Earlier this year something unprecedented happened: I called time on a friendship. Not permanently, but I got to the point where I needed a break. Somewhere along the line it had all got too much for me. It was too intense, too bogged down in negativity, and it was no longer making me happy. I was expending huge amounts of time and energy and getting very little in return. It had become what no friendship should ever be: difficult and one-sided.
I understand how and why it happened. The friend in question was finding lockdown particularly difficult, and had gradually…
There is a voice that lives inside my head-a sly, reedy little voice whose sole purpose is to undermine my confidence. She loves nothing more than dredging up old fears and insecurities and heaping fuel onto them. She has sabotaged my plans on a number of occasions over the years, whittling away my self-esteem and making me doubt myself. It’s what she does best.
Everyone has one of these voices, I’m sure of it. They manifest in different ways, and some of us are better at ignoring them than others. Mine doesn’t bother me too much on a day-to-day basis…
‘You know the rules. Ten photos only. Once taken, they cannot be changed, so choose your moments wisely.’
I nod to show I’ve understood and take the camera. It’s a hefty black contraption of the kind used by professional photographers, and at first the idea of them entrusting me with it terrifies me. But for all its apparent complexity, I know that the process will be remarkably simple. I don’t even have to leave this room. All I have to do is sit and envision my ten chosen moments, press the button, and voilà. …
Set fire to your scars,
the ones etched on your soul in invisible ink,
imprints of careless words hurled long ago,
tease them out,
don’t be scared of them,
they are yours now
to do with what you will,
grind them into dust and scatter them to the wind,
or lock them in a box and toss them into the sea,
the choice is yours.
Me, I set fire to them,
chased them down and caught them,
forced them to show me their true colours,
no longer invisible, but before me clear as day,
their power gone, absorbed into myself,
I wrote them down and sent them to their fiery deaths,
longstanding hurts spiralling upwards in…
Absence accumulates so quickly.
That a quarter century should go by since she was last here is preposterous to me,
and yet not having her here has been my normality for the majority of my existence.
And still, after all this time, not a day goes by when she doesn’t find her way into my thoughts.
I doubt there will ever come such a day.
A quarter century since she was here, in the physical sense at least.
A loss that will never cease to pain me, but it’s a pain I’ve learned to live with, so habitual I can…
I dodged a hail of bullets once,
I wept as I watched them go by,
I wished I could snatch them out of the air
But knew better than to try.
You see back then I mistook them
For something else altogether:
A soaring flock of pretty birds
With iridescent feathers.
But bullets can look beautiful,
I realised that after,
And when I did the tears dried
And slowly learned to laughter.
I laughed because they missed me,
Speeding off on paths unknown,
To slam into another body
Other than my own.
Maybe my near miss was their bullseye,
Kirsty and I were the first. It was our idea, concocted late on a Friday night when she was staying over mine. We were sitting facing each other on my sofa in our pyjamas, our knees so close the were almost touching, and our second bottle of pinot noir was all but spent. We got onto the subject of marriage, or more specifically, the fact everyone we knew was getting married while we were perpetually single. That’s when Kirsty said, ‘If only you could marry your friends.’
She said it as a joke, but the more we discussed it, the…
On Wednesday this week, something remarkable happened. I experienced a moment of genuine human connection with one of the children I teach. Such moments are rare, especially in secondary education. We have so much content to get through that it leaves little time for anything else. It’s an awful shame, but I don’t see that changing any time soon.
It was after break, and my Year 8 class were arriving in dribs and drabs. One of the first to arrive was a lovely girl who, for the purposes of this story, shall be called Molly. She looked a little flustered…
Friendships are like houseplants-
Some sustain themselves for years,
Requiring minimal care and input,
Wilting just a little as time goes on,
Then perking back up the moment
You show them some attention,
Resilient little wonders with sturdy roots
And an endless capacity for survival.
Others lie dormant for years on end,
Alive but in stasis like resting orchids,
Only to one day burst into bloom,
Their flowers outstripping all others in beauty,
You marvel at them as you wonder,
Why couldn’t you have done this before?
But once those blossoms open,
They will never wither or fade.