You lean against the wall because you’re only halfway home and exhausted from schlepping the shopping uphill. The world ripples. You get that dreamy falling sensation. You steady yourself. Your bags are gone. You’re not leaning against the wall anymore.
What is this place? Starry sky. Quiet. You inhale air that seems clean, free from exhaust fumes and the stench of old frying oil. Frightening as the sudden change of surroundings should be, you feel more tranquil than usual.
Another ripple and you’re back with your shopping. You search the wall for the door because you prefer the quiet world.
A solitary bloke sits on the bench we wanted, the one with the goodish view over the city. He’s got a picnic basket and a blanket spread out over the boards of the bench. Everything’s laid out for two; if there’s somebody else, that somebody excels at hiding.
We wanted to talk, away from his perma-drunk housemates. But we’re not talking. We sit side by side – he’s got his arm around me – watching the picnic for one. We don’t need words to communicate what we’re thinking: the bloke may have the bench with the view, but we have each other.
The road to nowhere is paved with good advice from people who don’t understand the joys of losing yourself: To get anywhere, go with your arrival in mind. A target to shoot for. A destination. A to B.
But leaving doesn’t have to mean arriving; meandering, strolling, wandering leads to discovering paths and buildings and histories you never knew existed, you’d never have found if you didn’t let yourself drift.
Leave the map behind and follow your fancy. Leave breadcrumbs to signpost the way back.
Because I want to hear all about your journey to nowhere in particular and everywhere.
Ahem. Is it an ode when you call it one? It’s an ode in essence but maybe not in form but since we all agreed I shouldn’t rhyme yesterday, it’s better this way.
‘Jazz, sonny? Bit ambitious. You’d better keep practicing your scales.’
The old guy wants to walk away, but I am gripped by a strange rage. It makes me do the unthinkable: I offer him the sax.
‘Think you can do better?’
He takes it, searches his bag for something and pulls out the right mouthpiece. He stops my background track and launches into Take Five. Only a few bars in, a crowd has gathered. A pretty blonde girl who sometimes listens sings along.
It’s like magic flowing from the sax. I swear the old guy now looks half his age.
She binned her thin-skinned ego and canned her plan to hide in plain sight.
Instead of leggings and oversized t-shirt, she’d wear a dress to impress even when she wasn’t sure she had what it took to pull off the look. Fake it till you feel it, right? She put on a hat for protection against close inspection of her face, just in case. She didn’t want to give any more space to those who thought her place was forever in greyscale, in the shadows, in hiding. Soon, she’d take flight.
Few knew about the castle hidden inside the island.
He thought too many knew, but what was an underground king to do? He needed supplies. His army, if not out raiding, would eat round the clock; if they went on too many raids, their enemies might track them here.
His queen, despite the lack of occasion to show off her tailor’s skills, demanded more silk and velvet; she had to keep up with the fashion, should he ever changed his mind and allowed her to host a ball.
Each supply run cost extra to buy the ferrymen’s silence. Bribes meant more raids, raids meant more worry. It never stopped.
A rather week story for MFtS this week, but it seems this is the best I can do.
If a fairy came along to grant him one wish, he’d ask for one hour of peace. Just one hour, all over the world. He’d tell her to stagger it, to make it three to four in the afternoon in every timezone. He’d go online to observe how an hour of peace, an hour without any person killing another would play out, again and again, going west with the sun.
He harbours hopes that one peaceful hour would have an impact on mankind. Truth be told, he doesn’t think it likely.
But it would make for an illuminating social experiment.