5.7.2013 Journal Prompt

Photograph by Sisse Brimberg & Cotton Coulson National Geographic
Photograph by Sisse Brimberg & Cotton Coulson
National Geographic

May 7, 2013: They gathered most afternoons.

4 Replies to “5.7.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. They gathered most afternoons. On the library steps. Each with a place that was their own, and no one trespassed into another’s space. They gathered like starlings gather or swallows before the close of summer. They gathered to be in the last of the day’s sun.

    The steps were warm and the air was warm, too. And they sat with their backs turned against the hall of books and they looked out over the city, all its towers and spires and domes breaking the skyline, and the colour beginning to go from the hills, and the stone of the buildings burnished gold. They had thoughts then and not always deep, and those thoughts sometimes found words and were sent drifting from person to person.

    ‘I don’t know why it has to be so hard’; that was Eloise and she was talking about Brendon. They were together again, but it wouldn’t last, just it hadn’t lasted before. Already the cracks were beginning to show as they always did.

    ‘I don’t know why it has to be hard’; and Elsie took Margret’s hand and she laced their fingers together and she smiled at the sun going down and she sighed and did not have any more words to add to what she had said.

    ‘I don’t know why it has to be so hard’; and André was meaning the work he had still to do and he was wrestling with some aspect of philosophy and he could not get his thoughts straight and he shook his head and said to Steve that he didn’t know why it had to be so hard.

    Steve nodded, but he did not take his eyes from the sun sitting on the faraway hills, and slipping slowly behind them, and the day cooling about him, about all of them. ‘I saw the doctor today,’ said Steve and suddenly the ideas in André’s head did not seem so important.

    The city looked so small from their seat on the steps and the insistent horns of taxis not so urgent and almost musical; and taking the time just to breathe and to be, that made all that hurrying and rushing hither and thither seem like a madness.

    ‘Slow as time when every second counts,’ said Amelia. Thomas agreed and he leaned into her and put his arm around her and without her noticing, he checked the time on his watch and his thoughts were not where they were but ran ahead of him and were with Caroline, his wife.

    ‘Slow as syrup when it is pulled from a spoon’; Marianne was talking about the postal service. She was expecting a letter from home. A letter with money tucked into the pages, and dried flowers folded there too, and a small drawing of the boat by the shore, or flowers in a vase, or bread cut into rough slices.

    ‘Slow as shadows creeping just past the middle of the day,’ said Eloise. ‘If only he took things a bit slower.’ And that was Brendon again and she was talking about how it was in bed with him, and how it was as though he was in a race and he never lost. Except he did. And Eloise lost, too.

    ‘Slow as hills wearing down and great boulders made to rounded pebbles’; Charlotte was not talking about anything in particular. She had just heard something about slow and so she was thinking only of the slowest things she could imagine.

    And the sun dipped from view and the steps sweated their heat away and the lights came on in the city and those that had gathered on the steps got to their feet in ones and twos, and slowly they all went back to the lives they had at the bottom of the steps.

    ‘Tomorrow,’ said Steve, and he limped off into the darkness and André, who did not go with him, had a new idea to wrestle with and it was harder than any philosophy; and Eloise hoped Brendon had packed his things already and had left his key under the mat and that tomorrow she’d wake alone; and Elsie hoped she’d wake next to Margret; and Amelie did not know if she could make tomorrow, for she was seeing someone else without Thomas knowing; and Marianne expected the letter would arrive tomorrow; and Charlotte, who was the last to leave, and was always the last to leave, was still not thinking about anything in particular.

  2. Thank you both. Sometimes these things just seem to write themselves… especially if I walk around with a picture in my head for a full day.

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