Those Eyes

I was reading a news article this morning, about a woman who supposedly used a stun gun on her son to wake him up for the Easter service.

She said she didn’t actually use it, but the investigators found some telling bumps on the boy’s legs.

Now, I know that sometimes kids can be frustrating. I know this because I was a frustrating kid at times. I clashed horrendously with my mother, it was a mixture of difficult personalities and constant misunderstandings. I was also smacked sometimes. -shrug-

But the point of this post is not to berate this woman’s parenting skills. The fact that she was hauled up in front of a court room for her actions is telling.

I am writing this post because the news website posted a photograph of this woman.

A colour photograph, taken with a sharp-eyed camera. It was otherwise an insignificant story. Scant, lacking detail, except for that photograph.

Her hair was in neat dreadlocks, gleaming maroon strands intertwined with black. Voluminous, lustrous.

Her face, defiant.

At first glance she looked angry, distasteful, the face of a criminal woman seeking to abuse her child.

But I wanted to look more closely.

Her face seemed resigned, the more I stared at it.

There were hollow dark circles beneath her eyes and her colour ashen. Her mouth curved slightly to the left, in a way that signified determination, and a little anxiety.

But her eyes stood out to me the most.

Slightly yellowed, they gazed out at the camera. Tired, telling eyes. The more I stared, the more I felt drawn to them.

There was pain in her eyes. A pain I didn’t know, and couldn’t touch.

Something hard in those dark, dull orbs, born of time and consistent disappointment.

My eyes bored into hers; mine alive as each minute passed, and hers dead, frozen in time, encapsulated in a moment only she would ever understand.

What was she thinking?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A Woman I Don’t Like

She is a tall woman. With sleek shiny brown hair, shoulder length. Her eyebrows are thick and sharp and give her the appearance of a forceful character. She is quite tall, well-built, and I think she has passed the age of 40.

She likes to wear tweed, waistcoats, crisp white shirts, jeans and tall black boots, almost like wellies, that reach just below her knee.

She always walks in with some kind of blazer on.

Her cheeks are ruddy, her eyes bright and black and sparkling, and she is the epitome of health and moral judgement.

And I just don’t like her.

I don’t even know her. She has a distinct Northern accent, which takes away from her outwardly ‘charm’, somewhat. Hah. What charm?

Laugh like a cackling witch; abrasive to the ears. Like a hacking saw, pierced with her slightly shrill voice. Not shrill, entirely, no.

It’s a concave voice. It has sharp edges and a sickly centre. It’s loud and a little abrasive, and, coupled with her accent, entirely distasteful. In fact, I despise it. It rings out through our large office floor periodically, and you can always hear every single thing she has to say.

Why do I hate her?

When she smiles, you see, she smiles right through me. I catch her looking darkly at me in the mirror sometimes, in the bathroom, and it is not a pleasant look. She is cheerful enough and talkative with plenty of other people, but I feel an icy blast when she looks in my direction. And after she has smiled at me, for a second or two, her eyes move on and her smile vanishes, because it never quite reached her eyes.

She is monotonous and boring. I have no desire to find out anything more about her. I think she is cold and cruel and judgemental. I have sat through a few of her presentations and almost fallen asleep. She is like metal, with no centre. She spends her lunch breaks sitting with this balding man with white hair, and they sit and share their food and talk in low voices. He certainly isn’t her husband because he is a Smith and she is a Furrow-Womble, meaning she has merged her name with a Womble. She has kids, I know, and oughtn’t that to mellow somebody out?

And why is she nice to everybody else, except me? Everybody is nice to me. I always smile at people and make them laugh. What’s not to like? She dismisses me in the rudest way.

She is just cruel. Cruel and wears boots and tweed, and laughs like a honking goose.

I just don’t like that woman.

Is there anybody you don’t like, without any particular reason?

