Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 165

I’m not very focused today (except work, I hasten to add). The last two nights have been what I call insomnia nights, and I’m dog-tired, and don’t actually understand why I haven’t been able to sleep. I do know that a part of me is worried about going on holiday for a whole variety of reasons, the main one being that I’m just not very good at taking holidays or relaxing. It’s an age-old battle. One of my past relationships started on the slippery slope when my then GF asked me to go on hols for 2 weeks and I wouldn’t because I thought working was more important. However, I do nowadays realise it is very important to take time out, time for myself, time for our marriage. But the worry remains, and some of it comes from the knowledge that I’ll have four weeks of work come in for the two weeks I have off. Everyone, including the sainted M, tells me that I have to put that to one side, that it’s ridiculous to assume I’m superhuman or even to try to be superhuman. I just need to get organised, load up my Kindle, and there are certain authors I have traditionally taken on hols with me, so I’ll be finding more books by them. Many of them are actually self-published, and write about romance, time travel and mystery, all stuff that takes me away from work and other real life.

The mini-keyboard has arrived, but I haven’t yet tested it. I’ll do that after dark. I am listening to Test Match Special again, because there is a very special test match final day going on in Nottingham as I write this, and the background sound of the crowd and the progress of the game have been very soothing and motivating to work along to. I am now refusing to move from my chair in the study until the game is over. I broke one of my superstitions about 15 minutes ago because I needed a comfort break (that particular tradition being that you have to stay the same seat for the duration of a period of play), and England lost a wicket. I cursed myself, of course.

Much of this will be total gobbledygook for those of you who don’t know, follow, or even like cricket, but I won’t apologise for that. This is my life. The sun is shining. Cricket on the radio. Serious things to be thought about. And for all that cricket is seen as being a posh game, it is actually, in my view, a microcosm of life, with ups and downs like life itself. Yes, I am more of the mind-set now that it is only a game, but it is the greatest team game (on a philosophic level and a practical level). Only chess and epee fencing get anywhere near matching it.

I was sitting in the sofa with M last night when a possible ending to Aggie flashed across my mind (perhaps that’s why I couldn’t sleep). I had no paper anywhere near me, so I jotted it into the notes app on my phone. And then, when I couldn’t sleep, I decided to order some A4 notebooks so that I can put the whole of this year’s blog into its own specific place, because the now 10-day backlog of sticking it in my journal has been stopping me from writing poetry into my journal. And as soon as I went back into the house at about midnight after doing that, I immediately scribbled a new poem (I haven’t read it back to myself yet, so it could be dreadful) into my now rededicated poetry and jottings notebook.

The game is over (no spoilers here). I will now go for my daily walk before the next part of Aggie’s adventure.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 119

Dark. Light. Dark. It seems an unending irregular cycle. They must be getting close. The car slows down. Maybe it’s just another bend in the road. The sound of the car, muted as it is, takes on a different quality, dull echoes from walls. This must be it. The town is dark and deserted when Aggie risks a look out of the window on her side, the streets narrow, no street lights on.

‘Middle of nowhere,’ Martin says, his face unmoving. ‘Just a few more minutes.’

Aggie says nothing, puts her hand on Lilibet’s arm, squeezes, a signal to wake up and to stay down.

A slight nod from the woman. She understands.

The car keeps rolling. Martin has his window down now, and the air flusters in, cold and tense. The echo of the car’s engine is more intense now, too. Aggie doesn’t ask. It doesn’t make sense. Her stomach tenses, her coiled instincts tighten, ready to unravel into explosive action. She drinks the fresh air, and it calms her. She has a picture in her mind of Martin and Robert together, eating; old friends, one the saviour of the other, but it’s not really clear to her which is which. The echoes stop. The car is out in the open again. fewer houses for the sound to bounce off. Martin’s skin is taut over his cheekbones. He looks old, very old, and tired. His eyes are staring ahead into the scant light of the headlights. They’re on a sharp slope down now, and Aggie smells the sea. She thinks she can hear it, too, a gentle lapping of water on rocks and sand. She sits up slowly. The road has trees on either side now, and the lights of the car point down the hill and the white heads of waves. Not so gentle, after all. The wind has picked up. The car comes to a halt at the end of a ramp that reaches into the sea.

Martin turns the engine off, and Aggie is out of the car before he can even open his door. Except for the wind and the sea, there is nothing but silence. It punctuates the rhythm of the place. A few deserted-looking houses, no lights showing. Aggie’s eyes penetrate the dark. An old amusement arcade off to the left, about a hundred dark metres away, a closed and ill-looking tea room. No point wasting any attention on them. There is no movement beyond that of seas and wind which occasionally screeches through gaps in roofs, space between the buildings, along the round metal railings.

‘Where’s the boat?’ Aggie says.

‘There should be a rowing boat at the foot of the ramp,’ Martin says. ‘With a man in it waiting for you.’

‘We’ll go then,’ Aggie says, suddenly tense.

The gun in Martin’s hand doesn’t surprise her, not now.

‘Just you,’ he says. ‘She stays.’ He points the muzzle at Lilibet. ‘I’m not letting her go.’

Aggie moves in front of Lilibet. The movement seems so slow, so perfect it’s as if Martin can’t even have blinked. He can’t understand for a second what’s changed. The skin on his face tightens even more when he realises. ‘You can’t be serious,’ he says.

‘Try me,’ Aggie says.

Lilibet doesn’t move.

‘You’d die for that?’ Martin sneers. ‘A killer.’

‘I won’t die,’ Aggie says. ‘You might.’

‘You don’t kill.’ He smiles. ‘Miscalculation, my dear.’

‘If you think so.’

‘I will not let you do this to my oldest friend,’ Martin hisses, and pulls the trigger.

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