are more colorful than others, it's true, but they're still stitches sewing up wounds that he'd prefer to keep open; he'd let them fester and run with a white-hotness until nothing was left but bone and eggwhite pus if he could, but he can't and the needles always come, always poke and prod and keep him pulled together and suitable when he honestly couldn't give a flying fuck anymore. He doesn't need to stay in one piece; he doesn't want to patch up the scrapes and cuts that mark him day after day. He's just waiting for something not God, because if He exists he's a crazy motherfucker, so no thanks to come and take him away. He's been waiting ever since he left school, ever since something snagged at the fibers that made up him and told him, Luce Worth, the soon-to be doctor, that this won't work.
The studying won't work. The rules won't work. The hours won't work. He couldn't go on like that, wasting time with his nose in a book, a tie on his neck, and his thumb up his ass not when something, some demented spider or seamstress, was slowly spinning a cocoon of regulations and rules, goddamn rules, around him. Especially not when he could be out there doing something else, something better, pressing the clean sharp edge of a scalpel to his goosepimpled skin and pressing, pressing down, marking himself with symmetrical lines of red with a fag between his lips and his middle finger in the air.
He's been cutting himself free, letting himself fall apart, for years now. They still don't get it, at least the ones still sticking around. Maybe it's because they're just like him bits of leftover thread cut away and left for the trash and the streets to pick up, not useful for sweaters or doilies or whatever it is that people want. The pattern always shifted, the last time he thought of it, and he just doesn't care enough to check up on it anymore. He's fine where he is, with dust bunnies and scalpels for company. He's like a goddamn tiger he just gets by on what he can catch and screws the rest. Nobody bothers him.
The smoke burns at his mouth, his lips, the dry, torpid air as he exhales, lifts the burning stick to his face; a dull ache comes from the inside of his arms, the bloody latticework hidden under grimy bandages, and squirms up to his shoulders, his neck, his throbbing head. He grinds the burned-out fag into the tabletop and pulls another from the batter package, hearing the snick of the lighter and watching the smoke curl up like tiny strings into the air. A ball of lint lies in the crook of his arm as he puffs, a resting group of grey and brown speckled with red, yellow, green, blue, black.
There's no escaping it.