Thursday, 7 March 2013

87 - Dropping a Pile of Paper on the Platform

There's an unusually strong wind on the platform, one which changes direction once or twice for every single moment that passes, one that bucks up and then lulls suddenly. In various combinations it has your hood over your head and your scarf in your face. You're trying to hold on to your hat while it sends it in every direction. The gusts pushed on by the frequent incoming and departing trains only confuse matters further.

I have a pile of papers, just about into the right order. Some stick out, the whole lot is far from even. It is some silly epic, this. I've written in a whole kingdom and a set of laws that apply to this new world, as I've imagined it. The pile is larger than what my two hands can hold on to. It keeps trying to slip and some sections have got mixed up during this trip.

Once they are scattered there is chaos. Or perhaps only now do I see what chaos there always was. I am in the middle of the platform, near enough the exit to be at the centre of the rushing and pushing. Passengers from two different trains are trying to make their way out onto the street and this deluge of legs kicks my papers up and sends them flying. Some fly down the gaping black tunnels. Some stick up against the station walls, like wet clothes in the machine. I watch as significant parts of one section find their way onto a train, the doors of which immediately close, allowing my words, upon which I've worked so hard, to escape.

Some pieces of paper fly up the chimney. They will be conveyed out over the buildings. It would be foolish to imagine that not one of them will fall down some other chimney. Surviving the fall, this one piece could sweep out and into a front room, landing on the rug, to be found by a still only semi-literate child, or by a mother who's too busy to read, or too bored to care. Regardless, this piece would make little sense by itself. It could be the description of the stables, including that line about the putrid sweet smell that clamps the air round the nose when you enter. Or it could be a scene which is unfit for a child's eyes, like the one where the king has his throne set down among several succubi, or where he later has his face caved in for all the lies they say he's told.

You will see these words in scattered scraps. They have left me behind and gone to become someone else's meaning, or something for people to wipe their shoes on. Against these white pieces of paper, you now see how filthy the floor of the carriage is. The trains running in every direction carry bigger and smaller pieces of my imagination to opposite ends of this city. Watching this, I give up on the rest.


  1. Two things:
    a - this is not me trying to be wiser than the native speaker but me wondering if I missed something: Do both "onto"s at the beginning of the text (> hat and stack of papers) not need to be "on to"?
    b - the idea for the scene is nice, but actually it's two things put together: the blowing up of the stack and the pondering where the pages might end up. This could still work, but the piece reads a bit too much like the excercise it is - you do a great job imagining what the wind does with the pages, but little of the situation's mood gets across to me. I'd imagine you'd freak the hell out, or be angry, or stand in amazement etc. Instead, this feels like you went there with a stack of paper to deliberate scatter it in the airs, then watching what happens. Not messing with your writing, bro, but pointing this out it occurs to me that this could be the small twist that would make the piece feel more like a logical entity, as scattering your writings deliberately explains why the protagonist then just calmly takes account of what happens like a scientist and then goes on to philosophise what would become of his writing when others find them etc.

  2. You're right about the two 'onto's, those were mistakes and have been corrected.

    I think you're also right about how that small change would make it work better. I could also have developed the idea more. As always, iwrote it in a hurry and posted it before I had a chance to reconsider things too much. It might be a good idea for me to go back and try to write something about either of those two ideas.