All entries for November 2009
November 17, 2009
I came up with the tag line after reading an article in which the wife of the recently late footballer Peter Enke said something about destiny blowing. It began life as a cross between The Great Gatsby and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold but has changed disproportionately since. In fact that's not really the best introduction as it is now nothing like that at all and I've got your hopes up of some jazz age spy thriller, which it most definitely isn't....
Destiny blows in all directions, and I believe in fate, you know?
The midsummer morning hung heavy with mist and it was cold, really cold. I’d set an alarm for 5 but woke before it rang. This is my favourite part of the day, when the birds are just getting started with morning song and the light creeps through the valleys and dales that make up the landscape I call home. A deer crossed the top field as I walked down the back track. It was idyllic, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The track was slippery and the rivers of water from the last week had caused channels to form in the soft chalk so the road had become broken, unstable and unlike any kind of road or track, more like a gorge for the tiny voles that would be living in the just ripening corn fields. The rain had made everything clean. The mist lingered just above my ankles; I felt like I was floating.
I got to my dale and I climbed the five bar gate which was peeling with rust and dropped into the long grass. My legs were soaking immediately, and my trainers, but I waded through until I was in line with the hut which hid the bore hole. I lay down on the grass and looked up. The sky isn’t blue when it’s black. It’s not white when it’s red or grey when it’s pink. When it’s cloudy it can’t be clear and when it’s wet it won’t get dry. If a star is out then it won’t be sunny and if it’s bright then it won’t be foggy. In mist there’s no clarity and in moonlight no sun. If a rainbow arches from end to end then a pot of gold can’t be found even if the rainbow seems to stretch forever and ever into the distance and the sun is its middle point. I thought, the air isn’t hot when it’s cold. It isn’t soft when it is whipping, or peaceful when it whistles. When it’s muggy it can’t be fresh and when it’s stifling it won’t be calm. If it stings my skin then I won’t feel relief and if it’s blowing around my feet my head won’t feel the benefit. When the wind blows into the sea and away from the land, that’s not destiny sucking on a lollipop or a father figure breathing to cool hot tea, instead it’s the pat pat pat of a raindrop constantly hitting the floor, eroding away at the concrete over a continual period of time. If I jumped up and down in a puddle then the ripples wouldn’t be scientific but the effects of my actions on the people around me. If I wave my hands frantically in the air, will I get shot or will I lie down with the lion and the lamb and, in time, sleep peacefully.
I am waving my hands frantically above me now and watching the effect that they have on the air that surrounds me. I can still breathe, but the disruption of the air, or possibly just the movement of my hands, is making it more difficult to control the in and out. The in and out and again, in and out and my diaphragm is moving as I know it must. I lie my hands flat on the bottom of my stomach, each hand just above the corresponding hip bone and feel my skin stretch and relax with each intake of air. The skin is tighter than it has been before and that is because of you, because you’ve made me change into something that I don’t want to be and something I can’t explain to anyone else. Not here where the dales meet the sea and the hills roll and the women in the post office talk. Not where there would be condescension and fake flattery, embarrassment and finger-pointing.
I fall asleep and wake up shivering with a nosy calf nudging my upper arm. Loss is a kind of gain, isn’t it? You gain the experience of that loss and can learn from it, can become a better a person once you’ve managed to jump across the rift of sadness, hate and despair and into calm acceptance and belief. Yes, that’s right and I’m sure you’d agree that if I could get over the loss then you might too. You’d take some convincing but I’m sure that eventually you could see it from my point of view and would no longer need to mourn the loss to see the clarity in the clearness of the point, my point, my argument forward. What would you say? The calf had wandered away but now has come back and I sit up as it sniffs my arms and neck. I put out two fingers and it starts to suckle on them, used to the gesture from being newly born but looking put out that there is no milk covering the fingers, no milk for its purple tongue to lick up. The calf gets bored and moves away again and I lie back down on the now warm wet grass. I have no phone or watch with me and so assume that it must be about 8 by now which means I have about an hour until they realise I’m not in the house and about two until they start to come and look for me. Two hours is more than enough time for what I want to do anyway. I lie back down and close my eyes again.
This time when I wake, there are three calves watching me from a short distance. I pick a blade of grass, hold it between my thumbs and blow, scaring them away with the noise that it makes. The calves have now moved right down to the grass track at the bottom and are pretending not to watch me but I know that they are. I stand up and walk back to the chalk track and back towards the farm but turn left into a field and then down into another dale. This dale is empty which is key for the purpose of what I want to do and has a lake in the bottom and a small stream which trickles into it. We call it the tarn, though it’s not that big. We used to swim in it all summer though since we’ve grown up more, we rarely come down here. There’s a crude wooden jetty that Dad built years ago, in the deepest part, so we could dive in, like our own kind of swimming pool. I stand on the jetty.
The water beneath my feet is moving slightly in the breaths of wind that have just begun to pick up. By the afternoon there will be a lot of wind, the weatherman said, moving in from the nearby sea and picking up speed as it crosses the land. The farm will take a beating. Mum will mind. It will destroy the plants which are just coming into their own and starting to look nice. There are trees rustling at the shallow end of the valley, planted just for the pheasants to live in, breed in and get shot in but at least they had a little bit of time. They wouldn’t be alive unless they were going to get shot. I told a friend that once but she didn’t understand and just looked upset. She didn’t understand that there were preconceived reasons for all things to happen, whether by a farmer or by something else. I guess you and I as we are, or just as I am in this state, was preconceived by something somewhere. And I guess that whatever decided it knew what the outcome would be anyway. It gave me a reason for things. And a reason for an answer that I’d been trying to work out for what seemed like a very long time.
A deer came out of the wood and up to the tarn to drink. It bent its head but must have smelt me on one of the gasps of wind and lifted its head to stare at me for what seemed like hours. I stared back but couldn’t hold its gaze. I blinked, then it had gone. I saw a flash of white disappear into the trees.
The sun was getting quite high now and I decided it was time so I walked off the jetty and stood on the grass. I had some stones in my pockets that I’d brought down from the farm specifically and there were some bricks left over from a makeshift barbeque we’d had at Easter. The bricks fitted into the pockets of the coat I was wearing. I zipped the coat up right to my neck. Then I took out the bottle of sleeping pills I’d brought with me for extra help. I didn’t want to be strong enough to fight when my instincts told me to. I took out three and swallowed them with water scooped up from the tarn. I left the bottle on the side of the jetty and stopped for one last look around.
I said goodbye to the trees, to the sky, to the dales which I’d loved more than anything for longer than I could remember. I began to cry as sleep tried to take hold and became emotional as I felt more tired. The landscape was saying goodbye to me too; I could hear my voice being shouted again and again echoing between the hills. The trees were talking back and as I looked across they were waving at me their branches like arms, moving from side to side. I stepped up onto the jetty. The mist was returning though the sun was hot, very hot, hotter than I’d thought it could be. I looked at the water, walked forwards and jumped.
There shouldn’t have been a hand to reach down for me. I shouldn’t have been pulled back to the surface or had lips closed around mine. I wanted my fate to be the water.
If there are grey clouds then it won’t rain. If there are black ones it will. There can’t be any light when the sun is covered over but how can it still be warm when it is? I never stepped on three drains or crossed on stairs or walked under ladders. I paid my respects to the magpies and always left a house through the same door I’d entered. I wasted salt over my left shoulder. Destiny blows in all directions but it never blew me where I wanted to go.