fiction, photography

THE THICKET

Chris R-1-201 Image by Christine Renney

There was a wood directly behind the house and although Joseph had been living on the outskirts for almost a month he still had not ventured into this small but dense thicket. When he needed to make his way down into the village for supplies he would walk around it. There was a beaten track that began just beyond his garden and led straight into the trees but each time Joseph reached the edge and peered in he would find himself stalled and unable to take the next couple of steps. He could see that the path was very narrow and overgrown with bramble and gorse encroaching on either side and it seemed to him that it became even narrower as it disappeared into the darkness.

The others living on the outskirts were making use of the path. Joseph often noticed one of them pushing through the tangled branches and disappearing into them, or someone emerging head down and hunched over, laden with supplies. But once clear they would stretch and yawn, readjusting to the light and reacquainting themselves with the sky.
Just a few days ago one of these men had spotted Joseph watching from the window and, putting down his heavy bags, he had glared back. Looking down Joseph pretended to busy himself at the sink and when he raised his head again, the man was gone.

Following this incident Joseph began to imagine that the others were talking about him, that he was a topic of their discussion. He was sure they were perplexed as to why he continued to walk around, trudging in the wet grass of the meadow, rather than making use of the more direct path leading through the wood. Joseph was convinced they considered him a fool and were laughing at him. He began to keep his distance even more, as far as it was possible. But he continued with his chores, working in the gardens and chopping firewood and hauling supplies from the village. It took him a little longer but Joseph was working hard and doing his share and the others had no reason to complain.

Joseph has hardly slept in days. He creeps from the house and moves stealthily across the garden in the moonlight. Reaching the trees, he stands at the edge of the footpath. The others don’t use it after dark and certainly not at this late hour. Joseph is determined that tonight he will be able to do it, and steeling himself, he takes first one step and then another and suddenly he is walking through the wood. In fact, he is moving quite quickly, almost running and he can’t see but he can feel the brambles and the gorse brushing against his legs and pulling at his coat. And just as suddenly Joseph stumbles and he is down, flat on the ground. There are scratches on his hands and blood on his face and dirt in his mouth. But he isn’t hurt, not really, a little bruised maybe but no more than that and yet he can’t move. Joseph is now frozen to this spot and he wonders how far has he managed to come? Half way perhaps? But he suspects that it is considerably less than that.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Statues in the dark

the scream

Where do depressed people go

When the entire world suddenly feels as they do?

Back to their room, where one voice says – take them up on their offer

make a phone call

but the other voice knows they will not because

when you feel that down the last thing you can do is talk.

Where do depressed people go

when the entire world suddenly feels as they do?

Outside to empty streets / not reminded of what they fail to achieve

the silence, a balm on fevered emotion

for everyone judges what they cannot see

as others watch Pandemic movies behind closed curtains

the sad roam in search of meaning.

Where do depressed people go

when the entire world suddenly feels as they do?

they’re told it’s a disease as much as a broken arm yet

judgement is always a cudgel just one step away

even lovers rebuke and ask; Why can’t you get out of your head?

Do something helpful for a change, instead of navel gazing?

or worse, say nothing, ignore, over it, worn out

few can handle a season with dysmorphia.

Where do depressed people go

when the entire world suddenly feels they do?

For a quarantined period, it can even feel like fun

nothing of the permanency, nothing of that locked in sensation

pervading senses, shutting down, until all the dreams you had

are dust and ash on floor, you can’t even get out of bed, to brush your hair

or walk the dog, this inertia isn’t laziness, it’s a switching off

of life’s impulse and so the bulb dims eternal.

Where do depressed people go

When the entire world suddenly feels as they do?

This is how it feels every day, you struggle to find a reason, to steady yourself

into faking it, and surely, the falsehood runs its course and you’re back

with naught and nothing comes from nothing we’ve been all taught

self loathing reflects back in the unwashed mirror, a hateful creature

your worst enemy is between your ears, you hear only

the rebuke and chastising of that part of you wishing to be free

break out, break out, crawl, stagger, run get away

from yourself you cannot.

Where do depressed people go

When the entire world suddenly feels as they do?

trapped in a brain that doesn’t sit up and beg when ordered

motivation a distant memory, as much as you want there are

no magic pills or electric impulses powerful enough

to restart what has lain dormant and half alive

we are quarantined by our own demons they

made prisoners of us long before Covid 19

even those who love us, wish we were different

self hate is a woman without rocks in her pocket

yet

she walks to the edge many times each day

her reflection cries even as she no longer does

for tears are wasted after a certain time

fixed in place by broken ways forward

she seeks to drown the madness with one jump

and they sit on their sofas talking about how it will be called

the great epidemic, where we all stayed in place

not realizing for some of us this is

our hell already created and nothing new

we have been here before, we shall again

it is the wordless, grieving place of those

locked down by their minds in situ

watching the world build around them

statues in the dark

to a pandemic long pre-existing

where screams are never heard.

