Will took his bike a bit higher this time. He was becoming more comfortable with both the mountain and the bike now that they’d been living there for a month. It was a good mountain bike – a birthday present from the whole family. His parents uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins had all clubbed together to get him something really decent and sturdy and it had been worth it. He loved it! Every day he went up the mountain and every day he became more confident about his own capabilities and those of his bike on the steep slopes.
He’d also walked right up to the top of the mountain with his parents a few times and had assessed the terrain. He’d had ‘The Lecture’ from his dad about just how far up he was allowed to go, weather conditions to look out for and which places to avoid.
He snuck a look back down the valley to the village below to find that he was becoming engulfed in a fine mist and the village was becoming hazy. As he looked back up the track, that also began to disappear. A little flutter of nerves filled his chest, but he found that he liked the feeling and he tingled with excitement at the thought of an adventure in the mist. He looked down at the brittle grey slate gravel beneath his feet and realised that he was straying from the well worn path. The sound of cars from the roads below was fading as he continued upwards, to be replaced by the sounds of sheep calling to each other in the eery mistiness.
But it wasn’t long before he cycled up out of the mist, back into the sunshine and then he could look around for the path. He couldn’t see it and he decided to get off his bike and walk. This part of the mountain was dotted with large holes and littered with loose slaty gravel which made him feel unsafe. He was also quite wobbly, tired and hot from cycling uphill so hard and sat down for a rest with his back against a rock. He stared back down at what looked like a thick white blanket of cotton wool completely obscuring his view of the village as if there were no houses there at all.
Suspecting he was the only human around for miles he began to talk to himself “Orrr-righty. Where am I then? Where’s the blummin’ path?” He chewed at the inside of his cheek and wiped the sweat from his face with his sleeve. The warm sun beat down on his head and he felt quite sleepy and thirsty.
“Where’s the blummin’ path!” a voice echoed. Only it wasn’t an echo, it was more of a mimic. He heard giggling and footsteps crunching in the gravel. Small, fast footsteps of a child. Then a young person, perhaps a year or so younger than Will, stood a few metres down the hill from him. Was it a boy? The child came closer; a lone figure against a backdrop of soft white. Now he could see that it was a small girl. Her clothes and short hair were limp from the mist and clinging to her. Her dusty, dress looked as if it had once been pink with white flowers, but was now a dusky colour with grey flowers and dirty grey streaks around the hem. Her face too was dirty as if she had wiped away her wet hair with grubby palms. In her hands were great clumps of sheep’s wool. She gazed back at him amused. Surely she shouldn’t be up here on her own. Was she lost, or had she just run on ahead of whoever was with her?
Will tried to speak, but his mouth was stuck closed with dryness. He thought perhaps he would stand up to see if anyone else was coming, but realised he couldn’t move. He couldn’t seem to get his lead-like limbs to budge. So he just continued to sit and stare. The little girl looked a moment longer and then ran past him laughing. As she did so he noticed that her boots were unlike anything he’d ever seen before; great big thick, soft leather boots with long rows of lace-holes.
He sat there bewildered for a moment longer and then decided he should go home and tell his parents. But suddenly he realised that he had closed his eyes for a moment and shaking his head forced them back open. He looked around for his bike and stood up. He was surprised to see that he was standing on the missing footpath. He’d been on it all the time? The tricky terrain and loose chippings were gone and the well-worn path back down the hill was right under his feet. Could he have moved?
He cycled down and was home in minutes.
Gasping for water he deprived himself of the kitchen tap for a few more seconds while he went to report the girl on the mountain to his father. He found him in the garden with Mum and Granny and rasped out the story through his tired dry mouth. Dad put his boots on and was off to investigate before Will had finished talking.
“Oh you’ve been collecting spare wool!” said Granny suddenly. Will was mystified to see his own pockets bulging with scraps of sheep’s wool.
“Ahhh, we used to do that years ago. Used it for stuffing for doll’s cushions and all sorts.” Mind you that all stopped after Rose’s accident. We used to walk up the steep side nearer the church – everyone went that way in those days, ’cause it was quicker.” She sighed. “That long way up with the path was made after Rose fell collecting wool when we were little girls……so sad…..”
Memories you can’t disguise, a history of happenings or trouble or accident. Colours of claret burgundy, dark red. Furniture, table, surface, carpet ruined. Fabric bleeds. Wipe rub wash. Sit on it to hide it. Something or someone gone but evidence remains.
Drunk? A party? An alcoholic?
Bottle or glass drips
A ring of dark red is left.
An innocent happy memory of a pleasant evening or a lonely memory of one person’s solitary drinking.
