Tiny Stories – Goodbye Reality

Goodbye Reality


I pick up a coffee. But as the barista hands me the cup, it wobbles, and morphs, contracting, in and out, in and out. I take it in my own, hand over the money, and leave without collecting the change. I have to get outside, into the relative light, into a place that is not so constricting, so abrasive.

I haven’t slept for a number nights. Once or twice a year, things get like this. Night after night, for a few weeks sleep rarely comes at all. And if it does in fact show its face, it is for a tiny, unmotivating amount of time.

Days, they melt into each other. Darkness flows into light, and back again. This is how it goes, and this is how I accept it. It is something I have no power over, no choice but to be a part of. The fabric of reality blurs at the corners, tearing and ripping, morphing into something sinister, something beyond the boundaries, the limitations of human comprehension. It is as if the world has become something else. It is as if my eyes are seeing things they are not intended to, things they were not designed to.

Sometimes I am scared. Scared of the shapes and sounds that I see and hear. Those that are unique to me, those that others do not experience. I am not psychotic, I am not slipping into any designation of psychosis. For myself, this is complete reality, nothing but. At least it is a temporary reality, while things work out, while sleep is on its vacation.

Walking down the street, all faces turn my way. Some possessing only eyes, some hardly faces at all, but mounds of skin, undefinable. No matter what they are, no matter who owns them, they all look towards me, staring right through my soul, peering into places of privacy. I will them to stop, over and over again. But they do not. I feel like a magnet for eyes, a black hole for suspicion. I am just human. I am no different! I beg them to look away, will God to make it so.

I am falling apart. Reality is becoming something else. I exist within a perpetual slumber, completely disconnected from the world. It is not a new feeling, of course it isn’t. Although every time it comes around it seems to grow in intensity, in its numbing strangeness. I become a puppet to it. A leaf blowing in the wind of some higher force, some higher entity who has sole control over my mind, my consciousness.

I know will end, or at least… it has before. After some time, it has always retired back to where it dwells, building the energy to strike again. And so I wait for that moment in time when it recedes, when it crawls back, when it frees my mind. Until that point, coffee is my best friend. And reality is something I cannot even consider, something I question the very nature of.

He, and Himself Alone

He, and Himself Alone


He wandered on that cold night. It was mid-winter, and by midnight, frost had already begun its journey to the ground. The remnants of autumn leaves crunched under him, crisp, coated in an icy glaze that was just visible in the brightest of moonlight.

Despite the cold, he loved nights like these. Walking in the moon-lit world, catching glimpses of the stars, of the constellations he recognised and those he did not. He was alone on the land, the only person awake, the only person looking into that area of dark sky, that area of glistening leaves. This thought comforted him, gave a sense of secludedness that his heart had always ached for. Although, it through no choice of his own. For had no other person to walk with. He had never walked under the stars with a soul but his own.

The world wouldn’t allow that. Not for anybody.

He’d been younger, much younger, nineteen or twenty, if he remembered correctly. He supposed other people had been that age when it had all happened, when it had taken all those he loved away. And yet, he saw no sign of it, no sign of humanity beyond his own skin. And on certain days, he questioned even that.

On that particular night, he pondered things more than most. It was a act that he had side-lined, one he had locked away at the back of the darkest cupboard. Over time he had learnt it wasn’t remotely healthy to dwell on all those years that had passed. And yet, despite this, it was something that had become his best friend. The past held all the pleasure and all the pain, all the wishes and all the resentment, all the love and all the hate. He bathed in all these thoughts. Filling him with all the emotions that had ever rushed through him. Most prominently though, he felt a deep sadness for all those he wasn’t allowed to surround himself with. Those that the world had ripped away without a second thought.

As he walked, returning to his home – not that he called it a home, it was something of a roof, a shelter, a tool – nothing more. He couldn’t give so much meaning to a thing that gave him nothing in return, that merely supported his meagre existence.

