It was the day after.
Daniel and me had slowly made our way up the small incline of the driveway of the block of flats, with Daniel trying to balance, then walk, me holding his arms. He could sort of stand and wobble for a second, but when he lifted one foot to place it forward, he collapsed. Yet something in the human, or animal, spirit, has us try again.
So as long as Daniel had the will to try, I let him try. I balanced him each time, and he tried. His eyes on the concrete before him seemed to have all the concentration of a tight rope walker crossing Niagara Falls. It was funny, really, that our lives together, were possessed of this moment: Daniel attempting to walk. What decisions were being made in boardrooms at now, I wondered, as my son attempted to take his first step. It really did feel as momentous as walking on the moon – or would have, if this morning he did indeed succeed in letting go of me, and independently stepped forward.
MAN WALKS ON MOON!
DANIEL TAKES FIRST STEP IN DRIVEWAY OF FLATS
AT COTTESLOE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA!
A front page report, both of them, in my mind.
When we reached the letterbox, about 10 minutes of our lives had passed. Time, the fascinating holder of the candle which bears the flame which is our lives, crawled steadily alongside us, all the way. But whereas my wick was worn, I don’t know, half way? – Daniel’s flame burned so brightly and had scarcely made a mark in Time. How many years did my boy have for his existence? How many years had I left of mine? Does God hold the answer in the Almighty’s heart, or Fate in her determined hold, or Chance in his fickle palm? A car could come careening off Stirling Highway, crashing through the brick wall, and kill us both… NOW. That it did not, as we stood at the brick letterboxes in the sunshine, I could never know whether was determined, fated or chanced.
I don’t know why I think these things, especially when the sun is smiling on us, but such crossed my mind as I opened the letterbox. I reached inside but Daniel insisted on being the retriever of this morning’s mail, so I took my hand out again and let him reach inside. He pulled out a snail. Ugh.
I remember being told to put poison – snail pellets – in the letterbox to avoid them eating my mail, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t want little souls shriveling up and dying on my letters for however many hours before I would discover them. Yet to some, it is questionable whether snails have souls. To some, only humans – or at most large, ‘substantial’ animals, have souls. If snails were the size of Daniel’s pram, I wonder would humans deem them to be in possession of a soul. I had no idea, but just that they were living was enough to discourage me from causing their death to preserve my mail.
I could never forget reading that Buddhists, who believe all – “even worms” – are with soul, actually cease building a home or shrine, or anything, should they spy such creature while digging, to carefully remove and re-home them, before continuing. This felt to me such extreme action in avoidance of harm in this world. Yet, it was only recently I had begun buying non-bruised fruit for myself. For over a decade I had always chosen the bruised over the whole, as I felt sorry that it had been overlooked, and would be overlooked all day until closure when the grocer restocked his shelves and no doubt discarded the bruised, imperfect fruit.
I had decided myself worthy of whole fruit only after reading a book – I can’t remember what it was; most likely by Louise L. Hay. That is why when Chris brought Daniel and me bruised fruit from the Fremantle markets where he worked in a stall doing feng shui, it impacted me that he had not brought us a gift, but a gesture: Daniel was not worth spending money on – shiny, fresh, crisp fruit; he was worth only what happened to be left over, rejected. And it’s why I tried, but ever failed, to not choose bruised men any more.
I threw the snails out of my letterbox regularly, and cleaned it of cobwebs with a rag. I knew throwing the sails into the garden was simply transferring the “problem” because snails have to eat, as I do, but, it was just too much disturbance in my mind to think further than that. I had saved their lives by not buying pellets, and that was as far as this human was willing to go.
Perhaps the snails themselves would choose a neighbour’ pelleted letterbox over mine, and I couldn’t control that – perhaps the maintenance gardener will come to the flats today and spray “death to the uglies” all over the garden, or the snail I took from Daniel’s curious fingers and threw into the bushes; perhaps it would crack its shell on a rock and begin to die from there or be eaten by ants or crawl back onto the driveway and be crushed by the tyre of my neighbour’s car, as she comes out of one of the only two garages of the flats.
It was maddenng to me that my mind spun on tiny issues, which to so many were not even issues. I was constantly exhausted in my head, trying to make sense or make right or understand or accept, my life. I truly drove myself nuts. And all the while the sun blithely continued to smile upon us.
Copyright, Noeleen&Daniel 50/50
Waking with the freshness of the Indian Ocean breathing through every little square of the flywire on my open window, was a blessing I had created for myself when I left the marriage.
As I’ve said, when my husband said to me so unforgettably when choosing a far outer suburb to take up residence in,“We can live near the beach when we retire,” I was speechless. It was hard to explain why I could not imagine becoming 30 years old, let alone 40, let alone retired and 65. My husband had offered that promise of possibility 45 years hence, not knowing that albeit in my early twenties, I could not envisage a future. With the same dark mind I had developed about age 15, I looked at him through my depression and told him “but what if I don’t make it to 65? What would have been life, then?”
My husband laughed at that because, just as he did not know I had taken eight laxatives after dinner and vomited in a corner of the back yard where we were attempting to grow pumpkins (I sure wasn’t going to eat them), nor did he know I actually could not visualise “a future”. I could not see me older and in a house or in a job I love or with children or anything. To me, it was like trying to envisage the alps and mountainsides, gullies through which chill-fresh rain water coursed its way from town to town through my Mother’s homeland, Poland: impossible. I had never seen a picture of it, and while I know it exists, I just cannot imagine it.
