I Wish in October (9)


After sitting on the bench and looking at the bags and ducks, we went on our walk through the park. I remember the very pleasant afternoon; the trees were crispy, the sky behind them gleamed chilliest blue, the earth was damp and packed in smooth in the woods, runny and puddled in by the streams and by the lake, where, such a very long time ago, a man dressed as a ghost wearing waterproof boots had printed himself visually in amongst the gallery of my brain that was a reference catalogue for the rest of my life.

The winter feeling had set in. Coming Halloween. My unconscious parts perhaps absorbed the subtle shifts in colour and in the sun’s light and the smell of the rain, rewinding me to childhood Halloween feeling, which at the time even was a feeling of something missing. Now, here, I was a great deal farther from it, two steps removed and more. It can be quite exhausting when every lived moment feels that it is not quite there. We were walking in the park to begin with because I was so overcome with internalised mental pressures that I could not sit, save on a park bench, because I would fall asleep or fall into a gross wealth of sensations on the theme of unfulfilment.

The afternoon, though: very pleasant, and the tint of the sky came slowly down with evening, to a shade forever reminiscent of my mother taking me to an autumn farm, and the dream I had had the night following, of a pumpkin headed man running across the very same farm fields.

When we arrived near the park map, we noticed something out of autumn place. It hovered past: a ladybird. We both noticed. We then noticed some more, hung lazy and pretty in the air past us. I thought that surely they were things of summer and spring. As we approached the map, which was held up on two posts, we shouted. The posts were smothered in the most enormous gathering of bugs I had ever seen in one place. All of them, ladybirds, and I was moved by all the colours: every hue, it seemed, accounted for, every radiative shift in the spectrums both visible and not. We shouted and were laughing as the great mass seemed to grow with great speed but absolutely imperceptibly, and we did not know where they were coming from. Then, in small detachments and greater clouds, they began to let go of the posts and the map that they had crawled and massed across as though they planned organised takeover, and took flight. They were black and blue and they were crimson, grass coloured, lily, violet, uncountable, faded slightly in the unmatched soft of winter clear evening which gave only secrecy and wonder to the aeronautical breakout.

We ran and we laughed. Passing human was no obstacle to the exodus and the ladybirds would land on us if we were in their way; we ran away down the path into the grass, I caught between the fussy fear of having insects crawling all over me and the awe, the joy, at a strange scene so unforeseen that it knocked even my continual self-commiserations off their track.

And then we made it away, and sat by the lake, and the fluorescing pillows of ladybirds crowded out across the sky, still brilliant, and the dusky bluing treetops, and all of the early evening colours, the late October day, reminded me, as always, of old October, October decades old, waiting for witches and for Father Christmas. There had been a time when I was very very young, younger still than the day of carved pumpkins, when we had been in winter parks and gardens, nighttime countryside in the summer, and our father, pointing into the air the very same colour as the evening the ladybirds flew out into, had talked to us about fairies, and I had looked out of the window constricted with anticipatory horror and waiting.

We walked a circuit around another dried up pond, this one without ducks and still full with water plants, and then we took our separate buses home.

Some part of me, perhaps the greater part, has never stopped waiting. I promised myself a lot of things. I know, now, that such promises are broken, but I have not the heart to tell myself it is so.

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