“No one wakes up in the morning thinking ‘I shall be kind to my fellow man today’, do they?” He paced back and forth, boots pressing the grass so hard it did not spring back. “People are, and this is my point, inherently kind. Or, as the case may be, inherently unkind.” A beetle scampered out of the way of his tramping feet.
When I was young I was happy, not by accident but by design. I smiled, huge and broad, at anyone who passed me in my pram. I was wheeled around the streets by the youngest of the family, the pram old and battered and once their own. Once their parents lay stupefied in its embrace.
The soft vegetable stink of leaves reached him before his eyes opened. He was in a wood, the back of his head resting uncomfortably against the exposed root system of a fallen tree. Movement brought the unpleasant sensation of pins and needles in his head. That didn’t seem possible, but here he was.
His mind bled. He held up his hand; it shimmered, each hair picked out in fine spirals of oil-on-water rainbows. His body rippled between states. He was male and female. She could feel each change but couldn’t decide which was true, her own thought process an unreliable narrator.
I’d like to think there were editorial clashes; Katharine Briggs, in her mid-seventies and a towering authority on British folklore, pushing for the inclusion of more fairy stories while Russell Ash, fresh off Fortean Times forerunner Man, Myth and Magic, arguing the case for quirkier tales of magic. Robin Gwyndaf Jones roaring “MORE WELSH!” Of course this is extremely unlikely. In reality, it was almost certainly compiled centrally, at the UK offices of that most unhip of institutions the Reader’s Digest, from the submissions of the impressive list of contributors. After all, who can argue what is more valid to be included in a book like this? What is the bar for entry?
Seething-black snake-serpent in MY HOUSE keep your distance creature I know you I know where you slither-crawled from where you’ll get yourself back in to curled sleepless round your nest of rotted chalk eggshells hatching only dead cells.
The fading light of sunset suffused the woods with a staggeringly tedious glow. Oh god, he thought, not this again. Not the majestic beauty of nature. The rich autumnal hymn rising wordlessly to the delight of the unknowable cosmos. Christ. Who actually enjoys this bullshit?
The end of the world is always the same; the day dawns downy with ghosts, red sun casting shadows of things that can no longer be seen. Every moment is pressed with meaning, significance, this is the last time this will happen, take in this detail. You won’t see it again.
You only notice in retrospect.