I could describe a single meeting in a thousand pages, and a hundred years in two lines.
It’s all relative to perception, I think.
The year I met Sylvester was the year I also broke both my legs in a terrible cycling accident. I never wanted to go into the details of it all, but it was ominous. I was happy and carefree sailing down the hill, the wind rushing through my hair and over my face, the sky was brilliant because the clouds were flushed with peaches and pinks, the last hurrah of a setting sun, and my legs had never worked so well, and they never would work as well as in that blissful, euphoric moment. I don’t care to think of what happened next, it doesn’t do me any favours and makes me wallow.
A girl is never any good at anything if she is an experienced wallower.
I suppose I would not have met Sylvester if I hadn’t broken both my legs. As it happened, I was lying in bed mostly for six months straight, unable to walk anywhere. The first three months were a living nightmare, and I was in a hospital bed for most of the time because the doctors weren’t sure about my spine.
I shared a room with six other women and girls, but it was interchangeable. They came and went, and nobody stayed as long as I did. During my sixth week, I lay with both my legs in a cast, staring at the ceiling until a tear rolled out of the corner of my eye and slid down the side of my head and burrowed into my hair. It was a tear of complete boredom. I wasn’t sad at all, I was just idle, listless; yawning but not tired.
‘That must be what it means to be bored to tears,’ I thought.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I had plenty of visitors. My friends from school came around every weekend, and we had a little party by my bedside. Eventually the bulk of them stopped coming but Tommy Hill came without fail, chattering about everybody and everything and keeping me up to date on classroom and playground politics. Samantha Briggs brought me my homework, and sometimes sat with me to do hers and explain what I had missed. I got tired of that quickly, though. It was kind of her but I just wished she would let up on all the studious talk. Her large blue eyes would blink blankly at me if I dared to ask what her plans were for the weekend.
‘Well, there is that Chemistry pop quiz we have on Tuesday, and Mondays are always bulky bag days so probably homework?! Why?! Is there a test I am missing?!’
I would roll my eyes and shake my head, letting her carry on, her monotonous voice drifting above my head and over up to the ceiling, her words jumbling together and mixing up, forming mountains and tumbling down, crashing like waves on a shore of slick, black rocks.
I was sitting up that day. My toast was ready on the table by my bed, and I was stirring a mug of tea whilst absently staring at the small monitor on the wall opposite, where an old rerun of a staticky sitcom buzzed and twitched its way through a dreary episode, every few sentences interrupted by shrieking laughter.
‘Oh, I like this episode,’ a voice said from the doorway. I turned to look. Peculiar boy, he was. A shock of silver hair over a shadowy face. He wore a terrifically baggy T shirt, almost like a dress, and the baggiest shorts you ever did see. They hung below his knees, and his shins were scraped something terrible. He had two dimples and he wasn’t even smiling, and his eyes were piercing and black. Blacker than the longest night in December.
He was wild and brown, an exclamation mark of a human.
Pushing a trolley into the room, he said cheerfully,
‘Snacks, sweets, magazines anybody?!’
Sarah in the bay opposite sat up and said, ‘Do you have the Guardian newspaper, love?’
‘Why, yes we do,’ he swooped down and lifted the newspaper from the bottom shelf of the trolley, waving it above his head in triumph. Like he had won a gold medal.
‘Here you go, sweetheart. That’ll be £2.50’
Then he winked at me.
I turned away, back to the sitcom, and took a sip of my tea. ‘Rude boy’, I thought. He had no business winking at me.
‘This is the episode where they jump off that cliff, isn’t it?’
I looked up at him again and saw him leaning backwards to see the screen. He glanced at me so I knew he was speaking to me.
I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my thirteenth post.
I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my eleventh post.
We had a painting in our living room when we were kids, and it was of a field of sunflowers, tall and fierce. The background was some hedges and a stunning sunrise.
At the front of the field there was a small opening in the fringe of tall flowers, a black hole leading to the undergrowth, a tunnel winding through the strong stalks that were taller than a man.
