Creeps into the core of my being, this breeze of gentle dullness, dressed as contentment, so easy to slide into its grasp, fall into that soft cushion of peace, enveloped by its temping embrace, to be captured by emptiness disguised as release.
So he wondered what was this , this thing that shone with life and excitement. It drew him , like a candle draws a moth into its flame he was attracted, giving up control to that which seemed to sparkle, letting himself dissolve in the intensity.
Personality disintegrating before the allure that slowly and so effortlessly killed his being, leaving just the husk of a man to live on in this world of wonder.
So many dead men, living their lives , but locked in deaths embrace of fear, believing the lies and deceit. So sad and so lost, blinded by this lie.
It was one of those summer days that just sparkled with possibility. The sky was the dark pristine blue, so clear and pure, with just the odd splash of brilliant white clouds sailing majestically. In the little boys eyes they became a host of creatures and amazing animals as they slowly ambled across this sky above his back garden. Today was so special, they were heading for the large park down the road, one of his absolutely best places to be. The playground was good and had the benefit that it had climbing frames for all ages of kids, and one that his little brother just loved to play on. This left the bigger ones for just him, to get away from his brother for some fun, just by himself for a change.
The park was far enough away that they all had to walk together, but not so far that it was one of those marathon exhibitions (not that he knew what a marathon was, he must ask Mum). They got there early , before most of the other kids, which was great as he had the big climbing frame to himself. He flew all the way to a distant galaxy that morning, climbing higher and higher and rescued people from a burning building. More kids turned up and they had some great games together, some of they boys from his class at school joined in with an adventure high up in a city of Skyscrapers , like Spider man swinging from building to building.
The games rolled on around him , but after a while the boy started to get a bit fed up, as little boys do and his attention started to drift away from the games to the look around at the park landscape around him. After all , despite all the imagination he could muster (and he had lots) , he was just playing on a big metal and wood climbing frame and he wanted to have a real adventure.
By now his mum had met up with some of her friends from the school gates, and they were all sitting on the grass near the smaller frames,. He could see his little brother playing with his school friends (play school, not yet proper school).
Over in one corner of the park, he could see a large clump of bushes, but from up here, he could also see that their seemed to be a space in the midst of them, near the park wall. Checking that his mum was still fully occupied, he set of to explore those bushes and find out what might be in the middle of them. Now, normally he would never have done such a thing , but today, the sky was so blue and the days so full of potential he just could not resist the possibility of a little adventure.
He ran over to the edge of the bushes and walked back and fore looking for a gap, for a way in. The bushes were dense, and looked completely impenetrable and he was about to give up and head back for the playground when he noticed spot where the wall of undergrowth was different, moving closer to see he realized that although it looked dense, there was a place where one bush hid a gap behind it which offered the possibility of squeezing through, which is what the boy did. Once inside the bush, he found there was a lot more room , and he could almost stand up. A tunnel like opening in front of him seemed the easiest way to go so he headed deeped into the bushes, in a sort of crouched walk, occasionally tripping over roots or banging his head on branches that seemed to snag on his hair and clothes. After walking for what seemed an age , he began to worry that he must have left the park by now and be in someones garden. But he remembered that there was a big wall around the park, so maybe he was just going around in circles. He was about to call out for help, when he suddenly (and unexpectedly burst out of the bushes in a clearing. He was now right in the corner of the park and the park walls loomed high above him. The clearing was so much bigger than he expected, with a nice area of lawn, very neatly mowed, and right in the corner say a small potting shed.
He didn’t know what a potting shed was but he had heard his Granny talking about her shed as being a potting shed (it was full of tools and other gardening stuff) so he decided that must be what this shed was. This shed was most interesting, it had a window to the left of the door which was on the right of the shed front. A simple flat felt covered roof sloped down from the wall toward the front of the shed. The shed was made of wood, simple planks, sort of dark grey in colour.
In front of the shed was a wheel barrow which some plants growing in it and an array of plants growing. They were not flowers so he assumed they were what Granny called a herb garden. Looking around he could see no way into this space, which was surround by thick bushes so he wondered if there might be a door into the wall inside this lean-to shed. He walked to the door and found it was just the right height for him. Perhaps he should have wondered about that as any adult would have had to crouch down to get into the shed.
He reached for the door handle which was the metal hoop type, there was no sign of a lock. Turing the handle the door swung outward easily and he stepped into the shed. It was full of pots and smelled like a fresh meadow on a summers morning. There was a door set into the wall in front of him. Now he knew this was wrong, he was not allowed to leave the park without his Mum but he had to have a look, so he walked over to the door set into the wall, which was much more solid and had a proper handle but still no lock. Grabbing the handle he opened to door which let him out into a vast park of green glades and trees stretching out in front of him as far as the eye could see. There will tall mountains in the distance, and he could hear the buzz of insects all around. IN the sky he could see what looked like birds flying , but as he looked more closely he could see they were like no birds he had ever seem before, they had long tails and big flaring nostrils, in fact they looked just like small dragons.
