This is my first ‘sonnet’, and it’s about the way my relationship with my body is such that it’s almost become its own separate entity. The suffering we’ve endured over the years and my instinctive inward concealing of sadness, has created a relationship where i communicate with it like a well travelled brother in arms. I think this inner conversation with oneself/body is something that most competitive athletes/sportspeople can relate too.
Together We Walk, Run, Fly
Feelings of fatigue permeate through the sweat and the truth.
Never have I known a stronger one, of all things – your patience I want.
Sometimes, I don’t listen. I am selfish, a spirit enamored and recluse.
Stay with me and fight, protect what’s held close, and breathe until I can’t.
Remember me when I’m gone, transient, leaving sorrows with you and the earth.
I may be given to another, however, ours is ours, the memories – heroes and all.
Heroes – the first arched goal in the battle for the feather – the return from hurt.
All – your velocity with me from birth, despite that, I surrendered, ignored the voice, your call.
The pause, the return. Eleven point six was the measure of love,
Never before have two embraced as we did that day, a passion forged in the red.
Always my shield, battered, bent, and unbroken. Deflector of the arrows above.
Where now? Glory and death both lie at the edge. If I peer over will you be fed?
Lets go into the uncharted together, what’s mine is mine so take my hand.
Lets love, cry and fear for his sake, what’s mine – his plan – is mine – his hand.
This poem was inspired by a singular feeling the song Gangsta Way – Chris Brown ft French Montana brought about in me. It’s something I do from time to time, and it’s fascinating because I usually don’t know what the poem is about until it’s almost fully written.
This poem is about that moment of sometimes illogical guilt and sadness you feel, when meeting eyes with someone from your estate block that you used to share childhood happiness with. However, now for various unfortunate & not so unfortunate reasons you are living two very different lives and are unable to relate to one another.
I’m in my hood all day, it’s my gangster way.
The forward steps I take, shrouded – in a hood that takes away my pain.
If I obscure my face to you, does it shelter me from the ache that remains?
What do I regret as I walk? The cold that strokes me, reminds me of the same.
The guilt of fame? The miniscule mountains climbed, while in its crevasses you stayed.
I’m in my hood all day, it’s my gangster way.
It’s true because my heart resides in the same place as yours.
A language received differently to the sounds made.
You don’t understand me, So I put a smile in the same place as yours.
It helps briefly, do we connect meaningfully? We smile, but it’s a different shape to yours.
My broad shoulders attired in Jackets proofed from rain.
While you, standing just as you were born – cry endlessly.
My life, safe in the hands that claimed me – yours fought always.
Did you tire? You don’t appear as you did those days.
When I decided to write this, I couldn’t decide whether to do it in the form of a poem or a ‘simple’ autobiographical prose. I’m still undecided as I begin to type these words into my laptop.
The inspiration to write this came while watching of A Monster Calls. The film was very rich in emotive subject matter – making you wonder what you would do in the boys situation – having to deal with something so gut-wrenching at twelve years of age. Which then got me thinking of what the most painful parts my life have been so far… instinctively I turned to football, and the plethora of physical and mental distresses I’ve suffered over the last ten years, at the hands of sporting injuries and comfort eating tendencies. However, that just reminded me of something unnerving that I’ve been feeling for a while…’Am I over that pain?’ In previous years when I’ve flirted with retirement, the swell of sadness and tears that rose from my belly, to bottleneck at the back of my throat whenever asked to think, or talk about those spirit choking incidences would be ever-present, but now was gone. Where were the tears? I can still see the wounds, but they’re no longer sore to the touch. Does not crying for long enough eventual create a desert of your soul? Answering this in the afore-mentioned context would take a whole separate piece dedicated solely to that aspect of my life. This story is not about that, but about the way that realisation caressed my heart towards an older chapter in my life i.e. Finding this previously deep well of emotion empty, I went looking for more pain in order to empathise with the plight of the boy in the movie.
