Pearced - By H. Ryder

Part one:

The bit before chapter one, last Thursday: 17thoctober2013, 4pm

There's an old Chinese proverb that says: ‘the nail that sticks up, gets hammered down.’ People seem to like uniformity in behaviour and appearance, it makes them comfortable somehow, well, I have my own proverb: ‘let them try.’ Nonconformists like me relish our difference, we feel sorry for the masses who flock together, because they lack imagination.

The story that follows is an account of a young woman journeying through life in the way normal people do, without plan or thought. But with strong instinct and creativity to live life extraordinarily, a life lesson?

Dear reader, it's time to put the kettle on.

“Write drunk, edit sober” Hemingway. Good advice.

Bloody phone.

Note to self, learn to ignore inanimate objects, it's the vibration, I must respond, I’m only human (and a woman).

HC: “Aaaarrrgh!” That’s about right.

TC: “Hung-over?” You should be.

HC: “No, it’s wine flu” stupid boy.

Another note to self, Henry is inanimate.

It’s October bright, very bright, the sun is hot on my face, but like ice in shadow, a still and a sharp type of cold that permeates inside. The air is quiet, my brain is not. My favourite time of year, I like the contradictory nature of autumn. The sky is a deep Mediterranean turquoise blue, without any white vapour spoiling its perfection, paler at the horizon ombreing into a deeper blue as it rises into the lower atmosphere. Half the moon is visible, with its craters, mountains and shadows adding texture to the part circle.

A vibration alerts me to an incoming message:

PF: “Good luck today” that’s nice.

TC: “On my way” can’t type well whilst I’m going along.

PF: “Good, try to concentrate” cheeky bugger.

TC: “The cheek!” Indeed.

PF: “Friends can be that way T, it’s our job” true story.

TC: “See you later” you betcha.

PF: “Did you at least remember to brush your hair?” Not you too, traitor.

TC: “Shame you can’t see what finger I’m holding up! Love you Tx” I’m so amusing.

My phone goes away, on silent.

As I look up my cab is turning another corner taking me further into a maze of back streets, all looking strangely familiar, as the last street we turned into looked exactly like this one. As if we were driving some sort of weird temporal loop, like a déjà vu. If I had any sense of direction at all I would be completely lost, but I don’t, so it doesn't concern me when I glance around I recognise nothing, it's a feeling I’m well used to.

Another vibration, when did I become a slave to my phone?

EC: “I don’t hear from you in weeks” here we go.

TC: “Sorry Mum, I’ve been busy” true story.

EC: “Always busy, will I see you soon? …She asks herself fully knowing the answer…”

Note to self, make time to see Mum.

TC: “Mum, I’ll call you later” hope I don’t forget.

EC: “I’ll not hold my breath” she knows what I’m like.

Deep sigh, phone away, note to self: call Mum.

The area is closed, very closed, Ennio Morricone is playing in my head as I imagine an urban version of a tumble weed blowing and rolling down the street, which would be a crisp bag or chip paper, but there is nothing here at all. Shut away curry houses, a key cutting narrow frontage and take away shops, metal grilles and security fascia’s. Narrow, clean streets. Someone looks after this deserted neighbourhood. And that feels odd to me, my brain hums, a disquiet, it's not happy at juxtapositions or odd contradictions.

I apply some lip balm, it's a calming mechanism, plus it makes my lips soft and kissable. Who am I kidding, I’m single.

Who am I talking to when I do that? Mum's right, I am weird.

Is this the right place? I wonder as I stare hard out of the cab window. I check the address I have been given saved in my iPhone, twice, check the GPS too and we're right on top of it. My black cab pulls over. It looks like an unlikely place for any business that doesn't fix old cars and in all likelihood hasn't fixed anything in years. Large fronted metal shuttered doors, padlocked shut as if no one had any cars to be fixed today. The padlock is shiny and galvanised, large and new, not rusty and breakable, that's the tell someone is paying attention, on the lookout, it's a fake kind of old film set where it seems like one thing, but on closer examination it’s something entirely different. There’s a camera set high