Stunned by this amazing vista which he know could not be real, he turned round to go back through the door in the wall, to find there was no wall here. The open door was there and he could see the inside of the potting shed, and through the window the clearing in the bushes he had come through, but on this side the door was set into the side of a hillside which sloped up above him. He should be able to see over the wall into the park from up there he thought so he started climbing the hill and as he climbed he started rising through the clumps of trees and eventually after climbing for a bit he was able to see over the tops of most trees. He was amazed to see a vast landscape stretching out as far as he could see. Looking around he could not see the park or the town or anything he knew. As he looked back down from the way he had come, one of the trees moved, not just swaying in the wind , it moved , it took several steps , then settled down into the hillside, looking as fixed as a normal tree.
This was a very strange place. Suddenly he was very scared, and he needed to get back to his Mum quickly. He ran back down the hillside, following the marks he had left in the long grass. IN all the stories he had read, at this point, the doorway would no longer be there, so he ran as quick as he could, and was relieved to see the open door still there. He dashed back inside the potting shed and closed the door in the wall behind him. Leaving the potting shed, (and shutting that door as well), he ran across the small lawn and plunged back into the bushes and in no time found himself back in the park. He sprinted back across to the playground to find his mum was still where he had left her and his brother was still playing. It was almost as if no time had passed since he had left, but he knew he had been away for at least an hour in the strange place.
During the walk home he was very quiet, but his brother was a real pain so his Mum didn’t notice. He mind was raising as he remembered all this things he had seem in the strange place, the miniature dragons, the moving trees and the thing that had sent him running, the dark menacing shape in the distance coming his way.
But he also knew he had to go back and find out more………..
The biscuit plate was coming around the room, being passed from person to person, and it was coming in his direction. It was stacked with everyone’s favourite biscuits, digestives, rich tea, custard creams , Bourneville and just two Abernethy biscuits, his favourites.
They were all here, crammed into Aunty Netty’s front room, much older now, but still his family, his precious loving and compassionate family.
But the biscuits were going down, and the pate had still not reached him.
Dad looked sombre and wistful, not fully engaged in the buzz of conversation flowing around the room. He looked across the room at Aunt Netty, sitting there surrounded by her loving family, but so empty and alone. Bill had gone, my uncle Bill who had taught me to ride a bike, and skim a stone. Who had offered worlds of wisdom into my life, dead and now buried. My Dads second best friend, his brother who he had shared a life time of living, the empty space in the room. Mum held onto Dads hand tightly.
One of the Abernethy’s had gone, cousin Violet knew I loved them so she was still teasing me , across the room just as she had done when we were kids together.
The village had been so tight back then, so close and comfortable, with the freedom to explore and roam, knowing that when you needed help it would be there. We had grown up in this large extended family of the village, taking for granted this precious community of hope and love and now it was fading away as the world changed around it. Most of us had left as we grew up, to seek our way in the big world, out there assuming home would always be here to come back to. But now I could see that it was fading into the past. The graveyard now had so many stones with names I had known well, it had been their village, they made it for us, so much more than buildings and place.
Finally the plate arrived, but all of the Abernethy’s had gone. I passed the plate onto cousin George who loved custard creams and smiled gratefully at me.
Violet smiled across the room at me and held out her hand. There was that last Abernethy biscuit. I reached out to take it as my family laughed, they all knew of course. Violet held my hand for a moment, our shared sense like a cord that bound us together , so physical and real in that room on that day among us all.
And the biscuit plate continued around the room.
To speak in silence
words that resonate
with value and depths,
that fill the void of
empty humanity with space
to run free,
released from the pain of
this daily darkness,
Exploration of this world
of wonder and awe,
real life outside
the dull monotony of survival
Life expanded for a moment of joy
Words that speak above
the noise of life’s bland flow
That lift and enable us
to be all each one is.
It had been many years, but after a wobbly start he was off. He was a boy again, remembering the sheer joy, the exultation of wind in his face and the absolute excitement of speed.
It had been many decades but he was transformed back to that distant village, and the glorious smile on her face as she shared his joy, as their eyes met and they shared a moment of sublime intimacy that went beyond the merely physical, that became the bedrock of their journey through life.
He could see her standing there now, sharing this moment of memory, just as she had been, in that different time and place.
And then he fell off the bike, still with that amazing feeling of contentment, and a glorious smile of peace.
All they could see was an old man being a fool and trying to ride a bike again, with a stupid grin on his face, except little Lucy. Somehow she knew that he was somewhere else and she held his hand as they waited for the ambulance, the image of her great-grandmother.