Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 192

On a train from somewhere to somewhere else. All things are blurring right now, and energy-wise I feel like I’ve not been on holiday at all. And with these parenting issues which persist I am blaming no-one but myself. It’s going to be a fun therapy session on Wednesday afternoon. The biggest thing I’m struggling with is that it is in fact not in my gift to present any solutions to anyone. But, and this is a big but, a big part of me thinks that I have probably been too soft on all the kids, and with that I mean that I have probably tried too hard to always give them what they wanted and needed, and now, in this second decade of our discontent, they sometimes can’t understand that things must be gone without. I’m not criticising them or the system; it’s a combination of poor governing by the Tories over the last 12 years, and indulgent parenting over the last 29 years. But what is a parent who does not want to provide everything for their children?

Innumerable stations under innumerable clouds. The sun does its best but doesn’t keep us warm in the shade. The train seems so so slow, and everyone on this train is wearing the self-satisfied smile of someone who knows all’s well in their world. While I’m clinging to the cliff with the finger nails of my left hand (and being functionally ambidextrous is irrelevant in this instance).

On train home now, and I have to admit I had a quick pint and met a colleague and had nother quick pint. We spoke about holidays and emotions, and how Agios Nikolaos has become, for me, almost a spiritual home, and how strange that was as M only booked it because qe could fly from Norwich. I am still adrift in that emotion, and miss that, in essence, spiritual feeling that suffused me while we were there.

Parenting conversations were useful, again, in my view. In the ultimate telling, what is our truth. What we want to believe or what we do believe? I may be naive (and will remain so), but in a world full of cynicism, I believe what I see and hear, and don’t and won’t question that. If I did, in all honesty, I could not live or do my job or write. And that really is my bottom line. Mistrust has brought me and the people I love too much pain in the past for me to return to that place.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 145

Aggie turns to face the silent crowd of reawakened humans. She looks at their vacant faces and asks herself, in that split second, why and how she has got here, why and how she missed the trap, how she ignored that the door in the floor was too easy to find, how strange it was, with this hurtling hindsight, that there were no apparent security measures in place to stop her and Lilibet from getting to this room. She sees them all, in slow motion, piling towards her and the woman she loves, catapults her body in between them and Lilibet without thinking. The puzzle she has is too difficult to solve, even with this advantage of time stopping for her when she needs it to. She refuses to close her eyes, refuses to not look death in the face, to see the overwhelming odds that will shred her and Lilibet to pieces without a second’s hesitation, because that is what these bodies, no longer really sentient will do.

‘I can’t kill them,’ she says and thinks. ‘I can’t break my vow to myself, even now, and it means I will die. We will die.’

‘I haven’t made a vow,’ LIlibet hisses behind her, somehow in the same frozen time as Aggie, a voice so sweet you would never expect it to talk of death, would never expect its bearer to be a bringer of death.

‘Wait.’ The word comes out of Aggie’s mouth more forcefully than any other word she has said or thought, a sudden expulsion of sounded breath, a sudden plea to the woman behind her, to time, to life, to just stop, to cease, to pretend the universe is holding still in the machinations of planetary motion, to suspend the General Theory of Things, and just to sit suspended in whatever it is that surrounds it without a murmur, without complaint, without pointing at the page in the great book of all things which insists that physics has to obey certain laws for everything to work the way it should work, to just suspend belief, not disbelief, and to take life into your own hands and shape it into the form you have always wanted it to take.

Aggie, in this suspended animation, takes the control box she stole from the second room they visited, the operating theatre, the theatre of everyone’s nightmares, turns it around in her hands, fiddles with the wires, digs her fingers deep into her own abdomen, and buries her bloodied fingers in the mass of flesh and muscle she finds, and connects the box to her nerves without looking, as if it is something she has done all her life, and, eyes even wider open than ever, connects herself to the network they must be connected to, sees inside of herself, and watches her light and life run along the neural pathways that control everything they do, until she sees and feels a node that leads off into the great unknown, into the centre of this web Valentine has woven, and stumbles, and falls to her knees, her eyes glazing over even as she drops slowly to the ground. She sees him, at a desk somewhere, in some unidentifiable room somewhere, no longer the meek and confused and sweaty man she last saw fumbling for words and money in the Norwich house, but a madman playing an organ of his own making, like some false pope in Avignon, smiling at her final defeat, the defeat of them all. And she sees his attack creeping in red along all those connections she has made, and his face grim and set and joyous, and the red death moving ever faster towards her and the one place she has kept secret from everyone always. And she closes her eyes, and snaps back into real time, their fingers already reaching out to rip her apart, and leaps over the running red, and invades all those pathways with her own virus of kindness and sleep, and rips the box out of her body with the last will and effort and energy she has, her blood gushing onto the floor, as they fall, not one by one, but all simultaneously, to the ground, motionless and senseless, and rigid, and breathing.

The black box falls out of her hand as the blood reaches her mouth and explodes into Lilibet’s trembling hand.

 

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