Darkness, My Puppeteer

Nicole Jacobsen

If you close your eyes it’s dark anyway. Yes, but when a blink can’t tell the difference my sanity wobbles like jelly in a skull cup. I used to ask my mum for a number, the bigger the better, to help me fall asleep. The door would shut and the darkness would push heavy on my chest and mind and I’d count towards the number like I counted the ways a man could break into our space. Faces filled dark places like an etch-a-sketch; the flicking of a light the pulley that unstuck powdered features from the pile of clothes masquerading as a nightmare. The wind creaked movement throughout the stoic frame that held us sleeping. It prickled the fears that jolted me awake from an almost sleep to flash sirens and strain my neck and force my drowsy mind to puzzle demons from the pillow kaleidoscope that pressed in. Press down the latch; once, twice, again. Tucking us in with the engagement of a lock. Avoiding the clock when I woke at an unknown hour that could be for witching. I wish I could unsee the way my curtains trembled as if breath determined the direction. I looked down instead, hunting for feet or glitches, my body primed and ready for inaction. A growl, my dog most likely, but it sounded close, and I reached for fur and hesitated, afraid of finding leather or teeth or the giggling of something lurking. Something sensed by animals or else that mastered imitation as my pet slept on or cowered. The lamp cord pull was a choice as colossal as asking for a death date. To crave illumination of my own over-imagination or confirm the primordial creeping within kissing distance. A tongue extended, wetness burning across my cheek. Expecting the raking of claws or the Cheshire apparition of mouth Tetris. Or canine whimpers from somewhere behind me. Avoidance. I left open paths for outside light to stop limbo germinating creatures in my blackened room. But even then an eye, slitted and hungry, appeared in the windows I’d left weakened. Watching me twitch and inciting violence with a roar that pulled my organs down and swung my legs around. I’d have to leap. If I sat too long with my legs teasing the dead space under my mattress rats would swarm from beneath the springs to masticate my flesh and leave me picked-clean bones with which to manipulate my exit from dreamland like a macabre marionette.

Nicole Jacobsen is a Brisbane artist, writer, poet, and aspiring editor who regularly finds herself re-befuddled by the difference between who and whom. Her background in Psychology emerges through character studies, obsessive bouts of self-reflection, and recurrent themes of mental health in her work.




SaBelle Pobjoy-Sherriff is a third-year visual arts student minoring in film. Her art practice has an in-depth focus on ideas of narrative and mythology, and tends to border on the obscure. She utilises illustration and sculpture to create vibrant worlds and creatures. You can find more on her Instagram @SaBelleeee.