I know the green calls because a part of me knows this is where we all come from, in the sludge underfoot our far off cousins’ squirm in their exodus from the oceans. I pause and wonder if I should pay my respects and as I’m thinking of my ancestors my Grandfathers face finds its way into my mind.
This stops me in my tracks as it often does.
I was the oldest grandchild, born in what only be called shame. A mother can work off shame, many times over, but in spite of this it can cling to her and from her it can leap. A first born joy and a fatherless shame, can someone be both at the same time?
I watch the things that squirm and I realise that the dirt through which they squirm in is buried somewhere in my waking mind. They always squirm there, as I work and write and sleep and eat; they squirm in those dark recesses I try to avoid.
Perhaps not all demons have fearsome eyes, perhaps some are soft and their horror lies in the fact that they cannot be easily seen.
Perhaps they horrify because they squirm.
I feel the sodden earth under the soles of my shoes, it squelches as I lower myself to see the squirming things better. My back hurts and again I think of my Grandfather, how old was he when he died? How much older than I am now was he when he took that final surprised breath?
I see the squirming things better now and I recoil.
I was expecting slugs or worms but what I saw were tongues. They slithered and coiled as if trying to speak words from long dead languages. I abruptly stand and see one tongue flop against my shoe and through the leather I feel a disgusting warmth. I step back and shudder.
Why tongues, I thought, is it because I should speak more or hold my tongue more often? A loved one sometimes calls me “the mute” but then others believe I talk far too much; so which is it?
Do they mean anything at all?
I panic and move back, away from the sight.
I have stumbled from my dream self into another place.
This is nightmare.
“You’re not here alone.” I hear and then a laugh follows the words.
I turn and see no one.
I no longer remember his voice but still I recognise it and relief floods through me. For many years we were like father and son, and then – as father and son must, it seems – we transformed into enemies; or were we always such a thing?
I no longer know.
I was a child villain of my mother’s indiscretions; I was born it and it defined me. I sometimes still cry at the thought of it, must I live life as a villain, must I die with villainy on my mind? Or are these fears and thoughts no more real than the illusion I now face?
“Ah!” The voice comes again. This time I can pinpoint the direction, so I follow it. “You were always such a serious one, with thoughts so much bigger than the little man that held them.”
Again I am crying, but this time I know why, and this makes me smile through the tears.
posted by Alan Preece
on November, 18