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Living on the edge

by Maricellus 

Posted: 14 May 2014
Word Count: 1128
Summary: Hello everyone - OK I'm new here - whoops - but just to get going I wrote this a while ago as a stream of consciousness exercise - but is it really a story?

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Living on the Edge

“Anxiety is worrying about things that are about to happen over which you have no control. Depression is worrying about things that have already happened that you cannot change. Despair is anxiety and depression”

So this is how I see it. Let me try and show you what I think. Let me show you how it is. 

Take, I don’t know, take an axe yeah … an axe! 

It doesn't have to be an axe though it can be anything you like but it has to have a long narrow edge to it. It could be a strip of wood if you want but I like the idea of an axe.

So you got this axe, right? And then you get this long strip of cloth. This strip of cloth is endless. You know what I mean? 

When I say it’s endless I don’t mean that it’s looped or nothing, although some people say that it is but they are just crazy. No, this material is so long it goes on forever and ever.

There’s no start to it and there’s no end!

OK. So you got this material, this strip of cloth, and you take this strip of cloth and you place it across the blade of the axe.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, you got to imagine that axe blade goes on and on too. It seems to go on forever like the cloth but it doesn’t though. That’s just an illusion.

There is a start to it and there is an end!

So where was I? Oh yeah, you hold this cloth in both hands and place it over the edge of the axe. Your hands are on either side of the axe blade but your hands are placed lower than the actual blade of the axe. That’s right, you’ve got it. Now you pull with you left hand as fast as you like and let the material run across the blade. You can only pull the cloth so far though, see, because of the length of your arms.

But then you got to imagine the material passes across that blade forever. And we’re standing on that blade, man. You and me running! We’re running as fast as we can to stay on the blade edge as the material rushes beneath us. 

Now what you need to know is that axe blade is NOW and the material is TIME. We are on that axe blade and time rushes beneath us - the material coming towards us is the future and the material going behind us is the past. We just live on “now” … you got me?

We’re running like mad to keep in the now and, at the same time, we are living our lives. Some people, they are always looking in the direction that the material is coming. They are looking out for what is to come but they can’t see so far.

Others are turned the other way and they are staring out at what has been and they watch it all slip away into the distance and some are looking to the front and the back. Those people look so funny because they are literally in a spin, you know what I mean?

But most of us… well, we just look down to make sure we are keeping on the now. Inevitably some get tired. We all get tired eventually and then we stop and fall off the now and are carried into the past like flies stuck on fly paper. And those that happen to be looking behind stare at us into the distance until they can see us no more.

The front facing ones try to see what’s coming but they can’t see too far but some can see farther than others. 

Everything happens in the now. Nothing happens in the front and nothing happens in the back because all the happenings are right here right on this ledge that we are all trying to stay on. Trying to stay on the now. 

Then there are those, not many, they don't look to the front the back or down. They are looking up all the time and they are running just like you and me but they are in danger because they don’t look ahead to see how fast the future is coming and they don’t look behind to see how fast the past is disappearing. They just trust to luck and keep on running, looking at nothing. 

But they should be looking - they should be looking real careful - because this material, it isn’t smooth! Sometimes, there is a hole in the cloth and you could fall right through and sometimes there is a knot or imperfection in the fabric that can make you tumble. And you don’t want to tumble because if you do then you haven’t got any time to get back up and then you’re one of those flies stuck on the sticky paper. The people that always look back, they don’t know what’s coming either but at least they can see that the fabric is not perfect they can see that it has holes and lumps and everything so they’ve got more knowledge than those that just look up of what the now is. 

Some of those that are always looking behind, they say to themselves ‘I’m not going to look around no more because its giving me a crick in the neck.’ And so they turn completely around! They look so funny because now they’re running backwards to keep on the now but you can’t keep running backwards forever! It’s too tiring. And they soon fall off and become the past that they were so fascinated about. Those of us that are looking down can sometimes see in the corner of our eye that they are about to stumble and so we grab them and stop them from falling but those that are always looking forward they don’t see nothing. They don't help nobody but themselves because they see nothing that is happening in the now.

