The night felt beautiful.

It was the kind of beautiful that you didn’t need your eyes for. The type your fingertips told you about and your goosebumps came out to see.

The air was heavy with sea salt and a luke-warm breeze lapped against my skin, deliciously running its fingers through my hair and playfully tying stray tendrils into knots.  I shut my eyes and let it drown me, fading into part of the scene. The evening wasn’t quiet, not even close but it was silent of humanity. Obnoxious squawks of seagulls dived in the air, before gracefully dying out over the expanse of sea. Waves threw themselves against the rocks terrifyingly, soothingly… It was a night and a place that unified contraries, everything seemed possible here – and everything was, I had learnt.
Then there was the sky. It was as though all of nature had conspired to show off tonight and the visuals were truly the pièce de résistance – a final encore, coffee after a perfect meal. The sky was performing, tantalising its audience with a vibrance of crimsons and purples. Colours were splattered furiously across the backdrop, but an inevitability of night blue had already begun pricking at its corners.
It was beautiful. That true kind of beautiful that can only ever be found and not created. The type of beautiful that stirred you and left you feeling hollow and completely full.

Warm granules of sand burrowed themselves between my toes and every now and then I felt occasional stab of a shell or piece of broken driftwood as I began my descent. The water still glistened on the horizon, I wanted to be a part of it. There seemed to be no end and I found that reassuring. How long I could go for, how far away it could take me, from them, from him? I hadn’t said goodbye to my family. I felt bad about that, but not bad enough to go back. I would see them again someday if they ever crossed. I felt sure that they would, some people are harder to convince than others but they all follow eventually. That was what I was doing after all – following. Others had gone before me and now it was my time. I was at the edge now, bubbles of froth toyed with my toes as it gurgled up to me. My mum always told me to respect the sea, it wasn’t something to be played with and I shouldn’t trust it for a second.

I didn’t.

The water was breathtakingly cold, I felt its sudden sting the minute its icy tongue licked against my feet. Rays of deceptive light had been dancing off the sea’s surface invitingly and it has been painted as much warmer than it was in reality. Stunning, but so cold.
I had begun walking with tentative purpose and as I edged in deeper the water had started to lose its bite and instead had become comfortingly numb. It welcomed me in, ebbing back and forth, agreeing with my decision, praising my discernment. It was at my knees now, confidently climbing further and further up my body with forceful hands, pulling me in deeper and deeper. Keeping my eyes fixed on the sky in front of me, I continued my walk, waiting for the moment.
The thing about the sea is it’s all just a great pretence. An excellent reflection of something true and vibrant, cleverly concealing the murkiness that lies beneath its surface.
I wasn’t scared this time, because I wasn’t tricked.
The sky’s colours had faded into night and had taken with them the water’s glitter. What had been left behind was dark.
It was never brave people who attempted the crossing, nor stupid people. In fact, that was one of the only commonalities our tragic kinship shared, we simply weren’t ‘those’ people. We are the unremarkables, we live in your periphery, the ones whose names are always on the tip of your tongue, the finger clicks, the umms and ahs. Every one of us who had gone had the same look about them – they were all following.
The numb, the cowards, the broken… those were my people and we were on the move. For the people tired of fighting, the crossing offered something – revival. I wasn’t a strong person. I liked to think I was and perhaps I had been, but then when push came to shove I just felt too tired to fight. I was so sick of fighting.

The sea bed was a soft under my feet and with every step it remoulded to fit around me. Quietly, the Water had begun collecting up the bottom of my dress, gathering it up around my waist in an exposing dance. I let it.
Its icy fingers reached up my thighs, confidently playing its way over them, lingering and climbing. Enacting the ownership I had relinquished when I offered myself to it. The dress came back down, heavy and sodden.

