Not As I Am
Tell me a story or sing me a lullaby. In your own voice. Write the words to me. Put me in the story. Make it a bedtime story.
Why had she driven here? She said she was passing. He laughed. She lived on the mainland mainland. A separate place from this country. This island.
After dinner he told her that he had once written a novel with a rather pretentious title; A Comparison of Truths. No one he showed the manuscript to liked the title. One person remarked that it sounded more like a philosophy text than a love story.
Sitting by the fire sipping whisky he mentioned that he had put together some semblance of a work for her. Empty Hotel Rooms. Where the hotel contained the ghosts of customers who explained about their occupations and preoccupations. Who described diseases and afflictions they had or were about to endure. Love being the worst of them.
There was no need for her to ask. He would have destroyed it.
As the fire’s heat diminished he offered to make her hot chocolate and a hot water bottle as the bed in the spare room hadn’t been slept in for some time. Gracefully she accepted. He had always been impressed by her good manners.
After retrieving a folded sheet of paper from his writing bureau and passing through the kitchen to fetch the bowl of hot chocolate he knocked upon her door.
He set the bowl down on the bedside cupboard by a lamp that was the sole source of illumination in the room.
He took the folded piece of paper from the breast pocket of his faded farm supply shop discounted check shirt.
I don’t destroy everything, he said attempting to coax a smile from his hangdog features.
Over the Mountain
An accident had blocked the tunnel north carriageway. Emergency services were now dealing with the situation; two articulated lorries had collided and one had overturned. A radio report said one of the drivers had died before paramedics could attend him. Motorists should expect lengthy delays with the possibility of the tunnel being closed until the early hours of the following morning.
As she turned off the radio and thought of an alternative route, some great circuitous alternative mapping, she noticed that her nail polish was chipped. Inconsequential details being the perfect distraction in such morbid circumstances.
She parked her car in an hotel car park. Used the facilities to change from heels and dress into trainers, shorts and vest.
After several wrong turnings she found a path up into the mountains. Tracing a route laid down by walkers, sheep, goats and wolves. Granny would understand this rash act of abandoning her vehicle and her using her own physical abilities, her will, to get there….
…….And granny was spoonfuls of honey on homemade bread and sandwiches filled with truffled ham from pigs she reared and truffles she collected after the rain with her old mongrel, Lucifer. She was stories and games and never objected to a pillow fight at bedtime even if it meant a morning spent repairing burst seems and vacuuming goose feather filling.
Do you see why she was so desperate to get over the mountain?
For Who I Am
For several moments the old man sat silently staring ahead. A wash of tears in his ageing eye ducts. Trembling, trembling though not from fear. His gaze now beyond the physical boundaries of the room following a little girl as she ran gleefully through the long grass to the lake. A cracked voice desperately calling out her name.
I’m sorry, he said. My story, my words never quite capture what lies within the imagination.
The woman in the bed smiled. Not out of politeness.
It was the comfort in your voice I wanted to hear. We need only glimpse at the imagination.