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First Person

Land Safely

Audio: Read by Emily Simmons.
Illustration of a person with three eyes and rosey cheeks, short blonde hair down to their ears, pink skin, large shoulders and body taking up most of the image. They wear a yellow sleeveless dress with orange flowers, and a pink necklace. In the centre of their chest, there is a circle - inside it a drawing of a boat in the water, with flames rising around it, and a red sky. It almosts looks like it is inside the person. Their hands hold underneath it. The background is a light blue shade.
Illustration by Alice Bigsby-Bye.

You took the skin of me, turned the sins in me to the surface and used my inner demons as visual torments. A bombardment of auditory delusions, grinding down my sanity.

You took the bones of me and rattled them together like a death chatter from some sort of nightmare nymph – chest-sitting and paralysing. The whole world was dramatising the apocalypse to me. The synapses slipped free and the serotonin levels became Terror’s own win against me.

Low, the levels became low.

And low and base became my voice, the choice to be awake no longer a choice but a necessity as sleep became too horrific.

I would cross the Pacific in a rickety raft in order to craft a new body from something stronger than clay; a new brain from the granite so it would not crumble, like limestone, in a rain of acid torment.

Self-inflicted and sleep-deprived, depraved. You tricked me into creating a brain not of rock: ingenious, noble, metamorphic. But of sandstone and limestone and seaweed – greasy and saline. Looking into the mirror upon a whetted face, with wet eyes from tears that a whole ocean wouldn’t take back for fear of lunacy.

You took the hair of me and set it alight so that my brain burned dry. The stench drenched me in smoke and I choke to remember how I treated my loved ones, the ones I pushed back against.

The faintest memories of how I was back then make me want to be sick.


You – for really, I mean ‘I.’

I was my own madness.

You took the heart of me and ate it whole.

The sadness in waking and realising I knew nothing of the monster within my skin.

Hell to others was a lover to me. The tree of my brain wilting, but in its rot I found a sort of bloom blossoming. The cottoning of my mouth, weaving bandages around my eyes so I won’t have to see the past – the healed the sealed. Dealt a hand of unlucky tarots, the furrows of a brow growing frosted: cold, and set in a frown.

You – me – I took away the sunshine, left storms wide in my wake. Wilder than the highest natural wave in human history– more like the kind of prehistoric Pangea tides that used to sweep away whole swathes of coastline before the Earth had biological life on it.

My granite is not infinite. The limestone caulked my mouth. I talked of chalking my palms to swing the rungs of some kind of gymnasium pandemonium. I imagined swinging around my mind. I would have walked the gaps between the synapses –

Walking weightless as


You took the skin of me

You took the bones of me

You took the hair the lips the lungs

The mouth

And the hands to trapeze the rungs


I am yet to land safely.


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About Author

Ciara Gaughan (she/her) is a 23-year-old writer who comes from London, who is currently finishing her English Literature with Creative Writing Degree at UEA. She enjoys writing from experience and generally stays within the bounds of reality.