REPORT A PROBLEM
Luke wondered whether there was any point getting up. He had gotten up for the fast few years and done the things he had always done. He brushed his teeth and combed his hair and ate and went to work and came back and ate and slept. Then repeat.
Was that all there was to his life? Eat, sleep and work?
A long time ago, when he still went to church, he remembered being told that people were special. He had never understood that. Everybody seemed to be following the same routine. What was so special about all that?
It was a cold morning. A sharp morning, where the air entered the lungs with a vengence. Lucy didn't want to get up. She wanted to stay indoors, where it was warm and cosy and the air gently floated in and out.
With a sigh, she pulled the covers closer, shut her eyes tighter and tried with all her might to stop time. She failed.
After counting down from three, she threw back the covers and dove into clothes as quicky as possible. The fuzziness from sleep slowly seeped from her head as she went downstairs to make some breakfast.
The sigh climbed it's way out of the lungs, rose through the throat and took wing past the lips.
It made its way to the tops of the trees, sliding between the branches and turning in time to the leaves as the fell to the ground.
The sigh continued to rise, taking the clouds as dance partners and twisting with the wind.
Eventually, the sigh lost its energy, lost its love of flying, and like the leaves, returned to earth. The sigh crashed into a hedge and stayed there, unmoving. The sigh shrivelled, collapsed in on itself, and, finally, died.
The sweetest of music makes me feel more
Than a night in your arms could ever do.
Sonnets written by Shakespeare years before
Speak to my heart with more force than words from you.
I could stare at your face all day, should you allow
But 'starry night' lights a fire in my chest.
And whilst I would enjoy an evening kissing your brow
Should it not happen, I would not be bereft.
These are the words that I whisper.
I am so in love with you.
Pretending I am not makes it easier.
Please take my love, and make it true.
Walking to work, Luke stared at all the trees. Each one had been coated with a thin lining of frost, as if some extravagant artist had draped them with lace for his latest large instillation piece.
He had never understood it when people said that they hated winter. Everything became so beautiful. Instead of the gaudy colours of the spring, there was an understated simplicity that was far more touching.
Gently, he removed his hand from his glove and traced a finger against one of the branches. He smiled at the mound of white frost he had made.
Lucy stamped against the cold, trying to force it out through her feet. It didn't work and her body returned to shivering. An onlooker might have thought she was performing some ancient tribal dance to appease the winter god. She wasn't. She was just really cold.
The bus was late. It was always late in the winter. Even if the roads were clear, it was late. She turned to look at the people in the queue. Each was wrapped in their own thoughts, determinedly not looking at anyone.
Lucy sighed, hating the way her breath condensed, swirled, disappeared.
Every time he did something wrong, he would decay a little.
Should he tell a lie, his skin would become waxy and pale. Sweat would form on his forehead and sting his suddenly red eyes.
If he ever insulted someone, hurt their feelings, his teeth would yellow and his breath rot, carrying the stench of dead birds.
His hair would turn greasy and lank, falling out in clumps if he ever physically harmed someone.
It always took a nice turn to return him to health. Compliments, smiles, helpful hands were what he needed in order to have healthy rosy cheeks.
'Oh my God the sky is falling!'
'Nah man, you got it all wrong. The sky isn't falling. We're all just rising.'
''Yeah! We're all getting closer to the heavens. Every single one of us is growing, stretching towards the clouds. All the trees and the buildings and all the people and and the street lights and the grass and the birds and the air and thoughts and mountains and emotions. The sky isn't tumbling around our heads. We're just finally starting to reach up to the atmosphere. So no need to worry. Everything is going well.'
Once, a long time ago, I used to be able to feel the darkness seeping in. I would stand there, gaping, as it forced it's way through my mouth, poured in through my eyes, clambered in my ears. It would blind me, drain out all the colours, deafen me to the sweetest music, make every sensation dull, grey, ashen.
The darkness still tried to come. It still tries to pull a smothering blanket over the world, rain soot over it all. Now, though, it fails. It can't stop the world being beautiful. Not with you in it. You are beautiful.
Luke was running as fast as he could, heedless of the ice on the pavement. In his daydream about winter and beauty and ice, oh the sublime nature of ice, he had completely forgotten about work and the need to get there on time.
Breath leaving a trail behind him, Luke rounded the last corner and saw that the bus wasn't even there yet. Instead, there was just a queue of people, each wrapped in thoughts and scarves. Luke sighed, and started the process of retreating into his won head whilst waiting for the bus to arrive.
Lucy stared at the man who had just joined them. He was barely out of breath, as if he was used to having to exert short bursts of energy. He had looked slightly disappointed when he had discovered the queue, and then he had just turned to stare at nothing, drawing in on himself.
