By Scott Bailey © 2017
Moxie not talent
Seems to be an effective
In response to the daily prompt Moxie
Tailor made suits
Tailor made holidays
Tailor made experiences
Tailor made careers
Tailor made relationships
Tailor made friends
Tailor made lives
No matter the tailor
Clothes just don’t fit me well
And happy to be
In response to the daily prompt Tailor
We bumble along
In this universe
Buzzing with trivia and angst
While the sun roars
Black holes yaw
And starlight races by
Life bubbles up
Here and there
Obsessed with itself
As it is wont to be
The vacuum does not care
Maybe one day
Life will stumble
On the correct change
In response to the daily prompt Bumble
In the few idle moments of the day
The very few
How I can achieve my goals
How I will relax tonight
Finish my masterpiece
Find fame and fortune
And then the moment’s gone
Decisions are taken away
And I am the whim of everyone else again
I should stop thinking
So my dreams
Are no longer buried
In response to the daily prompt Bury
Rapists come and go
grit your teeth
Carry a dagger
Hide in the woods
a thousand bones
You make it a film!
a hero’s theme
My mother didn’t pay
didn’t bear her cross
didn’t carry her cross
now lays beneath hers
My best suit
stained by the passing
the violent end
of my daughter
in my arms
Now you tell me
in your yellow coat
Go back whence you came!
In response to the daily prompt Grit
“My patience is almost spent.”
“I apologise Mr. Dickens. The situation is complicated.”
“I have been hearing that for two weeks now! And have been given nothing! No answers! I don’t know where I am. I don’t know what has happened to me. Everyone talks strange and treats me like some kind of alien or freak show. And where are my fucking family!”
For a second the Doctor looked horrified. Then he quickly composed himself.
“Again I can only apologise. But I will explain now. When I do you will understand our … reticence. ”
“About time..”, muttered Henry.The Doctor gave him a look of pity.
“Brace yourself. ”
Henry suddenly felt cold. The Doctor went on.
“Our records show that you were in a cycling accident.”
He pronounced cycling as if he didn’t know what the word meant.
“You suffered severe brain injuries. You were put into a coma to try to protect your higher brain functions. When the swelling had subsided the medical team tried to revive you. They failed. You remained in a coma.”
Henry shifted in his chair. His voice was broken as he spoke.
“I have been out for ten years?”
“It’s more complicated. While you were under the world around you changed. It got worse, a lot worse. Your wife… well it seems she was a sharp woman. She saw things clearer than most. For one thing she left us plenty of notes. That’s why we know so much.”
Henry felt a growing sense of dread. But he kept silent.
“Because she saw things clearly she prepared, took action. What I am going to tell you will be hard for you to hear. But bear in mind that with the benefit of hindsight we can see that what she did was for her family. For your children. She took steps to protect them.”
“Protect them?” His heart was racing. “Protect them from what?”
“There was a fucking war?” The Doctor flinched again, but he went on.
“Yes. It was a dark time.”
“World War Three?”
“Not quite. I mean that’s what people expected. What your wife thought was coming. But it was not and all-encompassing war like that. No one side against the other. No. What transpired was a series of many many, small wars between countries.”
He shuddered and continued.
“You might think that would have been better than a world war, but it was not. It was far worse. With just about every country in the world caught up in their own conflicts there was nobody to coordinate any kind of peace deal. No one to talk to anyway if there had have been. So the wars dragged on, for years, decades.”
“Decades? I thought you said ..” the Doctor stilled him with a look.
“Your wife saw the dark times coming. She took steps to protect her family. The first of which was she remarried. ”
“She… what? She..”
“She married into immense wealth. And she used the money to protect her children and you. We know she did this well as we know they survived the dark times.”
“They are alive! I can see them!”
“No. You cannot. They are…. let me finish.”
A lump of dread was threatening to strangle him.
“She also tried to protect you. With all the resources of her great wealth she threw everything they had at the time towards reviving you. Nothing worked. Finally, when it looked darkest and there was no guarantee that anyone would survive she threw you one last desperate lifeline. An experimental treatment.”
The Doctor paused, looked him deep in the eye.
“She put you into suspended animation.”
Henry felt chilled to the bone.
