I read. I read other people’s stories. I often start reading other people’s stories, get drawn into their worlds, their experiences, their love and pain. I feel their pain. I often move onto the next story before the end of their story.
I write. I write stories, relive my experience through characters. My characters live sometimes fantastical, desperate, lonely lives. I am not lonely. I am a little lost but aren’t we all? I have someone to get lost with. We walk the road, hand in hand, knowing wherever it takes us, we are still holding hands. She holds my hand because she wants to see where the road takes us. None of us know the destination, the goal, the final outcome. That’s why the walk is good. It’s maybe why I don’t run. That and a certainty that I’m not designed for running. My feet hit the ground too heavily. My legs concentrate on moving me around at a speed I can cope with. I’m a quick walker, always have been. An efficient walker. But never a runner. I hated running at school. I loved rugby and cricket but that required balls, of differing shapes and dimensions. I don’t know if I shall ever be a runner. I know I’m too old for cricket and rugby and was never very good at either. But the balls made all the difference. Maybe that is another unfinished story. The road to becoming a runner?
Our lives often pan out as unfinished stories. There is rarely an ending. When we die the story doesn’t end. We take our loved ones with us to find a new story. My ghosts are always with me. Their force diminishes over the years but stays with me. It makes us what we are. They stopped walking or running but the connection with them keeps on going. The final stage of the grieving process is acceptance. Being able to see the loved one as they were. Not someone to idealise, to venerate, to worship. They had flaws. They would be angry, argumentative, selfish, sad. They loved, smiled, laughed, made you happy.
The story however doesn’t end. I take their stories with me. You carry other people’s stories with you. You carry their love around with you everyday. We all have enough space to accommodate the stories.
My last novel was about ghosts. Why should only the lost, the hurt be ghosts? If ghosts exist then every dead person should have a ghost. Every animal should have one. Every organism that has ever existed on earth still exists today. Their atoms have dispersed and exist in another form now. I sit in my room surrounded by the atoms of a million blades of grass, thousands of birds, animals and other plants. Every one of those had stories. The humans may well have read other people’s stories too. May have not always finished them before moving onto the next one. Surely we should learn to appreciate the continuity of the road rather than the destination. ‘Are we there yet?’ isn’t a question that we should really be asking?
I hope you read my stories. I hope you enjoy them enough to read to the last page but I understand if you don’t. I could never finish Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky because it was so desperate. I’m sure The author has forgiven me. He is probably watching me write. Or at least an atom of him is.