Readers

The flowers are creeping up against the dirty windows.  The windows are dirty inside and out, you can run a finger through the muck.  You look away from the window, back to your book, you crawl mind-first back in to this thing that someone else has made, this wordy structure.  Reading, you bite in to the soft cake and it doesn’t make a sound – nor do the crumbs that fall on your jumper.

Just which activities are there, you wonder, that don’t involve reading?

You can’t remember the last time you did anything that didn’t involve communicating, or being communicated to, using the written word.  Or maybe sometimes communicating (or being communicated to) via the spoken word, but what is the spoken word but the written word read out loud?

Even when you are writing you are actually reading.  You watch the words appearing on the page, barely glancing at the hands that are hitting the keys or moving the pen, though they are in front of you so you can still see that they keep on moving.  Sometimes it seems the words just appear at the exact same time as you are thinking them, and that seems like a neat trick, a thrilling skill when you stop to think about it – though stopping to think about it throws you off balance, and you have to stop until you are not thinking about it.

You take another bite of the soft cake and again it doesn’t make a sound.  You try to type without making a sound, but the keyboard is not made of cake so it isn’t silent.  Reading something sounds of nothing.  An email is quieter than a phone call.

The phone rings and it distracts you from your reading – you answer it but there is no script from which to read so you just have to make it up as you go.  Once these words are said, they stick, it is not possible to go back and delete and rearrange and revise.  But then they disappear, popping out of existence as soon as they have left your mouth.

You read things you find interesting, but everything seems interesting, you wonder if you have a bug or a mite or a parasite, something that has made you malfunction in this way.  But a direct enemy of this is your powers of concentration, or what seems to be a lack of them.  Maybe you have another bug or mite or parasite, and this one is in direct competition with the bug or mite or parasite that is making you take an interest in so many things.  You’re basically a walking war zone.

Even when you put away any reading materials and writing materials, and there is no one around to talk to and no radio or television on which to listen to people talking… when you are just alone with your own thoughts, these still come out as words, words you are thinking and reading with your mind.

The flowers are creeping up against the window.  You take another bite of the soft cake and it makes no sound, except for the absence of sound that forms the words that make a sound in your brain, the confirmation that it makes ‘no sound.’

By-Product

We wake and find everything is intact and yet there is

We hear the airport is very busy, so we drive up to look. It’s true, there are people everywhere. Now we’ve seen that, we head home. As we head home I try to see in to the eyes of the people driving in the opposite direction.

rubble in the street and on the pavement. Only little piles

On the television the presidents of various countries greet one another. “Hey, well done you!” These men remind us of when we were twelve years old. “I know, I still can’t believe it.” They make us think of our twelve year-old friends‘ ten year-old little brothers. “Isn’t it great?” The way in which they were always a few years behind, unable to catch up, however hard they tried. “Well, don’t you just think so?” Now they look and sound like adults, but you just can’t believe it.

of fun-size, travel edition rubble but where did it come

We used to receive parcels. The music we played used to incense the neighbours. I walk up the road to the postbox, and when I put my hand in I can feel the envelopes piled up high.

from? Some of the rubble is made of the usual ingredients

We theorise, loneliness is present in the gaps between all the people, which is a lot of space and thus a lot of loneliness.  The main ingredient of loneliness is absence, so the effect is there is a whole lack of nothing around.

that make up rubble – rock, concrete, scraps of wire and

There does not seem to be much there, not much at all. It is so incredibly right that we are right.  We are so tired.

metal – but some is rubble of a softer kind, made of things

Last thing, late at night, we whisper, I tell you about the recurring dream I have had since childhood, one that is different each time but vaguely the same nevertheless and which, in each occurrence involves some indefinable effort, some major undertaking, a project which I have just finished. I always wake with the feeling that I have done it completely wrong, that the work must now be reversed and that this is impossible, or seemingly impossible, or at least even more difficult than the original task.

like… the petals detached from flowers? And there is rubble

We set aside a day.  “You know what we haven’t done in ages, we haven’t got giddily drunk in the middle of the afternoon, in the sun.  We only ever seem to get drunk in the dark, as a by-product of socializing.”  “We need to set aside a day, and for that to be the purpose of the day.”  “We should feel free to do that.”  We set aside a day.