I had never practised envisioning a future. My father never mentioned university as a possibility for us girls, scoffed at my lofty notion of self when I dared say I wanted to be a writer for a living, and just never encouraged from me mind for a future. He once told me, “If – IF you EVER find an employer who wants yer, yer better stick with them for life.” I really was worthless, and this was to be good advice except that I never stayed in a job longer than two years – hence, over decades, I had “won over” employer after employer after employer, maintaining steady and varied employment. Huh, go figure, dad - I concede that, did muse the voice of my subconscious.
I never envisioned a future for I was too distracted on a daily basis by work and duty. I worked only to earn money to pay the mortgage and to assist in affording my husband’s love of Holden Toranas. I kept house – dinners, shopping, washing; but only because these are the duties of existence (ingrained habits of being). While my husband played with his cars each and every weekend, I exercised or wrote – to speak to an open page what I was feeling. I never sent it off, never regarded my words as of value. Me, a writer?! Oh, why do we wear the lables people hammer into our brains with nails sharpened by their embittered selves? If someone stuck a ‘Kick me’ sign on my back, I would tear it off indignantly. But hear the words of hate of me which frothed from my father’s lips so regularly over seven years, emphasized by his squinting pig-eyes and sudden advances as if he was going to punch me, well, in time the words become fact. I guess there really is something to be said for rote learning, after all.
I kill my days in sacrifice to the future.
We must work, my husband says,
for our future wealth, future acquisitions,
future ‘happiness’, I think it’s called.
Day by day I lead them to the slaughterhouse,
One by one I lead my days from 8 in the morning to that grey building
in between two grey buildings.
They resist, they do,
but I am the leader of my life
and so by the leash of duty, I drag my days to the building, my workplace.
And therein I trap them until 5 pm when the clock indicates permission to leave.
I then unleash my day and it falls dead upon the floor – spent, irretrievable.
And I make my way home to cook dinner for my husband.
Up at 6, home 12 hours later.
How painfully the seconds tick over at work.
Wishing I was out there living,
I am imprisoned by surviving.
I am shackled by society’s Perpetuated Way of Being.
Everyone maturely accepts it, they say.
Have I not grown up, then,
that I cannot endure sacrificing my days
my days born to me,
to the soulless constitution of no creativity?
It’s to pay for our goals, the people say,
raging hard on Friday nights, not wanting to talk “work”.
Where would we be without alcohol ???????
No doubt sober,
and wondering why.
In bed I breathed deeply of the Indian Ocean. Those waters which rushed to meet my feet at shore, Cottesloe Western Australia, they retreated to meet the feet of some African person in another state of mind, of being, of life. It is just too fascinating. I would be sure to take Daniel and me to the beach today and, with my energy renewing, I would surprise Tom by cleaning the yoga room. He was so wonderfully accepting that I did not keep to a clock, that I cleaned only when I could. Whereas an employer would tap at a clock face and look down upon you as incompetent for not being able to keep within the accepted time frames, Tom let the days pass, knowing I would do my duty, I would I would, when I could.
I could envision no future, least of all the one my husband could so clearly see, because every “second day”, unless it was highly distracted by interesting people – such as, thank mercy, the wit I engaged in with the men at work; or the true and deep conversations I had with Julian from the theatre group; my thoughts could not help but waft toward the Plan B I had maintained alive since when life had first become unbearable at 15: suicide. It kept me alive, to know I could just die.
I learned in books later, too much later, that first we must conceive of a life, to have that life.
On my back in bed and thinking, I willed to make a coffee to sip and muse over, but I was afraid my movement would wake Daniel. It was utterly precious time, those mornings I woke before Daniel. I remember thinking it was the best invention when “they” created kettles that did not whistle – screaming in shrill alarm that all hell was breaking loose within the aluminum vessel; water was boiling frantically, steaming, evaporating – quick! come make your coffee – quick!
“A watched kettle never boils”, had said my Aunty Mona once, and I looked at it and wondered what kind of consciousness did this kettle have, that it would not boil as long as I watched it? I was a very literal girl; very gullible I guess, as is the mark of innocence. I stood by the kettle and watched it for a while, challenging it to boil while I stood over it, but Aunty Mona called me away to continue our game of Scrabble. I had to leave the kettle, which proved me the idiot, sure enough, for just as I placed down ‘permeate’ where there had been ‘ate’, the kettle whistled, and I made the teas.
Futures. How many people, really, see a future?
I remember when learning kung fu, pre Daniel, never forgetting the look on Si-Hing (teacher) Dave’s face when we were chatting after class. We were talking about our interests – me, theatre, acting in film students’ shorts, writing (receiving a lover who called me at all hours, never stayed, didn’t ask much about me, contemplating death constantly, packing up all I “owned” and writing goodbyes to my sisters, no ambition but would love to write for a living if only I knew how to make a job of it – etc – of course which I did not say). But Si-Hing Dave, he was going to travel to Asia this coming September, then was going to somewhere else, and he was studying his whatever to be a whatsa and by the year two-thousand-and-WHAT? NEXT CENTURY? he would be living in some suburb, indulging his side business. And he was learning Mandarin, too. Well, I just looked at him. It was fascinating to me, truly, that someone would invest so much plan, thought and belief into a future which may never be. I myself had witnessed a car collide with a truck at an intersection and heard the female driver’s agonizing scream as Death seized her throat, choked the life remaining in her and shook it so violently I could see her spasms of pain jerking her body behind the wheel. And I had seen other drivers tear from their cars, leaving doors hanging open. I had heard the cacophony of horror which avalanched from the hearts of bystanders upon whose otherwise fine day had fallen but one flake of mortality, the weight of which was enough to collapse their hopes of tomorrow, imploding emotions into the pit of their bellies. I was sure that woman died that day. And I knew it before her children did.
