When I was a kid we used to spend summers playing in the woods behind my Grandma’s house. We’d make dens and trample down those secret paths that only children make. Over time, they became less secret and more dusty as the grass and moss disappeared to be replaced with the footsteps of an entire season. We left channels through the trees like ants in a farm.
When I look at you, pacing up and down behind the glass, wearing down a path for yourself, I can’t help but think back to those secret ways of my childhood. They meant excitement, they meant friendship, they meant freedom. Yours mean boredom, seclusion, confinement. You weren’t meant to live like this. You should’ve been running free; freer than even our childhood fantasies allowed us to be. You have no secret path, just a small world inside a small glass box.
The dust; the dust and the heat; the dust and the heat and the blaring sun. Even now, the conditions are nearly suffocating, when they were matched by the smell of blood, the shrieks of pain and roars from the crowd, it must have been overwhelming. With the stage at ground level and rows of seats rising upwards, you can almost see the ghosts of gladiators, dressed in bronze armor, stepping out into the cauldron, god-like with life and death in their hands. At night, the ghosts seem to come to life. The lights show the amphitheater is still imposing two millennia later, but they also cast shadows that shift and move, remembering all those who met their bloody end there. The Colosseum, almost a ruin, still very much alive.
It feels like our footprints should still be there. It was our beach after all. We claimed it with the marks we left like a flag on the moon or a scribble of a name on an old school desk: ‘we were here’. We walked along the beach at sunset, with no one else in sight. We weren’t going anywhere, just taking our time and letting the Andaman Sea lap at our feet. The water was warm, as was the sand, but the breeze was cool and drew us together. I tried to take a photo, I placed my camera and tripod on the sand and the sea came and lapped at that too. A little damp, but not ruined and an almost perfect shot captured. The only thing missing was the footsteps, the footsteps that marked it out as ours.
It’s a fast city, Amsterdam. Cyclists, on their battered bikes, weaving through pedestrians, bells ringing and crashes averted at the last second. If feels young, even though its old. And there’s no mid-life crisis in sight; it wears the tourists’ khaki shorts pulled up high and the socks in old leather sandals in knowing irony. The coffee shops and the red lights summon tittering people, alive with the feeling of freedom and not-quite-safe pleasures. It has what people call, an ‘atmosphere’.
But we took it slow. We were bullet time. Detached from the rest of the world as it revolved around us in a blur. We had our own world. We had each other. We were tourists yes, but we walked to our own tempo, following the rhythms of each other’s feet. And we haven’t stopped. We still walk to our own beat. We’re still bullet time.
She just wants to play, she’s only three. She has a favourite ball, it’s still just about yellow, despite all the scuffs and the dust. Really, it’s still only just about a ball, it’s certainly not round, it probably wasn’t designed for feet like hers. She throws it around anyway, up in the air, along the ground, towards anyone who she thinks might want to play too. And who wouldn’t want to? She’s beautiful. Her eyes sparkle with a mischievous intelligence and when she reaches out for you, it is as though you’re being blessed.
She throws dirt up in the air just because she can and she knows she won’t be told off, not with that smile. It looks like a smile anyway. It’s certainly easier for us to think that way. Because she’s chained. Tethered to a wooden post with metal links. Still, it looks like a smile.
I didn’t know I wasn’t normal until I was five. Until then I thought I was funny, I thought I was popular. I’d tell a joke, people would laugh. I’d make a rude noise, people would laugh. I’d pull a face, people would laugh. But then I realised they’d still be laughing even when I’d stopped. They’d laugh when I spoke. They’d laugh when I walked into a room. They’d laugh when I cried.
I looked in the mirror then. I let my eyes explore my face. I had a nose, two eyes and lips hiding some teeth. Not so different really. Except my lips didn’t cover my teeth, and my nose was off centre, and one eye wouldn’t open like the other.
Mum said it was a dog bite. That I hadn’t even been one and I wouldn’t remember.
True; but I still feel the pain.
Over the Christmas – New Year period I was lucky enough to go to Thailand with my loving and very patient girlfriend and her family. We did many amazing things and I have lots of happy memories I’m sure I will end up writing about, either directly or by weaving them into a story. In this vein, on the last night, when we were staying in Bangkok, we went up to the top of the Banyan Tree Hotel to the Moon Bar. It was sunset and the views were spectacular, (the massively overpriced cocktails not so much). As I mentioned yesterday, I’m an avid photographer and I believe my number of shots was in the hundreds by the time we’d left the roof, less than two hours after getting the lift up. Some of them really reminded me of one of my favorite films; Blade Runner.
If I’m honest, I only watched it for the first time last year, (shameful I know), as part of a very interesting module about literary adaptations. I’m so pleased I did. In terms of plot and characters, I prefer Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the novel Ridley Scott’s film is, (very loosely), based on. But the visuals and the look of Blade Runner are so stunning, so striking, that I became an instant fan.
This sci-fi Saturday isn’t about the film though, (although I’m sure another will be in the future and I will definitely be writing about the sequel when it comes out), but about a photo and a story. The image at the top of the page is one I took from the roof of the Banyan Tree and I’m planning on using it as inspiration for a short story. The fact the setting grabbed me as one suitable for a sci-fi tale was certainly inspired by Blade Runner, but it isn’t my intention to write fan fiction, rather I’m aiming for something more original in a somewhat similar setting.
I have no clear idea what exactly I’m going to write just yet, so I have no clear idea when it will be done. This post, therefore, is only short and is more of an introduction to an idea than anything else. Think of it as a teaser trailer aimed at getting my vast two-person-strong readership ready for what is to come. I hope you’re both excited.