He had thought about it too many times to remember. It was something that wouldn’t abate, no matter how irrational he regarded it to be, how insane he suspected it made him. Nevertheless, the notion of giving in, of forcing things to a definite, irreversible end, was an ever-present demon within him. One that sucked at his life, his energy, leeching the things that mattered most. Even if he happened to no longer care about himself in any way whatsoever. Most things he did were simply out of necessity. In that sense, necessity was a bitch.

After a long walk, containing long pensive thoughts, he returned home. The fire flickered through the cracks in the boarded windows and smoke rose from the chimney, everything as he left it, everything the was it always was. That’s the thing, nothing ever changed, nothing ever varied at all. He saw his life as a linear line. An existence without deviation, without ever straying from its predetermined, shitty course. This he resented, he hated. He saw there could be no change, that change in the world had become something you couldn’t even begin to reach towards.

Inside, he sat in front of the roaring fire that staved away the chill from outside. In his hand rested a large glass of homemade spirit. He didn’t know what to call it. He supposed it wasn’t really worthy of a name, anyway. Nevertheless, it kept him warm, and was useful on the days in which he wanted his mind to be silenced by drunken stupor. Lately, that had been a number. He would have to curb the habit, find something less egregious to replace it. Though, he wondered what this might be.

For a second, a face flashed into his vision. A person from a life long ago, a life that had long since been left in the acrid dust of another world. It was Cerys, his first girlfriend. They’d both be almost twenty-seven by now, or was it twenty-six… in a world without clocks or calendars, he wasn’t sure. He found quickly that things merged into the next. Days, weeks, moths, and years, until they meant nothing at all. Until time itself became completely irrelevant. He imagined her eyes, her smile, her legs and body. He thought about all that he had felt, and all the things he had been accused of not feeling. He remembered the way she used to sit, slightly cocking one leg to the side. The way she used to smile at him. And the way she used to lead him onto her bed in her room at university. Times didn’t get better than those, he knew that. Some of the women after Cerys, he scarcely remembers. Most of them he wouldn’t want to.

The thing he loathed the most was knowing that he was never going to meet another person like Cerys again. That he might never meet a person at all… Of couse he was lonely. He had been lonely before this, in those early teen years. Then again, isn’t everyone? But it morphed into something different after what he thought was six or seven years alone. Six or seven years without another soul hearing his own voice, without himself ever hearing anyone else’s voice.

Finally, after downing the last of the spirit, he thought of his mother and father. They had always been there, where were they now? For all he knew, they could be alive,- against all the odds. Though, did it really matter? He wondered if anything mattered any more. Thinking, as always, he poured himself a smaller glass of the spirit.

His name was Ed, and he was more uncertain of the future than any other man had ever been.

 

Mythical

Tiny Stories – Triple Shot Latte with Chocolate Sprinkles

Triple Shot Latte with Chocolate Sprinkles


Every morning I went to Brent’s Coffee Shop. It was a small affair, only a few tables, and a tiny bar with an old-looking espresso machine. It was quiet too. One of the many reasons it was my favourite place in the world. Not to mention that over the years, Brent himself had become a close friends. Unlike most, he was a good guy. Thoughtful, and candid. If it was in his mind, he said it. That’s what I loved about him. And I think everyone who wasn’t easily offended did too.

On this particular day in mid-January, the sun had forgone in showing its face, and despite being nine in the morning, the sky and street were still shrouded in a cloak of dull darkness. I wasn’t the type of person to dislike days like this. In their melancholy resided a subtle beauty, a true showing of how things actually were. Like Brent, I disliked false pretences. And I’d thought sunny days were exactly that.