“So no, you cannot see your wife and children. They have been dead for over two hundred years. We have only just been able to awaken you.”
“No. No, this can’t be. It’s some sort of sick joke isn’t it? There’s cameras in here. Well it’s not funny! I want to see my family!”
“Please Mr Dickens, please calm down. I know this is a lot to take in and I am sorry. But there is more. There is something else you need to know.”
“Calm down? Calm the fuck down? I want my family in this room! Here and now! Don’t give me any more bullshit.”
The doctor nodded very slightly, subtly, but Henry noticed.
It was too late.hands he didn’t see took a firm hold of his arms. Held him steadfastly. He felt a cold disc of metal against the skin of his neck, there was a hiss, then he fell swirling into darkness.
“You want me to what!?”
Henry looked at the panel before him, twelve men and women, with utter disbelief.
“Mr Dickens. We understand that you have a lot to take in over the last few weeks.”
“A lot!” Henry stared. How could they possibly understand. He has lost everything. His family, his love, his world. He had seen very little of this world but he had seen enough to know that it was not his. He was an alien here.
And now this.
“We understand that you have lost a lot. You have to understand that the world has lost a lot too.”
“I have heard all about your wars. Lots of people died. Yes.”
“They were not our wars, “ said the chairman of the panel, his voice calm and cold. “And I don’t think you have an appreciation of just how many people died, or what that meant.”
Henry didn’t see what any of it had to do with him. The chairman continued anyway.
“The population of the earth was cut by 75%. You have no idea what that did to us. There were very few people left to run things. Very few who knew how to keep things running. Power stations failed. Oil wells stopped pumping. Machines broke down. Nobody knew how to rule, how to respond to the disasters. All that had been wiped away in war after war.
“The times after the wars were darker than the actual wars. The world came close to slipping into barbarism. In many places it did.”
“And you came along and saved it,” said Henry sourly.
“We survived. We were not involved – because we were overlooked. We had no wealth, no strategic value. Largely we were forgotten up in the mountains.”
He paused, letting Henry take in his words. Henry said nothing so he continued.
“We don’t really know what triggered many of the wars, people say it was largely financial – but those are theories, based on times gone by. What we do know is that as things got more and more desperate the terms of the conflicts changed. They became more ideological. In many cases fiercely religious. This was why many of them could not be stopped, there came a point where reason stopped being any part of the fighting.
“It was another reason we were not drawn into it. As Buddhists we eschewed all the arguments for fighting. But we were also no threat to anyone. Those that were bent on converting the world, well – most had forgotten us, or were just leaving us to last.
“So in the end, we survived just by being the last ones standing. We were the only thing left close to being a coherent nation.
“And we were used to living frugally. We were in a unique position to fill the niche so to speak.
“So people flocked to us. They saw our way of life working. Saw it as a light in the dark, a hope.”
“And you made them all convert!” Henry spat.
“Not at first,” replied the chairman. “That was not our way, never had been. But it was a disaster. Trying to accommodate everyone’s views, conflicting ways of doing things. Trying to keep on top of all the old tensions, historical hatreds and prejudices. Well it almost tore us apart. And we were so fragile then, we still are.”
The chairman leaned forward.
“You have to understand something. The earth is damaged. It’s worn out, and depleted. It will never recover, not in the ways we would want it to. The comforts and luxuries of generations past have gone. If we are to survive we must change our ways. And some of those ways might seem extreme to you. They are – but so is our situation.”
“So I have to convert to Buddhism! No choice!”
“That is correct. and it has to be genuine. You must live by our ways.”
“What do you do check up on me? Monitor me? Give me exams every month or something.”
“We do not need to. The way our society is structured, if you do not follow our ways, it would be obvious. If your thoughts do not flow with those around you – it will be grossly evident to all around you.”
“So I am not even allowed to think outside of your precious bloody ways.”
“As I said, the ways are extreme, and your manner does not fit – at the moment.”
Henry snorted in derision. Did they really think he was going to take this.
“And if I refuse?”
“We cannot allow the possibility of disruption to the balance. You will be executed.”
Henry stared open-mouthed.
“You are kidding! That doesn’t sound very like the Buddhism that was around in my time.”
