Sunrise Over Cappadocia

rorschach1

Capadoccia. What a place. What a beautiful fucking place. Look at all that bumpy shit. Look at those weird houses in the middle of the sand. They’re incredible. And look at those things. They look like giant penises, don’t you think? Look at them all. Is that what you think they are? Some symbol of fertility. Some warning to ancient visitors about cocks. Huge hard cocks. I bet they are. I bet that’s why they’re there. Must be. This is brilliant. Look at the little man down there. Why is he..oh…he’s taking a piss. He’s waving as well. Can you see that? Can you see him? Look. Down there. Right there. ‘Hello’. Come on. Wave. Say hello. Do you think he can see us? We can see him, so I suppose he can. I wonder why he pisses outside. Do you reckon he’s without a toilet? Is that why? Maybe it’s blocked. Or busy. Or maybe he just likes the breeze. I’d piss outside if I lived here. No. Wait. That’s not true. Or maybe it is. Fuck knows. Would you? Would you piss outside? Would you drop your knickers and piss outside. Out in the open with all these people watching? Would it bother you? Would you mind? Could you do it? You’d have to squat. Spread your feet out so they don’t get splashed. I don’t know how you do it. Not that I think you do do it. I’m just saying. It must be hard. Being a woman. Pissing. I don’t think I could do it. I’d probably fall over. Face first into a puddle of piss. Can you imagine? Fucking hell. Anyway. Enough about piss. Forget it. Man. This is awesome. We’re in a fucking balloon. A bloody air balloon. This is amasing. Don’t you think so? Don’t you think this is fucking amasing? Are you having fun? Are you enjoying it? I mean, what’s not to enjoy. We’re together, right? You and me. Doing what couples do. Going on holiday. Looking at shit. Talking about stuff. Trying to have fun. Are you having fun? I am. I mean, I always have fun when I’m with you. I feel like we’ve got a connection, you know. Like I can be myself. Like you won’t judge me. I mean, I know we’ve only been together for a few months, but I feel like I’ve known you forever. Like we were meant to be together. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I mean it. I really do. It’s weird isn’t it? Do you feel like that too? Do you know what I’m talking about? Of course you do. It’s beautiful. Like you. Like us. The people we are. How we met. How everything happened. Would you ever have guessed? I wouldn’t, that’s for sure. I still can’t believe it. I see you and think, wow, what’s she doing with me? What have I done to deserve her? I think about it all the time. All I have to do is look at you and I feel lucky. I’m the luckiest man alive. I mean it. I really do. Is that how you feel about me? No. Don’t answer that. I can tell. You feel the same don’t you? Is that why you’re so quiet? Is that why you look so serious? I mean, look at us. Here, in Cappadocio. Our first holiday together. Flying in the sky in some huge fuck off air balloon. Me and you. Fingertips inches away from clouds. It’s like heaven, isn’t it? Imagine it. Us. Together forever. Every day. Every night. Marriage and kids and grandkids. All the fun and laughter. Everything we’ve still got to look forward to. There’s so much of it. Think about it. Shit. Sorry. I know I’m moving fast, but I can’t help it. I want you. I want us to live like a proper couple. Plan for the future. Be ready. Ready for anything as long as we have each other. So how about it? What do you think? Do you want to move in with me? Why don’t you move in when we get back? There’s plenty of space. Think about how great it would be. God. That would be perfect. Like a dream. Fuck it. Do you know what? Fuck everything else. Fuck what other people think. I don’t care what they say. They don’t know shit. None of them do. Only me and you know. Only me and you matter. I don’t care about anyone else. Fuck ‘em. I want you. Only you. You know what? Why don’t we get married? Come on. Let’s just do it. Let’s get married. Right here. Now. I mean obviously it wouldn’t be official, but I can propose. In fact, consider this a proposal. Look. I’ll get down on my knee. Wait a sec. Right. There you go. Now. Will you marry me? Will you be my wife? Will you do it? Will you? What do you think? Will you marry me? Hey. Are you okay? Is everything all right? What’s wrong? Is it something I said? Did I do something wrong? Shit. I shouldn’t have said anything. I shouldn’t have opened my mouth. Fuck. Forget I said anything. Ignore me. I’m an idiot. We don’t have to get married, or even move in together. We don’t have to change anything. Things are good the way they are, aren’t they? Wait. Stop. What are you doing? Where are you going? No. Please. Don’t. Don’t do it. Don’t.

Jump.

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The Soundtrack for ‘Sunrise Over Cappadacio’ is the ‘Villagers’ Occupy Your Mind’.

