a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
Guard your roving thoughts with a jealous care, for speech is but the dealer of thoughts, and every fool can plainly read in your words what is the hour of your thoughts.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
The images flickered. Stilled. Continued. Flickered. Stilled. Continued. The pull of the cassette tape like a vacuum, endless yet unmoving. Its dull hum synchronous with the movement of a dangling mobile above. Once, vexing. Now, welcoming.
A mug sat wedged between her lap, scorching against the clammy skin spilling from her tattered gown. Matted hair, tendrils down her face. Eyelids red, swollen. It had been a long day, yet tired eyes still grasped onto the light blaring from the screen.
A baby, plump and bare, wrapped in a cotton blanket. Mouth ajar, eyes wrenched closed. There was no noise, but the sound of breathless whimpers bounced off the surface of the walls.
The woman’s mouth opened, her lips clinging to what was forming, but it was lost. The image was gone.
Click. The hum of the cassette quickened, the tape moving again.
A woman appeared. Smile wide but eyes downset. Loose strands of white hair falling from her bun. She leaned in her flowy white gown to search for the four leaf clover she had spotted in the grass valley. Her lips trained in line as she struggled over her growing stomach.
The camera switched around to show a man, with wrinkles marking the corner of his eyes. Despite the dark bags that framed his eyes, they shone bright. Like soft sun rays. Vibrant and green. Dosseled brown curls. Fertile earth. Grass speckled with rain. Full of life. He epitomised that grass valley.
The woman never found that four leaf clover that day.
The video transitioned images flickering. The couple appeared again. Presents scattering the floor. His arm wrapped around her stomach. Her mouth wide, unshed tears glistening her eyes. Blue balloons fading into white clouds. Smiles widening. Eyes full of laughter. A white naked cake, its inside a shocking shade of blue. The final image a glimpse of a hand holding up a mobile, one of the solar system. Its planets tinkling in the wind, a newborn baby at its centre.
The woman raised her swollen eyes. She could hear it chiming. She could not see, could not bear to see. She could hear, could not bear to hear.
The images scattered. A rounded stomach, growing larger and larger. Black images. Hands and toes. Miniature. A distinguishable thumb being sucked. A sun rising from the horrizon. Soft sand against swollen swollen feet. Nausea. Cravings. Laughter. The floral scent of the woman's favourite flower, Irises.
Click. The hum of the tape like a zipline. Fasterning, faster as it pulled it's way through the tape. Her tired body arched with a moment of life as the tape abruptly made a tapping sound, before falling into silence. She scratched at the skin on the inside of her knees.
They were again in the grass valley. The man appeared squinting against the harsh rays of light. The woman in the white dress beside him now. Birds tweeted busily in the distance, the sound of rustling leaves accompanied the smell of irises. The smell of spring. She let her hair fall into her eyes, laugh bursting from her lungs and as he playfully wrenched her into the prying spotlight of the camera.
"You aren't going anywhere, my love. My beautiful Clare. Don't you see, this is just picture perfect. This snapshot will be one that says with not you, not I- but us. Forever. You will look back at these and cry, one day. For how time changes all. You cannot let a single moment go to waste." He cupped her face, his thumb rubbing against her flushed cheek. "Oh, always one for the dramatics, aren't you Jace. " She replied, shrugging it off the deep thinking with a soft shove to her husband's shoulder.
Jace rolled his eyes at her, but his smile grew. His mouth forming the shape of a gleaming crescent moon as he took in his radiant wife, as if it were his very first time.
The screen turned to black.
That was the last time he smiled at her.
Whimpers bounced off the walls, Clare couldn't decipher whether they were hers.
She clenched her knees. Her fingers pinching the clammy skin. The cassette tape had stopped, but she could not stop herself from remembering. His mouth clamped shut. Eyes piercing hers. His usual vibrant green eyes, a shade of moss. She screamed, her dress soaked from fallen tears. She told him she couldn't do this, that she wasn't ready. That this wasn't what life had in store for her. That she didn't want it to be. She didn't want any of this. He was silent, he was never silent.
His eyes did not meet hers as he uttered his final words to her, "Be careful what you wish, you must take for granted and waste what is precious, as speech is but the dealer of thoughts and once it is gone there is no coming back."
And then he left.
Speech is but the dealer of thought. Speech is but the dealer of thoughts. Speech is but the dealer of thoughts.
Sounds of recurring alarms. Flashing lights, The glimpses of blue clothing and badges. The sounds of condolences. The car frame of what remained. Red. Too much red. All too quick. Water drenched her legs. The sound of rushing legs. Pain. Excruciating pain. They were telling her to push. A breath of release. A whimper rung throughout the room accompanied by her sobs, her lips struggling but beginning to form a smile. A smile of love. That was until it all began to slow. The whimper of life, turned quiet. She tried to raise her body but she was paralysed, gesture without motion. She saw a final glimpse of eyes. Vibrant eyes. Before it all went silent. Her world went silent.
All they had to give, the only thing they could salvage from the wreckage, a singular baby mobile. One of the solar system. The newborn baby at its center was gone. .
Picture a vacuum- without its center there was no orbit. Only a hole remained. An endless and unmoving blackness.
A hidden peace, or the absence at least, of pain.
I see, and amongst all this space, a speck of light.
Now follow that light with your tired eyes.
It's been a long day, I know, but look.
Now tell me what you see.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.