One Reply to “3.31.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. At first just single words written in chalk or scratched with the point of a nail into the soot sullied red brick wall. And those words were sharp as stinging nettles. And she took a stiff scrubbing brush and hot water and soap and she blushed to read the words she removed.

    Then something softer on the wall. Still in chalk, but ‘pillow’ was the word. And ‘eiderdown’ the next day. And then ‘slippers’. And she did not wipe those words away; if she had then perhaps there would have been no encouragement for other words. `Billowing’ one day, and ‘sift’ and ‘purr’.

    Always the words appeared unexpectedly: after dark or sleep or a time away. Once, after the news on the television and she stepped outside for a smoke and there on the wall in yellow drip paint were the words of the Lord’s Prayer, just the first two lines, and the paint was still wet, and running, and just for a moment she thought she heard the drumbeat thunder of footsteps escaping into the muffled dark.

    ‘Our Father who art in Heaven,
    Hallowed be thy name.’

    She unpicked those words, looking for some hidden clue in what was written, some clue as to the writer of the message – if message it was. But no matter how she arranged the text, there was nothing obvious between the lines.

    She took to standing in a room at the front of her house, the curtains thrown wide, but herself hidden in shadow or shade. And she stood with her eyes sharp and her head cocked, as does a bird that listens for the smallest sound. She was sure it was a boy, or a man who has not many years on him. More and more words each day filled the spaces on her wall: whole passages from books, or dialogue from old films, or the moving lines from famous speeches.

    ‘And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing!’

    More today than yesterday, but only appearing when her eyes closed and then were opened again, or she turned her back and then looked out once more.

    All those words, enough to fill a book, and on her house and on no other, as if the messages were written specially, as if they were meant for her, except they made no sense other than what they were. It was like being a child back with her father and he had a habit on nights that were empty or dull, and he’d turn the radio on and twist the dial searching for something; and what he found was the broken bits of words or the interrupted middles of programmes or the closing bars of songs. But her father was laid in the ground years back.

    Then she woke and found the painted words ran across her windows and across her door, and they fell onto the paved street in front of her house and climbed the step again and crept through the letter box and over the walls of her hall. One morning a snatched few words from a love letter by Byron:

    ‘If all that I have said and done, and am still but too ready to say and do, have not sufficiently proved what my real feelings are and must be ever towards you, my love, I have no other proof to offer.’

    On another morning something from Emily Bronte:

    ‘I cannot express it: but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be, an existence of yours beyond you.’

    And she never saw it coming, nor ever heard it, all those words seeming to follow after her, like the chatter of gossips at her back. Till at last, on the wall above her bed when she woke and it was just a name, his name, and she knew then.

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