Alpha test; the Spaces Between Silence

A quick alpha write up for something I thought up last night when I went into the woods to burn stuff. Its not weird, you’re weird. As I said, it’s an alpha, so it’s pretty much guaranteed shit. I’ll do the initial edit tomorrow, sort out the grammar, the spelling and the structure, etc.

Read it, comment, whatever.

The men met on Mondays. There was no set time to start the meeting but it always ended in darkness. Sometimes they brought little bags of food or beer, but they were not a requirement. The first one there would light the fire and by the time the third or fourth had arrived it would be filling the clearing with smoke.

It was never a big fire. Simply big enough.

Everyone in the town knew about the meeting. They thought of it as a kind of club. A group. A team. Something a few of the men did, but not anything that they wanted to know more about, like Morris Dancing.

There were some that thought that any meeting of men was suspicious. They had called the police. There had been an investigation. The local force had decided that, whilst lighting a fire in a wood was illegal, what the men were doing wasn’t wrong, so left them alone.

And so, every Monday, when the air smelled chill, the men would kiss their loved ones goodbye and head out into the woods. They would wear simple boots and old clothes that stank of smoke from previous meetings and still bore flecks of mud from the short trek up the muddy paths.

They would greet each other with short, but warm, smiles and seat themselves on logs and crude benches. They would watch the fire and listen to its low mutter. When the flames started to burn low, one or two of them would get up and gather some more wood and gently feed the blaze.

There would be good natured ribbing. Once in a while, during the wetter seasons, someone would forget their coat and the men, should they be called friends at this point, would chuckle and smile as the fool shivered and cursed. They would laugh at anyone who burnt his hand, but it was never a malicious humour. There was nothing malicious about the group at all.

Sometimes, wives and girlfriends would come to see what happened at the meetings. They would talk and talk and eventually go. It wasn’t that they were not welcome. The men simply didn’t welcome what they brought with them.

There was no purpose to the club. No goal. Just to be. That could perhaps be called the club’s goal. Simply to be.

The men sat and watched the fire, each one alone inside his own thoughts, concentrating on nothing, just listening to the spaces between the silence.

When they felt safe the men would speak. Sometimes it was just to have a noise other than the ugly mutter of the fire. They would mention the Rugby or the Football. They might say what they had eaten for tea or what their wife had said.

But that was not what needed to be said.

The men stared into the fire and spoke to fill in the spaces between the silence.

James told them how he had felt the day he held his baby girl for the first time. The hot dizzy pain of his joy. The feeling that nothing could ever move him like the touch of her hand on his. Then the fear had come. What the world could do to her. What life would do. How he knew he’d never be able to help her with every hardship she would face. He had cried and no one had shamed him for it.

The men sat and watched the fire and listened to the spaces between the silences.

Colin told them about losing his job when he was young. He had been a policeman. One day someone had made a complaint and he had been investigated. He wasn’t a bad man but they had let him go. He had had a mental breakdown and been forced to rely on his young wife’s wages to pay the rent. He had never been able to rid himself of the fear that had left him with.

The men sat and watched the fire and listened to the spaces between the silence.

Tim told them he felt angry, but he didn’t know why. He wanted it to go. He wanted to be able to control himself. He wanted to be normal like the other men.

The men watched the fire and smiled sadly, some patting Tim on the back. Come back next week they told him.

The night went on and the men sat, listening to the silence and watching the fire, letting it take them away from themselves.

 

 

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