I look like you, dress like you,
Sound like you, walk like you,
Talk like you, but I don’t think
The thoughts locked in my head
The dark visions, the rage
The heart-wrenching pain, the
secrets that I lock inside
These are the things that
make us different that keep
Us separated by a gulf that
Is impossible to bridge
No matter how I try I can never
Be you, too broken, too damaged
To integrate fully into your World
To be one of you
So I hide my non-conformity behind
A veil, a mask, shadowed
And walk amongst you, a vision of deception
But my time will come
The coffee cup, half finished sits beside the monitor as her fingers skittered over the keyboard, the words filling the screen, line after line, sentences structured, the story clear in her head as the voices of characters weaved a semi-magical ribbon of narrative fabric, almost autonomous, a natural rhythm to the cut and thrust of dialogue. Lost in reverie, in the swirling kaleidoscope of colours and sounds the story takes shape, moulded, sculpted, carved from the language of the everyday, the mundane but reformed into something more, something beautiful, something wonderful.
He watches her work, lost in admiration for the ease with which she conveys the deepest human longings, emotions and sensations etched across the mind of the reader, seared into the psyche creating new archetypes, hinting at hidden meanings, of deeper truth, of passions beyond the experience of most, but longed for at some primeval level. She pauses, looks up from the screen, a faint smile on her lips as she sees him watching, a smile he returns, and in his eyes she sees her muse….
The rain fell hard against the windowpane, driven by a harsh wind from the North, cold, biting. She looked up from her book as a particularly savage gust rattled the windowframe. Her lips pursed as she looked out at her garden, so productive in Summer, full of fruit and flowers, vegetables and herbs, this wild, wet Winter weather transforming the normally neat and well kept space into a swamping morass of mud and wet clay. She sighed, turning back to her book as the door from the lounge to the kitchen opened slowly.
A large mug in each hand he entered the room carefully, steam wrapping around him as he made his way to join her on the battered, old, deep brown sofa, setting the mugs down on the windowsill. The steam rose, fogging the glass, momentarily hiding the outside World from her view. She smiled as he turned to face her, passing her a mug…
“I thought you’d appreciate a nice cup of tea”
Our leaders, the bleeders
Parasitic leeches that reach
Into the core of our being
And drain us of feeling
Emotion the lotion
That washes our notion
Of serenity, of purity
That once was stored in the Vestery
They test me
With questions and vexations
Downtrodden soul groans
Yet they bloat, fat and swollen
As we decline, broken
By too much betrayal, our apathy
The final nail.
Cold wind, harsh, penetrating, blows across the station platform, whistling in the steel beams of the footbridge between the platforms, a relic of the glory days of steam powered engines, the halcyon days of the Victorian boom that had made this town a name not just locally, but globally. An industrial power within the most powerful industrial empire the World had ever seen.
The chipped and cracked paint told of the fall of that empire, as so many before, the mistakes, the mistreatment of so many members of what could have been a benevolent power for good. The greed of those in control of the people, yet so rarely in control of themselves.
The clouds scud, grey and white, driven by the wind as the sailing ships of trade and war once were. No longer, the steam trains and sailing ships are long gone with the empire they powered, replaced with diesel, electric, nuclear, the romance lost with them….
The lab was quiet at 2am. Susan worked on alone, the rest of the researchers long since gone home, but her latest batch of serum would be ready at 2:30 so she stayed, finishing off the days notes, completing the diary entries, cataloguing the chain of failed experiments that had slowly, tentatively led to this point, each one moving the research closer to the goal.
The hands of the clock seemed to stall as time dilated, the seconds becoming minutes, the minutes taking interminable hours. She was so sure that this time it would work, that this batch would be the one. All of the preliminary data looked promising, the initial batch tests, the sequence analysis. Could she really have done it? Could she really have achieved such a momentous breakthrough?
The alarm on the water bath broke through her thoughts, snapping her back to the lab as she took the batch, still warm from the 37 degree water. She drew off a syringe full, rolled up the sleeve of her labcoat, and against all protocol slid the needle into her vein…
The chimney, rising high above the surrounding rooftops belches thick smoke, stark grey against the blue of the winter sky. The plume mirrors the foggy breath of the men outside clustered around the upturned oil drum being used as a brazier, the fire within chasing away the worst of the Winter chill as they stand on the picket line. Bob lights a cigarette, drawing the smoke deep into his corrupted lungs. Thirty years in the factory have taken their toll. It is why they are striking, not for more money, not for perks, but for the basic human right to be kept safe, to not be killed slowly by the job they do day after day.
Management fought the changes of course. “Too expensive, not productive!” the tired old excuses of the men who had never had to spend a day tending the machines, stoking the furnaces, safe in their executive suites. Bob takes a final drag on his fag, dropping the butt to the concrete floor, grinding it under his work boot, as looking up he sees the chimney, smoking no more, cooling like the corpse of his industry…
The dark red curtains stay drawn, day after day the only signs of life an occasional twitching of the drapes. Inside the door the post piles up as weeds grow in the front yard. The neighbours walking past each day shake their heads as they contemplate the fate of the occupant of the red brick bungalow.
The woodwork around the windows, paint long ago flaked off shows signs of rot, the whole property having an air of decay, neglect. They called the police once, convinced that something terrible had happened, something tragic within the house, but when they arrived they had been greeted by the occupant.
A couple talked as they walked past “What could bring someone to a point where they care so little about where they live?” If only they knew the torments of a mind twisted by guilt, by anger, by fear, by the savage, bitter darkness of depression…if only they knew…
We came together like atoms in a particle accelerator, magnetism propelling us at higher and higher speeds along our predetermined trajectories, our fates inevitably intertwined by some unseen, unknowable hand. The inevitability of our collision, that day in the coffee shop, the literal impact of hand against hand as we both reached for the sugar, your smile as I bowed gracefully acceding to your superiority in matters sucrose.
We met again, two days later, I sensed in you a kindred spirit, never having been convinced of my possession of a soul, over drinks at the local bar, we talked, nothing small, our minds as connected as our hands had been, fleeting yet powerful, the drinks flowed and our paths become enmeshed, bound to each other, the product of our meeting stronger than either of us.
We met for the final time last week, the plans made over the intervening weeks brought to life, the hasty trips to DIY stores, chemists, kitchenware shops, you smiled at me as you pulled the straps of my backpack, as I pulled yours, and hand in hand we walked to the station and boarded the train….
Her eyes snap awake. She stills her breathing as she listens hard for what has woken her, expecting a sound out of place, a footstep, a breath. Nothing stirs and she is forced to breath again as her mind slowly recovers from her abrupt start. Fragments of her dream come back to her as she lies shivering under the duvet. In her minds eye she recalls the terror of feeling trapped, isolated, alone in a dark place, no sound, no light, emptiness all around her. No sense of direction, just of movement, motion towards something, being drawn in by some unknown force, helpless, unable to fight as the blackness has no resistance, nothing to push against.
Her breath catches in her throat as she relives the dream in more detail, the screaming , clawing wrongness of it, the terror, the blind panic of being completely out of control, so at odds with her normal routine, her managed life. She struggles to comprehend where the dream has come from, and when it will end…