Saturday, 21 January 2012

Write About

I meant to write this over a month ago. Maybe it would have had more bite, more relevance had I written it immediately after the fact. Maybe, but it also would have been different. I would have written it, but typing made my fingers bleed.

At a conference I was organising, whilst opening a box of delegate packs at seven o’clock in the morning, I shredded the tips of my fingers open on the plastic coated card. I spent an hour walking around holding my right hand with the fingers in the air as thick red droplets ran down over my nails and into the pool of my palm.
Afterwards typing split the still fresh scars open; writing, literally, made me bleed.

I wanted to use the blog to voice some frustration, to vent some anger. After the events at the end of the God Reflex, my brief moment of tantrum thrown back in the face of exhaustion, I felt like I’d won. In the end, I overcome and popped out the other end if not quite shiny and new then at least not broken and beaten.

So, Friday evening, I went for a couple of beers. But, tired as I was, it wasn’t long before my heavy eyelids demanded to be closed. I made my excuses and headed for the train station. At Charing Cross, perhaps through mild tipsyness, perhaps through bleary vision, I managed to board a fast train to Sevenoaks by mistake.

Thirty minutes later and the next train back into town was yet another thirty minutes. I kicked my heels on the platform and wrapped myself deep in my greatcoat against the icy wind that cut across the top of the Kentish hillocks. All the time a growing tiredness and need to be at home exhibited itself through grumbling aloud to myself and incessant pacing back and forth punctuated by loud exhalations of air as the minutes refused to speed up. My girlfriend was out for dinner with some friends, so I just wanted to grab some food, have another beer and watch the tv, a rare lazy indulgence. Not too much to ask, surely?

Eventually, over two hours after I’d left Bloomsbury, I made my way down the Lewisham Way towards home. I felt out of sorts. Something felt wrong, a nagging at my guts like I should have known better.

I unlocked the door, not before dropping my keys and faffing around in the dark. Opposite the door from the communal hall is our bedroom. We always leave the door open, but there it was: closed. I thought ‘that’s odd, maybe she’s come home and gone to bed already.’

Gingerly I pushed the door. ‘Hun?’ I said conscious of a chill in the air and scattered shadows in the murk. Snapping on the light I saw the French windows were ajar and every drawer and cupboard thrown open. The bolts and locks in the windows had been forced through the frame, splintering the wood like a wound in the building’s fabric, like my fingers would be three days later. The bottom fell out of my stomach, a surging vacuum ripped everything downwards and a rush of nausea replaced it.

I ran to the kitchen where my laptop should have been. It wasn’t.

‘Fuck, no!’ I shouted, a real deafening bellow that echoed through the empty flat.

I rang the police and then began to try and gauge what else was gone. Her laptop too. Surely her jewelry, although I couldn’t be sure what there was. On the floor were some ipod headphones still curled neatly in a spool but no ipod. Cameras. Other things I wouldn’t notice for days. Then came a second bungee plummet for my stomach, a headlong dive into the ravine with air pressing against your eyeballs and then the snapping jerk backwards and the spine cracking flick through the air: my back-up hard-drive.

‘No!’ I properly screamed that time, unable to control my rage. The new neighbour who’d just moved in upstairs must have wondered who was killing whom.

The police came. My girlfriend’s phone ran out of battery before I could reach her. I paced the flat nervously, back and forth unsure what to do with myself; incapable of even sitting down, not knowing what I could possibly say when she came home.

At last, a key turned in the front door and I went to meet her in the darkened corrider.

I was somewhat depressed for days afterwards. The combination of the violation, my natural tendency towards melancholy, all those photo memories disappeared, all that work. The hours and hours and sacrifices and wrenching stuff from deep inside, all gone, all for nothing. All a waste. Me, a waste.

Writing had made me bleed in more than one way.

That fury was what I wanted to spleen if I’d had a computer, if my fingers hadn’t cracked open every time they stuck a keyboard at work.

Then, on the journey away for Christmas, away from the damage, away to forget in the car they inexplicably didn’t take, Belle and Sebastian sang on the stereo.

“I know a spell
That would make you help
Write about love, it could be in any tense
But it must make sense”

I looked across at her, dozing in the half-lit passenger seat. Ahead the black road was punctuated by neon lights dancing away over the rolling hillsides. I smiled both to myself and to her. Beloved. That was what I would do, not write about hate and anger and frustration and despair, but write about love. After all, what else is there of any worth? Write about love and love by writing.

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