A WORK-IN-PROGRESS TEXT FOR 'HALO TANGO'

 

 

A meeting of minds

.

 

How are you?
Fine thanks

How’s the family?

All good, yes, X is busy and X is doing well.

 

How are you?

Fine thanks, yes, thanks for asking, I am good

How’s X?

He’s good, busy you know, working hard

And X

She’s good yes, thanks for asking, she’s doing really well

.

 

Good

Good

Good

 

Fine

Fine

Fine

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Thanks

Thanks

Thanks

.

 

 

 

They were different people

They were the same people

.

 

She waited for her

.

She went to her

.

 

Pottering around the almost-tidy back garden, Betty stood in front of the washed-out pink hydrangea, was it dead? Frozen in full bloom. It seemed to have lost its energy. Like the whole thing could drop and shatter to the floor at the slightest touch.

 

Had it given up? The quitter!

 

She looked at it, sipped coffee, looked at it some more, thoughts drifting off into the colours and textures.

 

.

 

Her heels tapped along the quiet well-kept residential road. She was in a hurry, she did not want to be late.

 

She had been dismissing the persistent creep of apprehension for the last two days. Refusing any room for it to grow into a fully blown perfectly plausible excuse not to go.

 

She caught a glimpse of a few women through the netted windows of the neat semi-detached houses. Children old enough were at school. Each house seemed to contain one lone woman.

 

Each of them sort of together, and alone.

 

(Un)united.

 

She patted her sculpted hair and blotted the sweat on her face before she pressed hard on the doorbell. A modern, loud ding-dong shouted out to the lone occupant.

.

 

Being drawn or being photographed is a peculiarity

Your image being taken.

Taken from you?

 

Everything about it is alien to the flow of life. It is quite bizarre. There has to be a trust in the one taking the image from you. You have to give it over.

You also need a love for yourself. Confidence and acceptance.

.

 

Drawing a relative stranger was always a bit of a nerve-wrecker. The stupidly loud doorbell made her jump and her nervous stomach jumped with her.

.

 

Betty unclicks the solid wooden door, swinging it open, putting on her best smile

Welcome!

 

The two of them together

 

Face to face

Equals

=

 

Together

.

1+1

.

Perhaps stronger

.

 

Mrs Eyles answered with a confident yes to ‘real’ coffee, black! Truthfully, she had never even tasted the bloody stuff.

.

 

She awkwardly removed the hairnet peeling back the soft cage, it had kept her hair captive, unmoving controlled and tamed. Not a hair out of place.

.

 

Thinking, she looks at the face of her essential wristwatch, giving it a little wind-up. She taps the face of the watch, running through the list in her head, with timings, transport and possible mishaps included and accounted for. “We better get started, I can’t be late, lots to do today you see”

 

Yes, me too

.

 

Had she ever been looked at this closely? With such attention? Dedicated scrutiny.

She was certain she could feel it, the artist’s scanner eyes all over her and into every detail of her face.

.

 

The coffee was bitter and hot. Black and aromatic. It was in a small hand-made ceramic cup, not a teacup. Not a boring old teacup.

.

Change was needed

.

As she drew, she looked, really looked. Her eyes moving up to her, down to the paper, up to her, down to the paper. She took drags from her cigarette, holding it loosely between her fingers, black from the charcoal. Her arm hinged at the elbow, cigarette in the air.  Like she was posing too, waiting for a camera lens to find her.

.

 

Both women understood what it is was to be looked at, and what it was to not be seen

.

 

If you can stay still that would help

It does take time, yes,

Try to be patient

I know it’s not easy

It just takes time

.

 

Her eyes moved around the room, taking in the small clues about this other life. Inadvertently they kept landing back at the small, faded painting of the landscape, cheaply framed against the nap of the thick patterned wallpaper. A kind of doorway out but somehow it led to another wall.

.

A not this way out.

.

A forever threshold perhaps, but not a portal.

.

Too many postcards were propped up on the cluttered mantel piece like small-scale invitations elsewhere

 

come here..

leave there..

and come here…

It’s easy.

Just move

 

There is always more than this, always.

.

 

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick the time ticked on by.

.

 

It took a long time.

 

It takes a long time.

 

There is always more to do

.

Those flowers were beginning to die, shrivelling on the ends of the petals, just a little bit. Not that noticeable, but tomorrow you would really start to see it.

.

 

They happened to not talk about either children or husbands. Although they were both a little curious, instead they laughed and chatted freely, leap-frogging through subject matter. Other subjects. Other interests. Other ideas.

.

 

Had she heard about the house fire? They lost everything. Every scrap of everything from the velvet covered pelmets to the recently assembled photo albums, her diaries and his papers. Her saved letters and his clippings. EVERYTHING. Erased - all of it. They had to start again from scratch. Betty sensed a whiff of excitement from Mrs Eyles in the telling of this tragedy.

 

Apparently they walked into the salvation army shop on the high street with nothing but their nightwear on their backs. Nothing left, not a scrap.

 

How did that fire start anyway?

.

 

The charcoal scratched against the paper. Like an animal trying to get somewhere, scratching at a surface. Frustrated by the barrier. Then it would stop. She would use her fingers and smudge, rubbing at the paper. Then the scratching would start again.

.

They took a break at last, Mrs Eyles’ neck and upper body was hurting from the stillness. The muteness of the body.

.

Inactivity hurts.

.

 

At times the room was silent. They both were happy to just be. Just be there.

.

They were there for themselves and for each other.

.

The shivering Mountain they called it or Mam Tor, it’s in Derbyshire, it means Mother Hill. The shail drops down the side of the hill….they say it is the mother hill having babies!

 

Drawn out, slow-moving, gradual, bit-by-bit, snail-like, slow, too-slow-really, incremental, gradual, heavy, forceful, important, over-due change.

.

They understood so much about each other. They had lots in common. Common experiences. Perhaps they would influence each other. Maybe make each other braver. Become stronger. They had things in common. They felt the same.

.

Yes, me too!

.

 

The exchange had stayed with her, it resonated

.

Resonated

Vibrated

Lingered

.