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It suddenly dawned on Edward that his days consisted of waiting for the day to end.
He would fold his creaking body out of bed at around 10 in the morning. He would cautiously sniff his skin and run a hand through his hair to determine whether he needed to shower, put on whatever clothes were left on the floor, then head downstairs, put on his laptop, and watch the clock count away his life.
He did nothing productive, nor did he want to. Instead, he was simply waiting for his life to end. That's all that he did. Wait.
Groaning with the effort of living, Edward forced himself to get out of bed. Body heavy with indifference, he made it through his morning routine and eventually stumbled into his office.
Edward called it 'the room of dying ideas'. Every project he had ever started was born and, eventually aborted in this room. However, he didn't even have the common decency to let them die a dignified death...he would eke out their lifespan, returning to them for a day or two, before once again letting them rot.
With a grunt, Edward glanced over the decaying remains of his imagination.
'Who do you think invented the hug?'
'I don't know...a lonely person, I guess.'
'I like hugs...it seems to be the only form of physical intimacy that's fully acceptable in public.'
'What about kissing?'
'People get annoyed when they see couples kissing. They don't like happiness being flaunted in their faces like a cheap prostitute calling out to potential customers.'
'I guess hugging is more...I don't know...circumspect.'
'Circumspect...yeah...that's a nice word.'
'I like hugging. If I could, I'd hug everyone in the world.'
'That's...more than a bit creepy.'
'She has hair like...I don't know, man. Hair like...like...damn spun dark matter, flowing down her shoulders like a, like a, like a...'
'No! Not a waterfall...like night falling across the sky.'
'It doesn't fall, man. It glides.'
'Whatever. And her...her laugh. It sounds like the inspiration for 'Clair de Lune', you know?'
'That's some poetic shit, man. You should...you should write it down. Send it to her in a...poem or letter, man.'
'A poem...a poem...I don't know, man. It's a bit...18th century, you know? A bit tired, you know?'
See that? That's what I miss.
It took me a while to realise it. I'd just never been in a place before where there were so many...well...buildings. So many mounds of stone, stamping their way across the countryside.
There's no place just to sit and escape from the heat, where the overhanging branches catch the stray beams of light. Where you can sit and watch the stream meander past the banks, not worried about where it's going, or how to get there, just trusting that it will, eventually, reach it's destination.
You don't have that back up there.
Ella had often wondered how things began.
For instance, who built the first house? On some level, Ella was aware that there wasn't really a first house, just a series of increasingly complex shelters. But still, she couldn't help but wonder when the shelters stopped being just shelters, and became homes. As some point, there must have been a first home.
What about the first kiss? The first vegetarian? The first writer?
Beginnings were interesting. Each beginning was conjoined with a perfectly unique mind. And looking at those minds, trying to figure them out, was the most interesting of all.
This was the day that summer died.
It gave a weak, hazy cough, fog slipping out of its mouth before falling onto its knees, the thud echoing around the country.
There was nothing anyone could do. Summer gave us a last smile, a final throw of grass springing up under its feet, before it faded into the wind, with a whisper like the flapping of butterfly wings.
After I watched it die, I went into my back garden and sculpted a pile of dirt into a rough mound. I stuck a twig in it, and said a few small words.
At this precise moment, I am completely unsupervised. There is no one giving me any sort of deadline.
I know. I'm a little scared too. The possibilities are theoretically endless.
In fact, there are too many possibilities. There are so many other things to be doing that I'm locked in a constant paralysis. Like a child who was been offered all the sweets in the word, I just don't know where to begin.
The only way I'm able to cope with this is to just do nothing. As long as I do absolutely nothing, I have nothing to worry about.
I'm 20, today.
As of now, I am no longer a teenager. I have finally emerged from those tremulous years. No longer do I have an itching urge to paint my room black. No longer do I believe that life is defined by pain. No longer do I merely grunt in response to a question.
Now, I am faced with the certainties of paying bills, cooking for myself and keeping a house clean.
That doesn't sound much like fun. But then, neither did becoming a teenager, and look how that turned out.
I feel at peace. It's a nice feeling.
'If you were an animal, what animal would you be?'
'Really? You're really asking me that question?'
'What's wrong with it?'
'It's the sort of question you ask when you've officially run out of things to talk about.'
'Oh, so you'd rather sit here in complete silence then, would you?'
'That's not what I was suggesting.'
'Isn't it? Because that's what it sounded like to me.'
'You always have to take offense at the slightest thing, don't you?'
'I have no idea what you're suggesting!'
'Really? Then you're an idiot as well as a drama queen!'
'We're hear today with the prominent mathematician, Professor Harold Isenbaum. Professor, I'm told that you have made a starling discovery.'
