Yellow Brick Road


He drowned in the relentless rain. Streams trickled from his inadequate hat, down his unshaven face, into his ears. He felt the drip, drip, drip from the top of his nose. About right, he thought. If he wanted cake, he’d get broccoli. If he needed a holiday, more work piled in. If he fell in love, she’d be already taken. If he thought it would be sunny, it would rain. Typical. Everyone else seemed to know what they were doing. He watched the people eating cake in the cosy cafe he couldn’t afford. He saw the sun blessed pictures in the travel agent window proclaiming cheap holidays full of laughter, love-filled couples, and blissful half board happiness. He was hit in the head several times by passing umbrellas remembered by those who knew it would rain. Why did he never get what he wanted? Why was he the one who always got it wrong? Why was he the one destined to be alone in this world?

The streams turned to trickles, and the trickles to drops. The skies changed from dark grey to white, and as the sun ventured a peek he saw it right in front of him. The once dull concrete that had been running like a murky river suddenly reflected a bright yellow path. He peered through his straggly hair, following the light that drew his feet, and walked.

The path didn’t lead to anywhere, so it seemed. It went on and on into nowhere. But he still followed. Then, just when his feet started to complain, there she was. In the middle of the yellow path, the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, holding a large piece of chocolate cake and a train ticket.
“Where does that go to?” he asked.
“To the rest of your life,” she said.




Humanity Stirs

52 stories

The body lay on the table, face down. Grey. Hairless. Stripped of any individuality, almost on purpose. Its skinny arms dangled over the edge, fingers hanging. Reaching? No, just hanging. Too long a way to reach the cold floor. From above, the splayed figure was pathetic.
“Maybe he wanted to die,” said someone.
One of the other dark figures surrounding the table agreed with a growling, “Hmm.” It ran its fingers across the hundreds of daggers hovering around its shapeless figure, each with their own symbols, some much bigger than others. Meaningless symbols to those wretches like that of the body it was now stabbing with a hilt covered in shapes like £.
“Just not strong enough,” said another figure. “Sympathy is overrated,” and it whacked the dead heal with its whipping $.
“Apparently it cared too much.” The laugh this comment generated echoed through all the worlds, stripping walls of their strength and suffocating the last of the summer flowers. “Imagine that!” said the towering figure at the head of the table.
“I just can’t,” replied the tyrannical force circling the dark room. “Weak creature,” it sneered.
“Irrationality is its downfall,” said the £ figure. “Why save others when you can save yourself?”
A murmur of unchallenged wisdom hovered above the figures, stoic in its contemplation of the emaciated figure on the table. It took with it drifts of dystopian joy layered with opulent wisps of disdain and superiority.
“Can we get on?” said a wrinkled orange figure watching from the edge of the room. “I’ve got a meeting in ten minutes.”
The tyrannical force belched an annoyed breath over the irritating necessity from the earth realm, making his orange hair run from his head only to be snatched back by reinforced roots and Elnett hairspray. But the puny wrinkled form raised petulant eyebrows and stood firm, waiting for his master’s words.
“Bring him in,” said the towering figure, watching the darkness part at the opposite end of the table.
A creature squirmed its way through the dank ethereal walls, writhing with depths of despair from time long past. It spat and groaned with pleasure. Jellied eyes oozed misery from their holes of unimaginable darkness. Sharp writhing tentacles threatened the air with painful fear.
The orange figure squirmed, unable to keep his human weakness hidden.
The towering figure laughed, then nodded at the creature. “Take your invaluable paper and cut to the bones.” And the creature obeyed.
It sliced with its many paper knives, some with the same symbols as before, some different, some made of pure hate, some of poisonous words and untruths. There were even some made from the agonies of the old chains used long ago in the last great oppression of the earth realm. These cut the deepest, and it was unleashed.
The rivers ran from the dead body, floods of sparkling mists, all coloured differently from the next. They ran and overflowed, pushed by a force that rationality says can’t exist. The figures in the room shielded themselves from the invisible fizzing brightness as if it were a disease, rabid with curiosity, ingenuity, and the endless possible. The sensations stung at their thick skins, but left no marks. The room stank of will of progress and the sparks of passion. Wanting to find. Wanting to be better. With keen sweeps they searched and looked, turning back and forward, up, down, retracing themselves like silk ribbons on perfect air. But they could not find their destination. Their end was no longer available. They could not exist, for there was nowhere for them to do so.
The collected figures smiled as the rivers became streams, then drips running desperately to the floor. Their last resting place until it was as if they’d never existed.
The body looked greyer. Deader. More than stolen of life. More than any of its kind could imagine. It was a satisfying sight to the onlookers. The orange figure even grunted a lofty snigger.
But then, from somewhere and by something that can’t be known, the body stirred…


Watching you give up

Watching you give up.
The saddest movie in the world.
The heaviest weight.
In the darkest pit.
All but you can see the light.
Blinding in its vibrant scream.
More unique than ever.
Bursting with flavour.
You are there.
Locked. Caged.
Covered in worthlessness.
Strapped with gutless hatred.
You guard your own fortress.
The precious fortunes must stay hidden.
I know their wealth.
I know their unburdened brilliance.
I’ve seen them shine.
I can see them now.
Through that fearful glint.
Behind the defiant resignation.
Within that numb world.
Made by your own choice.
So many long to free you.
From this war only you can win.
Like the saddest movie in the world.
We are watching you give in.