“Maybe not – we have had to make our sacrifices too. But we are humane.”
“How can killing someone be humane?”
“You would die happy and fulfilled. We have our ways”
“Well hoo – fucking – ray!”
“Are you sure that you do not want to change your mind?” said the monk. Henry assumed it was a monk. He looked like the Buddhist monks from his own era but he just didn’t know any more.
He wasn’t sure he cared either.
“Why would I do that?”
“So you can live,” said the monk with surprise.
“What for? My life is gone. Everything I knew is gone. My life would be as a stranger in a cage of rules I don’t want and don’t understand. I can’t live like that.”
“You haven’t given it a chance. You have no idea the peace and joy of our lives. You are judging us by your primitive standards. You…
“Enough!” A voice of authority barked from a hidden source. The monk started and looked guilty and continued preparing the elaborate machine Henry was embedded into.
Joy indeed! Henry snorted to himself. Get on with it, he thought.
The monk appeared to comply. He stepped back, nodded at the back wall and left.
The machine hummed and enclosed further around Henry like some futuristic iron maiden. A needle swung into his vision, poised at his neck and then stopped.
The voice spoke again.
“It saddens us to do this friend. But our society, mankind, must survive.”
“Yes, yes. I can imagine the tears you are shedding.”
“You will not change your mind?”
“You will not let me live among you without converting?” Henry countered.
“Not even for a limited time – say a month, to see if you can change my mind?” The sarcasm in his voice told them all he did not expect any reasonable answer to that.
“Then get on with it!”
“Very well. Judge! Carry out the execution.”
Henry didn’t even take a breath. He’d had enough, reached his limit. He wanted it ended.
Nothing happened. He looked up, the needle stayed poised, he could almost see the poison dripping from it.
“Judge! What is happening? Carry out the execution.”
“No.” The new voice was quietly defiant.
“What? Judge, carry out your task, execute him.”
“No!” What Henry presumed was the Judge’s voice was louder and firmer this time. “I will not. He is right. We should give him time amongst us.”
“This is not acceptable, Judge, do your job!”
“What does it say about our society if we do not trust it to be good enough to sway him? If we are scared that it so weak that a single man can topple it? We need to start our own healing, and it should start with him. We will give him his time. One month. If he is still not convinced, I will carry out the sentence.”
“This is not acceptable, Judge!”
Something stirred in Henry. Suddenly, out of nowhere he wanted what the Judge was offering him. A chance. A chance to live.
“You will accept it. I am the only one in this world who can carry out this sentence and I will not.”
“Will not be able to carry it out. I have already locked him out of all the processes. Only I can release the locks. He will have his time.”
“Next up, we are talking to the sensation of the age. The man who was frozen in time and has awoken to join us in the future. The man who escaped death twice and who is shaking the world. The man the leaders fear, the man who asks questions.
“Well today, we hope, he will be answering some of our questions.”
The interviewer turned to Henry while the applause of the audience died down. Henry squirmed uncomfortably. Of all the damn things to survive into this century it had to be talk shows! And he was the fucking subject.
He had to remember not to swear too. He had learnt it was considered way more offensive in these times than his own.
“Mr Dickens, thank you for joining us, let us begin with the biggest question.
“OK.” said Henry.
“We have all heard your remarkable story, it has tugged at all our hearts, we all grieve for your losses. The question we have is, why did you refuse conversion when offered at first? Why, as it appears did you choose death?”
Henry was suddenly overwhelmed with emotions that he struggled to keep under wraps. Grieve for my losses? What could they possibly understand about his losses! The very stupidity of the question betrayed how little they could understand.
How could he answer that?
The audience did not let him. A voice shouted out.
“Why didn’t you just convert!? What’s wrong with our way of life?”
Henry couldn’t see the source of the voice. He sounded like a fanatic, a tone not uncommon in this new world he had discovered.
“I knew nothing about it, you expected I would just convert, without questioning what I was getting into.”
“What’s to question? This way of life has saved us, saved humanity.”
People clapped and cheered the questioner.
“Has it? Or has it turned you all into cattle? Sheep that blindly follow ‘the way’.”