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Rust and Home

rorschach1

He removed the chequered laundry bag and lifted it onto his emaciated shoulders. Looking at the untamed shrubbery and sprawling weeds, it was clear how vastly things had changed, hidden roots now firmly settled beneath the parched and fractured soil. The last time he walked along this path he was seventeen years old, his parents were still alive, and timber gates and varnished doors were forever free and open. Now, security cameras and perimeter sensors warned him not to get too close as vast walls stretched along the streets, their peaks adorned with sharpened razor wire. Streetlights illuminated the smooth tarmac as curtains flickered behind modern sash windows, their voices whispering and fingers warning. He could imagine their reaction to the sight of his shabby clothes, uncultivated beard, and long greasy hair. He was a sight for sore eyes, his more so than most.

Halfway up the path he put the bag down and wiped his brow with the back of his arm. Reaching into his pocket for the weed he’d harvested in the field beside his barge, he looked across the stretch of open land towards the tree on which he once had fun. The tree house was gone, together with the swing, and as he looked closer still, he realised it was sick. The wounds in the bark were covered by cankers and fungus, and the protruding orange horns, pointed directly at him. He remembered sitting between the branches and looking up at the stars, comfortable on his own, yet yearning for more. He remembered that humid afternoon when they met. He could see her now, the summer dress; bright yellow with blue flowers scattered across the fabric, thin straps on bronzed shoulders, a birthmark beneath her left ear, hair the colour of honey, the scent of her skin; watermelon. He lit up and tried to forget. But it was no use. The place was swamped with memories of how things used to be, who he loved, and lost. For these reasons he never returned. It was easier that way. Not easy, but better.

The last time he saw his parents was five months ago. They came to visit him where he’d moored and tried to move on, as far away from people as possible. He invited them in and waited, recognising what they wanted, but knowing he no longer existed. As the kettle boiled on the gas cooker, his parents assessed his home and tried to understand, but they didn’t stay the night, and he was glad. When they left he felt guilty about his conduct. He didn’t mean to be so distant, but he couldn’t help it. He wanted to ask and answer, to be attentive and engaged, but he’d done it before, and failed. He knew they cared and visited to ensure he knew, but he was out of reach and no longer able to return. Watching them drive off into the distance he began to choke, standing in the swelling cloud of smoke, tears streaming down his haggard face. They disappeared around the corner, eyes watching him from the windscreen mirror, hands waving farewell, forever. He returned to his barge, sat on the roof, and stared into the vast expanse of trees beyond, his fingers tracing ancient scars as mosquitos sucked what little life remained. And now, he was back, along with everything else.

He was scheduled to meet the solicitor tomorrow morning to go over the paperwork and begin the process of adopting an orphan life, but he would sooner skip it all and return to the dark and dirty water, back to where he belonged. He never wanted any of this. Not their money, nor their property or possessions. It meant nothing to him, and he felt uneasy knowing it meant more to the myriad of other mourners, the ones that always wanted, always needed, always grieved in jaundiced clammy skin. The only thing he wanted, was them, alive, again. But it was too late. There was nothing he, or anyone, could do. Words meant nothing now, and all the things he could have said that final day, now raced through his head, leaving him weak and unwilling to move. He knew what was inside the house. He knew what waited for him, and he didn’t want it. He didn’t want anything. He never had, apart from wanting to be left alone, and now that he was, he had more problems than ever before.

He lifted the bag once more and forced his feet to move, his soles scraping the uneven gravel beneath. Staring down at the multitude of tiny stones he remembered when his parents paid to have the house and all its land renovated and restored. He remembered the designs and landscapes, the builders and decorators and gardeners working for months to finish on time, proud of their work, and jealous. He remembered the man who told him he was a lucky boy, and it stayed with him for years, until he was the man and all the luck was gone. It was no different now, stood before the door, faced with everything that now belonged to him, together with his one good eye, the other crushed beneath the wreckage of his first and only car, her dress devoured by flames, the new scent; death.

Turning away from the entrance he walked along the path to the back of the house, leaving his bag and keys behind. He kept his eyes firmly fixed on the ground, each step laden with remorse, until he finally reached the barn. Raising his head he looked at the rusted shack, a place of bygone beauty, all old and worn and real. It was like it always had been, and would forever be. Shelter from the storm, protection, safety, home. He reached out, yanked the padlock free, and disappeared into the darkness.

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The Soundtrack for ‘Rust and Home’ is Willy Mason’s ‘Restless Fugitive’.

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A Forgotten Colour

rorschach1

I want to repaint my house, but I can’t remember where I live. It’s been a long night and I’m tired. I’m nowhere near my home, wherever that might be, if it even exists. I don’t recall the details, the precision of place lost to me, like everything else, gone. I left my soul on the Great West Road near Chiswick roundabout, along with my shirt and shoes and car. It was 8.15am. Monday morning. Another weekend gone. The week looming. Tarmac tunnels. Roundabouts. Traffic lights. Trains and planes and people. Horns and humans quarrelling. Cranes creaking. Water pipes burst and leaking. Engines fuming. Sweat seeping. Knuckles whitening. Seconds ticking. The fly buzzing before my face. Back and forth. Over and over again.

