Creative Writing – The Past

Here is another great example of writing from the creative writing courses here at WMC. This is a piece by Sebastian Kola Bankole titled “The Past”

The Past

I shuffle out of the building, my pace at odds with my thoughts. It’s already dark but unseasonably warm for mid-November and as I head up towards Charing Cross Road, not even the pedestrians, armed with the most dangerous of weapons – a mobile phone – can dampen my exhilaration. I pause under the alcove of a restaurant and fumble in my coat pocket for my phone. I fire off a tweet – “The past is the foundation to our psyche.” Ne’er have truer words been said. #switzerland #patriciahighsmith #longlivethomasripley

 

I pocket my phone with a smirk and amble towards Tottenham Court Road station. I had known little about the play so had devoured the programme before it started. It was a one-hander about Patricia Highsmith, a writer of whose body of work I knew almost nothing, except that one novel was adapted into a movie starring Matt Damon. I was surprised to learn people had described her, almost universally, as unlikeable. She had endured an abusive childhood but boasted that it was what made her a good writer. The trade-off, one she gladly and unashamedly accepted, was that it also made her a bitch – her words. That certainly came through in the incredible performance of the lead actress, the one from Downton Abbey… Mrs Crawley? 

 

And then there was that line, the one that hit me like a freight train. Why did it stir me so; it was not even a novel idea! It’s precisely why I lie on my back five times a week, whining about my childhood to Misha. But there was something about how she phrased those words that really ignited something within me. I hadn’t felt like this for a while and couldn’t wait to explore this with Misha tomorrow. It’s funny how the strangest things can rekindle your desire to live.

 

I now realise I have walked past the station and am sweating under this heavy coat. I stop to take it off and a woman pushing a toddler in his pram, on her phone, almost knocks into me. She continues past but the boy drops his ball and it rolls onto the side of the road.

 

“Excuse me, you dropped something!”

 

She carries on, oblivious to my (and his) cries so I limp to the kerb and seeing no headlights, I step off to pick it up. The last things my eyes see is a bicycle wheel which, in a slow arc, transforms into a beautiful view of the night sky. And as I lie on my back, I also see myself. I am eight or nine, in the backseat of the old Toyota, leaning between the front seats and listening, for the millionth time, to Mum’s story about how I’d always loved to read. And once, as she drove past a billboard for Maggi cubes, five-year-old me had asked, “Mum, what is maggie cob-ez?” We both bellow in laughter. It’s funny how the past stays with you right until the very end.

 

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