You have been loved

I imagine it’s something like lights turning on all over the world. One by one the illumination, as continents glimmer then glow. I see it as gravity pulling the stars back down. Collective sadness, collecting love. The bright flame of grief making our shared surface deeper.

Know this. You have been loved.

It’s not dimming, ever. To remember, to honour, to love in this way. We should do so well with the living. We should send out our sparks and turn up our songs while we’re both on the ground. Don’t you think?

You should know you have been loved.

lighthousekeeping

♥ Jeanette Winterson, Lighthousekeeping

I expect so much more from you in 2017. 

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The weight of it

I never expected to be happy. Not in the sense that I would have a big, rich life, a red-like-Christmas life, where every day was tinsel and jolly. I only ever wanted to survive my own heart. To find small moments of light in the dark, to live knowing I’d find that light sometimes, even just a pinprick of it, to guide me.

I never expected to find peace. Not in the sense that I would come to terms, eventually, with what happened to my mother. With what happened to me. I wanted, or hoped instead, to learn to carry what happened, so that I could build some kind of emotional muscle, stronger tissue, and suddenly it wouldn’t all seem so heavy. I’d be able to walk with the weight of it, and just keep going. Like those young women, in their bright cotton dresses and bare feet, who carry water on their heads for miles. The ones who live in those dustbowl places, where everything is far away. If you tried to do that without practice, without years, you’d stagger, you’d spill your water, or crumple at the shoulders from all that weight sitting on your head. But they can do it, because that’s what they do every day. That’s what their muscle has learnt to remember.

I thought perhaps I might get the chance to teach my body what to remember, too.

~ Alice, Into the After

Balloon Girl, Red Heart by Banksy

The Girl with the Red Balloon ~ Banksy

Without my permission

Wednesday April 17th, 2013

Today is my last day. Of what? Of being alive? Of being in this world? Not exactly, because I’m here still, in a way. I can see everything and feel everything, although I’ve been trying to get that right, because it’s not exactly feeling, is it? It’s not the same as wrapping your fingers around a warm coffee mug, or flipping the pillow to the cold side, of finding the cool relief on your cheek, before you go back to sleep. It’s not that. It’s not immediate and ephemeral and lost to the next sensation just as you start to feel the first.

It’s something more complete. Something less connected to space and time. A kind of knowing, more than feeling. Sort of how you can swim under water and through it and across its surface all at the same time. Immersed. Perhaps that’s a better word for the way I experience the world now.

I’m here still, in a way. I am immersed.

At any rate, we’ve reached that date. We’ve come to today. I want to tell you about it, because they keep getting it wrong. The way people always get it wrong when they speak for you. When they tell your story.

My story, the one I lived.

Today is my last day. Today is the last day I lived my story. The last day I lived. There was an I, and it was me, and I was at the centre of my story, until someone else decided to take over. Until that man wrote my last pages. Without my permission.

You think you are the centre, that if you hold on tight enough, even when things try to pull you away, you’ll make it. But then someone enters the space you have created for yourself, they take up all the room, and suddenly you’re pushed right out of your skin.

It’s their story now.

There was an I, and now there is a he, a him, a his.

Today is my last day, Elliot. The last day of my story.

~ Alice, Into the After

On the Rocks

Not what I imagined

Jane

So this is what it is like to be dead. It is not what I imagined. Though imaginings seem very limited now, the things one can dream and feel when we are alive. Now that I am dead.

I am dead.

What a strange distinction. Between me before, and me now. Before I was one thing only – I was alive, I was breathing and pumping blood around my body, into my limbs, and all through me. Now I have no blood and no body. No fingers to wriggle, and no toes to curl under. I am just air now. I am what I used to breathe in. Only, it isn’t just. There is no containment. I am air and I am everything. If I think of something – say a wave crashing, then I am that wave, I am the pulling back, the curve and swell, and the pounding against the ocean floor. Then, if I am reminded of fish in the whitewash, I am suddenly the slippery, silver tail, I am the rushing school of gill and scale.

I only have to think it, and I become it. Not just feel it, but I am it. Anything and everything that exists.

Except me. I don’t exist anymore, and I cannot feel me. That girl, the one they call Jane. They still don’t know my name. And I, too, have forgotten. I don’t know who I was, what I had. When I think of me instead of oceans or fish, it suddenly goes black. I am dark matter, a rent in the fabric of the universe. Easier to be the wave, and the darting fish, flying.

But still I wonder, in the spiraling – who was she? Where did she come from and where did she go? When he did those things to her. When she died at his hands.

I am dead. This is what it is like to be dead. Imagining never once came close to this.

Wave

Very, very early character drafting for “Into the After”. As usual it has gone in a different direction than where I first pointed my pen. The body keeps the score – I keep thinking of this saying, and now I have met Jane, who is everything but herself, who can inhabit every thing that exists, but her own body. So many metaphors. Now to the hard part …

Into the After

Sometimes, I time travel through their wounds.

I take them back to before. Before the wheels over-corrected, or the under-tow pulled too hard. I take them back to the moment before they said yes to that guy or before they turned that corner – before life began to slide away from where they’d been.

I’m piecing them back to how they were, when they were whole and untouched. Everyone has it. Every body has it. A time before. Some people get further along than others – some get to live entire lives in the before.

Others come with the smallest amount of time and grace, and fall quickly into the after.

#

Into the after. The new working title for my second novel. To write, I need a literary leitmotif, a melody of words and ideas to thread through the story. I’ve found it here. Now the work begins …

To sink under slowly

The feeling is immediate under my toes. A sensation of sinking in, of earthing myself. The sand starts warm and soft underfoot, and closer to the water it becomes damp and hard, leaving my footprints in a trail behind me.

I scratch a crooked heart with my big toe and watch as a wave licks at it, then washes it away. A pang – is that how easily we lose something? I look out, fix on the moment where sky and sea merge, and I feel a kind of horizon ache. A sadness that expands before me.

If you are here right now with me Ben, you are the anchor, the thud that brings me back.

I keep walking, letting the last slide of each wave wash over my feet. We acclimatise to the coldness best in this way, inch by inch of skin, no surprises. I have never understood people who run toward the water, who dive straight in.

I have always been one to sink under slowly.

 – Anna, The Memory of Stars 

Where the beginning resides

Lying here in the dark without you.

There have been a thousand nights without you. So many sleepless nights counting down from midnight; it was always easier to miss you in the daylight hours. But now the darkness expands into tomorrow. Now the darkness is endless, ahead of me, as well as behind. If I go back too far I will exhaust my memories of you, and I feel a panicked need to preserve them, to ration these memories out, the way someone lost in the wild must approach a depleted supply of food and water.

They say that memories light both the path we have taken, and the path to follow. They say that remembering ensures we look both ways. But all I see now is an abyss. If I reach the beginning of us, here in the dark, I will inevitably come to our end. There will be no new words to decipher, no clumsy mistakes to ponder. There will be no new arguments, or surrender smiles, out there waiting for us.

There is no unchartered territory left to explore, Mack. When I arrive at the point where the beginning resides, I will have mapped our love entirely.

Jacqueline Bublitz at body, remember

Image by Joanne Piechota @ Little Clicks

Edits, edits, edits! Love rescuing little bits of prose, and finding that they do fit, after all …