Tuesday, 1 September 2015

(Novel) Looking for Spring


Only we dream, 
here, in the interspaces of the world, 
but the world does not care about our dreams.



This story was written in the G+ stream, a strong collaborative space and the best place in the world to write.


Only part of the first chapter is available on this site as the book is being rewritten for publication on Amazon.


Copyright 2015 Peter Quinton 
Published by Peter Quinton




Center


Once upon a time, last week, I woke late.

No. Stay alive. I will tell you our story again, one last time, as you lay on this old bed. Stay with me. Stop it twisting away from me.

Last week I woke late. I wiped the sleep from my eyes and then walked in the cold shadows of the tall buildings. Eyes down, avoiding the cracks in the pavement.

I was running late for a meeting, a dark meeting with desperate people, trying to save a lifetime of work. The drift from ordinary work to crisis had caught all of us, except you, without showing a seam.

They were ready to take dangerous paths to save their dreams. Not my dreams. Not mine, not any more. Not yours.

With every step my feet grew heavier.

It is madness to continue to sit with them. But they would search me out if I did not attend. And one among them knew all the places I could hide.

I stopped and tried to think.

I could still see the hurrying people all around. It would be easy to step back into those currents. But, now I did not want to be part of that stream. Instead, I imagined myself rising into the air, high above. Looking back to the surface, watching the patterns swirl around the grid of buildings, roads, lanes drains and the infrastructure supporting them.

I need to leave this place. The patterns hid the occasional touches of real life, a blade of grass or a glimpse of the sky. I looked harder. Looking for spring and soft reflections. Somewhere with no metal and glass.

Maybe somewhere in the interspaces of the world I can hide. Maybe somewhere I might find a hint of spring. And a river, one I could follow.

But there was nowhere to run. They would find me. He would find me.

So I kept walking, trying to avoid the cracks.

As the meeting ended, Nat came over and said, "You were late. Some of the others thought you might have cashed us in."

I shook my head, "You are not finished yet. There are still options. I will keep looking to help you."

Nat said, "You dont get off that easily. This is your problem as much as it is mine." Nat held my arm, I could feel his fingers gripping hard. "I am throwing a party at the Avenue tonight. Come over and chill, nice food and some cool people. Just like old times."

I said, “I am tired.”

Nat said, “Take a couple of days off. We will talk about it tonight. We could fly to the Whitsundays.”

I walked slowly back to the stairs towards my apartment.

I was tired, and I wanted to wash the bruises away, but I wanted to forget even more. So when I came to my building, I went down. Down, into the basement bar dressed in darkness, low lights and harsh music.

I drank salted vodka straight until everything started to make sense. I sat listening to the music.

You said, "Hey there."

Even in my heightened state of awareness, I did not need to look. I said, "Go away. We do not talk anymore.”

Then I looked without meaning to. Your face swam before me. A good friend, before...

You said, "You have dropped your wallet," and pointed to the ground.

I said, "Yes. I put it there. Deliberate. Go away."

Your hands went up into the air and with a swish of silk you backed away to the jukebox.

I watched you looking through the selections, thinking about the past.

I said, "Dont touch!"

You turned around, hand on hips and looked at me, "Nothing is playing. I just want to drink a beer and listen to some music play. Come on, we are the only people here at the moment."

"I like the music playing right now," and as I reached for my wallet, I slipped off the seat. The world turned upside down. I suddenly felt sick.

"You ok?"

I said, "Go back to whatever," I tried to wave my arm but was in an odd position between the bar and the seat. Nothing wanted to move.

"You look uncomfortable."

I said, "I am due at dinner in town real soon. Stop bugging me."

"Your call. I am going to play Avicii."

"Wait!'

"What?"

"Can you get me my drink? Glass on the bar?"

"The glass is empty. The barman is serving on the front bar."

"Damn. No, do not play that."

"Ok, this has to stop. This is my last night in town. I will get you up. Then I am going somewhere else."

"Touch me and I will scream," I said, suddenly feeling cold.

"Right. Goodbye."

