Word Play

 

There is a thick lipped rumble tearing from the clouds above, and I think that I was wrong.

I step outside and stand in the porch, arching my neck and breathing in the close air. Rain paints polkas on the pavement at my feet and I shrug my cardigan closer, wrapping it around me like a straight jacket. Your words and mine are tumbling through my mind at break neck speed, crashing into each other and veering off course until I don’t know who said what. Or why.

To my left I can hear the shouts and excitements of teenage boys, their taut voices springing over the garden wall. They are waiting for the strike, just like me. The strip of blinding light that then ignites the sky brings stark contrast to the world. It is disorientating, to see night in the light of day.

Now for the wind: this is like a well-known performance. The flutes and oboes of the sky let loose and tongue great bursts of violent air at my face. Clothes and hair whip around me and into my mouth; I feel it scratching on my tongue but make no effort to remove it.

I fumble at the door handle and hurry back inside as wind tears at my hair. I am a set of scales, with weighted words clunking from your mouth and on to my heart until I dip under the strain.

The door bangs into its frame with a plastic thump, and all sound dies. My chest heaves.

Three, Two, One.

No one ever wonders if the tick of a clock will tock. It is inevitable.

When a swing arcs high in the air, there is no doubt that it will whoosh back to the ground.

The foamy breath of sea on sand is known to return again and again and again. Lover’s kiss.

Put a pan on a flame and listen to the hiss of searing metal.

But who can love predictability?

Pick up the phone to bluster through a whirlwind of choice; a labyrinth of lies; a web of changing thought.

Slip on the dress that once he loved and now he hates. Guess the motive.

Inch your claws up his chest and touch your lips to his. Gauge the tautness in his limbs, the urgency of his return, and gamble on lust.

Every moment keeps your heart beating even as it breaks it.

Source: ignitumtoday.com

 

Drip

Drip. There it is – can you hear it? Drip. It’s a leak, there’s a leak in the pipes somewhere, god knows where. I can’t seem to find it. I can hear it though. Drip.

I saw Daniel today. It was the first time I’ve seen him in four months, one week, two days, and three hours. Roughly. He looked the same, exactly the same. His eyes were still brown, his lips still hooked into a smile. When he spoke to the guy at the coffee cart, his tongue was still thick with a lisp and he still wore that gold watch. On his right wrist though – that wasn’t the same.

He didn’t see me. There were a lot of people around; we were in a big crowd. I was third behind him in the queue. That’s the fifty-eighth time I’ve been third behind him in this queue. We used to joke about how we never noticed each other even though we were so close so many times. How could we have missed love when it was standing to our left ordering a cappuccino every morning? God knows.

Daniel was the first one to notice the drip. I woke up one morning to find him waist deep in cupboards, poking around under the sink. It was driving him mad, he said. So I put my hands over his ears and held him close.

It never used to bother me. I heard so much more when I was with him – the hiss of a kettle, the foot tread of neighbours, the thump of his pulse. And now he’s gone.

Drip. I wish this would be gone. Drip. It’s a leak, there’s a leak in the pipes somewhere, I think Daniel knows where. I can’t seem to find it. I can hear it though. Drip.

Source: Frank Baron, http://www.theguardian.com

Stumble Upon Magic

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We all have a place where we find magic. It might not always be in a place that makes sense, it may creep up on you, it may only reveal itself to you in its absence – but we’ve all found it.

I’ve found magic on my travels this summer. In the people I have fallen in love with, the places I have discovered, and the challenges I have overcome, something everlasting and pure and fizzy has bubbled under the surface of the everyday. I felt it in the air last night: in the brightness of fairy lights as they hung from trees, and in the furry skins of stuffed toy animals. I piled my bags into the taxi on my way to finding home, and I met a man who held a very different kind of magic.

The driver had a thick tongue that caught on the roof of his mouth as he spoke, and a lawn of midnight black hair wrapped around his lower skull. He gripped the steering wheel with an attentive hold, and would anxiously glance back to make sure I was comfortable, pointing out bottles of water and offering me gum.

Soon he began telling me stories about his past as a musician, his qualifications from Trinity College in England, his passion for the drums.

‘But I don’t play for the world anymore. I play for Jesus. I play for him.’

I am not a religious person. I don’t know if my faith would have a label, but if it did, it wouldn’t be Christian. I wouldn’t name a being called Jesus. I wouldn’t clasp my hands over rosary beads and mutter to the heavens.

But I am in awe of the faith that resides in those that do all of those things.

I asked this man why he stopped playing for the world, asked him why the world doesn’t deserve his music any more.

‘Ten years ago, my life did a 180. I was a bad man, doing bad things. I drank too much alcohol, and I smoked – oh I smoked 80 cigarettes a day. Soon, everyone hated me. My wife, my children… they only stayed because I had money.

Then one day, during a rehearsal, I fell down with a heart-attack. For two days I lay in a coma, and while I was unconscious I had a vision. It was Jesus. He came to me and said ‘I want you. Come to me.’ When I woke up, I told my doctors and my family. My wife was always religious and she cried on my face. They ran tests and found no nicotine in my blood, no alcohol. I don’t care what scientists call it, I call that a miracle. Jesus brought me back and gave me new blood.

‘Every day since, I play in the Church. I serve. I don’t play for the world any more, but I do serve it. I make sure people like you get home safe at night, and I play them my music, and I tell them about God.’

So it was at midnight last night that I found a new blossom of magic on the freeway to home. I saw this man and I felt that buzzing feeling when he spoke. Something extraordinary was thrumming behind his words; that something that I had felt earlier in the lights hanging in the air. Like me, that man knew magic existed.

And like me, he was going to hang on to it as hard as he could. 

