Thursday, October 14, 2004

two stories


Hiding out

It’s late, hours after school finished. I’m hiding out in the woods. Sitting in a dell, surrounded by tall trees, the late summer’s evening light filtering through their broad green leaves. In the distance I can hear the murmur of traffic, a constant babble that sounds far away, but close enough that I know I’m not really alone.

I have a stick in my hands and I move the dirt in front of me around with it. Pushing this way and that, sketching out arcane shapes and letters before I obliterate them with a wipe of my shoe. School was bad today. Malignant is perhaps the word I’d use, if I knew it. The feeling that there is something lurking beneath the surface, that all of this is being taught to me for some evil purpose which I have yet to fathom. Indoctrination into their system. But no, that can’t be right. Knowledge is power, knowledge is pleasure, without knowledge where would we be? Nowhere, but unable to question that nowhere. A double-edged sword of course.

It’s nice in the woods though. The air is cool, its scent alternating between the damp of the earthy loam on the ground, and the tang of the manure recently spread on the fields nearby, a tang that startles me every time the breeze blows. I’m content; I think I’ll sit here for a while longer. It feels free in this place, no pressure, no expectation. Independent. Perhaps I’ll hide out here for a while. Live off my wits and the fruits of the land (what fruits in this land? Discarded condom wrappers and mars bar wrappers and fizzy drink cans. Old traffic cones and stone circles blackened by fire and filled with nothing but ash. Where is the nutrition here?). But I’ll worry about that later. For now I need do nothing, I can relax.

Leaning back I rest my head on the bark of the tree behind me. It yields slightly, not soft but too sappy and alive to be really hard. The canopy above is getting darker now, the sun dropping below the horizon, cheering my neighbours with its orange and purple and pink nightly show.

If they’re watching.

The sky I can see, visible through the support structure of boughs and expansive spread of leaves, is turning to black. Soon the stars will be shinning down, showing me light from eons past, showing me how small I am sat here, yet filling me with spirit. Because this doesn’t matter, this only matters to me. It is nothing what I do, no expectation should be felt because nothing that is expected of me will matter, ever. But everything I do will matter to me, will be me.

I close my eyes and drift away, dreaming of far off stars and planets, dreaming of nothing but what I choose.

When I awake it is a long time later.


On the bus

FULL of people. Sweaty, hot, smelly, damp from the rain soaked clothing. Stuck in traffic. The light is failing, the sun has dropped away from us all. The people are sad. They talk about nothing on their phones, talk loudly to convince others of their happiness and joy at this life. The sky is grey, it is still raining. It will never stop. The traffic lights are red, but no traffic goes the other way, no one is going back. We are all going forward. Except the light is red. But there are no men working on the road, only cones and flashing lights and half-finished excavations – if such a concept is logically possible, how deep is a whole hole? The traffic lights are red. At the back of the bus a child screams, picking up on the abject horror that is so palpable but so taboo that only the child can release. Only the babe can vocalise. Only he can loose this naïve scream against it all. The traffic lights are red. The girl across the isle has a swanky phone. Every time she gets a message it rings for several seconds, loud, sharp, polyphonic (what else? Where next for these phones? Have they realised their terminology has run out?). Each time she pushes a button in disgust, realising – at least she has realised, unlike so many others – the painfulness of this sound. But she doesn’t DO anything to change it, she does not try to find an options screen, she does not spare 30 seconds to find the right menu and change the options, perhaps lazy, perhaps stupid, perhaps unthinking, perhaps perhaps. The traffic lights are red; there is no other traffic. We sit alone in this private hell of our creation. The man in front of me has some headphones on, the music is loud, I catch occasional beats and the squall of white noise formed by the treble. It sounds rapid, drum and bass perhaps, but he does not move to the beat, does not dance. He uses it defensively, blocking, keeping him sectioned (ahh, to be Sectioned) from this place; forming a force-field around him, a field of safety, safe from intrusion but actually intruding on me. The traffic lights are red. Towards the front of the bus are some people who got on outside the fair. They have children with glow-sticks and whistles and soft toys and things with tassels. They shout at the children to sit down, shout at them to obey, or they’ll take the light away. The traffic lights are red, nothing is moving except the world spinning, taking us around and around and around with it, with each other. The rain is getting heavier, the clouds look darker by the moment. Drumming against the windows, drops turning to rivulets turning to rivers cascading down the glass. Nature’s fury, my own personal show. The drumming increases; the moist, cloying atmosphere presses in harder. We can’t breathe. The traffic lights are red. The rain has penetrated, there are drops running down the inside of the glass. No one notices. I notice. Soon the bus will be full, full of people and full of water. Sitting, talking, oblivious as the water rises over their heads and they can’t breathe, still trying to talk, can’t understand why their brains feel strange, feel light, feel freedom as they slip away. The traffic lights are red, and forever red, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

The traffic lights are red.


Blogger aj said...

beautiful yet slightly scary - both the story and the fact that all this is inside you waiting to pour out.....mesmerising.x

21/10/04 10:38 pm  

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