Feeding on the elaboration of the monotony of time with contempt. Chapter
Remember how the flowers looked when you were young
I raised my delicate chin and glanced my virgin eyes to the night sky. A wrought chasm; vast ocean, model of treasures, perpetual beauty. Never still, never moving. Never black, never white. The air tasted so thin and so brittle. I took a deep breath and was transported far away, to some place where the air is warm all the time and the stress and malevolence of the world doesn't seem to apply to those playing their small part in a small scene. The warm night air reminded me of days past.
The aches of the universe seem less impertinent to the young, I romanticise that when I think of the past, all I can do is think about how happy I was. Cool, blush breezes coming in from the sea and our pale bodies sitting on a dark volcanic beach. Beautiful.
Every crack in the pavement reminded me of the slow decay of time. A car sprints by,
I have always been here, stuck in limbo. Dancing as I do, around and around the centre point of monotony, the tails of my dress branching out in every direction, looking for signs of life to come and dance with me but there is no one here to dance. The world has stopped moving and soon the music will cease to play and when all the world has stopped and there is no longer any music to hear, then I shall be dumb. As two of my senses leave me then I do expect that the world shall soon turn dark too, perhaps taste shall become bland as I revert to a singularity, unaware of my own existence, imitating the world around me. I wonder if everywhere is just as devoid of humanity. Does the whole world forget how to dance? Perhaps they never heard the music.
Staring at the ground and following my feet, I found that I had arrived at my home. Unmistakably identical to the rest of the row that litters the side of the pavement, I wondered if it was possible for flowers to bloom in these conditions. If they did, I wondered if all of those flowers would look the same. One long row of sickly, yellow, drooping daffodils. I unlocked the door and surveyed the narrow hallway for signs of life.
"That you Lizzie?" Called a familiar voice from down the hall.
I marched down the hallway and found my father sitting in his habitual chair. The middle-aged man looked delighted to see me. His bright brown eyes glistened and a smile grew from what could have only been a forlorn face only a few second earlier. A stained, grey vest drooped across his weak stem, mimicking the pallet of the colour in his face and his sullen cheeks did well to maintain the illusion of peace that he was fighting to maintain. He sat, arched in his high backed, brazenly-dull red chair, looking completely in keeping with the mood of the room and the aroma perpetuating the room was as the earth that feeds it was dying.
As sombre a reply as I tried to give I couldn't help but entertain his enthusiasm and my response sounded warm. I hate the way he sits in a chair that faces the opening of the living room, away from the sun. It is a pre-emptive cry for attention. It forces anybody who enters to interact with the man and the man always sits in that chair. I pity the man and his lack life-spark, leading him to desperation, it seeps from his every pour. Middle age and in the winter of his life, not through illness but through defeat. I want to pick him up and shake him until the colour returns to his face and the will back to his limbs, scream his name at him until he remembers it. I feel like he is looking for someone to save him and I would if that person was me but it isn't.
"How was the library sweetheart?" He asks, pushing a wavy golden-grey brown lock away from his eyes.
"Oh, you know. It's the library."
I glance up to meet his unwavering gaze and fragile ego at the same time before moving on through the living room, stepping over dead clothes and buried litter to reach the kitchen,
"Or at least I shouldn't lose any sleep over the rapturous, intermittent solace I afforded myself. Is Gael in? I have missed him."
Though I couldn't see him, I could tell the man's heart sunk a little at the prospect of losing the company of his 'little girl', or perhaps that it was that I chose to respond in such a callous and unfiltered manner and no man likes to be shown by a woman that his senses are inferior to his, let alone that of a man twenty two years his junior.
He answers, "Yeah-Sweetheart, he is up in his room..."
I scold myself that I could act so brazen to a man who is not currently of this earth. An apathetic and sullen middle-aged man, his heart swells, it is open but nothing dares come near. I convince myself that I am a wicked and vile woman for having so little thought for one who has spent so much of his time and wasted youth assuring my safety and relative happiness; a man who, in all likelihood, is in his current state because of the darkness that he shielded me from just so that I may have stayed in the light. These days I make my own light though, should I extinguish my own fire just to set his ablaze again? Then perhaps he could do the same for me. We can perpetually reignite each other's souls until one of us dies and leaves the other in darkness. I think this a poor agenda but decide to engage him none the less.
"How is the job hunt going?" I ask, stepping into the room, now clutching a crusty piece of bread.
My father now looks a little taken back by the directness of the question and raises his eyebrows as if being shown a gun, he slowly nods his head, as if only half comprehending the question, "Oh you know how it is Lizzy, a lot people applying to accountancy jobs at the moment. Plus, with the GBH charge, it makes it a little difficult to get an 'in' anywhere you know... but something will come up, real soon, I promise." Dad speaks with the quivering voice of a wounded deer being shown the mantle it is going to spend the rest of its existence on, I can almost see death in his eyes and I can hear his voice shake when he speaks.
"It's ok Dad," I can almost hear a quiver in my voice as well, "You will come through this, I know, you have always been there for me, I couldn't ask for a better father."
Finding a morsel of confidence in himself, he thanks his daughter and smiles at the words, so carefully glittered upon him. "All I need is that bitch-ex wife of mine to give me back my son and I will alright!" He exclaims with the veracity that thinking about his emasculated position in his family bestows on him.
So painfully transparent. My heart anchors further into the dirt to see him so base. So angry. I suspect that he has been drinking but I don't make an accusation. I can't bare the argument. I can't bare the discussion as to why when he has his son but two days of the week, he would let that time spent unceremonious. Gael spends much of his time in his room. Father spends most of his time in his chair. All the while the air gets thinner. A shrivelling sound of silence falls over the room and it seems to get darker. I can hear the clock and it ticks a slow, concise, ravenous tick followed by a contrived, villainous tock, feeding on the elaboration of the monotony of time with the contempt that only one that counts every second could.