And that’s what it is. I’m just running the same as you. I’m running for my life and I am never going to stop. I just keep on looking down, studying that material and changing my footwork, all fancy like, to suit the weave of the fabric and the holes and the lumps. You’ve got to keep your eyes open all the time if you don’t want to fall. You have to watch your step. You’ve just got to keep looking and running and running and looking and…..

What are you doing with that axe, boy? Put that axe down before you hurt somebody. I said put down that axe! 

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Comments by other Members

butterfly2000 at 17:39 on 14 May 2014  Report this post
Hi Mark - welcome to the group ;0) 

In response to your opening question "but is it really a story" I would only answer in response to my own expectation of 'story' and would say that this doesn't feel like a complete story/short story. I really like the piece of writing though. It certainly has the feel of stream of consciousness writing, but it also follows a certain shape and doesn't meander off the original subject. I think you could develop this into an interesting story, where we see the MC in a wider context. Why is he/she having these thoughts? Etc.

Also, I love the first quote - about anxiety, depression and despair - but it doesn't necessarily follow through into the main part. It feels too important to leave it at that one sentence.

 I really enjoyed the pace and imagery of this piece though. Thought provoking 

best wishes

Becca at 19:04 on 14 May 2014  Report this post
Hi Mark,
As Debra says, welcome, and she has said just about the exact same thing that I was thinking this morning. I think this might be one of those sudden manifestations, that a writer gets from time to time, of a character's voice seemingly coming out of the blue. I thought that it was more considered and structured than stream of consciousness writing, my heart dropped a little when I read that that was what I was about to read, because so very often S of C stuff just rambles on and in the end becomes incoherent. This piece of work didn't. I could imagine it being inserted somewhere into a novel as a a kind of perspective that characterised one of the inhabitants of that novel, [couldn't bring myself to write 'characters' there as I already had 'characterised.']. I think just keep this and eventually you'll find a place for it, or discover who that character is and what you want to do with him or her. Keep writing, I'd say.

Maricellus at 08:33 on 15 May 2014  Report this post
Thank you for the comments. It may not have been a stream of consciousness piece of writing in the conventional sense. I wrote this in one sitting during my lunch break at work. I started with the quote which just popped into my head (a bit of armchair psychology - I know nothing of psychology) and everything just flowed from there. But, Yes, apart from editing, spell checking and separating words that had run into each other it is pretty much as I wrote it. The characters voice, though, I was reading a biography of Charles Manson at the time and I think it is his voice and a little of his insanity coming through. It certainly isn't me -  I've never talked like a homicidal, sixties hippy for a long time :-)

I thought I'd just post it anyway. Now I would like to post a story this time but I am having a problem with the site, as when I try to upgrade no subscribe button appears on the page. This may be because I am connecting via a VPN and I will need to fiddle around with it. Hopefully, I can post it later. Once again, thanks both.

Becca at 09:30 on 15 May 2014  Report this post
Could you contact David Bruce directly and let him know, or do you think it's something from your side? 
Ah, so Charles Manson was the character that came to you? Interesting guy indeed!

Maricellus at 09:34 on 15 May 2014  Report this post
I'll try on my MAC when I get home - I'm using VPN via a hotspot and I think thats the problem :-)



BILLINGTON at 15:21 on 05 September 2014  Report this post
Hi Mark,

I have two axes here I use to chop logs for the woodburner.

I'm going to cut some bedsheets into a long strip, and go outside, and get my son to run away at a steady pace while trailing the sheet over the axe blade, and hope for inspiration,

Nice one,

Kind regards,


Maricellus at 11:36 on 21 October 2014  Report this post
Ha ha. Thanks, Billington. Let me know how it goes.

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