The painter had just painted the opening of the tunnel, and some stalks at the opening had been trampled and the heads of the flowers ripped off and scattered about. But the painter had left no clue as to who the culprit was or what they were doing with the tunnel. It was all a mystery.
We had that painting on the wall for a good seventeen years. When we had white paint, we moved it to paint the walls ‘apple green’ (something my mother seemed to hanker after), and there was a small yellow rectangle on the white paint where the frame had been. Then we replaced it over the apple green walls and that stayed how it was for a good two years before my mother got sick of apple green and decided to go with magnolia.
That painting was on the wall from when I was about 7. And now I am 25, my father finally took it down, wrapped it in bubble wrap, put it in his suitcase and flew all the way to England with it to put it on the wall of our house here. This happened last week.
And when I saw it on the wall I didn’t even question it. It was like it had always been there. I looked at it and wondered at the tunnel in the sunflower field again, as I had always done before, but didn’t think anything of it, even though I hadn’t seen that painting in 4 years… until I walked into the room again and it hit me! What is that painting doing here, in another country?!
Isn’t it strange? How a memory or a thought makes a home in your mind? How it is not a stranger to you when you revisit it, because you’ve looked at it so often and thought about it so much over the years? It’s just a painting, but it’s been there for almost my entire life barring seven years, that it’s almost as if it were part of my life.
Are there any objects in your life that are seemingly mundane but have inexplicably taken residence in your mind?
I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my ninth post.
When my brother and I were very small, our parents moved us away from rainy England to Dubai, where it barely ever rained and the sun shone down upon the barren desert with a beaming ferocity that unrivalled anything we had ever known.
You see, if I were to describe England to you using only the colour spectrum, I would say it was ramaadi (grey) and a thousand shades of green, with a few splotches of brick red thrown in for good measure. Clouds here are stunning, and seemingly perpetual. When it rains it does not rain as it does in Malaysia (there it POURS). It is a slow sort of rain, seemingly innocent and gentle, but viciously incessant, soaking you through in a matter of minutes all while apologising meekly and drizzling away.
The green is of all hues. Dark sultry evergreens, pale shoots, regular green of birches, the humdrum green of privet, cheery green of oak, green hills rolling away into the distance and grass that just grows and grows and grows. Green ivy creeping over beautiful homes and driveways fringed with neatly clipped grass. An abundance of green and all looking like it came out of a picture book – which I suppose it did, for Beatrix Potter did base her paintings on the Lake District!
When you fly above England it’s all neat little squares of varying shades of green. It’s similar in France I suppose but there is a foreign vibe to it there and lots of browns creep in.
When you fly above the United Arab Emirates the land is brown, a hundred shades of it, and you can see the winding marks on the earth where rivers and mountain ranges signify a land that barely changes. It’s always changing in England, for we have seasons. In Dubai there is summer and winter and a week or two of rain and that’s it.
So whenever we came back home to England for the summer holidays, my brother and I relished the rain and the greenery like a pair of mad children. We ate buttercups and yanked all the dandelion seeds off their stems, blowing until we were blue in the face. I naughtily picked the neighbour’s flowers because they were pretty and sobbed inconsolably when my mother gave me a good telling off about it.
My mum bought us two children’s umbrellas one summer, darling little things, coloured like a rainbow, and we would rush into the garden when it rained and stand out there like a pair of wallies under our umbrellas. The neighbours thought we were bonkers and their dog barked at us.
Those odd children standing out in the wet under umbrellas!
It was such a novelty, you see. The pattering of soft rain on the umbrellas, splish splash of water by our wellies, tap tap of heavy drops on wide tree leaves.
I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my seventh post.
I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my sixth post.
Well well well, I see you have found the scales.
Go on then. Stand on it, do. Won’t do you no harm. Sure, a number will pop up, but that should only show you how much mass you have accumulated on your years here on earth.