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fiction

PANIC

Chris R-1-138.jpg Image by Christine Renney

It happened suddenly and without fanfare. Ben looked down at his hands and they were invisible. There had been no warning signs yet he knew instantly he was not going to be able to control this. His invisibility was not something he wilfully conjured, he could not bend and shape it to suit his own needs. It was not something he could switch on and off. No, this was simply how it was going to be.
Ben began to panic and was very aware of this, of the fact that he was panicking and that he was flailing uncontrollably. Ben looked down at his feet, or more accurately his shoes. Reaching with his right hand he grabbed hold of his left wrist and there it was, there he was.
Ben heaved a very audible sigh and he began to panic just a little less and he managed to calm the flailing. But the others on the street had already noticed him and they had stopped. They were watching, staring at him, at his absence and at his clothes, the clothes that held his shape and form. Ben kicked off his trainers and then stripped away the rest of it; jeans and a t-shirt, socks and under-shorts. He threw them all down onto the pavement and he began to run.

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fiction, photography

IN A PARIS HOTEL ROOM

Chris R-1-93 Image by Christine Renney

When it happened they were away from home. The smell was so invasive that, for a moment or so, Harris was unsure of where he was. Lifting the thin sheet he looked down at himself and at Geraldine, sleeping soundly on her side. He remembered then that he was in a hotel room in Paris and although the smell didn’t lessen it did suddenly seem a little more bearable. He was abroad, in a foreign country and this was something alien.
Convincing himself that it was coming from outside he slipped from the bed, careful not to wake Geraldine, crossed to the glass doors and stepped out onto the tiny balcony. It had been raining, the air was still fresh and the street below was still wet. In the cars’ headlights the moist air glinted.
The smell didn’t dissipate and at first he couldn’t locate it. It remained exactly the same despite the open doors. Harris realised it was coming from him, that he was the cause of it and he started to claw at himself, to pull at his pyjamas, to sniff his underarms and his hands. Harris was sweating, despite the chill of the air, and suddenly he was aware that his awareness of anything other than the smell, of anything outside of it, was non-existent, that it was all he could taste.
He stepped back inside and, swiftly and quietly, made his way to the bathroom. He pulled the cord and in his bare feet he stumbled on the tiles. This was something at least, his fleeting blindness, his blinking, his needing to adjust but the smell, well it was still rife.
Standing in front of the mirror he lifted his pyjama top and let the bottoms drop. He looked but there was nothing.
Why?, he asked himself. Why here and why now, so far from home? How could he hide this, how could he conceal it from Geraldine?
He stepped into the shower and again it was something, the water hitting his face, stinging his eyes, burning his skin but he knew it wouldn’t last. And afterwards, wrapped in a towel, he dropped the toilet lid and sat. Had he ever felt as ashamed as he was about to? As embarrassed as he would be when Geraldine awoke and found him like this?
He seriously considered leaving, going home but how could he? He imagined himself trudging through the streets of Paris, hunched in his overcoat. How could he make use of public transport or take a taxi? And then there was the airport and the flight. No, it was impossible. He couldn’t leave, not like this. He had no choice but to stay and face Geraldine.
They were here for three days and Harris felt sure that it would pass. That if he could sit quietly in the hotel room he could conquer it.
At first Geraldine didn’t mention the smell, but although it was only a matter of minutes, to Harris it seemed like an eternity.
‘You’re not well, are you?’ she asked. Pulling her robe tighter around herself she stared at him. ‘You poor thing,’ she said moving closer to him and placing her hand on his forehead. ‘Well you don’t have a fever;
what do you think it is?’
Harris groaned. ‘I don’t know. Can you smell it?’
‘Yes I can smell it.’
‘Then why didn’t you say?’
‘I didn’t want to embarrass you.’
‘Oh.’ His heart swelled. ‘I’m sure it will pass, given time but I’ll have to stay in here I’m afraid.’

Harris insisted that Geraldine go out and explore, see Paris. He didn’t want her to miss out because of this, because of him. He realised as much as he needed her, that if he was going to beat this he needed to do it alone. But the idea he might lose her was something he couldn’t put out of his mind.
Geraldine had left the television on and, flicking back and forth, he eventually settled on one of the music channels. Turning the volume low, he lay back and tried to concentrate.
Although he wasn’t really interested in the constant stream of videos he found himself drawn to the screen and, despite himself, he watched the unceasing parade of forgettable pop stars until at last he recognised a piece of music.
Harris turned the volume higher and listened. It was Radiohead’s ‘The Pyramid Song’. When it was finished he hit the mute button and tried again to relax. But a pattern had been set and in this way he passed his day. Whenever the animated film accompanying the song appeared on the screen again he hit the button and listened intently.
When Geraldine returned that afternoon, nothing had changed. The smell was no worse and no better; it didn’t drift on the air and escape through the open window. It was bearable now perhaps only because she believed it would pass, that it would go, but when?
Harris was sitting stiffly on the side of the bed, waiting yet again for her to speak. She stood mute, trying to make some sense of it but struggling. It was like a block of ice that wouldn’t melt.
‘What have you been doing with yourself?’ she asked.
‘Trying to relax.’
‘Have you been reading?’
‘No.’
She glanced at the television.
‘Have you been watching this all day?’
‘Yes, well some.’
‘Does it help?’
‘No – maybe. I don’t know.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’ve been listening to the same song all day long; each time it comes around I turn it up and listen.’
‘Which song?’
‘Radiohead.’
‘Which song?’
‘The Pyramid Song.’
‘Ah.’
‘Do you know it?’
‘Yes – which album it is on?’
‘Amnesiac.’
‘And you have the album at home, right?’
‘Yes.’
‘Would it help if you could listen to it here?’
‘Yes, I suppose it might.’
‘Then I’ll go out and buy it and something to play it on.’
‘Yes,’ Harris stood and began to pace excitedly, ‘I think it might help. We’ll try it tomorrow.’
‘No, the shops are still open. I’ll go now.’
‘And the Messiaen ‘Quartet For The End of Time’ if you can find it.’
‘Okay,’ she said, ‘I’ll see what I can find. I know what you like.’
Geraldine lifted her handbag from the top of the bedside cabinet.
‘I’ll be back as soon as I have found them.’ Standing in the doorway she smiled at him.
‘I really do believe this is going to work. In fact, I think it’s working already. Just keep thinking about the music you want to hear and then perhaps tomorrow you’ll be able to see a little of Paris before we go home,’ and turning she pulled the door to and was gone.

