Richard Pierce

Life, Politics, Writing

Day 87

Maybe I shouldn’t have gone for a 3-mile walk yesterday afternoon, maybe I shouldn’t have gone against my superstitions and mentioned my stretches yesterday morning, maybe I shouldn’t have bent down in a certain way after my shower after my walk, but my back collapsed again yesterday, and I’m a crooked man again. And the stretches are painful and offer only slight relief. Maybe it’s all in the head, an accumulation of fear, fear of everything for everything and everyone. Wormholes take you to another dimension, the holes that fear digs just take you nowhere, away from any universe. What a way to start a week off. I think sometimes I should self-censor everything and just put up figurative poems and allusions and Aggie.

The mist is dripping from everything here this morning. There’s the possibility of snow later in the week. Damp squibs everywhere.

This fear narrative has been running through my life forever, from what I can make out. Even sitting here now, my main fear is not being able to et up again, or getting up and falling over, losing control of my limbs, losing my limbs, becoming even more incomplete than I feel myself already to be. Do I fear restarting therapy – is that why this has happened? If I had all the answers, I wouldn’t be afraid, would I? Or perhaps the answers would make me even more afraid. Perhaps this has happened so I have no chance of following this instinct to run away and strap an AK47 to my inexperienced (and now incapacitated) back and fight for a people I actually know very little about, except that it’s being decimated by calculated genocide.

I’m rambling now. Perhaps I always ramble. There is silence in the study; no music; just the clicking of the keyboard. The irony about working from home is that even when I’m on holiday, I sit in the same place, in the same posture, surrounded by the same things, trying to find words to put into some sort of order, to make sense of a life that may well have no sense to it other than its need to be lived. And I still haven’t looked at that poem I wrote on Saturday night. The scribbles fade, and the memory fades, the memory of somehow being whole. Being in pain and relatively immobile robs me of my sense of self, of my sense of achieving things, of having a voice. And it somehow makes me look at myself as pathetic because others have much heavier crosses to bear.

The week will get better. It has to.

Part of me is tempted to delete all this, to say, enough of these daily musings, enough of Aggie, but the bigger part of me says I can’t. Not now.

EDIT – I come back to this after having struggled through the below. I have done more stretches. They have taken away some of the fear and pain, and I’m almost vertical.



‘What did you expect?’ Anna says. ‘After everything the mentor taught us?’

‘I don’t know,’ Aggie says. ‘Perhaps I thought you’d change after you ran away.’

‘It was too late by then.’ Anna starts ripping branches from the trees around her, covers up the bodies.

‘They’ll be found,’ Zav says.

‘We’ll be gone by then,’ Anna says. ‘We’ll just go back a different way. They’d have killed us, you know.’

‘Wait,’ Zav says, lifts the branches off the bodies’ faces, shakes his head. ‘No, they’re not the guys Valentine sent to the cathedral.’ He puts the branches back down, gently, reverently almost.

‘Who are they then?’ Aggie says, mind ticking over, faces remembered, stored. No matches in her memory for them. ‘Anna?’

Anna shrugs. ‘No idea. And before you ask me again, I never do business with anyone whose name I know. And they don’t know mine either. Not my real one anyway. Just an account number and business name.’

‘They could trace you anyway,’ Zav says.

They’re trudging up the hill again, surrounded by outer city wilderness.

‘They’d have to be damn good,’ Anna says. ‘Some lessons I learned were useful. And skills I’ve picked up along the way. Transferrable skills.’ She grins, looks like a pixie, short hair and sharp ears, those eyes darker than ever.

‘I’m sure,’ Zav says. ‘A resourceful woman, obviously.’

Aggie wants to hit him, says nothing, does nothing. She wants Anna all to herself, to hear what her life has really been like, to share the stories since that early dark morning when the mentor order Aggie to kill the dark-eyed smiling girl who seemed to have the world at her feet, who had been able to do everything so easily, who never ever lost a game of chess, who didn’t bother with reading but just made up stories in the dark, taught Aggie Morse code, and tapped the stories through the wall at night to keep them both company as Aggie’s scars healed. That was then.

They walk out into the open, come out of the forest by a pond, flat, a mirror, the cold sun shining out from it. Aggie stops. ‘It’s not far now. How are we going to do this?’

‘Play it by ear,’ Zav says. He looks at Anna, seems to ignore Aggie. ‘It’s only Valentine who can have sent you. There’s no other answer.’

‘Or someone in your organisation,’ Aggie says.

‘Valentine is in that organisation,’ Zav says.

‘Someone else then,’ Aggie snaps. ‘There’s obviously not just one traitor.’

‘Who defines what a traitor is?’ Anna says. ‘And who’s been betrayed?’

Aggie shakes her head. ‘So you’ve studied Philosophy, too?’ she says.

‘No,’ Anna says. ‘I’ve just lived it. There are no sides.’

They reach the top of the hill, out onto the wide pavement now. They wait at the crossing, masquerading as normal citizens, but eyes and limbs alive to anything that might be unusual. Nothing. They cross as the green man bleeps at them, wander down past a garden centre, doing brisk trade. No-one pays them any attention. Down a gentle slope. Left along an utterly suburban street, a muddle of detached houses, semi-detached houses and bungalows. Aggie leads them through a snicket, a path so unevenly tarmacked it might as well have been left as a dirt track.

‘You know this place very well,’ Zav says to her.

‘I told you I used to live round here,’ Aggie says. ‘All the short cuts are in my head.’

‘How did you get here in the first place?’

‘I can’t remember.’

End of path. The lop-sided pavement reeks of new tarmac. Aggie hangs a right. They follow the road round.

‘Horse-shoe shape,’ Zav says. ‘Nice.’

‘Quiet,’ Anna says.

‘Unobtrusive,’ Aggie says.

They slow down, pass a few For Sale signs, reach a drive that looks like it’s shared by two houses. A silver sign on what looks like a dilapidated garage.

‘This is it,’ Aggie says.

‘Leave it to me,’ Zav says, pulls his ID from his jacket, knocks at the door.

Steps from inside. Door ripped open. ‘There is a bell, you know,’ the young woman says. ‘Are you blind?’

Aggie gasps.

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  1. Ren Powell

    29th March 2022 at 04:39

    I am so sorry about your back!
    And recognize the fears of the body and aging and all that can and will be lost.
    I am glad you are writing!

    1. Richard Pierce

      29th March 2022 at 08:04

      Thank you. For all that. For everything. I always have felt that back pain, because it is so invisible, because the spine is the centre of being, that it’s like an ache of the soul. It’s old age and its effects I often fear more than death. I’m glad you’re writing. It’s always set an example for me 🙂 <3

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