Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brandishing Knives

It all started when Steve walked along the sea front. The sparse but geometrically lined-up township of wind turbines four miles off-shore slowly twirled ... “as if the sea were brandishing knives,” he thought.

Not that he dreamed up such trenchantly poetic turns of phrase every day of his life. But today’s theme was indeed poetic verse, it seemed. He bought a birthday card for a loved one in a shop, a very expensive card with the usual embossed flowery front and, yes, at a cursory glance, the expected floridly sentimental verse inside upon stiff expensive paper. He took the card to the counter and winced when he heard the price. He felt surprised by the price, but he shouldn’t have been - judging by the number of times he had been thus surprised in the past. Hardly any change from a fiver. And not even a smile from the lady assistant. Still, he did receive a flimsy bag in which to carry it home!

On the return trip, a few of the wind turbine blades had stopped turning and Steve assumed that phenomenon indicated some form of piecemeal servicing or overhaul. However, he once read a set of Fanblade Fables by a local poet and, reading between the lines, there were all manner of possible reasons for a turbine to stop turning, most of which reasons were quite fanciful. But Steve couldn’t be fanciful if he tried. Most days.

He met Susan on the way back. He had been meeting Susan by regular chance on his trip along the sea front between his home and the town for several years now. They had a friendly chat and then went on their way. Not much was imparted other than weathered small-talk. Tired clich├ęs of living. There was no mileage for relationship or even a well-turned story to be derived from their meetings. No gossip now – and no gossip in the future. Everything was fixed within Steve’s immediate state of living. Even the future held no secrets. Or so he felt. Or so he simply knew. There are people like that. A walking status-quo.

Steve arrived home. He needed to post the card or it would be late arriving for the loved one’s birthday. As he went to sign it, he unintentionally caught a few lines of the internal verse, caught them within some method of automatic reading-sense: a variety of sixth sense that derived from a blend of the other more regular five senses. He blanched. 

He now read the verse in conscious detail. It was full of hate and spite. He did not dare reproduce it for any future memory. Hence its omission from being recorded here. But it was simply horrible.

Furthermore, did he really credit his subsequent re-examination of the card’s front cover? On the surface, full of love and sumptuous design, involving flowers garlanding an idyllic template for a country cottage. Looking closely, perhaps, he discerned that the flowers’ petals were indeed tiny knife-blades. Or perhaps he didn’t. Whatever the case, he ripped it up and threw it in the waste-bin.

A waste-bin that contained forever the litter of lost memories, lost souls, lost lives, lost loves...

Meantime, the turbines are turning forever in fitful stops and starts, as if the very sea is expressing itself in human terms. Talking to us for real? Or merely making the motions? Gently rocking all over the world?

written today and first published here

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