Friday, 24 October 2008

The perfect place

I took her hand as we came to the perfect place.
We’d always just walked past or come to keep watch while others rolled there. This time she led me over the style and into the beautiful field. I held her face in my gaze so that I’d never forget it. Her face was tattooed with freckles, her lips anxious. Occasionally I could glimpse her ivory-white teeth, biting at her lips or finger.
She held my hand firmly but she led the way, she showed me where we were going, and as we waded like refugees amongst the long grasses I was burning inside.
That afternoon was filled with exclamations. I told her I loved her for the first and the twenty-first time. She left strange marks on my body that I did well to conceal.
We were hidden there, that day in the meadow, rolling and grasping, and crushing all the insects around us.
I like to imagine we’d stayed there, quite hidden, forever.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

The middle-class drifter

Here we go again,
The long haul into winter.
To find a Christmas destination?
That’s easy – just go… nowhere.

Flicking coins all afternoon
We don’t know what happened to morning.
The cobwebs, the drink, which first?
When late nights become early dawnings.

You know why we do this though, right?
Escape from it all, responsibility, life
Insurance, the fresh wounds commitment deals
And scars. But some things never scar.

I’m talking open wounds, baby,
The inescapable, that which cannot be
Forgotten, or left behind, and
No, I’m not married!

I’m not saying wounds are bad,
I just don’t need any more,
The ones I have help me look inside myself
And remember where I came from.

That’s why this year, for Christmas… I’m going home.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The end of the big sky

Sometimes when you look up at the sky, it’s too vast, too magnificent to comprehend.
Its swirling cloud formations and the refractions of the sun’s dying rays of light appear as entire galaxies, racing to the solar system’s end. Each night is like the end of time.
That’s how it felt the night I heard about Nandez’s passing. I hadn’t spoken to that man in eighteen years, but his words are burned onto me. I felt a strange crumbling void, somewhere in this world, to learn of his passing. I’d have gladly sacrificed the morning to know he was still around.
I stayed out, long after the early dark, that night. I just stood there, stock still, as the last creepers of light pulled their tangled arms down into the impregnable undergrowth. Gnats and midges bit hard, but I held firm, entranced by the darkness. I wanted to see if Nandez would come.
In my mind’s eye, I could see Hernandez: blue jeans and long hair. A strange stereotype of an older, mysterious man. He was good to me, but he told me strange things, horrible things. He said he knew when he was going to die, and he said that I’d know it too, when the time came.
For years, I thought that he was going to appear to me at the hour of his death; one last meeting between us two. It really scared me for a while. It’s scary to think I believed he could actually do it.
After a while I realised he wasn’t coming, and I felt something between relief and pain. It turned out that I did find out he was going to die, but that was because his friend called me to tell me a few hours before it happened. “He fell under a train,” said Simon. “He hasn’t got long.”
I’m not sure what Simon wanted from me. A message? An apology? After a long while, I just whispered, “Goodbye,” and put the phone down.
I was thinking about this, as I stood out in the field, in the fantastic enveloping darkness. Had I been wrong? Should I feel regretful?
As my eyes got used to the pitch blackness, I saw the slow wink of a hundred points of light poking through the veil, and soon the sky had returned. It was just different now.
And as the evening clouds moved on and the star fields blinked into glowing life, once more, I turned my back on the sky. As I walked slowly to the house, I decided that I’d done the right thing. I looked at my hands in the moonlight and they seemed good, they seemed right. I wasn’t regretful at all.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Gloomy Sunday

They’ve all gone home; finished early and left me here.
It’s a Sunday and I’ve been working overtime. “We have to get this all done and finished today,” I told Sylvie. “It can’t wait.”
Turns out I was panicking over nothing. We got the work done before 1pm, so the afternoon is mine to do with as I wish.
It’s been a few months now since I saw Anne. We both just let the contact slide, it was easy to do really. We were both pointing in opposite directions, but walking into the other, again and again; stuck fast and going nowhere. Once we worked out that all we had to do was turn around and walk the other way it seemed so easy to put distance between each other.
If I’m honest, now that the work’s done, I’d quite like to go home and spend some time with Sylvie. It’s more than that I feel I owe her some of my time: I want to give it. In the past I’ve felt shackled to her, dragged around, but now I want and desire her so often. I thought she was the lesser of two evils, but it seems she is shining in my eyes, now.
However, I just called her, there was no reply and she must have gone out. With no word from my Sylvie I’ll set out in the car to blow away the Sunday cobwebs with a promenade along the sands.
As I arrive at the beach, the weather closes in and I wait in the shelter of my vehicle. I eat the sandwiches Sylvie made me for lunch. I fantasise about one day buying a boat and living on it with Sylvie. I see Anne, dashing past with Millie, her dog, soaked through and loving it.
She gets into a black car just two spaces away from mine. I’m sure she won’t notice me, but even so I slip down in my seat as low as I can go. She’s already spoilt my lunch but she won’t spoil my day any more.
It must have been quite warm, slouched down there, because I doze off and when I awake – with a sore hip and a crick in my neck – the rain has stopped and I drag my sorry limbs out into the remainder of the autumn daylight. Anne’s gone.
I shake my head hard and take in a deep breath of the sea breeze. “The sun’s trying to poke its head through the clouds,” calls a man I may have seen walking here before. I wave politely and smile. It still might be a pleasant Sunday, I think to myself.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Brittle wires

“If it captures anything, it’s an essence of mankind; an inkling of a moment’s despair transfigured over hundreds of pages, infecting each and every character it comes in contact with like a plague rat.”
Deborah was half listening. She hadn’t heard what book he was talking about. She guessed a classic, Dickens or Dostoevsky perhaps. It could have been; he liked picking on them. She almost bothered to point out that it was fleas rather than the rats themselves which spread bubonic plague. Not worth the effort to do more than nod or mumble an agreement, though. Better still to look out the window and sigh low enough that he couldn’t hear her.
What strange things pass through those wires, she thought. The truncating junction of collections of cables, attaching themselves to unseen abodes: she stared hard at them, like she could understand them, like she could see the sparks and waves that flowed within their casing.
Patrick had been talking, all the while. His little sparks and waves had become all too lost in tiresome evaluation. He had become a bore, before he’d really grown that old.
She turned around and regarded him in his rigid brown pullover and smart trousers. He looked like he was about to go and lecture, but it was Saturday. Saturday, for God’s sake, Patrick. But Patrick didn’t remember Saturday.
He saw her looking at him and was pleased. So she had been paying attention. He liked the feel of eyes paying him attention, even if they regarded his clothes and not his face. Clothes maketh the man.
“I’m just going to make a phonecall.” He half whispered this, like he was already on the phone and didn’t want the person on the other end to hear. He pointed at the telephone he held in his left hand, as if she might be too stupid to know what it was. For some reason, he swapped it to his right hand to make the call.
She turned around, back to the window, so slowly, like the air in the room had thickened and started to set during the last ten seconds. She slumped her chin back onto her waiting palms, arms resting on elbows, elbows on window-sill.
Now she could hear exactly what those sparks and waves meant, exactly what they were transmitting via their metal tendrils. Downstairs, the washing machine was kicking in to its final earth-clattering spin cycle. She got up, because she knew it was almost over.