The waves were bigger now, firmly they pulled me forwards at my waist; scooping me up in their motion before depositing me back down, scrabbling to find a footing. The froth was at my neck, kneading my shoulders, then throwing me further.
I knew it would be like this. It had to be like this, but I had made the decision anyway. The gentle lapping had long vanished and had quickly been replaced by brutal walls of water. Wherever I looked I could see them, riling themselves up ready for the attack, taking a run up before coming crashing down over me. Liquid silver, now nothing more than a merciless body of water. I let it throw me where it wanted, completely indifferent, not bothering to root my feet anymore. Its attacks had become incessant, as waves battered over my head and senseless currents churned beneath me. It was nearly time, I couldn’t turn back now even if I wanted to, the decision taken firmly out of my hands.  I shut my eyes.

There is no such thing as tiptoeing along the edge, we’re fools if we think we can control the sea.


The Right Kind of Love

In love’ is not really so beautiful a thing as we think. In fact, it is horribly temporary, undoubtedly real, but significantly lacking. I know that it exists because I have felt it. I’ve been controlled by it, as people usually are. It is often glorified as something wonderful or shamed for being something too appallingly powerful. In reality, I think there are loves far more beautiful. I think there are many loves that are far superior.

I do not want to be afflicted by it, as with some condition – A state of being, that dictates my rationality. I have felt someone in love with me and I have felt someone love me and I know which is sturdier.
If love is light, I don’t want a firework, I want a torch. Not something to dazzle and entertain, but something to warm and reveal. Love should not be blind, it should be all seeing and all knowing. I think he loved me rightly, he loved me truly. It was not something he simply fell into, but rather something he put on each day.

He decided to love. In spite of, not because.

What You Left Behind

Extract Two

I saw him in a number of different places that year, but the first encounter will always be the most prominent in my memory. He stood out as a stranger immediately, for his ways more than his anonymity.  The man was a living, breathing story. He clearly didn’t have much by way of possessions and was wearing the brown waistcoat and scraggly burgundy necktie that would eventually become so familiar to me. His shoes were brogue and scuffed at their edges, with fraying woollen socks poking under the trousers that hung just above his ankles. He looked earthy and reminded me of another time, though really, I’m not sure he’d have found a home in any time or place. He was patched together, pieces of a lot of things and the dirt he wore somehow made him glisten. We didn’t speak that first time, though our eyes met and smiled. His glance cut deep inside of me and I hid it away as a memory to revisit often.

I was little older than 17 at the time and my parents had long given up on me achieving too much in life. I like to think they underestimated me but I am also aware that my definition of achievement is very different to what theirs ever was. At the time, I was also in the closest thing I had ever experienced to a relationship. His name was James and he was blissfully uncomplicated. The kind of boy who could do no wrong and loved me unselfishly and unconditionally. I was sure I’d be safe with him, sure he’d never leave me, but I’d never love him either, never be excited by him or hurt by him. I simply didn’t care enough. My mum loved him and it was thanks to her that we were ‘seeing each other’. She’d had him set apart for me from the moment she discovered he was the mayor’s son and an apprentice at the local chapel.

He was the embodiment of a stereotype. Slightly gawky looking, churchy, but attractive in his own way.  His blonde hair was tamed submissively in its place, combed tightly to his head. He had slipped into the habit of touching his face every time he talked and, though he knew it and hated the awkward mannerism, it was always only in retrospect that he realised he had once again succumbed to it. James dressed in smart-casual attire at almost all times and I’m not sure he even owned a sweatshirt. His eyes were a beautiful blue and I think perhaps it was this that swayed me. They looked kind and clear, completely true and authentic. He was the perfect front-of-church boy.

He had taken it upon himself to learn the four chords required for every song and would frequently be found leading the congregation in worship. I wouldn’t admit it, to him or anyone else, but he wasn’t much of a guitarist. He could plod his way through a song efficiently enough, but every chord seemed to be discoloured by something. It was as if the guitar was tuned in a state of constant atonality or maybe he just wasn’t pushing each string down hard enough. I didn’t know, but it frustrated me immensely. I’d have preferred him singing with the rest of us, maybe I felt a little in his shadow with him always in front of me.

