Now or Never

They heard the splash and turned from each other to see only ripples racing away from where it had fallen. It sunk underneath the surface; a promise to be made. They looked at each other. It was now or never.

Slipping through his clumsy, clasping fingers, he kept snatching at loose air in panic. The pace of time may slow, but so do we.

Desperately reaching into his damp pocket, moist from their walk in the rain, his stubby fingers delicately traced the elegant curve as she spoke words he would never forget. He took a deep breath.

She had been upset when he arrived and was unsure why they were walking at all. The weather was terrible and she wondered how any good could come from it. He held her close as if to protect her, but as far as she knew, he could never keep her dry.

He had tried to explain as she opened the door. She was so beautiful. Her hair was freshly washed and smelt of vanilla shampoo. It was all too much. Nerves had got the better of him so he suggested a stroll along the river. She reluctantly agreed. It was now or never.

She hated it when they fought over something much smaller than them and had spent almost ten minutes in contemplation of leaving him. She floated in the bath staring at the ceiling. He tried so hard, but she was unsure if they could ever be happy.

He put the phone down and looked at the ring. He thought of all he’d gone without this month to pay for it. She was worth it all. He took a deep breath and grinned in the mirror. Bashful, humble. It was now or never.

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Curves

Her hands slid soft and determined down the flowing curves of silken clay, shaping the sensuous contours with thick yet sensitive fingers. Her nails were short and practical but glistened with the mottled glue of old acrylics, the remains of what was once a glorious and securing signature of femininity.

The studio was her favourite space. Wooden floors and walls.  Bare and humble. Shelves holding an array of books and magazines for inspiration for herself and for her work. Unintentionally messy. Some would say ‘lived in’, just like her. We all live in our bodies.

The undefined lump of earthy substance was slowly taking form. There was something familiar in the circular body with four arms and four legs equally placed around the circumference. A face peered out either side of the large head, different perspectives from the same origin. A time when two were one.

Plato’s children of the moon.

She was thirsty. Her tongue felt thick with film, her mouth was moist but dry. The residue of cherry coloured lipstick had collected in the corners of her paper thin lips framed with occasional whiskers. She brushed the nylon blonde hair away from her face and scratched her head, came away from the wheel and searched for the glass of Kentucky which was lightened in tone by melted ice. She drank greedily, apple bobbing up and down. She’d been at it for too long again. When would she be satisfied with this physical nature? When would she feel she matched herself?

Her mind span in parallel motion to her wheel. Stop, start, stop start. In just a few days, she had her next appointment. Her stomach churned at the thought of incisions and stitches, all the drugs and the year long process she was going through just to be herself. How she felt inside. The ‘she’ that had sought realisation and acknowledgement for most of her life. She crafted and she was crafted in turn.

Would her final form be as illusive as her last creation? As her last love that slipped away into the choking cloud of ignorance she’d known for most of her life? She closed her eyes, flashed back to the harsh words “Don’t touch me”. Again she reached out to be pushed away “You’re wrong!”, “I can never love you”. She swallowed and glanced in the mirror. The subtle trace of mascara was running down her cheek and she wished desperately to find peace with herself. The wheel turned and she quietly and thoughtfully continued with her work.

Dream #2 Looking for a home

We were looking for a home, you and me. When I met you, you were the only man I could see. We’d been in the throws of heady romance for some time and we were looking for a home.

I wondered what our home would be like it. Would it be old? Would it be new? I contemplated if I had a preference. I did not. If it were old, I’d make it new. If it were knew, I’d make it ours.

The world was quiet and beautiful. Still. Not a soul in sight. I didn’t miss the people. I didn’t need people, well only one. It had started to rain. We had nowhere to shelter. We were looking for a home.

