Tag Archives: mystery

How does memory work? (Another excerpt from my 1st draft)

This is a bit of a strange one but I thought I’d share it anyway. To (very) briefly explain –  at the heart of my story are questions about memory, and how our memories of life experiences affect who we are and how we behave. With that in mind…

 

It’s believed that our long-term memory comes in three flavours:
Episodic, Procedural and Semantic.

Your first kiss,
The best meal you’ve ever eaten,
Attending your daughter’s graduation,
Episodic memory covers the massive accumulation,
Of life experiences that are unique to you,
Things that have happened at a specific time,
At a specific venue.

Procedural memory comprises those skills,
That have been learnt,
But that we perform so effortlessly that it appears we weren’t,
Conscious of learning them in the first place,
Like riding a bike or tying a shoe lace.

And semantic memory is all about remembering factual information,
Such as capital cities or multiplication,
Often the sort of stuff you learn at school,
Right down to the most basic cognition:
That a cat is an animal and a hammer is a tool.

Abstract rant (another excerpt from my first draft)

This makes little sense out of context. However, it makes only a little more sense in context…

Words,
Can’t find,
When it’s correct.

Murmur,
Cry,
Windows,
Over me,
Through me,
Can’t see,
Call me,
Claw me,
Forget me,
Judge me,
Don’t.

Indirect,
Perhaps,
Betrayal,
No return,
Perhaps,
Accusation,
Kiss and tell,
Not to me,
About,
Choice,
Top drawer,
Always,
Expectation,
Release.

Listen,
Trust me,
Retain,
Plug it,
File it,
Trust me,
Never.

About temptation… (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

The apple on the tree,
The serpent from the sea,
The beautiful Eve,
And me.

Listening to the hissing,
Kissing,
Tempted to cheat,
Consumed in a mouthful,
An obsession needing to be fed.

But the fruit’s bittersweet,
Not good to eat,
Our slippery friend,
One step ahead.

To have avoided this fate,
Though now it’s too late,
What we should have done,
Was kill the fucking snake.

The merest hint of snow (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

Overnight,
The temperature dropped,
Wafting the merest hint of snow,
Through the air,
Like dandelion seeds,
Gently blown,
Then blown away,
To make you wonder if they were ever there.

Dancing on sand / Living for the now (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

The coach headlights are thrown on full beam,
Illuminating a sandy stage,
As the dancing pairs,
Defy their age.

And though the evening is warm enough,
That coats aren’t required,
You still couldn’t have guessed at the inspired,
Choice of attire on display.
Sequins, sequins everywhere,
Heavy make-up,
Cumulus hair,
No colour to garish,
No trouser too tight,
An army against blandness,
Dressed for the fight.

Here, there’s no disgrace,
In a belly that struggles to remain penned,
By the buttons on a shirt,
Or a jowl that wobbles more,
Than a few years before.
It’s not about being airbrushed and pert,
Because the reality,
Is that this happiness comes more,
From enjoying the commonalities,
We find with other people;
More from appreciating what you’ve got,
Than what you had;
Not from being grateful,
Just from being glad.

His longest minute

I’ve written this from the writing prompt over at Nostrovia Poetry: ‘Write a scene where the subject experiences the longest minute of their life.’ I haven’t written from a writing prompt before – I’m not sure that this entirely works but it was fun to give it a go. And it was a great way to get my ‘writing head’ on today…

Is this it?

A car sits in the road ahead,
Where it’s impossible for two vehicles to pass.
Dark grey paintwork,
Tinted windows,
Expensive looking.
Even up close,
He can’t see through the glass.

Is this it?
Is she in there?

For the longest moment,
The stillness,
Is like a word on the tip of his tongue,
And uncertainty is hung,
On tightly strung wire,
In the space,
Between fear and desire.
He holds his breath,
Shivering as he exhales,
Trying to remain calm,
Though anxiety is king here,
And it’s anxiety that prevails.

God damn,
Why aren’t they doing something?

A door opens,
A booted foot reaches out,
And feels for the tarmac.

Is this it?
Is this it?
Is she here?

