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Melpomene's Experiment.
Swan song

As I was returning from the cathedral, I heard the biting clack clack of her heels on cold gravelled macadam as she strode quickly behind me. She always seemed in a rush these days - rushing to get to the next of her many appointments or, maybe, she rushes to avoid a confrontation with me. I decided to try and part with a positive final memory, do my best and be gone with this unbecoming awkwardness. Regardless of what she now thought of me, I wanted to wish her a good holiday. Maybe, just maybe, it could show I still cared.

"Jon! Jon!"

The shout had come from behind, about the right distance back. I had just been building up my confidence, preparing to turn and try to speak to her. I looked back, conscious of the way I looked. Crestfallen, I saw that it was Lily calling my name, not her. Nevertheless, from this distance, my eyes briefly caught the glinting moon dancing delicately on her pupils - she wasn't looking, and so I glanced away.

She didn't carry my photo booth album, nor a key to a mystery repairman.

As I stopped to allow Lily to catch up with me, she broke from Lily's side and briskly brushed past my right shoulder, careful to avoid any unintentional contact. She flashed an acerbic smile so brisk the that corners of her lips barely had time to rise, but still she bowed her head by that tiny mordant fraction I remember so vividly.

"Merry Christmas, Jon."

When she uttered the laconic valediction, the words passed her lips completely devoid of emotion. She only said it because she felt she had to, and I couldn't even discern the trace of lisp I was so familiar with hearing. She had said because she felt obliged, not because she cared. It was exactly what Suda had said.

And with that, she was gone; she marched swiftly away into the darkness, her sharp heels rapping mockingly against the flagstones. I stood there and watched her silhouette disappear through the halogen lamp-slashed mist and melt into the murky gloaming again.

Lily abruptly broke into my thoughts and politely asked if I could help her save on the mobile bill a bit and summon Johnny from upstairs. Johnny, her boyfriend, the one she loved. Someone she really cares about.

I took a deep breath of the acrid air around me, and ran up the spiral stairs to fetch him and then pack my bags.



Thomas à Becket II

Ninety minutes earlier.

"I need to go pee."

Richard was sitting next to me. It was the last day of term and he'd previously downed his last couple of litres of orange juice before the school Carol Service. Unfortunately, his one visit to the toilet beforehand had turned out to be insufficient. He shuffled passed my chair and half-ran down the aisle, scurrying back out of the nave. Once he'd gone, I took the opportunity and stole his unblemished candle.

Five minutes later, the service had started. Richard hadn't returned and the congregation's candles had been lit. Through a majestic arch in the quire, I could see more flickering candlelight as the crypt choir sang the hauntingly beautiful first notes of the opening carol. Hundreds of delicately individual flames darted on the spot as they danced upon waxed wicks. They managed elegance despite their astaticism.

As though it were a strange planchette, I felt myself receive subconscious messages when my satin fingertip pads accidentally brushed across the cold stone pillar next to me. A tingling sensation darted from my hands, streaking lines across my skin as I stood there in that candlelit cathedral. I stared up the smooth pillar that reached up to the majestic ceiling and, grasping my unbleached cylinder of wax in both hands, saw the faint glimmering echo of frolicking candle flames; they were blurred, but still frisked gently on the stone of the high arched roof. As my eyes followed the splashes of orangey, coloured glow above my head, their line of sight encompassed thousands of minute details. Tiny etched crosses, bezelled symbols, magnificent stained glass and splendid gothic vaulted arches supporting the whole building - they all caught a little of the flushing lambency. Surrounded by the undulating swells of angelic singing rushing through the pews, I tried to understand what this ostentatious-but-beautiful cathedral stood for. There I stood, under the high ribbed ceiling that seemed larger than the sky, next to those ancient stone pillars that seemed to reach to heaven; the entire nave was surrounded by the luminance of candles that reached the far apse in addition to the vibrato notes from an irreproachable soloist singing of a flower with eerie beauty. I could have been standing there back in the twelfth century and the carvings and thin, rocky arches would still have been as perfect - still, for all its pure grandeur and graceful pulchritude, I wondered whether Canterbury Cathedral is anything other than a representation of evil?

While those candles were still lit and the choir was singing a song that seemed to come straight from god's lips, the bible came near in a procession and the robed sacristans stood on either side, staring directly ahead, their candles raised high above on golden stands. Philly stood directly opposite me and, again, the high harmonies struck a poignant chord in my heart even though I couldn't hear the words. Frozen still, her hands grasped her stand and I stared directly into her dark eyes over the top of my candle flame and between the priest and her fellow altar server. Sometimes she seemed to be looking right at me but remained motionless, and, somehow, I knew from her skin's pallor and blank eyes that she didn't see me at all. I could look through those empty eyes and into her skull yet she could never react to me and, most painfully, I still would be no closer to her.

Later, the candles had all been extinguished en masse in a chilling and smoky hecatomb while the last drops of hot max dripped off my service sheet, leaving little red blemishes on my knuckles. I'd laughed with Mount and, at the end, I caught sight of Hannah behind me waving and smiling so wide her eyes were forced to shut. I was consistently ignored by the Bailey girls who seem to have become such good friends with Russell and the flawless choir reminded me of so many things about this school which make it just like Reigate, but with an unforeseen keenness, obedience and effort on behalf of the pupils. I quickly escaped from that cathedral through the cloisters and Dark Entry without bumping into Hannah to say goodbye. I couldn't make myself stop thinking of those tall, dark pillars made of stone so very cold.


Harrowing ambition

Writing this and reading over old entries made me think of this short excerpt, courtesy of Shakers:

Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury;
Signifying nothing. (Macbeth: Act V, scene v)
Life's funny. To a kid time always drags. Suddenly you're fifty. All that's left of your childhood fits in a rusty little box.

I have watched so many superbly beautiful films during this lifetime.

It must be my guardian angel.

    mood: All my life's ahead of me
    choon: Yann Tiersen - J'y Suis Jamais Alle