We crept around the edges of the silent streets quietly like cats, treading softly around paper, sniffing the air and whispering observations with accompanying hand gestures. You saw a house. An old white house with splintered panels, overgrown with dead hedges with broken windows that looked like they had framed hundreds of faces in their time. Inquisitively looking at the world. How little they knew of how it would change. How I long for their ignorance. All locked up, you gently felt around for a route in and eventually lifted some rotten wood to reveal our secret entrance.

We crawled through and tiptoed into an entrance hall, all white, peeling paint and wooden floors. Light coloured squares sat at awkward angles where pictures had once hung. Some pictures still held their space, obviously not important enough to take when the moment came. Landscapes and a portrait of a beautiful woman with cold eyes that held yours for a moment as you passed. I wondered where her heart had gone. A vase of rotting flowers that had once blossomed and filled the space with the soft fragrance of the living sat on a shelf that mysteriously still hung without brackets, dead heads still hung from shrivelled stems. A rug of curly brown leaves surrounded the base. This was what you’d said you wanted. It was dirty and unloved but we had love to spare. I was overflowing with it. We could make it new again. Had we found our home?

We padded softly into the kitchen. Cupboards still hung, some had fallen. Some hung by a screw, the contents piled up in the lowest corner. Plates and cups sat still and lifeless on a round, wooden table. A fork once dropped on the floor, floated in a sea of dirt. Dust and dead leaves covered everywhere. It was like Pompeii, like a morgue. Someone had left it in a hurry long ago as time had stopped at the point of something terrible. The feeling hung in the air, petrifying all who inhaled it, turning them to stony monoliths of ancient fears and sadnesses.

Into the next room, a long room full of windows that looked out over the large lake. It was impossible to see the other side, even on a clear day. The water lapped sluggishly at the mud like the sullen slap of an old tongue against dry, chapped lips. This room also had the wooden floors and white walls, only this time the word ‘Reverie’ was written on the wall in large, light blue, italic letters, pastel coloured ribbons hung in rows, painted as a backdrop. The design made me think of children. Had children once lived here? Could they? I felt the vivacious pull of lust and maternity deep inside my eager belly.

I wanted to take to cleaning and making new. I started picking up crockery and making a pile by the sink. My heart sprung at the potential of what we could have, everything we could create for each therr. As quick as that however, it sunk to the bottom of the deep, dark sea as I stole a glance your way and saw you sat still. You were staring solemnly at the fingerprints on cups and broken photo frames, remembering what had been and almost certainly what wasn’t any more. Feet hung in the lake, the cold ripples tickling the hairs on your ankle, heartache was nipping at your toes and they twitched in defiance. This was the seventh place we’d found and once again your past was enough to defy us settling. Our future was still waiting in the wings to humbly shuffle onto your stage all singing and dancing, if only you could let it. I defied my sadness and looked at you with quiet eyes that said ‘we can take more time’. It was the only choice I had the only way to survive and the only way to keep your ever wavering love.

We slid out the narrow gap in the wood, back onto the road. Jumpers pulled over our heads to protect from the rain. You kissed my cheek with the softness of appreciating my patience. We continued our search and I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d ever find our home.

The journey

The day was dismal. The rain was more like vapour that swirled around the open air like the atmosphere of another planet, soaking all it came into contact with. Umbrellas were quite useless. Her mood matched her surroundings, the journey home was always a depressing one. Leaving the market town of her campus which held her passions and future prospects, to take a train home, where the beautiful bubbles of dreams are popped one by one by the desperate bony finger of city life.

The train journey into the city takes the traveller over a bridge. The bridge crosses a rather dirty part of the sea, that only separates the nondescript land masses by a rather grim channel, full of stolen bikes and shopping trolleys that reach up through the low tides like the grubby hands of the low society asking for more. They, herself included, formed a good 70% of the city.

She still had a way to go though and was speeding through the low lying fields, plush and green and subject to surface flooding after heavy rain. Farm buildings and occasional clusters of houses sped past. She had a book open on her lap but stared through the window in deep contemplation and daydream. The book was always her prop. She’d try to read but was often distracted by the world outside the claustrophobic carriages.