that is less tangible, made of… bits, little termite mounds of

In the supermarket, I see an old man making his way down the aisle, writing the name of each product and their current price in a tatty old notebook so that, I assume, he can budget for his shopping from home. The look on his face suggests he has just realised quite how many different things are on sale, just how far he has to go… Actually, there was no such old man – I made that up.

data. We keep seeing these modest little cairns in the street,

Later we saw these men stealing some windows, and we thought, well, we could see right through that ruse. I thought pained laughter. You thought, why don’t you throw a rock at them, then we’ll run away, but we’ll at least have stopped the robbery. I didn’t throw a rock and the men got away with the window, and you looked disappointed, but you didn’t think disappointment and you didn’t say anything.

rubble comprising… tiny pieces of silk and leather, pebbles of

We buy a scratch card in the hope that we will win lots of money and make the world infinitely better. But as you uncover the prize, I collapse into a fit of the giggles… you are using a 20p piece to scrape your way to disappointment.

soft plastic… all of this rubble and yet everything is still intact.

But Not Which One

The first time we meet you are dressed like you could be a Doctor Who, not any of the specific Doctor Whos, it was just a certain style you had.

“Just, Doctor,” you chided.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s not Doctor Who, he’s just called the Doctor.  The program is called Doctor Who, not the man.  The man is just called the Doctor.”

“Yes, I know,” I knewed.  “I do know that.  But if I say you look like a Doctor, you might think I mean you look like a GP.”

“Hmmm… then maybe you should say that I look like the Doctor.”

“But you don’t,” I protested.  “You don’t look like any specific version of the Doctor, you just look like a conceivable version of the Doctor.  You look like you could be a the Doctor.”

“Some future version of the Doctor?”  Though that wasn’t what I had meant.  “I like that.  And you know, he does travel in time,” you gave a theatrical wink.

As a reflex, I winked back and your eyes widened and you covered your mouth.  You pointed, and I thought you were pointing at me, but you were just pointing at something happening behind me.

We parted company and we would not meet again until the second time we met, in a different time and a different place.

But then, isn’t that true of any two meetings between any two individuals?

Day #11689

Item #1

At the start of the year I became aware of Alchemic Writing’s Weekly Writing Prompts and now every Wednesday I get a brief email with a little creative spark or prompt or a picture or a challenge.  I should backtrack.  Alchemic Writing is run by Morgan, adventuring companion of my good friend Suzanna – they even wrote a book together.

Anyway, these writing prompts have been lighting up my inbox every Wednesday since the new year.  However much or little time I have to actually spend responding to the tasks, it’s great to have a little trigger to start a different kind of thought, something entering my brain from a different angle.

Item #2

Professional feedback on a piece of work is a valuable thing.  I saw something about Harriet Kline’s Charity Short Story Critiques, probably on Short Stops, I think.  It sounded like a good deal – advice in exchange for charitable contributions.  I checked out some of Harriet’s work  to make sure I wouldn’t be getting advice from someone who’s writing I didn’t like (because that always seems slightly counter-intuitive) and really enjoyed her story Earth Blood, so I signed up.

For the critique, I picked out a piece I wrote a few years ago and didn’t really know what to do with – a story I liked, but felt it was a bit unwieldy and maybe a bit strange – and emailed it to her.  A couple of weeks later, I received a fantastic little document with a breakdown of various things I could do to make it stronger – all really good constructive notes which I have stored up for when I re-work that piece.

Item #3

Because I like finding new and interesting writing and because I like seeing different ways of getting great work out there, I have joined the Galley Beggar Press Singles Club, which means I receive a short piece of writing every month or so, in a file which I can load to my electronic reading device.

The first single I sampled from Galley Beggar Press was Mud by Chris McCabe, a strange wee tale about a couple searching for a cubic centimetre of air in mud.  One of them is a wizard and they are followed by a TV crew.  As bewildering as it is funny and smart, I enjoyed it’s strange tone and devilish abandon.

Item #4

I’ve signed up to GoodReads and by dint of my competition placing a couple of years ago have managed to wangle myself a GoodReads Author page, with a terrifying ‘Ask the author’ feature which thankfully no one has utilized thus far.  Anyway, I know it will be really interesting to follow what I’m reading and any reviews I post up there, so fill your flip-flops.