The audience booed and jeered at him, he was a little surprised. His opinions were not exactly secret, they had been broadcast around the world for the two weeks since his stay of execution.
He was the biggest news story of the time.
Hardly surprising as very little else seemed to be happening in the world.
They had peace OK. And it was boring.
“Let him speak!” another voice rang out above the protests.
The audience quietened down, shocked that someone, one of their own appeared to be supporting him.
“Let us hear what he has to say. If our society is so perfect then what possible threat could he be?”
Henry was surprised himself to hear a small ripple of applause supporting this new stance.
“Sure, you have peace. Your society is a model of sustainability and balance. I admire it in many ways. But it is frozen, you are so scared to upset the balance you allow no change. You have stopped growing. You might survive for now, but when change comes – when it is thrust upon you, you won’t know how to deal with it, how to adapt.
“You are like a rose, frozen in liquid nitrogen. Beautiful, preserved for all time, but dead. And easily shattered with a single blow.”
“Why didn’t you just pretend? Just convert and be quiet?” said the original voice.
Henry stood angrily now.
“I spent the whole of my old life dreaming of being someone. Of making my mark on the world. Leaving behind a legacy beyond just my genes. But I didn’t, I was nothing. I worked, I existed, I supported my family, I loved. But nothing more than what every other person was doing around me. I always dreamed one day, one day – but that day was never to be.
“And now – you expect me to just shut up and become just another cog in the machine again. With even less freedom and liberty than before? Well fuck you all if that’s what you think.”
“Savage!” a woman screamed.
“No! He is right! Why can’t we question things? Why can’t we change things?”
“Do you want war to return? Do you want our blood?”
“We can question without conflict!”
Suddenly the audience erupted. Everyone was on their feet, trying to shout down each other. Henry thought it looked evenly split but it looked messy.
The aggression was rising.
The flabbergasted host turned to his assistants.
“Get him out of here!”
Hands grabbed in and he was whisked away.
In response to the daily prompt Savage
Keys can lock and jangle
Hold us safe and secure
Take away liberty or open up the doors
And the doors they can open….
Silver is the primary key
That opens up our home
We do have gold but it is worn
From use and years and time
Some keys are rows of black and white
And open up our hearts
With wondrous weaving melodies
Soaring sounds from worlds apart
But the keys that give me magic
And warm my ailing heart
Dance beneath my fingertips
As dreams flow from my art
In response to the daily prompt Jangle
A few weekends ago the family and I took a walk along the coast – through some marshes. On the way, I took this photo.
My wife loved it so much – I think mainly because it signified a wonderful day out – (we don’t have so many of those these days) – that she wants it blown up for her birthday. So it is on its way now as a canvas print 🙂
Anyway – when I saw the boat something about it was portentous to me. Not dangerous but promising big changes or something. I don’t know why. The thing is, a few days later I was doing a google search on my name. I wasn’t being narcissistic, I was trying to see if SEO changes on y website had made any difference. As usual, one of the top results was a solicitor in the south who goes by the same name. The odd thing was though -= they had this picture on their website,
Now, not the same boat – but spooky……
Then today – the daily prompt was sail. I already had the title Red Sails buzzing around in my head – the rest came naturally.
The red sails are rising
In the grey of the dawn
The grey spume is parting
Before the forlorn
Drawing out passion
To the young and the lost
Into the sea they stream
The red sails are parting
Lovers and mothers
From the vein of their hearts
The red sails are gone
Over the blue
Long is the draught
Of its bitter brew
The red sails are empty
Of all that they took
The decks all wiped bare
Dreams all forsook
The red sails are cursed
My mother’s onshore
But none will set sail
To settle the score
In response to the daily prompt Sail
I wandered lonely as a brick
That sinks and dives in stream and lake,
When all at once I was so sick,
And an awful mess I did make.
Beside the lake, beneath the trees.
Splattering my stomach in the breeze.
It must have been the bread I had
Or maybe that old Milky Way.
This puddle of sick smelt so bad
Along the margin of the bay.
Ten pints I had drunk, at a guess.
Tossing my head, I felt a mess.
The waves in my head danced, and they
Dashed my weak legs from under me.
A poet could not be so gay
As the one who stood over me.
