Real Life


 

I wasn’t ready for it. All those years of education and now, I was about to plug in to Real Life.

It seemed as if everyone considered Real Life to be normal. Something nagged at me, screaming silently that it wasn’t so.

“Education over, I guess it’s now just Real Life from now on”, and endless varieties on that phrase had covered Facebook for weeks. After a while I even started to believe it myself; that all I had ever worked for was simply to plug in.

London’s main office for Real Life was directly next to King’s cross, to help workers living in the outreach connect quicker. Quicker, I say with gritted teeth and a particularly large metaphorical pinch of salt. No one seems to have asked why, with all the developments in work technology, why did we still rely on this outdated transport system?

We have to get to Real Life somehow, after all.

All offices were near train stations. Some thought it would be better if all the offices were merged with the head office at King’s cross, but imagine the havoc if the entire country’s population descended upon one station each morning? It’s bad enough spread across three.

A cold breeze pushed unforgiving across the grey platform. The crowd shifting towards the exit barriers payed it no heed, to them it was just another insignificant part of the daily commute. To me, it carried a sense of the forgotten. This place was new, yet I already knew something was missing.

I spotted a sudden burst of colour on one of the walls. “Remember 9 3/4” sprawled decade-old graffiti, the red paint lonely in its surrounding sea of grey. No idea what it meant. Most graffiti was just surreal, nonsensical phrases. Maybe it meant something in the past, but now each message seemed hopelessly lost. I don’t remember where I learned that word, graffiti. Most people don’t know it exists. Some are vaguely aware of the images and of the words that appeared from time to time splayed across walls. Most however didn’t even see it. As I watched the other workers scrawl like ants across the platform, it was clear none of them could even see the graffiti within a stone’s throw from them all.

A distraction. Today would be my first day of Real Life, and here I was staring at irrelevant markings from another, insignificant age. As cynical as I was of plugging in for the first time, it was a rite of passage in this most modern of ages and I couldn’t be seen as being distracted on my first day of joining the system.

Eventually I followed along with the crowds and got off platform 79. The crowd headed towards the signs marked ‘REAL LIFE – LONDON MAIN OFFICE’. It made sense to follow the pack.

 

It suddenly dawned on me that I had no idea what kind of work I would be expected to do at Real Life.  If I think back to when I was younger, my parents never talked much about work. Sometimes I might hear if they were forced to be plugged in for an hour longer, or if Reality shut down unexpectedly for part of the day, but that was about it. It suddenly struck me; I wasn’t sure what Reality even was.

 

The mindless flow of the crowd didn’t stop for my thoughts. I shook my head and managed to weave my way through the last few steps to the station’s exit. The doors led out to huge square dotted with lifts heading straight down into the ground. It was surprising to see such a wide open space considering how tight for space London was supposed to be, but it was clear from the lifts that the majority of the city was underground. The square was just a worker sorting pen: queues lined up solemnly at each lift as they filed out of King’s Cross. Anxiety filled me – I didn’t know where I needed to go. There was only one option. I followed.

 

Someone was watching. In a crowd in near-perfect unison, the slightest divergence is a scream in deafening silence. I kept walking, panicking that something terrible was about to happen. No one else seemed to have the slightest sense of fear on their stone-etched faces. Maybe I was just going mad, pressured by my new surroundings. This wasn’t the outreach anymore. The crowd marched on.

 

A red flash filled the square; a deafening crack followed. Terror now gripped my being; there wasn’t even as much as a blink to sense from the snaking bundle of bodies surrounding me. Was this normal? Were they all completely desensitized?

 

Suddenly red banners fell from the top of towering citadels enveloping the square and revealed a one word message as they draped downwards to the ground.

 

“DISCONNECT”.

 

I could just make out miniature shadows now, seemingly running along the citadels’ silhouette, releasing more banners as they went. The message of the mysterious figures surrounded the square. The message was for all the workers of Real Life to see, and yet it remained unseen. There was just me staring in fear and awe. The crowd waited for their lifts to arrive.

 

It became lucidly clear how much I stood out and promptly moved into a queue. I had no idea if I was going where I needed to go, safety is in the crowd. I still however felt watched. It must have be the shadows on the citadel. I stole one more look to the skyline. The figures were gone, but dull flashes could be seen from behind where they had been. One last banner had appeared in the short time that I had looked away:

 

“Real Life is not real life”

 

In a state of deep fear and confusion, I reached the doors of a lift down to the underbelly of London. I tried my best to forget the shadows and their banners. Maybe they never were even there – anxiety does strange things to a person.

 

The lift arrived. I guess it’s Real Life from now on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

firelight


Come, firelights,

Show me a path through mountains.

Aid my broken steps,

Set each on stony ground, not to fall

And fail again.

 

Come, light my way.

Weave round trees and silver leaves;

Guide this weary heart,

Bring back its beat to the strength

Of the drum.

her truest love


the wind sighs gently over the branches, almost bare of their mantles of crisp leaves. With each break in the wind, the branches too sigh, a peaceful burden lifted, letting them rise back to the sky. With each lifted burden, another leaf falls.

Weaved from the tree’s old cloaks, a carpet of red and gold forms, slowly yet surely. One more leaf tumbles on the breeze and makes its way to its place in the golden carpet.

A fox sits contemplating, watching the leaves drop, one after another after another. She stares all around her in wonder, as if she has realised her kindred spirit with her home. In the blazen colours surrounding her being, she feels an impossible warmth, a truest love.

The wind sighs gently through her fiery coat, but the wind lacks the forest’s new love. The fox turns to face the breeze, chilling now, as if it were ice itself. Looking up, she sees one last leaf on the branches. Alone, like her, in a forest of naked trees. She feels more forlorn than she ever has, knowing that when it falls, her truest love will be gone and the snow will replace the autumnal hearth.