Would be very different on the moon. You’d weigh less there – but perhaps if humans inhibited the moon there would still be a stigma, just on a different range of weights.
When you were a baby your mother anticipated each weighing you had. They stripped you and sometimes you cried, your little naked chubby body going blotchy because there was a draft. They laid you gently on the hard plastic of the scale and your mother – well she squealed in excitement when she disovered you’d almost doubled in weight since the day you were born. She sure does remember your exact weight and treasures it in her heart for some odd reason.
Yes he weighed 3.45kg when he was born and now he weighs 5.9kg, isn’t he growing fabulously!?
Such pride and happiness in her voice. She longs for you to grow and yet laments your tiny self from a month ago.
So weight is important. If you weren’t increasing in weight they would worry. If you increased too much they would also worry.
It’s just when you reach a certain age. An age where weight seems to become evil and high numbers on a scale are devastating. People begin to become fixated on these numbers, and eat green things in favour of beige things in the hopes that the scales will read them a lower value.
Some barely eat at all.
Those scales you are standing on are just an inanimate object. Revel in your mass. Revel in your form. It takes up just the right amount of space here on earth, and presses down on our planet along with billions of other masses – the comforting humdrum thump thump of earthlings weighed down by gravity.
Today I felt like just picking up my pen and writing something. By pen I mean, of course, my figurative pen. Does anybody write their writings with real pens nowadays?
Since I took up typing as the default means to save my thoughts down, my handwriting has become atrocious. I do keep a journal and sometimes, reading back, I can barely read what I’ve written! Do you reckon proper handwriting is a dying art?
Back when I was a mite or a tot or a youngling, I used to write with pens a plenty. I hated the keyboard because it took so long to find all the letters and by the time I had, the words had vamoosed from my mind.
Sometimes you just gotta get those words down before they go, and keyboards back then just didn’t cut it – mostly because I was inexperienced and we got our first family PC (a large bottomed affair) when I was 10. Now I can type quicker than I can write, and writing gives me wrist-ache!
Not to mention, of course, the tediousness of having to type up everything you have written, meaning you’re spending double the amount of time writing the same thing.
Apparently they now have these new technological pens that literally scan handwriting into text. So you just run it over what you’ve written, like a highlighter, and it scans the sentences into text format on a screen for you. How marvellous is that?! It’s relatively new and you can only get it in the US for about 80$ but look how the world is changing.
Do you prefer to type your writings, or pen them down as the great writers of yore would have done?
What do you suppose we call laziness, when it is diagnosed by a skilled physician?
What, do you suppose, we call the consistent, affluent pouring of money into a trough, from which we cherry-pick luxury?
What do we call it when a young man idles under a tree, hour to day to week to month to year? A book hangs lifelessly from his soft hands, and the humming tick of his mind slows to a mere clatter, every few hours or so.
What do we call it when the sunrise is missed, for years on end, in favour of a warm bed, the result of long nights of amusement and carousing?
Well, Adrian Dermody certainly didn’t know. He didn’t stop for a moment to think anything of it. It was nothingness to him.
Nothingness decorated with soft scent and gilded most marvellously.
And yet, there was a perpetual cloud around his vision. He was listless. He was calmly suffocating. There was no mirth in anything.
‘What is the matter with you?’ his mother said, crossly, when he picked at his supper, sliding the food around his gleaming plate like a petulant child.
‘Why mother, I tire of life,’ he said drearily, and leant on his in-turned wrist to stare glumly out of long, rain-lashed windows, which reflected the marvellous dining room in which they sat.
His mother, who had been ergophobiac all her life, merely tutted and rang the bell for the servants to clear the dishes away. She would then rumble off to recline on a chair, while she talked idly of nothing with her son and her husband, the latter of whom would murmur absently that he was ‘listening, dear’, whilst he laboured away at the week’s newspaper puzzle.
For he, too, was an ergophobiac.
And ergophobics will never be happy, and mark my words.