It was on a Sunday after church that we met the man. James and I were walking together along the coastal paths and the views were particularly spectacular that day. The sun was just beginning its decent and it was radiant over the glistening sea. Conversation was light hearted, and I was enjoying hearing his thoughts on the latest village politics. Living with the mayor he heard his fair share of news (mainly gossip) and so naturally I did too. He wasn’t overly generous with the information, but I always ended up being told eventually. I never pushed because, in all honesty, I didn’t really care. It was boring information, typical petty things that plague villages consisting of little more than one road. He skilfully recounted the events surrounding a certain Mr Mansley’s tension with his elderly neighbour and I found I was gripped despite myself. James told stories brilliantly and I used to always get caught up in them, despite them generally being over the most menial of things. Sometimes he did surprise me with glimpses of a wicked sense of humour, long repressed and buried beneath layers of long-sleeved shirts and sweater vests. I enjoyed it when he forgot himself. 

We always seemed to choose the same route for our walks. There were a number of different coves hidden snugly along the way, and with a bit of work James could be persuaded to come explore them with me. They weren’t easy to get down to and often the descent felt somewhat treacherous, especially in bad weather. Nothing awful had happened to me yet though, so until it did, I’d remain stuck in my ways. It was actually my dad who showed me the main route down, I must have been little older than 12 at the time, but that didn’t stop him. He always said I could do anything and never let me believe that I couldn’t. When mum found out where we’d gone she went crazy. I was more scared for him then than when I was watching him scale the cliff face. He was a brave man but didn’t dare take me again. I think it will always be one of my happiest memories with him. He was a keen explorer and I think it’s because of him that I am the way I am. I feel like I’ve always been chasing after something, just like he was his whole life. I actually don’t blame him for leaving anymore, because it’s too relatable. I resented him at first, when I saw what it did to mum, but now I think I understand.  It must be in my blood, because I’m going to go soon too.

What You Left Behind

Extract One

He held himself like art, knowing he was a masterpiece, as all humans are. It was a belief he seemed to apply to everyone he met and when he spoke to people, he didn’t just listen to them but read. He was able to decipher the stories people carried in their eyes and in their words, or lack of them.
Perhaps that is what made him so indecipherable himself. When you know people so well, you know how to hide and what to hide.  He knew people’s blind spots and positioned himself carefully in them. I am of the view that he truly loved people, he loved them wrong and loved them badly, but it was genuine and sincere. Can you do both? I feel like somehow, he did. Perhaps it was the sincerity that made him the worst kind of dangerous. It was part of him and something that couldn’t ever be put on or taken off.

He wasn’t evil, though others may say he was, but he wasn’t simply misguided either, and to say that would be to excuse him. No, I believe he was himself, a good man who made bad mistakes. Bridgewell was left reeling for years after it happened and still hasn’t fully recovered, I don’t honestly think things can ever return to how they were. Maybe that’s good. It has made us a quieter people, notably and collectively damaged. Although we do need to talk, humans need to talk, need to figure it out with one another and approach things together. Instead in the wake of events there was left an immutable silence that now seems to have infiltrated every area of our lives. It is a subject that needs to be exposed and forgiven, but I don’t see that happening for quite some time. We were shaken. And are still shaking. 

The man still has a few faithful supporters left here, though I’m not sure I can call myself one of them. To be honest, I’m not sure of much anymore. This little remnant refuses to believe he acted knowingly, they cannot accept it and I don’t think they’re capable of such a mind shift now. I don’t know if they’re completely deluded or simply naïve. Ultimately, they are just wanting the best for the man we all fell in love with. He won over people’s hearts, but he took their minds first.

His name was Isaac. I didn’t learn this until a few months after meeting him, but for some reason it never seemed that relevant to me. It feels like a name only becomes part of us if we let it and I don’t think he ever let anything come that close. He had dark hair when we first met. It was an earthy shade of brown that lay in flicks and waves on his head. There were sporadic hues of grey that had started to prick slightly around the edges and I thought they suited him. This external reminder of age somehow didn’t compromise his appearance. I don’t think he was good looking in the typical sense, but he was decidedly attractive simply because of who he was.

