As I walked through the park, the wind whipped my hair about until it ran ragged against the steel horizon. Red ribbons, scarlet nimbus. A silvery flight of rain, to mock the circling gulls and fill the air with a last-gasp winter chill. It is lighter already – so quickly do these things roll around, summer fire chasing the midwinter silence. The air feels different. The year clears its throat and introduces another season. It never gets old, this feeling. I am giddy with it, impatient for whatever will come.
And still … and still.
That fractured light on a midnight water.
I know better. It will be cold indeed.
Turn my face away and walk from the shore, but just because you do not look at something, does not mean it will vanish from behind the eyes.
They bled out this afternoon, from that wind that was sharp as my spine; it sent the lake rip-curling away in a small tide of its own, to bounce the ducks and gulls in their feathery dance. They do love to be raucous, swarming about the serenity of swans, the madness of coots, the silent sentry of the heron, who watches me from an impassive yellow eye. Not quite disdainful, only a wry smile in that gaze; a slow shake of the head, so knowing and full of black lines, thoughts of deeper waters, where only the small things go, to hide in a maelstrom of mud and weeds.
In sympathy, the sun wrapped a purple scarf about his throat and shivered to earth; wild gold bars through the seething mist that hissed on the lake. I wasn’t blink-blinded enough to miss those pre-Valentine couples, a careful romance before the actual event. Like warming up before a race, perhaps. There are normally more singletons like myself, wandering about the shore with books in their hands and coffee dark in their throats, the paper cup long-buried in a mulch of leftover lunch in a bin.
But today, it was about joined hands, red knuckles turning white with the grip of those who swung their smaller versions between. I smiled to remember it – the ache in the shoulder-blades, as my sister and I sent our little brother up into the sky, to stay there and live with the birds, the dreams, the nest of thoughts that can bury reality.
God, I miss him. I really must go and visit again. Assuming that I have a job in a few months, to actually afford a train ticket.
Not there, Rach. Not that kind of reality. Think on other things.
Those little people, screaming and laughing and crying, slip-sliding in the mud like otters on their bellies, whistling to one another with the glee of pink-cheeked youth. Doing all the things that kids can get away with, while their relative adults always manage to look tipsy. Though the guy who tried to climb an oak was having such a grand time, I stopped to watch his attempts to reach the top, until he fell out. Lucky for him, all the broken branches from the night’s storm had rattled their way down the slope. He was on his back among the bitterness of acorns, wheezing with laughter. I helped him up, and his grip on my hand was a whispered conspiracy of one free soul to another. We parted with a nod and a smile.
I like to watch people. I don’t like them watching me back, but that’s where long lashes come in handy, for I hide behind their shadows and note every trick-by-turn that society comes out with, awake or asleep, half-cut or stone-sober, aloof or Alive with the feeling of a moment.
The latter in particular are fascinating, for they remind me of the children we once were, the souls that live in us still – so garrulous one moment, and retiring behind a sofa the next. They act upon impulse, are closer to the animals they in turn are enchanted by; their mentality reflects an almost instinctive reaction to events and feelings, rather than a premeditated one. A child won’t stop and think, Well, that puddle is a bit on the muddy side. I’d better not run through it. Likewise, they’ll barrel-roll down a slope full of golden leaves, without thought for the hidden brown teeth of branches and thorns, which can reach up to snag clothes and skin.
As someone who spent many years plotting out her next step, mouthful, waking moment and resting-second, I find it is no small grace to finally act upon some whim or another as I please – to take off to London for the day, unplanned, or to simply walk a different route around the city lakes. To have spontaneity in my stride, to swing from one place to another simply because I’d changed my mind, will no longer send it into a whiteout.
I can finally accept a random offer of a night out at the pub, because the thought of eating / drinking in a different place no longer holds such fear. Oh I’ll admit, it will still give me a twitch of nerves – but the thought of not pushing my boundaries, of not living my life as it comes along, brings such a nimbus-mood these days that I can’t help but shove hard against the old anorexia-fear. Ultimately, it’s about relaxing control. About letting someone else take care of me for a bit, whether through catering or company. Nothing so awful is going to happen (well, you’d hope.)
Freedom comes with its own price, of course. I am giving up an evening for company which may turn out to be dull; eating food that could be dubious. Writing must go on hold, and I may find myself concentrating more on how the narrative of the room – so many voices! – can slot into a scene, rather than what my companion has to say with their eyes and their feet.
As it turned out, the company proved as decent as it is at work, even without the assistance of barricade tape and caffeine-whiparounds. I say this with the ambivalent shrug of someone who is not looking beyond the next minute, the next hour. The way that tide pulled away last year, taking my life with it, I know better than to be complacent.
When rainfall is the final will
Of whispered words, to graze the world
We find ourselves among the lives
Of those who fall, to dig the earth
Who burrow far to find the love
Of those that passed, are passing still
We find ourselves in silver light
Of falling rain, your heart to quell.
And still it comes and goes, comes and goes.
Turn from the shore, it will still be there.
As will that dark place of the world, where only the blue rose remembers love (something like it) death.