Friday, 14 November 2008


Through an old mirror in the hall I saw a strange corridor.
It looked out upon strange vistas, cloistered chambers and amnesiac subways. I rubbed my eyes and was amazed to see the visions change each time I looked again.
Checking over my shoulder I looked around at the people shuffling by. It was midweek and I was in a grey museum. I was incredulous that they didn’t stop to wonder at the mirror, showing such strange and wonderful places; hidden spaces of the Earth.
‘No matter,’ I thought. ‘Let them walk on; passing by without thought or care for this miraculous mirror on the world.’
It never occurred to me, until much later, that perhaps when they looked, they just saw a mirror. Maybe it was stranger that none stopped to wonder why a man such as me should wish to stand there, peering deeply into the glass of a seven-foot mirror.
But even miraculous phenomena such as these grow tiresome to the short attention span of a man. I soon realised that each wonderful place I saw was empty; devoid of humanity. And then I came to realise that each of these, at first strange and wondrous, places were actually locations I had visited, even frequented, somewhere in my life.
Once they thronged with life and I, young and carefree, frolicked in them. They were my playgrounds and my courting haunts, my workplaces and my bed chambers; but not one single ghost was seen to reside there. Everything of living flesh had been removed from my mirrors and, as I realised this and span around, I felt the blood trickle from my face and I crashed to the floor in a feint, under cover of thick darkness.
When I came to and all the damn people stopped crowding around and let me breathe, I returned home and took to my bed for three days. I was lost inside dreams, some waking, some fever-cold, and haunted myself like this without water or food. And in all my dreams I walked inside the mirror’s scenes and tried desperately to revive the memories of the people who once had walked there with me.
And at the culmination of those three drenching days, tossing and clawing the bed sheets, I woke with my ears filled with awful tears.
“They’ve all gone,” I sobbed. “They’ve all left me.” And I cried there for hours more. You see, the people of my memories had all left me, so long ago, that they had even left my dreams. And that, friend, is the most punishing mirror of all, to make yourself stare into.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

The intake of breath

Woke up late, next morning, past 10am
When I discovered your soul
You'd left it on the side for me to read
I turned it over, looked for tears,
Any hint of your name
But you'd left yourself in pools down in the street

The scream of the crowd at the scene,
That's all I can remember, 'cept the beam
Of light that followed you down
You landed on a car, it broke your fall

Time passes slowly,
The intake of breath
That comes before the clock strikes 12
Crashing out across the skyline,
It summons your eyes
Booming through my mind and then we sleep

You screamed, like the crowd at the scene,
That's all I can remember, 'cept the beam
Of light that followed you down
You landed on a car, it broke your fall

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Lost in the Amazon

As she sat there with James, she was sheltering from the world. Though it was 30 degrees, she hugged her bag to her for warmth and protection and stared ahead.
The race they’d run, across town, just to get here. It had been unbelievable, reckless of him, to drag her in front of fast moving cars and trams. And then he’d gotten lost and they had to settle on the steps of the French Embassy, and she was wondering what the hell she was doing here, in this strange country, where she didn’t speak the language, with an idiot called James who couldn’t read a map.
It was then that the Amazonian strode past. In every way, Lorraine could never hope to compete with this huge woman, who strode past on eye-catching red slip-ons.
Lorraine’s eyes flowed up from the shoes, up the muscular legs of this giant woman, to the thigh-high point where her dress ended. At this point she was almost upon her and Lorraine could now sweep easily across the model-like features of this woman.
It made her sick to be cowering in front of this specimen; this woman who couldn’t even raise her face to look another person in the eyes. No, better to stare in front of her to ensure her step was as perfect as her physique.
Lorraine noticed James was looking intently as the woman strode away. She was ready to get very angry, until James said: “Bloody hell, was that a bloke in a dress or what?”
Lorraine’s shoulders lifted up to her neck and she beamed again. She put her arms around her boyfriend and kissed his cheek so that it smacked. He looked at her like she was a little bit mad and smirked.
“Okay then,” he said. “I think I know where I’m going now.”

