It’s my party

imageGrey clouds, wet sky, drizzle; me, soaking it up – Uggs beyond saving, coat part-drowned, hair flat. On any other day… not so bad; but today: tragic.

I should have known there would be a rapid deterioration from here: therapist hiding behind an opaque veneer; eyes slip-sliding – mentally absent, disinterested in me; subsequent drawing consequently traumatic, submerged beneath layers of ink: shop assistants attacking, pedestrians snapping, the tube packed… Only the ‘should’ I ought to have been aware of was in hiding and I wasn’t aware of anything until afternoon turned up.

Black and blue from too much walking, talking to myself, I wander and search, visiting every known bolt-hole for a place to write. Gradually conceding, giving up; admitting defeat…

Hours later – slipping limply into a dark interior, bedraggled and worn out – I borrow a chair and invest in two cups; one’s cold and disastrous, the other’s delightful and hot.

A failed attempt at writing, and I reach into my bag, realising there is nothing for it but to bring the ‘thing’ out. Twisted and tangled, it’s grumpy and upset, anxious to be loved and lonesome without it.

Ballpoint braced, I revisit the page: pen dancing and glancing, mind whirring and incurring, repeating the lines I earlier, under intimidation, made.

A girl appears: unhappy, young; hair streaming, eyes leaking, mouth a crooked O.

Then words appear: ‘chaos’ incorrectly spelt; ‘cry’ back-to-front; ‘help’ upended. And, finally, I laugh, the irony catching up.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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A drowned rat

imageYou know the phrase: “the best laid plans?” Well, today is a bit like that: high expectations, no air. I guess I should have known, what with it starting on a deprivation of sleep. My partner snoring and coughing, my dog snorting and shuffling, trying to get comfortable but for some reason failing to do so: I rested not a jot. Watching the clock, I forced sheep over fences and pushed cows into pens; only my cattle were words and my constructions lines. I’m not sure how much I wrote or if it was any good. Not that it matters… I can’t remember any of it.

At 10am, I chose to vacate my flat, ignorant to the day’s disposition and my very-soon-to-be-entrenched response. It was quiet out. Wet too… and grey, with very little light. I acknowledged the temperature and the lack of pedestrian traffic, went to a new place, sat by a fire, drank hot coffee and wrote. Admiring the walls – metal moulds shaped like hearts, houses, eggs, hens – I snapped and posted until my enthusiasm was satisfied. In the space that opened up, I then transcribed, starting with my most recent diary.

At 11.30am, I made my first mistake, packing up and leaving instead of deciding to stay. Wandering the streets; window shopping, popping in to talk to shop assistants when the mood took me, loneliness descending like a cloud: I carried my sorrow until, heavy, I had to put it down. Then, leaving it in a doorway, I went to find a length of yarn to tie around its neck and subsequently dragged it behind me, where it became increasingly irate.

It’s now 4pm and I have only just sat. My hair is flat, my coat is wet and my nose won’t stop running. Sitting on an uncomfortable chair – wooden, slatted; what is it about London these days and the obsession with impractical chairs: doesn’t anyone realise they are totally unholistic? – I’m self-medicating with my keyboard and tea. By no means perfect: it works for now. And even if everything I am writing is a miserable waste of time, at least I feel semi-productive.

Time lags. Light fades. Background chatter rises. I want to get off, but there’s nowhere to go.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

imageTo keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter, send me your email address.

• View or buy my work at my online portfolio