Very strangely, I thought about the day my father told my brothers and me that he was leaving my mother. Strange because in hindsight, I can’t really recall when I’ve thought about that day and given it the credence it deserved as an emotionally traumatic event. Is that just down to my forever-optimistic personality? Although, now that optimism is far more tempered then in my youth, I like comparing it to child Naruto vs Adult Naruto. An anime character, who’s been through his fair share of life altering pain (for those who don’t know). Alternatively, and perhaps more tellingly; was this the first time I employed the repressive tactic that I have since used to bury all significant pain from the conscious surface? Because the more I thought about it the more I was awakened to the memory of how much it hurt. However as the title suggests this was not the first time my father was about to leave us, and peculiarly I can’t remember if I cried or not, but I do remember weeping like the child I was when he stormed out several years earlier. Although he returning something like an hour later, it didn’t prevent me from having to watch the relatively new older half-brother and sister, I loved like full siblings I’d known since birth prepare themselves to leave with him. Hear my mum – the strongest women walking Gods green earth, cry on the phone to her eldest sister as she pleaded for help and advise on how to reason with him. I remember my younger brother ask me why I’m crying? Then, my older half brother reprimanding him for such a foolish question. You may not believe this, but it was only when arriving at the second paragraph of this piece that I even remembered the emotional connection between the two events and thus changed the title – adding Vol.2, I guess that’s just how well those emotions were suppressed. Turning events that perhaps should have been potent psychological markers of emotional development, into hollow memories of something that flickers in and out of knowing, like the song you’re tired of hearing and always skip when it comes on.
Arriving at the third paragraph, I now know the purpose of this whole trip down memory lane. I believe that just simply acknowledging the pain I felt at the second and permanent time of my dad’s leaving, and giving that moment the importance it warrants, will make me a healthier person. Therefore, I want to recall everything that happened a late afternoon in nineteen ninety-eight.
I can’t accurately remember if the sun was definitely still out, or exactly who else was in the house. Nevertheless, I remember my dad sitting the brother who directly follows me and myself down at the dinner table – my other sibling, and the youngest of my mum’s children may or may not have been there too, I can remember. Perhaps because I wasn’t brave enough to turn to my left at any point throughout my dad’s speech and look at the expressions on their faces. I do on the other hand have an ingrained image of my mum sitting on the sofa at the other side of the room; the whole time he spoke, she wore that unique pouted face of hers – complete defiance at the sorrow being brought into her life again – anger and sadness in equal measure.
My dad explained that he and my half siblings would be going to live with his girl friend ( for lack of a better word), the words passed through me easily, like on some level I had been expecting them. However, they still hurt, in a way that I don’t think I could fully process at the time, largely due to the lack of understanding of the knock on effect of such a decision on me personally and the family dynamic in the future. He made sure to keep repeating that although he was leaving, that in no way meant that he didn’t love us, something I believed without question. I remember feeling comfort at hearing the anger in his voice when exclaiming that if any of my mother’s family said that he didn’t love us, we were to tell him immediately. I guess that familiar anger and assertiveness made me feel that my dad was still the man I’d known my whole life.
I also have the image of my older half-sister crying when it came time to say good-bye to us, I think my older half-brother was too, but can’t say for definite. To be honest I’m not sure if I was crying or not at this point, but I would be very surprised if I weren’t. I wasn’t as good as I am now at releasing everything but the rain. I really can’t picture my two younger brother’s faces…it’s frustrating, perhaps I feared that looking at them and adding their pain to my own would be too much for my young spirit to handle…I wish I could have been more mature during the immediate aftermath and given them some kind of comfort through encouraging words or physical affection. But alas, my inability to show physical affection to family members is a story for another day. I do find some solace in the knowledge that over the coming years, I took on board some of the parental duties of a father with my youngest brother, who’s face on that day I achingly STILL can’t remember. What difference would it make anyway, I’m not a time traveller…I can’t go back and put my arms around him…so l shouldn’t dwell. The chronology of some events of that day are a bit messed up, therefore I’m not sure when exactly, or even if on the same day, but I remember my uncle in our house. He was passionately beating his chest as he yelled that he would be there for us for whatever we needed, and so, we shouldn’t worry or be down hearted. It was an inspiring moment to me…but in hindsight, I’m not sure how much of that help actually materialised.
