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I am tired today.
I have spent many hours dancing at speeds that my body cannot sustain, aided by the marvels of modern pharmacology. I was in a place where two of the objects of my desire were, or will be, but I cannot approach either – one is not interested, and the other is committed elsewhere.
We can define ourselves in many ways, those of us prone to self examination. Try this. We are defined not by who we are, but by the people who know us. We are formless jelly, shaped by external pressures.
I am very tired today.
"We have grafitti older than your country."
I visited a castle today. Not that difficult in England – our landscape is dotted with history – monuments to past wars and peace. More war than peace, of course. History is ever thus.
The castle is made of soft red sandstone, and grafitti covers its solid surfaces. Messages from long dead tourists and travellers adorn the walls. Carved with care in a cursive hand I see a name and a date – March, 1760. The numerals are graceful. Time was taken over this act. A message of "I exist" to carry forwards through the centuries.
The alarm clock whined this morning, demanding affection like a petulant cat. Good intentions were smothered by the weight of the warm duvet, and what started as "just 10 more minutes" stretched to 20, then 30. 100 words drew me out of bed. No great burning desire to write, but a need to set patterns to this challenge, just three days in. Those moments after waking, when the night settles down inside your head, sneaking into the dusty corners and spreading out like a warm discarded blanket; those moments.
I sit, wrapped in symbols I don't understand. And I write.
Yesterday was Ascension Day. How did you celebrate?
The third day of the third month of the third year of the third millenium. Pyramids of triangles of numbers. All those wanting to be something so hard that they can taste it deep within their blood whenever they bite their tongue to stop from shouting out the secrets of the universe to an uncaring crowd, they knew. At 3:33am they all awoke and looked up at once to glimpse heaven and the future and it looked back at them.
None of them made it through yesterday unchanged. Did you? Did I?
Yesterday I rediscovered the fire and ice that sustained my core for so many years. I had thought it gone with the changing of my life, but it lurked in a deep place, waiting for the right lure to emerge.
I was unready for my old companion, and instead of aiding, the fire and ice stuck in my throat, blocking useful conversation and choking the contempt and scorn ready to pour out. I stuttered and stammered instead of stabbing with scorn. Adjectives of annihilation? I couldn't manage limericks of light wounds.
And for the rest of the day, I burned.
I dreamed last night of betrayal and abandonment. I rarely remember my dreams. I know that I dream frequently, and in colour. I remember a yellow car with golden wood trim. I remember the colours yellow and green most.
On those rare occasions that I wake before the alarm clock rips me out of bed, hammering at its face, I remember my dreams. Last night, my best friend abandoned me and laughed in my face, mocking me. My other friends joined in. The car, which had seated us all, shifted shape into a two seater, and I drove off alone.
I have lived a life curiously untouched by tragedy. I have suffered no major illnesses in my life. No close friends or relatives have died. Those romantic entanglements that I have been through have hurt when they have finished, but the sense of relief has often outweighed the pain. My parents are not divorced.
I have never been involved in an accident that has left more than minor scars, nor have I seen a dead human body.
I worry that as I get older these things become more likely to happen to me, and that I am unprepared for them.
I never wanted to be a guru. When younger, but old enough to consider a future, I wanted to be a monk. I missed the fireman and soldier stages out. My calling was to be a librarian, though that twisted and changed so much before I actually stuck a pin in it and said "this is what I am" that I'm still not sure what I mean when I describe myself as such.
I have been a knight, an admiral, an assassin, a blacksmith. But only in certain places, in certain clothes.
And now I am to be a guru.
I stretch out my hand enfused with power towards you. My fingers entwine in the hair at the nape of your neck and your head turns towards me. Did you move it, or did I? Your eyes drop from the heat of my gaze to the promise inherant in slightly open lips. Your head tilts, no movement of mine this time, and your lips part in answer. A tongue emerges to moisten, to make ready. The rest of the world disappears. Your eyes raise, looking directly at me, asking permission, daring me to move. Our heads approach, and we kiss.
By these signs I know that I am invisible today.
If I receive no phone calls.
If I receive no emails addressed only to me.
If I have to initiate all instant messenger conversations.
If I don't talk to anyone about non work related things.
I wonder if other people have the same feelings of invisibility? If they wait for me to talk to them because then I am proving that they are not invisible? Do we sit, each wrapped in our own clouds of paranoia when all it would take would be for one of us to reach out?
