Father & Son go camping.

With illusions to nowhere
everyone thinks they’re somewhere

Not here….

~

Arthur sat on his log with a frown upon his pale freckled face, “We need to get back to nature.” He pondered out loud after hearing such phrases from many adults.
“Is that so?” His father replied, brushed his hand over his beard, “Why where have we been?”
With that Arthur looked to his father with a puzzled expression and the fire crackled between them, reflecting on their faces. “Nowhere.”
His father too was now considering the phrase his son had just said, in deep thought he looked to the flames as if the answer would be in them. “Exactly.” He said, finally.
“What?” Arthur asked, still perplexed.
His father flicked his knife over the wood he had been whittling into a teddy bear for most of the afternoon, “It’s as you say, we’ve been nowhere, son.”
“Nope,” Arthur shook his head, “I still don’t get ya!”
“Well,” his father closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, “How can we go back to something we never even left?”
The boy considered this for a moment and rested his chin on both of his hands, “But,” He started, “You’ve said it yourself.”
His father frowned, “I was foolish.”
“How so, dad?”
His father once again stared into the flames, as if the flames were an oracle that could give him any answer he needed. “Well, I guess,” He frowned trying to find the words, “Well, look at it this way, have you seen a Beavers dam?”
“Yea.” Arthur sat hunched forwards, eager to his father.
“Do you remember them termite mounds?”
Arthur’s eyes lit up, “Yes! I remember them!”
“And you remember that documentary on the TV about the bower birds nest?”
“Yes! I remember all that, dad! I remember!”
“Well, that’s what humans are doing.”
Arthur’s face scowled into the flames, “I just don’t get ya!” He shook his head, “The termites made them mounds, the bower birds made them nests, and the Beavers made those Dams!”
“And we humans built our nests and all the other things we have created for better or worse.”
“But,” Arthur kicked “We have houses! Not nests!”
“Same thing.” His father remarked.
“But, like,” Arthur paused in thought, “TVs! They aren’t natural.”
“So if something is man made it’s, therefore, unnatural?” His father asked.
“Yes.”
“So what are we humans then?”
Arthur frowned, “You just said what we are, we’re humans!” Arthur sighed and looked down at his shoelaces, “Anyway most of what people have made have been destructive.”
“It may well have been,” His father put down his knife and studied the teddy bear he’d whittled, “Doesn’t make it any less natural.”
“But nature is beautiful.” Arthur argued, “To be destructive is far from natural!”
“But destruction is part of nature.” His father reminded him.
“So what does this mean for us?” Arthur asked with a worried expression on his face.
“What do you think it means?”
“I think it means we can’t help ourselves.”
“We can,” He picked up his knife again and shaved a bit of the teddy bears ears that was sticking out too much, “we just need to stop perpetuating the illusions that having houses made from bricks and electronics in our home means we’re not part of nature, or beyond nature. Then, perhaps we’d be more conscious about our choices.” He studied the teddy bear again and smoothed his finger over the curves, “Do you think your little sister will like this?”
“Yea, dad,” Arthur replied but with a far away look that had glazed over his eyes.
“Whats up?”
“I’m just dreaming of saving the world.”
“Naturally.” His father uttered softly.

Rewritten: Birds of wisdom

At the crack of dawn, he always wakes me up! “Look, Blake, I don’t want to wake up with Dawn’s arse crack in my face!” that’s how I sometimes respond, referring to the earliness of the hour. Bloody Dawn, she orchestrates a choir much too early for me come spring! But no, not for Blake. He’s up and ready, shaking me in the bed like, “Wakey, wakey! Rise and shine!” He opens the curtains revealing Dawn’s crack.
“It’s the best time to see all that life!” he beams and kisses me on the forehead. He’ll insist on going for a walk, he loves walking. But, let me make one thing clear about Blake, he walks like he’s floating. I don’t know what he does, but it’s like the land responds to his quiet step, and he tames it. The wildlife responds much the same way, for example, squirrels don’t chatter nervously and shake their bushy tails ready to pounce and run off up the trees. No, it’s like as Blake approaches the squirrel somehow knows, ‘he’s not threat to me, he’s a dear friend.’ The birds know it too, they don’t go off in a sudden flurry of flight. Sometimes he’s stopped walking, and I have continued on in my own world only to find him missing from my side when I turn around he’s stood there shaking his head and laughing at my ignorance.
“You had the chance to see so much life!” He’ll say walking or floating as he does towards me, “You’re what I call a bird plough,” He’ll put his hand on my shoulder and squeeze it reassuringly, “But so is so much of the human race!”
I always raise a brow at him like he’s insane. Initially, I meant it, now it’s just habit.

