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Tag: writing

two hundred and seven words. 10

207 Probably the girl’s greatest sin of her youth was her abandonment of imagination in favour of reason; before that betrayal (of herself) she could observe a person the way you would step back from a statue you had just made, fall in crush with it, and kiss it in her daydreams; after that she could see the pure stone, the straight, brown track, the division between rain and sunshine that could refract and make a double bow that a Bible would call God’s promise and she would call a natural terror – the same as leaves of frost on a window pane or the lower of a nimbus; her night-dreams, however, continued to be about flying and about a maze of rooms in a lit house she should know, and she came down from them into a world where you could – and this amazed her, almost took back the reason – find love, a thing that darted from moment to moment, took the eye and made the mind build a score of other views; in this state she would keep count by shifting pennies from her purse to her hand and back again, always in fives and, refusing ease, wrote her first poetry, the rise and fall of hymns

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jupiter©Marie Marshall

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two hundred and seven words. 9

When asked what their favourite colour is, no child will pick one that is a combination of two others; tell the girl that black represents no colour and white all colours, and she may half-raise her hand, she may look askance out of the window, she may lower her hand and then her eyes, remaining silent, but unconvinced, sinful in her mind that if that were true then neither block could be made for her paint tin, as each would be an impossibility; at break-time, while others run for milk, she circulates – as though a hostess at a party – asking each friend to choose, daring any to say orange or purple, stopped – as though a stone in a field – by the older girl who raises a cynical eyebrow and murmurs “Magenta,” which she does not believe; looking over the school wall at the fields and marveling that with such an abundance of chlorophyll no one defies the rule, and deciding that the leaves and grass are the product of mixing the shines of yellow sun and blue sky, and not of some feeble, boring science – better even to blame God for it, and for the wind that causes the trees, trapped giants’ fists, to threaten out of

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jupiter©Marie Marshall

two hundred and seven words. 8

Before you ask when the girl became detached from her shadow, here’s the moment – when she realised that it was growing taller than herself and fuzzier in the head, and watched it bob and bow in conversation with a tree, bend as it crossed a wall, melt into the black beneath a parked car where cat’s eyes regarded her without blinking and ignored her dark second-self; when she jumped and saw its wholeness, and spent the afternoon remainder jumping until someone shouted her to stop, maybe for the seventh or eighth time; after which, and for the rest of her life (so far) she held close to the sin of separation, adding that to her trophy line, to her catalogue of severed heads, to her squadron of dirty words, and to her at least five different ways of tying her shoelaces (and counting); until then she had been aware that, when someone called, “Hey you!” and she waved back, the shadow had saluted, the far, grey hand had attenuated; and she had run to the wordbook to enquire of ‘penumbra’; once or twice giving her shadow’s hands the look of kangaroo paws, but no more – the whole thing has bequeathed her an upward tilt of her

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jupiter©Marie Marshall

Go here to read my macabre tale from Shetland.

two hundred and seven words. 7

It always occurred to the woman that she and the girl, though separate beings each with her own moment and one deep in the uncertainty of re-coloured memory, had shared a wisdom, and one that had never increased or diminished, and that she had always known what she had known, and that that had been unveiled rather than achieved; this was the sin of believing herself to be a statue, chipped from a marble seam, and that, more often that otherwise, by her own hand, or by each passing person and thing at random rather as the winds tear a cloud, or by the block falling from the vein and rolling down the hillside – the taste of vanilla ice cream was good because it had been familiar at its introduction, there never having been an original experience but merely a reacquaintance, a reacquisition, even as the cold tore at her tongue, even as the melt dried on her fingers, yes, yes, I know this – but not stone at all, more a witch in time, born adept and everywhere reminded by experience, calling up herself by words and spells, that kind of wisdom; possible she knew this from watching flowers, which she would do endlessly, and then running

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jupiter©Marie Marshall

two hundred and seven words. 6

atime to recognise the sin of rhythm in herself, the desire to talk in threes, to rise with “Up, up, up,” and to lament with “Gone, gone, gone;” also to recognise, for the first time, the other and the bitter scent in her hair, the other who asked “Can you swear?” thus thrusting dialogue into the girl’s life while at the same time drawing a finger back and forward across her teeth – the girl, at home, hid behind a curtain, imitated the metre of the movement, convinced that was what the question signified – and who led in a whole parcel more, including the one who was like (like, because nothing ever is exact, all is simulacra at best) a basket of warm fruit settled in sunshine, there for the girl to drag her lips across; now there was the matter of the otherness of her own heartbeat, the thing that had, she realised, always had a dance of its own, apart from her, that kept running when she had brought herself to a stop, that quickened at a sudden thought and brought a fire to her ears, the subtle tick-tick-tick of a watch to her throat; more and more she listened to this little monster in herself