Funnily enough, it wasn’t until years later once utilising the lens of young adulthood, did I start to put together all the little insidious events that lead to that day. The awareness of which, to my recollection, didn’t pain me, most likely due to my own personal experiences of the complexity of adult relationships. Moreover, how love is neither everlasting nor a guarantee of relationship cohesion. But most importantly, that my parents are only human and can make mistakes. Still, it’s a shame when some of your fondest and purest childhood memories become tainted with a mature truth.
Conceivably, I may be being too harsh on myself, and it’s actually the thick inescapable casserole of my; cultural environment, parental upbringing and genetic pre-disposition that created the perpetually pain repressing person I am today. Not poor emotional choices at key moments in my life. However, I guess that’s just another chicken and egg conundrum. Saying all that, whatever part my eternal reservoir of optimism has had to play in this psychological coping strategy, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Furthermore, perhaps there were more pros to suppressing the pain of that day and any other traumatic events in my life. It allowed me to not be derailed from my daily, weekly, or monthly path and thus continue pursuing my dreams with less social and academic strife.
Sorry for the dramatic change in topic and tone of my writing this week. It just felt right in that brief moment of clarity to write this piece, raw and un-drafted. At its onset, there was nothing particular I expected to gain personally, or for you guys to individually. I just hoped that listening to me express these years old uncovered feelings would not be too dreary for you. As a bonus, it was truly a cathartic experience for me, thank you for reading.
I am in the very early stages of creating the world of possibly my next novel and its main protagonist. So I just wanted to give you guys an exciting introduction into both! Please let me know what you think of the character and the potential story that could spawn from this introductory chapter.
The Chronicles of Aron Sherapova: The Ties That Bind
The Leviathan Order Of Five – watching, smirking, and absorbing from their perched views, waited for her journey’s end to come.
Aron Sherapova was screaming in a blind rage at the evil incarnate that stood before her; steel blade in one hand, and her 5-year-old son in the other, dangling from his neck – which through a mother’s eyes, looked frightfully brittle in the murderous man’s callus grip. She let him know that threatening her child’s life would be his final act on this earth. His soft little face stared back bleakly at her, with no understanding of what was about to happen to him – he just cried helpless tears of an infant lost, hoping to be saved into his mother’s arms, rescued from the danger like she did on those nights that he awoke from dreams terrified. She fought back the uncontrollable weeping from pouring out of her, by feeding the rage that was slowly making her nuclear with blood lust. With sweat dripping from her face and the look of death itself in her eyes, she promised to claim his life with her own bare hands.
There was another person involved in this sadistic game, a seated, quiet, and aged man, tentatively placed to the left of the maniacally laughing monster in front of her. She didn’t recognize him, a withered man, bearded with cracks of tiredness littering his stone expression. He was facing her, but his attention seemed to pass through her, and to the lifeless walls that surrounded them. Aron had already assessed the damp poorly lit room for exits, weapons and tactical advantage, however, it was becoming more and more saturated in the smell of blood, and she could not discern from where. The smell reached up her nose and into the back of her mouth, the subtle taste of metallic rust trickled down her throat with every nervous swallow of spit. Her attempts at deducing its origin were being obstructed by the swearing, and spat questions he hurled at her. All animated with the insanity life times of perpetual ruin brings, but to earth’s legend, and once ‘Guardian of Time’, Aron Sherapova the only question that mattered was whose violence would determine the outcome of the unfolding events?
“ISAAC, I’m going to give you one last chance to put Manu down…”
“Put him down?! Why? He’s mine as much as he is yours, maybe more so…plus he likes playing hostage with his father – don’t you son?”
“You’re not his father! I fucking swear to God that I’m going to kill everyone you ever loved Isaac.”
Aron screamed horrifically for her boy’s life, as though hoping that the desperation in her voice could somehow shatter the blade descending onto her weeping son’s chest…
SEVEN YEARS EARLIER
The woman who would be heroin and protector of all things in times to come, was for now, just beginning another day in her somewhat ordinary life.
