THE SEA LIES IN LINCOLN

‘Trout Fishing in America’ is a novella written by Richard Brautigan, published in 1967. The style is almost child-like with a dream-like surrealism; Trout Fishing in America actually becomes a character…

This is what motivated ‘The Sea Lies in Lincoln’.

 

The Sea Lies in Lincoln

I remember a time from my past. It was winter and Cold was everywhere. I had parked the car and had decided to walk along some streets in order to get somewhere. The streets had buildings with satisfying patterns, but they had people walking in and out of where I wanted to go. This made my eyes narrow and I remember wondering why they all had to be there, even the ones I vaguely liked the look of.

                The Clouds didn’t say much as they passed by in a constant motion above my head. They didn’t need to dodge anyone and looked mildly pleased with themselves. It didn’t help my situation, but I was glad they weren’t bothering me. The Wind on the other hand just wouldn’t leave me alone and kept muttering things into my ear.

                I found another street with a nice angle, but the people were still there. The Wind kept droning on about something or other, and I tried my best to ignore it by looking at the lines and patterns of the satisfying buildings. Each step brought me a new pattern to look at. The colours changed too, but not enough to hide the dirt.

                After a time, I turned off the angular street and arrived at the place I wanted to be. The people continued to bounce around each other on the streets, and the dirt certainly didn’t disappear, but The Wind had finally got the message. My eyes un-narrowed as I stared ahead. It was The Sea. I could see right across The Sea which reminded me briefly of an old nursery rhyme. On the other side there were huge lights that formed words. Some were red, but the green one was my favourite; it made a strange word that I immediately read. I remember thinking I was always going to read that word, even if I didn’t want to. The Wind was on the other side too, trying to get into some other people’s ears.

                I ignored The Wind and the green word in lights and stared again at The Sea. ‘There you are,’ I thought.

                But something was wrong. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I looked around. The bird crap on the path certainly looked authentic enough, but the way the water moved concerned me. It was too still. I wondered whether The Wind had spoken to The Sea lately, and then it occurred to me that The Sea normally had a beach, or a cliff, or some sort of magnificent rocky thing going on. This was a path. A bird-shitty path. ‘The alarm bells should have sounded when I could read the red and green words,’ I remember thinking.

                “What the hell are you?!” I yelled.

 

Advice of The Wind

Once I had spoken aloud, The Wind noticed me again and advised me that this wasn’t The Sea at all, but it was, in fact, The Brayford, in Lincoln. The Sea, The Wind continued, was miles away in an easterly direction.

                This pissed me off, but I thanked it all the same.

                “Thank you,” I said, and went and found another dirty street with some more people.

SPEAN BRIDGE

The style of this piece is intentionally repetitive – inspired by David Peace’s ‘Red Or Dead.’ 

The focus is ‘loss’, and is loosely based on a specific moment in my life. 

Spean Bridge

I looked into her eyes. Her grey eyes. I looked into her eyes as she stood amongst us. But her grey eyes didn’t see mine. They were somewhere else. Somewhere in the past. Thinking. Remembering. Reliving.

            She stepped forward. With her daughters and son either side, she stepped forward. Still her eyes were grey, and still they didn’t see mine, as she stepped forward towards the monument.

            The vast figures were bronze; three bronze soldiers under a grey sky. Framed in the distance were the mountains. Beneath the grey sky, in front of the mountains, the three soldiers stood proud. Fighting a war. Just like he did. When he trained. When he fought.

            When he lived.

            Nobody spoke. Nobody spoke under the grey sky, beneath the bronze monument. And I looked into her eyes. Her grey eyes. And still they didn’t see mine.

            And I remembered his voice; soft and calming. His cigar-smoke smell, his firm handshake and the pride he felt in his family. And I smiled. I smiled a slight smile. Under the grey sky, beneath the bronze monument, I smiled.

            And then she saw me. Her grey eyes saw my smile. Under the grey sky, beneath the bronze monument, they saw my smile.

           And, with her daughters and son either side, with her mind remembering the past, the grey eyes smiled back.

POPRAD – a short story

Click on Google Earth and pick a random location.  Then take a look at the street view and create a story.  This is what happened here.  Poprad.  Slovakia.  The home of brown boxes… 

Poprad

Today was like any other day. The weather was still there and so were the boxes. So many boxes. And still room for more. The trees had changed, but only a little. They were still leafless, but at least they were trying to do something about it.

Stepanek arrived at a quarter past two. On the dot. As he always did. The boxes he brought were varied and occasionally beautiful. Always brown, often with rips or creases, the boxes were sometimes open, sometimes sealed.

He would bring them and I would thank him, and bless his family and sometimes we would talk about politics, or roads, or the small figurines we collected as children. From time to time, if we felt inclined, we would use one of the boxes as a table, and play chess.

Only, today was different. The weather was the same, but instead of a brown box, Stepanek lumbered into the garage with a large, canvas sack on his back. It was white and frayed in places, but I thanked him all the same.

He sat all afternoon on one of my best boxes he had brought me before everything had changed. He talked at some length about the travelling circus he had gone to see when he was a boy.

I listened as well as I could.

And, as I listened, I thought about the large, white sack Stepanek had brought me.

Once he had finished, he shook my hand, said his goodbyes, and left. I watched as Stepanek disappeared amongst the houses and the streets and the greyness. I could just make out his slow, lumbering movement in the shadows. But, after a while, he seemed to merge with the rest.

I was alone with all my boxes and the large, white sack.

I sat with them until darkness came.

Then I stepped into the weather, took one last look behind, closed the garage door, and followed Stepanek into the grey.