Tuesday, 16 January 2018
The Wind Cried Mercy - Flash Fiction
When you prick yourself on a rose briar. When your cat scratches you in play. When you're stung by a bee. When you stub your foot on a forest stone because you're embosomed with your phone cursing the patchy signal. Pain used to bear a twin constituency, travelling along bifurcated tracks; the first paroxysmal path straight up the trunk road to the brain to alert to danger, demanding of immediate double declutch and reversing away from the hazard; the second, a slightly more sedate ache’s progress up the dorsal by-road, analysing the scenery and triaging the body’s response. But that was when the cause of the pain was external. Now with the agony emanating from within, there is no manoeuvre I can undertake to withdraw from its source. Since the source is me. I can fold myself over in two, I can grasp my stomach and squeeze myself, I can ram my eyes shut, but nothing can countervail the spasms. External objects never convulse you. They are hard and unyielding. The body is soft until it locks its muscles and garrottes your organs in peristaltic waves of pain.
I wish the doctor had never told me. I experienced the pangs yes, but I could always see them out eventually. But now I know what they signify, I cannot dismiss them through sheer gritted endurance. I might ride out the throb, but its lasting consequence still attends my conscious mind. The coronation of my imminent death. Heralded afresh with each piercing jag.
Symptoms and side effects: Chronic fatigue. The divine diapason of the dawn chorus when I am prostrate in my bed, signalling the night has flogged me sleepless. Breathlessness. The delicately vibrating spider’s web, with captured raindrops holding the vista of the world held in their prism fair takes the breath away. Tremors and increasing ataxia. The passing of the clouds in the sky, with their intricately amorphous borders I try and trace the ends of but can never quite fix. Swelling and inflammation. The vibrant colours of the snapdragons in my vase are almost too vivid for me to behold for any protracted period. I try and sketch them but my hand shakes too much to capture them. When the blossoms shrivel and die they resemble nothing less than human skulls and so it is not only their lost colour that is sundered in the calvary of my mind.
I lie down on my temporarily cease-firing stomach and inhale the grass in my garden. It smells extravagantly luscious. Complex. A mosaic of aromas. Nature’s musky spoor. I have never smelled it quite like this before. Sure I have been struck by the waft of newly mown grass, releasing its joys of being alive in Spring, once trepanned by the metal blade to incite further insurgent abundance. My nostrils, my mouth, my brain ingest such pungent vigour. And mock me for it. For the cut grass grows new hydra heads and will persist. Yet I will be decollated and asunder. There is no efficacy that other human heads persist beyond me for their finite span. Only now do I grasp this sumptuous fragrance, glean the pulchritude of life, but it will all be snatched away from me. I am only allowed a fleeting glimpse. The grass scolds me thus. It prompted rapture not a moment ago, now it only spites me with anguish and the sting within. And the grass, which does not rustle and whisper but rather hollers, is correct. This life that I desperately crave now that I know it is being withdrawn from me, to what end? Seeing that when I blithely possessed it, I was unaware and unappreciative of what it was for? What it offered. I barely occupy its bounties and benedictions, so how can I lament its passing? Yet I'm crying. Crying at beauty. Or crying for beauty. Crying at death.