Brent was always early to open, long before I got there. I had always wondered what he saw in his early mornings, in the still dark winter sky. I wondered if it was something specific, or a more general approach like my own. I never asked him. It seemed too personal a question. Some things are meant to be kept to their owners, no matter how mundane they might appear at first glance. I’ve always had a curiosity in why certain things mean so much to certain people. What’s hidden beneath never fails to amaze, to sadden, even. And as I walked to Brent’s on that chilly, dark morning, I thought about all the people on the street – the things they held within their minds that had never been allowed the time to be free, that had never been heard by outside ears.

As I walked through the door to his tiny cafe, the bell rang in the same timbre it did on most mornings. Brent, without turning, said, “hey man!”

“Hey yourself,” I replied as enthusiastically as my morning-mind would allow.

“The usual?”

“Of course, what else?” The ‘usual’ consisted of a special, discounted, triple shot latte with chocolate sprinkles on top. As far as I understood it, coffee couldn’t be consumed in any other manner.

As with any other morning, I took my corner seat behind the small windowed partition at the back of the shop. It was cosy there, under the dim lights, beside the bookshelves full of old hardback books and trailing plants. It was my safe haven, my away-from-home alone place.

Moments later when I was settled, Brent delivered my tall, frothy latte. He took a seat across from me. “So, how are you on this fine morning?” He asked.

“As fine as any other morning… you know how it goes.”

He nodded, though I got a feeling he in fact didn’t. His mornings were my afternoons. Despite all else, we didn’t see eye to eye on that particular beast. “Can I ask you something,” he said, after staring into space for some time.

“Sure,” I said, taking a sip of my coffee and picking the book I’d been reading of the shelf.

“Why do you come here?” He asked.

I watched his eyes, and found it was an honest question. Coming from him I shouldn’t have thought any different, Brent lived off honesyt. And so, I thought about his question. I had been coming here for well over two years. Most days I was the only customer inside Brent’s at that time in the morning. Maybe I was the only one who talked to Brent in such a manner. Through my eyes that wasn’t something overly special. Just something… pleasant on all the not so pleasant days the world has to offer. “I… because I like it,” I said.

He studied me, “surely there’s more to it than that?”

“I… it’s quiet, I like the atmosphere, the coffee’s great, I have nowhere else to be. Does there have to be a definitive reason?”

“No… I ‘ve just always thought you were looking for something.” Brent said, cocking hs head to check the bar for customers.

“What, like a girl. Love?” I laughed.

“Maybe, I don’t know. You’re the only regular… regular person that comes in here. I thought there must be a deeper meaning. An ex-girlfriend, a wife maybe. Some connection that I couldn’t possibly make.”

I sat for a moment, thinking. “No… I just like it here.”

“You’re always alone?” Brent prodded.

“I suppose so. I like my own space. I don’t have very many friends. In fact, you’re the only person I could call that…”

“Just me?” He said, smiling, before retracting it instantly. “That’s a little sad.”

“I don’t think it’s sad… just different from the norm. People generally don’t like difference. That’s the problem.”

“You could be right.”

The bell rang, and the door closed. Brent looked over, before glancing back. “I’m invited to a party tonight, you wanna come?” He smiled.

“You’re inviting me to a party?”

“Sure, you can be my plus one. You in?” I look at him, a shy smile on my face. Of course, he is being deadly serious. Need I question that at all?

“Alright…I’d like that.” I said, nervously.

Over the past few months I’d  been making it my directive to say YES! to things, and open myself up to the world. This was a opportunity. At the very least, it was that. At the most… something more. Maybe Brent was right. Maybe all that time I had been looking for something other than good coffee and a place to read. Maybe I had been hoping for something to happen.

I didn’t know. I didn’t think it mattered so much.

Though I remember feeling Brent meant more to me than most things in my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny Stories – A Bewildered Chamber

A Bewildered Chamber


Everything was dark. It seemed as though I had entered a world of pure night. Nothing could be discerned in the blackness. I tried putting my hand in front of my eyes, but I saw nothing. As far as I knew, the hand might not have existed. I felt my heart race. Darkness had always induced a painful fear within me. It wasn’t the darkness itself I found disturbing, but what the darkness might hold. The world which could not been seen. For there was no reason for it to take the same shape at night as it did in the day. Only one thing seemed scarier than the unknown, and that was knowing all.

