Stride Magazine -



 The colours in this room, in this space, landscape, or whatever it is, they are all very basic. Primary, and even the non-primary colours, well, they look like primary colours. You can't imagine them being reduced down to their respective parts. Dissected. No. They are mono-colours. Monolithic and monotone. Pillar-box red and Empire green. Burnt orange and a Royal Navy blue. And even the geese, their whiteness, it isn't... I don't know how to put it but it is, they all are, all these colours ... immovable. Earthed. There is an overwhelming purity and thickness. And the light, my God, the light. Intense, strong, blinding. That's why the colours have to be so strong, theyhave to stand up to that light. They have to refuse to become bleached, refuseto take second place in the order of things.

 And then he came in. That pale little figure. You wouldn't have noticed him except for the clothes. The thick green jumper with the gold buttons along the left shoulder, the thick brown pants. And the black Wellington boots. As though somebody had shown him the key, the were-withal, stuck him through a ritual, toget him in here. When he took his silly hat off, when you saw that fine blondehair on top of his pale, transparent face, you couldn't make the connection. Between him and the space, I mean. Between him and the íscape, the ... canvas almost. Not that it is like a painting. Not at all, for one thing it is freezingout here. The wind is howling off left somewhere, as though it is boring downinto the sea, into the very depths of the ocean. I think the word I'm looking for is brutal. Everything out here is brutal. Primitive. And then this ...this walking contradiction. I mean, where did he come from, how did heget here?

 Somebody said he was a sleepwalker. And then I became afraid. If he was asleepwalker then he would be able to see me. And sure enough, he was moving fast, as though he had no fears of that space, as though he didn't have any real connection to the ground, the earth, the soil of this ... three dimensional world. As though he was two-dimensional. A thin whisper, a wafer, a waif, a wastrel. A sleepwalker, I should have guessed it. That would explain the lack of heaviness. The way he could just look at you but without using the organs that were his eyes. He looked at you with something else. He heard you, listened out for you, without using the organs that were his ears. Then he smiled. Why had he come here? I had not asked for him. I had not invited him in. Called upon him. Icertainly had not visited him.

 It's Mark, Suzie LaLu said, he's come in looking for you. Mark? I couldn't believe it. But, he seems like a ... like a little boy, I said. Nevertheless, it's Mark, Suzie LaLu said.

 I looked more closely. He looked half his age. Half his forty years. They have to do that to get in here, Suzie LaLu said and she laughed. A heavy scented laugh, appropriate to our home, to this thick coatedness we live in, this atmosphere that feels more like water than air.

 Why? I asked. Why do you think, Suzie LaLu said. Was she jealous? I wondered.I walked over to him and smiled. You never could help but smile when Mark wasaround, he was kind of infectious like that. He didn't see me, not until I wasright up in his face. He was moving about too fast, that sleepwalking thing. I thought he was going to say something silly, that he was just on his way to the bathroom or something. But he didn't. I don't think he had expected thephysicality. He had probably thought to encounter some disembodied soul. An angel or a cat. A boddhisatva or a boa constrictor. Not just me in my usual heavy body, more at home here, more grounded. Listening with one ear to the windboring into the ocean.

 Hello Mark, I said. He blinked hard twice, then smiled. I saw the beauty of his face, was reminded of it. Why? He asked. Why did you go from me? I didn't mean to, I said, I just did. Won't you come back? He asked. But I wouldn't know how to. I mean, I'm at home here. And if I think about it, he was always a bit like that, Mark, always a bit overly spiritual somehow. Oversensitive. You could imagine him slowly drinking himself to death ifthings didn't go well. He wasn't abrasive like me. He wouldn't ski down the Dolomites or stick his head in a gas oven. He was never really into the hardness of the earth. I don't know why he ever went there in the first place. I don't understand why he didn't skip it at once.

 I need you, he said. And there was that old twinge of pain. That feeling of something probing, spiralling downwards into me. Boring, penetrating. Trying to get into places where it had no right. Stay out of my space you fuck! I heard myself shout out loud. Then he turned even paler. Julie! Suzie LaLu called out, in that reprimanding tone she has.

 But he never did understand things, Mark. He was always so damned, so damned ... he always wanted to get to the bottom of things. As if things have a bottom. As though everything can be explained. Just look up the origin of the word, the origin of the religion, the origin of the this and the that. And there you haveyour answer. That was Mark all over.

 Sometimes it felt like he was explaining me away. That I was becoming not-me. That I was becoming some kind of artificial, highly cultivated, oversensitive co-exister. Vibrating with him whilst he read a poem, a tuning fork between us as the stereo turned a string quartet. I mean, Mark, it was all so lovely in thebeginning. I thought you were so, so ... so everything that I wanted to become but in the end you were nothing that I wanted. Nothing at all. And you couldn't take it, you couldn't leave alone. You pursued me, chased me, wouldn't give up, wouldn't accept no for an answer. Started to talk about the stages of love. The stages of love, do me a favour! I'm a healthy woman for crying out loud. I want to ski down the Dolomites and stick my head in the gas oven. Get out of my space. Take your sweet, smiling paleness and piss off out ofhere.

 I think you're going a bit over the edge, Suzie LaLu said. But I had alreadygone over the edge, I took myself over the edge, joyfully, in fullknowledge. I embraced my life and carried it with me into this place. Into this private place. Into this place where nobody should be able to enter. Not unless I give them permission.

 Then how did he get here, Suzie LaLu asked, if you didnít let him come? I looked out at the wind, boring into the ocean. Forcing its way into another element. Tell me about it, I said. Please, Mark said. Oh, sod off Mark. Better come again another day, Mark, Suzi LaLu said.

 And suddenly he was gone. The funny thing, the absurd thing is, that he's left his footprints here. That's so he can find his way back, Suzi LaLu said. And in a funny way I miss him already. I look forward to seeing him again. My little, irritating sleepwalker.


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