Posts tagged: surreal

Apr 14 2010

Sticky Bits

There’s nothing more alarming than walking down the street minding ones own business only to find oneself caught in the middle of a hole-storm. I huddled in the doorway of a dingy looking greengrocer and shivered as millions of tiny holes hurtled earthward, making little popping noises as they winked out of existence on the grimy pavement.

To add insult to injury, peering through a particularly slow-moving hole revealed that it opened out into a rather pleasant looking meadow, furnished with long, waving, grass and glowing with yellow sunlight.

As I waited for the shower to pass, I drifted into my usual daydream – of building a machine – a Machiavellian arrangement of gears and magnets – to collect the holes together before they popped in order to make a gateway to somewhere – anywhere – better than this.

It was during a particularly pleasant part of this daydream – the part with the girl – that I noticed that one of the tiny holes hadn’t popped. It simply sat there, on the pavement, looking at me.

“Oho!” I thought, hardly daring to hope. Another hole fell beside the first and the two coalesced into one slightly larger hole.

“OHO!” I cried. More and more holes fell, bouncing and skipping onto the pavement instead of popping. Little silvery rivers flowing inwards, seemingly drawn towards what was rapidly become a swirling whirlpool to somewhere else.

I peeked my head as far forward as I dared – trust me, you really don’t want a hole in the back of your head – and gazed into the swirling eye. The view beyond the coruscating wheel of liquid glass was idyllic to say the least – the sun setting in a brazen sky sending lances of orange fire across rolling hills covered in the greenest grass I’d ever seen. Multi-coloured birds fluttered and swooped and their muted cries drifted up to me as though from the memory of a beautiful dream.

The deluge was slowing when the outermost surface of the spiral began to foam and effervesce.

“Oh bugger!” I cried, realising with horror that – if I delayed – the portal would be gone forever. I tensed, ready to spring into a new life in another world, when the dingy door behind me flew open and a grizzled looking old chap in a dusty floral print dress appeared behind me.

“Away we ye, ye stupid bloody things!” he bellowed, and sloshed a bucketful of dirty water and potato peelings across the pavement. The portal fizzed and spat violently then vanished, the energy of its passing casting peelings and grime skyward.

I gazed blankly at the stinking heap of peelings with a heavy heart, and imagined their slimy counterparts descending from the clear sky and soiling the meadow in that other place.

“What have you done?” I whispered.

The old man hiked up his tights. “Stupid bloody holes. Leave sticky bits all over the path. Shouldn’t be allowed.”

Feb 09 2010

Finding Jesus in my soup

David stared into the bowl of soup where the face of Jesus had materialised and wondered why The Man looked so much like a serial killer. “I mean, if you’re the Son of God you can look like anyone, right?”

The face widened its eyes a little, rivulets of Heinz Cream of Tomato streaming to the sides of the plate like the parting of the Red Sea in miniature. For an entity without even a whole head, it did a remarkably accurate approximation of a shrug.

“Well, what’s that supposed to mean?”

The manifestation of the divine smiled and opened its mouth. Thick reddish orange liquid bubbled around the words. “I look as you expect me to look.”

“Bollocks,” David said. “I expect you to look like Robert Powell. And don’t give me that  disapproving look – you’re a bowl of soup. I can talk to a bowl of soup any way I like.”

“Gonnae keep the noise doon, Chief?”

David looked up. Gordon was sitting at the table opposite with his own bowl of soup upturned by his side. As usual, he’d been finger painting and the front of his hospital gown was covered in a lattice of thick orange smears.

“Keep it down yourself, Gordon,” David scowled. “I’m trying to have a conversation with Jesus.”

“Yer talkin’ tae yer soup again, boy. D’ye no think it’s time ye stopped it?”

“Do you hear me passing comment when you’re smearing shit on the walls of your ward? Or screaming abuse at the seagulls? Have I ever said a word about you sitting up half the night chatting to the furniture?”

Gordon thought about this for a moment. “Naw, Chief. Ye’ve never said anything. But then, I’m just a mad bampot  – you’re a bloody doctor.”

Aug 11 2009



i. Chrissy Dances

And the waves lap gently at the sand, pushing it up and pulling it back, undecided on whether they should stay or go but nevertheless forced into constant motion by the irresistible pull of the moon.

Chrissy sits and waits on the shoreline for the dashing young man who must surely happen by soon. But the waves lap, and the sand stirs, and Chrissy’s shadow lengthens across the hard packed rippled surface and still he does not appear.

Her crown sits askew on her golden head and her eyes gaze vacantly down at her feet. She wriggles her toes into the sand and watches as the saturated ground gives up its water in tiny pools around her feet.

The sun dips lower in the sky, resting its head on the horizon, and sends glowing amber beams of sympathy to soothe the young girl’s pain. Chrissy smiles back sadly, and looks once more along the empty beach.

She folds her arms over her knees, rests her chin on them, and begins singing softly to herself. A light breeze creeps cautiously from the ocean surface and sidles up the beach. It lifts a few strands of soft, fine, hair and strokes them gently. “Everything will work out fine.”

She rises and stands before the ocean with her arms held out. The breeze grows a little more excited, flicking at her white linen dress, and whispering in her ear. She spins slowly on the spot, a careful pirouette. She points with her right foot and inscribes a perfect circle for her Prince to cross. She raises her arms in a graceful arch above her head and pivots forwards, raising one leg in an elegant Arabesque.

