Back in the Habit #7 : Rachel’s Biscuits

Rachel stands at the window, looking out. She munches widely, jowls giving way and crunching back in, folding in on the half-wet biscuit matter between her teeth. Compressing. She watches the nothing; the driveway of the multi-storey car park next opposite her side-street window. There had been a noise, a siren or a brief wail or something, demanding her inspection.

Her laugh is part guttural windedness, part disapproving groan. But it is a laugh. It trickles out and down when things aren’t funny to me, but seemingly awkward, not satisfactory. I avoid the collective gaze of the room. I glance up sometimes to smile at her simply because she has continued to laugh. Infectious.

We all enjoy the treats. The cultural microcosm of cakes and sugar gathered on snatched trips outside; on holidays, lunch breaks and weekends. We all reach, sometimes self-consciously, for the red box with but one finger-aiding opening dent. We smile at ourselves (but for the benefit and audience of each other) as we give in to the game, accept the exposure of our weakness – once one has started, we can all play.

Rachel reaches without qualm, without hesitation. She raises her eyebrows, she inspects the contents of the box, she carefully selects her prize. We all find something in that box, but we know in our hearts that they are all really Rachel’s biscuits.

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Back in the Habit #6 : Embedded

Today's inspiration

Today’s inspiration

They remain. They stayed behind after the busyness. The louder times. They are here, ‘embedded’, as a stranger might say, but not quite, as a native would know. Too gentle a word for the result of natural, unavoidable processes. A kindly word to nature for its noble choice. Art through entrapment. The hills clasping in the product, engulfing its desperate arms until all is quiet.

But this was their choice. They chose to live adventure.

Standing on the horizon, feeling impossible, and feeling the presence of the truly impossible, anyone could tell you they are there. The mountain face looks altered because of their energy, like a dream full of clenched-fists, a replay of a conversation as yet unspoken. There is only purple sky and green mountain, unreal saturation and stillness lurking openly underneath and all around.

Tidiness. Not emptiness, but tidiness. Everything has been shuffled away into its place. Tucked into corners in the rocks, bedded down in moss, invisible. Care is being taken.

One can only wonder what brought them here. There is only a vast unreality. Perhaps this is the reward for real adventurers. It is terrifying to think of what might have become of them, in all this time. How altered they might be.

This space always belonged to others. And it will again. Each of them may leave their signature on it, lifetimes reduced to remnants. They will not all be seen. We can never truly know our predecessors, their dreams or intentions.

Your beginning is a remnant itself now. The only path is the unknown. There is some comfort in the limitation, and yet the purple looks flat, rejecting, like a mental blockade. It is not present. Not like them. Surrounding this spot is the air of neglect, turned backs. Nature has departed to something more important. In stifling solitude you see only yourself. Your own smell, your lonely breathing sounds, your wide eyes bereft of kindly cues from predators.

The wind is silent, yet tempts one to call out. Though you are blind to all but your very self; urge on, adventurer.

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Back in the Habit #5 : The International Flat Earth Society

I had infiltrated the International Flat Earth Society. I was being accepted as one of them. I was not receiving the sceptical gazes I had imagined based on my experience of the various protective niche churches. It was all Zen smiles and gentle-padding feet so far. A centre of calm. These were a people who had goodness and healthy intentions at the heart of their system. Was it really a system? They certainly had meetings and activities. They had calendars too, though they didn’t look like ours. Somehow they seemed to make a convincing amount of sense; the pieces of card representing the days of the year hanging like bullet-time butterflies throughout the room suggested an urge toward creativity that had not pervaded the world outside here, in which science and nature were fantastic enough that we had become complacent. Contentment is the enemy of invention.

“Good morning, Madam. We have been anticipating your arrival. We would love for you to meet the group.”

This was not what I was expecting at all. How could so many individuals who looked so open-minded believe in something so nonsensical, something that argued defiantly against all evidence that had come to light so long ago, and since? How, and why, had they chosen to live in a static point in the past at which nothing was progressing. The world was literally not turning for them. Surely they were living in Limbo.

And yet they were intelligent, lateral thinkers, radical and persuasive.

“Well, have you ever watched a ship drop over the horizon? Have you followed it to that point and seen the world curve?”

