I’d like to go back to when I was 10. I used to run. I used to run everywhere. I used to run like there was nothing else in the world. I used to run because that’s what I liked to do. Now, I still want to run, but it isn’t the same. I want to run from pressure or expectation. I want to run from myself. That kind of running doesn’t come as easy. It doesn’t end with red cheeks and a smile on my face. I can’t run anymore. Now is the time to stand up, to look ahead, to face what I don’t want to face.
And then, when I’ve done all that, maybe I can just run because it’s fun again.
We fell together, for each other.
It started with a few conversations, just chatting, just friends. Then it was something more, conversations – yes, friends – yes, but still more. We talked about the things that we wouldn’t, or couldn’t, say to anyone else. You knew me like no one else did, I knew you too.
Someone said to us, “You’re so in sync.” We were. We knew what the other one needed, we knew what they wanted, we knew when they were wrong. We could tell each other no. I think that’s the most important part.
We weren’t just friends for long, but we’ve never stopped being them. We’re still in sync, you still know me, I still know you. You’ll tell me no and I’ll tell you. We’re more than friends but I’m so pleased we are that too.
You were gone before you left.
It was such a little box, there, in the palm of my hand. If I wrapped my fingers round it, it was completely concealed within my fist, impossible to detect.
But then it grew.
I could no longer hold it in one hand so I held it in two, tight against my chest. I had to wrap it in words to stop anyone looking too close. Soon, even that wasn’t enough. I had to let it drop to the floor, unable to support it any longer. I put it behind my back, in part to hide it, but also to turn from it, to deny its existence or connection with me.
That’s when it consumed me.
And now I’m trapped inside this box that was once so small. I made it, I know. I helped it grow, shaped it, let it swallow me up. This is my box.
You only looked up when it started to rain. We held each other close, knowing that when we let go we’d have to say goodbye. It was cold, but I felt warm in your arms. When we parted all the heat drained from me, my heart dropped too. I looked into your eyes, no amount of rain could hide the tears now. You let them run down your face without moving to cover it, perhaps because mine was equally streaked. Our tears fell to the floor together, seemingly insignificant compared to the puddles that were now forming at our feet, but to us it seemed as if we could’ve filled reservoirs.
The train pulled up to the platform, we held desperately to each other’s hands. We didn’t let go, but pulled apart anyway. The force took the last of my strength. You stepped onboard and the doors drew closed.
When I was younger I wanted to be an astronaut. It wasn’t an original dream, but it was mine. (My really original dream was to be a roller-skating coal-man. I think the skates would have helped efficiency but, unfortunately, there isn’t much call for a coal deliverer anymore.) I went to the National Space Centre on a school trip and got pulled aside with a few others for special astronaut training. I had the best eyesight and reaction times, both of which are apparently very important.
But the dream went away. I don’t know why or when but real life practicalities must’ve set in. And that’s sad. Why did I have to think practically when I was a kid? I still do it too much now. I want to be more in the moment, not always worrying about what comes next. I want to be an astronaut.
Want to start. Scared to finish.
It’s been a year, but it still surprises me. It wasn’t so much a surprise at the time, I think we all saw it coming, but I can’t help feeling a little twinge of shock every time I realise you are no longer there. No longer sitting in your chair, falling asleep when no one else would, no longer on the other end of a phone line, waiting to chat, no longer around to give me advise and tell me you’re proud.
And I do hope you are proud. I don’t believe that you still exist anywhere, not in a physical sense, or even a spiritual one, but I like to think that if you were here, you’d be pleased with what I’ve done. It’s so hard to think I can’t share any of this with you, but I’ll keep going, I’ll keep trying to make you proud.
How to start?
You might say that was the start.
It was just a question.
It was what comes before the beginning.
Not the beginning of the beginning,
That’s the start.
It was a start though.
The thing that enables the beginning to begin.
An announcement of intent,
A provocation of thought.
What came before it was the end.
The end of whatever had started previously.
It was also the middle.
The middle of what had happened,
And what will happen.
Of what will happen when I start.
Which I haven’t.
I still don’t know how to start.
(This happens a lot.)
When I can’t start,
I begin again,
A new beginning,
The end of the other one.
So this is my end:
How to start?