August Moon day 4: duologue

So I had a conversation with my shadow. Couldn’t put it off any longer. I turned to face her, felt the sun on the back of my neck, said, ‘So how come you’re following me?’

‘Oh, my dear,’ she said, ‘it’s all down to you. I live for you; you must know that.’

I looked at her, lolling against the wall like some insolent chit, and I said, ‘We’re only joined at the feet, you know.’

‘Not always,’ she said, and I swear she’d have winked, if only I could have seen her eyes.

But I won’t be made to blush like some Victorian miss by my own shadow, and so I agreed. ‘Not always.’ And sat down, to prove my point. It did very odd things to her legs, and her neck bent at right angles when she got to the wall, but she didn’t seem to mind. ‘Talk to me,’ I said.

‘I belong to you,’ she said. ‘Where you go, I follow.’

‘You stretch,’ I said, ‘and you shrink. You’re one,’ I said, ‘or you’re many. You’re sharp or you’re fuzzy.’

‘Ah, my dear,’ she said, ‘that all depends on you. If you go out in the morning I’m tall, and if you stand between two lamps then I’m twins.’

‘You come out in the sun,’ I said, ‘and in the darkness you’re not there at all. How can I trust you?’

‘The darkness,’ she said, ‘belongs to me and all the shadows, and all the shadows are one. In the darkness,’ she said, ‘I’m no longer fixed to you, and I wrap around you like a blanket. In the darkness,’ she said, ‘you’re quite safe.’

Sometimes I think that she’s cleverer than I am. I don’t quite see how that would work, but perhaps she knows.

August Moon day 3: betting with pennies, calculated risk

It was a gloomy day, or perhaps it just felt that way because I did.

In fact, I’m not sure that I could tell you what the weather was doing. It wasn’t raining; I’d have heard that. But I didn’t go outside. The curtains stayed shut. I moved from bed to computer to bed to television. Only very late in the evening I looked out of the window and saw the last rags of sunlight just brushing the tops of the leylandii.

I was refusing to feel guilty about it. I was ill. Not seriously ill; just the irritating sort of sore throat that made it hurt to talk much, and the lethargy that made venturing outside the house an exhausting prospect. I could have pushed myself, I knew, but I would have suffered for it later. I’d done that through the working week, taken one sick day and ignored two others I knew I needed. Better a day of utter boredom than months of never quite being well, of always being tired.

This had happened the year before, you see. I’d gone away for a few days and been ill when I came back. And somehow I’d never got better, and before I knew it summer had disappeared and autumn was hurrying after it, and Christmas was a burden I couldn’t shoulder. A year before, and here it came all over again. I couldn’t face it. I went to bed and shut the curtains.

You’d like to know, wouldn’t you, what was the end of the story. You’d like to know what would have happened if I’d dragged my shoes on, gone out to buy a loaf of bread. You’d like to know if I recovered faster because I let myself rest, or if I would have just got over it if I’d only pushed myself.

So would I. I don’t know. It was only yesterday.

August Moon day 2: the room with the doors

Let me tell you what I am afraid of.

I am afraid of getting shut in. I am afraid of shutting myself in. I am afraid of closing any door, for fear that it, and only it, will turn out to have been the right door to go through.

I am afraid of shutting the door and being left in the dark. It’s possible, of course, that when the door shuts I will see the cracks of light around all the other doors, the ones I didn’t even know existed. But what if I don’t?

I am afraid of making the wrong choice, of knowing that it is my fault that things have gone wrong, because I made that choice.

For a long time I have known, in the part of my mind that knows facts, that staying in that cramped little room is as much a choice as walking through any of the doors, that if I stay there long enough the doors will open or close without my hand touching the handle, that I will have chosen without the privilege of choosing.

It is only this week that I have come to understand deep in my bones that the house is mine, and that I am free to choose walk through or to ignore any door I like. Even though I don’t know what’s on the other side…

I’m scared of what might be on the other side, yes. I think, though, that it might be slightly less terrifying than finding that all the doors have locked themselves while I was stuck in the middle of the room, thinking that I wasn’t allowed to touch them.

August Moon day 1: scared of the dark

We begin our journey in the darkness. I am feeling… apprehensive.

There is so much out there that I don’t know. Standing here with one foot on the threshold, about to step out into the unknown, I can’t even begin to imagine what’s coming. The person who will experience the adventures of a month, a year, a decade hence, knows more than I do, has dimensions of wisdom that are far beyond me.

It’s a luminous, velvety, exciting darkness, full of unknown unknowns, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it coming, so you might as well meet it with curiosity and the intention to enjoy it.

I only realised the other day that I have been stopping myself wanting things for most of my life, declining to express preferences out of politeness or fear or goodness knows what. Setting out on my fourth decade with permission to make choices based on what I actually want… now there’s an adventure. I’m still in the dark as to what I want.

And then there’s the actual, literal, darkness. It’s out there already. I had to turn my bike lights on this morning. It’s been a wet, grey, day, and it’s a dark, dank evening. No moon, and no chance of seeing it even if there were one. Autumn is here already, I think.

I am one of those apparently rare people who prefers Greenwich Mean Time to British Summer Time. My mood is so tied to the sunlight that when the mornings become dark I find the arguments for getting out of bed less and less convincing. As the nights lengthen I look forward to that magical Sunday when the clocks go back and the morning is suddenly light again. It doesn’t last long – a fortnight, perhaps, before the darkness crawls back in – but it’s enough; it keeps me hanging on until the solstice, when I can tell myself that things are going to get better.

There’s a petition going around Facebook at the moment asking for permanent British Summer Time. It’s a genuinely terrifying prospect. I would lose the whole winter.

I am scared of the dark. I am scared of the dark that’s coming. The dark that’s already here is less intimidating, but more awesome.