He gazed and gazed and then in glee
Threw up and fell down next to me.
Next morn when on my couch I lay
In vacant and in pensive mood.
I swore I’d give up drink that day.
And swore some more, it was quite rude.
But soon, once more, the cider spills.
I’ll sleep again with daffodils.
In response to the daily prompt Dash
Been lax – well busy – and have missed the last couple of days. So this one covers three!
The secret passenger
Just looking for a snack
Of the death that he carries
And the shadow she cast were long
We long for her
Now the winter is here
And the long long night descends
Bright was her smile
White and bright her smile
Deep and black her skin
And we wanted in
Memories of sun
In the dusk
In response to the daily prompt Sunny
Why aren’t we railing?
Why aren’t we mad?
Why do we sit in silence?
In apathy so sad.
Is the sickle blunted?
The hammer dropped and cracked?
Has the guillotine lost its edge?
Has liberty backtracked?
The peasants have moved on
From field to factory to desk.
Is it beautiful progress
Or captivity grotesque
So day after day
after day after day.
We struggle and toil
No time to play.
We hand over our freedom
We hand over our cash.
While the fat cats sleep
on their growing stash.
Where is the spirit of liberty?
The hero in the square?
The lone horse trodden woman.
Defanged are those who care.
In response to the daily prompt Wheel
Where is the local
The friendly greengrocer
The watering hole
The fire we gathered around?
Now we are islands
Floating in a digital sea
Waving to each other
Smiling, winking, liking
While we drift apart
In response to the daily prompt Local
Blank piece of paper
Or an idle doodle
Or a poem of grief
A stiff complaint
A soft seduction
Of a whole new world
In response to the daily prompt Paper
We should meddle
With the peddling of their lies
We should obscure
All the surety of their spies
We should extrapolate
What they obfuscate
To find truth
We should hold hands
In bands and lands
In response to the daily prompt Meddle
And also for those of you who enjoy something a bit trippier – the infamous syncing of Pink Floyd’s Echoes for the album Meddle and the final act of 2001 a Space Odyssey
With an explanation here
Is life just spin the bottle
As the bottle maker laughs
Or a game of hopscotch
Lines drawn in shifting sand
Children’s games and distractions
Carried over time
Methods and controllers
In response to the daily prompt Bottle
From the shallows to the icy deep
Where dolphins dance and starfish sleep
Through swaying kale and shifting sand
Feel the touch of an oily hand
Where lights speed by in total dark
Where rest many a sunken ark
Where through the kale fish do slip
Feel a cold and choking grip
Where bubbles rise and currents surge
Where waters from the heavens merge
Where weight does crush both bones and rock
Feel the iron fingers lock
And here my heart it swells and roars
From roiling dark to shattered shores
And I will rise with fury’s might
And crush the hand that picks this fight
So fear the shark with jaws that rend
And the mighty swell that shall bend
Every fence and dam and wall
And drown the rumble of cliffs that fall
And when the hand has done its deed
You will curse your dirty seed
And then, at last, you will see
How small you are beside the sea
In response to the daily prompt Total
The greater the volume
The more stress upon the foundation
The higher the lofty morals
The shakier the ivory tower
Oh how the papers wail
How the timelines howl
The mad feeding frenzy
Of the trolls
In response to the daily prompt Volume
Jiggly was a little worm
A cheery sort of fellow
But whenever somebody brushed his skin
He would yowl and howl and bellow
For you see poor old jiggly
Was a ticklish kind of chap
The slightest touch had him laughing so much
That his head was all of a flap
So he asked all his friends to help him
Get over his terrible curse
Before he drove them all mad with laughter
Could they his affliction reverse
The sheep all got together
And knitted a long woollen coat
The wool was too itchy for his tender skin
And the fur got stuck in his throat
The spiders spun him a shirt
Of the finest silken web
But he ended up sliding all over the place
And his spirits lower did ebb
The mice they wrapped him up tightly
In leathery leaves from the ground
But they bound him so tight that he took a fright
And rolled all around and around
The parrots extracted some rubber
From the heart of the rubber tree
Then coated him with a thin smooth layer
Which fitted as well as could be
Now the young worm was happy
He could play with his friends at last
But as he wriggled among them quite happy
Their faces all looked so downcast
For they missed the wonderful laughter
Of the wriggly giggly worm
That filled their glum days in magical ways
Like a good but infectious germ
So he cast of his new rubber skin
Baring his own to the air
And everyone tickled the giggly worm
And jiggled and laughed without care
In response to the daily prompt Tender
One is a mother – caring and fierce
Two is wife with perceptions that pierce
Three is a woman Kind and strong
Four is a friend to help me along
Five is the lover tender and sweet
All are in one perfect – petite
One beautiful and loving wife
The five with whom I will spend my life
In response to the daily prompt Tender
Worn wooden floor
Distant, ancient scent
Tobacco long gone
Beer, deep red in thick glass
Salt and vinegar crisps
Warmth and welcome
Long gone like the smoke
In response to the daily prompt Crisp
Spit and polish
Iron and wash
Put out the bins
Head off to work
Stuck in a jam
Ground to a halt
In the program
In response to the daily prompt Polish
We were the wise ones.
