I’ve said before that I dislike poetry readings and author appearances where the writers spend more time explaining than reading their works, so I should probably avoid giving any explanation of the where, the what, and the why of this piece except, perhaps, to label it as a first draft of creative non-fiction.
Since it is a draft and I expect the finished piece may end up being something quite different, I’d be particularly pleased if anyone wants to make comments.
New every morning
Anne lies with her eyes shut.
She is awake, but the world is not yet ready.
She remembers how her mother hated it when she would jump out of bed and race downstairs to breakfast, grab her schoolbooks and be on her way out of the door, leaving clothes scattered behind her and her bed unmade: “Take time to think what you are doing… Try to be more aware… A place for everything and everything in its place,” she’d say.
Now, Anne understands the sense of this.
Each morning she re-makes the world, checking the geography, that everything is where it should be, that each detail is right, before she opens her eyes and steps inside.
The unmade world is dark and warm. She can hear John breathing beside her. He is so much a part of her world that she barely needs to re-create him each day: he is there from the very moment she becomes conscious.
Today, he is sleeping soundly, so she knows that she has time.
She reaches out with her mind to her mother’s house: her sister’s there, still asleep. Anne doesn’t trust her sister to rebuild the world each day, but knows that things have changed since she moved in to take care of their mother. Now, for Anne, each morning’s re-creation of her mother’s home is a fine balancing act: she wants everything to be right, without being quite sure what ‘right’ is anymore. Still, she does what she can.
She draws her thoughts closer. She is aware of skimping across hundreds of miles, but trusts that there are others who care as she cares, who will fill in those green contours of the Cotswolds, the pearly stone and golden villages.
Closer to home, now, she pauses for a moment, listening for the trains. There is silence, but she hopes her brief summoning will blend with the distracted thoughts of grey commuters waiting at the station. So many people are unaware of this time between; they don’t realise that taking things for granted is not enough.
The area around the flat is familiar: she deftly builds the red-brick terraced council houses with their tiny walled gardens in front, where red recycling boxes bulge with cans and fast-food plastics. Although it’s winter, she makes sure a flower or two breaks through on Mrs Walker’s straggling geraniums.
Yesterday, the local supermarket ran out of milk. Today, Anne carefully places the staff on early shift; they’ve opened up the security shutters and in the dark car park she places a great delivery truck, bigger than her flat, stocked with all the fresh produce on the shopping list on her kitchen counter.
She pauses for a moment casting her thoughts towards the wild park, then decides to let it be. One day, she walked across it in the half-light en route to an early doctor’s appointment and watched as it rebuilt itself, curling back the darkness in a veil of mist to reveal green lawns and dark trees, brambles, bracken and rosebay willow herb. She knows that nature will re-build itself, but hopes her hints of snowdrops have reached through.
Back home now, to the warm, dark nothing that surrounds her as she lies there, her eyes still shut.
Beside her, John is still asleep. The days he wakes before her, there is always some small chaos, there are glitches, and things go missing where he has left a corner of their world undone, a detail incomplete.
She carefully constructs the bedroom around them: the plain magnolia walls; the wardrobe where John’s shirts hang alongside shelves neatly stacked with folded clothes: the table in the corner with the basket of clean clothes ready to be ironed (she wonders, for a moment, if she might create a smaller pile of ironing, but knows it would be cheating); the dressing table with her brush and comb; the painted china saucer where she leaves her rings and earrings over night.
Then the cupboard in the corner, her shoes and handbags tumbled together on the floor, and the full-length mirror mounted in its door. The glass is dusty now, but she will clean it later and tomorrow, when she re-creates the room, she’ll leave the door wide open so it catches the full glory of the early morning sun.
The window, now, with its heavy curtains, beyond which the new created world is softening into grey. Net curtains, too, and the plants on the windowsill. She sometimes wishes she could create these without the greenfly, but, again, it would be cheating; she supposes even aphids build their own green world each day, and she should not begrudge them this tiny spot in hers.
She’s almost done now. Her thoughts have drawn back to the bed beneath her: the white cotton sheets and pillowcases; the duvet over her, with its paisley cover.
John stirs beside her. Anne is glad the world will be ready for him when he wakes.
She opens her eyes and slips out of bed to put the kettle on.