Richard Pierce

Life

Day 109

Yesterday seemed incomplete somehow. I even started writing a poem about it but it petered out in the sand, and with my attention distracted by a TV programme about home midwives in Bradford. There were tears, of course, for M and I, remembering the births of the children, worrying about them now as adults, and M’s unfulfilled dream of being a midwife or a doula, a dream which somehow seems unattainable now. Why the incompleteness of the day? Perhaps it was because M had to work, because I worked for four hours or so, and finished when she finished instead of dragging my hours at the work desk beyond what’s reasonable as I sometimes do. Perhaps because A, and M, and I went for a walk across the heath at 5pm and the light seemed so bright, and people so happy, and life somehow unburdened for a few short minutes. And then we thought it was 10pm at 9pm, and found something else to watch after the intensity of the midwives, and then watched the news, shortened on one channel, and propaganda-ised on the other. And then it was time for bed unless we wanted to be exhausted again this morning. And we are exhausted again this morning.

R wrote about lost days yesterday, and it seems to be something that’s a constant for the two of us, intertwined souls that we seem to be, although always thousands of miles apart. I often think this intertwining is that of all creative souls who question their own creativity in one way or another, who are constantly aware that there is really actually only a finite time they have to put together bodies of work that might withstand the probing of posterity, aware of the fact that we only have a fraction of a moment to make something that might last until the sun finally goes out in four billion years time, and that might somehow have escaped this galaxy and out into the universe before then, and perhaps (and hopefully) out into different universes before then. Thought and art can’t be bounded by the paper, the media, it’s made on. It’s an essence of the soul, and the soul has no physical barriers, can fly beyond the borders of the physical, beyond the borders of whatever this place is that we inhabit, and explore all those things we can’t see, and do it at a speed faster than light.

Sometimes this soul existence beyond death worries me, because it’s so unphysical. For a man who is very physical, there’s always the question of how fulfilment and peace can be achieved in a state of floating soul nirvana. Perhaps my priorities will change when I reach that state of being able to rush from one end of the universe to the next, when I can delve into any number of universes in the blink of an eye, and back again. Thinking of it like that, thinking of being able to be in a multitude of places at almost the same time, in some form or another, makes me realise that physicality will probably be the last thing on my soul’s mind as it whizzes around the vacuum.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 66

‘You never got hurt anyway, not in any of the fights I saw you in,’ Anna says.

Aggie avoids her eyes in the rear view mirror, stares at the road ahead. ‘You were always better than me at everything,’ she says, to no-one in particular. ‘Flying through the air like you were weightless. Braver than me, smaller, more graceful.’

‘That was just your imagination,’ Anna says.

‘We need to go cross country,’ Aggie says, rips the car from the dual carriageway at ridiculous speed without even looking at the road signs. She has a map in her head, of where they need to be, how they will get there, a convoluted solid line tracing their route from here to there. ‘You might as well eat what there is. The coffees might have spilled, though.’

‘They haven’t,’ Marit says, bends forward when the car isn’t swinging around the bends of the now country lanes. ‘How do you know which way to take, anyway?’ She hands out sandwiches and coffee. Aggie grabs one half of a sandwich with her left hand, takes a bite.

‘I just know,’ Aggie says, her mouth still half full, chewing, shedding bits of bread all over her lap. ‘Trust me.’

‘It doesn’t explain how those guys tracked us down.’ Zav’s voice from behind her. ‘It’s got to be you they’re tracking.’

‘I’ve checked myself at least twice,’ Aggie says. ‘And I can’t find anything.’ She takes another bite. ‘And there’s no explanation for why they’re using outdated weaponry, either.’

‘That’s unimportant,’ Zav says.

‘Is it?’ Aggie says, impatiently. ‘If it’s Valentine gone rogue, then he might have been keeping tabs on Cassandra and Marit and Katharina. So he knows where the mystery father lives. So he knows we’d go looking for him, that we’d find our way to York because that’s the most obvious thing for us to do.’

‘But it wasn’t that obvious,’ Marit says.

‘Only because we thought Valentine didn’t know about your father.’

‘Even if he does know, he might not know exactly where Dad is in York.’

‘Which is why they were following us,’ Aggie says. ‘It makes sense to me.’ She rubs the crumbs off her mouth. ‘Did you meet at his house when you met him, or somewhere else?’

‘A restaurant near the Minster,’ Marit says. ‘Cass … Mum said it was the best place to meet. And nice food.’

‘Hang on,’ Zav says. ‘Assuming Aggie is right, does that mean Valentine knows what your dad looks like?’

Marit shrugs. ‘How should I know? Being involved in all this shit is bad enough, but don’t expect me to be able to think about it like you lot do. Spies and shit? That’s not what I signed up for.’

‘And the poison in the biscuits?’ Aggie says.

‘My instructions,’ Katharina says. ‘I always hated Valentine. I’d have loved for him to come and see me and to have fed him poison biscuits.’

‘A bit harsh,’ Zav says.

‘I agree with you for a change,’ Aggie says.

‘You youngsters don’t have enough rage anymore,’ Katharina says. ‘Crimes of passion were always the best.’

‘Bestemor!’

‘Well, it’s true. Even the Norwegians manage them. Used to do anyway.’

Zav snorts. ‘Anyway … Putin would have sent people with Novichok, likje he did for the Skripals in Salisbury, not some bunch of fucking amateurs laid out by our friend here driving. So this is definitely Valentine. But what’s the end game?’

‘It’s too early to say,’ Aggie says. ‘And it’s not accurate to say they were amateurs, nor that Putin’s not involved. Black ops would use weaponry that’s not directly linkable to anyone.’

‘So you’ve answered your own question.’

‘Even I need time to think, occasionally’ Aggie says. ‘And now we’d better get a move on. I don’t want them to beat us to finding Marit’s dad.’ She puts her foot down and rushes them through the red lights.

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