Girl Half Empty

//What an odd thing a diary is: the things you omit are more important than those you put in//
- Simone de Beauvoir
/June winner of the diary competition/


32. //we cross and re-cross our tracks like figure skaters//

25th September

The clouds are space-barred with puddles of blue but, where they manifest themselves, they are grey and throaty. They amass like dust on glass shelving. The sun splices around them, unsure whether to paint its dying rays gold or purple. We shoot backwards over tracks that lie hiccupping and I’ve never loved anywhere as much as I’ve loved the place I’m headed – the place I’m scared to greet. Too many years have been slipped into me since I last saw it – too much erosion – and I fear the Cornwall will find me altered beyond repair. It will bar my entry to its old-time happiness. Equally I fear the alternative; I fear getting knitted into it and being incapable of terminating my weekend visit.

As the sun grows shorter and Cornwall edges closer by degrees, I observe Friday night on the west-bound railway: A boy with crossed eyes discusses the chili his mum’s made. It’s going to have chili things in it. She pats his cheek. The college students play hopscotch with the town stations until they become too strung out to jump between. And couples who don’t know that September means school desks are creeping out the back door with suitcases fat with promises. A girl with a Barbie doll climbs over her father. I imagine him surfing. I imagine her sofa-surfing between parents. But I’m jealous because I want my own dad and I want to be Barbie-doll-age.

Soil is purple. Harvest wheat is gold. I love the way sunshine looks when it washes down the rain. Furrowed fields pass me quick like droplets on a window. Coppices are maroon-green and marooned between railways and pylon lines. Sheep graze and do not dream of Cornwall. I do.

The clouds drop out one by one to leave a dusk-fogged smeary horizon and an almost-round moon that appears to be gaining on us as we run from it. The cattle begin to outnumber the houses and I wonder why everyone else on this island seems to have so much more space than we do in our corner of it. England reminds me that it was cavernous once upon time and that now it is expansive like a rubber balloon. This September evening chooses to inflate it for me. Even the shadows hove elastic fingers. The sun sets on Somerset in the same melted shade and form as the Toffee Penny left in the chocolate box. It tans my skin bronzy through the train window and we curve round to fall briefly beneath its eye.

A village one house deep tacks the hem of a canal and I want to know how long the stitches hold but, when we resurface from the hedgerows, all the threads are gone.

There’s nothing but powdered trees and magpies wheeling over the gold the evening put there.

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