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'Hey. What're you doing?'
'Just burning some stuff.'
'Any reason why?'
'Well, I plan on setting fire to the whole world. But I need to build up that that.'
'So you're starting with your receipts?'
'Well, I thought they'd be pretty easy to burn. And I only need, like, one match, so it's pretty economical in that way. After I've done this, I'll move on to larger things. Maybe a forest.'
'Wait, so...you're going to burn the world...in sections?'
'How else would you do it?'
'All at once!'
'That makes no sense. That could never work. Never ever.'
'Why would you want to burn they world?'
'I don't know...actually, that's not true. I say I don't know, even when I do know. I suppose it's just easier to feign ignorance than to actually say what I know.'
'So what is it you know?'
'I know that a match makes a pretty flame. And a bonfire makes a beautiful inferno. Just imagine how lovely the flame will be with the whole world on fire.'
'And what about all the people who would die?'
'People die all the time. My way, they'd die in a blaze of glory. Literally.'
'And then what? The world is ash. Nothing left and no-one to see the nothing. Is that what you want?'
'Isn't that the ultimate end of everything, anyway? All I'm doing is speeding up the process.'
'Have you ever considered leaving the burning?'
'Why would I do that?'
'Because there are so many lovely things to do in between the burning.'
'Well, put down the matches, and follow me.'
'...I don't know. Can I come back to my matches if I don't like it?'
'Of course. The matches will always be there if you need them.'
'See? Isn't the sunset lovely?'
'What's wrong? Are you...are you crying?'
'No! It's just...it looks like the sky is melting. Like the world is made of orange and red and pink wax, and it's dripping into the horizon. It looks like the world is on fire...it's perfect.'
'And you didn't even need your matches.'
'Yeah. No matches.'
'So you're not going to burn the world anymore?'
'I don't need to. But I'm going to keep burning receipts.'
'I don't want people to know what I buy.'
'What do you buy?'
'Matches. Lots and lots of matches.'
I like the sensation when you've been lying flat on your back like a tree felled by lightening, and then you sit up straight and the blood rushes to your head and into your ears and makes it sound like the waves are crashing around your face and the light dims from your eyes and it feels like the universe it falling apart but then, but then, ever so slowly, the light slivers back and the waves calm down and the universe is restored and failed to shatter into pieces, despite all your best efforts, despite everything, despite it all.
It was the strangest thing.
I was washing up and I was wiping a glass rather enthusiastically, when it flew up into my face and, as I breathed in, I caught its sent and, for some reason, for the strangest reason, a mystery of a reason locked in the workings and connections of my brain, the smell of the washing up cloth reminded me of you.
I'm sure you don't smell like a damp old cloth. You smell lovely, like a newly discovered spice.
Not that I make a habit of smelling you. I just kind of happens.
The strangest thing.
'You know how time's relative.'
'Well...what's to stop us making every day a Friday evening? I mean, if I say it's Friday evening, who's going to contradict me in any meaningful sense?'
'Everyone will. We've all agreed on a scale of time.'
'Since when? I don't remember voting for a seven day week. I don't remember voting for Monday mornings. Did you vote for Monday mornings?'
'No... but, I mean...'
'See? No one in their right mind would vote for Monday mornings. I think it's some sort of conspiracy, you know? By the government, for something like that.'
Rather than continuing with something as insubstantial as revision, I decided to work with my hands, do something that would leave a physical mark.
I chose to dig a hole. I took a shovel, went into our garden, and started to dig. My roommates came to see what I was doing, and just rolled their eyes. However, they were kind enough to throw down biscuits when to hole got so deep that I couldn't climb back up.
I spent the night in the hole. It was cold and dark and seemed to filter the stars like a high-end microscope.
'You know what? I've realised my problem. I'm stuck between inspiration and apathy.'
'That's not your only problem.'
'I have so many ideas of things to write and create, but no willpower to make them. So many things to jot down, and no energy to do it. You know what I wish existed? A machine that could read my mind, take my ideas and write them down.'
'You're thinking about a pen. Or a typewriter. Or a laptop.'
'Yeah, but those things require an effort that I'm unwilling to give.'
'So...what, an assistant to write it for you?'
The world ended in a most unexpected way.
There were no wars. No nuclear bombs clawing chunks out of the landscape. No burning piles of bodies, like sacrifices to a long-dead god.
No. Instead, the world ended in an ecstasy of apathy.
People refused to get out of bed. They couldn't see the point of getting out of bed, anymore. Why go to work? Why meet, greet, navigate through the social structures of the world? Why go through it all when meaning escaped your grasp like fog slipping through fingers?
The world sat in their beds, waiting for death.
No-one was entirely sure how it started.
