Archives for posts with tag: the weather

The church yard was in full bloom and I chose lilies because I always liked them.

Stargazers, flamboyant, delicately confident, pink red and white. With their swirling energy masking vulnerability. The delicate tissue velvet petals that would dance out there for a while then cry in your vase, losing their structure, the stamens bold, heavy drenched with pollen, drooping, giving in later to let go and stain the table.

And Lily was Mum’s sister who I knew for seven years and she was good and she was kind and she was smiley. And I like my cycles and symbolism so I chose lilies because it tied up the threads of my life before. And the florist thought ahead and cut the stamens out because they knew with the bustle of the day that they’d wilt and stain the dress and I didn’t notice at all until it was pointed out as they poured over the photos much later. And on that buzzing, tingling morning with me half dressed in silk, I wafted about waiting for my friend to arrive. My old school friend who I’d known forever making the long drive south with her children safely packed off by the seaside, so she and her husband could help. Him, ushering and placing and her supporting and easing as I assembled myself into the realms of ivory. And she strapped me in carefully, tightly closing velvet before the doorbell rang and he carried in the flowers for me and lay them all boxed on the kitchen floor. And I rustled in, pushed my way through the scent, the home dense with perfume, swollen with potential and the colours were ripe and verdant, plump and ready to sing out as we passed by.

And we passed by and up into the dimmed, musty, hushed waiting air and I held them resting on me as I looked at him. And after when my heartbeat slowed down we turned left and out into the calling light and I held them up high, one handed for the crowd, like a glistening trophy after ninety minutes slogging it out and a weary climb up the back slapping steps. Then in the car with the laughing slapstick of manoeuvring and sitting down and I still held on through the poses and clicking, face aching smiles, high up on the bank with the daffodils out in front of the cathedral. Someone must have collected them when we went inside, whisked them away like I was later, to be kept cool, to retain their beauty, to be looked after and carefully arranged. And we had chosen the design beforehand, weeks earlier on the industrial estate in the back of beyond. And they would freeze my moment and hold it forever and the owners kitten tightroped gingerly across the mantlepiece which seemed out of place in the sparse unit. So we signed and we paid and entrusted and they removed confetti and picked it all apart before the wilting took over, while we found the high air too thin but climbed anyway and looked out over whiteness, away and above it all, in the cold brightness of all that lay ahead.

We collected it on our return and hung it in the bedroom, flattened but saved as it looked on the day. And the light reflective glass would hide the petals from the sun and it would freeze time for a while and look back at me. And it still hangs there now but over the years the photons have beaten the glass and time peeled away the colours although the dress fabric beneath looks the same. The vulnerability of ageing, its irrepressible force of nature, its inability to stand still, to aim for permanence where all is transitory, even the mountains change shape, back there where we stood while petals were glued into place. Long after I’ve gone from this body there will be movement there also, a shifting of matter at a rate we can’t see, motion, of all that we understand in our time based turning world. Everything changing imperceptibly, necessarily with nature.

And even last January not long before the lights went out, when everything was still in place in the old world, I noticed my bouquet had altered. Peering out at me through the wave lengths, the colours softened, the fragile tissued papered skin of an old alpine villager, sun-baked from working the fields her whole life, tending crops because it feeds the children, turning the soil when your back breaks because nature drives you to do it and go hungry when the rains come because that’s just how it is. Living in harmony with a force you dance to, following its path, its rhythms, its music over eons, deeper truths than we can reach but hanging on and moving with it because it’s pure, it’s Good, it’s Tao.

And so my old women behind the glass crinkles a knowing smile back at me.