I looked at Si-Hing Robert as he finished describing the wonderland of the future, a smile on his face, in reverie. I felt pale in comparison.
“But,” and I asked this truly candidly, because I could hardly believe it had not crossed his mind, “But what if there is no tomorrow?”
Si-Hing Dave looked at me with the most quizzical look. WHO does not contemplate a future? I realized only then that I had missed something in my raising by dad which gave me the scope to dream, imagine, to reach for tomorrow as if you’re in a tree reaching out for a rope which is within your grasp but you just need to stretch enough, far enough – yes, stretch, then feel it with your fingers and manouvre and GRAB IT, the future, and swing on that rope with the highest joy before jumping off and landing splash in the fresh clean lake of life, and swim about and giggle, urging the others in your life to do the same.
“C’mon! It’s gorgeous! It’s wonderful! You can do it! Join me!”
And with one hold on the stability of their job, they reach for the vine that bears the fruit and they stretch, grasp and swing too “whhheeeeeeeeeee!” and they let go and splash! they land in the middle of the adventure which is life.
Sigh. We would make something of today, I decided. I had more energy. We would go to the toy library and the beach and clean the yoga room to grab a fistful of cash, and with that cash we’d do something special, different. Maybe, I don’t know, maybe buy take away and have it on the beach. I’m sure Daniel would like to experience hot chips now that he was chewing. I would blow on them with love to cool them and feed them to my beloved son, and with our bums on the sandy shores we would eat and be, just be, with Nature emblazoning the skies with its artistry at dusk. And we would feed the seagulls and Daniel could watch them squawk and gather around us, daring to come as close as a seagull will. Maybe there’d even be one of those dominant ones, those ones that sound off all the others so that they back away, as it takes the prized chip in its beak and flutters away to be alone to gobble, while the others surge forward for whatever is left over.
It always fascinates me that it is voice – voice and stance, which wins the prize. In public arguments at the check-out of a supermarket, when telling the phone company they’re not providing the service you’re paying for and you want something done, when exchanging an item that is faulty…It has always been the demeanour and the strength of voice which won or lost the little battle. From that engaged-to-be-married 19 year old in Frankston who bought a kilo of sausages from the butcher because he said “You can’t just buy a couple, we only sell them in kilos”, slowly I was finding my voice, day upon day in this life, as each challenge presented itself: and eyed me square-on and said, “So are you going to let this happen to you, or are you going to fight it?” I reckoned today, for sure, we were going to fight “it”.
Oh sigh, life really takes time – from birth to departure – to fully “get”, if we can manage to get it at all, this lifetime.
Copyright Noeleen&Daniel 50/50
Daniel and me had dinner and a quiet night of doing little, just letting the seconds fall from the clock until a pool of time had collected around us and we ought to bed before we drowned in the liquidity of existence.
Daniel was a bit hyper and difficult to settle, so I had to attack him with tickles and nonsense for some of his unspent energy to be expelled in giggles and gurgles. The simple joy of my affection upon him that shone from his eyes was a gift to behold. I felt awed at my own self that I could give so much, so easily. I had never been inclined to babies, but here was my own born, and a love that I never knew myself capable of, flowed from me. I realized, bending over the cot and laughing at Daniel’s closed eyes, chubby cheeks and smiling mouth emitting the music of happiness, that my own son had taught me love. For the very first time in my life, I felt love. I had not ever felt it from my father, could not consciously recall it from my mother, my sisters were basically strangers with the familiarity of family – and other people, well, they were just people in my life. In truth and fact, for all my time on this planet, for this century at least, I had not felt love outward or inward. If ever I were to write a book, I would inscribe at its opening: ‘To my only son, Daniel, who taught me Love’.
When finally Daniel was in his cot with the white teddy I’d slept with while pregnant, to infuse it with my energy, and laying on his side eyeing me, I sat propped in my bed, the Bible in my hands. As determined that morning, I would read the word of God until I literally collapsed into the arms of sleep. I would keep vigil for however many nights it took, to show the spiritual visitors that this was our territory and we were protected by God.
Oh God, was it really the word of God? Had only man said it was? I had been told by Nuns when I was a kid, that it was. And who told them? Their parents? They had faith it was; I was to have faith it was. I had heard the argument of atheists that people believe in God “because people need to believe in something”. I had heard the belief of Buddhism that we each are Buddhas/Gods. I remembered as a child being taught that God is within each of us. What is true and what is illusion in this life, I just do not know. But I know, absolutely, that we had been haunted, and of all that I had tried, this was my only resource that I could conduct myself, put out there myself, until we won – won our home back.
Why hadn’t the Priest blessing the place worked, I wondered. I then suddenly wondered whether, if I flung holy water at the electrified air space that night, like I had flung my urine; if it would have caused a hissing sound too. How curious, I wondered, wondered.
I looked at Daniel’s eyes, anticipant, looking at me. He knew I was doing something different tonight and watched me curiously. I bet he was glad I had returned my bed to his room, nearby his cot. I had separated us, thinking it was “time”, that I should for his independence, and here we were cloistered together, the door shut, me ready to speak the spirits away. And they would listen to me?
I wondered whether at this age, Daniel yet thought ‘why’? Would he think, ‘Why is Mum reading aloud tonight in her bed? Why is Mum’s bed back in my room?’ The child health nurse told me there will come a ‘why’ stage. Not even I know what answers I will give. I never guessed that I would be in a position this lifetime, of teaching another generation ‘why’. Some of it will be the factual why, and some my own moral and spiritual why. I will actually be teaching my offspring my own beliefs of existence and purpose, reason and, well, why not rhyme.