We’ll sit down at a bench, usually at his request. He’ll be sat there for ten minutes all calm and serene but by this time I’m usually ready to get up and walk some more, but he remains seated, and I ponder how he can sit still in the same spot for so long! Especially when he does it in the winter, or in early spring when it’s still cold as fuck, excuse my French.
“It’s a bit cold.” I’ll remark and start rummaging in my pocket for my gloves.
“Take note of the male Blackbird to the right of us, but be subtle about it.” He tells me eagerly.
I shift my eyes to the right, and there is Mr Blackbird perched precariously on a branch.
“Now take note of Mrs Blackbird ahead of us, a worm in its beak.”
I look ahead at the grassy verge, and Mrs Blackbird has a worm wriggling in its beak. I’d wonder to myself what relevance it had to anything. But, he’d just remain silent and just scanning the scene like he always does. I try to watch his gaze, but he can be very subtle about where he’s really looking. A woman with is pushing a pram with one hand while holding a phone to her ear with the other, and a kid running ahead of her. Occasionally she stops in her tracks, gesturing with her hands to some guy called Gary on the phone, who is, ‘pecking er ‘ead man!”  Their obliviousness to those that surrounded them sent both Mrs and Mr Blackbird flying away, to which Blake turns to me and says, “Bird plough.”
I roll my eyes, “You can hardly blame her!” I shook my head, “A kid running lose, a baby and someone on the phone!”
He smiles, “So what’s your excuse?”
Bloody git he is! But he’s my git, and though I roll my eyes at him nearly every minute of every day. He can be mildly irritating, but isn’t everyone? Plus there is a side to him only I actually see, though it’s not a happy sight I’m afraid. See the thing about Blake is, he has the most intense bouts of depression I’ve ever seen. He deals with it by using humour and watching the birds.
I’m just saying all this because, well, I’m about to marry him and well, I guess I must really love him! Because I’m currently dressed as a flamingo. Yes, I didn’t take it seriously when he said to me, “Wouldn’t it be surreal to get married dressed as ostriches or flamingos?”
I said it would be surreal and laughed. But now here I am, and I’m still marrying the bleeding git!

Less hope for you yet.

Calloway pushed the blade further into the ground with the step, leaning his body to use all his weight, “ya know,” he started, grunting, “what your problem is?” a cigarette bobbed up and down between his thin lips as he spoke
Max watched the blade cutting into the earth, “What?” He asks, arms folded.
“Ya still holding out for hope.”
Max cocked his head to one side, “Having hope is my problem?” He scoffed.
“Uh huh.” Calloway grunted and leant into the handle, “Let that hope go, boy.” He flicked ash onto the earth beneath his feet, embers flickered orange and then gave up.
Max disagreed, shaking his head. “A bit of hope is what a man needs.”
“Nah, Max.” Calloway let the shovel drop down to the ground with a thud, and wiped his forehead with a handkerchief, “We all die in the end.”
“Morbid.” Max rolled his eyes.
A flicker like the embers from his cigarette sparked in Calloway’s eyes for a moment, “What do ya think I’m doin’ ‘ere? Digging for goddamn gold?”
Max looked at the hole Calloway had been digging and sighed with irony.
“The world needs the hopeless.” Calloway drawled on, taking a swig from his bottle of water.
“The world needs more hope, that’s what it needs.” Max said adamantly.
Calloway waved Max’s words away casually, “This world is just a big cosmic joke.”
“Well I for one,” Max dug the toe of his shoe into the ground with an irritated kick, “think there is something more to all this.”
“Something more? Something more than what?”
“Than this!” Max gestured with his hands open in front of him, signifying everything.
“You know why the world is a cosmic joke?” Calloway asked, picking up the shovel again and heaving the blade back into the earth.
“Because it’s all a big accident, blah blah. You’ve told me all this before.” Max faked a yawn.
“There is irony everywhere.” Calloway said matter of factly.
“What are you on about, Cal?”
“There is more hope to be found in the hopeless.”
Max scowled, “That makes no sense!”
“Exactly.”

