One ink drawing by Laura Morgans, one piece of writing by Tom Spooner, every day in October.
You can find adventure everywhere – you only need to be open to it.
When you’re next walking to the shop, take the other path: the one with the brambles and the graffiti. You might not be certain where it leads, but you know at least that it is different.
Set an alarm for 4 am and find a hill to climb. Watch the sun rise and the normal world wake-up, knowing that today you’re not one of them.
When you’re waiting in a queue, speak to the person next to you. Try and find out what makes them remarkable. Maybe let them know something remarkable about you.
When a new experience is offered to you, say yes. Try that strange food; get on that bicycle, bus, train or plane; introduce yourself to that person that makes you feel strange inside; swim in that lake; find that waterfall; explore those woods; count the stars; lose your way; make art, make music; sleep outside; be scared, be brave. Say yes.
Dance at all opportunities and sing often. Dance naked in the rain, in the kitchen, in the street. With others or alone. In the shower or the park, dance and sing as much as you can.
Wear what you want, not what others want you to wear. Bright colours or all black, a hat or a wig, a shirt or a skirt – it doesn’t matter. Wear it proudly.
Speak your mind – silence is not an adventure. Read books. Google doesn’t have all the answers and screens aren’t the best way of seeing things. Imagine ways, better ways. Dream.
Avoid meanness. Ignore the crowd. Feed your mind.
Break the rules, make mistakes, don’t follow advice, choose your own adventure. Never ever settle for something when you can be certain of the outcome.
There once was a raindrop that lived at the end of a leaf.
It lived there for many years, neither evaporating in the heat of the summer sun nor joining its kin when the sky turned black and hammered down upon the earth.
The raindrop was plump.
The raindrop was content.
In winter, when the cold grew sharp and unkind, the raindrop and the leaf were softer and far kinder.
It never occurred to the raindrop to fall and feel what is was like to do so. And the leaf didn’t want to see it go either.
The wind blew and the branches bent.
The birds came and the branches bent.
The squirrels danced and the branches bent.
The branches bent often, but for the leaf and the raindrop that lived at the end of it, it didn’t mind much at all.
The café was loud, unashamedly so. Crockery smashed together in washing up bowls, accounting for the chips on the plates that were so regular it looked like part of the design. Chefs barked orders out of hairy faces, slick with grease. The radio provided a constant beat. Waitresses dialled up their nasal tones to pierce the din, asking whether it was brown or white toast you wanted, a pot or a mug of tea. Toddlers bashed toys against walls and windows as new mums gossiped aimlessly in their exhaustion. The other customers had no choice but to raise their voices to be heard over the cacophony, simultaneously contributing to it.
The noise bounced around wildly in the confines of that one room, an agitated tiger in a cage, particles in a solid soon to become liquid. There was movement too: a constant fluttering, occasional flapping. Hand movements to illustrate drama or emphasise a point, the scratching of orders into paper, the hauling of babes into arms.
To look from the outside in, through the steamed windows, was to witness chaos. To open the door and enter was to experience it.
In the middle of the cafe, she sat – a beacon of complete stillness and calm. In her immediate vicinity, movement seemed to slow and acquire grace. Waitresses became ballerinas, groups of old ladies with arms interlocked glided like ice-skaters, builders in hi-vis jackets floated by like gondola pilots.
Soundwaves seemed to split at her swan-like neck, an eddy formed like a rock in a stream. She was stillness in the chaos until she started to scream.
He removes an apple from the carrier bag on the wall. It is blemished, but he is fine with this. All the apples in the bag are this way – scarred and scabbed, scratched and spotted. It is no wonder really, given that they have grown on trees a stone’s throw from where he stands. For weeks on end, they have been exposed to the elements and at the mercy of bugs and birds and more besides.
The first bite is overwhelming. It is sweet, juicy and crisp – the flavour bursts from every perforated cell in Technicolour. It is everything an apple should be and more. He wonders if he feels this way because the apple was free. No, not free, but a gift: from nature, from the apple tree owner. It has something to do with it, he thinks, but not everything. In itself it really is one of the most delicious tasting apples he can remember eating.
He takes a final large bite before the structural integrity starts to fail. It becomes necessary to employ his two front teeth. He tears at the core, stripping flesh from around the pips and stalk with a combination of precision and relish.
Once he is satisfied that he has eaten as much of the apple as possible, he tosses what remains high up on to the steep banks beneath the railway track. He feels better. A train goes by and he waves as it rushes into the future.
