Saturday, April 19, 2008


1993 (from my journal, still on the train)

‘There’s the sea!’ Amazon stands up. We’re coming up to Berwick. I like the coastlines; see myself as The French Lieutenant’s Woman, standing on the edge of land, pointing my tragic but beautiful face out to sea, watching for my future, waiting for something to happen. I want a house where the air is on the move: not stagnant. Well-travelled air and a great expanse of sky. Sometimes I stand on the pier at Tynemouth, looking out to sea. I’ve never been further than one night in Amsterdam.

TocToc is 16, Musician 12, Amazon 11…and I’m still alive. I dreamed the other night that I was smoking; I haven’t smoked for nine years. The skin on my fingers is white/pink – nicotine stains long gone, nails white-edged. I dream a lot; sometimes they’re so strange I fear for my sanity – not the usual crazy feelings but real questions. I once dreamed that I halved Amazon in two; put the bottom half inside the wardrobe and sat the rest of her up in bed. A day or two later a loud knocking on the door made me so afraid of what I’d done, that there would be a social worker at the door who wanted to see Amazon…I thought I’d lose her. So, I went to put her back together but the bottom half had withered slightly. I managed to stick her together for the interview, which I don’t remember, and everything turned out alright! I don’t know why I halved her in two.

A gypsy told my fortune last week. I saw her coming but couldn’t make my body avoid her. She grabbed my hand and talked fast with a strong Irish or country accent into my face. I couldn’t break free and could feel passers-by watching us as we stood beneath the hot air vents in the shopping centre. She said everything would be alright, that someone long-dead watched over me and that a man loved me. She said I would move house but not far. I kept asking her how much it would cost and she kept talking. As she tucked a small bunch of lucky white heather into my fist she asked me for three pounds.

I couldn’t speak throughout the spiel; my chest was bursting into my throat. She took the money and I walked hard for the Haymarket exit, stumbled into Northumberland Street gasping for breath, trying to hold off the tears. Why am I crying? I said to myself over and over again.

I glance at the children, ‘Look at the cows, they’re lying down. That means it’s going to rain.’ TocToc is teaching them to play Chinese Patience. They’re not listening to me. I press my face to the window as the train curves; I can see its head and tail until my breath clouds the glass. Berwick is behind us now, only half an hour to Edinburgh. We spent a week in Berwick when Amazon was one – she had her first birthday in a sand pit; the beach was impossible; it reeked of rotting seaweed, fumes waving up the cliff to keep us away from the edge.

No comments: