Expectations

Prepare for liftoff. Count down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Feel the beat of blood through veins. Hear the thrum of an engine. Taste the stale air of unfulfilled expectations.

Empathy can go too far, and yet George Eliot had it right in Middlemarch when she tried to teach her readers to feel for the whole of unsung, everyday humanity. So what if the growing of the grass is deafening and overwhelming? So what if being able to read another’s thoughts on his face is searingly painful? Isn’t it worth it?

Scratch a pen over paper. Scratch over written words but don’t forget that they existed. Chalkboards don’t leave behind a trace – they waste words. What if there were a finite number of letters, syllables and words in existence? White boards are just as bad.

Fly with the aid of an umbrella from the roof of a doghouse, but nothing higher. Jump off a tree but only if it’s already been cut down and is lying on its side. Crawl along the ground and look at the busy ants in their long lines. Try to imagine what the sunshine is thinking as it bathes the cold-blooded lizards in its warm rays.

Expect to be disappointed. Expect to be happy. Expect to be sad. Expect things to change. Expect the earth to turn, the sun to rise, the moon to shine, the wind to blow, the ground to shift, the sea to overwhelm. Expect people to be not what they seem, to become different than they were, to throw you off guard. Expect people to be disdainful. Expect people to love.

Giddy and Gone

I feel like forgetting

(In my fraught fear of freedom,)

That I cannot convey

My quite careless creation.

The words wear away

While I whisper “Why?”

And I decide to deduce

That the devil has danced

Along paths full of posies

And performed with precision.

I’m still so surprised

As I see the solution:

Guarding the gates

Gets me giddy and gone.

 

Chance [Flash Fiction]

There was no reason in the world for them to meet that night. If anyone wants to prove the existence of Fate or God, they might use this example in their studies.

She was supposed to be on her way to London from Wiltshire, but the taxi she was taking (her father had given her the cash for it, she could never have afforded such an extravagant means of travel on her salary) broke down unexpectedly.

He was supposed to be halfway to America, but his sister called, hysterical, just as he was checking in at the Delta desk at Heathrow Airport. She was having her baby early, and her husband was abroad on business. When he told his sister that he was about to fly away as well, she screamed at him in no uncertain terms, and scared him so much that he decided it would be a good idea to get his butt to the hospital, pronto.

They met in a pub around the corner from the private hospital where his sister was having her baby, and where her taxi had broken down. They both sat alone at the bar, and it was only when she ordered her drink (“White Russian, and put in as much ice as you’ve got, I’m parched.”) that he realized she was there. He had the same drink in front of him, looking just as full as it had when he’d gotten it, because of the profusion of ice-cubes which had begun to melt as he drank it down.

“You’re having what I’m having.”

“Oh? Right.”

“No, no, you don’t get it. Nobody likes extra ice in their White Russian. I had a friend swear to disown me if I let him see me order it like this again.”

“Hm. Interesting.”

“No, listen, I’m not drunk, my sister is having a baby, I’m just tired – okay, right, sorry, I’m babbling, enjoy your drink.”

“Your sister is having a baby? Over at the hospital?”

“Yeah.”

“My dad owns that place.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“So I should complain to you if something goes wrong?”

“He hasn’t seen the place in ten years. He just owns it. Sorry.”

“Interesting. Owning something and not knowing anything about it.”

“Pretty much like all our internal organs, you mean?”

“Never thought about it that way.”

“That’s okay. Most people don’t.”

“I’m Greg.”

“Martha.”

Before a City Wakes

There are thousands upon thousands of cities in the world, and all differ. Their sizes vary – some are small, some are large. Some differ in their demographic – more men than women or more citizens above a certain age and so on. They differ in their architecture – some are entirely new and modern and some have areas dating back hundreds of years. But all cities look, sound and feel exactly the same in that quiet moment right before dawn.

No matter what city it is, in that unclear light, before the sun peeps over the horizon, they will be quiet. Quieter than any other moment of the night. Those who work and live by day aren’t yet awake or are still in their homes, and those who live by night have already finished their outings or their work and have gone home. The streets are almost completely bare of people, and the lone car that whooshes past seems to be an intruder, much too loud and intrusive for this quiet moment.

All cities look the same during that small space of time – it is the only time any city is truly sleeping, resting, gathering its strength for another day and night of bustle and work and noise. It is breathtaking- the clear air, free of smog or smoke; the absolute peace that permeates every road and sidewalk and building; the utter and undeniable feeling of being between. Between the night and the day, between breaths, between the very phases of being that make up any city.

It is wonderful, being awake when the city sleeps.