Let’s give each other this: honesty.

November afternoon light over Long Loch, Cove, Scotland

…on that day there was a magpie and his friend squabbling over a piece of bread, perhaps birds also fear the possibility of lack—i don’t know; can’t presume to tell what happens inside a bird’s head, but the story goes that they are all cared for and that i should not yield to the looming presence that walks in the shadows of my life. i try, and i try, and i try. i have a life where i bend down low to find the things that are hidden, whilst still staying on nodding terms with the things that follow my uneven footing.

on that day there were also two gossiping crows, who started their conversation at the very top of a Scots Pine, and carried it with them on their glossy wings, all the way down to the ground, rattling it back and forth as only good friends do, and down by the stream, as we crossed the bridge there was given to us the fleshy body of a bracket fungus living on the body of a silver birch tree.

the sun shone.

my son’s hand was in mine.

at the shop, we bought milk and bread, bananas, and chocolate. the sweet of an ordinary day distilled in the corduroy shopping bag on my shoulder, and on the way back we got lost in our own neighbourhood. yes, i know this might be difficult to believe, but trust me, people get lost even in places they have known for years.

one day you are out walking the familiar, and all of a sudden you are left wondering whether left is still left, and right, still right.

it happens to many of us.

if only we would say it out loud. admit to the presence of it.

when we finally got home, and after we shared smiles of relief, there was lunch, and a cup of tea, and a long chat with my brother who lives far away across the sea, and past many mountains, and beyond the chattering bodies of many memories, and it was good.

there was a back and forth of words and things we remembered, but which we try so hard to forget, and there was the presence of a ‘thing missing’, a tremendous thing—drawn over us like a veil.

how opposite things can inhabit the same breath, both jostling for pole position, like a story carried on feathered wings, one always dressed up and ready to tell its side of the story, the other always waiting quietly to be found when i am washing the dishes, my eyes climbing the fullness of the Old Kilpatrick hills in the distance.

when i let the water out of the kitchen sink, i am face-to-face with the awareness that i am being swallowed whole by my life.

when i started writing this sentence, it went like this: ‘…i feel i am being swallowed by my life…’, but deciding against that, the lack of ownership, i chose instead to tell the truth of it; chose to let you, someone unfamiliar to the inner shape of my life, eat the fatty marrow inside the bones.

it makes a difference—the use of the right words to describe what is happening.

when you stop saying, ‘i think’ and allow the real thing to enter the room, that moment when you willingly get up from the life that you are living, so as to open the front door to what is behind your words.

then, once you have returned and laid down your weapons, you might choose your favourite cup, pour yourself some tea, sit down with the thing that you have allowed to enter in.

you know each other’s proper names now, there is no more ‘…i think this is how it is…’

there is only the certainty of, ‘…this is what it is…’.

do you think there are no wars in your life? you are mistaken. this is a war, dear friend.

to throw off the obfuscation, to admit to the unpopular presence of a thing, and still show it love, and compassion whilst removing its clothes in front of others and doing it with kindness.

oh, how kindness is a weapon!

what i am trying to say is that it never helps entertaining things that hide behind a mask.

you never know what, or whom, you are dealing with, and neither do the people you share the road with.

mystery is only interesting if it doesn’t eat at your bones.

just this morning i realised that i wanted to write about the fullness of my life, but my pencil refused to shape the letters, instead the words, ‘aching and hungry’ walked across the page.

i would be lying to you if i didn’t admit to recoiling from the starkness of it.

i was frantic for synonyms. the writer’s dress-up box. but i am not just a writer, i am a teller of true stories, and so instead, i am preparing to sit with the naked bodies of ‘aching and hungry’ right here in front of you, and there i have actually written the words twice, and i am no longer compelled to play games with myself, or with you.

there is no attempt at charades; no ‘sounds like happiness but isn’t’.

see? now the real conversation might begin, the honest one, and with this, perhaps you too might know that you are allowed to feel the momentary sadness that you hold in our hands, perhaps you might hold you fear of ‘lack’ up to the light, knowing that an honest life is allowed to be sad, is allowed to be scared.

even when you are wrapped in the name of your God, or the sacred things you place your hopes with.

this is what i want to say: put away your box of synonyms. they are not needed here.

let’s give each other this: honesty.

if it is fear that you walk with, then call it fear. if it is disappointment, then look it in they eye and call it by its very name, so that it might stop trying to catch your attention by throwing rocks at your window.

the word ‘aching’ for instance, might be a distant cousin to the word ‘pain’; describing so aptly my right knee that is prone to complaining and then, if ignored, to a stubborn locking that renders me unable to move without great difficulty, but the word, ‘aching’ when known by its real name, and introduced as such, is a river waiting to burst its banks.

it is my heart wandering around her empty rooms, wondering at the loss; at the echo that bounces off the walls, how there is no answer to my mouth calling, ‘hello, is anybody out there’, and what to do with this presence? do i keep going in there, dusting the surfaces every so often, or do i lock the doors, and live in smaller circumstances, putting up new curtains, whilst mourning the way the others moved in the breeze.

and hunger?

oh well, that word wears many different coats; or rather, once you have removed the coat, there are different bodies that wait to be acknowledge, but how they are all hungry; starving for so many different things.

the trick is to find the root of the insult, the original wound.

i confess that after forty-nine years living in this skin, i still don’t know all of them yet, and i suspect some have been carried with me from other lives; the before times. i shall find out.

i have to heal them, before i reach the end of the road. i don’t know why, i just know that i do.

on that day, that this story took place, there was all these things, and many others.

but these are the ones that i wanted to throw at your feet today.

take what you need.

© liezel graham 2022

{📷 November afternoon light over Long Loch, Cove, Scotland}

a (long) short story, from which i hope you might be able to pick something from the bones for yourself and if not, then look at that light that i captured yesterday over Long Loch, and know that you are held, and that it will all be ok in the end.

thank you for all the wonderful sales of my new book!

i am so grateful!