The first thing I thought was: How do I escape, how do I rid myself of this terrifying world of black? But that’s the thing about being in the dark, it makes the answers a lot harder to find. Impossible to find, even.

Attentively I moved forward, step by step, with both my suspicious hands outstretched in front of me.  I can’t remember how long it took, or haw many steps I made, but my hands came to rest against a hard surface. It was wet, slimy and cold. Knowing there was something there, but not knowing what that something was made me wretch in fear. I backed away, walked the other direction. There, after a little more time I felt the slime, and the cold, and all the unending fear that came with it.

I tried all directions, yet no matter which I took, the wall always seemed to be there. A wall that sapped me of hope, and of life. I was encircled in this chamber of perpetual nothing, of un-regretful dark and pure misery.

There was nothing I could do about it. Not unless I somehow happened upon a light switch, but that seemed painfully unlikely.

Tiny Stories – Waiting For Mars

Waiting For Mars 


The thrusters engaged and we blasted out of orbit. Thanks to the g-force normalising system, I barely felt a thing. Though, as I peered out of my porthole, the stars began to pass by, slowly at first, but gaining in momentum. Until they blended into blurred streaks that cut through the black of space.

For a moment, in my cabin, sitting on the small bed, I closed my eyes. If I’d known any different, I might have been back home, in my own bed. It might have been any day on Earth. Any boring day, just like all the others. But it was not. I was on a Vacation Ship to the Oort Cloud and back. A luxurious passage that only a few could afford. A trip through emptiness. And yet, just the thought of it was enthralling – a journey through space. Those aboard, we were the pioneers to the future of humanity, the future of its leisure. It was a pleasure we undertook with all our hearts… and wallets of course. Nevertheless, to be one of the first humans on such a vacation, it was priceless.

At eight in the evening, I took a shower, drank a small glass of a fine Scotch, and left my tiny room behind. I would be mistaken to believe that room was the most glamorous part of the ship, because it wasn’t by far. Neither was it meant to be. It was simply a place to rest your head after a long day. A cocoon in which to await the next excursion.

The door locked automatically behind me. I entered a corridor hundreds of feet long. People of all shapes and sizes buzzed past. Some already in the early stages of drunken slumber. I smiled. These were the first people to be partying in space, enjoying themselves in the false gravity. I laughed. It was a preposterous thought. All this indulgence, this money, the pointlessness of it all. And yet, it was nothing but brilliant.

As I reached the end of the corridor, music began to fill my ears. I latched onto the trumpets, the saxophones, the percussion – all aspects of the big band ensembles that has been a major selling point for the trip. My footsteps hit the deep maroon carpeting, keeping in beat with the rhythm.

The room opened up into a reception-like area with two red-curtained doors leading through to the main social space of the ship. A relaxed place with music, drinks, and good food – the mainstay of the trip. I entered, gazing upon this place in reality for the first time. We’d all seen the pictures, the models. Though, they really did this place no justice. In all its glory, it was a magnificent sight to behold. Towards the very rear, the room dropped away to an auditorium from which the live music leaked from. In front, many tables were positioned in various settings. People crowding around all of them. Smiles covering their faces, glints in their eyes. Numerous bars lined the sides of the rooms. And many waiters and servers milled about, taking orders, delivering food and drinks. It was mad, but in a completely respectable way.

I straitened my tie, and headed for the nearest bar. Tending it was a smart-looking man in his late twenties, he smiled at me, graciously waiting for my order. “Whisky, straight, double. Thanks,” I said.

“Any preference, sir?” He replied with a wide smile.

“Any good Scotch will do just fine.”

“Of course,” the bartender nodded, before he poured my drink.

