I said quite a time ago that I’d post a short story to this blog, and finally we have one here! I really hope you enjoy it, and if you have any questions on meaning, or any constructive criticism, then please do comment – I value your thoughts. Please, read on!
A Two Month Talk
I’m up the short flight of steps and on the long curved Waterloo platform. Unzipping the foldable pocket of my bag in search for a pen I find it dusted as a chocolate truffle with finely ground nuts of sand shaken out of the shell he gave me. The shell from a Costa Rican beach; pointed and swirled, petite and pearled, if you give it a listen you won’t hear the sea, but a trickle from a distant fading estuary.
He rubbed his hands together as he exaggerated the offering from the café. “A marvellous selection.”
Pacing the sections of food and drink in this manner he pondered, or perhaps he had – like myself – already chosen his watering-hole-respite-bite and was simply doing this for show. Considering myself amused, I had watched him. With an “Ah-ha!” and a flourish of wrist, hand, and arm he plucked a fruit salad and waterbottle from their places.
Smiling he turned to me. “You chosen yours yet? Anything here tempt your fancy?”
“Just a cappuccino.”
“Sounds good. I’ll pay?”
“I was going to offer the same. Should I?”
“Well.” Smirking and tilting his head, he replied in a bemused tone. “We could pay for ourselves?”
Paying separately then re-grouping we chose a place to sit and talk overlooking the station floor. Down there we could see the people scurrying and foraging for their time; and above them we watched the clock tick-tock away the fruit they desired, but could never pluck and regain. He voiced our thought: we could jump for it from here – and I added – they would be bleeding and heaving to see us, so young, with it. We could eat it up, all that time and so many opportunities.
Smiling, he asked how I was, and so began our two month catch-up within two hours – too short for me, but we laughed. I turned the conversation to his time, he brought out his phone and we swept through images of exotic landscape, intriguing individual characters, youthful smiles and bright eyes, and the resident wildlife. Waves of ocean water swept the turtles that he released out to sea for forty years, just as jealousy threatened to catch me on the beach of admiration.
“Yes!” He said, stopping the flood. “So here.” He pointed out a particularly beautiful view. “This is where the Germans and I would open our youth hostel. We thought it would be really popular once we’d fixed up the building, because, I mean!” He stabbed the screen. “Look at that view!” He sighed and shook his head looking at the screen, and he mumbled. “Definitely worth the walk up there.”
I nodded in agreement and spent some moments with pictures of graffitied walls and forgotten views. He spoke of how he would remake the old building, I wondered about the engineering of it and the physics behind moving rubble; he pointed to Greek philosophers, I suggested Greek pillars, oh, better, he said, Roman pillars – I agreed. How difficult is it to remove graffiti though? And how many fences do you put in place to stop overly keen photographers diving down a cliffside? Questions abound.
He told me about volcanoes. About the honesty and openness of Costa Ricans. What it was like to feel both a burning sun and torrential rain in a single day. How he had built houses for well-loved people. The never dying feeling of releasing a young animal into its new life. And then my hour began, and I showed him a poem about anger. About the fear and loneliness of my schooldays. What it was to feel like both a burning sun and torrential rain in a single day. How I had collapsed my relationships with unknown people. The ever-dying feeling of holding in a struggle until given new life.
“So, that’s what you’ve got.”
“That’s what I’ve got.”
“It’s quite dark.”
“It needs to be dark.”
Silence ruled a minute and I drank my coffee as he thought. “Well,” Time progressed further before he offered closure to the sentence. “Is there light at the end of the tunnel?”
“Yes. It’s coming now.”
“Then,” Laughing “Write. It. Down.”
“I’ll write it down.” I smiled.
“Good chap!” He quipped, half serious in his joking and firmly pats my left shoulder. Looking at the large clock hanging behind my head his smile dims slightly as he considers travelling time. “I think it’s time to pop off, I’m afraid.”
“Of course, of course, no worries.”
We stood together, removed our remains, and walked to the escalator. Once it had been reached we shook hands firmly, and I asked him where he was off to next. He told me he’d go and see some friends and then be flying over to Northern Africa. I told him to take care and that I wished him well, and then we went our opposite ways. He has ventured to the unknown, the untested, the unusual, the distant. I have remained.
I’m on the long, curved Waterloo platform, waiting for a train, and preparing myself for the next meeting; how do I write the light into all this? What will I have to show him in two months’ time?