Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 107

Easter Sunday used to be the day on which I put everything to one side and spent the day painting and listening to classical music. I haven’t done that for some years, because we’ve been in transition for at least the last 3 years. We put the house in Stradbroke on the market in 2019, so I never really felt settled enough to try to make visual art from then. And we still have upheaval right now because the house/garden is a construction site. And the study has become a temporary storage site for most of the stuff that was in the garage, which is roofless at the moment. I have, however, kept all the off-cuts of paper from gluing the blog into my journal so that I can turn them into semi-A4 works of art when I get round to it.

On my daily walk yesterday, I thought about sex, work, and depression. It makes a change from thinking about death. The thoughts about sex may have had something to do with a small discussion I had with M, F, and J on Friday when we were talking about the book about the emotional impact of parenting I started writing years ago and never finished, the ultimate aim of which is actually to put people off having children. M, F, and J said it would never work because people would just carry on having children. Because they like sex so much? I said. They all shook their heads. So there we have it. There’s something other than the love of sex that makes people have children. Personally, I hate the expression “biological imperative,” and am glad it was not verbalised on Friday, because I think it’s a misogynistic phrase. To finish this paragraph on an up, M did remind me that I am still the most broody man on the planet, especially when I see a baby. He turns the proof on himself.

I am writing these paras between uploading the Radio Stradbroke podcasts I am so behind with, as well as listening to Kimmy broadcast live. And who said men can’t multi-task?

My dreams last night centred around me being convinced that I had mis-plotted Aggie somewhere. I kept drifting in and out of this, one minute believing it to be true (and being part of the story, which I most certainly am not) and realising it wasn’t true and that, in any case, it’s a first draft, and that the completed thing might actually never see the light of day. The thing I worry about most is that it’s occupying my mind more than The Mortality Code which is not a good development. So I have resolved that I am going to have to finish that particular novel by the end of June. I’d better get writing.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 64

Aggie shrugs. She’s used to this. Always being the outsider, always being the one everyone hates. Always looking in from the outside but never being on the inside. She only ever felt loved when she’d been in the mentor’s arms that first night they’d found her. She doesn’t actually care any more. She doesn’t feel alone, because alone is all she’s ever known, all she can remember. She can’t recall ever having been part of a family, or part of a relationship. She looks across to the three of them again, now in a tight circle talking about whatever it is they can find to talk about. She’s sure it’s not her, sure it not what might lie ahead, just things to exchange to get to know each other better. She shrugs again, picks up the flat black box Anna dropped on the car seat, and opens the car door. Quietly, making herself as small and inconspicuous as always, she walks away in the opposite direction, away to where there are some sparse and leafless trees, where the sound of the road grows louder and she can let it drown out her thoughts.

There’s a bench here. She lowers herself onto it, stares out into the distance where the noise of the traffic is coming from. It’s incessant, and she finds she likes it, not just as a distraction, not just as a mechanism to distance herself from the thoughtlessness, as she sees it, of the others, but as a method of relaxation, something to help her gather her thoughts. She turns the little black box over in her hands, strokes the wires that were connected to Anna’s nerves as gently as she can, tries to imagine what it must be like to have something artificial as part of your body, and can’t imagine it. It makes her temporarily shiver, the thought of being so invaded. But if you never knew about it, she thinks, it wouldn’t disgust you or make you feel like you weren’t a human any more. It would just be there, and odd angular shape amongst the odd curved shapes of the rest of your flesh and bones. She opens her coat to the cool evening breeze, runs her fingers down her elongated ribs again, feels the warmth of herself under those enormous fingers, those massive finger tips searching and probing. Nothing unusual again. When was the last time she’d been to the doctor? Never. She had registered, because Valentine and Cassandra had insisted, because they’d said it was their duty as employers to make sure she was safe and looked after. But she’s never been, has never been ill. Dentist the same – just the regular check-up every six months. Just the same compliments – that her teeth are magnificent, bright and white and shiny, seemingly indestructible. That’s something that makes her smile, always makes her smile. And that feeling of absolute peace when she lies down in the dentist’s chair, and closes her eyes, lets the music and care wash over her while she has her mouth wide open, when the spring inside her uncoils just a little and she feels safe again, for once. Maybe she should go to the dentist every day.

As she looks up again, across to the low building that contains the shops and restaurants, she sees Katharina come out, her hands full. Sees her get to the car, realise it’s empty, and sees the brief flash of rage across Katharina’s face, distorting it for a split second, watches her pull the door open and drop the sandwiches onto the seat, and carefully put the tray of coffees on top of them, slam the door, march across to where Zav and Marit and Anna are now running around like tiny children let loose in a playground, and start gesticulating at them to get back to the car. Sees her turning around and scanning the area for Aggie, and sees four dark shadows detach themselves from the side of the hotel and walk slowly and decisively towards Katharina, hands surreptitiously inside their jackets, slow motion killers.

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