I've had a couple of bad days. Much of yesterday was spent in a state of major meltdown, uncontrollably. I was shaken, sobbing and wailing loudly and making the strangest pained noises. For hours. Oh autism, sometimes you're great and sometimes you're really, really crappy. But even a day like yesterday had good in it. There was still much to be grateful for.
A friend helped me and got me to calm down and in the midst of that gave me three half sentences as writing prompts to play with and to free write from, just a few paragraphs from each. I couldn't do it yesterday. After such a meltdown I was pretty wiped out and didn't have the mental energy for much at all.
This morning I felt bad - which after yesterday was only to be expected - and through the day I was sinking and for a while was too close to repeating yesterday's level of meltdown. But somehow my head decided not to go that way and pulled itself back. And the three prompts came to mind. So during the afternoon and evening I've sat and free written three short pieces from them. Free written. This is, without much thought, what fell out of my head.
If you want to try this too, these are the prompts. Choose one and just write and don't stop until you feel like stopping. Let the words flow and don't worry about them being a load of rubbish.
a. The one thing she thought was beautiful in the sea of pain was ...
b. The clothes she hung out to dry got eaten by ...
c. The time she felt the happiest and most carefree was ...
So here are my little attempts. The first is sad. The second is silly. The third isn't happy and even though I shouldn't worry about these things being a load of rubbish I'm not happy with it!
The one thing she thought was beautiful in the sea of pain was the way the light could play.
A crystal still hung in the window high above and when the light was just right it would spread a dozen rainbows across the room and it would seem as if at least something in her world could smile. She would watch the rainbows as they moved across the walls and lit each dark facet of the decorations with rare colours. If she could she would run, chase the colours, and follow the rainbow with her eyes and it was as if life shone directly into her soul. For just those moments her life became colour, her pain a whole spectrum of beauty.
She wore a chain too and intimately knew the way the light would play with that, reflecting on each tiny link, turning each small piece of cheap metal into a jewel. She would line up the jewels and gently move them so they would sparkle and light up into her eyes. There was some release in this and she would watch and watch and fall into the chain, hour upon hour, consciousness removed into splendour, until the light would fade and only the cheap entrapment remain.
Yes, this was some release. Some forgetfulness of the long torment of the engulfing, turbulent sea. Some freedom from the dark past and the deeper darkness she could see ahead. One light entering even her prison from some place where children still sing; one light to take her into another world where there would be something worth opening her eyes for.
To escape into the rainbow or into the jewel was all she lived for. She longed for the times when the light would laugh.
Though the rainbow could not be grasped.
And the jewel was illusion.
But it was all she had. All else was the agonising burning from a mind that was too damaged to be cooled. And without the ungrasped, without the unreal, she would have given up hope, stopped swimming, and drowned.
She loved the way the light could play.
And while she still loved, she could live.
The clothes she hung out to dry got eaten by Gerald.
This came as a surprise to Elspeth because Gerald had claimed to be fasting for Lent. The confusion was cleared up later that night however, when Gerald carefully explained that he was only fasting from chocolate, cherry pips and creating orchestral horns from walrus tusks.
He'd been feeling a little peckish that afternoon and seen the trousers on the line. Very tempting. He knew chicken legs tasted good so maybe trouser legs would be good too. Maybe they would taste just like chicken. But no, Gerald thought, he should behave and leave the trousers on the line. After all, they belonged to Elspeth.
But then he spotted the buttons on Elspeth's blouses. And those were just far too tempting. Because maybe those would taste just like his favourite chocolate buttons. There was no way Gerald could resist sampling just one button. How could anyone be expected to leave a button uneaten when it might taste of chocolate? Elspeth agreed that this was a very reasonable point.
After eating a button he found he couldn't stop. Gerald was far hungrier than he thought. Pretty soon all the blouses had gone and he moved onto the trousers. The material had been a bit tough so he needed to clear his palate by devouring Elspeth's silky knickers and drinking the water from the bird bath. Finally, to round off the meal in style with a dessert worthy of the finest restaurant, he enjoyed polishing off all the embroidered handkerchiefs. A most satisfactory meal he thought and he was no longer hungry.
Gerald was proud. He had eaten well without breaking his fast. Shirt buttons are in no way chocolate buttons. And Elspeth's silky knickers had very little in common with cherry pips in the manner of culinary delight. As for the fasting from horn making? That had been a crazy idea in the first place because he'd never before made a horn and wouldn't know how. In any case, walrus tusks were a rarity in Biggleswade.
Elspeth wasn't at all happy though. Those had been her favourite knickers and she had cleaned one of the blouses especially so she could show it off when at the vicar's garden party. Whatever could she do about that. While she agreed it was marvellous that Gerald had not broken his fast and risked the extreme annoyance of the Good Lord, she wished she had some trousers to put on. Why couldn't Gerald just have rung the doorbell? She could have fed him strawberry tarts and her famous elderflower cordial.
Even Gerald had to admit that those did not contain chocolate nor cherry pips, let alone walrus tusks. And they would have tasted much better than the embroidered handkerchiefs too. Plus by now he was feeling a touch of indigestion. All those buttons were making his tummy rumble so loudly that it was getting embarrassing.
Elspeth looked at Gerald. He was a silly man and she had no blouse with which to impress the vicar and her wife. But Gerald looked so sorry now that Elspeth could only forgive him, if only he would come to the bakery with her in the morning and buy her a coat.
Besides which, she still had strawberry tarts and elderflower cordial inside. So Gerald and Elspeth ate together and smiled because, for some reason they couldn't quite fathom, there was no ironing to be done that night.
The time she felt the happiest and most carefree was three o'clock in the morning. That was the quiet time. True, there was no traffic outside blurring her mind. But it was more than that.
At night the wires were quieter. People used less power so the hum from the electric appliances and the current through the system would retreat to a background buzz that she could ignore. And the people slept.
Being able to hear the thoughts of the people and feel what they felt had its advantages. But not being able to stop hearing and feeling them was the worst thing she knew. At night they were quiet. At night she could hear her own mind and feel her own heart without having to work in case she be engulfed by others.
She would sleep through the day, almost overdosing on the medication and lying in a double sound proofed cellar to eliminate almost all risk of being waken. The days were almost unbearable. The dreadful agony not just of the cries of the broken-hearted and the terrified but of all the laughs too. Overpowering, overwhelming, and with no way to lessen the pounding and the screeching intensity except through sweet sleep.
At night she could wake and could survive in the comparative quiet of a world at rest. She supposed her greatest blessing was that she could not hear them dream, that even the worst nightmare was somehow beyond her reach.
Three o'clock. The quiet time. The safe time when she could allow herself to not be drugged, allow her own mind the space to run, her own body the chance to leave the cellar and walk. At three o'clock the storm of the sea fell away into shallow waves on the sand.
At three o'clock, if she chose, she could block out that calmer background and only she would remain.
She alone, one voice and one mind in the clarity of the stars.