Roadkill

Nothing motivates me. Not the knobbly edge of a cucumber, not the smooth roundness of a fresh tomato, not the creamy ripeness of a fresh avocado. I just chop all the ingredients up and throw them in and…

I don’t even wash my dishes afterwards.

Yes, they are piled up in the sink at home, as I speak. The washing has been in the machine, washed, since Saturday morning. I know it. I see it daily. But I don’t spin it for another wash, nor do I hang it out.

I am, quite simply, drained of energy.

I still get up quite early to go to the gym. I attend every spin class, but avoid eye contact. I push and push and push until the sweat runs rivers down my back and my muscles shriek in anguish. My fat jiggles with every push and my sports bra struggles to maintain a stationary chest. I need to get tighter sports bras else I will become saggy.

I lift weights after the classes. I can lift about 89 kilos in my glutes now, and 20 with my chest. For squats I can only do about 35, but I can see myself becoming more shapely and smooth. Lines and curves where they were always meant to be. Is it bad to enjoy the look of your own body?

Lately I have been noticing a lot of roadkill.

Yesterday it was a badger, lying warped on the verge of a tidy little country lane. The black stripe running through the middle of its little head was muddy and bloody.

Today it was a partridge, the bright green and brown of its coat brilliant in the shine of the morning sun. Last week a rat, on the pavement. Before that a crow, dead and limp and lifeless. A squirrel, a chick (where did you come from, little yellow soft baby?), a shrew (inhibit gardens, not roads, sweet misunderstood creature).

Today also it was a pigeon, lying smack bang on the corner of the space I park in daily at work. As I swung my legs out of the car (literally, I swing them out, and swing around the car to grab my bag from the passenger seat – lots of swinging) I thought to myself, ‘what if I killed it yesterday?’

In moments, the pigeon was forgotten.

What is roadkill, anyway, in the grand scheme of things? What is a dead cat in the face of a murdered Russian asylum seeker? What is a bloody and muddy badger in the face of the death and decay of minds and bodies that thought and did and said.

Don’t animals think, too? Won’t they be mourned by other animals? Ought we not to be kind to them?

You see, I say all these things, in a way that appeals to your pathos, but I feel no emotion. I don’t care for roadkill.

I feel a pang of sadness, but then it is quickly forgotten. It makes me think of rotting bodies and graves and sleep and heaviness and the physical vessel holding life – heartbeats in a chest that could stop and with them all sense of hope and happiness and dependency…

On Friday the friend of a close friend was on her way home from the park with her husband and child, when she collapsed and fainted. Moments later she died. She was fit as a fiddle, completely healthy, happy, laughing, smiling, planning, doing.

Today was her daughter’s first birthday.

I don’t know this girl. But her death has shaken me to my core.

See, she wasn’t a pigeon or a badger or a cat or a shrew. She was a mother and a wife and a daughter and a … a person. Thirty minutes before her death she sent a video of herself and her daughter on a swing, laughing and happy, to a group chat consisting of her closest friends.

Thirty minutes.

And thirty minutes before the death of the badger, did it leave its sett, say goodbye to its wife, and plunge through the undergrowth in heedless joy?

We are all meant to die. Human or animal. Some deaths mean more than others. But at the heart of it, it is the same thing. A heart stops beating, life lifts away from a body.

That is what I take from this.

I want to be loved. Not romantically, not just by my mother. I want to be loved by my Creator. I want my death to be a ‘return’, not a departure. Do you know what I mean? I want goodness and kindness and comfort and peace to fill the space I will inevitably leave behind.

We are not roadkill.

Touch some hearts, maybe?

Be kind? Smile? Help people? Make a good impact on the world?

Be ‘loved’?

What do you think?

A Small Thought

I don’t have a favourite colour. I never have had one. I just tell people its blue, but when I picture blue in my mind it doesn’t please my guts.

Lately I have been saying it is metallic pink. Everything I own now is metallic pink. Even the shoes I am wearing. Deichmann, 19 quid.

I don’t particularly like metallic pink but it pleases my gut, so there must be some sort of spark there.