Time beat us both in the end but through the brittle veins, the stripped out hues, this new subtle palette has a different beauty, it still pulses and dances deep inside on a level we can’t understand. And she’s still there swishing and spinning, twirling through her moment, our moment, this crazy whirling girl of brightly coloured petals, vibrant, showy, knowing, laughing, joyful and free, bunched into a shape to be held for while, for a purpose until the purpose changed and the rhythms changed and the music altered,

but the girl and flowers still dance,

then and now

for him

for our son

for herself

For always

x

This morning: Preparation

I watch him from by the tree as the pidgeon borders him from above. It’s earlier than normal but I need it. I need the pouring rain but it’s not quite hard enough yet. The leaves have pushed themselves out since I was last here, the rain drips down the back of my neck and off their sap rich glossiness and as the wheels brush by with a soft familiarity it all looks subtly different. The fortnights break from routine, the spring warmth and eager rain has lifted my landscape. But just as I turn for the bridge I’m reminded of a much earlier walk and I freeze for a moment, wrapped in layers of grief with acres of loss swirling round my ankles and I step out and towards the other side, back in time as water drops absent mindedly to the road beneath.

I won’t stay long, a mellowed corner of rape has sneaked into the picture, full of promise for the months ahead. I sit on this sodden wood, not quite ready to go, not really wanting to stay. I’m abstracted from it all, the smokey washed layers of cloud, not quite bothering to clear, the rain in the distance over someone else’s life. And Bailey passes by me but the ground holds more interest than my knees today. He’s wrapped up in his red coat, protecting the fur but he should be running free, soaked to the skin, beaming with joy, careless to the pain like I wish to be. But he snuffles and patters off as I sit bunched up in my parka.

Hoping the gentle rain picks up speed. Another wash of grey, heavier now slowing blowing a steady procession over the trees to my left. In my memory the doorbell is due to ring, they’re here to help.

I need to go back now, to be consumed.

I glance at the table on turning,

today even the bird muck is a Tao symbol.

x

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Ignore it all, the coatless freedom, the beating light, the shiny drops reflected back up at me. The speeding shadows, the chirping sun.

It’s all out of place, out of time. My slow shuffled observation becomes a hurried avoidance. This day says nothing to me. The rustling around leaves me disturbed and I seek last spring’s darkness. This really isn’t working, I have to go the back way and hurry.

Look down as I walk, I only see the mud today. Last time I came this way was in the mist and now I can see what’s in front of me, it was hidden before but now I see the field painted soft in the distance.  I don’t want to know about it, I can’t look at it, it’s not my place today.

I wish I knew what the bird calls are, they struggle to lighten me but it’s hard work. At least down the back road there’s still frost. The sapling’s are plastic coated with a layer of moisture, extra warmth needed for their young sprouts of potential. Happy dogs are thick on the ground. It’s going to be a difficult walk back. I turn tail as it approaches the hour. The sun swaps sides and I might just make it. One gentle nuzzling and some warmth on the left. “You’ve found a friend” she tells me. Bailey is pleased to see me even if I’m not.

It’s just a dream today. Their words bounce off me, the distant lightness of lifted spring people, coming from their darkness to chatter on the breeze. Their laughter irritates me but I can’t blame them. I would, if I was them. Have to get past “their friends on the estate, yes we were all still at home”.

And Bella’s toffee paws break the spell. And though I’m rooted in this thawing empty sunshine it doesn’t matter how long I stand here, no one can see me anyway, I’m not really here.  But then I want to run, to escape, to leave, to evaporate, to be beamed up and away from this place. 

My tapping competes with birdsong, the warmth getting through but the scampering and panting and rustled nylon pushes me to make a shift. My shadow cloaks an early bee, sneaking out, prompted by sun but confused by the coldness that lingers. In my resistance of the day my friend’s text tone startles me and makes me smile. His squeaky loud car horn is at odds with my world, as am I. Then more texts demanding I participate in this morning and I need to scurry back to somewhere dark, where the sun can’t reach me although it feels good right about now.

I move under birdsong, through the rays and over the frost, around the faceless dog snuffles.

I have a food delivery coming, I need to go.

The day continues on its way.

I have to find mine.

And I am caught by the last person I wanted to see and her falseness grates on me. She oozes alongside and oils out her question. I say “I’m fine” though it’s an effort to form the words and she needs to take a different path at the crossroads and I’m relieved. I feel unclean from the moment. 

And now they’re coming at me, shoppers and walkers and the heaviness pushes down successfully without restraint.  A beautiful muzzled beast of a dog smiles at me through his fur, I’m drawn to its heaving energy and power, a potential savage  just beneath tumbled acres of fluff.  The proud small man on the lead enjoys their questions and presents informatively to a passer by.