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jupiter©Marie Marshall

two hundred and seven words. 5

2075Changes may come, may already have come, may be on the way as she breathes in: such are her thoughts as she melts wax crayons on the hot hood of an electric fire, allowing pools of blood, blackcurrant, and blue to run, abut, vie, and harden as she switches off and cools their platform; she tests one with her finger, raises a peak, waits, tries another, leaves a print, waits, touches another and finds only a smooth shape – she does not know the word ‘meniscus’ so has nothing to compare it with, it is something all of its own – prizes it away with a fingernail and gasps as it breaks, looks long at the last roundel of her favourite colour, thinks of flavours, again draws the nail under it to lift off perfection, to bring it to her lip, to feel the contradiction of stillness and (yet) texture, this child who walks to school deep in the melt of her own mind has learned the way she will, being spared the perils of infancy, one day smithy her poetry; of such small heating and cooling are words, of such little hammering and shaping, of such experimental lifting, sometimes breaking apart, but now to be annealed, shaped, sharpened

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jupiter©Marie Marshall

two hundred and seven words. 4

There came a time when she didn’t look at abandoned buildings as dereliction, but as reflections of confidence and hope. No one had put in those windows expecting them to reflect a hole in the sky or a day there wouldn’t be someone to look out of them; no one had made the roof’s lamellar armour intending it would slip to be the ingress of crows and pigeons; no one had told the bricks to become clay again. So she pondered on a forgotten row with the sense of ces jours sont pour toujours, the knowledge of men, wives, children, ticking clocks, wakefulness and sleep, the cheer and banality of the radio, the battening down against wind and rain and the coolness of shade against sun. If she narrowed her eyes she could see a merging with a mountainside, the street twisting and becoming a difficult track above a precipitous drop, and it was her first dream of unity. Maybe it was this that made her look for and explore anywhere she could find that ought to be wild – looking for a dropped glove, a lost button, a page torn from a magazine somewhere among the trees or by the run of the little river between the

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jupiter©Marie Marshall

two hundred and seven words. 3

abandonment and bereavement, her ears burned with elation at the independence and shame for the same thing. Cheated of the vague presence of a precise woman in white, with softly accented speech, the girl looked for traces of her in others: her mother calling the malted spoonful offered up by its French alternative; the yes/no interlude; the way milk is pink when dashed with blackcurrant; the exact balancing of milk to cereal that retains crisp, replaces dry with moist, fails mush; the rough game played with a stuffed toy, and the instant regret that flash-floods when it’s flung to the ground. That freedom and shame will come back later with the loss of a lover, it will seem familiar, it will bring that gallery, that theatre of shadow puppets; the refusal of children to play; what follows, the sharp “I am alone” that won’t leave, and that consequently lies; being Pocahontas with a band of primary feathers, each of which may be taken out, stroked with and against its natural lie, held against her lips, dimmed in the shadow of a toy teepee, “I can tell differences by the smell.” Why did she sin and tell her first lie? On a window seat, by a Christmas tree

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jupiter©Marie Marshall

two hundred and seven words. 2

Sucks her fingers when they freeze, wet with snowballs, wee woolen gloves tightening and loosening. The catch of a summer dress, long onto the tops of wellies that bite the back of her legs, that kick up the smell of wet grass and mud underfoot. This is the sin of experiencing other, still your basic ignorance, still warring with knowledge – those fingers ache, then numb, then warm, no matter that the duffle coat’s worn as a cape, a play costume, doesn’t she know that to pretend other puts her in danger for ever? And yet she strides across that field, that trapped green by houses, to the red/yellow flaked swing set and the slide, wipes wet from the seat and the chute with her sleeve, sets her tongue to a chain and tangs iron, sits in the baby-swing, skirt/dress tucked once, twice, the same way she attempts handstands against a wall, and she kicks, kicks, kicks into the small sky! The chain’s alive in her hands, repeats its torque with every kick, with every arc it tightens, but she still doesn’t ken her name, only – they are different – what she’s called, better to know what to say clouds and the scent of first rain on flagstones, the

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jupiter©Marie Marshall

two hundred and seven words. 1

The girl came into the sin of knowing at the age of three; this must be, as she recalled, always recalls, her fourth birthday, and the fact that there was never rain. There was certainly a fall, a pigeon on the kitchen window sill, but her dreams and nightmares were recalled, always are: her mother waking her, just as she did on her birthday, but in that silence that can only be dreamt; a monster in the garden, sitting, eating an apple, somehow, a big man with no head; a monster, a draped man with no head, black cloak tattered, walking wicked quick along a lit tunnel, round walls, tiled; each monster musicked by the pulse in her ears, catch her if they can. The taste of wet earth tried out because of its likeness to potatoes and gravy, an experiment into the nature of similar things, showing her early grasp of philosophy in an antic school. Her own smell of yeast. There was never cold, there was never heat, there was only the confusion of knowing without the understanding that came with smiles and caresses. That sin she came into entered with the brilliance of a made-up word, her first gluttony on the fast-feast of language

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jupiter©Marie Marshall

By the way, the Summer 2018 Showcase at the zen space is now published. Go here to learn more.