Perspective

Everything was starting to fade now; light, memory, hope. The carriages went on and on into the distance, like some art class on perspective that he had been dumped in the middle of – except there were no other students and the teacher was AWOL. How had he got here? It was impossible to recall, but he thought he had been searching for something. His brain felt fuzzy at the edges, like it was gradually being erased, art class again he thought to himself, never was any good at it. ‘You’re too much of a perfectionist to be creative’, his father had told him once, ‘art isn’t about being perfect, in fact good art should be necessarily imperfect.’

He looked into the distance now, watching parallel lines come together, an arrow pointing the way, or a dead end?  Was everything just a matter of perspective? Wasn’t there anything that was singularly true, unquestionable no matter how you looked at it? As he stared toward that narrow horizon he was startled by a sudden sense of movement; the carriages to either side of him, seen in his peripheral vision, travelled at such speed that they had lost all form and feature, had softened into a charcoal smudge that sped along the tracks in a direction that was neither one way or another.  He thought they were racing ahead of him, but a slight alteration in his senses; a blink, a heartbeat, a breath, and they seemed to be moving the other way. All this passed in the time it took for him to turn his head and discover, to his astonishment and dismay, that the carriages were not moving at all.

At first he was filled with anxiety, certain he was crazy. Each time he saw the carriages from the peripheries of his vision they were travelling at what must be over one hundred miles an hour, but when he turned his face to look head on, they were still and silent and unequivocal in their lack of motion. He crouched down and peered underneath the carriage to his left and then to his right. Nothing, just a deep heavy blackness that made his stomach sink.

He got up, brushing dust from his knees and continued on, giving his absolute focus to what he considered, for his sanity, to be the end point, but which he knew, realistically, was no such thing. The end point moved on at the same pace as he walked towards it. Yet what else could he do? Should he give up? Lay down in protest at the absurdity of his situation? After all he wasn’t getting ANYWHERE! Goddammit, he cursed himself. Think man! Think! Get some damn perspective!

And suddenly the thought came to him. A simple notion, a final idea before his mind became something else. He put down his backpack, took off his coat, carefully folding it and leaving it to rest beside his bag. He reached for the carriage on his left, set one foot onto the metal strut that ran along the bottom, took a final look down the narrow avenue that he had been travelling since things  had begun to fade and, with absolute certainty, he lifted his other foot off the floor, and he flew.

His father sat at his bedside, holding his hand. Saw his chest rise and be still for one final moment before his last breath rushed out, speeding on and away to that final horizon.

 

 

WritingPrompts

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Vandalism

How can such an act of violence be a proclamation of love I say as you carve our initials into the tree.

It means I’ll love you forever, you say, not looking up or away from your work,the tip of your tongue poking out as you concentrate. Like a snake, I think.

I don’t see how, I say, and dig my hands deep into my pockets as the wind gusts through the naked branches. This tree won’t be here much longer, it’s got the mark.

What are you on about, your voice raised an octave, a clear sign I am starting to niggle you.

The red splodge, I say, there.  I go up to the tree and put my hand to the trunk, pointing out the circle of crimson paint, an open mouthed kiss, like Judas. I spread my fingers out over the spot, hiding it from view for a second before revealing it again, a poor magicians trick.

It means it’s for felling, I tell him knowingly. Forestry management. I pause for a response. Means they can, you know, manage the forest better? I sound unsure.

Really? you say, not convinced, standing back to admire your work, brushing off a few slivers of bark that cling hopefully to my initial.

I’ve not heard that before, I reckon it’s a paintball mark. I’ve seen kids running through here from the estate with guns and that.

You walk towards me, returning the knife to your pocket.  You coming? you say as you brush past me heading off, out of the woods.

I stay and look at what you have done. I trace my finger over each crude letter you have sliced into it’s skin. I look up at branches that sway and snap and struggle against the winds cruel embrace. I look through this and on and up, to a smudge of sky where birds soar and dive, soar and dive.

 

 

 

WritingPrompts

Quote

It Is Highly Unlikely That Any of This Exists: On the Origins of the Universe — Literary Hub

1. Pythagoras called it “the All.” When it came to be, it already contained all that was and all that will be, all the matter and all the energy, all the stars and planets and galaxies, the budding leaves and broken hearts. 2,182 more words

via It Is Highly Unlikely That Any of This Exists: On the Origins of the Universe — Literary Hub

Hunted

Floodlights startle me out of my solitude, I am a wild animal and they have me.  My heartbeat pulses in my throat, and hers flutters against me like the wings of a trapped bird. Hush now darling, hush. I whisper the mothers lie; It’s okay, everything is okay. I fly through the dark night with secrets on my lips. Here I am, I say, you found me; and the children put on their boots laughing, shouting to each other as they grab their weapons. I turn my back to the light as something howls in the distance; an unbearable wailing that will carry these children to me. A tiny foot kicks out, a hand presses me from the inside and I put my palm to it. She gives me my orders; carry on she says, I need you to carry on. I remind myself that she is the reason, and I turn into the undergrowth and run.

 

 

 

 

writingprompts

endurance

I chase battleship grey clouds,

into a war zone.

Bullets pepper my thoughts with holes

that I string out like paper dolls,

their frilly skirts flap like gunshots

and we fall down, scraps of paper.

Shred me,

I am no ones soldier.

but, as is the law of battles,

a ceasefire,

and here I am

climbing up and out.

The papercuts on my fingers open

as I grip cold earth;

each sting, a salute,

and I push on.

creativewritingink

Don’t Fear Fantasy!

When someone tells me they don’t like my reading choice or my favourite authors it really hurts. You might as well be insulting my child. As I work in a library I’m often asked for book or author recommendations, regularly opening myself up to this sort of pain.

