Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Pytheas and the Midnight Sun

The day after Pytheas was dismissed from his job, and while the feeling of humiliation was still with him, he sat alone in his garden, in the shade of a lemon scented gum, and consoled himself with a pot of lapsang souchong tea; he had been saving the leaves for some time. He took a biscuit from a small sunny-yellow plate, moistened it in the smoky infusion, and ate it.

The warmth of the tea permeated his body; the tender afternoon air spread over him like angels’ wings; and the sweet song of small birds worked upon him like a lullaby.

Pytheas feel into a light slumber in which he dreamt he was standing upon a circular dais, a turbid sea of people swirling around him. To his left, the towering figure of his father, his booming voice: “Pytheas: you are dismissed.” The hysterically laughter of the crowd; hands tearing at him, pulling him down and drawing him amongst the tumultuous convolutions of their movements. He was badly handled, wounded, and ejected into a place of total darkness.

Pytheas awoke with a gasp. Night had fallen. All was quiet except for the chirping of crickets and the occasional croak of a frog. The tea was cold in its pot.

He picked up the yellow plate, and, for no reason at all, moved it in his hand until he was holding it like a discus. A paroxysm of anger coursed through his body, and he launched the plate through the air, feeling at first strong and godlike, but then, as the plate turned towards his neighbours house, horrified at the recklessness of his own actions.

The plate hit aa wall with a thunderous crash before bouncing off and landing undamaged on his side of the fence.

A light turned on within the house, and he heard rushed footsteps.

Pytheas hid himself within the shadows as he made his way silently back indoors.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


This did not happen.

One Friday night, a man sat alone reading in a public library. He had gone to that place in the hope that the nearness of strangers would help stave off the lonely feeling that sometimes stole over him when he was on his own.

As he read, he became more and more frustrated by his novel – the characters were too shallow for his taste – and, with a snort of disgust, he put the book down on the table in front of him.

Unfortunately for the man, the noise of his snort, and the percussive sound that accompanied the putting down of the book, were above the level of a whisper, which was the normal threshold for noise in this library – even on Friday afternoons – and the librarian and several readers shushed him in unison.

But a woman – gentle, but with a twinkle in her eye – looked across the room, saw the book and the man, and understood instantly what had happened.

She stood silently and glided towards him like a swan upon a lake.

She motioned with her large eyes for the man to follow her; and follow her he did. Noiselessly they escaped the cloistered confines of that soulless place. Then, under a moonlit sky, they walked, laughing and twirling as they went; freedom and creation flowing through them.

Later, as a fair spring breeze caressed their cheeks, he lent her his coat, and they sat and talked until the early hours of the following day.

They parted feeling reborn, complete and free. And they vowed to meet again, which they did the next day, and every day forever after.

This happened.

A man in a library put down his senseless book with a bang and a snort. Those gathered near him, including some who were browsing through the open stack, expressed their wrath through loud tut-tuts and shushes. But one woman was not shushing or tutting; and, as his eyes lit upon hers, he felt a pang of love pierce him through. He left the library rather hurriedly, then, but returned the next day, and for many days thereafter, always in the hope that he would see her again. But he never did, and the feeling of not meeting her weighed upon him and added to his loneliness.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


A foot pressing into my left eye socket wakes me. It is your foot, little girl. You are waking, too, stretching and yawning, smiling and babbling. The morning is cold and grey but your small body is full of warmth and joy.

I lift you out of bed and let you play on the floor. You stand for a moment, but your legs soon collapse beneath you, and you sink to your knees.

“Doooo,” you exclaim.

“Doooo,” I agree.

You bob up and down upon your knees and I congratulate you on your dancing. Your excitement causes you to fall backwards, and I reach out of bed and catch the back of your head in my palm.

You smile at me, then, little girl.

Little girl.

“Can you say ‘Daddy’?” I ask.

“Dooo,” you say.

“Daddy,” I say.

“Dooo,” you say.

I laugh, and you clap your hands, happy with your game.

I get out of bed and lift you up.

“Let’s find Mummy,” I say.

“Mum-me,” you say.

I laugh.

“I am not all you need, am I little girl?”

But you do not answer me. Your face is turned towards the door.

“I will always be here for you,” I whisper.

“Mum-me,” you demand.

I carry you to the kitchen where your mother is waiting.