Vintage: Darkness is not black

Saturday, 3 November 2007

This piece is from 1992...

Darkness is not black.

Not in the real world. It is grey and mottled and filled with fathoms and objects in shadow from the light. Some light. There must be some in order for the shadows to be cast. No light without darkness. No sound without quiet.

When I was a child, the dark was filled with colour. Green trolls in scarlet capes with purple under-bellies lay snuck and quiet under my bed, and wrapped their knolly fists around the bed legs, to shake and rattle just as I was falling to sleep. Jolt! the bed would rattle and my eyelids would fly apart to catch nothing but the darkness and the trolls would snigger marvellously. The marvellous trolls.

When the trolls were ever quiet, that would be the time I'd see the sparks. Little spits of left-over colour like electricity putting away at the end of a severed wire. Sometimes the sparks would dance together and make a campfire in mid-air and all around it the grey room would become darker and darker, until the brightness of the colours was unbearable and all that you could see would be the light. So bright, shifting like sand; moving apart so that soon you could be seeing inside it. Inside the light like a doorway to another dimension; and inside the light there came orange. Like linoleum benchtops. Orange vinyl. Smooth and formless. Orange vinyl with little black dots swimming all over it, as though they too would break away the orange to show you what lies beyond an orange linoleum dimension. Orange linoleum in the dark.

Eyes can do amazing things for you, with their vision. I would sometimes play with my vision during the day. Dissecting clouds. Staring and staring until my retinas were numb and the clouds were pulling apart like porridge. If I stared hard enough, I could begin to see through the clouds, through the blue and beyond to the black and its pin-holes where heaven shows through. There I would see satellites spinning in their orbit, reflecting the light of the planets like baubles on a Christmas tree. There would be no sound. Just a thickening silence. The kind of silence that hurts the ears because they're straining too hard. And then I'd realise that I'd been dribbling everywhere because my mouth was overflowing with un-swallowed saliva, and had gone slack at the joint where my jaw meets my skull, and it creaks to get it moving again - snapping with miniscule pockets of oxygen that the blood carries especially to parts of the body that don't move for some time, nudging.

I haven’t seen all these things since I was a child; though I’m always fearful I will. Especially the things that might appear in the darkness. The light is my friend. It’s warm and cushiony. It evaporates dark corners and puts sparkles on shiny edges and wet. The light tickles my insides when it comes in with my breath. Such a lovely thing to breathe, is the light. Dark is not warm; and it’s not really cold, either. It just cloaks things. It cloaks the green troll in his scarlet cape and purple underbelly. As though he could make me more fearful by being unseen. As though his scarlet cape and purple underbelly are a mockery because I’ll never be able to see them; the dark sucks away the colour. He may very well be wearing sexy knickers and I’ll never know. He could look like anything I want him to look like, because I’ll never know. He could be a cherub. But cherubs don’t shake bed posts with their knolly fists. Cherubs lay their wings over the side of your face to warm it while you settle down to sleep. To warm it and feel safe. Cherubs are the safety above and trolls are the terror below.

There are many more things in this world to terrorize me than trolls and their sexy knickers. But when I look through the window in order to see them, I instead see birds powering like outboard motors into the palm trees. They’ve been raiding the lawn for worms again. They see me looking at them and flee. They think I’ll mind but I don’t. They can have as many worms as they want because I don’t like worms. Once my brother put some down my singlet and I screamed from the veins in my feet. So I’ve never once liked them since. It’s not their fault, I know. It’s probably my brother’s. But that’s what brothers are there for, I suppose. To scare the living crap out of you every now and again. Maybe he once hid under my bed. And shook the bed posts.

Read more of my vintage writings under the "Vintage:" headings.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...