No, I had not. Fair enough.

I felt on edge again; I did not want to be brain-washed. I came here to learn, to criticise, to challenge. I did not want to be challenged in return.

I moved through the activity areas; the library – not limited, but superseding expectations again, full of colourful wonders existing only outside the generally accepted collective understanding. I felt annoyed that these had been kept from me; even though it was all likely propaganda, why should I not be able to access it back in the outside world? Was I not coming from the world of no limitations, uninhibited learning and understanding, in which knowledge and truth and The Full Picture were prized above everything else; even, occasionally, at the price of people’s lives? I was afraid to open any of the books.

I continued to wander through their realm, feeling fascinated and hungry, and yet growing grumpy, irritable, at the fact that there was all this stuff that had been hidden from Us Outside, from the everyday Joe like me who was ready and willing to soak up all that the world had to offer.

‘The world’. I kept coming back to this name, as if it was a being, a proper noun, a ‘one’. I realised that I had been thinking of it differently; there was a world per society, per path of thought, per perspective. It was then that I realised I could no longer hold my silence in this place. I could not pretend. This was a company full of pretenders, of people silencing any thoughts that went against the society’s collective belief.

Frustrated, I raised what was probably a look of thorough annoyance and discontent to meet a kindly counterpart on the face of my guide.

“What must you think of us?!” I cried, and I tore down one of their smug floating dates, crumpled it assertively, stuffed it into a jacket pocket, stumbled slightly as I turned in my thick walking boots, and ran from the building.

Back in the Habit #4 : Knocking

The room stops. Time is a pair of twins speaking to each other telepathically, secretively concocting new history beyond the control of others.

She looks at you, stock still. She scratches her right cheek, which sags worryingly, as if it might come away, like wet cake.

She looks through you. She knocks on the air as if there were a window between you, and you realise the idea has come to you because the sound was made. The sound of knocking on glass.

She continues to stare. She looks down, sodden and downtrodden; sighs. She looks out of the window, emanating a long-lived disappointment. The street activity is reflected in her glassy eyes under raised eyebrows.

She looks into you, challenging, waiting. The moment is important, and you are incredibly capable of failure. The air is thick and absent. She knocks again.

The starch-stiff waves of her hair, frozen in a long-dead moment of stress unimaginable to your generation, captures your attention long enough to remind you that you are supposed to be looking at her face. Anticipating. Seeing her. She is already looking at you. You are late.

The twins continue to look, to communicate. They are reviewing. A pause in the process of creation. Your decision is paramount. It is urgent.

Back in the Habit #3 : Aurelia

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The constant dusk of Christmas-time. That was where she came from. Originated out of the spirited ether, like any other fairy. I believe she had wishes, but she never voiced them to me. She wanted me to share my thoughts. She elevated me, made me vital. Her being was not important to her. Only mine was.

She used to charge the railing across the footbridge with static energy, and I watched her, distracted from our conversation, feeling it build inside my own hands, despite not touching either her or the metal. She was not affected.

We would marvel at the sporadic floods, the surprising things that happened in the half-lit evenings. This was the best time of year for the curious and the young. Those with nothing to lose and nothing to work towards. Endless summers of Christmas.

“Do you think you’d like to spend some time with Aurelia tonight?” My mother brought her into my social life, encouraging enterprise and acceptance. Willing me to be a better person in the future, or at least do her part in enlightening me, should there be any depth to me at all. I believe she doubted that, and subsequently, herself.

I found Aurelia interesting; captivating at least. I used to watch her. She didn’t need anyone in particular for company; she required no response. She mused happily as long as you were looking, smiling, or something. Some kind of acknowledgement. She did appreciate that much, like anyone would. Perhaps she did teach me some manners.

She trickled down the steps at the far end and waited for me, flickering a bit of thread in her fingers. She folded in two as a bike came out of the tunnel and into her stomach.

I don’t remember feeling protective over her. I remember arriving at the bike, tugging it out of the way, discarding the rider’s excuses. A little blood showed on her lips as she looked up at me and caught me looking back. She was grateful, and I embraced her.

This was not supposed to happen to fairies.

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Written in response to the brief on the 330 Words blog – one of my new favourite games!