The first time ever I saw your grace…
I remember the very first time I saw you.
Now don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t the first time that I physically laid eyes on you because we’d known each other for years. But literally the first time I felt your presence , the first time I was moved by your nature as it intertwined with mine.
You were across the room from me at Sebastian’s house warming. I was chatting to Steve and Helen about the benefit of carpets fittings over laminate flooring of all things and you were just sitting by yourself, propped up on the window ledge, as you steered leeringly at one of the Bellingham twins as she tried to fish out her mobile phone cumbersomely from the washing up bowl in the sink. This was made even funnier since she was commenting on how ‘bullet proof’ her new case was moments earlier before she got nudged by her evil counterpart.
Amongst us all, you were the only one I heard laughing at the situation from across the room, it was a purely emotive laugh, primordial in nature but it didn’t seem to interrupt anyone’s actions.
My eyes met yours and you had this glare, majestic and proud, a secret glare which a poker player holding all the cards would give moments before revealing their hand. So full of intrigue and knowledge, I just had to know what you knew and shower momentarily in your clarity.
I scurried my way over to you and cheekily demanded to know who you were laughing at.
‘”No one’, which is evidently the answer to the most important question you’ve yet to ask. The real task is finding out what the question is”
In my inebriated state, I could only nod and smile, to be fair, I wasn’t paying too much attention but instead was trying my best not to get caught oogling your legs in that sensational taupe dress you were wearing. But your next sentence definitely caught me off guard.
“If you don’t tell me the answer in one year, I’m going to kill everyone you know.”
It was an odd comment but I had heard you always liked to shock people with your random unique assessment of humour, so I wasn’t too worried, I just awkwardly left you where you were and kinda pushed the comment to the back of mind. And that was the end of that.
Until of course 1997, February 17. Exactly a year after Sebastian’s house warming when I woke up and found you dead beside me in the morning, with nothing but a note around your neck with ‘Time’s Ticking’ written on it.
To say this took me by surprise would be the fucking understatement of the year, considering I hadn’t seen you since that event. My mind went back to that comment you made and I couldn’t figure out why you would do such a thing.
After dealing with the police, the ambulance, your family and the never ending wave of media attention, I thought your tragic demise would be the end of it all. A freak accident, a cry for help, who really knew.
Then in February 1998, my father died in a helicopter crash flying over from Norway. With another freak accident occurring, I thought it was merely a coincidence that it occurred on the anniversary of our chat, which I had still uncannily remembered. Lightening had decided to strike twice unfortunately assaulting the same victim.
Then on the say day in 1999, my best friend Claire died in a rowing accident in Peru and then in 2000, my sister died of leukemia in a clinic in Kuala Lumpur. Then Steve, Then Helen, Then Sebastian.
By now I had realised it wasn’t a coincidence and I had absolutely no idea how or why you were doing this to me. I just instinctively knew at that point in time that this unknown question was going to end up being the death of me, followed by an eternity in my own private hell and I feared there was nothing I could do to stop it.
As the years rolled by, the death toll continued to snowball and in the realisation that I couldn’t save any of them, so did my descent into madness as the ringing of our last conversation continued to grow in volume.
The question turned to words
And the words turned to letters
And the letters turned to lines
And the lines turned to dots,
And the dots turned to stars
And the stars turned to constellations
And the constellations turned into galaxies
And the galaxies turned into universes
And the universes turned into the absolute.
And surprisingly my absolute turned into you.
The sadness you continued to bring me which initially made my blood boil had been replaced. I realised that in taking people away from me, the void in my heart they once filled, had your essence poured into it. You slowly but surely became my everything, not by default either despite what you did to me.
But I still tried to stop it. I spoke to every law enforcement agency, every cop, every under cover investigator, they all thought I was crazy. For years, I visited your grave and spat out every combination and permutation of words to form all possible questions, just so one more person could be spared. Even in 2015 when you finally decided to take my youngest daughter Eleanor in that drink driving accident. She was all I had left but was more than enough.
I still curse you for that. I swear I wasn’t drunk that night. I swear.
By the end, you had systematically wiped out every living soul that had any attachment to me and no one had the faintest idea it was you. More importantly, I STILL couldn’t fathom the reason behind why you were doing this.
Then in 2016, it stopped
I didn’t understand whether it was because you had no one left to kill or whether it was because you decided to finally come after me.
I immediately rushed to your grave on the 18th and noticed it wasn’t there anymore. The plot of land under the crooked-backed oak, which had become my shrine for forgiveness had completely vanished. In it’s place was just a simple letter on the ground addressed to myself.
It told me to go back to Sebastian’s now old apartment.
As I came near the door, it was ajar and desolate flat, at the back of the kitchen, was you, sitting there in the very same spot where I last saw you alive. Still head to toe in taupe, looking as young and as beautiful as ever. Still holding that gaze. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes. There was so much I wanted to say to you, albeit while ring your neck at the same time.
Finally, I ran in screaming at the top of my lungs,
“I don’t understand what you wanted me to do?”
You just sat there and smiled
‘Dad,….who are you talking to?’
That voice, I could never miss the nature of that Voice.
it was Eleanor’s voice, crisp and sweet but full of concern, coming from the door
I dared not look back but I did, and saw my daughter alive
I turned back to search for you for answers
But you were gone
Finally it had hit home. The answer to the most important question.
I turned back and gently smiled.
‘No one sweetheart….no one’
It’d finally hit me,
You weren’t real.
But the reality couldn’t be further from the truth,
I was merely a figment of your imagination. A careless passing thought, a lifetime to create and destroy to stub out the boredom of waiting for Malcom to return from the toilet .
My friends and family, merely the same, with their lives ending as you no longer bought into this daydream you were lost in.
I now knew what cards you held
All this time, I thought you were laughing at Paula Billingham, you were actually laughing at me and the fact I believed I was truly there.
And that notion, I now know my time was finally up.
In my last moments, I grasped my daughter tightly and gently wept waiting for my end.
I existed only for a moment,
Born between your heartbeats
My life sandwiched between breaths
And dying amongst your moments
But in those moments,
I can honestly say…
You meant the world to me…
That’s all that really matters…
The following was an extract from the last chapter of a book called ‘Memoirs of a Daydream’