Stories, in life, have an irritating habit of simply going on and on and on. Like children listening to an interminably dull read-aloud, we expectantly raise our eyebrows as a chapter seems to close: the teacher draws breath, ready to put Michael Morpurgo’s Badger Goes To The Somme to one side, and then – we exhale, deflated – as his eyes droop again into the garamond font of worthy, anthropomorphic woe and the story continues into the carpet-smell of late afternoon.
Oh certainty! Certainty, like the plodding chord progression of hymn repeated Sunday in and Sunday out, gives us an illusion of time’s freezing. I get the same illusion (or at least a yearning for it) when I look at my cat as he stares intently at emptiness. I see, in his stillness and beauty, an amber of everything. I wish it all to be forever and never changing; and I rail against the entropy that ever fragments the buzzing of my children’s sleep.
Two earthquakes have hit me in the last week.
One physical, which I did not feel since I was riding in a taxi at the time. I quickly returned home to my family to share in their sugary tea and anecdotes of flight to the stairwell, emergency bags ready. The other, entirely self-created, an abstract earthquake. I have decided to write the final sentences of a chapter in my geography and start another chapter elsewhere (quite where, I haven’t decided yet). There’s time; there’s still time.
Oh contingency! The sweetness of the act which places us, agents, within our lives’ narrative. With a deliberate lack of care, I have thrown myself back into the story of my life. Exhilarating? Yes. Terrifying? Yes. Artifice? Admittedly.
Regal drama? Most assuredly.
The clock ticks on my self-authored denouement; I scrabble the rooftops (badger under my arm) and make ready for another great leap. Looking sharply left and right, I pause before the precipice I have written below me between these two great edifices. Before I leap, I fix you, winningly, with a smile.
This story, like me, may run and run forever. Or it may end in glorious calamity. And my smile, in winning you, tells you of your role in the next chapter. It is yours for the writing. Reach out and draw me over the precipice, and we’ll run to the next, run to the next. Always we’ll run to the next.