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.
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.
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.
I’m stood on a beach facing the sea. My feet are surrounded by rocks and shingle, shells and seaweed. The beach is encased by steep chalky cliffs that crumble like old teeth. The sky is cloudy and coloured in fresh bruise hues of blue, grey and yellow.
I am alone here.
A storm approaches.
I become aware of the sea draining away in front of me. It pulls back into the distance like a sling shot. I feel no fear. Everything is peaceful. There is little noise other than the clumsy cry of a lone seagull who cannot fathom the unfolding events. I guess they aren’t it’s events to fathom.
The horizon bends. It twists and turns like the wringing out of wet clothes. A faint rumble in the distance, a faint shake in the shingle. It’s a wave.
I breathe. I hold my ground.
It approaches, towering above me, a wall of blue and grey, brown and black. This is it, this is where I face myself. I see the darker side of me, like a caged tiger, pacing up and down the boundary of our two worlds. It is evil itself, every fear and worry. It froths with insecurities and self doubt. It wants to finish me. I feel no fear.
I hold my ground.
As it hits, I step through into the other side. Liquid glass infuses the air and I hold my breath. There’s a click. I’m up on a cliff, in a hotel, stirring a cup of coffee and gazing out the window at a bay, contemplating my existence, self deprecating. I see a wave roll in, hitting a small speck of a person, hardly distinguishable against the stones.
There’s a click.
I’m driving my car, there are fields either side of an old A road. The radio breaks in music to report a tsunami hitting a place I’ve never heard of.
There’s a click.
I wake up and I breathe.
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.
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?
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.
Judy dangled her feet into the cool murky water. It was a hot day and his was her favourite thing to do after college. The trees wavered lazily in the breeze. The world felt peaceful and still.
“What’s wrong with you today?” Ben crept up and sat himself down next to her. He took his shoes and socks off. She noticed he had holes in both. “You weren’t yourself at all”.
Judy continued gazing into the water. She was mesmerized by the sun’s reflection on the surface, all that glitters is not gold. Her dark hair trailed down the side of her face. She was unkempt, but beautifully so.”Nothing, I’m ok really”. She looked him the eye “Sorry, I shouldn’t have said what I did”. She went back to looking down and he rested his hand on hers for a moment. “It’s ok, I just worry is all”.
She wiggled her ankles in gentle rhythm.Out of nowhere there was a splash and the ripples ticked her skin.
“A fish!” She gasped and pulled her toes out of the water to safety. Another splash, then another. hey had seen fish in the river before but they weren’t normally this active. Suddenly the cloudy water made way to an enormous gasping mouth that opened and closed with apparent impatience. They were dazzled by flashes of gold, blue and purple. A large, unblinking eye was set at the pair of them.
“Well” Ben said, shifting uncomfortably. “I’ve never seen a fish like that before”
They were transfixed on it’s mouth. It was opening and closing at an alarming rate. They became concerned that it was dying and were unsure if they should try to save it.
As it transpired, the fish was saving them.
Just like that, they were somewhere very different. They could hear hustle and bustle but they were still deeply engaged in the solemn stare into the darkness of the fishes mouth. Everything else had changed around them.
Ben tore away first. He looked around briefly, not fully registering what he was seeing. It wasn’t long before he looked back at Judy. She was very still, he found this creepy and disconcerting.
“Judy?” He touched her arm, then with no response he pulled her face towards him. Eventually her eyes snapped onto his. He felt a pulsating feeling for a short moment. Her eyes were glazed and her watched her mind come back into her before looking at out him.
“Where are we?” She murmured. She was almost to frightened to ask aloud
“I don’t know, he replied. But we’ll work it out, we’ll be alright”
Her hair was a beautiful mess of feisty curls. When she sang her face contorted as if she was making caricatures of various expressions and emotions. Her reactions were that of her riding a wave and rather than having ownership of her voice, her voice had ownership of her. It was a well controlled performance that still had the smell of the wild, that odour so invigorating to breathe in, it brings out a person’s inner claws and uncontainable urge to howl at passersby.
We all have our inner claws.