REPORT A PROBLEM
Nick had managed to find a spot to watch the fireworks, away from the maddening crowds. He found crowds too impersonal, too lacking in intimacy for his liking.
Sitting on a bench, by himself, he huddled his knees up to his chest. It was much more intimate here. Just himself, the sky, the cold and, eventually, the fireworks.
Shivering, Nick pulled in on himself more. A new year. There was always a new year, but things rarely changed. Same things said, written, created. A new year to do the same things.
Nick sighed, and stared back at the sky.
Sophie loved London. If asked, she could never give a reason why. She just loved the place.
Breathing in the night air, she waked past a man huddled up on a bench. Giving him a small glance, she continued on, letting the night take him for itself.
The fireworks were under way, but Sophie ignored them. Too loud, too bright, to much smoke. All she wanted to do was soak up London, let it melt into her bones.
Pausing, she reached out and touched on of the buildings, concrete cold under her fingers. She shivered, smiling.
James was used to seeing strange people. They seemed to be attracted to him.
Right in front of him, a girl was touching a building and shivering. It wasn't the clod making her shiver. It was far too... reverent a shiver to have been created just from the elements.
Sighing, James turned away from her and went back to studying the flower. He was vaguely aware that something pretty had happened in the sky, but he was too focused on the flower to pay it much attention. It was so beautiful, leaves like purest spun silk.
A finger rolled over the petals of the flower, making it shiver. It hated being touched. Violated. If it could draw away, it would.
After a while, those fingers left her alone. Her roots wriggled gently against the soil, glad to be free of scrutiny once again. Now she could focus once again on the light as it split through the clouds and poured over her, immersing her in an intensity of life and joy. Her leaves curled upwards to catch as much as possible, drink it in, bathe in it, completely drown in it.
'Hey Mr Spider.'
'Do you believe in love? I mean...do you believe that love can be perfect? I believe that love exists, but I find it hard to believe in the love that can be found in books or poetry or paintings. Love that is pure and perfect and...you know, the roses kind of love. The love I've seen is messy and awkward. It's like...trying to play chess, when someone's changed all the rules and you can't see half the board and you start of already in a losing position. What do you think Mr Spider?'
'I think I would tend to agree with you. Love is messy. Anything else to the contrary, I would say, is just people trying to delude themselves. And yet...'
'What do you mean, 'and yet', Mr Spider?'
'And yet. I remember one time where I saw a girl, an instantly fell in love with her. And it wasn't lust, it wasn't messy, it wasn't deluded. I loved her, just from looking at her. I don't know why, or how. But it was true. Pure, prefect love.'
'She had another.'
'So even when it felt pure, it was messy?'
'I suppose you could say that. The situation was messy, but the feeling of love was not.'
'Did you ever tell her?'
'No. I talked to her, but never about love. Never about what I felt.'
'So your pure love failed.'
'I suppose. But that doesn't mean it has to every time.'
'That's true, I suppose. I guess...I guess whether it's messy or not depends on you.'
'To some extent.'
'Well, thank you for this talk Mr Spider. What are you going to do now?'
'You know, I might go and talk to that girl.'
'Good luck Mr Spider.'
Light looked down upon the world and smiled. It hadn't always been there. It still remembered when all there was in the universe was itself, rushing through a horrific nothing, chasing its own tail.
Now, there were lots of things and places where it was needed. Worlds without end, waiting for an arrival from light.
Light had seen some of the poetry written by men. He liked those poems. It had never realised how important it was to these people until he had read it. Light was linked to life and health, knowledge and love.
Light looked down and smiled.
Emily sat at her desk in her bedroom, watching the light stream in.
Light. There was always so much of it. So...dependable. So cliché. She sighed and turned back to the piece of paper she had been writing on.
'My love for you makes the light of the sun seem as shadows....'
That was all she had so far, and she hated it. She furiously crossed out those lines, despising herself for even writing them. Love was not like that. But it was a poetic phrase. It sounded like poetry. Untrue, certainly, but ever so poetic. Horrifically poetic.
The paper screamed out in an ecstasy of pain as the pen scored its pale skin again and again and again, ignoring the damage that it wrought.
When it finally stopped, the paper started sobbing, edges shaking uncontrollably. It tried to blank from it's mind what had just happened. It tried to remember a time when it was still a tree, still tall with roots the spread through the soil, with leaves that wished to one say paint the sky as green as themselves.
Those days were gone. Only memories, like the faintest of smells, remained.
