everything starts with e.
your ambiguous letter.
written by chance.
and circumspect nature.
explicit by name.
i might find out.
i might find out.
mentioned in passing.
assuming the worst.
we left it open.
came and went.
you went to great lengths to avoid.
arriving at the zoo.
where lunch was delayed.
the apes on display.
she wishes she wore the hat.
oh, the indignity.
of a child's sneer.
a cutting remark.
we stood in the darkness of the reptile house.
looking at our multiplied reflections in the thick glass panels.
i have something to tell you, she said.
there are no crocodiles.
by now, she was looking at my feet.
they spent a disproportionate amount of time dwelling on this.
in sullen silence.
you were reminded of the ocassion.
he sat reading nothing.
like nothing mattered.
like nothing mattered..
the curtains undrawn.
shielding bruises to my heart.
we suffered the early morning sunshine.
moving at mathematical angles.
along winter's line.
but appreciating the seasonal songs.
like nothing mattered.
like nothing mattered...
so he fictioned excessive punctuation.
from dot to dot.
insects crawled and fretted.
he noted, like nothing mattered.
she watched him in the third person as he appeared on the screen.
she could not understand the enthusiasm the crowd was displaying.
however, she found their working class exhuberance charmingly infectious.
she envied their disease.
and boundless hope. was all sport like this, she wondered.
as a child she had been aware of her father's interest.
but it was an interest that failed. she still remembered inconsequential details.
but little else.
which brought on her periodic sadness.
a characteristic she was unable to defeat.
she was drawn back to the screen. the crowd cheered, even in defeat.
when the broadcast was over, he sat alone in his room.
with no plans.
the mobile phone remained unanswered.
because nobody rang.
none of us rang.
we were all complicit.
the slow, lingering death of life.
although it was mid-afternoon, she still could still taste the burnt sultanas she had sprinkled on her cereal.
which she ate whilst vacantly staring out if the window.
the blankness within her eyeline was disrupted by the dog which had caught one of its legs in the plastic wire fencing.
the dog struggled.
she continued to observe without connecting to what was happening.
she had always felt this way.
she reached out her fingertips, touching the pane.
tracing the outline of the animal.
she omitted the tail. it seemed irrelevant.
the dog continued to struggle as she left the table. left the room. and left the house.
actions which defied the tightrope trajectory of consciousness.
yes, go on then. the teacher sighed, clearly permitting the chance to engage.
is the dog significant? asked the uniformed boy.
the teacher sighed deeply once more.
he was still irritated by the comment, or rather observation, of a colleague which was made in the staffroom at break.
he had apportioned more significance to it than the colleague who had uttered it.
he was aware of these dynamics, but still it irked him.
this was something that mattered.
it seemed like it mattered, or did it really matter?
he had heard it "on repeat" throughout his life. from his parents, from his teachers, from his peers and from his friends.
you're very quiet, are you okay?
as though refraining from speech was like molesting minors.
in turn, he felt he was being judged for even thinking of those words.
words formulated, expressed and received internally.
of course, he had responded to his colleague's comment.
but it was buried within layers of inanities and platitudes.
it was like an escape.
like standing on deck.
of the belgium ferry.
on a night crossing.
the romance of the chill and salt water.
beneath the swell, broken exchanges.
with german girls.
and their surprising grasp of english grammar.
and pop music.
let's share lyrics, rather than kisses.
a sweetest intimacy.
as we leaned on the rails overlooking the black-blue sea.
wondering what to say next.
say nothing, she said.
we said nothing.
but the knowledge that this only existed now.
her smile, her blue-black eyes.
never to exist beyond the waiting port.
whatever thoughts we harboured.
whatever thoughts we harboured..
whatever thoughts we harboured...
lost at sea.
in different languages.
a hastily scribbled note.
when events unfolded in slow motion.
or so it seemed.
introducing a human angle.
the voice spoke.
go on, it urged. keep watching.
and with angela.
and french toast.
he said, peering into the folder marked, "other".
a pale green folder.
like nobody's business.
agenda item aob.
- what about the rest of our lives?
the assembled attendees had only come in to discuss budget adjustments.
no one spoke yet.
and the tourette-esque loop activated in his head.
over and over.
desperately trying to control any possibility of vocalising.
the fatigue of concentration swelling.
what would happen if he said it?
he could not picture that denouement.
only the act of the words escaping from his lips.
one by one.
how could they fill the emptiness?
the wolves persistence paid off.
they had singled out one of the deer.
the chase had taken some time.
the group had darted one way and left one of the females behind.
the wolves put themselves inbetween the group and the lone deer.
the deer knew.
the wolves knew.
the beauty of the forest ebbed and waned.
like the deer's heartbeat.
like a million cash tills on wednesday afternoons.
where housewives spit on the Irish.
for the historical future.
now they just tut.
or roll their eyes and reach for the remote.
it's so much nicer in the other side.
we never did get rabies on the mainland.
our land mainly.
and fallow festival years.
dreaming of a better time.
never in the now.
not now, then.
one evening after school, he spent time in her darkened bedroom listening to her simon & garfunkel cassette.
if only she had been there too.
but i made everything exist in her head.
i was the writer.
and i was unable to bring her back without it being contrived.
i looked at the door expectantly, and she walked into the plot.
where have you been, i asked.
she had been standing patiently behind the door for months, i wrote.
but i hadn't written anything for years.
and by now she had lost her sense of self, settling for a life of purposeful reliability and security.
she was a far cry from the character i had originally introduced in a short story i had written at school.
or was she actually someone at school? the french teacher who had killed her sister for some undeveloped, unexplored reason.