Silence.

I said, "Why are you leaving?"

Silence.

I said, "Ok. Come help."

You complained, "I came here to get away from them and I found you instead. You have become worse than any of them. I should have left when I saw you here."

I said, "Me as well."

Still, you came over and helped me up. And I meant to thank you, but suddenly the day became a whole lot worse and I was sick everywhere.

"Come on, let us get out of here. I will get you a taxi to take you to your party."

I said, through tears, "Not going anywhere now. Want to go. Go far away from here."

"Ok. I will help you up the stairs to your apartment."

You left me at my door without saying a word. I locked the door behind me. I struggled out of my cloths and found the way into the shower. The world was starting to become confused all over again. I put on a warm woollen bathrobe and went to the refrigerator looking for a bottle of milk.

There was a knock at the door.

I went and looked through the view hole. You were there. I said, "Leave me alone."

"You left your wallet at the bar."

I opened the door just wide enough to let the wallet through, and then I shut it tight. Through the view hole, I watched you walk back to the next apartment.

I woke late, with a headache.

I left my apartment just as you came out, settling a backpack on your shoulders.

I blushed. You said, "You look a bit better. All good, I am leaving, you will not see me again. I have not told anyone about what happened."

I said, "Where are you going?"

You said, "I quit my job yesterday. I am heading off to the country."

"Just like that?" I felt terrible about my behaviour, and we have been good friends. I said, "I am really sorry about last night. Buy you a coffee for old time's sake?"

So we ended up sitting in the back of the cafe a couple of doors down drinking skinny cappuccinos and eating pain au chocolate. We avoided the past, talking about work. You told me why you were leaving, and I told you I was thinking of doing the same. You said, “I am not going to work for them anymore. You sold us out. We were going to make a difference - instead the only people who are going to benefit are already stinking rich.”

I said, “No one planned it that way - things change. We did not change. And, anyway, with bigger profits we will be able to help more.”

You disagree, “Someone should release the research. Give it to those who really need it.”

“That would be a disaster." I shake my head, suddenly worried. You were quite capable of doing something mad like that, "It would be like tipping crystal meth into the water supply.”

"Still defending your friends,” you say.

A shaft of sunlight fell from the sky hitting dust rising just above the ground. In the distance, a couple of bars of music drifted in.

I said, "They are not my friends. It is madness to sit with them but they would search me out if I did not attend."

You told me that some of them were my friends.

You said,

"How much ever you want them to be gone,

You have made them your friends lifelong."

I looked at you. Your tone was wrong and as I watched, I heard myself saying, "They are businessmen. Yes, they took our work and misrepresented it. Now it is all falling apart. Maybe somewhere in the interspaces of the world I can find a hint of spring, and a river, I could follow."

You said,

"You seek a hint of spring and a river to follow,

Forgetting to sow hope and not letting your faith grow shallow."

I said, "Why are you doing that? Why are you speaking like that? "

You ignore me:

"I don't think you looked hard and long,

The path would have been there, but overgrown,

With the fears and anxieties of your life,

You missed something that was in front of your eyes."

The sun started to dissolve the pavement where it fell.

An alarm was going. I shook my head as the cafe disappeared. I was still in bed.

I was late, and my head was ringing in the silence.

I left my apartment just as you came out, settling a backpack on your shoulders.

"Hello again," you said, eyes shining bright.

I said, "What are you doing!"

He said, "I told you. I am going." We paused, as a cleaner opened a door further down the corridor, softly humming a song.

I said, “Where.”

You say, “With you. I am different from others. I listen. I float on your river, swim in your waters, taste the drops you offer and dive deep into the dark cold of your depths."

I said, "Stop it!"

He continued, "Perhaps you do not hear me, and maybe sometimes I do not hear you, but that is only because I am lying here, concentrating on the beat of your heart."

I shout and hit out at you becoming tangled in sweat and bedsheets, as I slowly wake from the dream.

I look at the clock, I have only been asleep for a couple of minutes. I drift back to sleep wondering whether to warm some more milk.

