Flashed, Blinked Away, Passed On
Welcome to poet and writer Mandy Gibson’s second FreeSpace part of her project ‘Flashed, Blinked Away, Passed On’ in which she re-visits a-work-in-progress project of hers:
‘This project for ArtiPeeps is the culmination of a larger work, which was to have been a book but has decided it wants to be something more fluid. Loosely titled PinPoint, the plan for the book comprised several dozen micropoems from the welloverthought account accompanied by abstract B&W photography. Nine of these appears in the first ArtiPeeps slot with the next two slots devoted to the longer pieces written to tie the book together. These are moments in time, flashed, blinked away and passed on.
The book was, and thus this project is, dedicated to the writers of Twitter (members of EV12, and others who work in its strange, tiny feather-lined tentacles). It’s also for the anxious, the brave and the cocoons in between…and for the Nine, without whom my words are just noise.’
You can find Mandy’s first FreeSpace here,
A Single Word
The libraries of the world hold more dreams than any soul. But deep in the centre of each, written on a small white card, is a single word.
The word is the beginning and the end. Spoken it releases marvels, heard it unleashes dreams, read it ceases cravings and streams the tears of the lost into a single river leading…anywhere and everywhere but there.
Miles and years from the smell of gilt-faded soft-edged pages, thousand-rolled inkpads that witnessed date after date on countless borrowing cards, spectacled eyes scan a catalogue on a flickering screen. A few buttons flashes equal miles of text past, a mind trained to read every third word, absorbing to some inner catalogue, bent on knowledge. Bent on instant wisdom.
The eyes catch. Snagged on a tag of a letter of an incomplete word. A typo, itself an incomplete definition for a space. A void. The eyes blink, as if the glaring white were nothing more than a shard of…well…a shard of paper on an eyelash.
There’s another space, and another. Deeper into the document the spaces become larger, holes like broken spiderwebs open and close with scrolling fingers. Missing text. Text is missing.
This won’t do at all.
Both hands fly into motion, frantically spelling out the confusion of time spent filling spaces that should not be there. Silences that should not exist. Where are the words? Where. Are. They???
” …..are not able to ascertai…. theref…. suggest you visit our book repository inconvenience cau….. t..nky……….. th time to wr…. ..“
Hands and eyebrows knit together in a frown.
Appropriate research turns up IP address, postal address, street address, streetview, picture of sign on door showing opening hours, four day old webcam image showing a still quiet room. A pile of information asking more than it reveals. Ever the questions pile in a world where answers are collateral.
Somewhere in the back of the heart, an inner hand reaches for a coat, picks keys up then pauses and puts them back down.
Halfway down the street he stops, breathing mist and pale sun, raises his nose to inhale the smell from blocks away. His instinct identifies coffee, and cake, the warmth of the promise of breakfast spreads through his face relaxing his frown. The girl in the cafe smiles shyly at him, he looks almost through her to the print on the back of her t-shirt, a pun about Firefly. He smiles faintly back, she takes it for herself, and although he doesn’t realise her day is quietly made. Small steps.
Small steps through puddles rising to streams across the pavement, rising to steam over heating grills. He sidesteps bundled families, trots across crossings, blood rising to the frown that returned with the last sip and the mug put down.
Where did the words go?
The brass fittings emerge first from the gloom, catching the fitful cloud-covered day and turning it into a singular magic. He takes the old shallow steps in threes and fours, breathing out fog as he rests his forehead briefly on the chill of the door frame. He leans in slowly, and the door gives way.
The foyer is set in pre-war pastel, dim and shadowed, abandoned and still. Beyond the desk a set of worn leather-bound doors, lined with titles of stories, edges gilt reflecting the fading gloom from the street. But for the sound no-one, not even him, would ever have known he’d been there.
From behind the doors, punctuated by flickering lights, a flickering sound. A hum and flutter, a whisper ebbing and flowing like trees speaking their names in Autumn.
He glances back over his shoulder, as if expecting some unseen presence to give him a visitor pass and push a button to let him in. Dust mites float past him, drawing him with them, sliding through the gap in the doors which widens just enough for him before closing softly behind.
In a room lit brightly from somewhere unseen, cavernous but filled with spaces to dream, he stands mute within a whirlwind. Tiny flashes of light fill the walls and floor, lighting up trees and expanses of grass, steel cities and temples, images coming and going some faster than he can make them out. Between them, back and forth like tiny birds, small white cards fly on myriad breezes.
He watches, dumbstruck, as the cards collide creating little light flashes of their own. They create strings, tiny fireflies of sentences, pulling each other towards spots where they set off sparks before bursting apart again.
Not all the strings make it though. Some connect, cheerfully sliding through the air not knowing they’re incomplete, loose cards frantically chasing their tails. They reach their destination and go dark, falling with a sigh to the floor. He looks down and sees darkened cards gathering around his feet in drifts, feels sorrow. This is where they go.
He steps forward and sees the drifts of darkened cards re-assemble where his foot lands. With each step more gather, attaching to his clothes, nestling in his hair.
Further into the room the open space gives way to columns of books covered in dust so thick they are barely recognisable. His hand rests on one, eases it from the shelf and allows it to fall open. The page contains memories, blank spaces, missing words and pictures, his name. Each book he looks at is the same.
From a mound of open books scattered by an old armchair, Miles runs the last of the hallway, sliding on the polished floor, heading deeper in. Weighed down by thousands of dark whispering words, sight blackened by the constantly flashing lights. A tornado of cards buzzes louder in his ear the closer he gets.
Finally his hands land on a surface, an edge, below it a small handle, a drawer. He drags it open, digs his fingers through the cards inside, flicks all the way to the back and brings the final one up close to his face.
White and still, close to his spectacles, it holds a single word.
A collective intake of breath. The cards in the air, trailling at his feet, sticking to his skin, leap up white and crisp. They clutch at the card in his hand, which shreds faster than they can take the pieces. Sentences form and skate around him.
“Here is your finished story.”
“Here is my favourite place.”
“Wish you were here.”
“So glad you’re here.”
“Here is where I remember him best.”
“I’ll leave this here…”
Thousands of answers, all there, all here, trailing their lights, smash together and light up the walls in fireworks.
In the middle of it all he sits on a patch of moss, hands and feet warm, eyes filled with words, watching until the sun of memory goes down and the tiny flashes resume once more.
Hours, more coffee, a barista named Nadine, a danish with a fresh raspberry swirl and the worlds of rainbows in a drop of water later, Miles gazes at a blank page. He pulls out a pen and writes, neatly, across the top:
You Are Here.
Mandy Gibson is a creator of random things, mostly poems and the odd short story. She has been published twice (in the anthologies TimeLines and Brave the Bullies Together), has been involved in group writing projects (most notably @echovirus12), narrated an album of music based on the writing of Jeff Noon (with UK band The Forgetting Room) and has edited/proofread for fellow writers. She occasionally mutters about the existence of larger work which may see the light of day when she can get her brain to pay attention for five minutes. You can visit her on Twitter at @welloverthought, or at http://welloverthought.tumblr.com.
Here’s Mandy’s first FreeSpace in case you missed it.
Mandy will be back with her third FreeSpace featuring the second of her longer pieces on Monday 21st April. Hope to see you there!
Tomorrow our Weekend Showcase will feature wood sculptor Mark Crawley. Definitely worth coming back for!