To think I will be affecting another human being with my own mind of things is really pretty heavy going. I had hardly been taught myself. I had to “make of it what I could”, mostly. I was given Roman Catholic direction from the time of the orphanage – age six, and while living with Aunty Betty, but once I reached dad’s domain, that’s when I was left to try and survive the years best I could, and find within myself whatever I could to endure. And I had been a ship adrift. And I had been an island. And I had been madly driven at times. And I had been so depressed that darkness was the only light I could see. Oh, what kind of God gave to me this beautiful child – me, my damaged psyche, depressed heart, my suicidal ideations that consume me for days on end? It is the same God that gave me the heart which flutters with a butterfly’s wings as I watch it hovering over golden flowers, sunny days, feeling warm sunshine on the crown of my head, smelling ocean in the air, marvelling at the colours of nature, and dreaming as the butterfly leaves the flower and flutters off into a distance, into its own existence.
Oh, my head – I need to put it to bed! Too much. I smiled at Daniel, said, “Shhhhhhh, sleeeeeeep,” and opened the Bible.
I suddenly thought of Chris. Given my desperation when I rang and he came over with the Chinese written signs to ward off the unseen presences, and when I rang again to say that hadn’t fully worked – something had galloped up my belly in the middle of the night, literally, physically, and pounced off my chest; given the terror of what I was experiencing, I was amazed he hadn’t rung to see how I was – and had the flinging of the urine gotten rid of the energies/powers wandering spirits/ghosts, or whatever the hell it was that had terrorized me these last weeks? I didn’t need Chris to care about me, but as the mother of his child, given his child was involved … again, I just did not understand Chris.
Skipping the puzzling begat and begotting, I read that God had made the world and created man. I read how he put man to sleep, took a rib, and created woman from him. I read aloud and clearly what I believed to be the word of God, so that the vibrations of His word would fill our room, be present, and be the charge of our room.
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh:
she shall be called woman (f)
for she was taken out of man”
(f) The Hebrew for woman sounds like the Hebrew for man
I read how Eve was tempted by the serpent, the apple, and how she and Adam hid from God as he was walking through the garden of Eden because they were suddenly ashamed of their nakedness, having eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I wondered why we humans ought not know of good and evil. Maybe that was heaven, how things were back then: living, doing your daily work, God walking by every now and then in His resplendence. What could progress from that, though? Nothing, so we would just exist, emanating joy.
I read about Cain and Abel, the sons of Eve, but was confused when the Bible said that “Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant”. The only way Cain could have had a wife was if Eve gave birth to a girl before she gave birth to Cain. As “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living”, I accepted that maybe people lived hundreds of years in the beginning of time. Maybe Eve did have a daughter first who grew up, and then she had Cain and then she had Abel – but why was the birth of Eve’s daughter not worth a mention? “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. That made it sound like her first born. I didn’t quite get it.
I read onward, including that Cain’s son, Enoch, was born a son named Irad, and “Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael… Lamech. Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.” The Bible continued to only mention women as appendages to men – the ones who “gave birth to a son”. With all this giving birth to sons, I didn’t comprehend where the women were coming from. And really, did it have to start with the birth of man in time that men had two wives? What, in moral conscience, is the purpose of two wives? I could only see that it would serve ego, and as it was fine for Lamech to marry two women, the service of ego seemed to be condoned.
I found the Bible difficult to swallow. I was only on chapter 5, ‘From Adam to Noah’, and it seemed to have regard for the importance of only one half of the human race. I couldn’t remember learning this when I was a child – that the birth of girls are not worth mentioning, but when they are a wife and bearing a son they are worth mentioning.
I had to not think too hard, and continue reading aloud the word of God. I had to have faith this was the answer: the word of God filling my home so that nothing else could fit into it. I looked at Daniel, and his eyes were half shut. This should work a double treat.
I read past midnight, when I was slumped against my pillow and Daniel was safe in unconsciousness. I felt mild fear of what the night would bring, the hours 3-4 a.m., when things usually happened, and I didn’t want to be awake then. I wanted to be asleep – safe in unconsciousness like Daniel.
I continued reading aloud to just after 1 a.m., when my mouth was dry, my eyes too, and I decided to lay fully down. With the light still on, for I was too scared to turn it off, I lay with the closed Bible next to my head. I put one hand on the Bible, and closed my eyes.
I opened my eyes again. It was so frightening to think that if I dared close my eyes, ‘they’ may creep up on me, creep up alongside my bed – but I had to not think those things. I had to believe, have faith, that I had put hours of vibration of the word of God into my home, and it resonated from the walls and, like Tom once said, “Picture a white light around you – you and Daniel. Nothing can get through that white light.”
With these thoughts in my head, time reached up and pulled closed my eyelids so that I met unconsciousness, the great comfort of unconscious-ness.
Copyright Noeleen&Daniel 50/50
We had spent so many hours in the soul of nature, where the tribulations of human existence are transcended, that walking up the gravelly lane toward our flat, I almost forgot we had that morning escaped trouble of the spiritual realm. I wondered whether the trouble lingered, whether rights of possession had been assumed during the hours of our absence. As absurd as that sounded, I couldn’t help but wonder because I did not know what I was dealing with, except that it was not of this world – I didn’t think.
Possession is nine-tenths of the law, I contemplated. Which law is that, then; of what country? Could it be universal law? Ghosts take over abandoned homes, it is known – spirits of realms sans home. Could they, the forces of this morning, have taken over my tiny flat – the abode of my son and me?
