Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 79

The problem with weekends is that M and I burn the candle at both ends, and that I end up sleeping too late, vacillating between things I think I should do, and things I think I shouldn’t do, but want to do. Writing is often on neither list. Sometimes because I have moments when I think it’s a waste of time, sometimes because I’m preoccupied with the practical things I think I ought to do, and be able to do. And then I end of doing absolutely nothing, not even relaxing. And no matter how hard I try to disrupt this vicious circle, I never seem to succeed in doing so.

Yesterday, I spent over an hour working on a new translation of Hölderlin’s Hälfte des Lebens. I went into the house where M was occupied with much more practical things, and apologised for spending time doing something meaningless and silly, only for her to tell me it wasn’t meaning less nor silly. Same this morning when I said it seemed wrong for me to be spending so much of my times writing when it actually wasn’t getting anywhere. There must be millions of creatives who go through these same eternal growing and doing pains. The weather doesn’t help. Sitting inside while the sun shines.

This was going to be the weekend when I actually progressed with The Mortality Code as well as writing two more episodes of Aggie. I haven’t touched the first, and Aggie seems to have taken over my life. A and I walked down to Norwich Cathedral yesterday afternoon with the plan of then walking on into the city centre. I’d bought my history of the cathedral (I want to do some more reading than just online about the cathedral and figure out its real place in Aggie’s story), and we were all set to leave when A picked up a leaflet about a chamber orchestra concert of movie music that was happening at the cathedral yesterday evening. And we heard instruments being tuned. And it was the orchestra doing a brief rehearsal. We ended up sitting down and listening and watching their entire rendition of the theme for The Magnificent Seven. A brief WhatsApp conversation with M later, and I’d booked tickets for the three of us to go to the concert. So A and I walked back home, and an hour the three of us piled into the car to spend two hours in the candle-lit cathedral for 90 minutes of amazing music (despite me not really having dressed for the cold). Brief happinesses.

The spring equinox is today at 15:33 UK time apparently. Small happinesses. Mind you, the English weather won’t change.



Once on the next floor up, Aggie and Zav go their separate ways. He disappears into the room she locked him in less than twelve hours ago. ‘I didn’t even bother looking round it properly,’ he says. She ignores the memories of complicity.

In Cassandra’s and Valentine’s bedroom now. Nothing has changed. Nothing has been touched since she was last in here. Aggie remembers the bullet in the kitchen floor. Later. She finds her way to the desk across the room, and realises she stopped unpicking the locks once she found Cassandra’s handgun. One of the drawers is still locked, still keeps its secrets. She picks the lock now, pulls out the drawer slowly and softly. It’s full to the top of more documents, more things to read. She pulls it fully out of the desk now, decides that this room isn’t the place to go through it, carries it out of the room, takes it downstairs, puts it on her chair in the kitchen, clears the table of the coffee cups, puts the papers they’d left there neatly in a pile nearest the window that looks across at the cathedral but doesn’t look out of it so she doesn’t get distracted, and lifts the drawer now into the table, sits down in front of it, and stares at the colours of the documents in there. She’s about to pull them out when she stops, gets up, goes across to the sink, opens the cupboard underneath it, and pulls out a packet of disposable latex gloves, thin gloves, gloves which leave no trace, gloves you might use to dye your hair or induce to die someone you had to kill secretly if your inclination were to kill people.

Hands suitably attired, she sits down in front of the drawer again. Her hands hesitate for a moment before she reaches in and pulls out twelve passports, all of different nationalities. She opens each one in turn, and every one of them has a different photo of Cassandra in it, with different hair colourings, different face colourings, different hair styles and lengths, different dates of birth, places of birth, minute differences in height, no distinguishing features, a palette of names with the same initials, CB. All of them are full of stamps of entry to countries around the world, multiple dates, multiple visas. Aggie’s mind registers the dates, builds up a picture of endless travel, the criss-crossing of continents, a rhythm of changing time zones, of interminable pressures on the body, of sleeplessness and exhaustion, a picture of a person who either doesn’t know what she is or doesn’t care, and who has a goal in mind. And on the map of the world Aggie sees with all the lines intersecting and circumnavigating and tracking back on themselves, Aggie can’t see a pattern, not one single point of communality or focus. She sighs, puts them down, exasperated. Which one does Cassandra have now, and why? Perhaps she has yet more with her, not just one. Aggie picks them up again, runs through their countries of origin. No British passport, no German one, no American one.

‘Interesting little collection,’ Zav says. ‘You were quite away with the fairies there.’

Aggie doesn’t react, just shouts at herself inside stop being careless. Blood on her knuckles again, back then, splintered book cases, the taunting mentor where kindness had been at the beginning. Imprisonment, manipulation, training. And still that tiny untouched core.

‘Sorry,’ he says. ‘I didn’t mean to stop your train of thought.’

‘You didn’t.’ She looks at him. ‘Have you found something?’

‘Just sheets of plastic in one of the wardrobes. Metres and metres of it. What’s that all about?’


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  1. Ren Powell

    20th March 2022 at 18:17

    Your concert sounds much more successful that my theater trip. Maybe I need a temporary change of scenery and diversions. Spring is always a restless time, right?

    1. Richard Pierce

      20th March 2022 at 18:53

      I did struggle to stay awake, not because of the concert’s content, but because I was exhausted, am exhausted.

      All my acupuncturists have always said that any change of season makes for restlessness and strains on the body. And I do feel more restless in spring than any other time. I think we expect newness from ourselves at the same time as nature changes, although I’m not sure we have the energy to change so often. Maybe that’s our problem – not being able to change as often and suddenly as nature.

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