Half a text turned up last night, annoyingly entitled "Part 2/2". It wasn't a number I recognised, but from the tone, it was someone I knew and was waiting to hear from. 5 minutes of tenterhooks passed; walking around the flat, half concentrating on the washing up, half listening for the beep beep of an incoming message. I lie. My concentration was on a small blue and black box. Why do we allow technology such a hold over our lives? When did we give it permission to be our Lord and Master?
It beeped. I ran to answer its summons.
came on the TV as I drank my coffee and ironed a shirt for work. I sank to the sofa and watched and listened as the familiar notes plucked at my heart as they always do, and tears rose unbidden to my eyes. I am not sad, nor do I have much to cry about, but this song reaches deep inside me and can always draw cathartic melancholy from me, like water from a well. I took a tissue from a box and wiped my face, finished the ironing and went to work. Nothing has changed. Everybody hurts.
I sit, waiting for inspiration to strike. Since 1 have been typing 100 words, it has yet to fail me, but with 40 minutes to my deadline, I have nothing to say. Perhaps I should talk of conversations with my sister and her husband? Perhaps I should mention the inanities of work? Perhaps I should open up for you about the last girl I kissed and whether I intend to see her again?
No, gentle reader. This is not a confessional and you are not my priest. If I have nothing to say, you will receive 100 words of nothing.
Walking in slow motion I intend to dance, hug, kiss and be. But first I must dress and the old dilemmas rise. I pretend to hate the tyranny of fashion, but in truth I am a peacock. I want people to look, and more to come up to me and acknowledge my worth by telling me how good I look. This brings pressure, for to earn that praise, I must be worthy of it. Black and silver are my colours on this night; a dress code chosen by others. What do I wear?
Whatever I want. I will look fantastic.
The fires of movement surround me as I trace my path through the crowd with light in my hands and calm excitement in my heart. Muscles move in harmony as the bass beat pounds my skin and stomach, feeling the throb and sawing of the notes wrenched from the speakers and slammed into my waiting body. Lights wreathed in smoke assault my eyes with colours that cannot exist and spectrums that shimmer and shatter. Senses stutter in synesthesia as shadows defy the light and light burns through the shadows. I move in slow motion faster than thought, and I dance.
An angel sat on the edge of my bed and talked to me of the Otherworld. She told me that I would be allowed to visit there, but I could not stay, for I was not a creature of that faerie land. Clad in black feathers, her samite skin burned itself into my mind, leaving a reflection in negative when I closed my eyes. When she was finished talking, she leant forward and gently placed one cold fingertip on my lips, bidding me not to talk of what she had said. Angels cannot fall in love, and humans should not.
Another phone call, another conversation. No waiting this time, but hesitation instead. The words that drip out from your lips are halting and stacatto. You have many things that you do not want to tell me, and by the shapes that you avoid, I can see what is at your silent core. I could be merciful and say what you will not, relieve you of the need to stutter and stammer and skitter, but instead I let you drag out the silences.
You have found another. And I wait for you to summon the courage to say it to me.
On the wall the clock is stuck at three minutes to midnight. That clock is not the one I am watching. There is a mantlepiece full of clocks, none as large or as impressive as the ones on the wall. They are made to many different designs and set to many different times, though all are within a few minutes with twelve and some – the smoke blackened ones with cracked facias are showing times past that.
I watch as a suited arm reaches forward and twists the time on one small travel alarm, and both hands raise towards the vertical.
There is a car sitting on the street. It adds nothing to the artistry of the area. It is a dull, dull, utilitarian car, driven to and from a grey job by a grey man. What dreams does he drive to in this automobile? Where does he go in this boring blue box?
I will create art in this mundanity. With the swing of a bar I will reshape this mediocritic vehicle. Like snowflakes, every shattering of glass is unique. Every scratch pulled through the paintwork jinks chaotically.
There; it is done. It is no longer dull. It is broken.
The war has begun, as have the excuses and the justifications, the spin and the misleading. Lies and half truths fill the air as bombs and bullets fly. "We will raise no flag" "Stars and Stripes over the oil fields" "This is a war of liberation" "all reconstruction contracts go to US companies". The overwhelming feeling of being lied to repeatedly fills my lungs like burning dank chemical smoke, choking me and making me cough and splutter with righteous indignation.
Language is being used as a weapon, and I watch as Words of Mass Destruction fill the world with darkness.
When dressing, the gentleman must bear several factors in mind. The weather he is likely to encounter has an impact on his sartorial choices, as does the nature of the social interactions he is likely to make during his perambulations. The mores of society play their part in determining what he may wear, as do the dictates of fashion. Whilst no true gentleman is bound by fashion, he must at least be aware of it and, if he be so inclined, lead it gently but firmly towards the path of elegance and sophistication.
