And nobody particularly asks how I feel about all of this.
Imagine, being eternally manhandled by the same man. Imagine a marriage of endless pushing, endless heaving, sweating, grunting. He thrusts himself against me and drags me about the place as though he were the only one of us whose opinion was worth listening to. I grumble and moan, but I am otherwise silent, now. There is no purpose: it never even occurs to him to listen to me. And he hates me. That’s the part of our weird marriage which really gets to me. He has never heard what I have to say: and yet, he despises me.
He presses his face against my body, his expression contorted by effort and concentration. It is repulsive. The slick perspiration of his body against mine; his taut frame groping ineffectually against mine. And so it goes on.
Days of this go by at a time; days become years, and for a creature of stone such as I, years soon become uncounted lifetimes. Up and up he forces me, always, mercilessly.
Is it any wonder, really? Is it any wonder that after years and years of being hauled against my will, against gravity, against reason: after years of pushing, of treating me as a burden, of hauling me up some barren, mirthless hill, that just when he leaves me at the top of that godforsaken mountaintop – all pleased with himself, for having used me this way, and all the while pretending I was some kind of punishment – just as he abandons me and the entire concept of me, writing me off as a “job well done” – just as he begins brushing his hands theatrically as if to say, “And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that” – after all of this, is it any wonder, is it any sacred bloody wonder that… that something in me should just shift delicately, quietly, irreversibly downward, and my entire being should fall irresistibly along with it? Is that unreasonable, after this abuse, just to let go at the end of it all?
If you were left there, with the highest view in Hell in panorama, you would do it too. If you were placed like an apostrophe in the middle of a sentence he goes and bloody well leaves unfinished: wouldn’t you let yourself go a bit? And being left up there, with only the memory of his resentment and a vista of the godless land to keep you occupied, would you not also wait for a few, sweet, patient, cruel seconds, before you too let it all go, and sought some catharsis in tumbling downhill in spite of him?
And then I’m careering down the hillside again: careering, because somehow, in this weird marriage of ours, this is my housewifey job, to be pushed and groaned against until I’m just left on a mountaintop and have no option but to rebel. I’ll blissfully, jealously, joyously come crashing down again: my heart pounds like an earthquake of immeasurable magnitude, my entire body is shaking from the release, I have defied the bastard! The bleak landscape below is rising drunkenly, dizzyingly up towards me, the sky is reeling with the ecstasy. I am free. I am finally going on my own course, taking my own route, one which is entirely at peace with my nature: to drift effortlessly downhill. I’ve let it all go, I have let the simple will of chaos take me and bring me crashing down with it. And we all feel like that sometimes, do we not?
At the end of this fierce, reckless bliss, I come happily to my long-deserved rest . After that delicious release, that long self-discovery downhill, I at last have a few moments perfectly to myself. I become one with the earth, with the silence. I can feel the age of my body as a virtue, not as a burden: I am eternal, and indestructible, and beautiful beyond measure. I am the myth and the truth, and I am my own person. I am stone: I am everything and nothing; I am the last woman on earth.
Then that bastard trundles downhill. I am stolen from my slumber groggily, as he kicks me in his thwarted frustration, and sheds his pathetic tears on my skin. He looks at me, appalled: “What are you doing down here?” he asks, as though it’s some kind of mystery why an enormous bloody boulder should find itself back where it belongs. The bastard. You know what the prat does then, finding me at rest? Hmm?
The sullen, self-pitying git goes and, cursing to himself and to me, heaves me out of bed and starts his groaning and sweating and grunting, and thrusting and panting and clenching all over again and my god I hate him! How I despise this endless farce! What did I do? What did I do to deserve this time without end? Bastard!
I’m tied to him, aren’t I: by some invisible connection, some grim inevitability, a perpetual to-and-fro of incommunicable umbrage. Uphill, downhill, no moment of peace which can last even an instant in my memory: my memory, as old as the earth and as lifeless as stone. I cannot be divorced from him.
And so our grumbling eternity continues.
This short piece is written in response to my good friend, the extraordinary Gary Holdaway’s piece on “Existence”. For the uninitiated, Gary and I are in the midst of a battle of wits whereby we each take it in turns to respond to the other’s previous post, by interpreting a new “theme” or “motif” we have read into it which the author hadn’t focused on. I strongly, eagerly, imperatively suggest that you read Mr Holdaway’s piece here: https://garyholdaway.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/abstract-existence/
I placed a certain interpretation upon Gary’s piece, reading into it a sense of “the eternal” – which was to become the motif of this particular response. There was something timeless about it, a sense of recurrence and resurgence. I bloody loved it. But then, I remembered the myth of Sisyphus.
And I thought of how terribly funny it was: and how grimly unfair it was, for the poor rock he was pushing.
The reinterpretation of myths is the epitome of palimpsest. It is a favourite not only of mine, but of all writers: Shakespeare, Camus, Eliot, all of them. There are some stories which are so ancient and ubiquitous that we are forever in their shadows. I relish in playing in their shade.
I’m rather intrigued to see how Mr Holoway responds to this one: there are a good number of themes to toy around with, and I know he’s highly capable of surprising me. Bring it on.