'I certainly have, Jane. You see, I've finally managed to count all the numbers.'
'...I'm sorry Professor. You managed to count...all the numbers?'
'But I thought numbers were infinite.'
'Quite. But, you see, it turns out that numbers are circular. The further you count, the closer you get back to the beginning. In the same way that, if you pick a point on a circle and follow it round, you'll eventually end up at the beginning once again.'
'Hey, that doesn't look like blood coming out of your finger...'
'Oh, you're right. It's not blood.'
'It's not blood?'
'Nah. It's maple syrup.'
'Yeah. Here, have a taste.'
'No! Ugh, that's just...horrible!'
'So how does that even work, the maple syrup thing?'
'I don't know. I mean, it's worked for as long as I've been alive. I haven't died, so...I mean, I guess it just works, because it works, you know?'
'But...how does it even carry oxygen? It makes no sense!'
'Well, what does in this crazy world?'
'You know what day it is?'
'Friday, right? I'm not great at remembering days, to be honest...'
'Yeah, but, it's a special day today, isn't it?'
'I mean, time just goes by, and it's difficult to keep tack of it all. Days blur into an unending mess of photocopied minutes and actions...'
'Yeah, yeah, yeah...but what's today?'
'I mean, it's pretty meaningless, isn't it? What does it matter, whether today is Friday, or Tuesday, or whatever? What does anything matter, when you get right down to it?'
'For God's...it's Friday the 13th, okay? Friday the 13th.'
'And her lips, man...her...her lips...'
'Tell me about her lips...describe them to me...'
'They're, they're, they're...the softest damn pink that you ever saw...so soft. The softest pink...like the clouds during the transition from afternoon into evening...'
'What...what do they taste like?'
'Like...like a damn...a shitting supernova just as it's exploding. But, I mean, at the same time, right, it's like the softest breeze whispering through your skin, moving past your lips and blowing through your body.'
'Sounds like...fucking Nirvana, man.'
'It is. It really is, man. You've no fucking idea.'
Eli stuck his tongue out, then smacked it against the roof of his mouth several times, in imitation of the most pretentious wine-tasters.
After a minute, Eli smiled, apparently satisfied, and set off towards his workshop.
Autumn was starting. He could taste it in the air. A faint hint of burnt wood, the metallic, sharp taste of the first frosts, and nuts.
Eli had been working throughout the summer, making all the new brown, crinkling leaves for Autumn. He would start to replace the green ones with his own, during the middle of the night. Make it all perfect.
'Life is serious, you know?'
'But...I mean...we're just lumps of carbon riding a giant rock that floats through a vacuum. Our main source of light and heat is also one of the thing that gives us cancer, and will one day implode, wiping out all life. And everything we do just seems to be a means of distracting ourselves from our eventual deaths. Tell me, in what way is any of that serious?'
'Well...the death bit...that's serious.'
'Because it's so...final!'
'I still don't see why that makes it serious.'
The conversation flew back and forth between them like a butterfly with a broken wing.
They had first met in Primary School. Nick had pulled on her pigtails, and Lily had kicked him in the crotch. They had both been forced to shake hands and apologise. After that, their friendship had blossomed.
It all started to unthread when they went to different Secondary Schools. Their relationship became strained as they met new people, changed in small, imperceptible ways.
Which eventually led to this. A dinner. A last-ditch attempt to mend something that, in reality, no longer existed any more.
It was a lovely morning.
I walked outside late morning, bare feet falling onto the grass that had been brushed with dew the night before. It felt like I was walking on a cloud.
After the weeks of rain and cold, and the necessity of big, cosy jumpers, it was nice for the sun to make another appearance. I suppose this will be it's final encore, last curtain-call before it finally retires for the winter, working on it's new lines for the next summer.
Soon, it'll be back to huddling under blankets, with a nice cup of hot chocolate.
'Look! Look up in the sky!'
'It's not a bird, is it?'
'Or a plane?'
'Well, I'm pretty sure it's not Superman...'
'Someone has stolen the sun!'
'Nobody's stolen the sun you idiot.'
'Oh yeah? Then where the hell is it? Why is it so cold? How do you explain that, Mr I-Use-My-Intelligence-To-Make-Others-Feel-Inferior?'
'...It's behind a cloud. The sun is behind a cloud, which is why you can't see it, and why it's cold. It's Autumn, idiot. Have you never lived through an Autumn before, huh?'
'I mean, I just...I mean...I keep thinking if her, every night, you know?'
'Yeah, I know.'
'It's like she's just...always on my damn mind, like she's, she's, she's...set up camp in my brain. Like she's a bloody conductor, tugging on my neurons to orchestrate my dreams.'