I think some children are embarrassed to talk about marriage and children. It’s a strange phenomenon. An eight year old boy I was teaching was trying to explain storytelling through the generations, and he said, ‘When I’m, well, when I have a child of some sort. Well, a small cousin of some sort, I will probably have a lot of stories to tell too.’

I chuckled at that. I was like that. I told my mum flat out that I would never get married. Ever. That it was a ridiculous notion and intolerable to me, at age eleven. Secretly I was crushing hard on my now-husband. He was fourteen and quite dashing. Did I tell anybody? Of course not. And I was quite cruel to him too. He must never be allowed to find out. I even prayed that when I was older, he would want to marry me. I actually got on my knees and prayed.

I said, ‘Oh dear God, please let me marry him when I am older.’ Every day for two months. I didn’t even say, ‘please let him be my boyfriend.’ I wanted something more solid than that, I suppose. Something in writing. 

Then I forgot, of course. Or it didn’t matter to me so much. My attentions were drawn elsewhere. Life. Exams. Stories to write and read. Exciting social events. Friends. Everything took over.

I even deviated a little and lead myself astray by mixing with some Bad Folk. Let us not tread those waters.

But at eleven, I prayed for him. So weird.

Seven years later, though, I married him. I guess prayers are answered. I married him after only four or five dates. That is weird. But I so wanted to. And I still want to. And I would do it all over again and get really excited to.

I have also never told anybody this. I fear I will appear a fool.

If I ever get to be old, I want to be old with my husband. I want to sit on a bench and stare as the world rumbles by. I believe it will be rumbling by then, not screeching as it is now. My hearing shan’t be as clear as it is now so that might contribute to the rumble.

Who knows.

All I know is that we are here on earth, and earth is fleeting. The people we meet and live with and accompany will leave us, will die, will be separated from us.  All I know is that we are still whole, with or without our loved ones, and that one can love wholly and completely without giving a piece of oneself away.

And that is what I am trying to do.

SR-Main.jpg

Monstrosity

A word must be put in for monstrosity.

It has an ugly head, but disguises itself wonderfully under the soft and peachy skin of a four year old child who is loved by everybody. She knows she is loved. She knows her smile will charm an adult, and a kiss on a wrinkled cheek will yield more affection, which she thrives on.

Her eyes are wont to fill quickly, as her heart is so sensitive, and the adults croon over her, saying what a kind and wonderful soul she has.

‘You were so sweet and charming, Len,’ my mother says.

She doesn’t know the truth.

She doesn’t know that when I was four, I used to pinch a little girl. I pinched her and she cried.

I did it again the next day.

And the day after that as well.

I don’t know why I did it. I just remember doing it. I remember feeling guilty.

So why did I do it?

What was wrong with me?

Was I guilty about doing it, or was I guilty about being found out?

If you look at photographs, you see a small child with shiny brown curly hair and a dimpled smile. Her eyes sparkle with innocence and brim with joy.

If you peep into my memories, you see lots of love. Lashings of it. I am saturated in love. I have so much that it spills easily out of me and I can make little gifts of it to give to everybody else.

So where was the love in my four year old brain when I pinched that innocent little girl who did nothing to me?

My mother doesn’t know that when I was seventeen, I thought I was in love, and did many selfish things to chase something that was bad for me.

She doesn’t know that when I was twenty three, I felt hard done by, and used my husband’s love for me to selfishly get my own way, even though another party deserved to have her whims met more than I.

She doesn’t know that I have temper tantrums, sometimes, and say cruel things to my husband, who goes out of his way to please me, and who always wants to treat me well.

She thinks I am kind, and compassionate, and sweet, and she takes comfort in the fact that a child of hers creates good in the world.

But you see, I don’t feel so good.

I feel monstrous.

I cannot sleep at night, because I cannot ask forgiveness of those I have wronged, because I am either terrified they will crash back into my life, or because they do not know I have wronged them.