With the salt of the ocean still in my nostrils and determined to stride into my home like a Judge takes possession of the bench, I placed my key in the lock and turned. I opened the door a crack, pointed the nose of Daniel’s pram at it, and pushed. With Daniel at the helm, we entered our home.
From my viewpoint, I could see Daniel’s hands outstretched and his fingers curling and uncurling, reaching forward as I rolled him through the front hallway on the hardwood floor. As I pushed the pram into the lounge, however, Daniel’s arms retracted – disappeared under the hood of the pram. The lounge felt cool – not cold, but a little too cool for such warmth outdoors. My skin goosebumped.
I stepped forward alongside the pram and leaned down to look at Daniel. He looked up at me. His deep brown eyes were like wells of knowledge that Angels would dive into to wash their souls, and resurface to spread their wings of light over hearts darkened by lanterns expired, that never could, anyhow, have shown The Way.
“Peekaboo!” I smiled, and he giggled. I stood back up. I then swooped down again to Daniel’s range of vision and shouted playfully, “PEEK-aboooo!” He squealed with delight.
Having sprinkled the magic of Daniel’s light heart and giggles through the airspace of our home, I unbelted him from the pram, picked him up and placed him on the floor. A lot of sand fell from the pram when I folded it, so I decided to shake it out onto the back patio. At the thought of having to walk through the sleep-out to the patio, I felt nervous. I didn’t know what remnants of energy the sleep-out may hold. ‘They’ were no longer here, I could instantly tell, but something remained in the air, of this morning. Was it energy – or was it memory that lingered, that I could feel in the space of our home?
Rooms do hold energy – or is it memory? How does memory exist – is it an energy? The peace contained in a church, the mental anguish trapped in asylums of yesteryear, the tragedy of Auschwitz. I wonder how Mum felt, having electric shock therapy, and as she could not scream with no doubt a bit between her teeth, what terror sweat from her and dampened the air, settled on the walls, dribbled from the ceiling?
If memory indeed is an energy, then when we die, where do our memories go – for energy does not die; it reforms, does it not? So the memories we held in our lives, the energy of them, do they dissipate in space? Does our soul release memories upon passing? Yet, our souls cannot release memories for they do not hold memories. Memories are fragments of recall held in clumps of our mind. And our mind is … our faculty of consciousness.
I sighed. It seemed the world stopped still for me to contemplate these mysteries of existence. Daniel, meanwhile sat on the ground looking up at me, looking at my eyes staring at the open sleep-out doorway.
If true our souls do not hold memories but rather, our minds hold them, then there cannot be de ja vue – when your life as you now live it, has known that moment before; for the soul could not have carried that memory through.
Mum’s memories of Poland before the war, I pondered – when she wrote in her poem about wanting to go back there, to her time of innocent perfection; do those memories of my Mother exist anywhere in the universe as an energy? Or did they die with her? But no, energy does not die…
Things, like my jewellery box – things hold memories too, or energies: the energy of recall. In my old jewellery box, the ballerina was a little broken, the mechanism too. When she twirled around slowly there would be a point where she would jag and sort of clump over a spring or something inside the box, and then continue smoothly around until she met that point again. I cannot remember where I got that jewellery box from, but I know I had it some time in the six years and two days of my life that Mum was alive.
“Ma-ma?” Daniel wondered.
Oh, my head, my mind – it is like on an axis, turning slowly through the years. My thoughts are stars and moons upon which my eyes cast light but then leave in shadow as I turn to contemplate some other thought.
I suddenly thought of the pieces of a necklace that once belonged to Mum, that Dad gave me. I had treasured it, thinking of her wearing it, golden and shimmery around her neck, her eyes sparkling with good moments in life. I wondered, as I held the pieces, did they hold any memories/energies of Mum at all? I didn’t feel anything.
I will not be afraid, I decided, of whatever energy may be in there. I will just barge through. And so I did.
I walked through the sleep-out, hauling the folded pram behind me, swung open the rear glass doors and shook the pram out over the patio. As sand rained down on ants trekking from plant A in the upper north of my garden to the pebbled patch where was plotted plant B, across the pavement, I suddenly imagined my glass doors slamming shut behind me. I then imagined the front door slamming shut by force of an unseen evil, and Daniel sitting trapped indoors, so small in the middle of the room, on the floor. And ill winds swept from graveyards rushing into the crevices of opportunity to blight a soul, and curling around Daniel on the floor like the spectre of a boa constrictor.
“LA LA LA LA LA” I suddenly said aloud, dropping the pram and turning toward the glass doors. In the two seconds it took me to step toward them, I couldn’t help imagining them rolling shut with a violent bang. I reached out as if to catch them mid motion and stepped through, saying “LA LA LA LA LA!” loudly again. Daniel, who had shuffled his way from the lounge to the doorway of the sleep-out, looked up at me curiously.
“It’s time for some music, darling!” I smiled at him. I bent down, scooped Daniel up and lifted him high as I walked through the lounge. He giggled as I held him above my head and looked up at him as you would a star to wish upon: hopefully. The love gates flooded open and I brought Daniel down to my chest and hugged him close. I don’t know why this is: love and confusion, fear and certainty, hope and loss, strength and faltering all broke from my ocean pending and surrounded us in a tidal wave of emotion I felt so suddenly. Poor Daniel, my God, poor Daniel for my insane mood swings.