Sipping the whisky, I glanced out over all the commotion, wondering what I might do, if anything. The Scotch was good too, even better than the bottle in the room. Then again, for the price, I suppose it should be. I reminded myself, this was a once in a lifetime experience, and experiences of this kind are worth more than all the money in the world.

I took a seat in the auditorium. Watching the big band below, I listened for a while. Letting each instrument, each note fill me to the brim. I was in space, in a suit, drinking whisky, listening to jazz – and I didn’t even know it.

Someone sat next to me, throwing themselves into the plush chair, almost knocking my whisky onto the floor in the process. I stared in their direction, a look of disgust no doubt covering my face. “Hey,” the person said. It was a woman. For a moment I lost my words as my eyes trailed down her dark green dress and back up to the ornate gold necklace hanging around her neck. She was beautiful.

“Hey,” I replied. “You almost spilt my drink.”

“Ah, yes. Sorry about that. Shit like that costs a fortune here. It’s not like we paid for the tickets, right?” She smirked.

“Right…”

“So, what’s your reason for being here?” She asked.

“Because, why not?” I replied. I couldn’t see any other answer.

“Ah, you’re one of those…”

“One of who?”

“You know, the people who think they are entitled to everything. Those that think the world is their playground. Those that live vicariously through hedonism.”

“I do not ‘live vicariously through hedonism!’ Christ, what does that even mean…”

“That’s one of the symptoms, of course… delusion.”

“Why are you here then? If it matters so much…” I asked, becoming annoyed.

“I’ve always been fascinated with space,” she said.

I held my arms out wide. “And that’s a good enough excuse, better than mine? There’s no space here… just indulgence.”

She looked offended. “Okay… let’s agree to disagree. Simply, there’s no rational reason to be here. But then again, isn’t that the same for most things?”

“So what, you’re a nihilist now?” I laugh.

“No, not quite. Though it has its pulls.” Her face remained straight, as she looked at me with her impossibly dark eyes.

“You’re funny.”

“Well… I try,” she said, her smirk breaking through. “You like the music?”

“Yeah, sure. They’re good.”

“A…ha. You must be kidding me, right?”

“No, I like them. The band after is the highlight. If you don’t like them, why stay?”

She shrugged. “The company.”

“I doubt that’s very good.”

“You might be surprised.”

Behind the stage, through the huge viewing windows, the stars remained a blur. Soon we would buzz past Mars, catching a close-up glimpse of the red planet. I wanted to be here for that, with the music playing, with a drink, with everything… and as unlikely it sounds, with her. It is funny how attraction works when you are not expecting it. I studied her, and noticing, she smiled that smile. “You want to wait for Mars?” I asked.

“Sure,” she said. “You want to buy me a drink?”

“Sure,” I said.

Afterwards, we sat there, drinks in hand, music in our ears.

And we waited for Mars.

Tiny Stories – The Subtleties of Mountain Goats

The Subtleties of Mountain Goats


Have you ever stared at a mountain goat for a significant amount of time? I have.

The funny thing about mountain goats is that they’re not funny at all. At a first glance they look somewhat amusing with their almost mythical-like appearance. And yet, after a few moments something breaks through the surface. A sadness in them, a deep, deep languid state of non-being that seems to reside within their pitifully small black eyes.   

I sat watching it for what seemed like a decade. I watched as it placed its thick woollen legs on the side of a cliff and began to climb. Up and up it went, unfaltering, unnerved, for climbing was what it lived for. Half way I thought I saw signs of second thoughts. It glanced down, hesitated for a moment. Then it returned its gaze upwards and began to ascend once again, stronger than ever.

Finally, it reached the top. With a decisive swing of its head it looked down. And then as if instructed to do so, turned around and vanished.

I felt sad. Sad that I could no longer see it climb. Sad that I couldn’t know how it felt for reaching the top. So, I just sat there, I waited for it to come back. For it to start descending the cliff. Then I would walk over and ask it: How something of its seemingly unfit size could achieve such a feat, with such apparent ease.