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fiction, photography

TREMORS

Chris R-1-74 Image by Christine Renney

He wanted desperately to pinpoint when it began, the exact moment that he had felt the first tremor. But it hadn’t happened like that, suddenly and revelatory. No it had been slow.
Ever so gradually he became aware of something happening beneath his feet. Slowly he had become more and more attuned until he was able to anticipate when the next tremor would occur and, readying himself for it, he could prepare for the impact.

He wondered if there were others who felt the tremors and suffered as he did. He watched his family and friends. He studied people in the street, in the supermarket and on the bus, people anywhere and everywhere. He concluded that if they did, if there were others who felt the tremors, then they were much stronger than he and better at hiding it.

He sensed that he had always sensed them, subconsciously at first of course, and then consciously. They were buried deep down in the ground – the faintest of flickers, dying torches in the darkest mine shaft. The tremors hadn’t surprised him, hadn’t shocked him and this, in itself, was shocking. And now they were taking their toll and he could no longer stand firm and continue as if nothing was happening. He could no longer pretend

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epistolary, fiction, life, poetry, prosetry, screenplay, Uncategorized

Something real

(A PROSE INTO POETRY EXPERIMENT)

strangest statement;

think the world of you

too good to be true

really needed to hear that

reeling for months now

suffocating on mortality emotions

lost that courageous love for life I think I once had

half in and half out

then you came and you were

fantasy figure

intoxicating and unreal

feel like all her light is pulling me out of this darkness and I’m having hope again
wait? You’re having hope again?
that was the thing I had lost
funny how you really can’t go on without hope
but it is so damn fragile

you know how when you are young you feel like something good is going to happen it’s just around the corner? And then sometimes (not always) as you get older you feel like the corner gets longer and longer?

I always believed we make our own fortune, our own hope to some extent. Our own outcomes

but sometimes it’s nice to have the fantasy too

when you live inside an iceberg and nobody really really adores you, then it’s damn tempting to believe it

I felt suddenly like I wasn’t this dull girl

depleted, At the general lack of care people have toward one another

I like the intensity we feel as teenagers where our best friend is our world and we are so passionate. I like the feeling of mattering and of it being something really strong and unshakable. When you are kids and you promise something and it means the world. I don’t like the feeling of tepid disinterest

A friend I had doesn’t have emotional space for friends. They complain about not having any but they really doesn’t have time for them. They are one of those people who is obsessed with and lives through their child

oh there was such a lovely moment where I wished it were!

she seemed to think I was like them but I’m not like them 

I cannot compete with and cannot keep up with, the A list. That is okay

I am not a glorious incredible person and that is okay

struggle some days just to get through a day. I am on a different track. I don’t know why I wasn’t made more for shining but I am who I am. I am the person in my poetry, if you want to call me dark and lost then so be it. I have to be myself I can’t be someone else anymore

nothing worse than someone finally seeing who you are and rejecting you – better to get it out in the open and let them decide

sometimes you can look good in photos, happy even, but behind the smile there is a person who is trying really, really hard just to make it through the day. I admire shiny-happy-people I really do. I don’t condemn them. I guess I envy them. But I am not that person

It is funny though how when your fantasy comes true even for a moment, you start asking yourself again, can I try to be that person? Maybe it would work?

sometimes you know your limits. And you know from experience when you try to push them, you will crash and burn to a husk

I may end up being nothing more than some girl who wrote a few easily forgotten books of poetry to add to a huge list of inconsequential people who wrote and thought they’d BE something. What is it to be?

I try hard every single day to get through the day and that alone is a battle

like I told the girl, I come from broken people and I saw the broken world long before I saw the shiny world. I happen to be proud of not being cruel and uncaring in response to this. If that is my only claim then

so

be

it

but what a funny experience…. To for just a moment, feel like a girl again, on the verge of something, turning a corner. I almost forgot myself and turned. I almost believed it would be something real

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