Tar stirred. The dream had not yet left him entirely. Slowly, element by element, the world dissolved into its bleached palate of cold reality. First to go were the voices. Had there been words or only notions? Sensations felt beyond fingertips, ideas concrete as a crumbling arch. Next the faces, now featureless as a cloud crowded night sky. And then the fade was complete and though there were still remnants to behold, they gave only the memory of life, not the breath of it. Tar allowed his eyes to open and he blinked his way into the new day.
There had been water – fresh but not frigid, as though cooled only by the night around it, rather than the icy depths beneath. And whilst there was a flow close by, the current only called his body, not yet claiming it. He was buoyant, though the purchase of his toes on smooth stones sank away from his control as he teetered on the edge of surrender. There had been power out of sight but thundering into earshot. Incessant impact, rhythmic yet constant – a beating roll of blind violence. There was peace in it – resignation. He was alone but only a steward of his loneliness. Others would come, many had been, all alone.
Tar rose, stretched and winced as The Pain reclaimed its rightful place at his side. She had become Tar’s most loyal companion. Through all weathers, in every mood. Like an eager hound, it lolled at his side, sometimes dull, other times raw, The Pain was always present. And it slept only when he slept, though rarely the whole night through. Often it would wake before Tar’s final resignation to the night – demanding to be noticed, rubbed, cosseted and soothed back to slumber.
Today, it was slower to awake than Tar himself had been, leading him to forget himself and reach skywards. He had no right to such refined pleasures. The Pain bit deep and the boy crumpled like a trodden Autumn leaf. Crushed beneath the wicked sear, his breath left him and his vision shot crimson across the blackness. In practiced instinct, he shifted his weight to give his wound the sun. It beamed at the exposure and relief dripped slowly back into the boy’s blood. He paused a moment to claim the unbridled joy of reprieve and felt the first fall of rain about him.
He must find shelter. He looked about himself but saw only blue skies. And yet the fall grew heavier. He could hear it, feel its vibration in the sand. But the rain fell from him, not on him. Tar rolled slowly – and then he felt it. The cold soak of hot damp. He saw his demise before he made its acquaintance formally. He was open. He gave his mass to the sand and let his eyes swim in the blue above him. His toes felt the purchase of the smooth stones once more before the current took him. And he was free.
Last week I found out she’d passed one of my ideas off as her own! I’m fed up of having my work stolen. No promotion, no pay rise, working harder for the same money. This was not how it was supposed to be but a steady income and that perpetual promise of promotion has made me comfortable. Too comfortable. I’ve lost my drive but what to do next? I can’t just look for something else can I? Can I? I could temp? Go travelling? Working 70 hour weeks means no life so I have savings. “I quit!” I realise. I’ve finally seen the light and it’s not an overhead, migraine inducing florescent strip. “A.O.B” she asks? Nope, you’ve sucked me dry but you know what? I’m no longer tired! As I leave, the Crunchies lay melting in the middle of the table.