Snapshot 4

This is what I saw: I work from home, balancing the guilt of feeling as though I am not productive enough, with the desire to see just how little I can get away with doing.  From where I sit at my desk, I have a view through to a bedroom window of a nondescript three bedroom house.  Most days, all I see is the drawn or undrawn curtains, occasionally a view of a person  of indeterminate gender.

This day, with the perfect storm of a clear day and the sun in just the right portion of the sky, the window appeared to me as though highlighted by a stage footlight.  And there, stood looking out through the glass, was a woman. Simply stood, posed like a picture on an advent calender. And she was crying. 

Not the dramatic, hysterical crying of a mourning mother, but a calm, almost serene outpouring of grief.  The reason for this woman’s tears was of course unclear.  But for a few minutes,  I was captivated. To be so still, frozen in place,  but to be feeling something evidently powerful enough to invoke tears…  What was it?  Sadness? Misery? Happiness? 

I wanted to know about her life,  I wanted to sit at her kitchen table, an unseen guest, and learn the tale of this woman’s sorrow. Why is it, other people’s lives can seem so much more fascinating and glamorous than our own?   Why do we often think that? And why do we fail to appreciate, even when we’re at our lowest, that our lives will seem infinitely more interesting to others? 

Snapshot 2

I saw a black sun today.
You were driving, which for me is a big deal as I’ve always been one to want to be in control. Not in a domineering, manly-man way; more like… actually, it’s nothing that complicated. I just prefer to drive.
But today, you were driving, and the verges of the motorway sped past while we moved in their shadow.
I played the game I play with myself. I spot just one tiny piece of road furniture – a barrier support, a particular cat’s eye, even just a hole or mark in the ground – and I acknowledge it. I focus on it. And I think to myself, “I will never see that piece of the world again”.

You said something to me, about how happy you felt, and as I turned toward you we left the shadows and my eyes were hit square on by the sun. It was like those videos of test nuclear blasts, an instant of pure, white light. This made me slam my eyes shut with a wince, and the impression the sun made behind my eyelids was a black sun. I refused to see this as an omen.

Snapshot 1

I want to try and write more, and as well as keeping the poetry going, I want to try these ‘snapshot’ pieces of fiction. I have been inspired by Douglas Coupland, who in more than one of his books writes in this style. If you want a good example of his work in this vein, read “Life After God”. I’d like you to be patient and stick with these. I hope to get better at them as time goes on. Thank you.

One day, just as the last morning cup of tea had worked it’s way through my system, I fell down.
It was a shock, because in my mind I was still the youthful footballer, the skillful skate boarder, agile and sure of foot. For a few moments, lying there on my back and looking up at the ceiling, I had an insight into what it might be like to die.
Nothing moved. My entire world was the near 180 degree view of my walls and ceiling. There was silence, just the faint rub-dub of my heartbeat, and the constant low ‘sssshh’ sound that seems to constantly be in my ears.
I held my breath, kept all my limbs and head still, and slowly closed my eyes as though drawing down a blind over a window.
I imagined my inner-self coming loose, untethered, and drifting away like a piece of paper on a still lake. I pictured the scenes that would unfold when I was discovered, cold and alone. The shock, the sadness. In a few moments, a whole lifetime of grief and life moving on was played out on my internal cinema screen. And then I got up, and went about my day.