“I’m going to be late for my client!” It was 7am and Aron was rushing out of her flat in Hackney, which she shared with two other housemates. The spring weather was just beginning to permeate through the atmosphere and the refreshing feeling of a new dawn was cloaking her troubles nicely. Until, she checked her phone – sliding her figures impatiently across the screen she discovered three messages. The first;
Aron just kissed her teeth thinking about how many times she’s told him that Derek is bad news, and that he’ll eventually break his fragile hipster heart. The second a text message from NatWest – ‘You have gone over your agreed limit, please address the balance on your account by 3pm to avoid any un-arranged overdraft fees.’
This was already the second time this month that she’d gone over her account’s limit, and with her gym rent due in a week, it was definitely not going to be the last. The third;
This made her stop dead in the middle of the pavement, only meters from her bus stop. ‘This woman was haggling for a reduced rate like I’m selling fish at a market, talking about how she’s desperate to look great for her wedding, but now she’s already missed the first two sessions of the block!’ She thought to herself, oblivious that the hair now in her face and mouth had been blown there by her bus speeding past. Thankfully, for her, she no longer had the same time constraints around her morning. She didn’t bother replying, spat the hair out of her mouth in contempt and clicked the phone shut, still cursing Becky, and the fact that she had to wake up earlier than necessary under her breath as she strolled towards the bus stop.
When Aron arrived at First Fitness – a company she always felt had delusions of grandeur, she was greeted by one of her least favoured colleagues. This individual’s name was Terrence, and everything from the low hang of his tracksuit bottoms, forever-creased Personal Training t-shirt, and tendency to comment on her body rubbed her the wrong way. Occasionally, she would even daydream about kicking him over a rowing machine. However, in real life she’d never once struck someone for pleasure – play fighting with men twice her size excluded of course. Aron Sherapova as far as she could remember had always spent her spare time playing sports with older boys; she found most of the girls and boys of her age far too fragile. The six-inch ever-present, yet slightly faded scar on her forearm was a reminder of those brutally effervescent days.
After her forced ‘hi, how are you’ to Terrence, and an impotent ‘fine’ response from him, she made her way downstairs towards the staff room. Aron only briefly shifted her focus from her destination, to smile at the gym members she thought were polite and serious about their training. Lazy people always reminded her of the introverted room-mate at the orphanage; who’s company, poor hygiene and incessant complaining she’d endured for years – and thus were shunned from her sphere of acknowledgment, unless she was being paid to do so. In that circumstance, she could feign interest like a world-class lady of leisure.
She opens the staff room door.
“Mon!” Aron shouts gleefully.
“Hey my pretty,” Monique says, with a smile honest and large enough to bring light to the darkest room. Aron sits beside her closest friend, and hugs her firmly as though trying to imprint her affections directly onto Monique’s body. Monique feels the strength of her embrace and asks, “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, just the same old stuff; rent, clients cancelling sessions and a narcissistic house mate who can’t keep his legs closed, or is it butt cheeks?”
“Arrgh, Don’t be nasty” Monique says with a begrudging laugh rattling around in her throat. “Oh yeah, was going to text you last night but, fell asleep swooning over Michael B Jordan, how did therapy go?
“It was okay,” she replies with a pause of uncertainty.
“Do you think he’ll be able to help you remember?”
“No one else has so far, but apparently he has some special way of recovering subjugated repressed memories as he calls it. Sounds like expensive rubbish to me, but I’ve got another appointment at the Leviathan Community Clinic today at 2pm, so lets see.”
“You’re so incredible Ronny. To go through what you have and not be in jail or worse is amazing. Honestly, I hope that if you ever remember your life before that time, it was just a normal beautiful one. You really deserve it.”
“Aww thanks hun; it means a lot to me you saying that.”
“I really mean it, and I know that there are wonderful things in store for you in the future. Maybe even that new PT Sam…”
“You’ll see, I think you two will get along”
Hours pass, in typical fashion – the gym is a rich sea of semi lost individuals hoping to find a system of cardio based effort that will make them thinner than they are. Some exercise professional, navigating those waters as sharks attracted to the scent of misguided sweat and effort, hoping to feed on the insecurities. While others, as coast guards hoping to rescue the unfortunate ones, those seemingly and haplessly drowning in the almost infinite ways to exercise one’s body. Aron, being one of the latter is looking to pick up some new clients during her small reprieves between sessions and teaching classes. However, this was a day where normality of routine was not going to last.
