A story by Shane Johnstone
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In spite ae ma cripplin introversion an paralytic awareness ae the cliches that confront ower educatit wirkin class autodidactical scrievers at each turn, descriptions ae days lit the 18th ae August, if documentit weil an pit intae willin hauns, may bi some uise tae ither cripplt cynics, fellow sufferirs ae the modirn academic sneer an introverti. It cam as a series ae sensorie waves, o grand space an wyrd visuale wondirs, though maist wid caw thum impairment an hallucinatione. Thon wid bi the maist desirable situatione, much less, they’d label iz some kidder oan, wid luik at me thirsel as cynics, as if Ah’m neithir tellin the truth ae whit did happen, nor lyin, wi thir brows raisit taewards iz, thumsel enjoyin a wise wird tae thirsels: Ach, Seamus, ayeways tryin ae bi quirky, tryin ae lose eez mun amang aw eez guid fortune, eh cannae hack it.
Oan wakin, fae a non sleep, e’es partin heavy, wance, twice, the ceilin direct afore me a vaste cream expanse, wi ripples alang it’s bordirs in the fashione ae thae archaic Glesgae architects, wee flowiry vase like ornaments faw oot an doon at parts, the pynt ae which Ah’ve nevvir graspt, the permanence ae architecture huvvin ayeways gied me a deep fear an dizziness. The day but, it gies a focus that helps the boady understaun that sleep isnae an option in these wyrd oors atween night n day. These first wide moments ae this day let me aware that Ah’m tae be affordit a windae ae the type Ah’ve bin chasin. These windaes come oan me less an less these days as Ah accept the divine circumstances affordit tae me bi the Wheel Ae Fortune, though I have begun tae document thum tae the best ae ma abilitie, I cin pinpynt nae credible patterne or method fir summonin thum, though lack ae sleep doesnae inhibit thum as ye might expect, Ah suspect the opposite, mibbe through causin some dent in the brain’s natural frantic pull taewards ego which fuels ma obsessive need fir tangible progress an study ae the languagees ae ma ancestors.
A full awareness ae each limb, in particular, ma twa feet, in the form ae a slight pull doonwards, a pull awiy fae the circular buzz in ma heid, allowis ma focus tae faw in the middle ae the boady, as Ah steps oot the bed an casts the sheets aside, sheets that the day seem sae much mair saft white an awthegithir fluffy an smashin. Ma wife stirrs wi a frown but disnae wake. Next tae wir bed is the wean’s wee cot, cheap light wid that a dear freen pit thegithir, nae maistirwirk ae craftsmanship, bumpy an no parallel tae the flair but which the day fills ma usually dull an skeptical chest wi warmth, somethin that I cin anely openly admit in the written wird. This unexpectit burst ae emotione, causes iz tae see, no afore me, no in the ruim so tae speak, as in, in the wiy ye’d see a big orange ape sittin oan yir rug that wis therr wi-oot questione, but absolutely see, a visual web stretchin across aw generations ae ma faimly, his faimly, lit a cabinet, wi wee compartments, in each wan a scene, played oot, maistly terrible miserable events lit the potato famine, the Highland Clearances, emaciatit croftirs an teachirs beatin weans, that, in the spirit ae attemptit honestie, gie me some comfort as the roots tae the tree ae ma whale identitie, an the rage that thir injustice provokis, is as near tae comfort as the idea ae coffee that draws me oot ma scratchir. Ah allow masel tae gloriously dwell oan the unfairness ae it, this web ae terrible events, stertin fae the tap left but dottit wi a poakit in the air noo an agin, thinkin that they happent so that some divine message could be receivit bi a later decendant fir later consideratione wance meanin has bin trampelt oot the wurl bi comfort. I thank God in a moment ae defiance, in mind ae ma atheist pals who’ve nae interest in great written wirks that raise the spirit, juist oan the aff chance I’m affordit the wirds in that moment. It’s near…
Slottit amang this displaye, every pursuit that I undertak frantically in ma spare time – the study o the languagees that fills up the tap ae ma heid wi stable tangible identities, an that wee windae leads tae two mair, two lenses, two whale cultures, they display masel through these lensees, the cosy intellectual comfort ae French, the melancholy blackness ae Scottis Gaelic, an awiy intae some cosmic geometric floatin darkness beyond wirds.
Ah come back, intae the ruim, the kitchen, an wir baith stervin, me an the wean. Eez screams pierced it Ah hink, ma bubble. I funnel a boatle ae mulk doon eez gub, the wee gannet cin open eez gullet lit a pelican, an it’s gone, leavin um in that state ae content wondirment, which we baith pondir aer as soothin fatigue laps at me. Me an him, we sit doon, him oan ma gut, me wi a slice ae breed, an a coffee that I cannae mind makin. This junctione ae a Sunday is usually gied tae tense study ae wan ae ma obsessions, ma illnessees ma wife cries thum wi an empathetic smile. It’ll bi cheeks clencht in attempt tae absorb some Sartre essay or face scruncht aer Ulysses, usually, but the day isnae. Somethin is in place ae the pull ae frantic learnin, wherr Ah wid gorge oan irregular verbs an think masel advancit, take a verbal whitey tae mak ruim fir mair, cram wi clenched cheeks til ma heid is sair. In it’s place, this Sunday the 18th, is sweepin, airy space, ye cin near hear the calm whooshin lit the win’ that passees yir hoose.
