From the Depths of December

I wander downtown to buy Christmas cards, in the hope that it will assuage my guilt at not yet having begun shopping for presents. There is no escaping the swift approach of Yuletide on this brisk December day.

Fairy lights wind their way up tree trunks, like magic ivy. A middle-aged couple carries plastic bags and an air of exasperation. A Norway Spruce leans up against a wall, naked but on the brink of fulfilling its life purpose.

I pop in my iPod buds and drown out the world with the sounds of Video Games and VillagersA teenager rushes out of a pound shop, her face full of freckles and anticipation. I enter. A mother slaps her children’s hands away from sweets and toys. A man in dirty work clothes holds a basket brimming with tinsel.

I buy two packets of sparkly Santa cards and continue down the main street. A young boy bolts into the library. I follow. As I enquire after a Heather O’Neill novel, which is currently MIA, an elderly woman breezes up to the desk.

“It’s getting cold out there, Mrs O’Brien,” the male librarian tries.

“We’re all ageing,” the woman retorts.

He changes the subject.

“What do you think of the Budget?”

The woman doesn’t respond.

“WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BUDGET?” the librarian bellows. Children look up in disbelief.

“I heard you the first time,” the old lady announces. “I just don’t bother with all that shite!”

I leave without a book, but not without a story.

I take a detour home along the Liffey. The river is full and fast. The moon clings to the cobwebs of the morning sky. Drizzle settles on nettles. A reluctant dog is pulled toward the nonchalant swans. Ducks fly close to the water, their necks straining forwards.

Reeds clump together and float to the surface, like dead bodies. A leafless tree bends over the water, like a nude diver frozen in time. A woman jogs by, barely lifting her legs. A man in a track suit practises Tai Chi in the wet grass. I wonder if he’s crazy and try not to stare.

As I huddle on a park bench, ignoring the cold and blowing on a Biro, I decide that I am a writer and that there is nothing I’d rather be.

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?” Vita Sackville-West

And for all you budding writers out there, click here.

Images: http://gallery.hd.org/_c/art/_more2004/_more12/baubles-glass-and-wire-shiny-tinsel-blue-and-silver-star-for-top-of-tree-decorations-ornaments-JR.jpg.html; http://weheartit.com/entry/18871955;

http://laetificus.tumblr.com/page/8; http://weheartit.com/entry/9454974

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