The following story is by guest author Gina Stradwick.
Through his forgiveness and recognition of the nobleness of the action, peace was restored.
Resentment had been brewing, bubbling and fermenting like a growing, dark shadow in the heart. One moment of decision; light broke the menace into tiny particles, dust that could be swept up and tossed out for the wind to scatter.
Although the sadness wasn’t dispersed that easily, the threat was gone.
He made up his mind to look at the next day with new eyes, to search for times and places to make more instant and dramatic changes.
She was coming in the old oaken door five minutes before the workday deadline, wearing clothes he had never seen before, though she may have worn them every day. A soft, drapey, blue blouse, rusty-brown straight skirt. Her hair: wispy and a little lank. Ordinary face. Ordinary features. The voice of his new free spirit asking him ‘Can any one really be ordinary?’
Freedom poked him again using non-verbal words, a warmth spread through him, a rare and hardly recognisable feeling.
Struck by the colour of the entrance walls, plum, like the interior of British pubs, he stared.
Other sights, smells, surfaces, jumped like advertisements into his newly – refreshed senses.
‘ What brilliant objects exist in my ‘ordinary’ world.’
That girl came into the lunch room to make coffee as he was beginning to taste each bite of his food, like a child might, turning it around in his mouth, feeling its shape, surprised by its flavour.
‘Are you OK?’ She asked ‘ Have you lost a tooth or something?’
‘ No’ he laughed ‘I think I’ve just found some.’ Surely no one would understand what he was experiencing so he didn’t explain. The girl sat at the table to have her drink, looking suspiciously at her co-worker, who continued to savour his lunch, smiling then frowning as he puzzled over new wonders. ’I’ve only been half alive, maybe not alive at all.’ A sudden, total change I’m going to make, his thoughts continued, is to risk talking to people.
‘I’ve never spoken to you before, I’m sorry, I’m Tom one of the admin staff.’
‘I’m Faye, nice to finally meet the person I’ve watched working here for months.’
‘I don’t talk to people normally.’ Tom continued. That’s going to change he told himself.
‘What kind of coffee is that?’
‘It’s just that horrible instant stuff, I wish our staff room had one of those shiny coffee machines where you press a couple of buttons and get a genuine espresso.’
At afternoon break Tom rushed out of school and bought a takeaway espresso for Faye.
She was so touched but could think of nothing special to say, just the predictable
‘Oh how kind, thank you.’
‘Ah, this must be how people get friends” It dawned on Tom. That strong sensation warmed him. That’s twice in one day I’ve actually felt something, he realized.
On the bus going home Tom spoke to the driver, the man seated opposite and the hilarious, curly-haired, large-nosed music professor, Tom guessed, who hopped on the vehicle with some young students carrying a double bass and a tuba-shaped case.
He didn’t say much to them, a few words about how busy they looked or how exhausted. Yet it broke a barrier that Tom could feel crumbling inside him, breaking down into smaller chunks, as old bricks disintegrating under the bus wheels. Again that newly familiar warmth crept through his emotions, like yeast popping on the surface of bread mix.
Arriving home seemed similar to landing, after a long flight, in a new country; the atmosphere, the temperature, the surroundings, all new. Tom raced upstairs, almost slipping, desperate to see the room where he had been almost comatose for more months than he wanted to believe. It had a view from the tiny balcony of endless rooftops, but there were birds; real, living, fluttering things that soared and made sounds like music.
‘Ah, I can put a name to the new feeling’ he realized, as it pulled and tugged at him.
‘ Hope’ It echoed from his childhood, ’Hope.’