Maddie Craig, Georgia Hamblett, Sarah MacAllan, Cora-Laine Moynihan & Alex Tyndall
With the winter months closing in and the temperature getting colder, our contributors reflected on the word ‘obscure’ for our November Creative Showcase.
My thoughts are written in white,
My mind is like a Rubik’s Cube refusing to be solved,
I twist and I turn but layers distort,
Tangling into an inextricable mess,
I am Procrastination’s prisoner, trapped in distraction.
Production is punctured
By constant clicking of pens and monotonous tapping of pencils,
The numbers on the clock glare at me like a warning,
Silence sniggers at me with a sinister smile,
Laptops laugh at me, mocking my inertia,
Fingertips tremble awkwardly above keys,
Tired eyes strain to re-read garbled lumps of text,
Words are without meaning.
My head hangs heavily,
Gulps of cold coffee relieve my lethargy,
The decrepit chair creaks and squeaks as I swing from side to side,
I am driving to a directionless destination
In a car with no fuel,
Failure lurks behind me like an unwanted passenger
Promoting my paralysis.
Empty pages brimming with inactivity,
Breeding despair, anger, frustration, and guilt,
My stomach turns and my heart pounds.
If I cannot begin, how will this end?
It was a little obscure; not quite what Frank had had in mind. ‘Why don’t you take Daniel out for the day?’ his daughter had said, as she deposited (all too cheerfully) his grandson, Daniel, into his care earlier that morning. It wasn’t that Daniel was difficult to take care of – he didn’t really need much looking after these days, being thirteen years old – it was more that Frank felt disconnected from him. The boy who walked beside him now was not the same boy with whom he had built Duplo houses before progressing to Lego – but wasn’t that normal? Wasn’t that what happened when a child grew older? They changed. But then at present, Daniel didn’t so much as resemble a distorted reflection of his younger self.
Frank didn’t know what activity he would have chosen as a young teenager if his grandfather had suggested going out for the day. It was completely hypothetical of course, seeing as Frank’s grandfather had been a miserable old man; a heavy drinker and smoker and residue of the First World War. He’d probably have chosen to go to a football match, or maybe to the beech or the park. Maybe out for fish and chips on the sea front, or possibly to the picture house to see a new showing. He wouldn’t have said, without hesitation, ‘Art gallery.’
This is what Daniel said though, and despite looking somewhat vacant on the drive there, Frank observed as Daniel’s expression changed only minimally from one of absence to one of interest. Frank followed like an obedient puppy as Daniel wondered through the exhibits.
‘This one’s good’ said Frank, nodding to a 19th century painting of a boat on a stormy sea. Daniel acknowledged the comment, but didn’t dwindle to look at the painting. He continued walking, scanning the walls of each exhibit. It was as if he was on a whistle-stop tour of the art gallery, as if Daniel couldn’t wait to get out. But although Frank felt detached from his grandson, he got the feeling this wasn’t the case. It felt as though Daniel was looking for something, searching for something.
Daniel’s pace slowed as they entered the penultimate exhibition. ‘My Obscure Identity’ read the banner draped over the entrance. Daniel shuffled inside the room with the hesitancy of an enfant starting nursery. His eyes darted from ‘artwork’ to ‘artwork’ (If one could call these works art), before they settled on a piece which attracted Daniel like a magpie to silver.
Frank didn’t reckon much to the painting. It looked like a bunch of morphed body parts which had been drawn by a primary school student and coloured in by the family pet. He couldn’t say he was stood there admiring the piece. But what he was admiring was Daniel’s response to it. The empty, adrift expression on the young boy’s face had itself gone astray, and had been replaced by one of purpose and intent. What could Daniel be seeing in this mish-mash of faces that Frank couldn’t?
‘Good piece, that one, don’t you think?’ The security guard crept up on Frank with such stealth that you couldn’t help but assume he had once been the one stealing the paintings rather than protecting them.
‘I’m not sure I…get it’ replied Frank, almost ashamed.
‘There’s nothing “to get”. These paintings speak differently to everyone.’ Quite frankly, the painting must have been speaking in Greek then, thought Frank, because he wasn’t understanding an ounce of what it was trying to tell him. ‘Just relax, and allow yourself to get lost in the painting.’
Frank stared at the painting some more. The army of lost limbs and distressed expressions. The explosion of entangled body parts which shot out from the center of the canvas, a camouflaged fleet of confusion and chaos. It was a battlefield of brazen expressions, a conflict of conformity. The painting had nothing to do with physical combat, yet Frank could see nothing but hostility hung on the wall.
‘What did the artist want to, you know, convey in this painting?’ asked Frank, slightly shaken, still staring at the artwork and into his past. The security guard scratched his bald head.
‘It’s about feeling lost I think, and not knowing who you are. Here, let me see what it says in the brochure. Have you got one? They’re £5 from the entry desk. Now let me look – ‘In this work, Blare (that’s the artist) aims to convey the psychological torment she experienced as a child as a result of years of bullying from other boys as she came to terms with who she was, and who she wanted to be.’ There’s a bit more but I’m afraid I can’t just recite the whole information brochure for free.’
‘That’s ok’ replied Frank.
Frank walked up to his grandchild and put a hand on their shoulder. Their long hair brushed against his wizened knuckles, and their floral scent was sweet and refreshing.
‘Come on, Danny. How about we go get some pizza?’ Frank’s grandchild nodded, and the pair walked away, the elder’s arm around the youth’s shoulder, away from their inner demons which were projected blatantly but obscurely on the wall.
As bow touches string
honeyed notes become the breeze.
Play on, violin.
I will scrub myself from this house,
collect my trinkets and leave;
leave you with the silence
and empty spaces
I used to occupy,
until all memory is cleaned away:
swept under sofas,
tucked in the backs of tall cupboards,
hidden in a tin in a box in a room in the cellar,
woven only into the cobwebs,
scattered throughout the dust,
and blurred into obscurity.
Until my bedsheets lose their scent,
and my pillows lose their indents,
until my mirror clouds over,
and my reflection fades forever;
until you no longer remember my face,
nor the air in the room my presence displaced.
I am gone from here.
Gone from everywhere you wanted to find me.
I am lost, and I refuse to be found.
Even by myself.
Featured image courtesy of Claire Bissell via Unsplash.com. Image licensing can be found here. No changes made to this image.
Article images courtesy of Sarah MacAllan.
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