it’s when the rain stops falling that we have to worry, not when it begins. as it rains, green leafs spring from the earth and raise their bodies skyward to feed mouths wide open to catch the drops, even by way of taps and pipes. the rain gives color to the death that would become those who fear its floods more blatantly than could any medicine created by the hand of humans intervening. simple raindrops fill our minds and our flesh and give life where life was not. when it stops, though. that’s when we must worry. when there is no more rain; if it comes not, there shall be drought. there shall be heat. there shall be open mouths awaiting droplets and leaves and they shall be dry and empty of all but feet. the earth is a moist and sultry flesh upon which we are but miniature hairs, preparing to fall. its skin grows warmer, more brittle with age and is burned in the sunlight, drying it and allowing the hair to fall from its no longer smooth surface. nothing turns back time, only slows the process but perhaps that is enough for skin to recover and rains to return to replenish the droplets, the leaves, fill the mouths and satisfy the moist awakenings of the goddess within the land. perhaps we will be witnesses to the awakening. perhaps it will be too late. perhaps it already is.
somewhere, over the rainbow, they tell me the bluebirds fly. curious, that, as they can’t even see the rainbow from where they are. but true it may be. i saw a rainbow this morning and over it were these unmistakable birdlike forms. wait. those were airplanes. at least they were blue. i guess you can’t have it all. makes the song seem a little less romantic but definitely a lot more practical. under the rainbow and those planes may have had a bit of a rough ride and an ocean landing, i expect.
sometimes you have to wonder about the rain. it was one of those times today. i wondered about the rain as i lay there on the grass. we always think of rain in england as a cold, miserable experience, wind blowing it under umbrellas as we gather together outside tube stations and under bus stops. but this is not that rain. how can the same water falling from the same clouds be so different in here? there is no wall, no border. we are still in england. nothing has changed. everything is different. it is warm, a bath that doesn’t simply surround but floats in the breathless air and sticks to what can only be called clouds of breath that can’t be seen but can be felt as the swirl around us. i am certain that i will be soaked just as thoroughly by this rain as i would by the water that breaks umbrellas and earns the curses of commuters but there is no frustration, no annoyance here. i feel enjoyment in a way that water in the sky should never in my mind be capable of creating.
jumping from her chair as she heard the grating sound of metal upon metal, angela reached the window of her cottage on the south downs in time to see a vision that had only appeared possible as a theory in her mind, not something to happen in real life. there was perhaps one train a day this far out from civilization, two at the most but never running at even similar times. the collision between two, one obviously a passenger train and the other a flaming mess of burning liquid, was something that she could not understand, believing her eyes or not. running through the door into the snow hanging limp in the air, she called out to her sister without even thinking that she had left for the weekend and could certainly not hear her from her hostel in amsterdam. angela pounded one step after another in the direction of the flames, fire pouring high into the darkening sky. how could this have happened? there is not another cottage for miles. by the time anyone else sees the smoke or expects the trains to arrive, it will be too late for the passengers.
there are those who would say that it is childish. i agree wholeheartedly but i’m not sure why that is such a problem. sure i might be twenty but who says i can’t do things that don’t require vast amounts of worldly experience or high school graduation? painting is perhaps the most respected of the fine arts. blatantly professional, viewed with such talent, provided the painting is done with oil, canvas, and exactly no numbers over which to place the brush. graffiti has become an art to be reckoned with even if the vast majority of so-called artists are simply tagging things with their name and making buildings desperately require cleaning instead of painting something striking or beautiful or contemplative or even creative that could give art to a city desperately in need of it, as all cities everywhere are. still, if one says something negative about spraypaint in polite artistic company (does such a thing exist somewhere?), there would most certainly be cross words and the speaker would most likely be covered in said spraypaint relatively quickly. or whenever he next sleeps. perhaps both.
birth happened. that’s all i can say about it reliably. i know nothing else. it wasn’t until almost ten minutes later that i realized that i wasn’t in a hospital. it was either the pain or the joy. i hope it was the joy. it was the pain. i was told once that nothing hurts more than a paper cut. if i could invite the person who shared that insight with me to give birth to a four-pound child surrounded by the comfort of a newly-vacated first-class lounger on a transatlantic redeye, without the benefit of either doctor or medication, i would do so. i shall leave it at that, however. the remaining two hours of the flight into frankfurt were as uneventful as one can imagine the first two hours of life would be, surrounded by a crowd of apathetic strangers in a flying cigar, pressurized to the point of crushing the bones in a newly-formed skull. simply put, it was loud. quiet in comparison but mindlessly vibrant in the moment.