I meander upstairs, minding every step as a stepping stone between me and the colours that I have not seen in an age that is too long for my sight. The narrow stairwell is cavernous, seems to grow in stature. My steps seem to disturb agitated frogs that snap at my heels. The top of the stairs is a bog overgrown; laying a brazen testament to a battle that took place some time ago. A battle fought with malice and forked shaped tongues as swords and loneliness for armour. The shields to each soldier's personal battle lay shut in front of me. In the case of my father's, it lay bolted but all had the markings of each of their own personal battles. Dents that lay as constant reminders of times when the swords physically manifested themselves into objects capable of scarring more than just our memories.
Not Gael's door though. Gael's door remained wound-less.
I push open the wooden white flag that separates war from peace and walk across the threshold into a small hovel with glistening red, striped, crystal-ruby red on waxing-cherry crimson wall paper with a bright white and immaculately patterned designed sky above head. The crushing reality of the house and its memories are forgotten. A quaint wardrobe, the sides smoothed so that the most delicate of feathers would nest and feel in their hearts that they were at home. I take care to take in the touch of the soft, plush, grass-like feeling that overwhelms my feet as I enter, I have walked through lush greens in summer that have not felt half as comforting as the ground does feel in that room. The book shelf sits a picture of a thousand colours, ranging from Wells to Orwell, smiling across the room to what was a very small boy, sitting, engulfed, drowning in a light blue bed duvet. The boy sits happily observing one of the missing teeth of his smiling friend, transported far away.
I smile to behold him. His scrawny frame cuddled by a T-shirt befitting a boy twice his size, his bony elbows rest on his knees as his knees are bent towards his chest. His little bony cheeks seems to glow of wisdom beyond that of the years of an eleven year old boy and the deep ridges that encompass his eyes are caves of awe that perceive the world in a curious tone, the way an eager minded young boy should.
"Hey trouble." I speak softly and try to hide all of the joy that I feel upon seeing this small treasure and if I give it all to him now, then I shall have nothing more to give him later. Gael puts his book down immediately; his eyes bounce to mine and his teeth shine enthusiastically.
"Lizz-ee! I have been waiting for you, you said you wouldn't be so late today!" The child tries to scorn me but is incapable holding irksome thoughts.
So, I act wounded, as not to do his feelings disregard. "Oh, forgive me!" and I throw myself across his bed, "Please forgive me sire, the road was long and the journey was arduous."
Gael smiles a smile so bright that Icarus would have flown once more just to get a closer look and have his heart warmed. I remember what it feels like to be alive. Our jovial introductions continued for some time and I bestow upon him many cuddles and many kisses to which he pretends to detest. He jumps over my back and I wrestle him off. I never felt so happy as when I am playing with Gael. At length, Gael stands up and makes his way across his room and pulls out an envelope from a draw containing many secret things that a boy of eleven would treasure. He tries to hide his smile but it is clear to me that he extremely pleased with himself, whatever it is he has put inside the envelope, it is clear it is of great importance to him and he would like it to be of great importance to me too.
"I got this for you!" He pushes the envelope into my hand and stumbles back in an action that looks as much running away as anything.
"What is it?" I ask after him. Gael was fond giving me things, pictures that he has drawn and his writing, amongst other things.
"Open it!" Everything Gael said was said with such excitement. His life pulsated with playful delights, it was all game to him. He couldn't wait to begin having fun when he came into contact with someone he liked. So quiet for a boy his age and so uninterested in society, but he made his own society and filled it with love. Those who he did enjoy the company of, he would hold onto so tightly that they would turn to diamond and feel their time all the more valuably spent as a result.
I open the plain, unmarked envelope and find enclosed in it two tickets to the circus. Though, I was underwhelmed by the idea of attending such an event, the way the boy was looking up at me as I sat on his bed, his wide eyes full to the brim of hope, I knew that it would take just the slightest prick to burst his joy filled bubble. So, without the slightest hint of disappointment or hesitation, I gasped and opened my mouth, meeting his gaze with the same enthusiasm that he was showing me.
"Oh, my Gael, this is wonderful! How did you get these? I hope you didn't spend all your money on them, I would feel ever so guilty. But I love it, I can't wait. You are the most wonderful brother any girl could ask for! You do know how to look after me. One week from now? Won't this be wonderful" The number of superlatives that I did unleash on the poor boy knew no bounds and Gael blushed, unable to contain the sense of pride and adulation that he had brought upon himself and I.
"I just got them!" He blurted out.
"Well I can't wait to go, you cheeky little money," and I smiled at him, then we hugged a long embrace, I thought of the weight of life and responsibilities to other human beings within society.
The obligations of human interaction. An utterly unprofitable acquisition, when looked at from any direction. Yet, all encompassing, the centre of what it is to be human. Tearing as apart from the outside in, questioning what is right and what is wrong and what is even real. What it is to be alive is a surreal course of interactions, knocking us from one path to another, until we are quite sure we are lost, but if the smiling faces that are on that path look familiar and fill us with joy, then we are truly never lost. Nothing is ever really forgotten. It lives on, inside of us, forever. What has happened is just as relevant now as it was when it happened. In this throwaway society, we treat the people around us and our acquaintances as trowels. The trowel digs a hole in the earth to which we hope that flowers will grow. An impersonal tool. Treat the tools to which you hope to dig your flowers with well. I shall be the eternal gardener and plant flowers forever.