I’ve had it with this day and it’s only 9.15 in the a.m. I go back the short cut, watching my shadow bounce perkily, denying how I feel.

The front door can’t come quick enough.

X

Thursday March 1st

This is perfect

Heavy fog, mist drip tapping onto me.

Hanging on branches, can’t see very far ahead. Before the bridge can’t see the other side. Everything shiny and seeping. I turned right don’t know why. Halfway up a different path stop and listen. Sharp branches in foreground with washed out trees beyond. The traffic is calling, I must check this route another day. The distant shapes are inviting but I need the hill, I wonder where this goes? I want to escape. Turn back for the bridge. Catch the raindrop from the rusty grid of fencing, holding back nature. I burst its surface tension, its invisible wetness on my finger. The bright yellow arrow points north west insisting to me its a footpath. I take its hard plastic advice. And all the metal struts are hung with glass beads and thread pushed out and woven with instinct to catch food. And I resist the temptation to brush them away on my hand, forcing them to rebuild without resentment, without anger, just doing it because you have to feed – relentless parenting. And the wings flush by me, and the white is so heavy I want to keep walking into it, to be swallowed whole by the mist but if I do when I get there it will still look the same. Pidgeon reminding me it’s time to go. All I can see are faded outlines of what used to be there. I know it’s underneath somehow but I can’t see it, have to feel it instead. Can hear the pidgeon nearby but can’t see him. The cold’s building, the greyness hangs. This is a close fit today – Submerged in thick scared desolation. Beyond weighted down. Anticipation, knowing it will lift at some point but right here, right now,

it’s solid dense saturating clawing imploring calling me into it.

Heavy, consumed and lost

I look back

everything has disappeared

I look forward and see only solid white

Stand

Wait

Friday March 2nd. 

Last time before the weekend

Cold, calm earlier, want to hold onto it

But there is no holding just being

It may shift again

Still misty

But not the denseness from yesterday

Owner calls for busy terrier and behind me a selection of dogs have joined the day

Sun trying to force itself up

Real interruptions now blocking me with phone calls and her focussed dachshund 

‘That must set you back a bit – did a mental calculation’

Unfeeling, feeling too visible and vulnerable

Leave them to their briskness, leads in hand

I’m off the leash myself, out of bounds.

Going home

Later

Our friend turned up in his familiar way and wandered round the back, off to hunt boar. He came to help with the garden and my husband used to envy his life wrestling with nature and words and now he’s here balancing a spade because the job would make my back ache.

I take myself away as the sounds start and staring through the pain I listen absently to the deep thump pause of preparation.

I study our willow star, it’s raffia ties crinkled dry by the months. And lose my place until the throaty throb of his petrol motor torques its way up and over the lawn.

The sparrows compete for special offer worms eager, plump and fresh. Revealing.

The sun doesn’t quite break through but the waiting creeps forward,

The movement is irresistible,the process is becoming.

Saturday March 3rd

Steeling myself and feeling inescapable movement through the day. An inevitability approaching like the first weekend in-between the first and second conversations.

Tomorrow we work on the garden together.

Sunday March 4th

Early morning, listening to our son’s breathing and through the curtains that belonged to a different land I lie under the washed out grey. The gentle pittering becomes more insistent, It sounds Good, cleansing and pure. It feeds my earth. It’s natural process, turning, moving, being.

The patio is dark and shiny, the leaves heavy. Under the soil everything ticks and buzzes with potential. A universe I can’t see but sense, but feel.

Everything is in motion

Including me

The rain has a softer punch but keeps coming. Everything is saturated with this anticipation,

moving through stillness.

Wrapping myself up.

The rain is cold despite moments of spring. My feet tingle from the soaked concrete, last years leaves have changed but they’re still glossy and proud. I can see my breath. The bare trees cut black angles across the thin grey wash in front of me.

I flip away, she’s in her red fleece, I take her arm, he never likes the trip but loves the connection. And she can’t decide what to eat so he chooses for her and we knew she had stopped worrying.

