It is the evening of what has been a fine, sunny yet breezy day, one of the first that could really call itself Spring. The sun is holding a steady position on the western horizon, still warm and pleasant enough to walk the dog, yet hinting at the slow descent into evening, towards sleep and the distant stresses of another day. All is well as I take standard, measured paces down the lane, each step predefined by countless repetitions during rain or shine. In one hand, an extending lead flicks this way and that, following the scents of late afternoon. The other fumbles with wires and buttons, untangling the earbuds of an MP3 player before attempting to press play. With the opening bars the volume is set, electronica replaced by a steady drum beat. My pace quickens imperceptibly, falling in line.
“The world?s gone mad?”
The music keeps gentle company, not too loud to drown the sounds of nature, loud enough for the nuances to come through, a soundtrack to the soundtrack. I turn a corner and head towards the usual field, its pathways well mapped, timed to perfection. At the gate I stop, hand reaching down to the leash before pausing momentarily.
“The invisible heart?”
No, I think as the music recedes, then quickens. Not the field, not today. The sun hovers fractionally lower in the sky as the decision makes itself and the music calls me on. Shout my name in public places, my lips mouth the words as my feet match the rhythm pace for pace. I hear the words, I say to myself, past the barn conversion and into the open space beyond the village, into the light of a late spring day. Close my eyes, I will walk stride for stride. I have become the invisible man and I follow every note and allusion as my path leads away, towards the fields and the trees. Leave me be.
“It fell through a hole in the corner?”
Ha ? had me there. It?s only music, I think as I recognise the tugging on the lead and look down at the doleful spaniel eyes glancing back towards me. I have barely released the clasp before Cassie bounds over the drystone wall, sniffing for the recent memories of rabbits and wildfowl. It won?t be long before some startled bird is chased mercilessly across the stony field, its indignant croaks drowned by the yelps of the determined, yet ultimately hopeless hunter. I walk on, turning a corner and crossing into the fields myself, a new song to accompany me.
“I had this recurring dream?”
I walk, or try to walk, my feet lightening until they barely touch the ground, rising above the puddles and pieces of ancient brickwork. I lose myself in attics of treasures, the first signs of dusk hovering on the edges of my vision. I sway, involuntarily at first, then deliberately to cover my discomfort though there is not a soul to see or care. Unscared now, I fling my arms from side to side in a brief release of euphoria, singing snatches of song in tuneless abandon. Ploughed soil gives way to meadow as I come over the rise, the coarse grass still flattened by the winter.
“It?s always a struggle?”
There is no time to stumble, nor to prepare. Uncluttered vocals, floating on layers of harmony, render me drowsy and draw out my soul. Unprotected, I am hooked by gentle rhythms, once again fixing my pace and urging me on, taking the rest of my life away. What a wonderful, fantastic place, lush green stretching in every direction, plunging across and down before me. The music lays me down to drink in the vastness of oncoming night, the universe reclaiming its own as the first stars wink their encoded greetings. In a moment outside of real life, I drink in its majesty. I am nothing, I have nothing, my purpose long forgotten as I can do nothing but wonder. Somewhere inside the remnants of my inner being, even now dissolving into particles and casting away on the breeze, there surfaces a snatched memory of a song, “…my body has gone, but my eyes remain…”
“Forgive me if I stare.”