Sharing this short story I wrote a while ago, in honor of Woolf’s birthday today (January 25).
The sky is pale baby blue.
Everything still seems to be sleeping
as the sun dances on the yellow
and orange and green leaves.
A lonely train rumbles by out of sight
and a plane ducks down, flying low,
ready to land, somewhere nearby.
You are asleep somewhere under the same sky
while I sit here, nursing a coffee
and gazing out at the familiar and yet
alien landscape that is not mine
and another world away from you
and me, another someone I could
it’s funny the things that you start to miss –
a familiar bed, the books stacked up on the floor
a desk of one’s own
and a coffee pot in the morning.
An empty house and the wide open countryside
winter walks, dripping wet,
wellies caked in mud,
huddling by the AGA
and cooking, baking
to my heart’s content.
Last minute meals and easy cooking,
singing and dancing in the kitchen,
making something just because,
wandering around in dressing gowns
and drinking hot chocolate before bed.
the peace and quiet that comes with ‘home’,
but what is home, after all,
but those familiar things –
the things you start to miss
and crave to have around you again?
feeling an itch, a longing to be there again
to be down by the sea
standing on those cliffs
and feeling the sea breeze on my face
yes I’m by the sea here
but it’s not quite the same
it’s not my place of dreams
my place of magic and wonder
I need to be there again
to digest, to breathe
to just be
I need to go home.
I wish I could explain
just how much I miss you
how I’m longing to hear your voice
again for a little while
to have the comfort of it
a little longer
I wish I could voice
the words I want to say
that I miss you
and it overwhelms me at the most unexpected times
when I’m not asking for it at all
when I feel that these feelings are past.
and then I’m back in that room again
listening to the muffled sound
the ticking of machines
the stuffy air
the world outside so far away
and the knowledge
I pine for summer
but now I’m craving
the familiarity of autumn books
that seem to shine orange and red
and brown and smell like warm drinks
and plenty of layers;
stories that glow warmth
and make me feel at one again.
in the photograph, you look
just like her, it’s like looking
in a mirror, the only thing
separating us is time
and the fact that I never knew you
and you’re in black and white
frozen forever in posterity
hands clasped, eyes gazing
at something just off camera
and I can only see
what’s reflected in your eyes,
while I live
in a colour world
that you don’t know.
and then, without warning, as autumn
arrived and enveloped them,
a sadness swept over her,
one that couldn’t be explained
as it pressed down on her
beating against her chest
so that her limbs became heavy
and her brain thick
with a longing and sadness
for something she couldn’t
quite put her finger on.
The photo has been torn in half
and then clumsily repaired with some tape
that has now become brittle and yellow.
It’s hard to tell if the tear
although each half
shows a figure, the tear right down the middle
as if done in anger or hate
before being repaired
by an unknown hand
and then stored carefully away.
The colours are faded now
the sepia tired and worn
a relic from the past
with a story
no one can tell.
The photo is in sepia
the corners are curling
and it is battered
as if it has survived many moves
and been handled many times
passing from person to person,
cherished and loved as time has passed
and memory has begun to fade
identity from those who see it.
Now the figure is nothing more than that –
a curious relic from the past
a figure someone once knew
an image once cherished.
Now, it is passed over, from hand to hand
curious eyes look at it, marvel at the figure
without knowing who it is.
It’s hanging on the wall
a portrait from another time
a black and white photograph
of a girl staring candidly
at the camera
eyes deep, a fixed expression.
There are pearls around her neck
and her hands are clasped
as she stares at the camera
as if staring into the very soul
of the one who took it.