Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I wake up, stretch. I make tea, cross the room, I move back again. Turn on the computer, turn it off again, shut the door behind me, check it's closed tight. Down the stairs, out on the street, through the rain, passing windows with the lamps just coming on in them, past windows with sticky signs in them selling flights to New York, Paris and the Costa Brava. I am happy. I'm on the move. There is a safety in my step. I buy a scarf. I scour the wet streets for the reflection of shop lights. There's a warm fuzzy feeling inside me. I walk home.

But back inside, a familiar feeling, one which usually comes only during the night, when I and the world are fast asleep. It came last night; I awoke abruptly and stumbled, half-asleep to the bathroom. Night-time is when another me emerges from deep inside, a me I don't recognise. A time for blackness to come running, for a cold clammy fog to swallow up what is not yet left of the daylight. Blocking up my throat, swelling my chest, nothing to be seen. My eyelids droop to the pillow exhausted. I become an invisible ghost, meandering through this room, that room, finding every single one of them empty.

These night tremors, night terrors, which boil me in my own fear, disappear with the morning. I'm left with no memory but the feeling of death on my lips. But was it the man I spotted lurking outside my changing room today, unconvincing as he examined the ties, or the charity shop assistant who looked at me and said "A five pound note? For a 50p scarf?" that chased my heart back down that black road that goes from golden to ash; morning turning into an endless vacancy of stars? I am left quite alone then in the mechanics of my life, oiling the cogs, keeping it moving, mending and re-structuring, whilst the pit opening up in my stomach tells me that this destination is to nowhere, no place to finally rest except the grave, where loss is the only thing I can be certain will never leave. I see Mum's hand, inert on the white sheet. I see my father, turned away. I see three little girls, running.

I realised yesterday, as I discovered a tear welling up in my eye whilst I watched a James Blunt video, that I must be pre-mentstrual. There is no other reasonable explanation for such shocking behaviour. Even so, today I put down my pen, curled up on my bed and let myself fall into the absence, into all the things I wish I had in my life, that I will never have, that are gone, non-returnable, no deposit, finished, done with, ended, vanished. And always at the bottom of it, is my Mum's hand, the softest hand in the world. Once it stroked my hair. Now I stroke it in my mind, kiss it lightly and pray for its warmth to stay with me for just a little while longer.

My life is ok. I can't complain. But when a mood such as this takes hold, there's only a bullet or a hatchet that could feel more sharp and more deadly. Outside, it is raining again, as it has been for days, people strapped into their houses as the water pelts down the streets. I am glad for security. I do not feel guilty for wanting what's safe. No, actually, that's far from true. I am perhaps the greatest devotee of the God of Loss. A true believer. But blackness inevitably passes, leaving only a trace of its scent; a cool, musky, damp scent of freshly turned earth.

1 comment:

laurel said...

hi clare...
still reading, but had a computer crash two weeks ago, then a scramble to get my second stage visa stuff done.
your posts brought to mind a quote by author Anne Dillard, then I had a google to find it and share it..
"I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them..."

Longish, I know, but it serves to remind me sometimes...I am not the only one in this crippled, unmoored boat...
as always, my thoughts are with you and your mum.