Extract from ”Sonder” (1)

Sonder

      01/02/00
      My dearest Sissy,

 

      February, Sissy! The hope that spring will return. My breath is held for crocuses and snowdrops. The weather is murky and mild, constantly raining, and Adam says that he fancies the grass is already growing, though I doubt it. One week ago it was freezing. He is only saying such things out of hope. He is a bear caged in the dark. He wants to be out, helping in the garden, pushing a mower, giving a lick of paint to flaking windowsills. He has an air of agitation about him, a tremor beneath his calm. Does he ever have sex, Adam? I have been keeping a very close eye on him, these past many months, and never once have I seen a fancy lady step out of his Cortina, nor has he dallied away overnight. Unless he squeezes in some action in the scant hour he putters away in the evenings, which is doubtful, I fear he is in a drought.

 

      Would he have sex with me, I wonder? Or would the idea repel him?

 

      Things are settling down here. Hierarchies are being resolved. Magda, after all, was no more indispensable than any of us are. Slowly, she dissolves. Marion has brightened up. She has two spreading spheres of ruddy colour on her cheek-bones; either she is coming back to herself, or she is consumptive. How romantic the idea of consumptive diseases are! How lady-like a way to die! To lie on a couch in ruffled satins with my hair curled and my pulses beating too fast, and a small handkerchief to absorb my blood-flecked sputum. Visitors would leave gifts of fragrant lilies and promise me, extravagantly, that I would live to be wedded and happy. My hairy legs, the downy moustache on my upper lip, my spotted back would be non-existent, and I would thrill to poetry, and have languid bloodless limbs and a mind that never, ever so much as contemplated evil. We two sisters, Sissy, would be inseparable, impossible to imagine ten thousand miles between us, you glowing with dazzling health, and I a tragic blossom bleeding fevered love from hearts of stone. Oh, how delicious!

 

      I will ask Adam if he would like to fuck me. After all, the worst he can say is no.

 

      Dr Carver is also looking somewhat strained. As if he too is wrestling with some inner dissatisfied urge. Spring may be to blame for all this primal confusion. Perhaps, after all, Dr Carver’s angular wife has left him and gone to trot in pastures new. He does not care anymore for the stories I tell him. Even if I am breathless with panic he stares idly at various points around the room, and repeats stock phrases at me as if he is bored with training a dog.

 

      Don’t repress the memories, Truly.

 

      That’s it. Let them come out.

 

      Say whatever comes into your mind.

 

      I am here to listen.

 

      But his eyes have lost their fire and this perturbs me. Perhaps I should help him. A sexual favour, maybe? No. I am gone off him. Whatever allure he held some weeks back when my skin had gone missing is all but vanished now. He is ashes in my mouth. I know only his smirks. I think only of greasy surfaces whenever I’m near him. He leaves me repulsed.

 

      I have a job now, every afternoon, for an hour or two in the garden. I am rooting weeds out of the flower-beds and reducing the winter-hardened clay to a fine brown tilth. The gardener has given me a sheet of black plastic to kneel on. The cold from the ground collects in my knees, seeping through the plastic, and then through my sweat pants. But there is something penitential about this discomfort that appeals to me. I egg myself on. Five more minutes, I tell myself. I will endure. Images of flagellants spin through the globe of my skull. Sometimes I wish I had a whip, a switch from the hedge. Daddio used to threaten that – ”another whinge out of you and I’ll cut a switch from the hedge” – but he never laid a hand on us at all. Helme broke things over our rumps or along the backs of our legs. Rulers swiped from our school bags. Wooden spoons. Bamboo canes. And once, a sweeping brush handle, but it was already old and cracked. It must have been decayed. Five more minutes, I will myself, and I grit my teeth and rub the clay between my fingers until it gives way.

 

      And, for long minutes I do forget. The pain dissolves. My mind is elsewhere. And then, it hurtles back in a dreadful assault and I almost jump up. But I am made of sterner stuff than that! My body will obey me. It is under my command. I find a narrow piece of flint. Toffee-coloured, with tool markings. The trace of an ancient past. I find rose-quartz chips. I put them into my pockets. Rose quartz is good for the heart. It helps one forgive. My pocket-fulls of beads of quartz grind off each other as I walk, my pocket-fulls of love-stones. Sometimes the sky is such a clear bright blue that I have to sit back onto my heels and look up at it in amazement. How far, I wonder, does the blue stretch, before it surrenders to black? Are there miles and miles of subtle exchange before the darkness wins out?

 

      We are nothing. All of us. The chips of quartz that have fallen from the pockets of space. There is a cold wind. It sneaks inside my jumper. Winter is not yet gone. How could I have possibly dreamed it was Spring?

 

      Yours,
    Truly.
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About

Generally just Being. Nothing in particular, no claims to fame. I like gardening and the sea, nature, art in all forms from poetry to films and everything in between, and being in the company of my family.

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