How beautiful the old market town was. It bustled with healthy, wealthy people pottering round the pretty home interior and clothing shops along with different cafés and restaurants. There were street buskers playing ditties and priests stood in the centre handing out sandwiches and divine guidance. It was just so ‘nice’. She has been attending University only a short time but already felt changed. Spending time studying what she loved, rather than working dead end jobs had made her truly happy. She told herself to make the most of it and promised herself she’d be a success.

But that was the last she’d see of it until Monday now. She was going home. Home where foxes scream as they mate in the night. Home where you rarely looked anyone in the eye either through respect or through fear.

The City had come a long way since she was young, when it was full of poverty and violence. However, there was still a lot to be desired. The dirty terraces house more people per square metre than most places. Rubbish sits in the street and people sit on corners waiting for drugs. Being a city, it wasn’t all like this, but this was where she lived and she wanted out. There was little happiness here, all nerves and struggle.

So she looked out of the window of the train and as the elation of the day was sucked out of her by the coming disappointment of setting, she cushioned the blow by dreaming she was somewhere else. Somewhere more quiet and more beautiful. She’d found a house there off the back of her first book being published and a contract for more. It had a study full of books and plants, with a big window and a view of the harbour across the road. Out the back was an enclosed garden, floor covered in stones with a circular mosaic pattern in the middle, walls covered with winding green leaves, clematis, passionflower and honeysuckle. A small metal table and chairs surrounded with lazily arranged pots of lavender, iris and dahlia in blues and purples and burgundies. Bee’s buzzed around dimwitted, butterflies basked on the vivacious plants. Inside there would be wooden floors with rugs and an open fire and blankets on old cushioned chairs for the cold winter nights and room for friends to stay, where they’d enjoy wine around the table, play cards and giggle mischievously at old memories until the early hours. She’d keep the large cupboard well stocked with food, nibbles and drink, as she loved to cook in her sunny kitchen but occasionally when she had to pop down the shop, she’d say hello and smile to the people she passed along the harbour and they’d wave and smile back. She could walk into the local pub and find someone pleasant to converse with over a gin. They would discuss goings on in the village and extend invites to each other for dinner that they’d never quite get round to. Her hard work paid off and she eventually became a successful writer and married and after many summers sitting together in the garden, watching bats at dusk and counting the stars at night, she fell pregnant to the first of her 3 boys. Suns rose and set in fiery oranges, reds and golds, Christmases, Birthdays came and time went with clouds of tinsel, candles and good cheer. Eventually she sat in the garden and the sun set for the final time over her weary but very happy and contended face. What a glorious ride life was.

The train was pulling into the station, she gathered her books and stepped over onto the concrete platform surrounded by large concrete buildings. She scoured the sea of faces for a smile and saw there was none. Carriers bags blew around her feet and sirens wailed on the road. She lowered her had and began the walk home.

Fallout

Children of the fallout, we were a product of our own indulgence and inevitably, our own destruction. To find another floating in the abyss of daily life was rare. The immediate and natural reaction was to throw out a line, tether ourselves to one another and drift through the ether together. We shared an understanding and patience that ran so deep, no one on the surface knew of it, only us. Our love was Plato’s origin. We were two halves of the whole and we were doomed.

Lady in the wheelchair

On the way to the station, I became stuck behind an elderly lady in a wheelchair that took up a reasonable amount of the old, narrow pavement. She trickled along in front of me and wore a thick red coat and a lavender beret style hat. My mind was impatient, but I reasoned with myself that she couldn’t help it and dawdled sombrely behind her, the way relatives follow a funeral possession. As we passed a clothing shop she quickly veered off to the left to gaze into the white framed window at a rather extravagant full length dress, made from a silky black and white material covered in big red flowers. A smile eased it’s way onto her soft and ancient face, one of those shy and natural smiles that creep on when we read a message from someone we love. I like to think she was fondly remembering days when she wore such dresses and danced the night away without care as to how she and the world would change over time.