The lapping waves give a gurgling chuckle at the dancing girl while their parents roar approval from further afield. The wind cheers and whistles as it flows alongside her, constantly caressing, touching, guiding and leading. She dances up the beach. Her shadow flickers and wavers and the sun turns the water to fire as it clings to the last scrap of the sea. As she dances across the demarcation line between the ocean’s domain and the land’s, the dry sand leaps excitedly in the air around her feet, kicked into glittering tornadoes by the energy of her passing. From over the border, the brine-soaked ocean sand looks on with envy.

Then he is here, clad in black, tall, lean, his face indistinct with the sun at his back. She dances around him, laughing and crying, desperate for a glimpse of his long awaited face. She spins towards him and the last ray of the dying sun burns fiercely in her heart before vanishing, leaving her alone and silent on the empty beach once more. Her arms fall to her sides and her gaze turns down to the eternal sand. She sinks to her knees with her arms outstretched. The beach takes her hands; the ocean strokes her arms; the slowly spreading darkness caresses her golden hair.

And the waves lap gently at the sand and the wind sighs its pity. Chrissy sits and Chrissy waits for another glimpse on another day, while the weeping sun rolls its moment of magical twilight around the world.

ii. Reuben Stands

The darkness approaches, rushing on the wings of ravens, and Reuben runs through its heart. He feels the gentle tug of the world’s turning and the less gentle pressure of the whispering night which surrounds him.

Voices cry to him from the darkness; joyful laughter, angry shouts, tears, grief, and the unbearable keening wail of longing.

He turns to face the latter, his face transfigured in recognition, and throws his voice forwards into the smothering night; “I am here! I am always here!”
The unseen coils of the darkness lash and flex around him, striking his arms, his legs, his back. He stumbles and slows and feels the night thicken. The cry of the longing tears at his heart, pulling at him as he in turn pushes through the murk, and the power of the cry grows with every step he takes.

Reuben redoubles his efforts against the slick, invisible bonds as a distant roar approaches from somewhere behind. It grows lighter ahead. Something shifts beneath his feet. The smooth glassy surface becomes buckled and twisted, pitted and scarred. As he forges forwards, it pulls and sucks at him, slowing him further. Sensing triumph, the invisible coils of night slither and contract around his waist.

Reuben cries out as his feet begin to sink. An icy chill embraces them and the all-too familiar hand of fear caresses his heart.

“Too soon! Have pity!” he cries, as the cold tendrils pulse and surge up and down the length of his legs. The laughter of the darkness and the onslaught of the roaring sound assault his ears and he covers his head with his arms.

The lighter air ahead is flecked with red and gold and it is towards this small hope that Reuben strives. Bright sparks ignite and burn angrily before his eyes, spinning and dancing, coalescing into a light band below and a darker band above. The surface around his legs is liquid and icy, pricking and sticking, lacerating his flesh with vicious tendrils of cold. A wave forges ahead of him, wrapping him in its reluctance, and the darkness gloats and cackles behind him.

The soft earth touches the soles of his feet in a gentle caress. With an exultant cry he pulls free of his ephemeral bonds and sprints, head down, arms pumping, knees rising high to clear the foam around his legs. The world slips into focus; gently undulating dunes beneath a luminous sky of purple and red. The darkness falls behind, unable to match his pace now that the land is on his side, but still stalking its inexorable way towards him. The last tendrils of night spring from his shoulders as he steps clear of the shivering blackness and the gentle light of the dying sun flickers in his eyes.

He laughs and whoops, leaping the last few feet, emerging from the sea as though for the first time, and the firm sand beneath him smiles its welcome. And then, a flicker of white, sunlight on golden hair, the madly pirouetting form of longing made corporeal and Reuben stands transfixed, the pursuing horror forgotten in an instant.

She spins around him, aware and unaware, eyes flashing past without making contact. Her hair whips across her face, stealing his breath and pulling it around her. She slows, her arms raising, turning towards him; her face, in profile, pale and lovely, turning, turning as the heavy curtain of dark – its path leading remorselessly to this place – rests its cold hand upon his back and wraps him in its coils once more.

His heart slows and despair floods through him as the ebony claws tear at him. The world fades. The silhouette falls to her knees on the beach. The blackness is total and eternal.

iii. The World Turns

Mother spins around her centre and dances around Father with breathtaking speed. The solar winds drift across her face, billowing and blowing across unimaginable distance with the softness of a lover’s caress, and the golden light of his gaze lies softly on her cheek. She is everything that is, was, and will be but nothing without him.

And there, on the border between day and night, the thin band of dusk creeps lazily across her countenance, ebbing and flowing with the contours of her beautiful face. Glistening clouds race across lush, green, grassland; the shimmer of burning air rises above parched desert; breathless frozen air hangs still above her frozen crown and feet. And all around and ever present rolls the passionate tempest of the ocean.

And there, on the border between motion and stillness, the thin band of glistening silver sand lies streaked with red as the dusk approaches. A trail of footprints, insignificant on the face of the world, leads from the ocean to the land. A second trail spirals and spins along the length of the beach; meandering and searching, then arcing sharply towards the sea.

And there, on the border between Chrissy and Reuben, the world holds her delicate breath. For a single moment, frozen in time, the girl dances and the boy stands. Her longing heart calls out to Mother for mercy. His anguished mind calls to Father, railing against his absence.

And Mother reaches out with a gentle breeze and strokes Chrissy’s golden hair. She feels Reuben’s feet, standing calmly on her shore. The girl’s breath flows from her mouth, mixing with the breeze and is carried to the boy. “In this small way you are connected,” Mother sighs. For Chrissy is everything that is and was and will be, but without Reuben she is nothing. “In this small way we are all connected.”

And the waves lap gently at the sand in this place of union where opposites meet.

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