This time, I awake on a beach. It is dark night, the waves lapping the shore and the stars shining above. You are sitting next to me, a fire burning, embers flying into the sky. Far, in the distance, the beat of a music from a larger fire.

I say to you,

"All that you have said is fair, but alas none of these can I share.

I hear you all the time, night and day, like a soul in the body, you stay.

But my heart has a rhythm of its own, has taken a path unknown.

The fear and anxieties that I laid at your door, are more so mine, now, than before."

You say, "Imagine a dance. There is no harm in setting aside preconceptions and dancing for a little while. I could be the younger brother of a distant friend who explores far distant places, deep into the interspaces and cares neither for ties nor suitcases. Come dance with me as the sparks fly into the sky."

I say sharply, "I am bound to Nat. We have talked about this."

"So you told me a while back when we agreed never to speak again. But you fought with Nat and are living apart,” you look at me. “Still, to dance is not to deceive, it is part of the process of being within the world."

I say, "What do you mean, dance?"

You ignore my question and continue, "You have been dancing. Returning to your table, you sit with the uncertain knowledge that you have already taken a step along a different path. We can conceive of a perfect partner - lover, life partner, homemaker, father, innocent and wanton, likewise rigid and flexible. But, neither we nor our dreams are perfect. And the list of those things desirable contain opposites. We wish for innocence but desire the touch of the flame. We wish for faithfulness but find a litany of lies and deceits."

The stars are bright. We watch a falling star. You whisper, "The world does not care about our dreams. Only we dream."

I think of my flawed relationship with Nat. The anger and bitterness of betrayal. How I walked out of our city home on the Avenue swearing I would not come back.

I say to you, "We have had this discussion already. I only came here because I was horrible to you last night."

You say, "So do we presume lies and deceits and shut our eyes in the hope of stumbling on innocence? Shutting eyes and trusting in the gods has never worked real well. Truth is, we live a long time. A long time. Seconds, minutes and hours and days into which every conceivable temptation and doubt may be poured. So is the answer some painstaking 24 hour a day surveillance with eyes open? But keeping eyes open has never stopped the mischief of gods nor men."

I say, "I cannot dance."

"For a chemist, you dance with dangerous people. Their plans are failing around you,” you look at the ocean, a cool breeze lifting specs of seafoam to where we are sitting. “Again you remember the dance, and again. Was it deliberate error or simple mistake to smile? Is this what everybody wants? Is it what the gods intend? Or is it just a dream."

A drum is beating in the background, the sea foam is falling onto the fire, putting out the stars.

I hear a quiet knocking on the door.

I am wide awake. I get up and look through the view hole. It was you again. I said, "I am here."

"I heard screaming." You ask, "Are you ok?"

I thought hard.

"No. I am in big trouble,” and I opened the door.

***
The remainder of this book is being rewritten for publication on Amazon in early 2018.



Afterwords

This story was built in G+. It is a retelling of the story of the Luck of Troy, the Palladium. I have dedicated this novel to all those that helped me write it. +madhura ravishankar suggested a book of this approximate title in a Google+ post. Before that suggestion, +Ann Pollak had gone a quest challenge to find spring at the end of a cold Canadian winter. I thank those who seconded Madhura's proposal and then encouraged me to finish it off - +Nina Anthonijsz , +Ann Pollak (who inspired the Empress Fall escapade), +Judy Waller , +Chris Sutton and +Janice Day. 

+Laisa Gran early reminded me of the importance of dreams and laughter, while +shonie Hutter helped me untangle a bit of ireland and scotland which I got confused and then gave me a gentle shove off the cliff. +Monique Helfrich helped me work out what themes were important. Sometimes a smile is important - writing is a lonely task - and at different times +Jim Munro , +marilyn David , +Matthew Fowler , +Klara Moody , +Graciela Quiroga , +Stephanie B. Regan , +Jan Reid - Lennox  and +madelene jeffery recharged my batteries. I also note my appreciation of all the support from those I have not named here, who made this enjoyable and helped me stay saner than I might have been.
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