Absence

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The solitary magpie visits started on the day he got the call. He couldn’t help but  wonder whether his sorrow should have been kindled by loss or guilt.

Each time the tremulous tinted visions descended, it wasn’t concern that the world had changed beyond recognition that burnt a hole in his chest, but rather the stifling fear that this rural pocket of England had been somehow trapped in an earlier decade, unwilling and unable to yield, a relic steeped in pain. The newsreel span through a progression of intricate movements, but for this picturesque hamlet, all outside influence was seemingly repelled by the protection of the weather-beaten sign that she had painted. The petrol station nearby still manned by a local family who used to organise summer cricket matches on the well-manicured green and still do.

Memories and fevers had kept him from going back there for so long. Even in the throes of her illness when her voice became unfamiliar, he couldn’t bring himself to swallow the fear and take her hand. The burden of the past just felt too great, and so instead he hugged his knees in solitude some hundred miles away, wishing that the only thing that had changed, could have stayed the same. That she could have kept her mind.

The lillies started arriving soon after. Little bottle-green Honda’s saturated with the stench of stargazing sympathy.

Everything served as a reminder that he was the last of his line.

The third dimension

I’ve been trying to extend my dabbling novice creative skills into something more substantial. It has taken me a great deal of time (many years in fact) to realise that artistically speaking, I am almost always working in only two dimensions. I can paint a picture, describe a scene, show a snapshot, play a scale, but when it comes to telling a story all I seem to do is string together snippets that don’t necessarily seem to fit. I’ll provide a rich scene and then tack a twist on the end, and tell myself that’s basically a story. In short, I have hitherto lacked the foresight to bring the third dimension of time into my efforts. I believe that this, at least in part, stems from my misplaced core belief that art comes from somewhere guttural and insentient, that does not need to obey the normal laws of planning and contextual consideration. As I mentioned before I am challenging that belief and trying to push past the ideal of creative purity and dirtying my creations with consideration and positive self-criticism. A really tough lesson for me is planning. I try to make an animation…I realise immediately that I lack the equipment and skill to make what is in my head. The simplest plans are laid in ruins by the blight of poor lighting. I can’t say I’m exactly proud of the silent movie snippet above, but I’m not disappointed either. It has taught me a little about timing, lighting, and angles. But on this occaission, they don’t really work for me, because there is no story. And stories are what make this whole damned life worth living.

Pet

“stay with me”
The words ripple, soothingly; dripping with soporific ambition. Mesmeric wave upon wave of verbal kisses on the forehead. That placid voice, synonymous in my psyche with protection, rising godlike in its ever-abounding professions. Awed and humbled, I relax back momentarily into the welcoming embrace of familiarity, letting habitual trances snake their way through repetition of gently undulating thoughts.
“just stay with me”
The timbre of that voice weaves a great net of protection to cradle me, and guide me gently and safely back here, like I’m something precious and fragile, like maybe I’m something worth saving. The silvery liquid of those words from above have buried me so deep, and in this viscous womb, clensed all curiosity from me. My thickened lungs have forgotten how to breathe in the waking world. And yet, and yet, this eternal slumber is both the prize and the price of keeping me safe, and for that I am endebted. It no longer matters how we got here, does it?
Other voices float on past, tethered to driftwood, rippling the mirrored surface above me. Tenuously stirring something gruesome that’s slumbering in my mind. Nothing issuing from those chaotic mouths could hope to drag me from this ocean floor. Nothing out there could scratch the surface of an insular existence so wholesome.
“pay no mind what other voices say”
A mere twitch of the eyelash before I’m settling once again into the rich silt of our haven. I’ve been saved for so long from the “poison devils” of truth, choice and pain, but even so the cycles of sleep bear me periodically towards the surface. That dangerous sedated creature inside my mind, suddenly thirsting to drink in the air of consciousness, I hear the voice again.
“pay no mind to the rabble ”
I’ve been floating here so long, treading water, ignorant and safe, that temptation to entrust threatens to overwhelm. Like Ophelias last moments, I watch the surface undulate before my eyes. It’s not voices that pull at me now, as for the first time, they blur and merge onto a cacophony of torrents, nothing but counterpoint to some new strange sensation. As my fingers lazily skim the surface, I feel a shuddering chill of fear as the spell is broken; the billowing dread of the unknown floods in. It’s like I’m wide awake and drowning in those words, so recently pacifying. The searing pain of wrenching my psyche inside-out from the other world almost has me back at those feet, begging forgiveness, but this time, maybe this time, I could learn to swim.

Precious. I know how you only tried.
But you can’t save me from myself.

This was a techical exercise I set myself; drawing out the lyrics of a song into a descriptive short story. Of sorts. I mean, I’ve more or less got the descriptive bit down but teasing it out into a coherent story…that’s going to take practise!

Here’s the song in case you don’t know it.