Richard Pierce

Life, Sport, Writing

Day 47

Dr A, the honourable and wise dentist, says everything’s fine, the pain will settle and go away. He tells me there’s nothing to pay. I question him, tell him he needs to pay his mortgage, feed his family. He says there are things more important than money, waves me out of the building.

In the car, my phone won’t connect to the car radio, so I try to make it. The phone rings. Another dose of parental reality, feeding a need hundreds of miles away through the crackle of modern technology. Start the car. The rain is louder than the radio, and the mid-morning dark is apocalyptic.

The one-hour drive home is flooded with words and music, music and words. Visions swirl across the streets, and I have to drive through them so I don’t get lost in imagination or direction. The traffic at noon is so much worse than the non-existent rush hour traffic of two hours ago. This is counter-intuitive and contradictory. Life explaining itself in riddles.

That was all yesterday.

Today is the day after the day after. My body creaks like an old ship, and I have trouble getting out of bed, in and out of chairs, nearly fall over. Muskelkater, the Germans call it. So many muscle groups not exercised for three quarters of a year. It will pass. It has to. And while I sit there and read the news on my phone to delay the need to get up, the context of the pandemic still being a clear and present danger remembers itself to me. Things are a far way from normal, and yet often we write and act as if they were.  It’s a sobering thought that cuts through the elation of muscle aches.

All this is draft. I won’t be editing any of Aggie until 2023 – unless she disappears off somewhere, and editing becomes needless.



Sometimes, often, Aggie thinks of her notebooks (five of them hidden upstairs in the desk in front of the window of her room in the attic), as her only memories. She watches as her hand starts its minute tidy journey of letters across the page, seemingly independent of her and her mind, which wanders out of the house, along to the railway station, and onto the train which she knows is already hurtling back towards London through the now torrential rain and wind, Sir sitting in a First Class carriage, clutching the suitcase to him on his knees, looking out of the window and wishing the journey to be at an end already. She can see for herself the flatness of the countryside the train is taking him through, the flashes of lightning the windows of the carriage throw onto the grass and bushes and trees and houses and warehouses and ruined factories so close to the line and its electricity.

And separate from those moving pictures, from that displacement of her mind from the warm and safe house to the rattling and heaving train, all the languages in her head she knows and understands and keeps hidden from the world around her, this finite and tiny world she hides in behind the massive door to this house, all those languages ebb and flow and make different shapes and forms and creatures in her mind which she will never fully comprehend the meaning of, which she never wants to fully decipher because it will mean returning to the terrors of her life before this life, to the desolation of what drove her away from her origins to begin with, will force her to dig too deeply into the dirt of a past she wishes would vanish and cease to exist, and cease to trouble her.

The bread smells done, and Aggie puts down her pen, pushes herself up, bends down to reach the cooling trays in the cupboards by the oven, gets them out, hears the usual dry clanging of metal on wood as she again chides her own clumsiness as she always does when moving anything from its place to another place, opens them up onto the work surface, all this marble atop wood, all this shining on the only just burgeoning patina of the wood that was brand new when she walked into the kitchen for the first time those years ago, picks up the oven gloves with her long fingers, as outsized as the rest of her body is in height, opens the oven door, and removes the bread trays one by one and carefully slides each loaf onto its own cooling tray, far enough away from each other not to catch the other’s heat, and turns the oven off, but leaves its door open so its fresh bread scent and warmth can dissipate throughout the kitchen. She opens the kitchen door finally, too, so this feeling, this aroma, this perfume of freshness and wholesomeness and homeliness, can spread out to fill the whole first floor of this house with a sense of contentedness.

She doesn’t need her watch to know the time is close, and walks across to the window again, her notebook still laid out open and deserted on the table behind her, and gazes out of the window. In the deep breath she takes, she realises that for the first time in all her years in this house, she has a feeling of being on her own. And it isn’t a sense of being alone and deserted, but rather one of being alone and left in peace, of being left to her own devices rather than being watched closely at the same time as being ignored. For the first time in her adult life, Aggie feels in control.


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    1. Richard Pierce

      16th February 2022 at 16:02

      Thank YOU!

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