Wirds swirl aroon the ruim lit wee, dare Ah uise the obvious – dandelions, an though I cringe at the floweryness ae that statement, Ah see thum absolutely. We sat therr surroondeed bi vision an blurry waves, an the coffee meets the breid in ma gut, before ma mind sterts wanderin in the direction ae paintin pictures ae whit the various bacteria in therr might bi wirkin oan, the wee yin’s e’es, a silver that weans cin huv when gaun through optic transformation, open in that wiy that happens eftir a feed, thir wee brows furrowt, if ye luik closely ye see the wee pupils practisin tae adjust, these moments suck ye right oot yir heid, awiy fae the academic wurl that props up a lack ae talent an baws, sucks ye intae their state, fir a few moments, hauds ye therr wi thum.
A wee unhurried haun oan the shoodir, a maw touch, transferrin empathy, she’s up an well restit, Ah took the night shift, Ah don’t mind it. She asks me if Ah slept wi concirn oan the edge ae her voice, Ah say aye, feelin in this moment that Ah’ve slept a thousand year, even bypassit the need fir it. That toast smell that maks yir stomach leap oan coffee driven mornins when a tate too much acid swims in yir gut, a comfortable nausea, a marker ae ten mair minits ae the clock passin.
In ma line ae visione is her white fluffy housecoat that I uised tae rip it ootae but noo understaun, it trails oan the flair, her visione goes tae it tae, the cat paws at it, I stare at it fir atween twinty seconds an a thousand year, til she’s back, she’s been awiy an the space has been fillt wi shapes an colours that surroond a patch, it draws me taewards it an ma heid nods but the wean stirrs an I stiy upright, if Ah move therr’ll bi hell ae piy.
In atween noddin aff, the wirds in various languagees begin taewards me, they swirl in a wee spiral taewards ma heid an entir ma coupon, Ah nod, nod, the weans oan ma stomach, eh stirrs again, noo she appears tae take um, I rise, aw the while aware ae baith legs, the hefty muscle at the back, gies a dull tug inward, Ah smile fir bein aware ae it, a gift, an though logic pulls fae the tap ae ma heid, fightin tae engulf ma boady, this exceptional day favours the boady, an as I rise wi the usual heid rush I breech the surface an swim oot tae some plane that’s right here where the edgees ae each object ae furniture is laced wi certainty.
“Darling, Ah think ye shuid go ae bed firra bit, yir e’es ur rid”. “Nah nah, this day is perfect, Ah love you an Ah love the wean an Ah’m no gonnae shut it oot even though it maks me a bit uncomfortable.”
She knows this type ae talk, Ah’ve a habit ae expressin each thoaght tae her, in a measurt wiy, since aboot three year ago when Ah acceptit truly that it wisnae wan ae divers versions ae me she loved. She knows the wirkins ae ma internal life thouroughly, the wirkins that unfortunately she’s stuck wi sin aw ither beins mak me deeply nervous an summon fae me a characateur ae a wirkin class Glaswegian Screiver Atheist Skeptic who maks the irritatin pynt ae spikkin the wiy eh writes, who ruins an tramples guid conversatione wi Sartre, Kerouac an Joyce, who disnae follae the fitba an is middle class in aw wits but financially.
Hungir wakes iz wi a jolt. Aw WHIT! Flash ae irritation, Ah missed some ae ma windae, the wean’s message wis interruptit, wan hing will claw it back.
Ah showir wi fragile optimism, Ah lucidly imagine wi vain 20/20 fore-hindsight ma wife’s perceptione ae me as optimism gaithirs roon ma form an that the air vibrates roon wir wee bubble, the three ae iz, we’ll go tae the park, we’ll get coffee, an thir will be wan moment that Ah’ll see it again, the windae, the haly display wi the answirs, we’ll git haim an Ah’ll follae it, at it’s end will be the end ae ma drout, Ah’ll rattle it, twa, three oor, Ah feel the satisfactione that it will bring, but first, first, the weans e’es, ye huftae firget yirsel, Seamus.
Thirr’s a wee cafe in Pollok Park, the coffee is weak, we sit ootside defiant in the clammy Auguste air, an it hits me, as it does, as Ah secretly suspect an hide fae masel, Hamsen, Kerouac, Joyce, great scrievers, miserable men, great trancendencie through sufferin…yir wife an wean, who want ye tae clambir doon fae yir ridiculous lofty heid heights an intae Pollok Park, a momentary struggle, a pop, an colour floods intae vision. She senses Ah’ve come back, she doesnae ken how long fir, so we drink wattery coffee an say nothin, smilin.