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Just for a second

The cat is back. But this time he has hundreds of companions, all padding softly by his side. Ginger and white and brown and black, their fur slides against each other and their pin prick paws tap the floorboards. I can feel the army march as I lie flat on the wooden ground. I twist my head to see him.

There he is, eyes of electric green and angled like almonds: to him, I smile.

But you cannot play favourites. The others see and move towards me. I feel the pressure pads as one after another clambers, claw footed, onto my legs and stomach. One, folds of fat wrapped around his gut like rubber rings, thrums with a guttural purr as he settles over my womb and then opens his tiny jaw to yowl. Again. Again.

Quiet.

I reach out to them and at first they respond. Triangle noses bash against my fingers and rough tongues flick at my skin. I knot my hands into their fur and stroke them, welcoming them.

Green Eyes is stalking up my body. The sea of felines part to let him pass, their heads bowing, but a shiver decends on the room when he touches his nose to mine. Their eyes shrink to slits, and a sound like a burst pipe issues from them. I gasp as I feel their claws elongate, curling under their paws and piercing through my clothes to my skin. The sharp pain as the needle nails draw blood is somehow familiar and dreadful.

In panic, I look for Green Eyes, but he has disappeared. He has left his family on me, scratching at the muscular swell of my legs, the soft pillow of stomach, the arches of my breasts, the bones of my shoulder, all the way down my arms to my knuckles. I scream after him but I get no other response than a mimicking screech from the feline army enveloping me, mocking me. The pain now is sharp and constant, like the slow, drawn out sketch of a tattoo. Tears start rolling down my cheeks: I try to breathe, but the inhalation pushes my chest and stomach out so their claws reach deeper. I cannot move, cannot push them away, they will not listen. More are coming.

As tails flick in my face and choke me with fur, as blood blossoms from unseen holes and I leak from my skin, I close my eyes.

And for a second – just for a second – I stop breathing.

A Fleeting Love Affair with Comic-con

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There have never been so many people in one place. Like glistening beetle cars, they bottleneck around me before bursting free in a scurrying race across the road. Costumes jostle each other, boxed humans peering confusedly out of their cardboard helmets as they teeter on stilts or platform shoes. There is black body paint smeared on my elbow, residue from the dark shadow man that brushed past me; the rippling darkened muscles of his back as he walks away seem menacing, and passing children stare up at him in awe and horror.

Two hundred thousand bodies, probably more, in a throbbing heaving mass pushing towards convention doors. The building spans the length of five, six blocks, with pointed steeple roof and sheet metal windows. A single road and tram lines separate it from the outside world – and this is where I roam.

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Assault courses, laser tag, Mythbusters, all dotted in hotels, parks, and on street corners. Queue queue queue for snippets of video, panels with Avengers, illegible scrawls by famous illustrators. Duck and dive and swoop in between mothers with prams, their baby Thors clutching their hammers as they grip onto their guardians’ palm. You are spun around by a Prince Charming as he slurs a drunken ballad; stumbling, you bump into the Hulk and dodge his smash.

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Screech to a halt: there is no passing by here.

A hell march of zombies has consumed the streets, flesh dangling from faces, un-dead pets rotting in their arms as they lurch at cameras and terrify observers. You must wait for this reeking crowd to part before you can dart through them to the next street.

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Keep stuffing leaflets into hands and chanting your familiar mantra. You are a tiny dot of promotion, the smallest speck that does not belong with this fandom – but you must learn their language. It is a fascinating one. Wait for a pixelated sword made of blue diamond and pounce on the friendly icon. Twenty minutes of excited gameplay exchanged before you move on.

One day in the manic rush you are given the golden ticket to get inside: enter the cathedral of worship and see what all the fuss is about – one hour only.

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A strange buzz fills your veins when you step on the floor. You are different from everyone else: you cannot move with the lazy drag of their feet that shows this is their hundredth circuit, time is too precious.

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Unbeknownst to you, there are secret loves and passions for comics and characters and films and franchises that you never knew you had. You flit from one stand to the next, stuffing money into hands and cramming goodies into bags. Endless snaps of photos are taken, and mouths open so often it’s like a fish gaping for water as one extraordinary thing after another lines up in front of you.

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You emerge panting from the stands to find yourself in the artwork section. The most incredible work, you want it all but the empty purse is light in your hands and the clock is ticking.

Time is up, Cinderella.

You gather the bags like the hem of a skirt and run tripping from the room, pouting at the early exit. One last look back at your painted hero, Wolverine, before the doors swallow you whole and spit you out on to the road back home.

Ribbon City

Along the side of the freeway is a strip of land, wedged in between racing cars and suburban yards. It is marked along its borders by chain link fences that ripple when they’re touched, the dull metallic scales undulating like the lazy swim of a fish.

It is its own city with rules and family. Tents are pitched, sheets of plastic tied around trees and stretched out to the pins in the dusty ground. Towels, grubby clothes, an umbrella, are piled on top of the makeshift roof, shrivelling in the sun.

The cool blast of air-con is whipping strands of hair back from my face as I zoom past and see an exhausted man in this ribbon city, bending over a small girl. He is topless, the folds of his stomach overlapping the waistband of his jeans and his pale skin gleaming in the harsh sunlight. He is holding a bottle in his hand; squirts white cream into his palm; rubs it onto the child’s nose. Before they disappear I see a grin hoist up the weight of the young child’s face.

A few meters along is a gathering of women, sitting around a small stove fire. They are perched on floral loungers, the rusted legs digging into the dirt. Limp cigarettes hang from their mouths and the soles of their feet are grey. One of them waves and shouts something to a person out of sight.

Along the side of the freeway is a strip of land marked by chain link fences. There is family and love and story telling here. There is dirt and poverty and blistered skin from the sun.

There is a whole ribbon city, in the shadow of the free way to home.