Tales From The Front -- No. 43
The nurse brought round the medicine trolley. The patients shuffled towards her, all except Tom. No, he had had enough. He hated the pills, all they did was to make him sleepy. He didn't need them. He didn't need to be here. There was nothing wrong with him. He was a prisoner.
He turned sharply, walked briskly down the corridor, and slipped out a side door. He blinked in the sun, then broke into a run, jumped over a hedge and down the farm track. He was free, free. The dark, dead, dreary ward was a memory.
He continued running until he collapsed against a stile, breathless, a broad smile escaping from his lips. A lark soared high in the sky; he followed it with his mind. He noticed a rabbit dart into the undergrowth, its white tail glistening in the sunlight. The tops of the trees swayed in the gentle breeze. All was movement, life. He breathed it all in deeply.
Of course they would come looking for him, but he didn't care, not at this moment, this precious moment.
It is winter.
In my breast it is winter too.
Icicles live where once beat my heart.
I do not long for spring,
Winter suits me.
Its coldness is bracing, awakening.
It numbs the pain.
Love caused this pain.
I now stand aloof from love,
What need have I for it.
The ice forms patterns on my window.
Beautiful geometric ordered patterns,
A true mathematical beauty.
What need have I for the false beauty of her eyes,
I lay on my bed to sleep.
No more will I lose myself in dreams.
I sleep the sleep of death,
Stillness, ice, ice, death.
Ice is stillness, solid, unyielding.
Frozen water, frozen tears.
H.R.H. Princess Diana, R.I.P.
You externalised your pain and suffering,
You talked about it openly,
You hid behind no mask.
That was your cure.
And for that you were loved.
You showed that those who were at the top
Were also weak and frail.
That was your strength.
And for that you were loved.
With your suffering,
You identified with those too who suffered:
The deprived, the lonely, the outcast.
That was your joy.
And for that you were deeply loved.
You changed the world in your life.
You changed the world in your death.
You proved to the world, once again,
That love is the greatest force in the Universe,
Has the greatest magnetism,
Can sway even Kings and Queens,
Can topple the proud,
Only your own.
That was your triumph.
And for that you became great,
A part of History,
Never to be forgotten.
A neighbour often stops me in the street.
He always asks if I have found a job yet.
I always tell him that I suffer from bad nerves and depression,
That I cannot take stress,
That the doctor doesn't want me to work.
He often sees me with a broad smile on my face,
Dashing about somewhere or other.
He is always polite and friendly towards me,
But I'm sure that underneath
He thinks that I am a scrounger, a malingerer, a fraud.
Do I tell him that voices tell me to write and do strange things?
That I see Angels hovering above the Mind Café,
The Community Centre,
And the Mental Health Day Centre.
That I see devils sitting on the roof of the Job Centre,
The Social Security Office and the Town Hall.
That a short while ago I thought I was MichelAngelo;
Last year it was William Blake.
Do I tell him that two winters ago
Things got so bad that I tried to take my own life?
Do I tell him that I suffer from Schizophrenia?
Or is it safer and wiser perhaps to allow him to think bad of me?
Leonardo da Vinci.
(Also known as John Exell).
John Exell: Male, aged 51, single, no dependents, born 2am, 16th February 1949, failed architect, successful schizophrenic. Artist, poet, writer, sculptor, green, philosopher, mystic. Retired on state sickness benefit. Lives in outer suburb of London, UK.
Melissa Marino Shayne Walls David Ruslander Peter Timusk John Exell