With tears at the corners of my eyes like dew drops positioned on petals pink, I held Daniel away from me again and smiled chokingly. The tears, now too heavy for the petals, slipped from them and slid down my face. Like rain trickling down a memory pane, they bled, but then evaporated as soon as they fled, as I held Daniel high again and exclaimed “Happy tears!”, sadly. He didn’t seem convinced so again I said “Happy tears!” and my throat tight, I brought him close and kissed him. Then, with Daniel on my hip, I went to the radio on the kitchen bench and switched it on. It was playing David Bowie’s ‘Boys Keep Swinging‘. OH JOY!!! Bowie, so adored by me since the day soon after 10 years that I discovered him: if only I could tell him thank you “for everything”.
“Heaven loves ya, the clouds are for ya, nothing stands in your way, when you’re a boy…”
I held Daniel away from me and started dancing us around the lounge. As Bowie’s wonderful vibe was delivered through bass, guitar, drums, and violin, I danced Daniel around the hall and then into the sleep-out. He giggled madly as I did fun and crazy faces, lifting him high and low, and swinging him around as Bowie cheerfully reminded him:
“Boys…boys…boys keep swinging – boys always work it out!”
With the tune, I rolled us around the flat, opening windows as I went, determined to spend the morning dusting, cleaning everything out, moving furniture. I was tired, but that had never stopped me before. I danced us about until fresh day breathed through our home and sunshine streamed through the windows, warming the hardwood floors. “Love just kissed you HELLO! when you’re a boy!”
When the party was over I settled Daniel into his high chair, turned the radio down, and began making porridge. I had a lot of work ahead of me, I thought, but the music would carry me about 70% of the way through it. Music does that: you can ride on the wave of its life and be carried in to shore, or to three hours later, without feeling like you’ve been working at all. Your body just does, and your mind dances while it does, and time passes, and it is not until the end of “the moment” that you realize how tired you are, how physically spent you are, because you have no consciousness of all the work you’ve performed – you only have consciousness of the great songs you’ve heard and sung along to.
With Daniel in his high chair eating, I stacked a few favourite tapes near my player and played them while I dragged my bed from the sleep-out into the room where Daniel’s cot was. Grace Jones, Bryan Ferry, Bowie of course, Suzanne Vega.
Daniel was later content to play in his corner as I re-ordered our home: vacuuming the sleep-out, wiping down the huge window doors. Oh, Billy Idol SO gets me going! Tom Waites – crazy wonderful. I got on my hands and knees and wiped up the spilled sand on the hardwood floor, and wiped all of the floor space – the kitchen, hallway and lounge.
Time passed. I can’t really say how long. I didn’t think to look at the clock. But there just comes a time, there always does, when “the moment” is over. And so it came, and so I ran a warm bath for sandy Daniel and me, and so I immersed us in the warmth, dribbled water over his satiny locks as Leonard Cohen, forgotten in the lounge, dribbled ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ from my tape recorder. Perchance, it was my last song in play.
“… and thaaaaanks for the trouble you took from her eyes, I thought it was there for good, so I never tried….”
Daniel helplessly settled with me, with the music, with the moment. By the time I pulled the curtains closed, shut the windows and settled us onto my bed, now in Daniel’s room nearby his cot, there was nothing left for either of us, who had been up since about 4 a.m., but to collapse together in sleep. He began to suckle from me, but so tired, fell asleep midway.
I was hardly conscious myself when a lingering guilt I felt about not knowing how to get rid of the manifested dust had one last jab at me. I had felt much angst, holding the little sachet in my hands. Robert had said it was so precious. Would it be disrespectful to flush it down the toilet? Should I throw it to the wind? What if I ate it all? I ended up putting it at the base of a flower bush in our little patio garden. From dust we come and… and all that.
Then, just as the drone of the traffic on Stirling Highway fused with the warm sun through the curtains, which cast a blanket of comfort over Daniel and me, as I lapsed into unconsciousness, my memory recalled Leonard Cohen’s words, “You’re living for nothing now. I hope you’re keeping some kind of record” and I thought, I am,
I am keeping some kind of record…
Copyright Noeleen&Daniel 50/50
Another chapter to the days passed,
attempting logic half-assed.
BELOW, is what I narrate above. For you, my readers
Time can play tricks. That’s why it intrigues me. It’s intangible, but exists. It just is. There is no grasping it, explaining (I don’t think), or pausing it. From the moment you slip into this realm from the vault of origin, Time is ticking – in fact, it was ticking before you entered this plane, and will continue infinitely, I believe, after you have closed the door behind you.
From your first breath through infant lungs, curled wet lips, eyes scrunched, to your final gasp in sombre contemplation of what has been the meaning of your Time on this earth
or cold abandon of your damages cause
or trembling conscience in realization you own all you did, no one else does, can or ever wil
or solemn surrender to the Universe without a God, you believe
or frivolous mirth at the joke of your existence, now timed out – no matter by which stance you meet your death:
on your knees blubbering repentance
or awed that this is ‘it’, your big Death; there is no undoing.
Time advances you. Where you stumble, it nudges you forward. You can only go forward, not back to live your life again – only forward into the consciousness of Death, breathing in the shadows before you.
Time threaded you from your birth through its tapestry. The years were yarns unraveled to be knitted into the masterpiece of purpose, meaning, beauty, life. You coloured the yarns with your soul. You bled red when punctured by experiences you later matured to, to a rich burgundy the colour of port old tawny. You poured aqua blue from your eyes at times. Golden yellow and orange tinkled in laughter from your lips, purple spirituality beat from your heart and emanated over the tapestry surrounding you, like a landscape you had gathered up under your arms, draped around you, wore in your otherwise naked purity.
Time inescapable, irretrievable, unstoppable.