It was only after a few minutes that she realised that she had been staring at him. With an embarrassed cough, she turned away, feeling he cheeks become red. Lucy was sure he hadn't noticed, but that wasn't the point. It was still embarrassing.
'In early tutorials he showed a tendency to answer questions without thinking things through, but as the term progressed this has been much less apparent'.
Which is wonderful, really. It's good to know that I have finally started to think things through instead of just saying the first thing that comes to mind. Another quote.
'A good start'.
I am more than happy with that.
In other news, I might be homeless next year. Which is less wonderful, really. Although, I could buy a tent and camp out on Christ Church meadows. That would be nice. It had deer.
The bus finally arrived, shaking Luke out of his own little world. With a sigh, he waited whilst the other passengers made their way on, then followed, cold hands moving stiffly to pick up the change.
Sitting down, he allowed his eyes to wander until they came across a woman, staring out of the window. His eyes were fascinated by this woman, although they weren't entirely sure why. She was so wrapped up in her hat and scarf and coat that he could barely make out here face. There was just something about her. She had a presence. An aura.
Lucy was staring out the window. To her, the world looked like a giant set, cardboard trees and cotton wool snow. She was just waiting for the first actor to enter from the wings, extravagant movements and booming voice, striding forth with confidence.
She was happy to be a spectator, an audience member, rather than the main attraction. She would rather her own quiet little ways than having to put on a persona for the entertainment of others.
With a sigh, she turned from the window, and found the man she had been staring at staring at her.
The knight stumbled through the imposing oak doors, almost tripping as he entered the chamber. He was pale, like he had been raised at the bottom of a dark pond. Matted back hair, covered in sweat, limbs dangling like broken branches. Yet he wore a smile on his face, a manic smile, as he clutched a box close to his chest.
The princess sat on a gold chair, back straight, arms rigid, body made of fine marble. Cold, unyielding.
'I have come.' Panted the knight. He seemed to shiver with mirth, with fever. 'I have finally come, my dear Princess.'
The Princess sniffed. 'So you have.' Her voice sounded like glass just breaking.
The knight gave a little giggle, child-like. 'So I have. So I have. Oh yes I certainly have.'
'Why have you come back?'
The knight ignored the question. 'Do you know some of the things I've done? What I did? For you? So many things I did for you. For your eyes. For your lips.' His shoulders shuddered. 'The things I did. Do you know how easy it is for blood to leave a man? All it takes is a little encouragement. Just a little...'
The knight gave another giggle, it's pitch rising until his voice cracked. He took a hesitant step towards the princess.
'All I ever wanted was for you to take my heart. I wanted to impress you with feats. I killed men. People said they were evil, so I killed them. As if evil were an absolute, a judgement in itself. People cheered. They cheered death, and I was a hero. They gave me jewels. They were so pretty. I threw them away, even thought I knew you would like them. They burned in my hands.Oh how they burned...'
The princess sat impassively as the knight slowly advanced. He stepped forward as if his legs might snap at any moment.
'Did you know I killed a dragon for you? I could see each scale, gold, emerald, ruby tinted, each seeming to clasp at the sunlight. It roared when my sword forced it's way through, penetrating, ripping. It roared. Such a loud sound. And then the roaring stopped. But the scales still shone. So pretty. Even in death. Will we be so pretty when we die?' The knight sighed. 'I'm sure you will be. You are always pretty. Always.'
Another faltering step.
'All I wanted was for you to love me. For you to take my heart. I had split so much blood for you, and it wasn't working. It wasn't working. So I did what I had to do.'
With that, the knight opened the box he had been holding. Inside was a heart, slowly beating. Blood stained the sides, dripped off the heart, left a small pool.
The knight started to breath heavier and pulled his shirt to one side, revealing a gaping hole in his chest. There was a trail of blood behind him.
The knight's words came out in ragged gasps.
'Finally...my heart...I can, I...can give it...to you.'
The knight dropped the box and the heart fell out, landing at the feet of the princess.
'Take it...take...my heart.'
The knight sagged, giggling. His skin was more pale, lips blue, eyes glassy, grey clouds covering a once blue sky.
The princess regarded his heart, then stood up. Daintily, she raised a foot and stomped on his heart, ignoring the little amounts of blood that spurted up her dress.
The knight kept giggling, giggling until death.
This story was brought to you by the darker recesses of my mind. No actual dragons were harmed in the making of this, but many, many hearts were.
If this is ever made into a short film, I want Helena Bonham Carter to play the part of the princess, Damian Lewis to play the prince. The heart can be a pig's heart. Or a fake one. I'm not too fussy.