I did not commit a murder. I didn’t take anybody’s rights away. They probably don’t even think about what happened because they don’t know, and even if they did, they would not think it was monstrous.

But it is.

Oh, it is.

And humanity is not perfect, nor will it ever be. Humans make mistakes, that is for sure. But I have learned one heartbreaking thing about adulthood, and that is that humans have the power to hurt others. They can hurt others without realising it, so very deeply, and they can make selfish mistakes.

The mistakes you can make, others can make too. So you really should work on treating people well, and really think about what slithers out of your mouth.

There.

That is all I have to say today.

I wanted to disguise these dark thoughts in a piece of fiction, but I don’t have it in my heart. I feel very heavy and monstrous.

I have to work on being kinder, and better, and more honest. And dear God, forgive me for pinching that girl when I was four years old, because I severely regret it. What was wrong with me?

Alone

I’m alone.

I have been thinking about a lot of things lately. I am just going to say them.

Humanity is so vast and complicated. There is a deep sadness underlying everything. Every kiss is tinged in sadness, every touch, every hug. People can walk around preaching happiness and laughter but underneath it all is this deep violet blanket of sadness. And when they are alone, and the world dims behind a shut door, this sad reality begins to sink in.

We are all going to die. Some of us might die horrible deaths. Some of us might kill ourselves. I was washing dishes with cold water and staring out at two little boys in the street, kicking a ball around for hours in the cloudy sunshine, and I thought, how could somebody kill themselves?

And when somebody does kill themselves, they spark a tremor in the earth. People are devastated. We have to be kind to each other, they shout, we have to connect, we have to help the lonely people.

But what about the ostracised people? The people who walk around towns wearing a headscarf and feel desolate and lonely because they don’t know anybody, and everybody stares at them with suspicion because they represent a religion so often stamped with the labels of murder and bloodshed. What about the people who look different or act different and are targeted because of it?

It is so strange. I am alone. All my family members are thousands of miles away from me and it feels so strange. I scroll through their photos on my phone and smile at their frozen smiles, my mind is with them at that time and place but my mind doesn’t exactly know where their minds are at that moment. I think technology and the internet has made us come to expect that knowledge will come to us; so we become impatient.

I went out for a walk today and I did not like my town. I did not like the hostility. The stench of alcohol and cigarettes. I look at the drab way people are dressed and the way their bottoms show because their jeans are hiked low, and the way they down can after can of beer, and I think, oh for the days of yore. The days when people dressed modestly and looked like they had dignity.

I bet they didn’t stink.

Then I stopped for a moment and really thought about it. Of course they stank. They didn’t have proper running water. They published articles about showering once a month, and some once a year if they could get away with it. Their streets were piled high with horse manure and urine and flies infested their cities. They drank plenty of alcohol and smoked far more than we do. Their women had to fight to be seen as HUMAN BEINGS in the court room, and were killed trying to demonstrate for a right to vote. A right to freaking VOTE.

They stank and it wasn’t just a physical stench.

Humanity is a thousand shades, and not just black and white. Things are not just right and wrong. There are a thousand clauses in between and reasons and rules and methods and situations and circumstances.

And we just have to plough on through it all and try to keep our heads above water.

Well. I am alone. And I don’t think humans were created to be alone. Adam had a wife called Eve. They had children. Even Adam couldn’t be alone.

I also think one shouldn’t be alone with their thoughts too often. That is dangerous. People need other people.

 

I thought she was American

I thought she was American,

I really don’t know why.

Her frame was large,

shapely.

Her purple vintage coat,

fell over her knees

in neatly pleated frills,

Vibrant, dazzling.

Her heel was ladylike

Her hair elegantly, gently,

pulled

to the back of her head.

Her smile was wide, flamboyant.

When she opened her mouth,

her Liverpudlian syllables filled every corner of the room,

and a small stone of disappointment

dropped in my chest,

with a muffled plop.

I thought she was American.

How stereotypical am I?

woman-1041134_960_720.png