Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 272

One of the weirdest things about yesterday’s procedure was my loss of memory. Or, to be more precise, to have temporarily lost “the ability to create new memories,” which is what one of the medications in my sedative does, according to its description. I was standing in the garden yesterday afternoon, still on a high from the meds I think, and trying to recall how M and I got from the Reception of the building where I had my procedure to the car. It was a total blank. I asked M about it, and she told me that she’d had to grab me a few times on the way from the building to the car to stop me from falling into the bushes in the car park. I couldn’t recall any of that. She said it was like taking hold of someone who was really drunk. And I can’t remember anything about the drive home, except for seeing Earlham Police Station on a roundabout, and getting out of the car in our drive in the pouring rain. Funny, but scary, if you think about what could be done with such a drug if it was used illegally in a variety of situations (that’s how writers’ minds work, threading real life into fiction and asking what-ifs all the time – just read On Writing by Stephen King – what if is the question all novels germinate with; poems as well in my view – poems are sometimes just extrapolations of an idea, not actually a recounting of real events).

In truth, I still feel a little off kilter this morning, somewhere in the clouds, and I have a tsunami of words in my head competing with each other to get from there into a more physical form, which is one reason I’m not actually starting work until the appointed time rather than starting as soon as I have got up, had my water and Manuka honey). Just trying to get them out so that the next wave doesn’t drown me.

My great friend Ren Powell has started blogging again this week. Her voice is a comfort and an illumination. The poet’s poet, in my view. To find myself surrounded by her words is always being in a safe place for me. And just because there is comfort for me in hearing her voice, it doesn’t mean that it’s always comfortable reading. I think what she writes is always about the conflict between our inner life and our outside life. A reflection on the unpartitioned nature of writers’ minds, with which I mean that it confirms for me that writers can’t compartmentalise like most rational people, that all parts of our lives get mixed up into one colourful (sometimes joyous, sometimes incredibly overwhelming and frightening, sometimes confusing) pattern, because we need it that way to create, because we can’t build walls between the separate parts of our lives (because for us they aren’t separate), because all aspects of our life inform our creations.



WITH Valentine? Aggie almost drops the phone.

Tracking him. Not WITH with!


Too easy to track.

We need to meet. I don’t understand. Has he got a clone?

He must have.

Was he near Kremlin when this happened?

I think so.

Meeting vital. Can’t convey everything in text.

Can’t happen. Not now. Not yet.

Frustrating and stupid. How can you expect me to trust you?

You’ve come this far.

Irrelevant. These deaths change everything. A helicopter flies low of the house, and Aggie wants to stand on the roof like King Kong and rip it out of the sky. I need to get out of here. Don’t trust Marion.

Trust her. She’s good.

Aggie doesn’t answer.

I need to go.

Aggie ignores Cassie’s message. She should just try to get out of Washington some other way. She shakes her head at the thought. Which is the real Valentine? she types. And waits. No answer. Five more minutes. Nothing.

‘Fuck it.’ Aggie says it out loud this time rather than just thinking it. She looks at the plain curtains, the plain bed, the plain wardrobe, all these anonymous pieces of furniture just put in here to serve the purpose of accommodating whoever it is Marion plays host to. Not much to show for being important, is it? Not much for being part of a group that says it wants to save the world. Appearances aren’t important, fair enough, and here Aggie runs her fingers along the thick material of the curtains (and the material does speak of wealth although it has not personality, although it probably hangs in hundreds of thousands of similarly wealthy houses and bedrooms), but what would be wrong with something cheaper but more expressive. ‘Fuck. I want to go home.’ She closes her eyes and sees Lily, Lily’s hair, her smile, her arms, her eyes, those sad eyes, and takes a deep breath. No option. She opens the door, creeps to the top of the stairs. No sound. Too far up. She tip-toes down to the next floor down, and the top of the stairs there. The murmur of voices drifts up to her, but she can’t tell if it’s just two, or if it’s three. She creeps further down, hopes the stairs don’t creak. Stops as soon as it feels like the particular step she’s on will. The voices are louder now. And there are three of them.

‘You can’t keep her here forever,’ Marion says.

‘She could be a danger to herself and others,’ Hal says.

‘What, a visiting lecturer?’ Peak harshness from Marion’s voice. ‘You’re being ridiculous.’

‘She’s an alien, for fuck’s sake, Marion. And she only arrived not even twelve hours ago. And she’s in a house near the White House with a woman who has close links to the administration.’

‘And that makes her and me suspects? They’ve caught whoever did it.’

‘They’ve caught who they think did it.’ Hal’s voice is a vicious growl by now. ‘Do you really think some dippy intern could have done this on her own.’

‘Are you insinuating that all young female interns are dippy?’

‘Oh, stop already with this Women’s Lib stuff.’

‘I can’t believe you just said that, Hal,’ Marion says, the neutrality now in her voice dangerous.

The sound of a chair being pushed back. ‘I … I didn’t really mean that,’ Hal says. ‘The thing is I’m worried about the university and us. I don’t know how this could play out.’

‘None of us do.’ Bill’s voice is calm. ‘But the university doesn’t depend on the government for its funding.’

‘But it does for its reputation,’ Hal says. ‘That, Bill, is why you’re here, and I’m Dean.’ Silence. ‘I’ll see myself out. And we’ll meet in my office at 8 a.m. sharp.’

Footsteps. The door opening and closing.

Aggie completes her descent onto the ground floor. ‘I heard all that,’ she says when she reaches the back room. ‘Genius, but erratic? Was that a joke, Marion?’

‘I guess unhinged would be a better word right now,’ Marion says.

‘I need to go back into the White House,’ Aggie says. ‘Cassandra says she saw Valentine in Moscow earlier, and the real one can’t be in two places at the same time. I don’t really want to, but I don’t have a choice.’

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  1. Ren Powell

    30th September 2022 at 05:35

    Here we are again with the dovetailing thoughts- Making memories – and not being able to!
    And finding comfort and inspiration from one another. I so appreciate you! This is an official Boop.

    1. Richard Pierce

      30th September 2022 at 08:38

      It was weird yesterday morning to have written the first (non-fiction) part of the blog, then to nip across to you and to find you’d been writing about memory, too. We’ve always had this connection – I think we’re old souls. I appreciate you very much.

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