“The thing about stories, especially true stories – and let’s face it, there’s really no such thing… as fiction – is that every time you tell a particular story, you tell it differently. You remember different parts, and you relate them in a slightly different order. And you forget other parts. And every time an audience hears a story, they hear it differently. And every person in that audience hears it differently… at the same… time.”
So she’s telling this story, and there’s this music playing, and I’m listening to this story and watching the bed of sound it’s lying in moving around like water in the wind, and everyone around me is listening to the same story. Except it isn’t the same story. It’s a different story to each person, and none of them has ever heard it before. Even those that have.
And that’s a lot of stories. Kinda like stars. Stories are like stars – you never quite know if they’re real or not. Or how old they are. Or where they came from and how many there are. But you know it would be really, really dark if they weren’t there.
And you’d get lost more easily.
You know how it is. You get up one day, for no particular reason, and you start to travel. Backwards, towards the future. And you look over your shoulder, or out of the window, and you’re looking around for signs, for memory triggers, for something to tell you which way you need to go. To remind you that you’ve been here before. But today you can feel there’s something wrong. Something is missing, and all the things around you, the pictures and the words you see every day are suddenly unfamiliar. It’s too, too dark, and it’s too quiet.
There’s an emptiness you can feel. Are you moving through time – or space? Anyway, you look around, out of the car window, or the spacecraft, or the kitchen table you’re sitting around with your friends and old relatives you haven’t seen for years, and no-one is saying… anything. No-one has any idea where they are, or who you are, or why they are there. They are all lost, and broken, and silent. Like old photographs.
And then you realise what’s missing. There are no stars. The stars just…aren’t.. there. And it’s quiet, and it’s because there are no stories.
A discordant violin thunders past, like the only truck that’s passed you on the highway for like, the last seven hours. The air around you stumbles for a moment and then recovers itself, swaying again, notes moving within it like a kelp forest.
And then a voice says “Hi”, like as if you’ve just woken up after a post-operative, impenetrable sleep. Like as if you’ve just arrived somewhere.
“It’s really good to see you. Y’know, I was kind of expecting you. But it’s been a long, long time…”
And this is the time.
And this is my record of that time