The tree woke to the sounds of the morning. A murmur from the breeze, whispering rumours of other lands. The patter of sunlight as it fell on the leaves and grass, like a cymbal being lightly brushed. The ground stretching, always stretching, soil grumbling against each other in a battle for space.
The tree had seen the men come yesterday afternoon, with their vehicles and hunks of metal teeth. The tree knew what was about to happen, knew that, in a moment of exquisite agony, it would never hear the breeze or the light again. The tree knew.
'Hello Mrs Panda.'
'Oh God. You're going to ask me about love again, aren't you?'
'What? Why do you think I would do that?'
'Because you always do! Every single time. And Mr Spider came over yesterday telling me about the conversation you two had had.'
'Fine. I did come here to talk about love.'
'Why don't you just take what Mr Spider had to tell you and be done with it?'
'Because I know there is more! Love can't be defined by just one person. I need to talk to other people, as many people as possible, about love.'
'Fine. You want to know what I think about love? I think love is an illusion, a little story that we tell ourselves in order to justify our most basic of instincts. We pick a mate based on purely arbitrary values. Proximity, aesthetics, ability to make us laugh. We might as well just spin a wheel, let force decide our fate! When the shy glances and witticisms and romantic proclamations are done, what we really want is the physical intimacy. The touch of another person.'
'You make it sound so...dirty...impure.'
'It is. Love is nothing special.'
'Well, I think you're wrong Mrs Panda.'
'You're young. You'll eventually find out that I'm not.'
'It can't just be down to random chance. It can't just be because we want to be touched. People break up with each other. If all everybody ever wanted was intimacy, then we would be happy with whoever came our way. But that's just not true. We may choose at random, but it's in the hope of finding a specific thing, a specific person. It's in the hope of finding love. That's what people want. Love.'
'And what, may I ask, is love?'
'Love...well...it's...Do you remember a time when you were really ill? So ill that you were shaking and felt like a breeze would knock you over and that your skin was made of wet tissue paper. Well, combine that with the time you were so happy that you wanted to hug every person that walked past you. So happy that your smile seemed to be trying to force its way off your face. Then combine that with that time you were handed a maths exam and you'd completely forgotten to revise. I think that's what love is like.'
I haven't done a tired entry for a long time. Which is a shame, because if there is a theme that runs through all of my batches (apart from self-loathing) it's being tired.
I'm still tired. More so than I have been for the past few years. The circles under my eyes are so large, I look like I've been punched in the face.
Speaking of themes, I thought I was doing rather well with this month. No longer. Maybe these next few days will be a hiatus, then I'll return. We'll see.
I really miss sleep.
Just for a moment, I was lifted up past the heaviness of being. All those thousands of strings that yank me to the ground snapped, a cacophony of freedom as I jerked past the roof, towards the sky to become wrapped in those clouds. Soft and yielding as the stars winked out and all around there was just a blackness, a giant cloth blocking out everything save you and I.
Breathing slows as I close my eyes, falling into this feeling, as your head come to lean, quite accidentally, against my shoulder. I want to remember it.
Today, a monumental battle took place in Oxford. The battle of Radcliffe Camera. The weapon of choice: the snowball.
The alliances were are slippery as the pavements. There were several screaming, blind charges into a mass of bodies, snowballs flying through the air, thrown more in hope than expectation.
It was so cold. I was moulding the snow with my bare hands, until it got to the stage where, when I placed snow on my palm, it felt warm to touch. I took that as a Bad Sign, and shoved that hand in my pocket, trying to give it warmth.
Oh God not again I mean I was just I had finally I'm in the really nice place and God please not again I don't well I do want I do I suppose I mean I'm happy at the moment well happy I think happy is a relative term and I really really don't want to go back to the way I was where I hated waking up and having to feel again but now I'm feeling again and I don't I mean God feelings are just it's so hard and I don't know what to say to you I...
'You know, I think I would like to get drunk.'
'What's made you say that?'
'I just...I don't know. Want to be able to...not care any more. Not have these fears that cripple me. Stop me from doing what I really want to do. And I think getting drunk would help me.'
'And what would happen when you were sober again? You just let the fears come back? Or do you plan to live in a perpetual state of drunkenness?'
'Why do you have to question everything I do?'
'I just want to see you happy. That's all.'