‘Time’, my father wrote in his birthday card to me recently, ‘Time heals all wounds’. I was angry at the words. The words did not speak apology, did not acknowledge actions which impacted so adversely on my Time age 10 to Time age 17. If it comes to pass I need to apologise to my son, Daniel, for my human failings, I will. I will reach out my hand with the power to heal and lay it warm upon his shoulder as I express in vibrations borne in my gut, choked through my heart, fallen from my lips, the words that heal: ‘Sorry’. ‘Sorry’, I will say, for whatever it is I have done to him and most truly never meant to, in my failing, being, human.
But my father’s card spoke no such healing. The words only told me to be patient because throughout the course of my life Time would (and had) spread layer upon thin layer upon veil of healing, to cover the wound. Indeed, Time would bring the wound to a close, but without contrition, there bears a scar. My father could have prevented a scar if he had thought to dress the wound with that which mends – love, remorse – but he did not. He left it gaping open. And now, all these years later, wrote to me that Time (not he) would do the job of healing me. He completely absolved himself of responsibility. And ‘Happy Birthday’ it said in marketed script, and ‘Dad’ in his jaunty writing. Maybe I am a soul too cold, but there was no value in what I held in my hands, and easily I tore it into pieces six: down the middle, across and across, and tossed it in the bin. Am I a rock that needs to be chiseled, am I that hardened? How ugly. I would shame. But I had no other impulse, and so that I did.
Daniel could never know how many times I stood over his cot as he slept, thinking like this, recalling, aching to do better, willing to change, wishing for strength, praying for love, fortitude. I took the marshmallow soft blanket from where it had twined around his plump fleshy leg, straightened it out across his body, and lay it down gently, with love. In years to come he would be toddler, teen, adult, and have no conscious recall that I stood like a flame near his bedside, love radiating from me in such waves of power that I quivered, and sometimes fell a tear, for so enormous was the volume of love I felt, it broke from me like water from a dam, walls busted.
Time had played its tricks on me tonight, and it was 11.19 pm. I can recall what we did throughout the afternoon, but it felt as if I had walked from the phone call which interrupted our sleep in the lazy afternoon, to Daniel’s cot where he now lay in the arms of Angels unseen, 11.20 pm.
I was too tired to care, to fear the unseen forces which had invaded our home this past week. Chris’ signs seemed to have done well enough for there was no more energy dark, menacing. There had been no further seizure of my body by what force I do not know, which pinned me, powerless, to the bed. That had only happened once, which set me on this journey of having our flat blessed, of removing the painting by Cherie, of putting up Chinese signs. I was just too worn thin to keep another night’s vigil by light sleep, lapsing into the rest I needed so badly, but bolting upright and forcing myself to remain awake. I just couldn’t continue this way. If the greatest horror I would experience was the trampling of tiny feet over my body mid the night, then I had to accept that as the most I could manage by way of truce between our worlds. I would not sleep on my back, though, never again.
That was all he could offer me, Chris had said – that and the pissing in a tub of some kind, to keep at my bedside. What if they crept in, those presences, and saw my proposed urine attack – could they upend the cup over my self? Did they have such power? I could never know. Did Chris’ vinegar at his front door keep ill spirits away? I could never know.
As ridiculous as it was, I wanted enough peace of mind to be able to find sleep, and the cup of urine beside my bed gave me that peace of mind. So absurdly, hardly believing my own self, I placed the warm cup down and pushed it under the bed just a touch. It was ridiculous my Time on earth had come to such a moment, but I just did not think I could sleep unless I had armed our home with all that I could, to be safe in the night, to sleep.
I still could not bring myself to turn off the lounge room light and so in the semi dark I lay on my side, facing the back door-window curtains. I closed my eyes and my mind called for sleep. ‘Sleep? Sleep? I am ready now, please take me away.’
The night, so quiet. Daniel so deeply asleep, I felt almost alone.
‘Sleep, my arm reaches out for you. Please grasp it and deliver me to my dreams. I so wish to dream. Bring me to those magical lands, a kaleidoscope of my unresting consciousness collided with memories of the day, and past days, actions, moments.’
I rested, I fell. Fell deeper.
‘Oh, sleep, on the back of your wings I can fly through the Universe, slide along the shimmering vapours of the Milky Way, dive into black holes and land in other expansions of Time, fragmented moments, mirrors reflecting portals of imagination.’
I wondered if my visits of other realms bothered other realms like their visits bother me – and heavy, was my breathing;
I wondered if I created any wind, whirling around the Universe like I do in my dreams – and leaden were my eyes;
I wondered if the people in my dreams were real people and I was really in their life, only not now – and weighted was my body, so relaxed, in the bed;
like maybe de ja vue.
Was the de ja vue we feel, was that recall of real, sigh, lives, like, our life – and… lapse.
I was gone.
I was gone to sleep.
Copyright, Noeleen&Daniel 50/50
THE VIDEO ABOVE, IS ME READING THE WORDS BELOW
In sleep, you are unconscious. Depending how lightly or deeply you sleep, someone might enter your room without you knowing. Someone could stand by your bed without you knowing.
It was about 18 minutes past 3 a.m. – I say ‘about’, because I looked at the clock in afterthought, curiously. Who knows where the spirit takes to at night. I recall seeing a Shirley MacLaine movie – no, I think it was in her book I read, ‘Out on a Limb’ – her belief that we are connected to our Higher Selves by something like a silver stream of energy/light, a cord, and when we sleep, our soul wanders off out there in the Universe, connected always to the body in the bed by that silver cord. If there is disruption of sleep, the thread pulls immediately back in and your soul returns to your body. I can’t even remember what the whole book was about, but I remember that concept of hers. As I had always wondered ‘does the soul wander at night?’, Shirley MacLaine’s belief made some sense to me.