I don’t know how long I waited, but I never saw the goat again.

Instead I made it my mission to find the goat for myself. I stood at the bottom of the cliff, looking up at the top, over a hundred feet away. Slowly I raised a foot and pulled myself onto the first outcrop, then the second, and the third. I thought to myself that this wasn’t so bad, that I would be at the top in no time at all.

My climbing grew slower, not even a quarter of the way up. My legs felt heavy, my arms ached, and my mind began to weaken. The outcrops where I placed my feet no longer looked small, they looked infinite. Above me the cliff seemed to stretch far into the clouds, into places where no goats’ eyes had ever been. It terrified me. The knowledge that I had been trying so hard, so valiantly. And yet, I was nowhere at all.

Looking down, the ground seemed so close I could almost touch it. All I could do was descend, and hope that one day, maybe the goat might return. Then I would make him tell me the secrets to climbing the cliff, to scaling its surface effortlessly.

It was not because he was a mountain goat that he could climb the cliff – he knew something I didn’t. Of that, I was certain.

Tiny Storeis – The Perpetual Motion of Music

The Perpetual Motion of Music


My feet were cold, unsettlingly so. It felt as though my toes were clinging to life, holding onto the relative warmth of my lower leg. I got the feeling that at any moment they might let go and be forgotten forever. They were the only part of my body that wasn’t covered with a bedsheet. I tried to pull them under, but no matter how much I willed it, and how much I fought, they remained in place, like statues on a cold winter night.

Music started to play – classical. I didn’t know who, Bach, Debussy, Beethoven, I didn’t know the difference.  It was in between loud and quiet. I pictured notes bouncing from the wood panelled walls, and the thick rug that I somehow knew to be at the bottom of the bed, absorbing the low notes.

I had never thought of music as something that perpetuated emotion. It seemed to just be ‘there.’ People made it, people listened, people made money, that’s as far as I thought it went. Yet, somehow, as I lay motionless in that bed, it struck me. Notes flowed through my body, sounds that I recognised, emotions and feelings that I could share. It was a strange , as though I was being filled with an overwhelming sense of sadness, that somehow manged to border on appreciation and understanding. The music was talking to me, directly to me, something which people failed to do altogether.

And then the music stopped. Replaced by a loud screeching of someone dragging the needle of a turntable over the record. The lighting transitioned from a warm glow, to a bright incandescent assault of light. Yet, in the room there were no lights, and no record player. There was only a bed, and a rug…

Still, I tried to wriggle free. I tried to break the chains that lashed my body onto the bed. I willed for the music to come back, for the notes to stick their fingers into the locks that bound me. So that I could leave this seemingly doorless room. Enter another that wasn’t so bright, so stark and all-revealing.

Things began to fade. I saw the wooden walls fall away, revealing a world of white behind them. The ceiling floated upwards and vanished into that white. I glanced to my side as much as I could, the floor had gone. And then I saw the rug, drifting upwards much slower than the others, leaving me behind in this half warm, half cold world. I tried to reason with it, for it to fall back down to this world, to lay itself over my cold toes and make them warm once again. But it was a rug, and it didn’t know I existed.

I felt alone, exposed. I wanted the light to go out, for the whiteness to take leave as swiftly as it had come. Somewhere deep within me – after seeing those floating notes, and sharing in things I thought weren’t meant to be shared – I knew that the only way out of this bed would be for me to find the key hidden within the covers, the duvet, the pillows, wherever it had come to rest so comfortably. Then again, the idea of finding something without the ability to move, to search, was lost on me.

Maybe this bed, this world of white, a world without music, a place without anything at all, maybe it was now my home. For all I knew there was no key to unlock the chains. The chains were invisible, surely that must have meant the key was also…

How could I find an invisible key, to unlock an invisible lock, within an invisible world?