'You know, I really like sleep. Sleep is just so...nice. I know nice is a terrible word, but that's what sleep is. Nice. Sleep makes me feel good. It makes me feel happy. It helps to stave away the feeling that I'm slowly rusting and that, one day, I'll just eventually grind to a halt. I'm also not that good at talking to people. I never have been. I just... I don't know...find it hard to know what to say. To know how to keep the whole thing going. You know what I mean? I don't converse well...'
'So I guess what I'm trying to say is...well...that fact that I could stay up talking to you. Until the early hours of the morning. That's not something I normally do with anyone. Ever. So to give up sleep for you, to somehow be able to find words that keep rolling out of my mouth...I don't know...it means you're...special. That fact that I could do that with you makes you special. And...I...want to keep doing it with you. Every night, if you would let me. So let's keep talking, Even when it's late.'
You have no idea how much I wanted to knock on your door. For you to take me in your arms and wrap me up tight. Stroke my hair and murmur into my ear. Tell me that I'm not a bad person really, that there's no need to feel so guilty. No need to sit along, hugging my knees to my chest, crying.
I just wanted you to make it all better.
I'm too afraid to knock. To afraid to ask. To tell you what I'm feeling. So I'll just sit here, crying, hating myself for so many reasons.
The breeze was having a delightful time. I ran through the crowd, giggling at is bent down to ruffle hair, tug jackets, stroke cheeks.
Twirling on one leg, arms stretched out, the breeze threw back its head and laughed, a laugh as light as a cloud. This was the time and place to be alive. One beautiful day ran into another like watercolours, as wonderful people sprouted up from the ground.
The only trouble was that none of these people would dance with him, no matter how hard he tugged at them. Still, even that could not dampen his spirits.
Felicity tugged her jacket closer to her, to prevent the breeze from stealing it away.
It was still a sharply cold day, even with the blue skies and unfiltered sunlight. She had no idea where she was going. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. A nice day to spend walking, looking at spring just staring to claw its way to the surface again. Now, though...
The cold was too much. With a sigh, and one final, longing look at a snowdrop, she turned and started to walk back to the artificial, comforting warmth of her room.
'Hey look! A snowdrop!'
'Oh yeah. Pretty.'
'I love snowdrops.'
'You love everything.'
'I especially love snowdrops.'
'They're the first sign of spring. The first notice that we have that warmth is coming our way. That flowers will grow and leaves will spread that we won't be trapped in a perpetual winter.'
'What's wrong with winter?'
'Oh come on!'
'No, I'm serious. What's wrong with it? Winter is still beautiful. In fact, it manages to be beautiful without the gaudy show that spring has to put on. Winter had a more subtle beauty. A refined elegance. Unlike spring.'
Simon caught the faint tremors of an argument, and promptly tried to shut it out. He hated conflict, in any form.
He dipped his hand back in the bag of bread, crumbled it slightly, and threw it on the ground for the birds. He smiled as they gathered around him, heads bobbing to pick up what he had offered them.
Simon found feeding birds empowering. He could withhold the food at any time, leave them standing there, looking up, begging for his gift. Or he could be benevolent, willingly giving away all that he had to please them.
I will now proceed to record, in the greatest of detail, what the birds thought when presented with the breadcrumbs.
'Food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food food.'
With a scream of delight, Morris ran at the cluster of birds, ignoring the angry shouts from the people trying to feed them.
He chased after a particularly slow one, one that seemed unwilling to take flight. With a giggle, he tottered after it, fingers ready to grab, until a firm hand took hold of his wrist.
'That's enough, Morris.' His mother said, with a stern, clipped voice and a stern, clipped stare.
Pouting, Morris stared after the bird he has been chasing. It gave him one final look before flying off, wings beating against the air haggardly, unwillingly.
Those formal clothes.
I hate them so much. They just help to reinforce the idea that I'm not meant to be here.
They always feel too tight. Like they're trying to crush and snap my bones, chuckle as I scream.
I want to burn them. Cover them in paraffin and set the whole thing alight. Scatter the ashes from my window. The satisfaction would be wonderful.
Those clothes. They make me feel like someone has dressed a chimp in a suit. It doesn't matter how nice the suit is, it's still just a chimp underneath. I'm just a chimp.
I'm spent. Bled away. All those words that once willingly came to my head, danced around and painted the world for me...now they're just a stain on the carpet.
I used to pick words like notes, place them just so, to produce something worth more than the sum of its parts. Broken, now. Shattered beyond repair.
Or maybe I have too high an opinion of myself. Maybe I was never able to do those things, but have only now come to realise it.
Or maybe I should just shut up and keep going. What else can I do?
The Tip Jar