Okay! So! The other night my friend found her and my old blogs, from when we were about sixteen. Both are utterly hideous and embarrassing, but I found it fascinating to look back to the time when I started to think about making a living out of writing words in sequence, and to examine the progress I made around that time, the styles I was developing and the writers I was so clearly trying to ape. Most utterly terrible of all my writing back then was my fiction, which perhaps sensibly I dropped fairly quickly. However, I was reminded of one episodic story that I began to write, and only wrote about two parts of before giving it up as a bad job. While the writing was terrible, and its approach all wrong, there was something resembling an interesting actual plot in there. So I’ve decided, with the benefit of a bit more experience, to write it again, in what is probably the exact opposite style to what I thought I was going for then. Below is the first part. I’ll post these as and when they’re written, in as many parts as it takes. Enjoy. Hopefully.
(This has been stealth-edited twice since Fliss pointed out that the first and second versions included a rubbish sentence, firstly because it implied causality where there was none, and thusly because it just scanned terribly after the first edit.)
Brighton, England. The sea collides with the pebbles. There isn’t any sand. It’s hot, too hot, sticky, even though the sun is masked by a layer of grey cloud and it’s even starting to rain a little. On the bed of loose rock where the beach should be there is an arm. There’s another one in someone’s front garden, brought home by a dog who wasn’t allowed back inside until he dropped it, and which the dog’s owner hasn’t bothered to throw in the bin yet because she’s always too busy trying to convince herself she’s too busy.
Further up the hill towards the railway station there’s a car, and underneath it is an eye. A young boy picked it up down by the seafront and his dad let him keep it after he realised it was only made of glass. Not even glass, probably, but some sort of cold plastic, as it hasn’t smashed and doesn’t look like it’s going to any time soon. The other eye is deep in the ocean by now, churned up by the waves, probably several miles away from the rest of the head, and the legs which came off as soon as Suzie threw the tatty doll from the pier and walked, hands in pockets, back to where Richard stood waiting for her, silent and expressionless.
Leeds, England. The eyes can’t be the window to the soul, because the soul doesn’t exist, thinks Suzie’s mother as she draws the curtains, which are green and have pink flowers on because she’s still not got around to changing them despite having lived here for three years. The news is on the television but the reporter is talking about something she doesn’t quite understand, so she tunes out. There’s a bottle of wine on the side which hasn’t been opened yet, and she considers opening it. But she doesn’t like to drink alone any more, even though secretly she likes it more than anything else in the world.
She opens the curtains again, just a touch, and sticks her head close to the glass of the window. It’s about eight thirty, but unless you had a watch on or the news was on the television you wouldn’t be able to tell, because it’s the time of year where the world is bathed in a sort of muddled half-light between the hours of four and ten, the sort of light where it’s too dark to sit without the lamps on but turning them on just makes everything look strange. She contemplates going to drink at the pub, even though she won’t know anyone there, because at least she could pretend. She could buy a bottle of wine and ask for two glasses, then place her coat and bag on the chair opposite as if reserving it for a friend who’s just quickly nipped to the bathroom, and who must be on her way back because both glasses are filled, and both have obviously been drunk out of, and who in their right mind would sit drinking out of two separate glasses containing the same wine? But then she realises she’s done this more than once before, so maybe she isn’t in her right mind at all.
She sits down on the sofa and tries to watch the news channel again. There’s an interview with a man whose name and position she didn’t catch, who is talking about tensions in the Middle East. She would love to understand better the tensions in the Middle East, but has never found the focus to sit and read about them. She mutes the television and picks up the phone, dialling a friend’s number, but it cuts straight to voicemail, so she hangs up without leaving a message.
Brighton, England. There’s a boy sitting on the wall outside his house, with a friend who is sleeping over. Most little boys would be playing videogames or watching the television, but these little boys like to get muddy and wet and point at lightning, so they’re sitting outside in the hope that the scattering of drops blossoms into a majestic storm. A man walks by with a dog, who is chewing on the remains of a tiny floral dress and quietly growling to itself. The man tells the dog to fucking drop it, then sees the boys on the wall and coughs, and looks away. The boys say hello to him, and he looks back and smiles sheepishly, cursing himself for letting the presence of two ten year olds make him feel so small and so ashamed.
The man coninues to walk down the road, then stops to sit on a bench on the grass by Montpellier Cresent. It’s raining more heavily now, the air beginning to breathe for the first time in the day, the smell of salt floating in the sky. He loops the dog’s lead around his wrist and, with the other hand, takes out his wallet. Inside it there’s a picture of a girl, about the age of the two boys revelling in the rainwater just twenty metres away. He realises he can’t remember her voice any more, and he starts to cry.