I want to reach for you in your night
I want to hold you while you fight
I want to lick your wounds
And kiss the pain
Fill you with love
Warm the strain
I want to push you on when you fall
I want to push you over that growing wall
I want to nurse your grazes
So you can carry on
You can push me away
But I’ll never be gone.
I want to hold you up and show your worth
I want to shout it loud to all the Earth
This beautiful human
This creation of one
Stronger than before
Because they won.

Mind Wars

I’m spending this weekend with The Mother. I haven’t seen her in the flesh since March, seven months ago. Then I had protection in the form of other people. This time it’s just us two. The relationship between The Mother and me is a whole tortuous book in itself, so I won’t bore you with it. All you need to know is she’s a controlling person, and I have let her be that person with me. She does that through fear because of childhood things, exacerbated by secret alcoholic husband, which, in that context, makes it totally understandable. Now.

I can pinpoint the exact time I decided that I wasn’t going to be like I was anymore. I wasn’t going to take this shit from her. Or anyone else for that matter. I’d had a bad year. Most years up to then hadn’t been good, apart from the odd moment here or there after I escaped home and school, and the heady days at university when everything was possible. After that came a complete breakdown, but all good things have to come to an end somehow. I regained some stability with my OH for the last ten years, a home, and two cats. Thank fuck! However, all good situations have their evil side. The grass may be greener, but there’s still perennial weeds in there.  The home situation with an autistic step-son, his not so interested mother, and my OH had got out of hand. When I say out of hand, I mean it hadn’t been dealt with. None of it. It was impossible to when that part of our lives wasn’t within our control. We weren’t allowed to make the decisions. And, looking back, I don’t think we wanted to be making them either. Without the OH’s Asperger’s diagnosis it was difficult for us to communicate about anything properly. Like a cushion trying to understand a hammer.

It was a lonely time for both of us. I sought solitude, which then sought company in some of the best friends I’ll ever have. That’s what it felt like at the time anyway. Then, suddenly, all my friends had got boyfriends/girlfriends/lives all at the same time. I was left alone. Isolated. Again. [Insert boring record of not having any family at all other than The Mother and inadequate training in social interaction due to alcoholic father here]. So keen was I to not be lonely for the rest of my life I’d put myself behind others, be there without question, the best friend they’d ever had. I’d been there for them, and they just left me. Obviously, that feeling has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me. The way it felt, the injustice, the pain of rejection and forced isolation in the middle of a situation that was already unstable, was intolerable – and I mean intolerable, to the point of physical pain that had only one way out. I put myself out there more than I’d ever done before. Prostrate on the floor, metaphorical innards bared. And I got hurt, obviously.

Turns out that’s the best thing they could have done for me.

It was on an excruciating week’s ‘holiday’ (she called it this. I call it a week in enforced hell with en suite) in Cornwall with my mother that I decided I wasn’t going to put up with her or anyone else’s shit any longer. My innards healed over and put an extra protective layer of fixative on top. I physically felt it one of those long nights stuck in a converted barn in the middle of nowhere with my life long guilt giver snoring in the next room. Once that huge, ugly monster (of emotions, not The Mother. Although…) had been encased forever inside me things started to show themselves from the other side. Their shapes were different and their overpowering repression not so overpowering anymore. That’s when the ever present Rebel sitting at the back marched forward and said, “I’m driving this body now. Get out of the bloody way Anxiety. Shift your fucking fat arse Self-Doubt, I’m taking over, you can all fuck off!”

I’d felt Rebel before, but this time was different. Instead of Anxiety throttling her on the spot, Rebel fought back, hard. They tried to push Rebel out before she could strap herself in, but Rebel was too strong and had been ignored, crushed and bullied for far too long by the others. She has won nearly every battle ever since. Rebel was finally able to teach me how to have confidence in my own intelligence (knocked out of me at school, of course), that I could work this life thing out myself if I just put in some time and effort and really used this amazing (and controllable!!) blob of grey slime in my skull. Rebel appointed Stubborn as Mind monitor. Stubborn was strict about things, making me read things that really helped me learn about how this bunch of cells I call my body works. Stubborn made me stick with battling through the nonsense commercial (bullshit) self-help market and find the real information. I learned about my biology, my chemistry, how it creates those intangible things called feelings and behaviours and reactions, and how I can control them with this flimsy thing called Mind. Defenceless as Mind would usually be, Rebel has released its full force. Now that Rebel is in charge I’m allowed to have confidence in myself as a fully formed human person (to the point anyone can be approaching midlife crisis age). I care about what people think about my writing, the way I look, what I think and say, but at the same time I don’t. I know that I know how to know stuff (think about it), and I know that I know how to unknow the old and inknow the new (I make up words. Problem?). I am capable, in my own way. Different to everyone else’s way. Good.

Those friends? After I’d hit the bottom of the pit and struggled back out again some of them turned out to be actual friends! But the majority turned out to be not worth any effort at all. And that’s fine.

Of course Rebel has to have the odd holiday. We all need a rest. That’s when Anxiety comes back for a day or two. Or Self-Doubt, with the apprentice, Self-Loathing. But they’re only temporary staff.