fiction

Part 1 – The Farmer

Once upon a fairly recent time, a farmer’s wife fortuitously procured a large piece of land. She did not expect to take on this piece of land and so she gifted it to her husband. This would be one of only two instances in which she was good to the husband.

The farmer was delighted. He invested all of his time, money, knowledge, energy and effort into nurturing this perfect untouched landscape. At first, the farmer was a little anxious, like an artist intimidated by a blank canvas. But the farmer put his heart and soul into the land and soon he was able to see how greatly it had flourished.

Under his watchful eye, the crops grew in abundance. His love and encouragement made the trees grow strong and fast, and all of the flowers bloomed as if his land was in a state of perpetual spring. He spent many hours in the field, talking aloud, reading poetry and playing music.

After some time, the farmer had created the most beautiful field in all the land. People travelled great distances to see the exotic flora that had magically emerged from the ground. He was able to sell lots of fresh produce, his fruits and vegetables won praise and awards, and his farming friends were in awe of him (and somewhat miffed that their own fields never turned out so good). The farmer was so immensely proud of his field, of all the varying aspects of it: the field was his pride and joy.

The farmer lived with his wife, but only for the sake of practicality. They were not friends and there was no love lost between them. But the farmer lived for his field and was determined to stay nearby so that he could continue to watch his seedlings grow every day and tend to this crops, even if this meant having to put up with his wife. The farmer’s wife was a very bitter, angry lady. She was angry for lots of reasons. She had been angry for many years, long before she’d even met her husband. But she was angry still, because the farmer loved his land more than he loved her. So she set out to secretly destroy his pride and joy.

In the middle of the night, the farmer’s wife would sneak out to the field and trample all over his crops, spray poison on the flowers and snap his saplings. If she knew where to find a swarm of locusts, she would’ve released them over the field. She was mean to the farmer and mean to the land.

The farmer was distraught. His beautiful creation had been ruined. Each time this happened, he tried desperately to revive his plants and tend to the sabotaged soil, and again the flowers would blossom thanks to his love and care until they were inevitably destroyed again.

Twelve years after he first started his field, the weather changed. It was unexpected. The farmer had never seen so many black clouds before. The black clouds hung heavily over his precious field, threatening rain and thunder and wind. But still, the farmer kept his faith in himself and his field. They had, after all, overcome hardships together before. He visited a friend’s farm which was very close to his own field, but the sky over his friend’s farm was blue. The farmer was confused.

The black clouds would not go away. And then it rained and it rained and it rained and the farmer’s field turned into sludge. The field looked so sad. The farmer became sad because he didn’t know how to help the field nor how to protect it from these horrible forces that were beyond his control. The farmer’s wife, however, was very pleased: her husband was sad and his darling creation was no longer beautiful or enchanting.

After the black clouds refused to leave, the farmer became very sick, both slowly and suddenly. The farmer was dying and the field was dying too. One day, when the rain tapered off, the field realised what she had to do: she had to help the farmer and look after him, just like he had looked after her for so many years and loved her even when the black clouds flooded her.

She had to learn ways to ignore the clouds and practiced pretending to feel sunshine even when there wasn’t any. She needed to make new crops so that the farmer wouldn’t worry about money. She worked very hard, even on days when she didn’t feel like she could do anything at all. She tried with all her might to become beautiful and strong and abundantly giving and helpful and kind, like she was when she was younger, like the farmer was himself. And sure enough, she grew.

Yes, the field was damaged in many ways, and she had scars on the bark of her trees from when the farmer’s wife had hurt her and footprints on her skin from where the farmer’s wife had stomped on her, but still she managed to return to something that the farmer would be proud of. And when the farmer looked out of the window one day, he saw how glorious his field was and he cried because he was so happy, so proud, so grateful.

When the farmer died, his field thought that she, too, would die. Her roots ached and her leaves dried up. The soil that had been her home for so long now felt like it was burying her alive. Her fruits rotted away by her feet, untouched. There was no more sunshine. Only black clouds and rain.


Part 2 will be posted next Friday here on Hijacked Amygdala

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prosetry

A Different Kind of Heartbreak

I’ve said it to my girls before and they’ve said it to me, too:

You’ve lived without him before so you can certainly live without him now.”