In my dark room, the sleep-out, the room that leads to the patio outside via large glass doors, I lay in the depths of sleep. There was no traffic on nearby Stirling Highway as I lay there in the dark, there was no movement in the flats around. The whole world, it would seem, was still. It was the darkest hour.
Suddenly from deep sleep, I was brought wide awake. I opened my eyes and sat up carefully, slowly, edgily.
In this light I could see but semi, and I had to attune my eyes to the state of now. I looked at the open door at the foot of my bed, which led to the tiny lounge. There was no-one, just shadows and shapes. I looked to my right – the small space between my bed and the back door. The curtains were closed. They were still. It would be difficult for someone to enter my back patio because there is a flat to the right of mine (and their patio), and very thick shrub and a high wall that meets Stirling Highway to the left, and at the back fence of my flat, beyond the tiny garden, was the back fence of a house. Yet still I felt a presence.
Sitting up in bed in the semi dark, I felt the presence, and it was eerie. I suddenly leapt from bed and turned on the light. I checked the back door (closed), turned on the light in the lounge – no-one, looked at the kitchen which was open to the lounge (no-one) and went into my old room, (no-one). Jesus on the top of my cupboard had lost his glow because he only glows a little while, after you’ve put him near a light (some god!). I then returned to the sleep-out.
My pulse was racing. I was an instinctive animal after all, though human, and my instincts prickled. I clearly felt a presence. I couldn’t see anything, but I could feel something. Sitting on my bed I just felt “something”. I was freaked out. There was something I could not see in my room: this was certain.
I sat for a moment in the depths of night, still. I felt. I prickled more. I then got up to turn off the lounge light. I looked again at the shadows and shapes in the lounge, and decided to close the sleep-out door so I wouldn’t have to see them. I felt acutely the stillness of the middle of the night. My body was fully alert. I heard no sounds, there was no light whisper of movement in the air. I was alone, but not.
I pulled my bedsheets aside, got up and walked through the space in my room, turned around and walked through it again. I felt nothing. I then got into bed, the light still on, and sat a while. My pulse calmed down. The sense of ‘something’ slowly died away. But I couldn’t lie down because I felt vulnerable lying down. I stayed sitting up and in time, my eyelids grew heavy, and closed – BUT OPENED AGAIN. I looked around. I couldn’t feel anything any more. My eyelids lulled and lulled, and after about half an hour, the light still on, I lay down on my side, facing the back door. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open, just couldn’t, and I fell to sleep.
~ ` ~ ` ~ `
Dawn had nudged me, but I did not awake. I was lost to planet Earth until about 8 a.m. When I opened my eyes, I immediately recalled the night before – or really, the middle of the night before. I thought about it. It was strange. But it was real. It was very real. I had known nothing like it.
As we do (mostly without a second thought) I got up out of bed to begin the day. Coffee was first. Pre Daniel, my rhythm was to take coffee to my balcony in the bedsitter and stand, leaning on the railing, thinking – ah, thinking.
But to wake without Daniel in my home – this was suddenly so lonely. Two years ago I would not have felt loneliness to wake upon an empty unit; empty but for me and my cat. But now I had borne a child, my only – my 11 month old boy, to turn one whole year in a month: to wake without him in my life, was so extraordinarily lonely. I wasn’t fully recovered, no, but I was sufficiently repaired to take the reins again.
It was my intention to receive Daniel back at the end of the day, but I wanted to extort as much aloneness out of the father, as I could possibly get away with.
In the loneliness of my flat, I stood in the doorway of Daniel’s new room, sipping my coffee. Everything was primed – so clean, and the toys so readied for his imagination to be inspired. I loved to inspire Daniel’s imagination by changing things. In fact I loved to shake up life in general. I remember once walking through Fremantle (just off the harbour) and asking people (when I got tired looking for a Coles supermarket); asking them, “Is there a Coles happening anywhere around here?” My question was worded to provoke response abnormal. I wasn’t looking for attention, or even amusing myself by frightening people with an oddity of phrase – I simply wanted something different. I had been traipsing around the streets looking for a supermarket I knew existed, and I wanted directions. However, could anyone step out of their life and not be afraid of, rather respond, to something so mildly, mildly offbeat?
I went through about two people who shook their heads as if I was mental and muttered, “Er, no, don’t know, sorry” – before a guy who ceased his stride, listened to me and said, “Yeah, actually, there’s a Coles happening just up past that street there – if you turn left into that arcade, you can’t miss it.” He smiled, and I smiled too. I thanked him. From this third victim of my question with intent, I evoked a response that satisfied, and we both moved on. I really cannot explain why I have done some things I have, but I do like change. I have always been this way (yes alas, odd at school too). From my journal of my casino era – 3 years pre-Daniel:
I went to the gym today… I occasionally get comments from men like, “It only works if you sweat” or “Keep it up yer doin’ a good job” and I just smile politely, but today it happened three times and began to annoy me. I thought, ‘Why don’t they say it to men – say to a bloke, “Do ten fer me, mate”???’ …When I was on my crunches a man started talking to me and curiously eyed my card. Seeing I do 201 times three, he asked, “Why 201?” Well, you’d think it would be obvious but I said, “Because it’s better than 200”. He said “Oh, yeah”, and I pondered how simply working to an odd number can be viewed as strange and different in our society. People really are just too plain and to the rules.”
Taking my last sip of coffee, I felt ready for the day. I would do some laps first, then some shopping, would visit child care to see if Dorota had Mum’s words translated, and then I would collect my beloved Daniel.