And as it turns to autumn on my March day I catch sight of my reflection in the double glazing with my necklaces from then and now. A double set repeated, normally not visible, but in this light, at this angle through the raindrops and the dust I can see the things beyond.

Later he wrote into the patio dirt with the bright noisy power washer. He laughed at the mud we generated, he soaked me and washed the windows and in gloves way too big for him he scooped while I patted. The rich fresh earth smelt good, the roots breathing, untangling, finding a new place, stretching tentatively in their new found direction.

As I wait for the water to stop I glance around the garage, our old big fridge that used to be full of made up milk feeds by his bachelor cupboards, worn grubby with age and histories, stiff drawers packed with essential nonsense, a younger writing from when it lay ahead of him, And our son’s blue bike that we hurried behind easing him into finding his balance, just like his dad before him. And he wobbled then and we wobble now and we still need stabilisers as I stand amongst our dusty cobwebs, our crumpled mess of memories. Outgrown obsolescence. Out of the house but still attached.

And it’s cold and wet and evening is pushing us inside.

I turn the tap tightly

Tomorrow is coming.

 x

Yesterday March 5th

I will be here tomorrow morning too

Stood in the glare of the sun, brambles catch me as I go by. It’s bitter but the rays strip the clouds across and above, the traffic moves freely, the wind cuts into my neck, time for my table. Crossing the bridge. I will come back this way. I pull some gauzed seeds from the enticing thicket, it resists me and I pull till its free. It’s smooth black tips torn from their potential. I stand for a while on the bridge staring into the oncoming traffic, shielding my eyes from the dazzle. I loosen my grip and the seeds are carried from behind through the railings and disappear into the morning. And now I stand higher up I can see more from over here. Can see beyond the cathedral to a place I’d  barely spotted before. Despite spring sunshine the bitterness from yesterday’s short cruel snow remains and I understand winter isn’t over yet. I pick my route with care and get to the table. The icy wind competes and almost wins over the sun on my back. My hands are buzzing, it feels so different today, the wood will take ages to warm up.

And in the light of my March morning all things fade to a being with my soul, a four count rhythm and the memories of their words.

It’s time to go

x

At home

Surrounded by every second and memory of our life crashing swirling dancing, cradling hurling sneaking, bashing and forcing themselves around me.

I wait

I can’t do anymore

I need to be

I wait for the doorbell

x

Today March 6th

After

I don’t know where to be today, how to be

The bench is too wet

The ground slippy muddy icy

The wood pidgeon still trying to direct me, it’s shadow circles round, Icy air blows through me, I feel yesterday’s immense pain hovering and want to find a place to be. My shadow is still long, the mist has gone, the whirring feathers beat air past me.

I want to write here until I feel nothing. Until I can’t hear the bird call, the squealing children, the buzzing roads, the humming underground, the tweeting on top, their impatience piercing, the hurried children, the abstract banging, the hollowed cry, the heavy sound of a world still churning and a child screaming on the wind. And I only have white heat at the end of my arms and I want to write until it stops, until I can’t move anymore, until there’s nothing left and the engine throttle disappears taking me with it and I’m in bright open physical pain mirroring the endless emotion while the birds delight in their existence.

I am frozen I am pain I am here

Still

The pidgeons are on lookout behind me. My ears are ringing under the wafting bird flight, lorry reversing, plane throbbing, winter bareness persisting.

Time to negotiate the steps in front of me.

And under the bridge I walk past the shuffling old man that he didn’t become and nod to the cloud of perfume from the old world and round the back now appreciating warmth and feeling the pull of our garden. And I stand beneath the tree we could see from our window, the sun warms my frozen face, the shadows are still stretched out under the sirens and brushing wheels. The leaves and litter are carried regardless.

Time to return

x

x

In the other universe I went into reception class and helped out because they were one member of staff down. While he got through the dreaded tribunal and typically did a fantastic job although he unpicked it later and beat himself up about some of the elements.

And in the spring the fear of redundancy came nearer and we lost many hours to the worry and worked through innumerable plans and options. But we ploughed on, created contingencies and battled our way through the stress.

