Outside the window the solar garden lights come on as the darkness falls. Despite the still short days and overcast skies they have absorbed some energy to reflect back. Tomorrow is the official beginning of spring, a stretch in the day, the sun returning. The valiant efforts of the solar lamps echo our own vestiges of hope that the winter will soon be over.
Bright, light. I emerge from my dark winter haven into the beneficence of sun, the stalk of the leafless dogwood still flaming red, a bird arcing and dipping in the coyly blue sky. I hang the family’s laundry on the washing line and keep my eyes on the sky. Then words appear all together like invisible ink made clear, a section of my novel, the character of a story, I see and hear them. I run back into the house to jot down the words, leaving the wash basket in the bright air.
Sun fire on the hillside, deep red glow, a glimpse caught through trees, unexpected glories.
I wrote this surreal piece in about forty minutes with my 3 year old at my shoulder wanting to help with the typing. Guess which bits are his worthy contribution….
The dust bunnies were on the prowl, opening and closing their fluffy mesh mouths. It had been the longest winter and the stark bright supernova beams of spring clean light had not penetrated the forgotten corners, where they lurked making strange sibilant utterings. ww.w3w2333ww23232w233w222w2ww2$232w42ww4wwwwqeswqswqwqqssz2.
They waited growing fat off the culled offspring of middle class bacteria, the occasional toenail and other body parts of lumbering humans. S
they spoke the most despicable of threats in soft tones that did not belie their horror.
It was time.
Left long enough their DNA if it could be termed such had morphed and ameliorated so that they had developed the capacity to absorb anything in their path. All they needed was the means to move, a soft breeze to scuttle them along the floor towards anything that they could throttle and eat clean.
Jenny looked out on the linen of the sky and sighed. There were rumours that the sun no longer existed, myths that the eternal winter had come, the mini Ice Age returned. They sold ice skates on the banks of the Thames and set up hot dog and hot chocolate stands in readiness. It was already three months since Martin had left her. He had become more and more morose with each passing month of darkness and he blamed her for his mood. When he woke horror struck from a nightmare in the fuzzy felt of the early hours, opened his eyes and screamed ‘Not you!’ she knew it was over. He took all his belonging in black refuse sacks. He took no pleasure in anything, there was nothing he was fond of. She worried for him in an abstract kind of way, the way you worry and wonder about the fate of a soap opera character in a long since cancelled show.
Something needed to be different. The weight of her possessions strangled her, she couldn’t take the pressure of propriertorship. She wished to find a barge somewhere and be it’s temporary curator, set it along the banks of some ancient canal in increasingly gorgeous scenes like a found exhibit, it’s transience lending poignancy to the scene.
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There was that noise again. She wondered if it was a leaky radiator, or worse a burst pipe somewhere that she would never be able to locate, or the munching of miniscule malignant pests in the woodwork or under the floorboards. This damn house, why hadn’t he wanted to take it, sell it as part of the settlement? She heard her mother’s voice, dead these past three years – an accident on a cruise with her new husband, a toy boy for her golden years. She had been a stickler for cleanliness. Had got in a Filipino maid and paid her pittance to keep her large detached home in perfect order. ‘Open the windows!’she used to say whenever she visited. ‘Let LIFE in!’.
Jenny felt the cold in her bones, it hadn’t left her since the last days of summer folded in like fudge. But her mother was right, she had been right about everything, about Martin, oh how she graciously confined her disapproval to her eyebrows, kept her conversation hearty and charming. Jenny opened the window. The air seemed to hesitate before sighing and then slipping in. Jenny was aware of something all at once. Life on the move. A satisfied sibilance, the soft shuffling of residue, memory, remains.
Lying down, her chest opened and the cold, sunless air traversed her alveoli. She thought of travel, of cruise ships, her mother sipping champagne on the deck, her lover stroking her face, before she fell overboard or so said the letter. She thought of barges, slow moving but free.
It was a soothing sound. She would sell, bring nothing with her but the bare bones. She was gone, out of there. You wouldn’t be able to see her for dust.
These last few days, being mindful, taking one to one time with the children, being where I am, listening to unexpected stories and revelations at the bedside of my carefully tucked in children. Finally everything put to bed, the pleasure of now lightly attended, I feel the exhilaration of my available writing time, satisfaction and heat, the tapping of keys in creative flight, the joy of words.
Then suddenly I wake, the world bright and popping out into three dimensions, coming right at me. My hands are still poised over the keyboard. I realise that I have been asleep for some time.
The satisfaction of cooking this wholesome meal. My daughter at my side. The sizzling of onions, chunks of fish, herbs, chopped eggs, some veg, a thick sauce. She stirs and stirs and adds the ingredients, eager to learn, eager to please. It is full of colour and goodness. We pour it into the dish and add the mashed potato topping, a sprinkle of cheese which sizzle and melts in the oven.
Leaves skitter and rise with the wind underneath, spin in a perfect spiral and drop.
Crunch crumble falling into the mouth, the sweet melt of then soft biscuit, cool cheese, layer on layer, that spring back texture pleasant against the teeth. The taste mingling, crumbs on the chin, I run my fingers over them as if I am bearded, I gather them from my lips. A favourite thing.
Red wrecks, burning barns with horses, conkers, brambles, rumoured pools of quicksand with makeshift planks, spies and tag and dare and hide and seek. I remember. And now a parent, as my children move beyond infancy I let them go, off with friends, racing with the air on their faces on the green, near the secret, fenced in castle through the trees, into corners, alongside walls creeping, playing, all adventure, my heart beats along with theirs as I have a sense of them running wild as I did once too. And then they return safe and sound, their bright, animated voices in the driveway.