The Sky and The Sea and Me
Published on 26.02.17
Touching at the fingertips my hands dart out in front of me through the cool seawater that laps at my bottom lip making it salty. Turning my hands over in opposite directions I pull my arms back toward my sides propelling me through the water, though not as far as I would like. I was never a strong swimmer.As I move slowly toward the horizon, the coastline on either side of me disappears from the corner of each eye and finally I am alone. I let my legs come to rest beneath me and lazily treading water, I tip my head backward. Getting it wet makes me feel cooler for a moment.
I open my mouth slowly. The water touching the top of my bottom lip begins to collect in the gap between my front teeth and moves around the gums making the tongue salty as it rests on the floor of my mouth. A drop runs down my throat stopping somewhere in the chest. I try to hold my breath for a number of seconds but it doesn’t feel right. I extend both arms either side of me, the top of my hands facing skyward and open my mouth to let the water in. There is a lot of noise. After a time it goes black and my head falls forward breaking the surface of the water to face the seabed underneath me and I feel no pain.
Published on 02.03.18
I sit on a chair whilst she stands opposite me. Her looking at me and me looking at her. Neither of us is moving.
“Are we?” I say.
“Yes Simon, we are,” she replies.
“Look Simon, I’m sorry.”
The front left leg of the chair I sit on gives way and I fall at her feet with arms stretched out in front of me. She says nothing. I get up, brush my palms together and reposition the leg under the chair. I sit back down slowly.
She looks at me a moment before turning to walk toward the door. Pulling it open she hesitates and looks back over her shoulder.
“Please close the door. Properly I mean.”
She raises her eyebrows and brings her left hand up to her hip.
“Close the door properly, I don’t know what might come in.”
The door clicks shut and she has gone.
Published on 21.03.18
I’m sitting in the passenger seat of a car and she is driving. The road in front of us is long and straight and I can’t really place it, as if it is not the road I expected to see.
Gripping the steering wheel with her right hand she holds out a tomato with the left. “Would you like a tomato?”she said.
“No thank you, I don’t feel like a tomato,” I said.
I can’t stop thinking about a dream. I dreamt I was a clothes hanger, or at least I looked like a clothes hanger. I was two arms and a leg joined by an elbow and a foot – where I thought my head should be was a knee wrapped in a bandage.
“Do you remember when we were in Mumbai?” she said. “That woman, she stopped you whilst we were crossing the road. Do you remember?”
“Yes, I remember,” I said.
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I didn’t say anything because I think she was right.”
She bites down on her bottom lip and her eyes move up inside her head. “That’s what I thought, she was right wasn’t she?”
I can’t stop thinking about the clothes hanger me. I’m not hooked over something and neither am I holding onto anything.
“Can I have the tomato now?” I said.
“You want the tomato?” she said.
“Yes, I feel like a tomato.”
She hands me the tomato. I take a bite, close my eyes and think about why a clothes hanger needs to wear a bandage.
The car was found a few hundred yards down the road, it had hit a pothole and rolled over onto its side. No bodies were ever recovered. Some say it was stolen by teenagers who were lucky to escape the crash, but most don’t say anything at all.
Published on 28.03.18
I’ve been walking around with someone else’s head for months now. I don’t know who it belongs to or how it came to be on my shoulders but it looks a lot like my head. Sometimes I wonder what happened to it, the head I had before, but no one has said anything so I keep it to myself.
Published on 02.04.18
Peanut lives about 30 yards from the pub.
He is called Peanut because he had
A small head when he was a kid
And not because he has a small dick.
He comes to the pub three or four times a week
To see the same ten/eleven people.
He fits air conditioning units four days a week
And Friday is his day off.
He offers me Cocaine and Speed
And can probably get anything you want.
I tell him I’m not interested and he laughs
And asks me if I am a policeman,
Before telling me it was a joke.
He will keep coming to the pub
Three or four times a week
Until he dies, or somebody kills him.
“It will have been a good life,” he says,
Before asking me, “We don’t usually see people
Like you in here, did you get lost
On the way somewhere else?”
Take my Bedding to the Launderette
Published on 15.06.18
I sit on a bench at the back of the launderette and watch my bed sheets go around in the dryer. I only use the launderette to dry my bedding and I only wash my bedding when a girlfriend leaves me.
A mother and her two teenage children are stood at a washing machine in front of me. The boy is overweight and eating a bag of crisps and the girl looks embarrassed to be here. “Mum, when are we gonna get a new machine?” she asks.
As the girl bends down to pick laundry out of a bag on the floor, her underwear is visible above the waistline of her jeans and I turn away because I don’t want her mother to see I have noticed.
Walking home I feel the warmth of the newly dried bed sheets through the bag I hold with my right hand over the same shoulder. A hand-drawn sign in a window makes me laugh and I take my phone out to photograph it for Angie. I scroll upwards, browsing our chat from the night before and decide she probably won’t want to hear from me today. I’ve been thinking about her all morning.
I am suddenly struck by a noxious smell and I stop to look around my feet for a dead mouse or rat but I can’t see either. Returning my phone to my pocket, I take a deep breath inward and put my right foot forward first.
Published on 15.08.18
I was standing under the only tree I could see when a small bird landed on my right shoulder. It put its beak to my ear and said “Twicht-twicht, chit shwit-twicht”.
I don’t know why but I grabbed it with both hands just below the neck, pinning the wings to its sides. The bird was still free to move its head, and it pecked hysterically at the backs of my hands, breaking the skin again and again. Blood ran over my knuckles and collected in the folds on either side of my fingernails.
After some minutes, I decided I couldn’t hold the bird any longer and I relaxed my grip to allow it to go. I looked at my hands, turned them over, and with the palms facing me, I watched the blood move from the outside of my wrists to the inside and drip onto the ends of my shoes and the ground in front of me.
I took my left shoe off first, then the right and standing with both feet together, I concentrated on the feeling of the cold mud beneath me as it forced its way up between my toes.
The phone in my pocket rang. I took it out with my right hand and tapped answer with my thumb.
“Where are you Simon?” she said.
“I’m somewhere I haven’t been before,” I said.
“Is it beautiful?” she said.
I looked down at the mud which was now piled up on top of my toes and was banked up around the side of my feet.
“Simon?” she said.
“Yes, I’m sorry I,”
“Simon, I don’t really have anything to say,” she said. “I just wanted to know that you hadn’t forgotten about me. It’s been so long now and,”
“I haven’t forgotten.” I said.
There was a pause and the phone clicked dead.
With the phone still in my hand, I brought my arm down to my side and slowly tilted my head backward. I closed my eyes and saw the old lady that lives in the house next door to my parents. She is more than 100 years old and spends all of her time sitting in a chair in the smallest room above the stairs. It is the room that gets all the sun, but the curtains are drawn.
I reached for the light switch but she shouted at me to stop.
“What is it?” I asked her.
“I don’t think I’m ready for what I might I see,” she said.
Published on 25.01.19
At the back of our house, the earth is baked hard by the sun and it’s funny, I don’t know why we dug so many holes. Small stones in the soil ran down the sides and now sit in the bottom. We talked about removing them, but after digging for several hours in the sun we turned around and went back inside the house. When it rains water collects several inches high before slowly soaking into the surrounding soil. Occasionally one of us will break the edge of a hole with a misplaced foot and fall on a trailing knee against the earth. It was decided some time ago it would be a good idea to fill the holes but no one has done it yet and we don’t talk about it anymore.
Words by SIMON LININGTON