And we continued to be puzzled by the leak in the car and still didn’t get to the bottom of it.

And redundancy was escaped this time round but it was only a matter of time with new clouds never that far away.

And he struggled with the piano music for his birthday. We knew it was beyond him and our son but it had to be bought and they had to try. And the connection with his Mum ran through the scores and surrounded them both when they played.

And the summer was peppered with days out making way for the late holiday in Northumbria. And we cheered loudly at the experience when the voucher was redeemed. And he cheered when our son learned to swim and was so proud as he took to the blues. And in assembly only we knew the significance of the piece he’d chosen.

And he disbelieved with me that Year 6 had arrived. And he grilled the Heads in his special way as we chose the next school for our son. We settled on our first choice anyway and talked about the next phase. And we wondered how it would be when he started secondary and we watched him growing up and away.

And the in-law issues took their familiar course and Christmas was negotiated as usual.

And we teased him over the approaching big birthday and he implied, with no subtlty, that it should be like the 40th and between me and our son we did a great job.

And everything ticked along under a normal sky with all the ephemera and mundane minutia of a life lived in a real lane. And we continued to make plans like you did and we thought of the future and how it would be. And we worried about things that may never happen and normality stretched out in front of us in an endlessly comfortable comforting road, well trodden, signposted and safe.

And tonight I tried to find something to cook, glad it was half term with days off. And we needed to use the days well and had something planned for tomorrow.

And there was ordinary, there was usual, there was life, there was us, there was family, there was growth, there was time.

In this other Eden
there was all of it
nettles you could roll in

his rainless painless sky

Everything, our world

In the other universe
where he didn’t wake me in the middle of the night

x

Regained

The unrelenting sun refracts itself in pinpoints on the hard black shiny beads. Cushioned coal in the toy elephants face. The universe in his mum’s ring pulls me in deeper showing colours we can’t understand. The nap separates into spaces in the uncompromising light, microscopic chasms, losing myself in the fur. I can’t look it in the eye I can only watch the reflection calling me, but as the flashbacks trip and ambush me I drop away from here to there in the photons that hold the connection.

The shadow edges over the back of my hand, the sun warms the side of my face as our son calls up the stairs.

x

Avalanche nature’s force

Surging energy batters

New shoots underneath

x

It’s odd, there’s almost an irrelevance about this

Time

Months

Weeks

Days

Hours

Minutes

Seconds

Nano seconds

A year

What does that mean? Has anything changed? Am I further away from that moment at all? It’s just a process, it’s what we do – marking ageing. And whilst crushed under the inescapable re run there’s a part of me outside of it, of understanding I’m intrinsically woven into that moment, it’s as much a part of me now, then, and always, like my consciousness .

There’s no separation between me and then it simply is, it’s there next to me, on my shoulder, just happened and happened in another millennia. We exist in a permanence, an endless luminous being in itself, something that travels with me as I age.

As I untie towards 365 days and the wounds are hacked into, cleaved open, left gaping and gutted, screaming, searing white pain tearing out into the universe and yet underneath it all lies a deeper truth. An unknowable knowledge. No separation from then. It hurts me, it drives me, it is me.

Time is only a human construct

I am then

I am now

Approaching a year

So?

Epilogue

Tuesday

I see the telegraph poles for the first time through the mist. Turned round to go, it’s too muddy for the feelings. Double backed and from this angle it looks like a shear drop, although I know there’s trampled summer down there. It looks appetising, calling. One displaced seagull and a squelching suede grey dog. Going towards the edge as the temperature dips again, not sure what’s over there,

in an aching English mist yearning for the Colorado river.

Pidgeons still there on a lower branch etched into the morning. Still watching me, biding his time. Just a ball of black from this angle, then flaps heavily fluted as they all pass over me. I look for his Mum at the bus stop and she’s there wrapped up in brown, powdered in the scent of setting lotion. And the chug throb takes her away as the snow starts to fall. A distant hammering over feintly shined bricks.

I can’t walk much slower. But I have to meet it.

