Reaper

The last words of a dying man. They’re supposed to be profound, aren’t they? Something that will sum up the life they’ve lived, be the conclusion that they’ve reached, the fatal punchline to their joke.

In my experience, there is nothing profound about them. They are always confessions; of love, of murder, of sin, of hope. Questions. A last minute redemption plea. In my job, I’ve heard them all.

You can always see the moment that they realise that they are about to die. Then the terror takes hold, the frantic fear that the secrets they’ve tucked into the creases in their cardboard faces, the urgent words that they never voiced out loud – all these things that are so important will die with them, and no-one will ever know.

That’s where I come in. I will come and stand by your shoulder, watch your time-torn face. Then bring in the king. Enter death as a beautiful woman. Enter death as a scar-flecked monster. The edge of a blade, a bullet to the heart, a needle in the dark. And kneel beside you, performing death’s wake. I am the reaper come to untie your soul.

I am the last person to hear you. I carry the confessions of generations. And your questions, as sweet as they may be, mostly go unanswered.

Except for sometimes, when I just can’t help myself. When you seem so lost and so scared and so hopelessly young that I want to cry, ‘No, this is a mistake – send her back, she is just a child’. It’s times like this when I will embrace you and tell you the story of your life. I will share with you the way that the last confession of your parents was one of love. They died with the words on their lips, just as you do now.

And I will move on, to my next body, to their last words. But the confessions take their toll, and the memories of humans fills my head. It is always the young ones are the ones that hurt me the most.

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Love Song to Her / Grow Old Together

I want to grow old with you
I want to see you as an old lady, lined and made smaller by the years but
With that brain of yours still so sharp and quick despite your appearance, your wit and passion unchanged by the years
I want to stay with you forever
I never want to leave you, I want to spend my days in your company
I want to belong to you, and for you to belong to me, for the rest of our lives
But more than anything, I want your days to stretch behind you
And for you to look back and be able to say with confidence, “Yes, I’m happy with what I’ve done.”
I want your happiness more than I want my own.

Sacrifice

“Stop.”

Her voice is low but carries, echoing off the tunnel walls, and I stumble to a halt and turn. My breath tears through my throat, adrenaline pounding my body and making my muscles tremble. A scowl of annoyance creases my brow and a disbelieving question resounding in my head; what the hell is so important that we were risking our lives to hear it? We needed to get out of here!

But the expression on Moll’s face pulls me up short, and my irritation is replaced by the a faint stirring of fear.

“I’m staying here, Jacob.”

My brain stutters, trying to understand. “Moll, what are you saying? That’s suicide.”

Her head tilts to one side, listening to the distant thunder of our pursuers, a distorted crashing noise ricocheting off the uneven stone walls.

“I’m staying.” Her voice is firm, her muscles solidly rooted in place. She lifts her chin in the air, catching my eye. Her expression informs me coldly that this is her decision to make, not mine. “I can hold them off, buy you enough time to get out of here safely.”

My mind is in turmoil. I want to say something, to do something that will show her how much this means… how much her sacrifice is worth to me…

“Moll, I-”

“Shut up!” she shouts, so forcefully that I take an involuntary step back. Her façade at strength slips for just a moment, and pain burns in her eyes. Her years of suffering are evident on her face, and I wish with all my heart that it could’ve been different for her.

Moll advances towards me, her hand resting on the pommel of her sword, anger in the lines of her face and the tightness of her body. I back away from her until I hit the tunnel wall.

“Don’t say anything!” she spits from between her teeth, each word a blow. “Don’t you dare lie to me now. I’ve been your friend, and you owe me that much. Don’t you dare let me die for a fucking lie.”

Her face is inches from mine, fury making her eyebrows draw tightly down to her narrowed eyes. I can see how much this is costing her, the weight of her pain weighing her down, dragging her to this dark place. I wish that I could help her, that I could return her feelings. Moll steps away, turns to face back they way we’d run.

“If I mean – anything to you, then go now.” Her voice faltered, almost broke on the word ‘anything’, but then her expression closed off and her voice was flat and angry again. “Go away and don’t look back.”

In a slow, measured movement, she drew her sword. The slashing sound of metal on metal fills the cave, drowning out the rising noise of our pursuers.

