The Firth of Forth

In the morning it was darker than we remembered it—Lily called out to Alexa three times to change the alarm, and I went downstairs to start the coffee, to check my phone. My vision was bad from the bug that flew in my eye the day before, and I dreaded the idea of going to a clinic, it reminded me of an eyelash I got wedged in a tear duct canal in college that a nurse practitioner tried to help me with, by way of an ointment for the inner lid to keep it from getting infected: but it was a time of frequent marijuana use for me and ended poorly with a trip to the ER; it flared up red, the doctor with a tool like a hook prying it out, like a dental hygienist’s pick to scrape out the plaque, it gave me a profound eye sensitivity and fear of contact lenses, of eye drops.

I stayed up late waiting for the storm to come but it never did; I sat by the fire outside in the dark watching the last log hiss and crack, an almost breaking glass sound as the coals flaked off, like the scales on a dragon’s breast they glowed, amber-gold. The Mines of Moria, the awful hell of Mordor, a soft whisper, the ringwraiths ride in black.

The sound of a frog crying out in the darkness for reasons I’ll never know, its existential angst…the kids drove me up a wall over dinner for no good reason so I sat with my feet waving them over the fire—and the trees looked like Japanese paper cutouts: I wondered if they were gone, would anyone notice them on their own, as individuals (collectively, they were just “the trees”). And it wasn’t long before a gust kicked up and came through to make a deep rushing sound, a death rattle. I’d forget about the bug in my eye and rub it and then it would all go up in flames again: amazing, how something in the eye so small can feel the size of a basketball.

They drove me up a wall over dinner—Charlotte, smacking her lips and Lily, talking with her mouth full. Just the very fact it felt like years (years!) I’d been asking/telling them to behave right at dinner and still, they wouldn’t—and I couldn’t accept that maybe their behavior was my fault somehow, that paradoxically, their refusal to behave mapped back to me in some bizarro, fucked-up way where my kids’ sins manifest my own, made them so. My inability to accept them was deforming, distancing me.

The pine needles fell like snow when the wind came. The clouds in the morning reminded me of Scotland, arriving this time of year when we drove across the UK for three months. Driving north from Newcastle across the Firth of Forth, to Arbroath. The rain cold and hard with the wind at the cottage, and the owners apologizing about it but we didn’t mind, it’s what we expected. All we had was time.

Dawn took the girls to their dance lessons and I sat on the sofa writing: the bistro lights came on just now, and it’s only 6.

Categories: musings, parenting, travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. You should dress the kids in greens and golds and imagine they are Hobbits. Might make for a merrier meal as they smack their lips and hoist their grog and such. Don’t let them stare too long into the orb of Alexa though. There lies great evil.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Have you read The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta? Half the planet randomly disappears. It’s never explained. My theory is that at that particular moment, the ones who remained were indulging secret wishes that a loved one would just get lost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha that’s hysterical, “get lost.” You’ve mentioned Tom to me before I think. Reading one of Kevin Brennan’s books now. I like it’s never explained, that’s good.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Little Children is probably my favourite of his, though looking forward to his latest. Reading Elizabeth Costello by J. M. Coetzee, who is always a bit of a slog but full of ideas.


  3. I can see that defiant lip-smacking, that it would get to you. Kids find your soft spots to exploit. I do this thing where I pop at my cheek with a finger and it sounds like dripping water, and my wife hates it. She’s the adult in the room.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your eye story made my toes curl. Ghastly. I hate eye stuff. Have you ever seen ‘A Clockwork Orange?’

    I wish I’d been to Scotland so I could be reminded of it.


    • I’ve seen Clockwork Orange but blocked most of it in my memory. I think there was an eye thing there I don’t want to remember. You should go to Scotland still, and do a beer can chicken on a Weber grill if you can find one there.


  5. the eye part freaked me out and now i can’t ‘unread’ it! )

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yep. Kids are wonderful, aren’t they? Had a conversation with a friend a couple of days ago. She has a nine-year-old. We discussed how amazing it is that you can have the same conversation on almost a daily basis with a kid about why they shouldn’t do something or behave in a certain matter. And do it all over again the next day. And the next. And …


    • I know that conversation. But I’m also a project manager so I’m used to repetition and follow-up, and people pretending they didn’t hear you right the first 500 times. My wife said “speak to adults like they’re kids, and kids like they’re adults and you’ll do just fine.”


  7. Genesis, Zepp Ringwraiths, an eyeful of pain and bad table manners. Wherefrom the inspiration? Tolkien vinyl?
    The death rattle wind is fabulous.


    • I tried to get my engine going again last week, so to speak: the creative thing, by posting more and trying to commit to it, to “FEEL IT,” man. So, I’ve kind of forgotten what they were about or the inspiration…I write and try to keep filling the pipeline, going forward. Glad you liked the death rattle sound; I really love the sounds of fall. You know, you and me a bit “sonic,” right?! Cheers Bruce.

      Liked by 1 person

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