My confession.

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I am guilty.

It is not your normal, regular, run-of-the-mill, kind of guilt.

This is far, far more…incomprehensible. One, which is as impossible to escape from, as it was to have been entrapped within.

You see, I loved him.

Once.

That once, now seems so long ago it never truly belonged to me; which in all reality I do not suppose it did.

All I had, as you may have now, is the belief life would keep its promise.

I never asked for anything more than was possible; I never asked for the fairy-tale ‘happily-ever-after’.

I was not so foolish to think such things exist.

But, I did want it to last longer.

Yet still he has been taken from me, inexorably, imperceptibly, little by little, piece by piece; until there is nothing left but a thin parchment of skin hanging onto a frame of crumbling bones.

My love is in mourning for this body’s previous tenant, the man who was part of me, of who I am, my husband, my lover, my best friend.

I fear each day that passes I should forget his voice, of how his hands once held me firm. I fear of losing the sound of his laughter, the remembrance of deeply breathing in his scent. These things are only with me now as past memory. 

I worry they too will be stolen from me, now someone else is living in his body.

I feel nothing for this interloper. I do not know him. I have never known him and have no wish to know him. That is why there is a distance between us, one which stretches much farther than the few inches apparent to the casual observer.

Yet there are social expectations which I must meet. So, I simply ‘go through the motions’, to satisfy the anticipations of others.

This is the guilt I carry, the burden which weighs heavily upon my soul, a guilt I have no way to assuage.

This is my confession.

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© Paul White 2017

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Mr Harrington. (A short tail)

 

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Something astounding happened yesterday I must tell you about.

I was standing at the kitchen sink, washing the dishes from lunch and gazing out of the window as I did so. In the corner of the kitchen little Jack was playing with his favourite toy, a fabric clown. I could see Jack’s delight each time he made the clown squeak.

Outside, a flock of sparrows were devouring some crusts I tossed on the lawn earlier and I could see Mr Harrington pottering about in his garden, which adjoined the end of ours.

It was pretty much an ordinary and uneventful day, until Mr Harrington looked my way.

In fact, I am sure he looked directly at me. A strange type of challenging stare. It was most unusual for him to look at me in that way and most disconcerting too.

Mr Harrington then stood, stretched his back and began running towards me. With one flying leap, he hurdled the back fence, continuing to run at full speed the entire length of our garden, scattering the sparrows as he neared the house.

Mr Harrington did not stop running, he came dashing through the kitchen door, ran straight up to little Jack and hit him on the side of his head with a vicious, swinging swipe, before turning around and dashing off.

Jack spun across the floor and slammed into the cupboard doors. Jacks toy clown flew into the air, bounced on the floor with a pathetic little squeak before coming to rest under the kitchen table.

The entire act happened so quickly, I only had time to pull my hands from the suds and pick up a towel ready to dry them, by which time Mr Harrington was half way back down the garden and heading home.

Jack was far quicker than I. He scrambled to his feet and was after Mr Harrington like a flash, jumping on him and raking his claws along his back. The two cats tumbled and twisted, matted clumps of fur flying into the air and letting loose a series of those blood curdling, high pitched, ear shattering screeches and meows that resonating throughout the entire estate during the early hours.

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Catching up with them I clapped my hands, stamped my feet and shooed at them. Mr Harrington giving up the fight and running home, while Jack came and rubbed himself around my ankles like a furry slinky, purring away as if nothing untoward had occurred.

Looking up, I saw Mr Harrington sitting on the fence between the two gardens. He was looking back at me, head slightly tilted and wearing an expression that said “This ain’t over yet”.

I know this to-do it is mostly my responsibility.

You see, until I brought Jack back from the sanctuary we welcomed Mr Harrington into our house and garden, fed him on occasion and spoilt him with tid-bits of ham and the odd prawn or two.

Now Jack is here, Mr Harrington feels pushed out. He is understandably displeased and disgruntled!

© Paul White 2016

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Dawn. (a short story)

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This morning two men walk with me into the courtyard.

I am centre, they one on each side. We do not rush, we amble. We do not talk; but take in the freshness of a new day, each lost, deeply lost, in our own thoughts.

The sun lifting itself over the horizon. A lazy stretch of glowing amber soaking into the fading darker blue at the edge of night.

 The sun’s rays fall upon my face, the chill air recedes, letting the light gently warm my skin.

I hold my cigarette before me, one eye squeezed shut, matching the glowing end to the suns circumference.

I breath out, slowly watching the smoke. Momentarily it is there, almost solid, a thick clump of particles hanging in the air, moving oh so slightly, before twisting away on the light breeze, dissipating and…. gone.

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It is amazing how you see things when you only have the moment, how the commonplace, the everyday, the simplest of things become detailed, become special.

I would like to be gone from here, to fade into the ether like the smoke. There is much I should like to do, much I would to see and so many places I would rather be, than here.

But I have no choice. Circumstance dictates today, not I.

Far to my left the two men who walked with me into this courtyard lean against the wall, their heads turned, not looking my way, trying not to make eye contact.

Before me stand fourteen more men. One, the officer, standing at my shoulder, waiting for me to take the last drag from the cigarette.

I suck the filter, the acrid, bitter taste of tobacco flowing into my mouth. I breath in, pulling it down, down inside. A slight dizziness buzzes in my head, I purse my lips, let the smoke slowly out, a steady stream.

Flicking the butt away casually, watching as it bounces once and rolls across the compact dirt of the ground. It stops, the filter burning away. Soon it will be gone.

As shall I.

The officer offers me a black band, a blindfold. I shake my head.

Rifles levelled, pointing at the small white cotton square pinned over my heart.

I stare back, looking my executioners in the eyes.

The officer shouts his command, “Ready”

His voice echoes from the walls.

“Aim… Fire”

I hear a crackle, the discharge of those rifles.

I do hear not the echo reverberate from the walls of this courtyard.

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© Paul White 2017

Such is life.

 

Life flows past, a river of time, ever changing but constant.

Caught in its current as it pushes onwards, we cannot fight against it. All we can do is get by, survive until the next day.

I consider it a bonus to wake, to see the sun, hear the birds singing and to feel the wind on my skin once again.

I consider it magical to find friends along the way, as I am washed relentlessly downstream, towards the oceans of oblivion.

Such is life; my life anyway.

Perhaps, by some miracle or off-chance, I may have fallen into another river, a gentle stream or a babbling brook. Life may have been different.

Or maybe it will change or alter. Maybe a current will pull me to the bank, a gentle eddy swirl me to the shore or pour me into a lesser torrent.

Although I doubt it shall; however hard I may wish or pray.

The world is not like that.

In this world you have little control over your existence.

Such is life. Your life.

We have what we are given, all else is but illusion.

Which is why it is important to grasp the simplest of moments, the slightest of chance, however small, however insignificant each may seem at the time.

We should have no regrets for reaching out, for caring, for showing love and affection.

Or for taking the same, accepting the comfort of another’s arms. To be pulled close. To feel warmth and soft tender flesh during those times our hearts and souls ache with longing and unfulfilled dreams.

Accept the little victories over uncontrolled chaos, over life’s unjust consequence.

We have no knowledge of where this river of life will take us, how long we shall ride its currents or where our passage will end.

We know only our journey will be far too short.

The future is not our place of residence.

Ours is the journey.

Unpredictable, uncontrollable and arbitrarily erratic.

Such is life.