Bzzzzz.

Red light.

Bzzzzz.

Green light.

Bzzzzz.

Dashboard.

Bzzzzz.

Newspaper.

Bzzzzz

Slam

Bzzzzz

Slam

…bz…

 …slam…

…SlaM…

…SLAM…

Green light.

Go.

No.

 Not this time.

I opened the door and got out. Cars honking. People shouting. Pistons whistling. I stood beneath the gargantuan advertisement board and wondered what it meant. The man smiling. The woman loving. Their life, different. I continued to walk. Into Gunnersbury Park. Northfields avenue. Boston Manor Road. Several back streets. An alley. The canal. I reached the bridge and stared into the filthy water, the twigs and punctured footballs floating in the algae, the fish struggling to breath, the cans of special brew drained and empty, the world beneath dark and undisclosed, a man looking back at me, wondering who I am, where I’ve been, where I’m going.

I’m coming, I whispered.

The sun behind my back.

The water warm.

The colour,

black.

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The Soundtrack for ‘A Forgotten Colour’ is The Audrey’s ‘Baby, Are You There’.

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Return To Sender

rorschach1

Friday 1st February 2013

Dear Maggie,

 

Today I opened your letter. When I saw it lying on the matt in the hallway I was instantly intrigued. You see, I never receive letters, not anymore. I have nobody to write to, and nobody to write back. When I picked up your letter and stared at the stamp and return address, the elegant hand writing clear atop the creased envelope, I knew I had to open it. I tried not to, but I have tried many things. I took it into the front room and sat down on the sofa. Philip was talking on the television but I couldn’t concentrate. The only thing I could think about was your letter. I couldn’t help but wonder what was inside the envelope. I felt certain it was important, confidential, perhaps. News of births or deaths or marriages and merriment. Perhaps it was an ultrasound scan or a photo of a lost loved one settled and still inside a coffin. Perhaps it was an invitation. A ticket. Escape. I looked at it resting on the coffee table and wondered what made you write the words within. Why now? What did you need, or want, or offer? I wondered why you didn’t know that Terry no longer lived here, or perhaps he didn’t tell you, or he did and you forgot. Your identity was a mystery which weighed heavily on my mind. Perhaps you were a parent trying to reconcile.  Perhaps you were a son or daughter seeking forgiveness, or finance, or fresh blessings for new beginnings. Perhaps it was bad news. Your last chance. Now, with me. My mind would not cease its considerations of the hidden scenarios and their impact and importance. The pain. The joy. The hope or broken dreams. The possibilities were endless. Or at least they should have been.

It was wrong of me to open it. I should not have done it. But life is lonely. Years ago I had a special friend to whom I used to write, but she ceased communications and the letters disappeared. I continued to write to her, but she was gone, lost to me forever. She changed her number. Moved house. Forgot about me. I tried to do the same but her face haunts me still. The horror of my history follows me incessantly and there is no end to it. Even the pills don’t work anymore. But I still write. It helps, most of the time. Perhaps that was what lay inside. Someone else’s search for solace. Perhaps there was more honesty and love within the envelope than I had ever known, and soon enough, I needed to know. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. There it was. In front of me. So close. So near to revealing all its secrets. To me. Only me. So I flipped the envelope over and noticed the lip was peeling away. It was too easy. With a flick of my finger it came loose. The envelope was open. It was too late. The deed was done.

I sat there for an hour reading your letter. Over and over again. Absorbing every sentence and letting the words filter through me. I wanted to feel every emotion expressed within. And I did. I cannot explain the immensity of my experience. It was truly extraordinary. I continued to read long into the night as the stars and moon settled above. I was unable to put it down. I didn’t want to. Soon I could remember every word without the presence of the paper and the markings of your pen. It was inside me, and when I finished, something changed. I couldn’t be sure what it was, but when I finally returned the letter to its envelope, everything was different. I was different. Later that evening, unable to sleep, I tried to decide what to do. Should I keep it or send it back. Should I try to explain or refrain. I thought about my options and the possible outcomes, but it was impossible. So here we are. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry. I hope you can forgive me. I know what I did was wrong, but your words have changed my life. Thanks to you, I am no longer lonely. Perhaps you will write back. Perhaps not. I can only hope.

Thank you.

 

Malcom Tranter

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The Soundtrack for ‘Return To Sender’ is Crooked Still’s ‘Ain’t No Grave’.

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