I look at her, this powerful impossible woman. Her suffering and pain never broke her; she lifts her eyes up, narrowed at the corners, her fingers tightening their grip on her raised sword. Her feet are planted firmly and a wild hope for her survival burns through me, even though I know it is impossible. She is strong but there are too many.

“Thank you.”

I say to her, gratitude and sorrow and thankful understanding in my voice. She does not turn to look at me and I see the tears tracing down her cheeks. Her lips tremble slightly and she presses them firmly together, pushing back her shoulders. The sound of crashing in the tunnel is almost deafening now, resounding through my ears and painful in my head. The long length of her raised sword gleams silver in the dim light.

I turn and flee up the tunnel, leaving Moll to the fate she chose.

Heatwave

The park is dying.
At this time of year, the grass should be tall and green and full of vitality
But the relentless heat has shrivelled it to yellow straw, and it lies half-dead on the cracked and dry soil
The water fountain is not laughing. It has been cut off to save water and its ponds gape up at the sky, panting for a drink, desperate and thirsty
The pigeons have fled, down to the river, where at least they can cool their wings and the water still flows, even if it is only a sluggish trickle
Above the ground, the air shimmers, as though even the oxygen is boiling
You can feel the heat with every breath – it burns your lungs and scorches your temples
There is no wind. In the houses, every window is thrown open, hoping to coax in a loving breeze… but the swings in the park hang lifelessly with no wind to push them around
You can feel the pressure in the air. It feels like a mighty weight on your chest, pressing on your heart, sitting on your lungs

Countryside

cow2I was born and raised out in the countryside, and until my teenage years I had never even known any other kind of life. The first time I went into a city the noise and the sheer number of people overwhelmed me. I was absolutely terrified.

My childhood will be full of memories of open blue skies, of golden fields, of bare feet and climbing up trees and tall grass. Even now I’ll smell fertiliser on the fields and be able to tell you which animal it came from. I’ll always remember my childhood.

The other day one of my friends quoted a statistic to me: ‘Half of the people living in London have never seen a cow’. That shocked me to the core; it’s just so normal for me to walk out the door and see herds of cows grazing. How can 4,087,050 people in England lived their entire lives without seeing something as ordinary as a cow?

Then it struck me that there are people all over the world have grown up in cities – and that’s their life, those are their childhood memories. Some people love the bustle and busyness, the underground and skyscrapers, just as I love the countryside. For them, they would consider it weird that I’ve never been to Starbucks, never ridden in a taxi.

‘Our Girl’, and Why You Should Watch It

I just watched an amazing film, and it was so good, I thought I’d recommend it to you lovely lot.

Our%20Girl-1774901Meet Molly Dawes. She’s 18, lives in south London and spends her nights drinking and her days hungover. Her best friend slept with her boyfriend, she’s got five brothers and sisters as well as another on the way, and her dad’s an abusive alcoholic.

Her life can’t get much worse. And one night, after puking in the street, she looks up and sees a picture of a girl who had everything she wants desperately – respect, honour, purpose. She’s looking at a recruitment poster for the Army. So she signs up and is whisked away to a world completely unlike her own.

Lacey+Turner+in+'Our+Girl'
I loved this movie because of the incredible transformation Molly went through. It was tough, really tough, and so many times she came close to quitting, but she pulled through. I admired her character so much; she’s a role model to anyone who wants to escape but feels they can’t.

But hey, don’t take my word for it! Check it out yourself here. I’m not entirely sure if that link works for you lot that live outside of the UK, but whatever – keep an eye out on Amazon instead!

006.

Clever

Dear World,Roger Hargreaves

I hate being clever, and this in itself is wrong. If you’re clever you should be happy, you should be respected, you should help those that aren’t – and those that aren’t should be in turn helped to improve.

When I find that I dislike being clever, there has to be something going wrong somewhere. Why is it that I feel like I would be happier at (private school)? I know that I would end up being a nerd, but there I would be normal. I would be average. I wouldn’t be best in class and I wouldn’t hate it like I do here.

It’s not fair. I want to do my best but I don’t want to be teased and bullied for it. I want to feel happy with my achievements and not embarrassed. I really, really hate being ashamed of getting A stars. I hate it when people go, ‘Oh, I bet you got an a star’ and you have to agree, and they go all snotty on you. I hate it.

Something is wrong if I feel this way, and if others do too, then something should be done. Now.

-Anon.