Wandering in from all over the world.
High on the haze of laughter and drink.
Occasional lovers, always just friends.
And game after game we polished our views.
Where did it go?
That time of the silliness, the time of the laughs.
Was it all crushed by the weight on our hearts?
Of life, of the world that we woke to and joined.
In response to the daily prompt Polish
He was natty
Always wore a smile
Going the extra mile
Clearly had a plan
On a roll
Simply, the Man
When he stopped
And that was that
He took aim
Such a shame
Ended with a splat
In response to the daily prompt Natty
It’s been a strange week. I have taken some time off. Partly because the kids are on half term. Partly because a week today I start my new job so not sure when I will next be able to take time off for a while. Partly because we are still reeling a bit from the news that my wife is facing some serious surgery. Finally, because our youngest, having been diagnosed with ASD, and the mainstream school he was at being unable to cope – he has changed schools and went for his first day there today. So We have had to support him in this – and his brother who now has to cope with the fact that his little brother won’t be at school with him.
For someone with ASD it had the potential for disaster. He has had so much change in his life already, now he has been taken away from all the friends he made at school and has to face a long journey on a minibus with strangers to go to a much larger – but admittedly better – school. He managed admirably on his first day. Time will tell what the effects will really be. At least he will get proper attention now. He has gone from a class or 29 to a class of 6! With 4 teachers!
But all that’s just life. There were some oddities during this time off.
The first was late one night when we awoke in the middle of the night to an awful racket outside our window. It was a bird giving an alarm call and going totally mental. We looked out the window and I caught a glimpse of a cat slinking away with a dead bird in its mouth. I feared that it had got one of the noisy bird’s chicks. My wife – who can’t stand to see an ant hurt – raced out in her nightie to try to find the cat – all in vain. But the bird was still making a racket. So Rachel turfed your’s truly out of bed to go and take a look. After hunting around and finding nothing for ages I finally discovered another cat lurking in the shadows. After shooing it away the bird was finally silent. All kind of weird but ever since every time I go out the front door the same bird flies down to a nearby fence and sings at me. Rachel is convinced it is saying thanks for trying to help.
We must have weird wildlife around here as it gets stranger. A few days later while cycling back from the park with the kids, we saw that one of our neighbours was giving away a mini trampoline. One of those with a bar to hold on to – for toddlers really. We snapped it up. Our youngest loves nothing more than to bounce. On beds, on my back – anywhere! Well, that night we started to prepare our living room for some DIY (painting). This – against my protests – turned into actually doing the painting and went on to 3am! Once we finally got to a stopping point I went out into the garden to put some stuff away in our shed to find – I swear this is true – our resident frog jumping on the trampoline!
The frog – actually a whole family – appeared a few years ago and can be seen quite often in the garden at night. This is especially odd as we don’t have a pond! Nor do any of our immediate neighbours!
I just wish I had it on camera.
Oh well, back to work tomorrow. Three more days then a job of ten years comes to an end. Will be very strange.