So that's the end of that story. I'm afraid that people will infer the wrong things from it. There is nothing to infer. This is just a story. Nothing more.
Luke just kept staring. It was as if her eyes had pierced his with hooks. He blinked and scratched the back of his head. Then, clearing his throat, he stood up and half shuffled, half walked, to where she was sitting.
Clearing his throat again, Luke introduced himself, trying to be as witty and as charming as possible.
'Hello. My name's Luke.'
This didn't seem to be good enough.
'I'd just like to...ah...apologise for staring. It's just...you're the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and...I couldn't help it and...and...this is going wrong...'
Lucy stared at Luke. He sighed.
'I'll just go and sit back where I was...'
As he made to get up, Lucy put a hand on his arm.
He sat down again.
After a moment of silence, Lucy spoke.
'Ah, my name's Lucy.'
'That's a nice name.' Luke said with a small smile.
'So...did you really mean that? Saying that I'm the most beautiful women that you've ever seen?'
'Well...yeah...I did. I mean, you really, really are. I'm not normally this...you know...forward. But I just couldn't help myself. I couldn't...'
do you ever wonder what other people think i mean i do all the time i think its really interesting what other people may think about the things that i think about do they think what i think or do they have wildly different ideas and what do they think about me that does occupy a lot of my mind i mean i want people to like me who doesnt want to be liked i just dont want to end up alone because im not good when im alone i sometimes get rather sad and i dont like being sad
I find it difficult to know what to write about Christmas. I don't want to ignore the day. I mean, it's important. It's nice. It should be documented. It doesn't deserve to be ignored. The words I write here shouldn't be laced with sarcasm.
Then again, I don't want this to just be a diary entry. Just a record of what happened, an itinerary of presents, a minute by minute description of my every action.
So what should I do? Maybe I should just pointlessly write about my insignificant dilemma. I can do that quite easily.
'You know, children, you have a wonderful imagination. As you get older, people are going to try and take that away from you. They will give you work, so much work, that there seems to be no time for anything else. They will tell you to 'be serious' and give you a patronising smile. They will tell you that it is for your own good, that you have to face reality, the world as it is. Those people should be avoided as much as possible.'
'I'm a big green dinosaur and I'm going to eat you. Rwaarr!'
'Yes you are.'
The rest of the bus journey passed in silence. It had started snowing, and the snowflakes were flinging themselves against the window with an alarming disregard for their health.
Occasionally, Luke and Lucy would steal glances at each other, offering small smiles whenever they made eye contact. They were so busy doing this, so busy trying to figure out how the other could fit into their world, that they both missed their stops.
Neither of them noticed. The bus filled, emptied, a multitude of faces blurring past, barely noticed by the couple. All they could comprehend was the other's face.
Eventually, they were kicked off. The bus driver wanted to go home before the snow really kicked in.
Once off the bus, they only had a vague idea of where they were. Luke glanced around, slightly worried. He had never had a good sense of direction and the snow seemed to turn everything into one large featureless mass.
Lucy was less worried. She had no idea where she was, but she loved exploring. Taking Luke by the hand, she led him down a street chosen at random.
'We're going on an adventure.' Lucy told him.
'If you say so.'
This is going to be deeply personal, so don't laugh.
What did I just say? Stop laughing! I said this was personal.
So I need to tell you guys something. Something very important.
What did I just say? No laughing! If you keep laughing, I won't tell you, I swear I won't. Ready?
Right! That's it. I'm not telling you! No, no use apologising now. You don't even mean it.
Oh stop whining, I told you this would happen.
Fine. Fine! I'll tell you. Even all you laughing.
I love you all. I really do love you.
Luke followed Lucy with, staring around at the snow falling. It fell on her shoulder, like a lover leaning there after a hard day. Luke felt a little jealous. Irrational, but he couldn't stop the emotion welling up. He caught up with her and started to brush the snow off her.
Lucy stared at him. Luke avoided her eyes, not wanting to explain why he didn't want frozen water to settle on her.
He sighed and watched his breath freeze. He gave a little giggle.
'I'm a dragon.' He laughed, putting his arms out like wings, flapping them.
Lucy gave him a sideways glance, then stuck her hands out in imitation of him. Throwing back her head, she blew out a stream of frozen air.
'I'm a dragon too!' She giggled, and started to chase him around. Both laughing, they rushed around in circles, unsure of who was chasing whom, until they collapsed in each others arms in a heap. They stayed there for a while, breathing hard. The snow kept falling, disguising their shapes.
Eventually, they had to get up. Intertwined, they made their way towards the town centre, ignoring the snow, ignoring the whole world.
The Tip Jar