The books we choose to read, the authors we worship are, like all art choices, indications of personality, a window into the inner workings of our psyche, a reflection of our beliefs, a glimpse of ideas we embrace, values we hold dear.

When I discuss a title I’ve enjoyed or gush about my favourite author,  I am telling you who I am. That’s precious information. Information I wouldn’t usually share with a stranger but in the context of my job it’s knowledge I am obliged and indeed want to, share with you

Next time you are looking for literary inspiration and someone is kind enough to share their opinion don’t, as a lady did to me only last week, choke with disgust at the suggestion because it doesn’t happen to fall within the genre you usually enjoy.

When you tell me you enjoy political thrillers and I recommend “Iron Council” by China Mieville, don’t spit with venom proclaiming you’d rather read chick lit than open up a fantasy novel. Think about why you were asking for inspiration in the first place. You are bored with your usual viewpoint and want to see the world from someone else’s. There’s no finer ambition than that.

A book recommendation comes from a very personal place, treat it with the respect and care you would any sensitive data, but most importantly, take a leap into the unknown. You can’t hate fantasy if you’ve never read it.  As Gandhi famously said:

The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is fear.

Embrace you fear of fantasy, go with it wherever it may take you, you just might enjoy where you end up!

 

p.s if you get what I’m referencing in the picture you’re my new bff xx

 

 

 

 

The Space Between Breaths

After years of practice she had found the way here, to the space between breaths. Twice she got close. The first time she came to the threshold and grabbed at it, forgetting the teachings. Months of searching passed before she arrived at the gateway again, now her craving barred entry. Find the space. Expand it. Settle within, as a God. This became a mantra; SPACE, EXPAND, GOD; repeated until all other words relinquished power to those three, instilling them with the omnipotence to break through and enter.

She stood on spun sugar; struggled against the constant threat of collapse. There had been hope for serenity, but she only sensed anxiety. A prickling along her skin signalled company. Slow creeping panic snaked up her body as she discerned something malevolent and contemptuous come into being. Beneath her feet dark pools formed. Shapes emerged, circling her ankles, rising. She wanted to leave, but had not been taught how. She realised with dread that this was not a liberation; it was a prison.

The shape from the blackness wore her face and undulated in and out of focus. As the hand of a clock that appears stuck between seconds, she hesitated between knowing and unknowing. Recognised then forgotten. Conscious then unconscious. It was a beat; it was breathing. Escape from this place called for a disruption to the rhythm.  Her head filled with disorderly images of a future self doing commonplace things – brushing teeth, flicking through television channels, washing dishes. Playful mesmeric tunes wriggled and burrowed into deep, unreachable places,  earworms squeezing out emptiness, lifting her up and free of the darkness.

Her eyes opened. Her heart pounded and her breath came in shallow gasps, but familiar surroundings soon subdued emotion, ushered in reason. It was a dream, that was all. She was glad to be conscious and out of the dark. Strangely grateful for failing to reach that elusive terminus once again.  Deep within the unconscious however, something waited. It fed on worms, gulping down great draughts from the stream, creating famine and drought. It meant to leave nothing behind but the empty interval, where they could exist as Gods for eternity.

Lego in Libraries

Yesterday I spent a fun couple of hours at the Library where I work playing with Lego. Well I say fun but most of it sucked because I am terrible at Lego.  It wasn’t until I found a step by step tutorial on Youtube that I finally began to enjoy myself. In this sort of situation I need to be instructed, told which kind of brick to put where.

The whole reason I was playing with the stuff was because it’s my turn to run the Lego Club next week and it’s kind of annoying when the kids are all making incredible objet d’art and I can only manage things that are square or rectangular – last week I made the border of a garden then gave up when I didn’t understand how to fit a gate, whilst the eight year old beside me constructed the ground floor of his house replete with white goods and soft furnishings.

Frustration and incompetence aside the Lego Club is one of our most popular activities but does it really belong in a library? I chose to work in a library because I love books. The reality of it is that, in order to keep libraries open, you have to love various other things too  (well, maybe not love, maybe get to grips with is a better phrase)

In my job, as well as the book related stuff, I take applications for concessionary travel passes, help people get online, issue public transport and tourist information, take police enquiries, facilitate various kids and adult activities (sometimes with a strong book theme, sometimes tenuous, and sometimes not at all) and signpost people to local services. I’d love to just talk books with the people who come through our door, but sadly those days are long gone.

But is sad the right word to use? Maybe not. In our increasingly fragmented societies the existence of a place that people can visit without any expectations of them, is in itself something to be celebrated. You are welcome through our doors and, other than reasonable behaviour of course, we won’t expect anything of you. You don’t even have to whisper!  Borrow a book, or not. Engage with us, or not – we love to chat to our customers, but we are also happy to let you be. Stay as long as you want, five minutes or all day, and it won’t cost you a penny. I can’t think of another place as enticing as that!

So, as I sit amongst the eight year old’s constructing another Lego disaster I will remind myself that Libraries exist to service the communities they are a part of.  As our communities evolve we have to evolve with them. I don’t think our communities have ever needed libraries more and we must by any means possible remind people of two important facts:

  1. We are here
  2. We are here for you

We will always have books. I will always have books. Libraries will always have books.  What we need more of is space to breathe, to take a time out from the insane whirlwind of modern life. Somewhere to go where we can be alone. Somewhere we can go to be amongst people who want nothing from you. Time out. Time out of time.

If Lego is a tool to get people who have forgotten us or who are unaware of our services, through the door then I’ll happily humiliate myself before the child gods of Lego.

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My humble Lego attempt- after following step by step idiot guide!