Vapour Trails

Short Story

Ideas rise up when I’m walking, which makes the whole writing process elusive.  There have been lots of ‘occurrences’ that could, perhaps, have made it in to some verse or chapter, but most have evaporated.  The street is full of bubbling heads, a white noise giving way, in the stasis of the imagination, to a multitude of lost thoughts; thoughts being in this case those intense sensations that promise to transform the world, and heads, not in any isolated sense, but walking kinetic organisms; pacing and palpitating the matter of thought against an environment rich in information.  The world seems to be teeming.  And teeming suggests something that cannot be pinned down, something so numerous and changing that it exceeds any attempt to discover its cause and effect.

I want to record and salvage something of this other world – doesn’t everyone? But again, the hope of capturing life is quickly deflated by the realisation that it is only in that imagined series of footprints that anything graspable exists.

Let’s keep walking.

I, or is it we, notice a middle-aged woman walking towards us.  She’s heading down a steep hill towards a small village within the city. She misjudges the bulkiness of her body, padded out with a large beige coat, and just before we pass she clumsily crashes into a hedge.  Her motion is slowed down and she scrapes to a halt before reappraising her course and moving back to the centre of the pavement.  Because we’re caught up in trying to imagine some kind of drama we wait until she can no longer hear us and we intone in our deepest voice, “She was temporarily impeded by the bush”.

In the drama we start to draw-up as we ascend the steep hill, the characters must be shown frequently, walking from place to place, humming or muttering or generally putting on a display of external effects suggesting that they have heads. That is, heads in our sense – teeming heads. Any normal head already provides sufficient external effects to prove its existence. We find that, don’t we, when we bang the thing against our pillow of a night and pretend we want our lives to end. We see its external effects when in the reflective surface of our bathroom mirror we watch it and say, “is that really you in there? There is your head, but where are YOU?”

The director – for this is becoming a movie – would avoid dramatic narrative scenes and place an emphasis on events considered peripheral.  The ‘comedy’ in this sense is diminished, but still comes as the protagonist (which turns out to be the entirety of everyone’s experience) tries desperately to live life creatively. And that is the punch line, because life is always creative regardless of any conscious effort. We imagine a middle class audience laughing at the punch-line, but it doesn’t make sense and so it is that we continue to walk and mutter and sing to a classless environment.

vapour trails

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