Woman in the bathroom

I arrived at the station with time to spare before my train. As I entered the toilet to grab some tissue for my runny nose, I scooted around a lady stood, brushing her blonde bed hair in front of the streaky mirror. She wore a smart black jacket matched with smart trousers and it was quite apparent that she’d had to leave for her job in a rush. Unprepared and vulnerable, she wore an embarrassed expression as a result of my clumsy entry. Poor thing just wanted to be caught up in her normal routine where she could feel normal, safely herself in her surroundings. I met her eye with a reassuring smile and whilst pulling the tissue hurriedly from the holder I wondered what her morning had been like. Perhaps her alarm hadn’t gone off, or after a stressful day she’d allowed herself and extra glass of wine before bed and slept through the snooze button. Maybe she’d woken to find her cat had been sick on the new beige carpet during the night, or the shower she’d been meaning to get fixed the last couple of weeks had been playing up again.

All in all it wasn’t a good start to her day. So I closed my eyes briefly and secretly wished something wonderful would happen to her, like she’d find a tenner on the floor, or bump into an old friend and arrange a drink after work, where’d they reminisce childhood crushes and adventures, wistfully wonder where the time had gone and make heartfelt and determined promises that they’d escape the clutches of the adult routine and start truly living again, starting with a cultural but fun wine tasting holiday in Tuscany.

Walls

Ah, the walls she built to shut herself off from our dangerous world, to keep her demons at bay.

Nonetheless a veritable Romeo, he effortlessly scaled her high reaches without a care for risk or the fate that awaited him there.

She lived by the metal river, in a box that was blessed with a beautiful view. It had been years since a man had found the tunnel to her heart. Subterrainean and subjective, an army couldn’t find the entrance unless she bared it.

He was honest and unusual. He held the key to her deepest caverns in his mouth and he was quite capable of traversing it’s tunnels unharmed. It was him she had to look out for. Him, she had to watch from sentry post with eagle eyes and baited breath. He had the power to conquer her, hold her tower up or tear it down. If those bricks crumbled, her reality would come crashing to earth engulfed in smoke and fire and she’d be no more.

So, does she take the risk for this beautiful man with a humble complexion? For a man of devout erection who made love to her and held her as she slept, shielding her from nightmares whilst she dreamt of him instead. A man who let conversation flow to and fro, like a ship in gentle waters. Or was it the calm before the storm?

She’d been fooled before, but found herself full, with implicit trust. Where does she go from here…and should she take him with her?

Mosaic

We are in the dying days of summer and the weather is ever changing.

Even darkened plumes of tall column like cloud structures, intense and foreboding can almost instantly dissipate and make way to a scorching sun, that burns me with ecstatic energy.

You are my weather machine.

Engulfing me with a light I thought was out of reach, blinding me to a darkness that has held me in its bleak clutches for what seems like an eternity. Sadness has no concept of time. How long I have stumbled in the dim light of day I do not know, holding onto the notion that nothing is forever.

Nothing is forever.

Hard times will fall away like sand through grasping hands, hardened with guilt at the vulnerability we were unable to change fate and save those we love. Much like every beautiful moment is precious and fleeting, to be celebrated and missed on passing, everything will flow it’s course and drip away. All these the colours of life’s great mosaic, a portrait of each person made up of every second we take, every moment we make with ourselves and others.

Others are the most valuable.

I cannot find peace with what’s been, but I can learn to accept its pain. A branding on my heart that will ache from day to day. I can learn to lift my face up, opened eyed and mouthed to clouds and rain. As if I don’t, it could subside but I’d never feel sun again…and what a shame to feel just nothing out of fear of feeling pain, so I embrace all that tethers us together and all that makes us the same, whilst I wait with baited breath to bask again in suns warm rays.