Monday, November 01, 2004

Chapter One: an opening

The last time Alice had seen Jim, he had been standing waiting for a bus. She wanted to slow the car, she wanted to open the window and shout hello, she wanted to leap out and ask how he had been for the last twelve months. But none of these things happened.

She drove on, and put the feelings about this chance encounter in the space she kept in her mind for regrets about things that she should have done, but didn’t. It was a busy space, but one where she was working hard to create an emptiness by revisiting these instances and undoing the regrets as soon as she could. All part of a new moving forwards.

Now, just three days later she had seen him again. This time he was standing outside a shop, leaning against the window and looking through a newspaper. He was dressed in jeans, and a black jumper. She noticed that his hair had grown, and looked less groomed than it used to.

She was walking down Church Street, the main shopping street in Liverpool. He was standing outside HMV and she didn’t know what to do. He seemed to be waiting for someone, she couldn’t tell. He hadn’t seen her, so she could easily just walk on and he would never know that she had been there.

As she thought things through, she could hear the street sellers, shouting out their amazing deals. She caught her foot on a piece of rubbish as she walked, a discarded cigarette packet. Then she looked around her for some inspiration – what should she do? Should she go over and speak to Jim, or walk past?

A flock of twenty or more pigeons flew low across the street, almost skimming the heads of shoppers as they flew onto the ledges above the shop fronts. A newspaper seller was shouting out his daily call “Late Echo” every few seconds, now a slur that lost its meaning.

Alice quickened her pace, as she walked down over towards the shop window. As she approached, Jim looked up. She was looking to see how he was reacting. There was shock, yes shock, then she wasn’t quite sure what the next gesture meant. Was he pleased, was he panicked?

“Hi Jim, how’s things?”

“Umm, OK thanks. How about you?”

Well, that gave her nothing to work on. What now?

“Oh, you know. Uh, well I suppose you don’t know. Well, it’s been a bit of a mess really. Wondering what I was doing. Keeping things going, stopping myself doing daft things. Putting new ideas forwards. Then wondering whether there would be any sense to all of this at all. Ever.”

So she had opened her mouth, and produced some words. But they had made about as much sense as a random choice from the dictionary would. She felt like a complete prat! Now what to do.

“Well, I saw you and thought it would be crazy to just walk past without saying hello.”

Jim hesitated before speaking, “ Would you like to meet up for a drink some time? Just for old times sake – to catch up on all that’s been happening?”

“That’d be nice, yes”

“How about tomorrow night at The Pilgrim?”


Alice felt the need to create something as a way on from here:

“I’ve got to dash now. I’m meeting someone. It’s really good to see you again. See you tomorrow night – is eight good for you?”


Alice walked off down Church Street, crossed into Lord Street and kept right on walking until she reached Pier Head. This wasn’t where she was going, but she suddenly felt the claustrophobia of a city, and wanted to stand by the River Mersey and feel some space, look outwards to the Wirral and down river to the sea. She really wanted to believe that the claustrophobia was just a feeling of not knowing what was coming next. But the truth was, she didn’t know why she had the feeling, only that it hurt right inside her rib-cage.

As she stood there, leaning against a railing and watching the ferry dipping and rising on the waves of the river, she looked down into the murky brownness of the water. It was high tide, the wind in the air had made the water swirl like muddied uncertainties. Seagulls pirouetted across the air currents, and occasionally gave little screes as they passed overhead.

It was quiet here, in spite of the time of day. She could lose herself in thoughts and start to unpack what and why, when and if. Unravel the past and put together the present as it moves to the future. So much to do, so much to decide, and in a way it was useful to have made it a time-limited thing. Something that couldn’t be put off any longer.

Her head was swimming with words, with thoughts and ideas. Anything that she could find to pull together some sense.

After about forty minutes of working out how to take things forwards when they met the next evening, she walked back to the car park where her car was, and drove back home. The shopping she had come into town for was lost in the moment. She had completely forgotten this. It just didn’t seem important any more.

Moving from the stuckness of a twelve months in her life to something different was the goal now. The TV was the distraction she used for the evening. That and most of a good bottle of wine, which meant that she was quick to fall asleep when she eventually slid into bed at a little after midnight.

As she slept that night, the moon rose in the sky. It was a full moon, the sky was clear. The moonlight lit up roofs, windows, streetlights. It was so light that the faces of late night walkers were clear to see, bright and dark in complexion and emotion as they passed Alice’s house.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

another butterfly emerging

This is the space where the emerging butterfly will be posted. Nothing now until 1st November...

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