Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Progress of the year.

There’s a hill.

It has been there a long time, fifty years ago, forty, many, many times since then.

It’s steep, it gets steeper the higher you climb and then it is so steep that it becomes impossible and gravity claims you.

The impossible hill.

It is only ever seen at night-time though even then it can be bathed in the bright light of day.

Sometimes it is in a street and concrete or in a forest and earth; sometimes it is a known place and at other times not.

You can never climb this hill, but the years of failure will not stop you.

It is night in the city, London streets in the north-western suburbs. There is a park. Crossing the park and there is a cave.

Enter the cave and it is clear that the cave goes somewhere.

And this is the start of the hill.

The walls of the cave close in, the hill starts to climb, gently at first – this is encouragement – then narrower and narrower, steeper and steeper.

The ground is sand – soft but a little damp, it is a cave after all, and the wheels of the bike become heavier and heaver.

Yes, you are climbing the hill with a bike, that is the impediment.

There is a window in the wall of the cave, below in the street you can see people leaving buildings looking up and maybe catching sight of lamp light in the cave – you are carrying a torch.

The impossible hill; a bike; a torch; a possible adversary.

Then something changes.

There is a cable attached to the cave wall.

Is it there to help you climb? Or is it there to guide you safely back down when you fail.

You will always fail.

There are handles too, spaced easily to pass from hand to hand.

But this is the impossible hill.


What if you let go of the bike? Then you could use both hands.

There have never been handles before.

There has never been sand before, and sand is soft if you fall.

And what if you switch off the torch, no one will see you?

No one will see you, but you will see nothing.

So why not close your eyes?

You can feel the edge under your chest as you pull once more, this hill has an edge, the summit is here, you are safe – the climb can no longer claim you.

There is no feeling of elation, only curiosity.

You risk the torch; no one can see you here.

There is a room in the rock, but it looks like there is no going forward.

There is a bed; you can sleep.

There is a wardrobe, a very ancient piece of furniture, but you recognise some of the clothes – she wore these, they belong to her.

Is it her room?

There is a box, or maybe it’s a case, standing on the floor between the bed and the wardrobe so you move it to one side.

There is a well, you can see the movement of water in the lamplight and at the back of the well there is a metal panel, it looks like a door.

I think you opened it, but I am not sure but if you did it it did not take you on.

I know you spat, once, into the well to see if it was really water - it was a strange gesture.

You looked into the box.

Or was it a case?

You did not pay attention to its contents.

That was your only mistake.

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