Just a quick catch up. I don’t know about you, but I’m not finding the news too inspiring at the moment. The goings-on at the Ministry of Defence which have put Dr Liam Fox in the metaphorical dock are at once laughable, bad, and not at all shocking. Overseas, the battle for Sirte (Col Gaddafi’s hometown in Libya) is very important and the fall of the city would officially end his regime, but from a journalistic view it is not much different from August’s battle for Tripoli. Later this year, it will be interesting to see whether democracy is finally achieved, or whether chaos and despotism reign again. But for now, I feel inclined to wait out the grisly last days of fighting.
I also find myself in the disconcerting position of having not read or seen the news for a couple of days. Thankfully my politics lessons are keeping me somewhat connected to current affairs, although we only discuss domestic issues, so I’m feeling a bit bereft of my main interests.
On the happier side of life, I have just been named co-Editor of the current affairs section of my school’s newspaper, The Marble. This is very exciting and will hopefully provide me with some tangible experience. I am looking forward to getting stuck in.
To make up for the brevity of this piece, here is a story.
Through the window
One of the things I love about being retired is that I can finally put some order into my life. Now that I am not rushing up and down my busy ward I have the energy to do some much needed spring cleaning. I decided to start with the most daunting task this morning – clearing out the attic, where it seems all the detritus of life has been building up for the last twenty-three years. I can not put into words how surprised I have been by the things I have found, least of all the small pocket book that fell out of a pile of work papers that I was just about to throw away. On the front, etched somewhat erratically into the fake black leather, is the name Edith Manning. I had no idea who Edith Manning was, nor how she made her way into my life. So, with curiosity and boredom making themselves felt, I sat down on a box and began to read in the gloom. I shivered slightly – suddenly I was cold.
I woke up early this morning because the chinks of light coming through the metal shutters were so bright. I sat up quickly and stared at the wall in front of me. It was so white. Too perfect. It made me itch to see the unblemished smoothness. It revolted me.
I blinked. I wondered how a window had opened itself. Maybe it hadn’t. But now I could hear the babble of a child. My child. Now I could see her, playing outside, with her hazelnut bunches dancing as she ran on the baked grass. All of a sudden she began to scream a scream that I could feel strip off my skin so that I was bare, naked. She continued to run, but now it was a deliberate run, not wandering, but straight lined. She was running away. I strained my neck to see what had scared her but nothing was there.
I blinked and now she was older – eight or so. Her face, although delicate, was bruised and swollen on one side. She looked ugly. Her top lip was split in the corner where dried blood made a lump. She flinched and I heard the sound of flesh being slapped. Harsh. Her white cheek turned instantly crimson, I could imagine blood rising under her skin. I had no idea how that had happened – nothing had touched her.
I blinked again and the window had gone. I was staring at that heinous white wall again. An unnoticed door opened and a woman appeared. She was wearing very odd clothes – a white pinafore over a white shirt and blue skirt. I shuddered from the crisp order of her outfit and the meticulous arrangement of her black hair, which was done up in a tense bun. I looked for the window again, but still it was not there. The woman was approaching me very slowly. She looked a little worried, haunted even. She had something in her palm, which she eventually handed me and instructed me to swallow. I inspected the small, white, white, legless insect in my hand. Not to be trusted. I had a feeling she would force me to take it, whatever it was, so I pretended to place it on my tongue. I gulped loudly. She relaxed, instantly, and bustled off out the door. I unclenched my fist and stared at the satanic thing for hours.
The dim light bulb above my head blew with a sharp click and I jumped, startled by the darkness. The outlines of my surrounding blurred but I continued to stare at the diary in my hands. Now I understood why it was that Edith never improved. I shook my head; I should have made sure she had taken her pills. Even now I could see her in that up-right chair staring at the wall. She used to pick at her hands and make them bleed. I could not say how many times I had pleaded with her to stop. She never ate, I remembered that too – how thin and emaciated she had been. If she had carried on like that, she must have passed away years ago. I suddenly felt that I should have stayed at the mental health facility. I did not believe that I could have saved her though. I was not that naive. Some people do not want to be saved.