We’ll take our hearts outside
Leave our lives behind
And watch the stars go out
– Dubstar, Stars
My world shattered.
It happens so quickly, so painfully painfully slowly. It happens so pitilessly, so without reason or rationale. It happened so suddenly. My world, shattered.
A rook perches on the roof opposite, perfect black on perfect white, against a perfect ice blue sky. Sun striking snow, white and light. My tears are all in scrunched tissues now, dropped carelessly on the floor.
The world is so quiet, without words. This I know from meditation, this I know now. Howling, fearsome silence against an ice blue sky.
The rook takes off, streaks black against blue. I howl against it, howl against the obscenity of movement, taking the present ever further from the past. But nothing is still in this world, no matter how much you long it to freeze.
Leo held me and held me and I sobbed and I howled, and I howled after the shock had left and all that remained was that awful obscene silence of the world as it truly is, raw and present and uncaring. Leo held me and mum stroked my hair, shhh, she said, comforting a child. Shh. And I howled, and I’m still howling, silently.
I never replied to that text. He sent it a few days before Christmas, just chatting, I know it’s stupid but you know that thing about butterflies and storms and I’m thinking if only I’d replied to that text then maybe maybe maybe, maybe…
We go for a walk, me and Leo, around my village and out of the village and through the snow. There’s a beautiful vandalism in treading across virgin snow, ruining the perfect scene, delight in being the first to break the silence. It’s frosted, ice crystals like tiny towers crust the drifts, crunch as we walk, crunch crunch, crunch.
I’ve not walked this way in years. This isn’t up to the woods, but across the village, out of the village, passing fields and sheep, passing farms and old railway lines which stretch off, perfect black lines in perfect white toward a piercing winter sun. Tarmac gives way to frozen mud and frosted snow and ice, thick slabs of ice.
I walk on the ice, hearing it creak and crack, stamp down. Daring it to shatter.
Brother 2 and co were visiting, he’d carved out a pumpkin for his eldest daughter, she was a fragile four years old. Lit a candle inside and turned the lights off, she squealed with joy and joyful fear. We walked around the village, she held mum’s hand and we chased her, making oogie-boogie sounds. She screamed and ran, dragging mum by the hand, joyful and afraid, come on nana, the monster’s coming! And me and my brother, play chasing and making oogie-boogie sounds.
Come on, nana! The monster’s coming!
And just then we were perfect, because she was perfect, and the world was so safe and so simple and we knew we’d all go home and have apple pie for tea.
Come on nana!
The monster’s coming!
The ice shatters eventually, of course. My trainer plunges into freezing water, I skip neatly onto the bank beside me, crunch virgin snow underfoot. Leo wasn’t so lucky, frozen mud on his jeans. We carry on walking. Away from the village, towards the old pit tip. I’m heading for a spring. We used to meet my granddad there sometimes, when I was a fragile four years old. So young that I can’t remember where it was. Eventually I give up, we turn back.
“The ice has thawed a bit”, Leo says, “even in the time we’ve been walking”
We walk on.
“Did you ever read that thing about wounds?”, I ask.
“That thing about wounds and scars?
“Scar tissue isn’t like normal skin. Your body needs to keep replenishing it. All the scars you’ve ever had, from a paper cut to an operation… they’re still marking your body. It’s working all the time to heal them.
It needs vitamin C. If you don’t get enough vitamin C, they start opening up. All the scars you’ve had in your life, they start bleeding. They never really left you”
We walk on, back home. The sun setting on a brief, dazzling day.
Time will stop, eventually, the present will no longer be dragged obscenely from the past. Eventually, the world will stop changing, for time is simply change.
And change is just movement. And movement is just the physical manifestation of heat. And eventually, billions of years from now, the world will freeze, and a dark universe will be held eternal.
But until then we move, from the past to the present, from opportunity to regret. Until then there is heat, and movement, and change, and time. Until then there is passion. Until then there is grief.
Grief is the price we pay for stars.
But still I howl.