Some said it began in the 'King's Head', a dreary pub stuck in a deary town in the midlands. The place seemed to be trapped in a limp, weak fog that persisted like an unknown relative staying 'for a couple of days...just until I find my feet again'.
The perpetual drunk was spouting forth his wisdom like a broken fountain, when suddenly, people stopped to actually listen.
'I mean...I...I mean...when you get right down to it...what's the point? I mean, is there any point...to...to anything?'
Others claim that is started on the floor of the stock-exchange in New York.
A young, freshly injection-molded capital venturist was shouting and pacing, eyes gleaming, when he suddenly stopped dead, arms falling limp to his sides.
'What...what even is a stock?' He muttered, a gently ringing note of fear entering his voice. 'I mean, it's not a real thing, is it? It's nothing...nothing at all!'
His voice started to rise in urgency, in pressure and pitch, infecting those around him. Is spread, rippled through the floor until, at last, finally everyone was still and silent.
Others simply believe that there was no origin. No true start, beginning, no genesis.
People just simply, slowly rolled to an utter stop. It had been going on for generations. Years of decline. Then, finally, society stopped caring. About everything.
Hospitals shut. Doctors didn't turn up. Patients couldn't be bothered to be diagnosed. Schools closed. Education no longer seemed important. Shops lost their will to sell, shoppers lost their will to buy. Everything decayed, submitted to the entropy that they had been battling against since the dawn of man.
And nobody cared. Caring was an outdated concept, its relevance destroyed.
I feel like we should celebrate transitions more.
It's strange. I mean, Christmas comes along, with all the build up. The wrapping and decorating and cooking. And then is lasts one day, and you get on with life.
Or...you spend 3 hours traveling back home, lugging cases all over the place, and then you sit down and eat your dinner as if you had never been away.
There should be a few days after those sorts of events where you gently slide back into reality. You shouldn't be forced to jump straight back into it. That's what I think.
I've got the age now where my family keep asking whether I have a girlfriend.
At the moment, it's still light teasing. But when my mother asks, and I look into her eyes, I believe I can see a faint glimmer of disappointment and desperation. It's as if I can hear here say 'Come on, David. I want Grandchildren. Get on with it.'
Even my senile Grandmother, who has difficulty remembering what day it is, asked me. And because she's so senile, she kept on asking me. And I had to keep repeating that I was single. Over and over.
I remember thinking late last night about talking to birds, and the birds talking back, and I thought of an idea to write about.
It was funny. I remember giggling to myself.
I also remember thinking that I should write it down, before I forgot it. Then another part of me reprimanded that thought, thinking with full confidence that I would be able to remember the idea, and anyway, I would have to get out of bed and pick up a pen, which would require more effort than I was willing to expend.
I cannot remember the idea at all.
I was talking to someone, and I said that they had rustic hair, and they asked me whether I meant russet, and I said I did, even though I didn't, because her hair really was rustic, the colour of ancient oak woodlands in autumn, full of crinkling leaves and dulled sunsets and the unending sense that it would last forever, that even if the world ended, something of the woodlands, the smell, the size, the spirit of it would survive and float through the cosmos and find a new place to seed and grow and become ancient, rustic once again.
I like to collect souls, from time to time.
Just little pieces of them. I make sure to only take what won't be missed.
It's very east to take a chink of soul. All you need is a camera. Then you walk around, find someone whose soul you would like to snip a piece of, and then take a photograph.
And there you have it. A frozen piece of their soul, pinned down in one particular moment in time. A perfect representation of who they are.
I like to keep all my souls on the fridge. They make me smile.
Of course, some people are very careless with their souls. They flaunt them around, letting anybody take hand-sized chunks.
Some even trade their souls of money! They allow someone to take pictures of them, over and over and over again. It's almost as if they think they don't have a soul to lose.
I mean, just look at the models as they walk down the catwalk. Look at their eyes. Cold, dead eyes. Eyes that are seeing their souls being pulled out of them at every second.
That's why I don't like having my picture taken. It's too risky.
I suppose it could be argued that I'm a hypocrite, taking pictures of others whilst refusing to have mine taken.
But I promise, I only take pictures of people with healthy, full soul. Souls that can handle the process, and will grow back quickly.
I don't think I've ever caused anyone harm, by taking a sliver of their soul.
But my own, personal soul, well...
I've tried giving up. Tried to throw away my camera, pull down the souls that I had collected, let it all go. They're just too beautiful, too precious...souls are too lovely to be ignored.
'Why does Grandad keep taking pictures of all of us?'
'Well...it's a rather long answer, dear.'
'But, but, but, he likes to take lots and lots of pictures, but he's never even in them! Every time someone tries to take a picture of him, he jumps out the way!'