You know the spiel, I’m sure you’ve rattled off the same tired cliches to your friends when they’ve found themselves suddenly single after the break-up of a long-term relationship. And it is true – you survived perfectly well for all those years before you met him, so you can sure as hell live without him now.

But this is different. I have never lived without him, not once, not even for a second. He was in my life before I’d even been born. 8595 days we lived together. If we weren’t under the same roof or in the same town or on the same continent, we were still together – just a heartbeat, phone call or telepathic thought away.

But it’s over now. I am alive and he is not. I am living and he is somewhere that I can’t reach. I can’t see him. He left. He left me. I’m not angry, I’m just sad. I’m heartbroken. But not the type of heartbroken that I’ve been before.

The abrupt ending of this lifelong friendship cannot be fixed by a gallon of ice-cream and a girls night out.

Nor can I replace him with someone else for there is no-one better, there is nobody who could ever come close.

I can’t shake this off with a radical new hairstyle or by moving to a new town.

There is no app for this, I can’t swipe right for a new father, and getting drunk makes the pain worse sometimes.

I can’t throw money at this heartbreak; I don’t want a gym membership or a designer handbag or a fancy holiday.

Beyoncé does not know what this pain feels like, nor does Jesus Christ because neither of them have ever experienced it.

I don’t know how to live without him and I don’t want to live without him.

It’s a lot of the same symptoms though:

checking your phone every hour to see if he’s texted you,

hearing a song that reminds you of him and feeling like you’re suffocating,

driving past a place that you always used to go to together and fighting back tears,

seeing something in a shop and picking it up to buy it for him and then remembering and hastily putting it back on the shelf,

not knowing what to say when someone mentions him or asks you about him,

realising that his smell on his jumper has faded and having a breakdown because you feel like that’s the most tangible memory you had left,

not sleeping, not eating, sleeping too much, eating too much,

feeling like you’re drowning when four, five, six times a day you remember, “Everything has changed and I am alone.”

But where I dread the prospect of bumping into an ex-boyfriend in the supermarket or at the pub, I would do anything to see my dad again. And there’s a strange sense of guilt that I feel whenever I catch myself “functioning like a normal adult.” Like washing the dishes and singing along to the radio, and then thinking WOAH why am I okay? I just didn’t think about him for a while, what’s wrong with me, am I forgetting him already? Of course, rationally, I know I’m not. But when I’m laughing at a stupid comedy show or making pina coladas with little paper umbrellas, I feel guilty anyway. This is stupid because my dad WANTS (wanted?) me to crack on and enjoy life. He would hate for me to mope about. I just panic when I realise that I am living without him. It doesn’t feel right.

I’m scared that my memory will fail me

and that I’ll forget his wisdom

or his voice

or how he’d squeeze my hand and wink at me whenever he thought I needed support

or how when I washed his hair the long strands of silver would get caught in my rings

or how he’d shout “GEOMETRY, GIRL! It’s all about the angles!” before I took a tricky shot in pool

or how we’d get super stoned and watch The Ruttles

or how he nicknamed my last boyfriend Lanky Streak of Piss and even abbreviated it to LSP

or the little red notebook in which he wrote the title and author of every book as he read them and then tallied up the total at the end of the year (2008 was a good year)

or how he’d cut interesting bits out of the newspaper for me and post them to me when I was away at university

or how he had phases of being obsessed with certain foods for a few months and then never eating them again (coleslaw, garlic bread, crabsticks, spring rolls, chocolate raisins)

or how the first four lines of Auguries of Innocence were so beautiful to him that he wished he’d written it himself.

I wonder if people can see it: the blood pouring from my eyes as I write this in a pub on the Holloway Road (where he worked once upon a time), the red tears streaming and pooling on my white shirt, I think that everyone can see the grief on my face, but no-one dares to reach out, no-one dares, and my God does this fucking hurt.

You’ve lived without him before so you can certainly live without him now.”

Half of that sentence is untrue. We’ll have to wait and see about the other half.

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fiction, life

WORD FROM THE WORKING MEN’S CLUB

chris-r-0334 Image by Christine Renney

The day after his eldest brother had taken his own life the boy’s dad drove into work. The boy was eighteen, a man but watching his dad from the passenger seat he felt like a child. His dad, braving it in the faces of the speechless, made no demands that day. And the boy did what he did, which was nothing.
Over the next few days the boy’s dad heard from the others. They all said that nobody would have, that nobody could have, known.

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