it was hard work substantiating motive. and natural dialogue was also an elusive quality, i thought to myself.
you should, she stuttered, you know, say something that moves it all along.
she was right. which meant that i was right, relatively speaking.
as my protagonist, i wanted her to pronounce the profound, but my homework needed to be handed in, so all she could do was agree compliantly.
without excessive punctuation.
but then compelled by the need to grab that person roughly and demand to know, how are you going to be what is?
he had overheard about this 'death' sensation.
a slow rising wave of what felt like emotion. but resulting in death.
it was not a solitary experience.
this was something that engulfed an entire community.
when, inevitably, the wave began, he expected to feel great fear and uncontrollable anxiety.
but when it happened, when the tide began to rise within him, he felt joyous calm.
it was like a drug-induced sloping upwards high.
oh, let death come.
it is so beautiful.
there was an initial peak, which did not bring the end.
but it paved the way for an even gentler, yet overwhelming, exhuberant and fatal sentiment.
we all felt it.
our voices soaring, operatically.
followed, disappointingly, by the mundanity of life after we left the stage.
in the process of performance we became effused with the veneer of personality.
as though we had something unique and of interest, to say.
with the accompaniment of melody.
verse after verse, without the necessity of a distinguishable chorus.
but his effort was of limited appeal and accessible by a minority of other writers and lyricists.
merely a succession of esoteric references minus any sense of punchline or dramatic denouement.
i turned on the tv, only to find it was end of part one.
that was when the past existed.
in the present.
in the moment.
it was all we could hope for.
a hope of memory.
waiting for the future to illuminate our lives.
but it means nothing.
it is all nothing in the darkness, stretching onwards.
but it was okay, as part two was coming up.
was there an afterlife?
a resurrection of the now.
this is then, but that was now.
i overheard about the party.
after the event.
i was on the outside, looking grim.
they said you were the fingeree.
the recipient of the anonymous fingerer.
a willing, concensual recipient.
anonymous to us, the passive audience.
but not to you.
you kept it all in.
double art on thursday afternoons was the only time at school we shared.
and the teacher played his pretenders and bob dylan tapes.
i had the choice of two bus routes home.
from that moment, i chose yours.
we would sit together on the bus.
i don't recall any conversation.
by luck, we got off at the same stop and we would walk together until we reached your road.
it was like from that point you no longer existed when i couldn't physically see you.
i was falling in love with you.
but it would never be.
everyone was dying.
in front of our eyes.
moment by moment.
was it always going to be too late to enjoy life?
enjoy the beauty of it all.
the wonders of the natural world (in widescreen and hd quality).
being with others, in no more than numbers of three.
four, at a push.
but always, the pleasure of retreating into solitude.
if you can come to terms with personal failure.
you'll be alright.
you will be okay.
but do you see how easy it is to slip away from the good things?
one moment it's the trees and the tide of the sea.
and then, they're gone as you are lost.
where are you?
where did you go?
what happened to you?
what the fuck happened to you?
this is hopeless.
or does it just seem hopeless.
everything seems rhetorical too.
wading through the mists of perception, he pretentiously typed on the fictitious typewriter.
is this all you can do? she enquired.
he looked at her with sterile eyes. fresh from opening that morning.
how does anyone answer anything, when it's all just an opinion expressed, more often, inadequately.
and does an answer change anything. isn't the perception already formed in the mind during the moment of asking.
aren't we all just seeking confirmation.
everyone is, and always has been, right.
but as soon as our knowledge, experience and expertise comes into contact with another human being...
..., the slow, eroding process of compromise begins.
and overwhelms us.
drowning in the middle ground.
of that i am certain.
in my own mind.
so forgive me for not wanting to ever speak to you again.
apart from the written word.
where i can never be disarmed by grammatical intervention.
or the nuclear power of emotion.
i won't kill you, if you won't kill me, seems the best we can hope for.
i am dead to me.
and on the third day...
like a calendar reminder, she appeared, late.
he peered up the twisting staircase and shouted down to her, rather roughly, using his voice.
when they were together in the sparsely lit room, she told him of the man on the cold and breezy beach and his odd behaviour.
the fake candlelight didn't even flicker.
this was the modern age, and there was no place for sentimentality.
in the fading natural light, the knife remained unseen beneath the table surface.
she continued to transcribe the events that brought her here.
he sat, in silence, listening. acknowledging the appropriate detail by the most minimal facial movements.
she understood every nuance of his non-verbal responses.
but even so, or maybe because of this, she knew she hated him.
hated his silent arrogance.
the handle of the knife began to feel slippery in her hand. she had never perspired like this before.
she feared she would drop the blade. yet, the more she held on, the more tenuous her grip seemed.
she would shut him up once and for all.
he sat, almost rigid, with both hands placed deliberately on the table.
she continued to speak, but was overwhelmed by loathing for him. his disshevelled hair, long overdue for a cut, irritated her immensely.
she would do it. nothing would stop her.
but suddenly he spoke. a strange sound, rarely experienced.
please kill me, he said, almost casually.
the knife moved swifly.
the blade dug deeply into the flesh.
with the warm rush, she was unable to keep hold of the knife and as it dropped the blood pulsated from her wrist.
he finished typing.
he became aware again of the music from the radio, and the sound of unemotive pop lyrics declaring their meaningless reality.
he re-read his effort. equally pleased and disappointed by the literary reference.
betraying his ability to compose anything entirely original.
he eventually realised that the radio wasn't even switched on.
so he turned it off, as best he could.
the sound decreasing as he turned the dial.
reaching the obstructive moment where effort was required to click it beyond the zero setting.
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