There are no depths to this loneliness, it is endless, whereas, I am not. Trenches of ultramarine night stretch out into an unseen distance; I follow them with my fingertips, groping wildly. Creatures flit past like agitated fish, or scattering bats, or just my dreams. Go, I say. But nobody hears.
Somewhere, a raven sings a sonnet, or caws a eulogy. I’m no longer sure. An inverted moon plunges with no intention of sending moonbeams my way. The stars flee. An ebony darkness fills the void. I feel it behind my eyes, pulsing.
Once, I lived the life all younglings pray for, of family, future, and past. Once, but not any more. Now, I loiter on the periphery of a something long forgotten. It is Death. She waits with open arms, ready to wrap her nightshade shawl about my shoulders and give me what I’ve lost. What have I lost?
These depths. This depth. This death. Ah, there you are.
The bleary-eyed awakening offers little to billions of sleepers each night. Less than a gap and at best an inconvenience, mankind surf those moments eyes closed and desperate. The chirruping blackbird is a nuisance at such times. The ticking clock is akin to the devil. As for a dripping faucet, or rain upon the windowsill, enraging.
We tend to focus on those instants, expand them unwillingly, when all we wish is to contract. But time suffers no interventions, at least, not by us.
We desire the flavoured darkness, where ex-loves taste better than ever they did in reality. Where we as sports people score wonder goals, tackle like rhinos, run like the wind, so far from actuality that it’s a good job we can’t see ourselves; unrecognisable faces frighten the children who spy them in clouding mirrors. We act as never we would in real life, for our dreamworlds offer security, sanctuary from prying eyes. Some might term this, release. Others might term it a mass delusion.
Be it a minute or a restless hour, we struggle to depart the awakening and return to the promised land of dreams with utmost expedience. There’s almost a dread. We fear the darkness, for everyone knows it’s where monsters hide. We curl our toes and squeeze our eyes so tight they hurt. Tossing and turning are par for the course. Burying heads in pillows, the same. All that is wanted, needed, required is a return to the hoped-for pleasantness of that pause until dawn. Gold light and blue skies beckon us. Well, when I say us, I mean you.
I don’t want to go back to sleep. I don’t want those moments between dreams to end. If ever serenity offers a troubled mind a chance, it’s during these spaces in eternity. They calm a struggling mind, don’t stir them to further agitation. They soothe troubles, not pretend them not there. A divine gift to restless souls, those who exit limbo into the hushed still of their own bedroom, roofed and walled, secure, free from the ragged world beyond the window glass, these are rare treats indeed.
The moments between dreams never last long enough, for if they do, they are no longer moments but extents. No one likes an extent, they’re too, well… long. Brevity is key to the moment, as time is to life. Yes, life. But what of death?
We do not dream to sample death, we wake from it to taste what will. What good is a stomachful of forever if you’re not afforded the luxury of swilling it around your mouth beforehand. And here I pause…
As I write, I reveal. I unpick the truth with a sledgehammer. There is a liar amongst us and that liar is me. I lust for the pause and dispute every moment, afraid that to do otherwise might prove that I’m gone. I am afraid of the night more than any. I savour the waking, or I’d cry before sleep. The paradox of it all tingles behind my eyes. These moments have sold me a fable I no longer wish to read. Am I awake, or am already gone?
Unsatisfactory, these moments, these supposed snowflakes of bliss. differing as they swirl before me, never once the same. They tease at the ground as though coating before endlessly melting away, a perpetual circle of almost, promises lost in a kiss. If forever can hear me and eternity has something to say, I wish they’d speak a bit clearer like the snowflakes that tumble my way. This obsession with winter is now all I believe, as the cherry blossoms distract imagination with springtime promises. For the summer shall never venture, nor even attempt to loosen mind’s strings whilst still this ‘almost’ persists. I am lost in it. I am done with it. Lost in false tranquility, I’ll remain.
