Life in degrees is a personal poetry and occasional short story blog .
Life is seen in many different ways or degrees and with the help of poetry, stories, music and art we may view it from many perspectives.
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Penance


Penance         
Sitting in the acrid carriage going nowhere, but seeing everything, passing through anonymous towns and tired countryside preparing for its winter rest. The constant chatter of metal on metal mixed up with speed. This is where my dues must be employed, my lesson to begin, before I can transpire any further.
I sit on the firm prickly seat, my senses not yet numb, my hands are clasped nervously in my lap, and I scan the capsule for my subjects. Midday and the carriage is half empty the occasional cough or screech my only distraction from the constant rhythmic clatter.
I start, the man sitting, grey and sombre. Giving the world the impression of stability and comfortable success. He is my first candidate.I start, I search, deep, there it is! The deceit, the shame, as he grapples with his mandatory briefcase, the only paperwork being County Court notices and a repossession order for his house.
He thinks the same stinking carriage, thoughts of his wife overwhelm him once more, poor Samantha unaware of the lie he's been living for the past three months, the same journey he's taken every day, all day. Riding up and down, down and up all day, every day and his thoughts screaming, he thinks there is only one way.
I can feel his torment, his anguish, I want to scream out no! But I know he won't hear me. I leave him with his inner turmoil, his fate already decided.
A joyful playful screech attracts me towards my next selection, a mother, well-groomed and so patient and loving towards her charges, the love can be felt in every corner of the carriage.I start I go in deep, this one I think is going to be easy, the love mixed in with fear, red fluid fear sometimes running over the love, smothering it out.I go her thoughts, thoughts of her children, desperate thoughts, crying, pleading thoughts, don't take these two, let me keep these two Sam and Joe, the anger building, the thoughts screaming, why did you take Mark? He'd done no harm, he'd hardly knew life. Her anger reaches its crescendo, I needed him, and he needed me. How could you take him from me? The pain, stabbing hurting. Sam and Joe squeal in delight, the pain subsides, the fear melts the warmth of love seeps in consuming the fear, the constant torment the mother knows.I feel twisting within, tightening, clasping my very being. I feel her pain!
I know I must go on,I know I have to go on to my next candidate. The next is a youth, he is dressed in compulsory jeans, the latest over sized Manchester United shirt and dog-eared trainers. I look in to his dark sunken eyes, I start, not too deep, its started, the passion, must get more, need it, must get it, the thoughts are scrambled and frantic. Must, must Ill die, need feeding, need money, see old Mrs Jones, the old figurine must be worth money, she don't need it. The old bat won't miss it, must visit today, now, need it in my veins, need it in my veins now! Stop the cramps, cramps in my stomach. The need, the hunger sends me gasping, reeling, the train grinds to a sudden halt, the doors open, he runs, escapes down the platform to live out his sub-assisted life created by his own curiosity.
I must go on, the pain is building, the guilt piling on, getting heavy. Two more to go, I look for the easy option, the lady opposite, her hands deformed through age, her skin clinging to her every muscle fibre, the elasticity no longer as effective.I go in through her eyes, old eyes that hold a twinkle and promises of the past; this one I know is going to be easy. I enter. The joy is there, the joy of still being, as she constantly chuckles to her self, I scratch at the joy, go deeper. Hate leaps out from the recesses of her mind into mine, the horrors engulf me, the faces, the bodies, the screaming, the memory of an acid putrid smell suffocating me, the gaunt bodies, the friends.Sacrificed at the hands of a madman, the train journeys, unlike this one, no seats, no room, the bodies squashed and crushed, standing on limbs, standing on heads, and all knowing their fate, but the joy of survival is there mingled with the horrors of the past. The horrors, which frequently barge there way past, the joy always preceded by the bilious taste.
I sit shaking, my hands clenched, I can't go on, I know I must. This lesson is not voluntary; it is compulsory, one I can't escape and one I must learn, but the pain, the horror, the torment almost unbearable. Only one more to go I search for my final subject and suddenly as if magnified the face is there.
The face I have come to loathe and yet the face I had once loved, I can't and yet I know,I must, this one is the only true way I will have peace and freedom, behind this face lies the answer the reason, the pathetic reason. I go in hoping to discover the reason why? The reason for his rejection, I enter, his thoughts are jumbled no pain though, no guilt, his thoughts vie for a clear airing, each struggling. I try and separate them, pull them apart, thoughts so shallow not worthy of exploration, no feelings or emotions.
I delve deeper into my one time lover's mind searching for something, anything of significance. Names and places, coherent thoughts start to form lacking substance, any feelings. I start to read them, the secrets start coming
' God was it Jackie, Michelle or April he'd given the expensive perfume to last Christmas, it wouldn't do to duplicate gifts, oh well at least he didn't have to worry about the silly cow Rachel, she had made it easier for him to carry on seeing April'
Well he'd had summed it up, I felt guilt and shame in my very being.. I sat unseen and yet all seeing, Rachel waiting to ascend to another plane, I had committed the sin of all sins for nothing for a man who had no love or conscience, no feelings or emotions and his own goal in life was his own self gratification. I had sacrificed my chance of life on him all because of his rejection that I felt I couldn't bear.
I had seen a beautiful and all consuming light which dragged your spirit closer and closer, I had not fought, this is what I had wanted. This was my way out my salvation, but suddenly and violently a screaming.A screaming so loud,so high, my body hurtling back past the kaleidoscope of colours, rushing past me bombarding me with nauseating vision. No words spoken, but commands absorbed, a lifetime of feelings had to be felt before I could ascend to the next era of my existence. My soul no longer racked with dejection, but with pride of how others bear their suffering and sometimes learned to use their pain and yet some guilt at how my slight crisis had overwhelmed me and taken away all rational sense of perception. My journey was ending now, I can feel my soul lifting and floating, my earthly life completed and all life's experienced condensed into this journey and as I leave I know that peace is almost with me!


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