Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 101

This will sound weird. I have swapped my study slippers for my house slippers. Broadcasting standing up, I noticed that, because the (now ex) study slippers just have their back folded down, it was uncomfortable to stand in them for any length of time, as the folded down edge cut into the sole of my foot. So I have actually been broadcasting and doing any other standing in here in my socks, and, although the floor is insulated it, still quite cold, and I had the feeling that the cold was travelling up my legs and making everything cold. The (now ex) house slippers don’t have a back, so I can just stand in them without anything cutting into my feet. Hence the swap. And now I’m standing here typing and my feet are warm, having finally transferred soe of my writing tools to this other machine (broadcasting) in the study. And yesterday’s mumblings were written standing here in my socks. Silly little details which make me sound like a fussy stander, but if it helps, it helps. A standing desk attachment for my work desk should arrive today, so we’ll see how that goes.

I did ask myself yesterday if standing up to write was actually inhibiting my creativity, because I found it very difficult to write the post and Aggie. Perhaps it was because it was the first time ever that I tried to write a sustained narrative standing up. All this is odd and new to me, but I’m at the stage where I need to try everything to get back to my back functioning normally. And, yes, I am doing stretches and relaxations etc etc, and it does all help, although it still leaves me wondering if there is an other pain-free side for me to get through to. When I was really struggling with my back in 2003 (I think) in Norway, when I was having acupuncture two or three times a week, when I was coming out on the other side, I came across an article that talked about how back pain was actually the manifestation of fear, that back pain didn’t actually really exist, and that helped me a lot at the time. I tried to find it online yesterday (I had saved it to my favourites in my browser at the time, but that was probably 10 machines ago, at least), but couldn’t. I instead found any number of interesting articles about how fear can cause and then further back pain because the fear of pain can cause muscle tension, unhealthy posture, over protection (and resulting poor biomechanics), and a host of other issues. So combatting fear is actually the best way t look after your back. It’s just that combatting fear, any fear, is actually easier said than done.

My alarm went off way after M’s (which I didn’t hear), so I’m exhausted and running late, and need some breakfast.

What struck me about yesterday’s writing is that writing is weird without anything of the author in it. Emotionless isn’t good.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 58

Anna doesn’t move. Aggie drops the empty syringe onto the floor of the car. The crashing rain masks any sound it might make. No-one has noticed anything. She runs her hands up and down the side of Anna’s body closest to her. There is no option. ‘Stop in the next layby,’ she says.

‘What?’ Marit doesn’t turn round, her hands gripping the steering wheel tightly. ‘Are you mad?’

‘Just do it,’ Aggie says. ‘Please.’

‘Why are you so crazy?’ Zav says across Anna. ‘We’ve just got going again, and it’s dangerous.’ He ignores what he thinks is Anna’s sleeping shape.

‘I know what I’m doing,’ Aggie says.

‘I don’t know where the next one is,’ Marit says.

‘There’ll be one soon,’ Katharina says. ‘It’s that sort of road. People always needing to stop and let their children out for one thing or another. Truckers needing to take a leak.’

‘Mormor!’ Marit is horrified by the vernacular.

‘Oh, come on, it’s life,’ Katharina says.

This time Zav does notice something. ‘She’s a bit tired, isn’t she?’ He nudges Anna. No response. ‘Come on, old girl. Wakey wakey.’

‘She won’t wake up,’ Aggie says.

‘What?’ he says, stares at her.

‘I’ve sedated her,’ Aggie says. ‘She’s a danger.’

‘What do you mean?’ he says.

‘We didn’t check her for wires,’ Aggie says.

‘You could just have asked her.’

‘It doesn’t work like that. Maybe she doesn’t even know.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘The people who…’ Aggie realises he doesn’t know anything about the past she and Anna share. ‘Something in the past, that’s all. I need to check something.’

‘In the bloody rain?’ he says. ‘How are you going to check in the rain?’

‘She’ll just get wet,’ Aggie says.

‘There,’ Katharina says. ‘You can pull in here.’

Marit doesn’t even have to brake suddenly, so slowly is she driving, turns off the road onto the vacant asphalt of the ancient layby, and the car pulls to a halt.

‘Leave it running,’ Aggie says. ‘And turn the heating on full. We’ll need it. … And don’t look.’ She pushes open her door, lifts Anna up with one arm, and carries her out of the car, slams the door behind her. Trees overhang this place, so there is some respite from the storm, and Aggie thanks whatever stars there are to thank that it’s not thundering or lightening. She lays Anna down on the grass below the trees, and starts undressing her. Gently. Until she’s only in her underwear. ‘Sorry,’ Aggie whispers. The rain is running down her face, down her neck, inside her coat and shirt. She runs her hands down Anna’s legs, down to her feet, feeling for any unnatural unevennesses there might be. Nothing. She runs her fingertips along Anna’s soles. Again nothing. Her hands feel their way across Anna’s belly, looking for unnatural protuberances. She thinks she feels some hardness where none should be, digs her fingers into the flesh, feels around that shape under the skin. ‘Dammit,’ she hisses, tastes the rain on her lips, on her tongue. It’s getting too cold to do this, although she knows her fingers won’t lose their feeling. It’s like with tiredness; she can feel the cold but she doesn’t feel cold. There are no goose bumps on Anna either, her skin perfectly smooth except for this shape. The kneeling Aggie rocks back and runs her hands through her soaking hair. She leans over Anna, so that the others can’t really see what she’s doing, knows her massive shape is probably hiding most of this from them, and the rain on the windows hopefully hiding the rest. She takes a deep breath, clenches and unclenches her right hand, and digs into Anna’s flesh until the blood comes, until she’s disconnected and pulled out whatever that shape is, and drops it into her pocket. The ends of her fingers glow as she runs them across the wound, tinier than it should really be had she reached into Anna’s body without a scalpel, and as they glow, the wound closes and heals, sizzling under the heat from Aggie’s fingers. She pulls Anna’s clothes on again, no matter that they’re soaked, picks her up, and takes her back to the car, opens the door with her free hand and gently lays Anna back onto the seat.

‘What the hell?’ Zav says.

‘We’ll dry.’ Aggie bends down, throws the syringe out of the still open door, and pulls it closed against the rain. ‘You can drive again now.’ She pulls the device that was in Anna’s belly out of her pocket, and looks at it. ‘Oh,’ she says, almost to herself.

‘What is that?’ Zav says.

‘It was controlling her,’ Aggie says. ‘Except it’s not working.’

‘How can you tell?’ he says.

‘The batteries last forever,’ Aggie says. ‘But this one’s dead.’

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