The intangible reality is that I bleed the truth when I’m not looking. My parents thought me to be careful and I listened but only heard, be free. They sought my salvation through caution and I threw it to the wind. I watched them struggle and only saw myself. The truth became the lie of a selfish indignation in which young men like to wallow. But then I grew older and wisdom settled upon me.
Every little piece of me, all that I am and will ever be, begun as a seed that was nurtured, not always perfectly but nurtured nonetheless. I owe my much missed parents all that I can never repay. It seems a lifetime since I lost them both, it virtually is, half a lifetime anyway and I am as much them, as I am me. The bit that is me, is the bit I take credit for and I used to take all the credit, but that is so unfair.
I was a little lost boy once and my family and environment shaped me. How I managed to turn out this way, I’ll never truly know because I lack the insight to my own self. All I know is that I’ve cheated misfortune and rode my luck more often than not and I’ve somehow managed to never look down from my tightrope more by accident than by design. I’ve been too busy looking ahead and looking up to look down. I think I am afraid I will see the truth below anyway, so I try to never drop my eyes.
But the truth is a sneak thief. He hides in the dark of the night, lurking in the corner of the room in the place just outside your peripheral emotional vision. Truth is patient. Truth can wait a lifetime to tell you what you don’t want to hear. Truth can tell you that you have flown too high or your smile is undeserved. Truth can take away the twinkle and claw at your skin. It becomes an itch you know you shouldn’t scratch. But you inevitably scratch it, you boil up, split, bleed and it happens when you are not looking, when you are at your lowest and when you are most vulnerable. Sometimes the truth becomes the lie in your heart for lies hurt less.
When I was a small boy, my Granny came to stay with us for a few days each fortnight. I hated my granny. It wasn’t her fault, she had dementia and she smelt funny. Her arrival designated me to a sleeping bag in front of the fire with my trusted dog for company. I didn’t really mind the sleeping bag bit, that was an adventure, but I hated that I lost my room even for a few nights. I didn’t understand of course but still I complained.
One night as I lay in the dark, something moved beside me. I craned my neck and looked down at my little blue sleeping bag, illuminated by the glow of the fire. There was nothing there and it was quiet in the still of the night. For a few moments nothing happened but then the strangest thing occurred. The big metal loop at the top of the zipper on the sleeping bag lifted, as if an invisible hand was holding it. The zip began to move. It was a slow, steady movement and it stopped after moving about a foot down. My tiny little body was frozen to the spot, quite terrified. I knew I was awake and that I wasn’t dreaming.
The voice whispered my name in my left ear and the hairs stood on the back of my neck. In the same moment the partially unzipped portion of my sleeping bag flapped open across my chest and I felt a terrible weight pressing on me. I was so tiny and afraid and I tried to see what was there in the half-light of the fire, but the room was empty.
The voice was so soft and whispered I could barely hear it and then the pressure was released. A dark shadow slithered away, slipped behind the curtains. I slid out of the sleeping bag as fast as I could and leapt to my feet. I looked around but I was alone. I stared at the curtains for such a long time but they were still, unmoving, the shadow man had departed. The doors were all closed and the dog was still sleeping by the hearth.
I never told anyone but when my Granny passed away days later, I knew what the voice had meant. I don’t believe in ghosts or the supernatural despite my visitor, but it was far from the last portentous event in my life. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you will know of Mr. Squiggles. He has it seems, always been with me my shadow man, my nurturer of doom, my harbinger of darkness, my Mr. Squiggles.
I am the smile to the world outside. Beneath the mask I hide my secret but my books bleed the truth like leeches releasing the pressure. Recently I have watched fellow writers and friends struggle with the burden of our craft and I have understood that struggle. It is a gift and a curse to write, a joy and a sorrow. There are few things in life that can compare to this part of me, the writer. That part of me is indescribable and ethereal; it is the drizzle in the lemon of my cake, the truth I bleed when I’m not looking… the truth that allows the smile hiding in the corner of my every word, that inkles my twinkle …the one I keep for special occasions…
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