Seeking courage

“I saw him in the shadows, Sir.”
The man Scar spoke with had alcohol on his breath, fingerless gloves on his hands and his dirty fingers shook and poked at the wall they stood beside. “I saw him a few times, I should have followed. But, I never could be that man, Scar.”
Scar was named so because the entirety of his left face was scarred round the edges of a tablet screen. The tablet screen just looked to have been shoved into his face willy-nilly, but it was surgically put there. His face constantly glowed on that one side, the screen full of scratches and cracks.  This was the only source of light for the two men as they stood in the alleyway between the pub and the backs of poor filthy houses. “I was supposed to follow.” The man repeated, shaking even more. “I couldn’t do it.” A tear streamed down his dirty face.
“The truth is we chose the Devils way.” To prove his point, he scowled over at the street sign that read, ‘Djinn Avenue.’
“He was God, and we could have followed.” The man bellowed.
“God isn’t that powerful, neither is the Devil. It’s just Good and Bad. Beauty VS ugly. Dark VS light.” Scar said.
“You deny the shadow we saw in the mist?” The man asks, wiping a tear from his eye.
“I don’t deny the shadow. I deny his power.”
“Is that why you didn’t follow him upstairs?”
“I’ll go upstairs when I damn well want.” Scar’s face appeared to glow all the brighter as the irritation showed itself in his stance, and the other side of his face grimaced.
“You said you couldn’t be like him, that you wished you were.”
“The shadow is courage I never had.” Scar says sadly, “The shadow is only God because I never had the courage to go upstairs.”
The man started to pace, “I’ve seen the obscure man, the one with the…”
“Mirror?” Scar asked knowingly.
“Yes.”
Scar smiled for the first time, “Both the Shadow and the obscure man have mirrors.”
The man looked dumbfounded, “There are no mirrors upstairs.”
“The mirrors only show us what they want us to see.” Scar said matter of factly, almost like he’d rehearsed that line.
“What,” The man’s voice shakes a little, “What happened to your face?”
Scar smiled, but it was a smile upheld by sadness, “I wanted to be emotionless. I tried to become a robot.”
He laughed, “Insane, right?” He pointed to his glowing face.
“I can’t say it’s anything other, I’m afraid, sir.”
“I thought I could follow God easier as a robot.”
The man lit up a cigarette and looked at Scar, took the sight in as he inhaled a big hit of smoke. “You talk in a very confusing way. Do you believe in God or not?”
“God is merely a word that is interchangeable. God isn’t some spirit in the sky, it’s not some creator, it’s not what we’ve been taught.”
“What is God then?”
“God is an anthropomorphism of courage, of kindness, of natural events that bring joy.”
“So who or what is the Shadow?”
“The shadow is who we wish to be. We don’t follow the shadow actually. We become him, and he ceases to be a shadow, we live with courage.”
“So who is the obscure man, who always stands at the end of Djin Avenue?”
“The anthropomorphism of bad deeds, evil, natural disasters.” Scar carries on with himself, “We lack courage, so we don’t become Gods of our lives”
“Why would I want to become a shadow?” The man frowns, “you make no sense.”
“You don’t want to become a shadow. You want to become courage. Courage or God whatever you want to call him, is only a shadow because you, we, haven’t realised his potential. That is, we haven’t become the courage we sought.”
“Are we the obscure man?”
“Yes. It is us standing at the end of Djin Avenue.”

Therapy. Version 2. Or Crack.

