2014 and the house shakes from the thunder of workmen pounding the street out front with pneumatic machinery. The front window has a hole from when I tried to force it, the window is unrepaired. I can’t have anyone in the house the way it is, the way I am. I’ve taped some cardboard over it instead. I can’t sleep, I don’t dress, I rarely eat and the noise in my head never ceases. From the toilet seat, I look out between the slats of grey and increasingly discoloured Venetian blinds onto a grey and increasingly alien street. I’m further away from you now. Still the noise in my head persists, the endless questions and search for reasons, the accusations and resentments, the guilt, and the shame. I have Diazepam and I have Zopiclone: I have a way out.

Ross Patrick

Ross Patrick

In A&E there’s a drip attached to my arm, I’m rambling, and I stand but a man in clinical uniform tells me to sit. Invalided home, not my house with its piles of neglected life but the home of my childhood, and the bedroom of my adolescence. The wall that I bang my head against repeatedly is no longer adorned with poster pictures of Michael Stipe and Winona Ryder. My parents wear their worry and I blame them because I can’t cope with the responsibility for their fear and pain.

Mornings, I used to feel a drop, a moment into which memory flooded. New routines provide some structure to my days. There is a desk beneath the window of the front room with a laptop open and I write incessantly, bleeding on the page, organising for inspection the noisy triggers in my head. There are stains of tea like tear trails down the side of my mug. Gradually a purpose beyond relief emerges, something about capturing my broken humanity. And gradually structure comes to the writing that defies the lack of structure to my life. And eventually a kind of beauty can be seen in fragments like the jigsaw pieces of a personality being laid out prior to being reassembled.

My imagination leaves the confinement of the house I rarely leave. The low winter sun feels warm through glass. In the pauses as I write I notice snowdrops in the verge outside and soon after early crocuses. There is a blackbird hopping over the front lawn, its preparing to fly again, remembering how. The Post Lady has started to recognise me at my desk. I smile and am learning to set it free rather than banish it to preserve the meaning of my pain.

I no longer write about myself, but I breathe through the characters. My feelings are displaced, their vaporous shadows condensed and distilled into my fiction. I’ve put my darkness there and stepped free, and whilst I’m not running, my steps are assured. My writing no longer has to be bordered by my melancholia. I can also reflect the quiet and profound love that is all there is and all it means to be human.

Title:A New Dark Age: A Reckoning

Author: RossPatrick

Publisher:Brown Dog Books

Price:£9.99/ £3.99 Online

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