Maybe I peaked in childhood.
Today the sun woke up after a long and dreary hibernation. She warmed up the world with her rays. She flooded crystal light through nooks and crannies, brightening up what was once so dull. She ignited every blade of grass, and when you peered through the dry, wintry boughs, she set on emerald fire the bushes lurking between.
She set the fog ablaze, creating a mystic haze that was swarming with glittering fairies. She yawned, and her open mouth spilled gold onto window panes, shimmering starkly next to brilliant white and glorious red brick.
She brought colour into the world, is what she did. England without sunshine is a dreary grey slab. The cold sees fit to drape its frosty tentacles over the landscape, breathing air that is metal in its harshness, and making it so breathing is painful. England without sunshine is gum spots on pavements being too bright, and rubbish in the gutter claiming the centre of visual attention. England without sunlight is pink faces and rolling beer cans, its a world over which one has spilled dirty paint water, so all the colours have run together, merging into a desolate, muddy grey mix. England without sunshine is a dirty colourless filter over the world.
And the minute the sun beams down upon us, England is once again crowned in glory.
Oh, world, England is such a beautiful country. With her rolling hills, charming knotted trees and grass so green the emerald princesses are jealous. Even her little winding roads with the small wooden fences on the side, the fringes of grass over grown and the brambly hedges have a magical charm to them.
I had forgotten I lived somewhere so beautiful.
I hope the sun doesn’t wait so long again to show her face, less the desolation of winter seep back into life again. I know there is some rigorous scientific explanation behind happiness and sunshine, but I don’t want to think about that. I want to believe that the sunshine has magical powers, that it wields a paintbrush and a magic wand. That it turns squat houses huddled sombrely along an icy road in a grey stain into majestic, beautiful buildings with vibrant white trellises and bricks made from the finest clay and fired in the hottest ovens.
Not the kind of silence that fills every corner and crevice of the house, nor the kind that envelopes the soul as it lays its head on a pillow made of down after a long hard day. Nor even the kind that welcomes a person like a sibling or a beloved friend – hanging about their head like a halo of peace, or lingering over an enticing book that they glance longingly at whilst in the clutches of, well, life.
This silence was deafening. A roar in her ears, a soundless scream from an open mouth and eyes rolling in horror. Everything around her carried on as normal. People passed money over counters, up-beat music floated over the gleaming tiles and pristine wares; bottles of jelly beans and polished coffee makers, colourful pencils and slushy machines – the whirr of the elevator and the cheery murmur of retail therapy.
She was like an island of dreary gloom amid this artificial joy, this pleasure derived from loud music and bright lights and perfect things. Sterilised people with immaculate manicures and glossy hair meandered past the displays, scarves woven delicately about scented necks and hats tipped to the side. She thought, in a short burst through her turmoil, that if the lights were removed and the music switched off, that this place would be as empty and cold as an abandoned ballroom. Just an echo of all the vibrant lives glimmering past, a mere stop in a full and enriched life journey. All its meaning derived from the here and now, the personalities and characters, the conversations and thoughts that flitted under the soaring arcs and marbles pillars.
But the silence filled her ears despite the humdrum world. Her ankle boots, that she had so carefully chosen that morning because the heel was comfortable enough for miles of walking, dug painfully into the soft skin just above her protruding ankle bone. Her feet felt welded to the ground. A loud hissing noise, drowning everything else out, and somehow spreading from her ears like an army of marching ants, all over her body. Like a hot lava flow, prickling under her clammy skin.
Presently her vision began to cloud over. A thick mass of grey, stormy foam bubbling around the corners of her periphery. A sick, nauseating feeling swelling up from somewhere in her chest, and a sudden deep fatigue overwhelming her despite her feeble efforts to fight it, and all sounds vanished into the hissing, the loud static that took over the noise of the shopping mall and dragged her consciousness on a rollercoaster ride through time and space. Zipping through her memories, distorting her life’s interactions, bringing characters from the past close to the lens of her eye before yanking them back again. Here she was, sitting in a car, sailing down a highway down to what looked like a hell of chaos and bright light. Cheering in the background, and she was bowing? No, sleeping. Deep, deep sleep. Now somebody was pulling her out of a lake and shouting her name. Over and over again and her eyes were opening slowly.
The hissing was now like waves crashing against her eardrums, the world too bright for her sore eyes, and George was calling her name urgently. His arm was under her head, and the flying arches were directly above her. She was lying on the floor, with something soft under her back.
”Good grief, she’s awake! She’s awake!” and her face was pressed to the front of George’s chest, smelling thickly of his spice and leather cologne. Her body was heavy, and gradually the deafening silence of her ears was ebbing away, giving way to the loud clatter of sounds around her, the music, still as cheery as ever, the murmur of a thousand shoppers, and the cautious, worried whispers emanating from all the faces grouped over her body.
It was for the first time in many years that she found herself facing the old grey building again, and she didn’t quite understand the tumult of feelings that overwhelmed her at that particular point.
The sky hung low with heavy clouds, warning of the impending storm that seemed to be rushing closer even as the seconds passed. A strange wailing wind came whistling towards her over the moor, and if she hadn’t known better, she would have supposed it to be the anguished howling of some accursed spirit. She stood where she was, however, for several more minutes, her clear hazel eyes passing slowly over the magnificent structure of such talented architecture. The stone carvings in the walls seemed to be, despite their expert glory, hung over with a dark cloak of foreshadowing doom.
Presently the young girl sighed, shifted her handbag a little higher from its slipping position on her shoulder, and stepped up to the massive front door. Her arm rose hesitantly, fingers curled as though to knock. Her eyes flitted towards the great knocker and that piece of information seemed to abate her hesitation for she jerked her arm quickly and lifted the knocker, dropping it as suddenly as she had lifted it, the loud sound that was produced echoing dismally about the empty courtyard around her.
She then stepped back quickly, almost fearfully, awaiting the outcome.
The wait seemed to drag a very long time, during which she was forced to accommodate rushing memories of a disturbing nature…
Flashes of what she knew awaited her behind those doors flitted across her line of vision; A dark, eerie corridor, the smell of strong disinfectant which couldn’t quite mask the metallic, sickly stench of the blood, a hand dragging her by the scruff of her neck, gnawing pain in her feet, the hat stand, with feet carved like a lion’s paws…
She shook her head quickly, blinking repeatedly, trying to block those memories from her brain. She wasn’t prepared for this; she wanted to back away..She was going to back away! She had to!
Her blood ran cold, suddenly, when she heard the slow deliberate footsteps echoing through that corridor…there was a rattling at the door..
And then it opened.