I feel sure he never intended for things to end like they did. It just didn’t fit with who he was, or who I thought he was, rather. Maybe it’s my own twisted sense of pride, but I like to think I knew him, the real him better than others did. He certainly made me feel like I did – Not that that counts for much now. What kind of weight do feelings carry anyway? I want to ask people. I want to know what others made of him, what he made of them, but it’s one of those wounds that has been badly covered and left to fester.

The only things that seems to grant me any relief now are facts. Cold, unfeeling, revealing facts, untainted by subjectivity and left untwisted and uninterpreted by time and people. These give me the slightest glimmer of hope that what I’d felt was true and genuine. One thing I know for certain is that the amount of time he gave to me he can’t have given to everyone else. I know where he lived, what books he read (Nietzsche and Kant) and that he liked to remove all the sleeves from his hardbacks. I know that his brother died when he was only 3 and that he never was fully able to forgive himself. I know that the smell of lavender made him gag and he taught himself the piano one long summer years ago. He was good.

These facts can be disputed, but they can’t be misinterpreted and that’s enough for me right now.  Protest them, call them false, but don’t read them differently. I cling onto the solid ground that is objectivity and the relief that is black and white thinking. In many ways he changed me, he did so without realising it, but he showed me things in myself I hadn’t ever seen before. He opened my mind and, though I wish he hadn’t, I think it was necessary. He made me grow up.
I suppose everyone has to face that reality eventually.

After Life

Is this death? Is this hell?

I know I am no longer alive.
I know.
I haven’t ‘woken up’ because I no longer exist to be roused.
My mind and body have surely rotted and my soul, in theory,
departed. And now I just… am.

What remains is only a wisp.
A wisp of consciousness trapped in some skeletal coffin,
forced to endure the awareness of ‘nothing’.
Just this. Forever more.
I cannot feel and yet I know and think and experience
the terror of complete and utter isolation.

This is eternity.

I am horribly, terrifyingly aware,
not even freed by the comforts of insanity.
Is this the state of everyone who ever lived?
Trillions of consciousnesses out there,
screaming for someone, anyone to hear?

Where is my afterlife? Where is my oblivion?

I have no hope of rescue or delivery,
it is too late to fix.
I cannot be fetched
this place is mine and mine alone.
No one has been before, no one will come after
This is my own individual frequency, that can’t be tuned into.
A separate plain that can’t ever be shared.
Just me, forever

I am buried deep into nothingness, as if
my soul somehow slipped through a crack
severed for eternity.
And ‘eternity’ is not some point in time,
It is the beginning that never starts,
and the end that never stops.

There is no silence because there is no sound
and yet I feel an absence, a deep, aching absence.
No people, no God,
no angels, animals, life itself.
There is nothing.

This is hell.

A Little About Me

I’ll keep this short

Hey! My name is Bronnie King and I am currently in my fourth year at Loughborough University, studying Creative Writing.

I am the second child of 6 (4 brothers, 1 sister) and was born in South Africa. We moved to England when I was one and this has left me with a messed up accent and a minor identity crisis.

I am a Christian and it is the best decision I have ever made. If you want to know why, I am very happy to tell you!

Football is one of my greatest loves and I play for the university. I enjoy sport in general, which makes Loughborough the perfect place to be. If you dream of living in activewear without feeling judged, then it is the town for you.

This blog is mainly a way to get me writing. If you subscribe, I hope you’re not after consistency because that’s not something I’ve ever been very good at.
Current interests include: Fiction, non-fiction, abandoned buildings, sport, music, Christianity, poetry.
For now I intend to write about anything and everything, in the hope that one day it will be whittled down into something.

I think that’s all you need to know for now! Thanks for reading

P.S. I don’t really know how blogging works, so consider this a disclaimer.