Dressing well is a service to humanity.
She held me tight in her arms, the beat of her ebon wings matching and merging with the thump thump thump of my heart. From behind me, her voice whispered in my ear, her breath thrilling my senses. We hung over the abyss, and she spoke.
"If I let go, you will fall and fall, and though I will be with you all the way to the end, I will not catch you, and no matter how long you fall for, you will die."
I twisted in her grasp to look deep into her black eyes.
"Let go" I said.
Where do angels come from? They move lightly through the world, the traces of their passing visible in the hearts and souls of those they touch, like wave marks in the sand. They are a message as well as a messenger, and to one they bring hope, to another despair. For each smile that they create, another heartache occurs, for they are creatures of their law, and they cannot escape that.
For the message to exist, it must be created. Which being scribes their words in ebon feathers and samite skin, sending it out into the world on ravens wings?
The alarm interrupts a dream of you, my little swan winged dancing girl. You and I were together, facing each other decorously and dancing to an old fashioned band, incongruous in our clubbing clothes. Victorian matrons clucked and gossiped as we flew around the floor, unmarried, barely touching, but so obviously with so much unsaid between us. We were not melodramatic in this pristine melodrama. We did not cause any scandal as we waltzed. But power flexed and crackled between us.
And I wake, and make coffee and yawn, humming an old waltz tune as I head towards the bathroom.
I used to be able to wake, throw back the covers, wash, dress and leave the house 15 minutes after waking. No time wasted on things of no consequence, like breakfast. Up and out.
Now? Now I snooze the alarm three or four times as I persuade myself that waking up isn't the worst thing I could do today. I make coffee, write 100 words, iron a shirt – all these little ceremonies to gently ease myself into accepting there is a world outside my duvet. Unless I'm hurrying, I now need an hour.
I found my first grey hair yesterday.
I REST I EXIST I am who i want to be WRITE I CHANGE I BURN I am lonely some of the time DREAM I WORRY I wish my motivation stretched to larger things than 100 words QUIT I KISS I DISAPPEAR I am where i should be WAIT I CRY I WITHDRAW I do not know where i am going DRESS I DANCE I WORSHIP I cannot always tell the truth PAUSE I DESPAIR I CREATE I WATCH I await the journey with interest WEAR I FALL I PONDER I want to fly on sable wings YAWN I AGE
"Hold me!" I screamed. "Don't let me fall! Don't let me die!"
She shook her head, slowly, sadly. He wings beat softly against the rushing air, holding her where she wished to be above the deep, dark void. Her dark eyes looked deep into mine and there was no pity there. "I will do what I have promised, and no more and no less. I will be here, and after you have died, I will remember you. Let that be your consolation."
As her head turned, I could see the diamond sparkle on one cheek, as one perfect tear fell.
Looking across the water, she dreamed of the sun. It had been far too long since she had seen it, and she missed its warm embrace and the simple pleasures that cool breezes brought. The dark had continued for far too long this time, and her people were losing hope of ever seeing the dawn again. Crops would not grow, animals were difficult to roust from their hibernations. People grew weary more quickly, and arguments were more common. She spent her time calming people down.
Sighing, she turned back to her fire, seeking in that small conflagration kinship with Helios.
The darkness had begun by an absence of light. Does that sound obvious? Night moves into day, and day into night. Transition times, the dawn and the dusk, should follow as, well; as night follows day. One night, the dawn never came. One night, instead of that band of light chasing across the globe, always heading west, the band of darkness increased, chasing around until it caught up with itself. Night had reigned for a day and a half, as best people could tell. It was easy to lose track of time when all you could rely on were clocks.
The second long night came a week later, and still people were unprepared. How could they prepare? No one knew what the cause was. Scientists muttered but gave no answers and the leaders of the populace made grandiose speeches promising nothing whilst offering everything. A week was long enough for people to regain hope. Seven dawns as they should have been allowed people to wake to a sense of security.
The eighth night lasted for 72 hours. It was during those hours that people started killing themselves and each other. Darkness exposes the soul, and not everyone can survive that.
The answer came. The cause of the darkness revealed itself, and a solution was laid before all. Armies and politicians proved useless, for they could not be fight or argue against this. Scientists and clergy equated and prayed without answer.
She stared into the fire, knowing what sacrifice would bring the dawn. She knew what the sacrifice was, and how few were able, let alone willing, to make it. She knew, but still hoped that she would see one more dawn before being called.
But the Dragon who kept eating the sun was cruel, and she was called that night.
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