Get a cloth and try to wipe it away or sit and look and touch and remember.
Pub garden table of porous wood soaks up the colour. Cover it with and ashtray – or maybe not these days! Cover it with a plastic menu holder.
Best clothes ruined by a wine stain become old clothes, gardening clothes, walking the dog clothes.
A ring of red on a circle of Irish linen turns brown with age, but she never washes it. She looks at it and remembers her loved one. He put his glass there.
Green, fresh, erect leaves
Boldly boast spring-like beauty
Young, vibrant and proud
Breathing deeply, hold
Try to hold the position
And try not to laugh
Of lungs, legs and mental health
With each salty stride
I walked to the desk saying to my daughter "Give me a word, any word and I'll write about it." So she said "Lemon"
She stepped off the bus and let her breath out slowly as she took in her surroundings. Immediately she found that she was in the path of bustling city people and had no choice but to move quickly. She had painstakingly planned this trip in great detail and knew that she had to take a right but instead she hurried straight forward to the safety of a department store window to get her bearings and steady her nerves.
“Okay girl, you can do this” she thought to herself. She took another deep breath, brought the directions she had memorised to the front of her mind and set off on her mission to prove herself to a bunch of strangers.
She’d caught the only bus she could from her village and was ridiculously early, but at that moment it was a blessing. She wanted to find the place and the right room and then she would just have the interview to worry about. A short walk, one pedestrian crossing and a left turn and she was there. The enormous austere doors were daunting, but she was determined to play the part of confident business woman and strode in purposefully.
The entrance lobby was impressive. What a floor! The shiniest, most reflective surface she had ever seen! And the echo… Heels clipping and clopping all around her, she looked down at her own mediocre footwear and immediately felt inadequate. “Damn”, she thought “Shoes. Oh God, why didn’t I think about shoes?!?” She turned and fled back out of the building. She was early after all and she knew where the nearest department store was, she had just been there. She strode back through the traffic and crowds to the store by the bus stop and scanned the aisles as she marched through the glass doors. “Shoes, shoes, shoes” she muttered to herself. “Ah, here we go”.
It didn’t take long to find a pair she really liked, several pairs she really liked and jigging impatiently her eyes darted around the room in an attempt to spot the possibility of a helpful shop assistant. The silly women were all busy straightening things and looking in every direction but hers. “Oh come ON” she groaned to herself quietly.
“Pardon?” Said a man’s voice next to her.
“Oh…I…um..er…Do you work here?” she asked
He squinted as if trying to focus on the question and then smiled briefly and let out one of those tiny little down-the-nose laughs that are possible without opening one’s mouth.
“No, not me. Sorry” He replied and turned away from her.
As he walked out of the building he tapped a member of staff on the arm gently and smiled. One of the silly women finally came over to assist and the shoe trying on could begin.
Fifteen minutes later she had made her choice and found herself in a queue to pay while a young member of staff seemed to be having till training. Glancing down at her watch she now realised that she was due at her interview in five minutes and she still hadn’t found the right room!
Eventually she made it back outside only to discover that it was beginning to rain. “Oh no. Why me?” she thought and dashed back to the impressive doors and through them into the grand lobby. As she hurtled through the doors she ran straight into the back of a man who didn’t seem to be in quite such a hurry as her and as he turned to identify his assailant their eyes flickered recognition at each other from their brief encounter in the shoe area of the department store. “Sorry, sorry” she muttered, sounding more irritated than apologetic and made a swift move to the right to avoid his path. But as she swung sideways her new wet shoes slid unceremoniously across the floor and took her several metres at a very fast pace right into the middle of the bodies hurrying about their work.
Grabbing instinctively at what ever she could as she hurtled through the black suits and laptop bags and eventually came to an undignified stop in a heap on the floor. The possibility of shattered bones avoided only by the number of people who had broken her fall along the way.
She kept her eyes closed for a moment while she tried to compose herself. And then slowly lifted her head and looked about her to assess the damage. A few sympathetic onlookers had remained to check she was alright, but most other people were moving away now.
“Shoes, new shoes” She tried to explain “It’s the rain. Slippy wet shoes. Oh God, my interview! I have to get… Oh shit!” She couldn’t stand up. Her shoes were still wet, she was shaking terribly from the shock, had a very sore bottom and was more ashamed than she thought possible.
Department store man suddenly appeared and offered her his arm. She grabbed it rather too roughly as she nearly lost her balance again.
“I don’t know why I’m doing this” he said. You ran into me and now I’m late for an interview. There’s some poor soul upstairs nervously waiting for a job interview with me and you’re keeping them waiting” . . .