A white wedge
Spotted in the corner
Of a run-down shop
Off the track
Joyful memories swell
And from the past
I hear the clattering
Of a metal bowl
Filling with a quarter pound
Of sherbet lemons
In response to the daily prompt Distant
Reactions just the same
To apportion blame
Night time is for thinking
Sorting truth from lies
But in the sunshine morn
Dreams just fly
So it goes
In response to the daily prompt Portion
Buff is a box
An almost fraternity
They try to squeeze you in
At any cost.
Some of us
Obviously won’t fit
So are discarded
We are the ones
We are the ones
That bring the change
We are the ones
In response to the daily prompt Buff
All around me
The ruins of young
Away from me hope
Bursting at the
So where to go
The truth has been
When you don’t know
To let go what you
Find a new path to
Step up to the
Start the do and stop the
Start the make and stop the
Man up and face the
You’ve faced worse and
Your longer in the tooth
Time to come
In response to the daily prompt Survive
He would never see his son again.
Unless he went made it through today. Found the strength from somewhere. Put aside his pain.
The trauma his son had suffered had not been at his hands. Logically there was no responsibility for it on his shoulders.
Logic was a weak fence against raw emotion. Emotion that told him that he had failed as a father, that the protection he was supposed to give had been lacking, just that once.
Nobody agreed with him.
That made no difference.
So, he would not compound failure with failure. This was his last chance. He would take it.
He had tried all other avenues. Therapy, prayer, medication. Nothing worked, Yet what it had done was show him the way. It had made clear the path he needed to tread.
So he took a deep breath and rose from his seat. He nodded to the doctor signalling his readiness. The doctor frowned but kept his piece. He opened the door and let him enter his son’s room.
The room was sparse, clinical. His son lay curled on top of the bed sheets, motionless. Awake but unresponsive. He did not look up or acknowledge his father’s entrance.
There was a small bedside table to the left of the bed on which sat a plastic beaker of water. The bed was positioned by the window. Sunlight tried to make an impression on the coldness of the room but failed. The only other furniture was a white chest of drawers and some empty white bookshelves.
Then there were the books.
The books, many many books, that should have rested on the shelves or strewn on the floor. An impressive collection for one so young.
They hung impossibly in the air.
He sighed. He knew what came next. It had all become familiar to him. This time though he did not avoid it. He did not flinch or try to defend himself. This time he smiled at his son.
The books flew at him. As if thrown by immense strength and anger. The hard spines whacked into his flesh like dull nails. Again and again and again. Raining pain upon his body. The books that hit him fell to the ground limply, twitched like dying flies, then were suddenly whisked up and flung again.
There was no let-up.
He could feel his body being pummelled into a bloody bruised mess. But he took it. Stood calmly, raised his arms towards his son and kept smiling. Gave all he had left to him – gave him his unconditional love. Took the punishment not meant for him.
The books whirled faster as the rage grew. Like a tornado of leather and card, they descended on him, pounded him. The pain passed over what was bearable to no longer being processable – so he no longer felt it. He knew he would not last much longer – if this continued his body would fail him. Darkness crept inwards along the edges of his eyes. He kept smiling, locked his legs and stood, arms out.
The whirl became a darkness that was trying to beat his flesh from his bones. He felt like the bones themselves were splintering beneath.
Then it stopped.
Suddenly all the books fell to the floor. Sunlight sprang into the room as is a lock had burst.
His son looked up and held out his arms for his father.
In response to the daily prompt Impression
I am a ship
Crowded into the harbour wall
But I can see the sea
Beyond the gap
The storms come
The harbour shields
But still, I am tossed
And battered by
The chain is strained
The anchor holds
So many storms I have seen
How many more
Before the chain breaks
Setting me free
Lost at sea
In response to the daily prompt Unmoored
Always descending, never ascending.
Moving downwards, moving down.
I can’t get used to this feeling
Moving downwards, moving down.
Is it really like this? What are we doing?
Do we really want this?
Is this the thing to be?
The chains that pull the valves and the levers,
That drive the steam through pipes of dreams.
Dream worlds falling, morning calling,
Pull the chains on, shoulder the yoke.
Down to business. Down to labour.
Moving downwards, moving down.
I don’t like this, what am I doing?
I don’t really want this, what is to be?
Enter the shaft that takes us downwards.
The light is dimming as our dreams descend
In response to the daily prompt Descend