In the infinite penultimate millisecond facing a catastrophic conclusion you gain a sobering glimpse of what life is. Of all the time in the world it all boils down to the decisions that are made or changed in that moment. The moment when the scales are most perfectly balanced, poised to tip in either direction. Life cannot be pinpointed or defined. It’s everything to everyone and everywhere we look. It cannot be packaged up with a bow and labelled. It’s like sand on a beach, all around, ever changing, at the mercy of the elements. Or like the wind, blowing on our cheeks, biting our ears, bending the trees and rustling the leaves. It’s difficult and ugly whilst at the same time beautiful and addictive. We strive to understand it, to live it to the fullest, to enjoy it to the happiest, to find the answers to the questions we do not know but we never will. It’s like anything lost, it will only be found in the last place we look.
[T]hat blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,—
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
~William Wordsworth, 1798
I am 8 years old. It is a normal school day. Every day is a normal day when you’re 8. Although my vision is blurred by the fog of time. It is lunch time and I am playing with a very small group of friends whose names now escape me. We are on a small paved quiet area at the back of the school, playing marbles on a rusty old manhole lid which has a kind of chequerboard pattern embossed on it, ideal for this kind of thing. (It’s the eighties don’t judge me). The game ends I assume but I have no clue why or how since I am now running back round the side of the school along the edge of a good sized hard paved yard. Running in the way every 8 year old fails to walk anywhere sensibly.
I am laying on my back now, feeling quite serene as I am, wrapped up all cosy and cocooned in my parka and balaclava. This is a time before balaclavas were uniform of terrorists or armed robbers. I am completely calm and content, like I’ve just awoken without a care or a worry. There is bright light high above me, quite some distance off. Everything is still and quiet. That kind of high pitched silence of noise which has been de-tuned. As my eyes start to focus I can see that the brightness is not quite so bright but rather the white autumn sky visible through a circle of darkness. The darkness quickly starts to dissolve to reveal faces encircling me, looking down on me. I’m puzzled by my situation but make no immediate attempt to change it. The silence now also starts to recede to a louder hubbub as one of the faces becomes recognisable as my older cussin who is lifting me to my feet. Along with a friend, they link arms with me and start to walk me to the school entrance. I am completely complicit as you would be in a lucid state with seemingly little control over your physical motions. Questions are being asked of me, but they are muffled, and I am unable to answer or string words together. The fog of time starts to roll in again.
I am in the headmasters room now. I’ve never been in here before. There’s nothing to recognise, though he is there, commanding, waving his arms and hastily shouting orders. I’m in trouble. Why am I here. What have I done. I want the world to swallow me up. Don’t look at me. Don’t ask me questions. I’m shy.
His tone is gentle with me. I’m wary. He gets help from somewhere and I become aware once more of my balaclava as they start to remove it but then stop. A shout rings out from somewhere – “call his parents, now!”
Within a blink of my eyes I’m on my feet again. That is, I closed my eyes and opened them again. How does time slow down and speed up like that. Even then I realise we wrongly think of time as a constant. I reach the entrance at the same time as my mother mirrors me the other side. Only now does salty liquid start to stick to my eye lids and sting my vision. Something is wrong. A familiar hug briskly guides me to the car where I’m bundled into the back. For the first time I feel safe enough to speak – “where are we going?” “The hospital son” comes the reply”. “Don’t worry, it’ll be ok”. But I don’t want to go to hospital. I’ve never been before. It’s unfamiliar, scary, serious. Please no.
I’m laying on my back again, looking up at another bright light. I can feel the precise, sharp, searing cold of metal against my skin at the exact same time as my left ear is aware of the sound like that of a taylor carefully dissecting material. I immediately know it as scissors. My balaclava, with help, comes free of my head and is discarded somewhere to the side. A blurred image of my mother winces.
An X-ray image is now being discussed. I must have blinked again. Then cold freeze spray is applied to my forehead. My mother is holding my hand, or am I holding hers. “What are they doing now?” I say in a calm voice as the taylor threads his needle. I’m surprised at myself. Where did my voice come from. I keep still as he goes to work with his seven fine stitches.
I want to write a book and have done for some time. I started this piece some time ago and forgot about it. I’m not really sure where this started or even where it’s going. But I’m interested in what you think and if it’s worth continuing. I see this book as being maybe semi-autobiographical kind of thing. A series of short stories which come together to form a whole. Anyway, thoughts please?