'He's just never been very comfortable with having his picture taken, sweetie.'
'Well, why don't you go and ask him?'
'Because he's creepy.'
'Grandad isn't creepy!'
'Yes he is. He doesn't act like normal old people.'
'Just go and ask him, sweetie. He doesn't bite.'
She shuffled up to her Grandad, slightly afraid that her mother had lied to her, and that Grandad would actually bite her and then she would turn into an old woman with a strange smile and crooked teeth and her hair would fall out and her skin would wrinkle and and...
'What're you skulking there for, girl?' Her Grandad asked, eyes blinking at her like a lethargic owl.
Keeping her distance, standing up on the balls of her feet, ready to run should he make a lunge at her, she asked,
'Grandad? Why don't you like having your photo taken?'
He reached his arms to take her and, seeing her flinch, let his hands fall to his knees instead.
'Well...' he mused, breathing out air through his nose. 'I suppose the simple answer is, I don't like seeing myself. I don't want to be reminded that I'm old and dripping apart.'
She had slowly shuffled closer as he was talking.
'But...then why do you like to take photos of everyone else?'
'Well, dear, it's because they all look so happy. And I want to keep a part of them like that, for all eternity.'
'All the time.'
'I am not a poet. God knows I'm not. I mean, just look through my batches. God...I can't find the words to say it all properly. I know the words are there, stuck somewhere, a beating, pulsating ball of emotion lodged in the heart of a mountain. And I'm trying to get to it, I really am, picking and chipping away. But it just seems that for every foot I gain, every tonne of rubble removed, I find that I've either gone in the wrong direction, or have started work at the wrong mountain. I am not a poet...
...I can't find the words to describe the rush of heat, liquid rubies that flow up to my cheeks when you glance in my direction. I can't describe the jitters, the shakes, the chatters of my bones and joints and tendons that appear like gremlins when you're near me. The words, words that I have loved and cherished and tried to make my own, the words that I use, that I thought I controlled, that I whipped an made jump and dance, these words...they melt away like the final frosts of winter. When with you, there are no words.'
I thought I was going to be less excited about Christmas than I was.
I had assumed that, now that I was in my second year of university, I would be calmer. All the lights and presents and chocolate would all become...well...a little bit silly.
Turns out I was wrong. I was still excited.
It wasn't much, but it was there. Like a little seed, or a small piece of gravel lodged in my chest.
I try and be cynical now that I'm an adult, but I just can't do it. I could when I was a teenager...
I can smell burning hair. Which is strange, because I'm pretty sure that my hair isn't on fire. I would notice something like that.
In other news, the moon isn't really making an effort. It looks like I feel on a Saturday morning, having been woken up ridiculously early by the sound of shattering glass.
In other news, I haven't slept well for the past five days. My head feels like it has a pine tree growing in it.
In other news, I'm not sure what that would feel like.
In other news, the hair burning smell has finally gone.
What was I on when I wrote yesterday's batch?
Although, I do now think I know what I meant when I said it felt like a pine tree was growing in my head.
It was like something was putting down thick roots that squirmed their way throughout my brain. That as the tree grew, so did the pressure, pushing down, down, down, filling up my thoughts as it shed its needles, pricking through my subconsciousness until they started to rot. their poison slowly filling me up.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's what I meant. It kind of makes sense, right?
There are so many times when you don't know what to write. And of course, it's hard to write about not being about to write, because it's such a cliche. Everyone has written, at some point, about the inability to draw any form of inspiration from the universe. Despite the multitude of beauties, the sparkling and twinkling curiosities bursting throughout the world, none of it seems to make an impact on your mind. It is stubborn, resistive, unwilling to allow itself to be broadened. So all you can do is sit and stare blankly at the white space, waiting...waiting...
It feels like such a long time since I completed one of these batches.
I think the ideas used to come so freely. So many at once, that I would have trouble fitting them all into a single month. Then again, I may be romanticising the past. I think I've always had ebbs and flows in my creativity.
I know that I'm more motivated to do writing. Long writing. A book. A proper, genuine, wood-smelling book.
There you are. A slight update on my life. If you would like to know more, look for the man running and screaming.
'Are you looking forward to the New Year?'
'I don't believe in it.'
'You don't think it should be celebrated?'
''I don't believe that there is such a thing as a New Year. Or an Old Year. Just the Single Year, the same as at the beginning of time. Never ending, never dying, just one, unending year.'
'What the hell? That makes no sense.'
'No years. No time. No days or months. Just this moment, stretching on for undefined terms.'
'Dear God...is this the Monday morning thing all over again?'
'No Mondays! No New Year! Be free, be free!'
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