There were towers of cockeyed proportions springing from the ground at spasmodic intervals. Where the sun caught them sharpest, they glinted like stained glass windows, a most unnatural woodland. They swamped even the once-great mountains as if them just undulations.
Animals had taken advantage of this place, making squalid homes for no other reason than having nowhere else to live. A molehill shone with its tin dome. An owl’s oil drum echoed.
This was the world humanity had gifted them, our legacy to Mother Earth, obscure cathedrals of dumped filth. At least they no longer had us to deal with.
A giant of gold, ochre and sunburst orange, interspersed by flickering, cerulean sky, it almost touched heaven. Almost, but not quite. There were no shouts of timber, nor any of concern. It fell in silence, birthing a tempest the same. More an angry calm than a gentle storm, its discarded mantle made russet oceans of the city streets and obliterated the meadows in deathly hues. Like Autumn in July, I shivered. I tugged up my collar and gritted my teeth. I wept as I watched. The tears hissed off my skin. My last thought? Just why we’d killed it? The Earth, that was. Didn’t we all?
There once was a boy who lived in a hole. There in the warm, musty darkness where roots embraced him, he hid from the bright world outside. He hid from the loud, the violent and crude. He hid from the harm they’d done.
They found him cringing that meekest of creatures, pushed in a corner like old fruit in a shopping bag. He mouldered. It was their duty to save him. Everyone wanted saving, didn’t they?
The men with their silver badges glittering, their colleagues in white all wide smiles and soft words, tore the boy from the roots he clung to; he screamed for them to stop. They carted him away like a stray dog to a pound and placed him in the knowledgable care of strangers. But they had no knowledge of him, this child from deeper regions.
He woke to crimson, some his, most theirs. Its stickiness reminded him of tree sap back when there were trees to weep. And he remembered. And he wept. The memory of those lost forests stung like the syringes thrown in his hole. His nice safe hole. He ran. They ran, too, those who still could.
Out in the savage daylight, he made a decision. The little lost boy with pain in his eyes made a promise. He’d dig deeper. He’d burrow like a mole. No one would find him again. Once upon a time was one once too many, his mother used to say. Before they took her and all that was green and blue, too.
Is it wrong to wish to write for writing’s sake? Is it wrong to feel the need to write a disclaimer only I’ll ever see?
I sometimes think I was born to the wrong era, that before computers and watches knew your name, I might have been happy. I’d have sat in my room as others scampered about living their lives and smiled at the view beyond the window, written down what I saw without forethought or fear. The clouds would’ve drifted across cerulean fields like mythical beasts and birds would’ve tweeted the minutes. With a quill for a sword and a wooden chair for a colt, I’d have lived out my days as a warrior of words and others would’ve been happy I did. But it isn’t days of yore, and there’s no time for idealism in today’s world of exactitudes and uncompromising rapport. We are. We will. We do as we’re told.
I sometimes wish the curtains to close and never open. Here wrapped in my private night, I’ll live in peace with these hundreds of thousands of words scattered all around; most long forgotten and stashed away in burrows of rabbited nonsenses. The songs I love will play in endless loops through ears with no wish to hear the spouted obscenities and harsh realities — or so they claim — of this, that and the other. Darkness will fold around me like a lover’s kiss, all-encompassing, and I won’t even know if I’m dead, nor care. But then the words will come, white on black, and I’ll feel more alive than ever.
Sometimes a voice calls from deep within that I presume my own but still doubt. This — let’s call it soul — knows my name, my home, my life, wife and circumstance, but even this supposed virgin self is dubious to my needs. What are my needs?
I have absolutely no wish for anyone to read what I write. I have absolutely no desire to be famous. If people happen upon these reams of written words and enjoy them, feel them, I’ll smile and thank them, and expect no thanks in return. If a child picks up one of my books and their eyes light up with wonder, I shouldn’t care if their parent commands them to put it back — not if the spark’s already lit. If? Such a little word. Such a pertinent package. But the cold hard reality, is something has to pay for a coffin and good intentions won’t.
Sometimes I think I’m free. Sometimes, but not often.