Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Hay Fever

This is how it went: a boy and a girl, a little ahead of themselves, lay on Ranmoor field writing poetry in a book. Sometimes they made love, sometimes they fucked, and sometimes it was cold and they settled for holding each other. Sometimes there was nothing to write about, and impulses became dilute. So several poems a day were forced, careless; such as is expected from beginners.

This is how it stopped. One morning, a man came running through the long grass. His appearance was old, ragged and defeated. He yelled at the boy something that might have been verse, and they half-turned, mistaking his hardness for the wind. It was as if their behaviour had been directed by a private metaphor. At eight metres, the girl recognised the intruder as her father, a man named Thomas Burns, and at four metres, Burns withdrew a weapon and shot at the boy, and the bullet made short work of his pulse, and the girl wasn’t surprised but she was mute; frozen; hay fever and two aftershaves doubling up her nostrils.

This is how it never ended. It became a secret, almost entirely erased. He set up home in an inner city flat, and there were noises of busyness and drums that harrowed from the invisible spaces behind every wall. There were no windows. The carpet was tidy, pertaining to its virgin hue. The fat pillows suggested a romance about the double bed. He washed the sheets every five days as if he were playing the housewife, or as if something might have escaped his lonesome body. He was forty-two years old, an IT consultant and a widower. Computers seemed to suck out his being, and translate it into some bullshit company jargon. He convinced himself that the boy had got what was coming to him; that at 16, his daughter was far too sensible for poetry and far too young for some holiday romance. It was father and daughter, daughter and father, and it was only right that any intruders should be killed off or somehow evacuated.

The girl lived on the other side of town (her one demand), and her father didn’t understand what went on in her pink bedroom, or how much her naked body, the folds of her skin or her intentions, had changed since he once washed this small child. All he could remember was a small child in a living mother’s arms. Burns was solitary as the boss of a shield; the boy’s ashes would mask the honorary chiselling in the dusty bronze. Everything good about his life was past tense, on a shelf, in a jar. Oh, the girl. She would cry hysterically and abandon four of her senses; but she would still go to Ranmoor alone, and press her face into the long grass, and she would breathe him in - the living boy - and she would sneeze, wiping her wet nose red and rough against their pages, having turned over the dry ink of his handwriting. Once, what now seemed like an eternity ago, he too had turned over, in the half darkness, reciting the folds of her skin before coming into her hands.

1 comment:

  1. This is gorgeous, as succinct as it needs to be, but still rich. Nice one, Robbie. xx