Snapshots in B

B is for Battle, and Byron, and Beautiful. She walks in Beauty like the night. It’s for Bright, Broken, and Bedlam.

B is for Blackboards, faint squeak of chalk, teachers dusting off their hands, the tap tap tap as someone writes up words or numbers. A very satisfying sound, that. I never wanted to be called upon to write anything on the board – too shy, too nervous – but I loved that sound. It’s not quite the same on concrete; too much stone-on-stone, it doesn’t tap, it chinks. Nor is it the same on little child-sized blackboards: too hollow, too small.

B is for Best Friend Forever, more than one, over the years, all of them drifting away somehow as gaps between texts and phone calls grow longer. Never on the same social media. It’s been years since you’ve seen them now. Look them up now and then, wondering what they’ve done, always feeling that sense of granite when you see they’re doing what they always said they never would, dreams tossed out the window or put on the back-burner, forced smiles. Close the window, step away from the memory. Would rather not see them again after all this time. Not like you’ve done anything with your life either. Looking back it’s hard to pinpoint what it was that tied you together. Was it just proximity? Was there anything you really liked about them, in the end?

B is for Bookstores. There’s something marvellous about being surrounded by books. Stories of all kinds, true and untrue, piles and stacks and shelves of them. A good place to work, if you can swing it. There’s a smell in bookshops. Book-dust. It’s a smell you don’t really acclimatise to even when you work in one. Walk in in the morning to the bookshop smell, and it’s like a weight off the shoulders, returning home, a comforting smell even in the most difficult times. Even when there’s trouble at work and the manager’s at war with the book buyers, still comforting, somehow.

B is for Bones, a tiny set, some dead rodent or other on the side of the road. Ants picking it clean. I’d have taken it home but the insects still had a bit of work to do. Pieces of flesh still clung to one side of its face. Not the sort of thing you want in your pocket. I’d crush it anyway. I found a bird’s egg once, small and blue, and slipped it into my bag to take it home. I forgot about it, of course. Ended up with fragments of shell all over the lining.

B is for Boats. I could live on one, I swear I could, though I’d be afraid of storms losing me everything. I’m not sure my dog would like it. He gets vocal when he’s upset, and I imagine boats would take him some getting used to. He likes car drives, though. Maybe he’d love it. I think I must have some sailor in my blood somewhere, or viking. There’s something about a boat that has me at peace. Perhaps it’s the idea that you can go anywhere. A sense of freedom. Without knowing the sea’s nearby I feel trapped. Landlocked. On a boat, with the gentle sway, the sparkling sea, the breeze… there’s immense satisfaction in being on a boat. A home away from home.

B is for Bullets. I used to keep finding them here and there about the house. My grandfather was British army, and my father a reservist. Sometimes, even now, I open a tin full of old coins and keys and buttons and find a bullet rolling around in there. I’m always afraid it’ll blow my hand off if I’m not careful. That’s probably not how bullets work. Do they get volatile as they get old? There was a gun too, an army-issue rifle, kept in about 5 separate pieces, handed into the police station when they mentioned casually that we still had a gun somewhere, and would we like them to get rid of it? Sure, may as well. And a machete, kept at the bottom of a wooden chest on which perched, over the years, various pieces of electronic equipment. An oversized CD-cassette-radio that I stole at one point for my room, making mix tapes after lights-out. A TV with long bunny-ear aerials. Stacks of cushions and coffee-table books. It still scared me, sitting at the bottom of that chest. I was afraid someone would break in and take it, and massacre us all in our beds. Dismemberment by hacking seemed a worse death than most others.

B is for Blogs, like this one, pulled out of my brain line by line, and now in need of an ending. Bye, beauties. Behave badly, be bold.

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