Rope is my friend. It has always been there for me when I need it. The texture of Rope runs through each crevasse of the fingers. The sensation in the moment Rope moves away from the hand has to be repeated to be understood. The surface of rope has begun to soften and short strands of its hair tickle the skin and we laugh together. One of our favourite games is when it ties tight around the thumb and the feeling disappears.
From behind the eyes there is a form. They call it body and Oaky is it’s name. It is outside of me but activates senses that assist me to interact with the world and its objects. It touches the long grass and the grass is lost temporarily in the skin.
It has to keep touching the lacquered soft and oily blades to see if it can feel the moment of separation. It smells things. It listens to things. It brings me places to speak to the unspoken.
Today is warm and the new surroundings have many trees and a lake. The lake is long and narrow. The wind moves over the water and sings through the rushes. It is sitting beside them listening to their elongated and irregular notes. The sun moves slowly but the clouds don’t. They rush past on the way somewhere new. The body rocks back and fort. Rope. Lake. Grass.
The bus is parked near the edge of the lake. Father and that woman are touching and laughing together. His hair is changing colour and silver strands flicker in the sunlight. The woman has been on the bus with us for many changes of the trees. It does not like to be very close to her but her voice is soft and she cooks us food before they leave us for the night. Leaf is playing with her doll and talking to it with pointed fingers. There was a time when we were at one place for a long time. Mother was there then. There was fires and beds and sameness. The path ways through the familiar landscape were memorised for the body to walk slowly in daily ritual of the day before.
Mother would walk alongside and pick flowers for the room with the fire. The flowers would be on the table in the centre of the room and she used to press them into books and put them under our beds.
“Hey Oaky darling will you listen up and promise to look after Leaf tonight”
He nodded back at Marta and kicked the dirt as he walked away.
His sister was the most precious object in his life. She was longhaired and scruffy but to Oaky she was an extension of his body.
This weekend was the last festival of the summer so they said. The nights had started to get cold and the repurposed old bus was beginning to resemble a shipwreck as the wind blew through every orifice. With ‘No Gods, No Masters’ fading on the backside of the bus, Oaky wondered when this trip would end. Before he began his nightly sibling watch he went around the crew campsite to sell the rest of ‘The Supply’. MDMA, Acid, E’s, and newly acquired Mescaline to sell for Ben. People said it made them to see beautiful things. Oaky didn’t understand. He saw lights from the trees, objects that seeped out of music, touch and being touched was either soft as a dandelion or raw and violent as a razor.
He followed the light of the fire to the group at the top of the hill. The group of men were seated, almost rooted into the ground and gently swayed at Oaky as he walked towards them. They patted him on the head as he etched the price of the precious powder on his chalkboard. ‘€50 Gram’
“I’ll give you forty little guy” said the most vocal and rotund of the group.
Oaky stared with his head facing down and walked slowly backwards away from them, tipping the chalkboard with his finger.
“Ok, Ok, €50 then” Oaky took the money and smiled.
As he walked away he heard the men laugh and crackle and the shadows from the fire paved his path through the field home.
He knew Ben to be his biological father, because he repeatedly informed him of his blood being his “You’re my flesh and bones little man, and don’t forget it” was his favourite one liner after he returned home from his wanderings. Ben would hold him so tight that his body would tingle and relocate for hours after. He briefly liked him from these close encounters and would sniff his clothes to remind him of her oily, musty smell.
Upon return Marta is boiling potatoes on the hob and the bus is filled with warm and starchy steam. She looks like a beautiful still life amidst the cloud as she watches the pot and prods the potatoes with the fork. She is dressed in her ‘dancing’ clothes and oaky admires the vibrant colours and mismatched patterns.
Marta was a model before she met Ben. She got a lot amateur photo-shoots by sleazy photographers. Her only flaw for that industry was her breasts were oversized for her tall and slender frame, making it difficult for clothes to fall off her body the way they wanted.
The weather was surprising dry and hot for the West of Ireland, so she matched her outfit appropriately to the climate and sported her neon green bikini, matching spandex leggings, and every bit of jewellery she owned. The festival was called ‘Galaxy’ and she thought this the most grandiose and worst name she had heard so far this year.
Oaky sits with Leaf assisting her in brushing her hair. She is 3 now and looks to Oaky for help in all daily tasks. Leaf’s big eyes tighten and she points to Oaky for help with getting her down from the window seat.
He takes her by the hand and head off on their evening walk before supper. The warm day has left a citrus smell coming from the ground and brother and sister go towards the woods to play their favourite game. Rope and branch swings.
Oaky does not speak. He is not sure if he can, he never tried.
(c) Ciara Scanlan