Wednesday

Ground like cardboard, frozen paw prints, iced gusts slow my progress. I don’t want to be here. Lost seagulls wander skirting the air looking for a reason. Mud dried out dry ski slope, minus something or other. Nose and eyes running. Easier to walk but bitterly I’m not here. Can’t do this.

This coldness, this love, this pain

Time for the descent

Thursday

Bottom of field, fence ripped out replaced with steel bars from nowhere. Alien, out of place, a 6 foot letter N. Things hop by me mirroring my movements. Footsteps echoing on hollow ground, waiting to see who comes by. And here are my favourites waiting for the troops. Heavy blue frayed lines going over the top. The fields fueled with beaten gold, looks like it should be warmer. A jigsawed letter from when we used to use stamps and the sky looks like June somehow.

And there’s one twig left, arms outstretched under their calling caws

Bending in the breeze

cropped to fit my view

It’s the day before tomorrow

x

Today

Raven

Your cloak over food

bird prints smashed under deep tread

Hunger waits for thaw

One legged black bird

carried on avoiding crust

Twenty three reasons

Week 51 waiting for the guilt of a day when I don’t cry. It will come, it’s inevitable but I fear it. I will have to allow it though, when it comes, let it in and let it pass just like all the other elements.

The physical process has caught up with me recently, running on empty for so long. I’m tired of the aching ribs after a bad few days. Tired of thinking and feeling, of constantly churning it around in my mind. It’s always there running in the background like some antivirus software chugging away, slowing down the system.

He would do a ‘clean up’ once a month and fiddle about with programmes that were outside of my area. I wasn’t really bothered so long as I could use email and internet. It was what he did, his designated department like doing the BBQ, poking the fire while I arranged lettuce or being in charge of the TV reception in a holiday cottage – he checked the scarts, I unpacked the clothes. Those little parts of a relationship that build up over the years, that you carve out between you, that you grieve for in the new world, losses within loss, all needing to be looked at.

I was never entirely sure why it took so long to run these scans but it was built into the odd weekend and apparently improved the system. So into the new world it occurred to me there was no ‘cleaning up’ being done mid month or at any other time and I wondered just how long the computer would work without this input. It did slow down a little but nothing that another cup of green tea couldn’t wait for. Of course whenever I switched it on it screamed at me to update, install and upgrade but I tentatively then defiantly and more recently, irritatedly clicked out of them. I could get to my blog, that was enough, it was ok. But at some point when the window reminding me of the number of updates became so huge it needed its own update, I decided to do something about it. And it rattled away through the night and a through a worrying amount of the following morning but nothing exploded or combusted and my email was still there. Solved it, for now at least. Another aspect to bitterly take over, to stumble through and take on. To just about get away with it, (like existing.)

It took me back to an early moment from before we were even married. In the long pre parenthood evenings we became obsessed with a computer game (me, for a while. Him for…a little longer). I faffed about with it, complained at some of the imagery, but occasionally enjoyed blowing something up after an irritating day at work, plus it was great for bouts of PMT. He, naturally, took it more seriously and compared notes and techniques with his friend who’d introduced the blessed thing to us in the first place.

There was competition between us and of course I couldn’t keep up. It was silly and fun and I was many levels behind him. However… one evening while he was engrossed in some programme I decided to have a bit of a catch up. I tried my best but still couldn’t get beyond the train depot, I was stuck, couldn’t jump, couldn’t go back and couldn’t find the trick to get out (like a bad day now.) I saved it, gave up and thought just for a moment I’d have a look at where he ‘was’. I clicked on his last session, had a snoop around, was none the wiser and came out of it. I did save it properly, I’m sure I did. Honestly. But something made me look again and a horrible creeping coldness came over me (a different universe of coldness to the one sledgehammered around you when you’re taken into a private office and the soft gentle click of the door closing behind you is as loud as your heart banging in your ears.)

But back then in that simple free careless griefless lossless world, it was a bad feeling. I looked again at his session and, god help me, I’d overridden it with my own, mine from the ‘early girly baby ‘ levels that he’d gayly skipped over weeks ago. This wasn’t good. Not good at all. I thought about trying again but was well out of my depth so trudged guiltily down stairs to get his attention. I stood before him like a naughty child, my expression saying it all when I thought I had bad news for him (a universe away from when I approached the same settee thirteen years later to sit by our son. Then there was no expression, there was no face, I was nothingness, I was void.)