so, in a world before smart, there was this swan who gave birth and completely didn’t notice. in that same world, there was a duck, curiously enough, giving birth in the same lake at the same time. can you imagine the noise that was to be heard that morning with the honking and quacking and the father birds trying desperately not to get seen edging away in search of television sets and motoring magazines? i assure you, there were feathers to be seen flying and water churned to near boiling point. that being said, six ducklings and seven signets entered the world that day, almost as wet and sticky as the day they were conceived. this, of course, being a world before smart, is a world without counting. we shall ignore those numbers in exactly the same manner as their mothers.
pillows are the most misunderstood of creatures. they are warm and cuddly and love nothing more than to be held. some believe that they are simply tools created for resting but it is not the case. they are missing the whole point, the evolution of the pillow from its ancestor, the common sheep. there was a child many thousands of years ago who was given a lamb for her birthday, to care for, to love, to hold. she took that lamb everywhere with her but at night, she was cold and the lamb gave her warmth as they cuddled next to each other. as she grew, the lamb curiously stayed small, never grew into a full-sized sheep. that was good for her. she no longer needed the sheep’s warmth but the straw that she rested her head upon every night was rough and uncomfortable. when she became ill and took to bed for weeks, her lamb, while she was delusional with fever, crept under her head, pushed the straw aside, and lay down, giving her a soft place to rest her head. her father came to feed the lamb but the lamb barely moved and drank only a little water for the time that she was sick, until she recovered. it was this lamb that was the beginning. as the lamb had lambs of her own, she taught them that it is in the service of sore and tired heads that the would be, not to be eaten or stolen away for coats. over hundreds of generations, the lamb gave up noise, movement, eating, sleeping, all signs of life but one – thought. in fact, the lamb’s descendants became so good at thought that they could take the thoughts from the heads resting upon them. as their humans slept quietly, they stole the thoughts before they could become nightmares and replaced them with images of pleasant meadows and fleeting clouds in the summer afternoon’s haze. in time the pillows have become so talented at this that they no longer have to think to perform the task, simply need to be squeezed, held, pressed upon by a tired head. pillows are such misunderstood creatures, taken out of there element to be used in soft fighting, to press against lovers’ faces when they are to be teased, to cover a body in the light after passion is replaced by exhaustion. please do not misunderstand your pillow. treat her well and she will reward you with happy dreams. treat her as a soft weapon of entertainment and your head will be filled with the nightmares that she simply could not be bothered to eat in place of the food she no longer needs. sweet dreams.
it was the best of times; it was the worst of times. time, in fact, stood still for her, peering longingly into the water as it circled the drain. it was her custom to step out of the bath and be dry by the time the water had finally gurgled into the arcane pipework but she felt stunned to the point of inaction. time not only stood still but stopped her from standing at all. it was, after all, bedtime and darkness had fallen on the small cottage as water poured hot and steaming from the antediluvian faucet, moistening porcelain and warming the cold room as bubbles and salts mixed with steam and caused apple blossoms to fill the december night as it would be in september. plunging up to her neck in the water, splashing the floor without even noticing, holding her breath and her head under the water until it would appear to an observer that she was testing the limits of her lungs’ capacity to spontaneously cease respiration. she was typically calm. it was different this time. calm had not given way to mania, happiness, relief, or even their sad counterparts. this was shock. carla sat rigid watching the clock on the wall simply say seven minutes past eight, morning or evening making no difference, realizing only after minutes’ contemplation that the clock itself had no power to move and was stuck, much like carla herself. it was that morning that gin had left her. left in the conclusive sense, that is, not in the leaving for work as they had done every day since their wedding. when carla awoke, gin was already dressed, sitting on the end of the bed, suitcase at her feet. she simply said “i don’t need time. i don’t need to think. i know that it’s over. please try to survive without me. i won’t stop loving you but i cannot stay.”
there was a girl. an average girl. for a princess, that is. so not so average. but she looked fairly normal, a little tall, curly black hair, surprisingly foreign. amazing that her father didn’t suspect her mother of having an affair with the tailor. but that’s a story for another day altogether. they raised her as their own and her mother said nothing about it at all. her father quietly had the tailor dropped in the river behind the castle without anyone really noticing except that the quality of the suits in the city was definitely at an all time low. but nobody said anything about it at all.