Hard, sometimes, to untangle experience from memory. She raised the phone, tapping the screen to bring the unruly focus under control. The screen presented a world much smaller than her sightline, a compacted miniature of reality in a vivid block of light. Colours burst from every passing pedestrian; yellows and reds the summer side of a bloom of flowers, deep rich purples, slow baby blues the colour of a thought as it escaped knowledge.
There. Good. She tapped again and the image froze, briefly, shearing the moment off from the onward march of reality and into a pocket world of memory – the phone’s memory, the memory of the cloud, incorporeal and endless. Her own memory, whenever she needed it.
This fragment was hers, an image of a crowd breaking around her like the sea. No matter how far she came from this world of damp heat and the close tumult of human contact, she could pick this photograph from a digital file and see. How it was. Who she was when she was here, that was contained behind the image but memory is a two-way process. The memory remembers you also.
She lowered the phone, slipped it like a sea-smoothed pebble into her pocket, moved as if she had never been still into the crowd. Off, now, to places of silence.
The scents of Christmas – cinnamon, pine, the muted sharpness of oranges – were starting to feel oppressive. He’d lost his taste for mulled wine this year, and the warmed-over dregs of a cheap rioja, with shards of broken star anise floating like driftwood on the surface, disgusted him. The snow settling outside depressed him, made him feel trapped and lonely.
Continue reading Going to Town
The schoolmaster was leaving the village and everybody seemed sorry. I assumed, in the way city people do about country life, that it was probably normal in a close community such as this.
Continue reading A fond farewell
“Keep writing,” the tone wavered between hope and command. “No. No that. It wasn’t that.” She flipped past another postcard, reached for a cigarette and took a shaking drag.
Continue reading Pre Cards
“I loved that house,” said Jack, staring at the ruined roof. At his feet, animals milled around in unknowing condolence.
Continue reading After the fall
“Well?” he yelled from his spot on the village green (In truth more of a village brown, carpeted with crisped grass and churned mud). “Is it a crime? To be a horse? To be a horse head on a stick in a bin? Is it?”
Continue reading A Little Hoarse
“And there’s no way to appeal?” The figure shook its head. Marley fiddled with a lock, licked his dry lips. It had seemed, at the time, the sensible option. Christmas Eve, how many years ago? Too many to count now. Another dozen, another score of links on this chain. He could count them later.
Continue reading To begin with.
She had lived with the pigeons for so long now she had left behind all memory of her life as a human. All she knew now was the beat of wing on hot summer air, the nervous stuttering grab at abandoned food, the snug reek of the night’s roost. She tended her fellows’ gnarled and broken feet, smoothed their grease-ruffled feathers and reassured them in whatever jabbering language pigeons used.
Continue reading Among friends
He looked up, and God answered. The buildings about him spun; his head remained a still spot in the centre of the city’s merry go round. The light of the Sun bore down on him, squinting shut his eyes. God was there, in the sharp light of the frost-pinched winter’s day. God spoke to him, in dousing heat glowing through his skin. The crowds fell upwards, spiralling with the buildings into the blank stare of the open sky.
Continue reading In my beginning is my end.