The wind sighs and the last leaf flickers, struggling against its gnarled branch to stay. The fight is lost. It twists and turns, as if in excruciating pain, through the ever colder air biting it as it falls. It takes its final place, filling the final hole in the golden carpet.

The fox lowers her gaze and turns away. The bitter cold is come, her truest love is gone.

If I were to wake



If I were to wake;

  breath the unknown air,

The life I live and love a lie,

A cover to a truth near death.

If I were to wake.

.

Remember the lakes and golden fields,

Hurtle away

 beside me and my madness

A glance of peace

Before a sudden painless storm.

Where there is no pain,

There is no fear:

The final flight knew only joy

And resignation.

.

If I were…

.

Remember the flight; the memory gone.

Instead a hole, a lingering cave

Hidden within, a moment a lost.

The choice: to forget

Accept and go

Or risk the world

And know.

.

If I were to wake,

A Life I lived a lie

If I were.

Brilliant Disguise


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We all wear disguises.

Some are elaborate, entwined with layers of truth and deception, so closely wound that no one can tell one strain from another.

Not even the wearer of the disguise.

Some are simple, a brief disguise to get out of a meeting, or to say you’re ok, when you’re actually sad,happy, tired, excited, angry, at peace.

I have disguises. You do too. We all do, but Some don’t know they have disguises. They worked on them for too long, without paying attention to where the thread and needle went. Now they are tied up completely, helplessly.

I have many disguises.

One is a brilliant disguise.

For an age, no one would break that brilliant disguise. Until necessity called for the string of deception to be cut. and cut. and cut.

And one day, my brilliant disguise will be gone. A painful yet beautiful truth let loose to a world that burns and punishes the unknown.

I await the final cut. I await a brilliant disguise to become a brilliant truth.

..

part of blogging101, inspired by the given prompt ‘Brilliant Disguise’

On…Rhetoric


Rhetoric. The most often time we hear that word probably is in context to politicians. when a world leader makes a dramatically grand, yet sweeping statement, there will always bee someone around to exclaim grumpily (and it’s usually me, I admit) “Oh but it’s all rhetoric! Nothing was said there at all!”.

With an opening comment like that, I couldn’t possibly be a supporter of excessive exposure to special rhetorical twists of the tongue, could I?

Maybe that sentence shows where my allegiance really lies. I’m quite a fan of rhetoric and today I want to talk about it a fair bit. Here’s why…

I have a pretty hefty tome of a book stuffed with essays, quotes, speeches and such similar things of important figures from modern Chinese history. I was reading through this the other day, when I came across a quote on rhetoric from a fellow called Yang Xiong, a poet of the Han dynasty – in other words, not modern in the slightest. Here’s what he had to say on rhetoric:

“A woman has beauty; does writing have beauty also? The answer is yes. The worst thing for a woman is to have her inner beauty clouded by cosmetics; The worst thing for a piece of writing is to have its rules and proportions confounded by excessive rhetoric.”

Obviously one must take into account that this has been translated from traditional Chinese (not by me – I won’t take credit for that!) but Mr Yang Xiong seems to have not noticed just how much rhetoric he used on his attack on rhetoric. Even if you excuse that unbelievably obvious rhetorical question, there’s still all the slightly more subtle additions to his hypocrisy; usage of strong superlatives (the worst), repetition of phrases (The worst thing for a…), the comparison between a beautiful woman and literature…that’s a lot of rhetoric for someone that allegedly doesn’t like it very much.

Oh, and the translator hasn’t helped either, by adding alliteration (clouded by cosmetics).

The fact is, it’s pretty tricky to get away from rhetoric, as it’s essentially any element that makes writing catchy. If your text has no rhetoric, considering you would almost have to be a genius to avoid it in most types of writing, it’s probably your shopping list for the week.

And although your shopping habits may be genius, that is not me trying to insinuate that a shopping list is the greatest form of literature man has ever devised. That’s a bit out there even for me I’m afraid.

What might strike some as odd however – at least those who were paying close attention to Yang’s chosen profession – is that a poet who despises ‘excessive rhetoric’ is a rather singular poet. Poetry is the kind of writing where some readers could justifiably wave their arms up in despair, begging for mercy from the onslaught of hyperbole and hyperbaton..and apparently alliteration (that second one was unintentional, honest). Yet here is a poet declaring war on excessive rhetoric…strange man.

Now, the other reason I’m possibly writing on this particular topic today is the book i’m reading currently – “The Elements of Eloquence”, by Mark Forsyth. This lovely little book could be considered a crash course in the art of turning a phrase that makes people go ‘oooh’.

I recommend the book highly, but the main reason I’m mentioning it is that it makes something very clear: You will struggle to say anything at all without a certain element of rhetoric. It seems to me as if it were its own branch of semantics, as essential to why a sentence works as the main underlying rules.

Although the aim of Forsyth’s book doesn’t seem  to point out that almost everything is rhetoric (I haven’t finished it, so this is all supposition. It has more of an aestheticism feel to it currently.), that message shouts out of the pages. The sheer number of excellent terms to describe all these techniques you probably have never heard of really highlights just how many techniques there are that we all use unwittingly. Antithesis and assonance will be common to plenty of us, but anadiplosis and scesis onomaton will not only be all greek to most, but also send every word checker in the universe into a frenzy of red underlining.

So dear readers, don’t reject rhetoric like Mr Yang up there. Mr Yang Xiong was silly. You need it. It would put me out of a hobby, humble me typing away trying to fit in as many memorable bits as possible.

And anyway, You’re going to struggle to get away from rhetoric if you decide you don’t like it!…

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it!