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The place of the skull

Milandra and the two boys, faster than ever before, ran through the park.
The three children, their rough hair blowing in the wind, thought only of murder as they flew by the boating lake and the man selling ice cream from a cart.
It was on the far side of the great Memorial Park – the arts quarter, where children rarely played and adults liked to wander, holding hands – where the strange alien lifeform stood.
An angular amalgam of stone, its curved tops gave the impression of heads, of life, to the artwork. Its intermingled hard, straight lines, cut and climbed across each other like people playing or fighting. And all around the grey lifelessness of the sculpture were smiling green trees, plants and lush grass.
“There,” they pointed at an imaginable 3-D area where nothing now existed; a perfect cube of emptiness that the children could all see perfectly well. “That’s where Sonya found the skull.”
The story – as it had been recounted to them a hundred times that week in school –explained that Sonya’s dad had taken his daughter out for the day, but he’d brought his girlfriend with him. Sonya, bored and tired, had slipped away while the two of them were kissing near the fountain.
She watched a squirrel run by, stop under the sculpture, dig a little, look around and then shoot off for the cover of the trees. When she skipped over to see what the squirrel had found, she saw grey-yellow bone rising from the soil.
Quite fascinated, she apparently picked it up, brushed the dirt from it and brought it over to show her dad and his girlfriend. Her dad made her take it back to where she’d found it before he called the police. His girlfriend cried. That last bit made all the children at school laugh.
Milandra now led the two boys over to the edge of the monument. Much braver than them, she leaned her hand on the sloping ‘leg’ of the sculpture and strained to see where this skull might have been buried.
“Can you see anything?” asked one of the boys; a short, scrunched up, red-headed child of 10. “M-Maybe there’s more bones, and a f-f-full sk-skeleton down there?” asked the other, then sneezed into his hand and wiped it on the grass.
But Milandra took a step forward, knelt down and shook her head. “It’s all gone,” she said softly. “This isn’t a grave anymore.”
She looked up to see that the other two boys had joined her to kneel beneath the sculpture. So Milandra, realising she was in sole charge of proceedings, did the only thing she could think of doing. She made the sign of the cross, closed her eyes, and led the boys in solemn prayer at the graveside of the unknown skeleton.
She made them both stay there, until the prayer was done, but as soon as she said “Amen” she let them both run, far from the scene. Milandra, though, walked away slowly, looking back continually, just in case she saw something there.
She kept looking behind her until she reached the duck pond.

Monday, 10 November 2008

A routine

Falling into old patterns and routines is a common failing of man. Perhaps, I should amend that to ‘men’.
I mean, I’ve been coming to this beach at least once a week for the past year; and for what? I prefer to come alone, I scowl at the sea, I flinch when the birds fly by in case they drop shit on me. Maybe I come here so that I can get all my frustrations out without company to aim them at? Perhaps I’m good at preserving my relationships; with friends, wives and lovers equally, because I just haul out my pent up feelings once a week and throw them in the sea? Maybe we could all try that?
I came here last week to look at the newspaper and the letter I hid from Sylvie. That morning in bed I looked at her as she was rousing and when she opened her eyes she saw me looking directly into them and gently holding her soft face.
The poor thing screamed and shot out of bed; thought somebody was trying to kill her. I explained I was just thankful for what I’d got; such a beautiful and tranquil human being to share my life with. Then I told her I loved her. I can’t remember saying it before to her, though I’m sure I must have.
She dismissed it and said I must still be drunk from the night before. Then she said if I was after a bit then I wasn’t in luck as she had a busy day planned. Then she asked me if I wanted a bacon sandwich for breakfast and left the room before I could answer.
Of course, she knew what I was going to say in reply. I love bacon butties, plus a cup of English Breakfast, of course. I have it every day.
When I open the letter, I’m propped up against the timbers of the old pier. The tide’s right in, but it’s lapping softly and there’s only a light breeze. A gull is airing its wings right beside me and it looks like the damn thing’s trying to sneak a peek at my letter.
I pull the white piece of paper close to my chest so nobody can read it. I think about letting it go, down into the salt water below, but I don’t. It’s got my appointment on it, and I’ll never remember when and where I’ve got to go without it. Especially as I’m not telling Sylvie.
I need someone to drive me to and from the hospital though. I wonder, should I ask Anne? I ask the seagull his opinion and he almost shrugs then turns away.
I feel like wringing his damn neck and go to grab him, but he’s easily away from me and flapping. Very soon he’s soaring, off over the sea, and then all his worries will seem far, far behind him. Insignificant specs, to him, will we be.
He’s so high and still climbing.