We each erect our own barriers (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

In the back of the car,
Victor runs his hands over the soft, cracked seats,
That always seem to smell like new.
His view out the window is incomplete,
Through the hazy tint,
As if he wants a hint,
Of what’s going on in the world,
But has no desire to be hurled,
In to the grime and banality,
Of what he perceives as reality.

The car leaves the steel and the concrete,
The chaos and the bustle,
Of the city behind,
And enters a suburb defined,
By it’s residents’ desire,
To separate themselves from each other.
Infinite lawns,
And hedges like fences,
Ensure that their lives are isolated,
By their own defences.

They pull up to a security gate,
And are granted entry,
By an anonymous sentry…

Ancient room, ancient people (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

A butler with a stiff, flat face and long, black coat,
Who half shuffles and half floats,
Is waiting for the car as it stops at a grand front door,
And escorts Victor across a grand marble floor,
To the threshold of a room so grand,
It insists you stand,
To attention.

Despite it’s size,
The room is poorly lit.
17th Century dust hides,
In the shadows,
Of wood panelled corners,
And a solitary greek statue is a hermit,
Dreaming of battles and oceans,
A perfect specimen in milky stone,
Built for an empire,
Now standing alone.
The long-since-dead,
Sprawl in faded colours,
In ever-evolving poses,
Across the walls,
Witnesses to the slow decay around them,
Their expressions transparent,
Clearly appalled.

In the centre of this yester-world decoration,
Is an island,
Of three armchairs,
And a floor lamp,
That’s a glowing perforation,
In the gloom.
A frail couple are sitting,
Directing expectant stares,
Towards Victor.
Their slouched posture,
Is at odds with their formal dress,
But they say nothing,
Leaving Victor to guess,
That he should join them,
In the remaining seat.

 

Out cold (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

And then the others have to step back,
To avoid a collision,
As X topples forward,
Dissecting two stools with military precision.
Face down,
Smack.
His story only partly told,
And the mystery man already out cold,
His left cheek,
Stuck to the sticky beer floor,
Sticky beer coating his now sticky beer jaw.
“Oof,” says The Whiz Kid,
With an understated exhalation.
He looks round at the others,
Expecting further exclamation,
Yet all just stare without sound,
At the figure before them,
Crumpled,
Unconscious,
And stuck to the ground.

Retracing steps (another 1st draft excerpt)

The wind is steady as she blows,
Pushing the sand to race,
Wave after wave,
Across the coast;
Nothing is stationary in this place.

The Whiz Kid and X,
Stand on the spot where they met,
In an attempt to retrace forgotten steps.
They take a tour of the village,
On the way to the station,
Although ‘tour’ may be an exaggeration,
For the walk that takes in twenty houses,
The pub,
The local store,
And the café that closes at four,
Except in the summer when it’s a place for tourists to stop,
At which point it also turns in to a souvenir shop.
Every building has been constructed,
Of the same heavy stone,
That’s the colour of the storms that beat it,
And reflects the ozone,
Smell of the sea that splatters it.

They pass by houses,
Staying close to the walls,
And breathe in that ancient coastal odour,
Conjuring images of shipwrecks and squalls,
Of fisherman ploughing furrows through mighty waves,
And pirates hiding bounty in craggy caves.

They walk slowly.
X walks reluctantly.
There are no memories being stirred,
Nothing is inferred,
In anything he sees.
The Whiz Kid steers them left,
Round the final house on the road,
To the location,
Of the two crumbling platforms,
That constitute the station,
And though there’s still not a flicker,
Of recollection,
No connection,
To any experience from the past,
X looks up,
Stops,
And knows that this isn’t the path,
He wants to follow.
Not today,
Not tomorrow.

With barely a pause,
He turns,
And claws,
His way back down the street,
His legs biting in to the tarmac,
Carrying his feet,
Whether they were coming or not.
He couldn’t tell you why,
But it’s taking everything he’s got,
Not to break in to a run,
His heart thumping in his throat,
And his skin a sweaty shell,
A pale, clammy coat.
But he’s not going back.
Not a chance,
Not a chance in hell.