The motorway was quiet as she drove away from that wretched town. She knew that she was never going back there and it felt good.
She turned off the radio to listen to the mechanical rhythm of the car and the rasping hum of the tarmac. It was soothing, recalling long drives with her father where she’d sleep in the front seat nestled into one of his jumpers. She opened the window and allowed the cold wind to buffet her into something approaching alertness.
The moon filled her rearview mirror. It was low in the sky and larger than she had ever seen it. Despite its beauty, it made her nervous like something was up with the world. It was the same uneasiness that she felt on hearing the first unexpected clap of thunder in a storm.
It filled the road now, balancing on its curve. She had the impression that you would be able to drive right into the centre of the moon and that it would explode into a million silver shards.
At the next junction she exited, went round the roundabout and back onto the motorway. She was now driving directly towards the moon. She could make out the craters and seas as if through a telescope. There were still no cars on the road and the only light was from the moon. She pressed her foot onto the accelerator.
It was bigger now, impossibly so, and she was convinced that it wasn’t real. It was an illusion. She drove faster.
There was darkness. The moon had disappeared completely and the world was black without it. She carried on driving.
After a few minutes, a light flickered on the horizon and the darkness was incomplete. The light came from an illuminated sign: ‘Welcome to our town. Please drive carefully.’
The house was full of creaks. The floorboards constantly groaned in memory of those that trod them and in anticipation of their return. The walls grumbled too.A sign of white painted wood reads: ‘Love Makes The World Go Round’. It hangs in the hallway. On a small table, where a telephone once rested, is an elongated porcelain head – the kind you might find in a Thai temple or, more often, a Thai restaurant – alongside it is a large candle with three unlit wicks.The carpet in the living room is thick and spongy. Net curtains allow a strange half-light, like the start of a new day or the end of a dream, to linger in the room. In the hearth is a wicker basket containing fir cones and faded fabric holly branches.
In the carpet, Ms Abigail’s chubby painted toes, cherry red nail polish and clotted cream flesh, are clawing at the ivory shag.
It is a habit that she had developed over the months.
In the early afternoons, in between naps, she finds herself pursuing it in earnest. It verges on the pleasurable, but it is altogether too automatic to be considered in that way. She is working through a book of word searches with a small blue pen, half-inched from a bookies by someone that was not her. The pen is made smaller by the sausage-plumpness of her fingers.
‘litmuspaper’ – she circles the words with pride before going off in search of ‘bunsenburner’. The gold carriage clock strikes four pm.
‘Two more words and I best be off,” Ms Abigail thinks to herself. ‘noblegas’ She chews at the end of the pen and allows her eyes to lose focus slightly, and the patterns in the letters to emerge. ‘pipette’. She smiles.
Wiping the spittle from the pen on her cardigan, she stands up and looks around. The living room is nice. There’s a few things she’d change, but the overwhelming feeling is one of niceness. She squeezes the shag of the carpet with her toes one final time, folds the puzzle book and returns it to the magazine rack, and plumps the cushion on which she had been sat.
Ms Abigail leaves the house and places the key back under the plant pot. She takes care to put it in the same position that she saw the husband hide it all the way back in November. He’d be coming home from work soon. ‘Best not to be caught red-handed as it were,’ she thought to herself, quickening her pace to a shuffle as she headed home.
‘We’re like ducks, us three, heading south for the winter,” said Glenda, trying to catch the eye of a man to help put her case in the rack.
Carol nodded, dumping three tinfoil parcels onto the table, followed quickly by a homemade and pre-buttered malt loaf, wrapped tightly in clingfilm.
“Silly ducks is what we are,” cackled Moira, slamming down a tube of Pringles, and throwing herself towards a window seat.
A young man wearing headphones, silently lifted the bag into the racking above the table as the train left Stoke station. The three women thanked him in unison, extra loudly so he would hear above his music.
Bournemouth was several hours away, but time didn’t matter. With each minute that passed, the three of them grew younger and sillier. Each town between Staffordshire and Dorset marked another year off.
By the time the train pulled into Bournemouth station, their faces had tightened and many wrinkles had disappeared, their eyes twinkled like the midday sun caught in a lake, and their sides ached from laughing.
Now, where did three ducks go to spread their wings and ruffle some feathers?
If you enjoyed this please check out our Inktober from 2016.