Before it was time for her usual midday power lifting session, her attention was drawn to the ‘front of house’ reception area. In her hawk like periphery vision, she saw the familiar gesticulations of two people arguing. The sounds of their raised voices immediately followed, Aron’s senses were far more attuned to violence than most women, or men of her demographic and her adrenaline began flowing. She saw that the person working at reception was the frail mannered Jessica. Smartly dressed and disarmingly beautiful she may have been, but that was the only situational disarmament her presence was capable of. A true ornament of the corporate hiring practices – brittle and useless. Aron moved towards them instinctively, they were two men dressed like estate agents arguing about, what seemed to Aron’s discerning mind, one person ‘stealing’ the other’s parking spot. Another thing that became clearer as she calmly approached like an animal confident in her camouflage, a concealment born of the localised focus of fight or flight instincts between two posturing males. Is that the taller man with dense fiery orange hair, freckles, and the unique fair-skinned beauty of a mixed raced instagram sensation, was not the aggressor. In fact, the other slightly shorter, less broad-shouldered male was barely holding on to his faculties, as he vomited out the kind of foul language you’d expect in the locker room of the most intellectually diminished Sunday league football team. The amber-haired man was trying to defuse the situation to no avail. Then suddenly recognising that moment before a wild barking dog mauls flesh from bone, Aron explodes forward – discarding the ground beneath her plantar flexed Nike trainers nonchalantly. The force generated by her powerfully sculpted thighs places her almost instantly between the crazed man’s fist and his target – the other gentleman’s perfectly sculpted jaw. Everyone, inside or outside the gym had now stopped what they were doing to observe the commotion, witnessing in silent shock as Aron took the full force of the punch to the side of her face.
After a few awkward seconds, the irrational individual that had just assaulted a First Fitness member of staff appeared immediately sobered up. Like the realisation, that he’d struck a woman had poured ice-cold water over his rage. However, he could have been forgiven for thinking otherwise, as Aron had barely even taken a backward step upon impact, she absorbed his blow like a young Mike Tyson. It would have been very unnerving to anyone not too shocked by the incident to notice, but that was no one, and it went unseen.
“Hey miss are you alright?” the man who’d just been protected by Aron spoke, tapping her on the back of her right shoulder. She didn’t respond straight away. ”I can’t believe you hit a woman! That’s disgusting.” He continued, with a corral of voices in the background agreeing with him. The now neutered animal, stuttered nervously in his response.
“I didn’t mean too, where the hell did she even come from? I swear I wouldn’t fucking hit a chic!” Aron, brushing a portion of her thick long hair from her face, turns to look at the man directly and states clearly,
“You need to leave now.” With almost the whole gym watching, he doesn’t utter a word, instead carries his shame with him as he leaves the premises, tail between his legs.
With the main instigator gone, the crowd disperses like insects at the sight of a raised heel. Jessica was still standing behind the counter in all her inept glory, she watched as Aron turned towards the worried figure in shirt and blazer. When they locked eyes, a world of dark brown and green tinted hazel collided, causing a chain reaction of micro expression in both their flushed faces. Then Aron, felt the spark of something life-altering in grandeur within her flicker as he placed his hand on her shoulder, asking again ‘if she was unhurt’. She smiled softly, it was a slightly awkward movement of lips, as unguarded dainty smiles were unfamiliar currency to her. Aron’s response though, was more typical of her boyish character, “Course I am, he punches like a girl.”
“That’s funny,” he says laughing honestly. Remembering her employee duties she says,
“Anyway, sorry about that sir, do you want to make an official complaint about that member’s behaviour?”
“Nah don’t worry about all that, I have to get back to work anyway, but I would like to get your name please?” He says trying not to sound like an opportunist.
“Of course, take my business card” She picks one out from the PT board by the wall near Jessica, and doing her best not to let on how attracted she was to this polite well spoken man, she places it coolly in his hands. He begins leaving, and just as he is about to disappear into the realm of will he, won’t he call me, she breaks decorum and shouts, “What’s you’re name then?!” Spinning around briskly, he responds with equal energy,