Inspired by a writing exercise in The Writing Forum Magazine.
How do you describe fear?
" Coiled, a black dragon slumbers in my gut, one fiery eye cracked watching for threats. Grappling free one powerful hind foot, toes spread wide, pierces my diaphragm and takes root. Gaining purchase there another wraps around my heart forming a protective cage. A head and gaping maw force themselves up my throat blocking air and paralyzing words. If I do not stop it there a fore foot will slide up the back of my skull talons freezing my brain. Twisting me in his grasp he sits glowering and hissing, "This is mine!"
If I move in protest I am fixed in a baleful, red glare filled with a dark and dangerous compassion, "Hush Little One," he rasps. "I've got this."
As his head returns to weaving back and forth I sink into insignificance, retreating behind his obsidian armour. There I dream of sitting astride the beast using the beating wings of fear to ride the edge of adrenalin's rush, to soar beyond the barbs and arrows of life's battles."
Invaded, struck, intrusion, cleansed, violated, stripped...
The words strike the page as my mind spits forth the distress and incomprehension over the space that not two days prior had been my dream-filled refuge.
Young and eager, vibrant and thoughtless, the new neighbours yet to move in have cleansed the street of our carefully hoarded jumble of memories striving to create a clean slate for their own.
Gone are the soft tumbling primroses carefully recorded on my phone, gone are the gentle green mosses hiding the crazy paving, gone to a muddy stricken suburban patio no doubt waiting for the pub style table and the barbecue.
The old cracked pot with its rare pink and white geranium, a present from a friend, is relegated to a place behind the black plastic dustbin where, neatly stacked, are items they were not sure to throw away.
The deck chairs, where once the cats lounged in the sun, spilling over the striped canvas, are neatly folded and stacked. Irrespective of weed or beloved plants the borders have been scrubbed clean, chopped and cleared.
The painfully straight cracks in the paving score themselves across my mind, stark and clean, no rambling or dreaming allowed here now. The debris of my dreams and memories lay scattered and discarded in a path out of the gate towards the garden tip.
The misty rain falls upon the page and blots my ink...
Shuffling past the empty neighbours in slippers stretched from wearing extra socks through the winter, I look for a place to sit at peace, sheltered from the still chill spring breeze and the possibility of intrusion from the tea garden across the cobbled street.
Conscious of wearing what might seem bizarre to some, my clothes brighten my mood and help pull me through my day. The patchwork of my pants reminds me of my stitched mind, held together with fragile and worn threads. Pieces of the past, captured in squares, and strung together in a loose framework of ever shifting patterns still bright with hope.
It does not matter that the small square of garden that is my refuge lays tumbled with last year's debris. An old mirror, its face turned to the wall, leans beside a pile of potential kindling that never got used, and includes a broken bed frame left by the fleeing neighbour. Delicate pink weeds spill from a split bag of compost. The primroses poke their heads through the moss and ferns that cover the cracked and broken tiles and tumbled walls of my life.
Metal bars, still cold, strike through my pants. A rusty gazebo stolen from my neighbours after they had fled. That is how things work in this place: we pick up things discarded by others and stitch them into our own lives.
These scattered memories of last summer trace their fingers through my thoughts. Patchwork illusions playing out their dreams as the spring sun spills down upon my face.
I drag a lumpy old cushion to my cold stone doorstep. Wrapped in a fleece-lined hoodie, double socks and a deep-red soft wrap I place pen to paper in the hope of re-kindled creativity. I had promised I would make it to the Beer Garden opposite today but this, at least, is a beginning.
I study the mossy cobbles at my feet for the first time this year. April in Devon lifts the daffodil heads bobbing above the damp ferns. They still struggle against the chill breeze off the sea as it funnels past the remains of my old friend the Holly, now a clumsy stump under the telephone wires. A skeleton cast aside by the estate on a day when I was not here to protest. The two poor camellias, now exposed, offer a solitary flower hidden in the glossy-green leaves amongst the struggling buds.
The crocosmia has already taken over the flower bed. I had promised myself that I would thin them out this year, but they strike through the white quartz stones collected over the years from the beach below, jostling aside oyster shells from the ancient midden behind the house, multi-coloured glass bottles and a twisted shell-shaped silver spoon.
In contrast, the newly-painted, stark-white wall of the chapel hangs with the remains of the once proud clematis. It used to bring exclamations from visitors clear across the valley as it flung itself in ravishing pink splendour over the chapel roof. Now stray fingers hang valiantly from the eaves, a few leaves hopefully a sign that it will once again lovingly embrace the hymns on a Sunday.
My eyes are drawn to the one offensive plastic pot amongst the mossy terracotta jumble; a testament to the careless builders with no regard for peace or pride. I remind myself I still have to re-pot the azalea properly but it will have to wait for that miracle bag of compost to turn up.
London pride spills over the curve of an old grinding stone, a soft pale-yellow primrose at its centre. Sheltered from the wind and thrusting proud against its winter fleece a Blue Moon rose; a present from a kindly neighbour with whom I once quietly shared a childhood memory of my mother’s rose garden.
Anxiety creeps into my chest and begins to clench a fist around my heart. My pen falls silent a while. I listen to the bird song, the distant drawing of tides over cobbles and high above the lonely keening of a solitary buzzard. Pheasant calls mingle with seagull cries ...
And suddenly, all is broken. Estate strimmers slice across the page shattering my pen. Rapidly I retreat inside, cats nipping past my ankles, back into the safety of the house.
Perhaps tomorrow I will make it past the doorstep.
Separate names with a comma.