But back then he looked up as I jokingly offered him back the engagement ring to illustrate the depths to which I had fallen. To be honest, there was some swearing and he had a fantastic range, so creative and so many new words that I’d learnt over the years. Some of them came out then, as he went to survey the damage. We were never really quite sure how I did it but clearly now there was a job to be done so I replaced the ring and let him get on with it. He was still busy getting on with it when I went to bed later and like my recently updated system apparently he also chugged away through the night …just to catch up. And so a mere seven hours later and all was as it should have been. I did finish the game at some point and we emailed his friend to explain my ‘faux pas’. I remember his email back to us, it was very very long and made only one comment repeatedly ‘Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha’.

Years later I was pretty good on the computer but he was always a step ahead and was in charge of the background stuff, that suited me and it worked for both of us. But now I have to tinker and mess about with things I don’t really understand. I have to make mistakes, and get it wrong, I have to research if I don’t know, I have to google it and if all else fails ‘get a man in’. Like I had to recently about the boiler. But I make sure I know my angles, till I know enough or have some idea of what to say. I gird my loins, know my lines and hide my ring finger in my pocket. I get through it, feel stronger until he rings back later with figures and says ‘do you want to discuss it with your husband first?’

I say I’ll get back to him and drop the phone. The remains of the day are overridden.

But now I can’t go upstairs to catch up, I can’t do anything, I can’t change it, no amount of hours will erase this incomprehensible situation. And the whole grotesque programme is turned up loud, running, screaming at me in the foreground now. And all I can see are all the details in a neon garish close up counting down brightly pixilated all around me, in a continual strange loop, inescapable rushes ticking and ticking, watching me watching it, re living it second by second, frame by frame, atom by atom for the next week

until

Game over.

x

Epilogue

Sodden after snow, remaining clumps hang on to coldness. The thick mist pulls itself close into the hill. The air is saturated with bird calls. Ugly mud demanding its way. Fuzzy horizon, battered and damaged ground beaten by snow and little ice pools of mud strawed out the old grass.

Way too many dogs having to walk despite the cold.

Damp quelled people shuffle around me as though I’m not here. Standing oddly in the middle of nowhere typing with a purpose they don’t know.

Not so cold, but the day carries an odd heavy mysteriousness. Time to work this out at home, I think. Treading down the plants I stood by earlier, bashed and held back by frozen tears. None of this feels real today. The bird tapping through the mist, the careful steps, the tingling skin. I don’t think I’m here. I don’t understand this. Time for a slow descent, this isn’t working.

Heady anticipation

On the edge

Clinging

Tested the normal route but it was impassable, clung to branches and changed direction. Tripped, snagged by bramble, ignore and keep going. Needed to pick my way home by the steamed up traffic. Thrown back into the rush hour thoughts. Hurrying relentless. Glanced at woolied toddler safely shielded from this icy pain trundled by in designer wheels. Flipped back to the days of tantrums and tired achievements of getting out just to buy a sticker book. And it hurts too much and I have to stop.

And just by my drain I met the old lady, huddled years weighing her down. Taking care of herself in wool and nylon, smiling up at me with support of stick and terrier. And is that bedraggled matted guide her only company when she closes the door? Has she been through all of this near the end of her life? What agony has she lived with? How has she changed to accommodate the weight of loss? Creased and stripped by the hours but still out there in the cold, in the winter, hunching her way through the days.

I smile back. I want to hug her, I want to hold her tightly, this total stranger wet and wrinkled in navy. I want to take it all away, what ever it is. To comfort, to make better, to carry, to ease her pain and mine. It will be ok, it will be ok, it will stop. I want to cry in her arms as the dog pulls and yaps at our feet. His jingling collar shining through the darkness.

I hold the image. What does she know? What will I know by then?

Did I walk past myself?

Her persistence. Her pain.

One step in front of the other, following the scratch click of eager paws.

Hardened, but grace in her stoic fragility.

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