Before the Great Leap Backward…

Posted on 3 January, 2008

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A small stuffy staff room in a ragtag rundown school. Two wandering souls sat either side of a rickety table on it’s last (and presumably) only legs. The sounds of scribbling filling the room. The one in the cheap slap looks up.

“You’re definately off then?”

The back of the chair creaks absorbing her weight as she flashes a plaintive smile.

“It’s been great, it has, and part of me wants to stay, but…” She pauses, checks if the words might be written on the ceiling, sighs and throws me her glare. “I just can’t”, defiant now, “I just can’t carry on like this, you know?”

I know what she means like I know what’s going to follow. I tense myself, ready.

“It’s great”, she says, “seeing the world, travelling, meeting people from all over”, discarding the words from her mouth just as the actions have been cast out of her mind. “It’s been a proper crack, it has, but, to some extent at least, all this travelling, it’s running away, running away from home.”

I’m nodding, closing my eyes as I do, like a priest hearing a confession. The rest of me is still horribly tense though, I’m like a puppet with only one string. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to poke at truth with a big stick, (before recoiling away in terror), but I know her and I know what’s coming and truth might be in for a very severe twatting. She’s staring at me now, leaning on the table, willing me to jump off with her.

“We’re getting fucking old, and what the fuck are we doing?” (I’m nodding, she’s shaking). “I can’t keep going out and getting drunk until I get bored, then going elsewhere to get drunk all over again…”

“I know, I know,” finally breaking my silence, cutting into her thick Irish brogue, “We can’t keep doing this forever.” And just like writing a list of things to do has me no closer to having things done, the words, despite their emptiness make us both feel better. We smile, follow each other’s eyes around the room.

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“Sometimes”, she begins slowly,seemingly about to tell me something illicit, “Sometimes I think I’d like to have a proper job”. She looks at me furtively and welcomes my smile, a secret dark desire shared.

“I feel the same,” I say, “A job, a car, a family…” And again, it’s true, though I can imagine myself two months into this new lifestyle vanishing into the night. I picture my new life co-workers suddenly, standing around a water-cooler, (“You hear about that woman in accounts? Burnt her house down and fucked off to Azerbaijan…I thought she was funny as soon as I saw those tights...”). Long enough to contemplate the pleasures of a settled life, short enough to black out all the rigmarole of attaining it. The big ugly clock ticks ominously on.

“So, you’ll go back live in Ireland then?” A junior nano-second ticks by.

“For a month, yeah”, she says picking up her pen, “then I’ll probably fuck off round Europe”.

Scribbling continues…

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