'Hey...have you ever...I mean, have you considered...just telling her how you feel?'
'What, expose myself to ridicule? Leave my happiness bare and naked before her, to do with as she pleased? Why the hell would I do that?'
'Well...it might stop your bloody, self-pitying whining.'
If I could come back as anything after I die, I would come back as a tree. Trees have it easy.
Once you get past the seed stage, you don't really have to worry about natural predators anymore. You don't have to worry about much, anymore. You get to sit in the same spot all day, eating, growing, stretching.
Birds would forge homes in my branches. Worms would traverse the length of my roots. Smaller shrubs would sidle up near to me for company.
It would be an idyllic life, without anger, pain or horror. A perfectly happy, dull life.
'Chaos gives birth to beauty. Look at any great masterpiece, trace back to its conception, and you will find that it emerged out of chaos. From an unending sea of words, an author picks specific ones and forces them into an order. An artist takes the whole chaotic spectrum of shades and teases them, stand by strand, into a work of art. Yes, they impose rules, but those rules can only exist within the context of the chaos that predated them. So entropy isn't the end of all things...instead, it's just an unending march towards an unending, perfect beauty.'
I sell pictures of butterflies.
I don't paint them. I'm not a good painter. Give me a paintbrush, and you will receive indistinct blobs.
No. Instead, I collect butterflies, as carefully as I can. Use the lightest net so as to not damage their wings, then put them in a large conservatory, filled with all manner of flora and fauna.
Then, when I need a new picture, I take a butterfly, place it in a jar, transport it to my workspace, kill it, and transport its soul to a piece of paper, which I then frame nicely and sell.
Today was one of the most productive days I've ever had in a long time.
To be honest, it was forced upon my by my past self, and his amazing ability to procrastinate. I hate my past self...that lazy arse...
I managed to file away all my spare notes, which I may or may not need in the future.
It was nice, looking through all my old notes. It made me remember how much I enjoy learning new things. And how terrifying it is walking into a tutorial when you know that you haven't done enough reading. Truly terrifying.
It's only two months until Christmas.
It seems like Christmas only happened a few weeks ago. I remember when months used to last for years. When the summer stretched on indefinitely like the horizon and birthday's took too long to come around.
Now I find it hard to understand that I'm 20. I still feel 18. I could hardly believe I was 18, when it happened.
Is this it, now? Time merging into one unending stream of seconds that flutter past faster than a hummingbird?
I suppose I can live with that. I suppose I will have to.
I'm never entirely sure what to do with my eyes when I'm walking.
My first reaction is to stare at the person coming towards me. Then I think that this could be slightly unsettling for them, so I look away. But I sometimes look back, and think I should smile, but my lips never seem to quite get the message, so it comes out as a sort of half-sneer, half grimace. Which only adds to the unsettling atmosphere.
I should probably invest in some sunglasses. That way, my eyes could do whatever they wanted, and no one would know.
'I saw some buskers on the street, today.'
'Where they any good?'
'Well, I liked them. They where bohemian.'
'How could you tell?'
'They cited Celtic music as one of their influences. And they wore hats.'
'Ah yes. Hats are very bohemian.'
'You know, they looked really happy, all of them together. The guy was stamping his foot and playing his guitar and the girl was singing and playing the recorder and the other guy was hitting his drum, and they were all smiling. As if they'd figured out what life meant, and were amused that others hadn't, quite yet.'
There were people and, and, and, they had sand, and they had...had piled it all up on a kind of...a mat, a mat, and then there was a bucket, they had a bucket of water and paintbrushes and a knife type thing, and they were putting water on the sand and brushing it and flicking it and curving it into the shape of a dog and this one guy had black stones which he was using for eyes, he was making a Labrador I think and they were just really good and really talented they really, really were.
'Look' is a very dissatisfying word to type out on a keyboard. 'People' is much nicer. The letters flow nicely under your fingers.
Whereas with 'look', well...the double 'o' disrupts the flow, makes the movement more hesitant.
There is no nicer feeling than typing a sentence where you don't have to stop and think where your fingers have to go, where you can just type and type and type as if your fingers can dance on the keys for an eternity.
'Where' is rather satisfying, too. The 'ere' part is particularly delightful to type out in a rapid fashion.
I hear the music in my mind, and I'm suddenly a spinning top, twirling amongst the crowds with arms and smile stretched wide.
I weave my way through the static pillars of the community, the music lifting my feet to greater heights, making my arms turn into wings. The music wraps around my body, warming me, filling up the emptiness, drawing order from chaos.
Of course, I'm not a spinning top. The world is still just as chaotic as before. I don't dance, for fear of the glances and glares and the blush monster clambering up to my hot cheeks.
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