“I see you’ve cracked.” The therapist says, tilting her body on the big computer chair.
“Haven’t we all?” I ask
“No. Do I look like I’ve cracked?” She asks, tilting herself forward and spinning in the chair to show me her entire body.
“The night is young. I can crack you if you want.”
“And how would you do that?” She asks.
“Headbutt you.”
“Then you’d crack more and we’d both just be a gooey mess.”
We both draw smirks on our shells.
“You are being inappropriate perhaps, Miss Therapist.” I etch a grin on my shell. “Do you remember when we all had cracks, out of the virtue of being human?”
She draws another smirk on her face, “Are you using a euphemism?”
I draw raised eye brows on my face, “Well the euphemism sure was implied. But I also mean metaphorically.”
She tilts her body forwards and looks at me curiously, “Explain.”
“Do you remember your first heartbreak, Miss?”
She nods her body to gesture yes.
“So do I. That was a crack on our psyche. But then we moved on, perhaps we were even stronger afterwards. You know when all was said and done.”
“I guess.”
“We used to crack inside and sometimes we had wounds to show for it outside. But we stitched ourselves back up.”
“We did.” She agrees.
“But the generation just after me, hell probably even my own age to some extent, crack and never get up again.”
“hmm.”
“We’re more fragile than we ever were. While trying to be stronger than we ever were.” I knock on my shell, and another crack appears, “See what I mean?”
“You are so cynical, Sam.”
“What you call cynicism is just the truth, Miss.” I lean my body forwards, “It’s also just evolution.”
“I’m supposed to help you.” She leans forwards and replaces her current default expression with a sympathetic look. “But honestly, I don’t think you can be helped.” She etches a sad face on her shell.
“I know.” I agree. “Our shells are just too fragile.”
“But they’re so full of calcium.” She says with the scripted optimism therapists are given.
“Which is certainly good for the birds.”
She looks at me puzzled.
“We can feed ourselves to the birds.”
“Very morbid.”
“Perhaps it’s time for the dinosaurs to rise again.”

For more like this:
Therapy

All in the head

Muted

Therapy

“So, Sam how are you feeling today?”
We both glow brightly in the dark room, I want to touch my face,  but I’m afraid I’ll accidently press a button. “I’m feeling an emptiness that is full.”
My therapist changes position slightly in her chair; she’s trying to tilt her head in that human way therapists used to do. “Uh huh. Tell me more.”
That’s in the therapist’s script or dictionary or whatever. “What can I say. It’s everything, and it’s nothing. But there is no connection.”
“Connection to whom?” My therapist asks curiously; I imagine she’d be raising a brow if we were still human.
“To the world, to life, to humans. We think we’re connected, but then we come away empty, don’t we? Just a screen full of emojis.”
“What emoji represents how you feel right now?”
“None can adequately portray anything.”
The therapist nods her body. “Yes, Yes. But you’d probably say the same about words, right?”
“Yes. No words, no emoji’s, hell even no action can quite express what I so often feel. That’s why, no disrespect, therapy is bullshit.”
Her cartoon like legs dangle off the chair, “I think the problem we have is many people have been comfortable putting their brains into their phones, but you’re not quite there yet.”
“Nobodies quite there yet.”
“Isn’t that a massive assumption?”
“No. The evidence is right here. Have you been to Tumblr?”
The therapist looks sad. “Yes. I’ve seen it.”
“They’ve put their brains in electronic devices, miss. And then they’re looking for a reason and well let’s be frank, there is none. So they’re fighting for causes some of them have a grain of truth, but they’ve mutated the grain.”
My therapist nods her body again. She is also reluctant to touch her face, just in case she too accidently touches a button.
“We’re dotting our I’s, Miss.”
She shows me a confused emoji, then says, “Like,” and shows a cross-eyed emoji.
“We’re dotting our I’s because we can’t quite capitalise on individuality, though we’re trying harder than we ever have before.”
The therapist’s screen shows moving dots as she considers this. “I can’t say I understand the way in which you express yourself.”
“That is nothing new, Miss.”
“Sam. You’ll never be happy living like this.”
I glow my full body towards her, my cartoon like legs dangling also. “Happy wasn’t ever a constant or ever will be. There is no such thing as a happy life.”
“That sounds very cynical.” She shows an emoji with a flat expression.
“Perhaps what you call cynism is just the truth.”
She ponders a moment, her legs kicking out underneath her like a child’s on a stool that is too tall for her, “How can we end this therapy session?”
I bend my body, so I glow towards the floor, the light reflecting from the ground back to me, making it too bright to exist. “We can’t.”

All in the head

I forgot I’m not supposed to go on rollercoasters. Still here I sit like a beer glass on a coaster, I’m shaking inside my teeth are chattering. It’s not cold. I’ve got adrenaline through my viens 10 times a dozen. I’m about to have a heart attack. I’m fizzing up, I’m frothing at the head and I’m running over like a liquid. The rollercoaster goes upsidedown, everything looks right this way down. I throw up my guts over some innocent person just walking along minding their own business. “If my head falls off,” I start, to the stranger beside me, “It’s okay.”
“Um.” He shifts his eyes from side to side.
“Your eyes looked better where they were originally.”
“Um…”
“The doctors say everythings in my head anyway.” I grin, sick smeared round my mouth.