Wednesday, 28 February 2007

The Hidden Fountain of Joy

I’m sorry I let myself get side-tracked. I was telling you about Stella.

What else can I tell you about Stella?

I could tell you how her red ribbon, her tartan skirt and her matching jumper make her look young and na├»ve like a vague, nervous schoolgirl who has no place amongst the loud, serious, bright and arrogant that dominate us. I could tell you how this uniform she’s chosen to wear has made her the joke of everyone. Exposing her to snide remarks and cruel jokes. All behind her back, though, never to her face. None of them are cruel enough or brave enough for that. Just the usual petty, senseless attitude to others that most people here have come to embrace.

But what I really want to tell you, what I’ve been dying to talk to you about is that Stella doesn’t care. She just gets on with her work and pays no attention to anyone else. She never looks angry or upset. You’ll never find her hiding in the toilets, eyes red, nose wet from crying. She just looks back at everyone with that blank face or that disdainful look and carries on, regardless.

Now, I know what you’ll say. You’ll say that she’s just putting on a front. Of course she cares, of course she gets upset she’s just putting up a front so as to pretend to me and the other cruel, arrogant pigs that make her life miserable that we don’t matter to her. Deep down she really cares. And when she’s finally at home, alone, deep down comes right up to the surface thrashing and crashing against her insides until she has to let it out in one loud screaming, cry of despair. And then another and another, until all that anger, all that hurt has come flooding out leaving her body empty and blank. Blissfully empty and blank. Her body and her face. Her round and small and white and blank face.

(You see how I know you. How I know what you’re thinking, what you are dying to say to me. I know you so well I almost don’t need you with me. Don’t need to talk to you like this. Don’t need you to find me. Almost.)

But, let me tell you that this isn’t true. Stella doesn’t have hidden depths of despair, she has hidden depths of joy.

I know, I know, how could I possibly know that?

Because, I’ve seen it.

A small glimmer of the hidden fountain of joy that sits inside her spilling out all her warmth, her charm, her love and inspiration. Sending it flowing around her, inside her. Gently, so gently it doesn’t make it through to the surface. It’s her own secret world. But it’s a secret world that’s waiting. It simmers and seethes until one day it can finally come flowing and rushing and bursting out into the open for all to see.

How have I seen this? That, my dear, is for another day.

This Ribbon is Red

Stella has the sort of face most people are unlikely to remember. They are unlikely to remember it, because, chances are, they didn’t even notice it in the first place. It’s round and small and white and blank, with wide, vague-looking eyes that look right passed you. Not at you or through you, but passed you. As if there is something infinitely more fascinating, more intriguing just beyond your left ear.

(Once Stella looked passed me so utterly absorbed in that spot just beyond my left ear, that I looked round, searching for the wonder that she saw there. There was nothing there of course and I was treated to her disdainful look. Her look that makes me feel that Stella’s world is the norm and I’m the one who’s acting odd.)

I could carry on and tell you about her clothes and her hair. How she always wears the same pleated, tartan skirt with a different coloured jumper - each colour chosen to match the colours on the skirt - and how she ties her hair with a red ribbon. The same red ribbon every day.

(A red ribbon – it always seems to come back to ribbons doesn’t it?

‘The ribbons that tie us, that join us as one. That help us find each other in this tangled world.’

That’s what you used to tell me. Do you remember? Do you see yourself in this? Or have you already passed me by?)

Later

I am forcing myself to carry on - at least, to try. I going to make a monumental, undisputable, driving effort to not give this up.

And so, I would like to introduce to you: Stella.

Ribbon One: Stella

I have to write about Stella. I see her everyday and everyday she does something - something odd or intriguing. Something I’m dying to tell you about, so we can wonder over it together and smile over it together. I’m dying to talk to you about her. To introduce her to you, so you can understand exactly what I mean. I have to tell you about her and this is the only way I can think of to do it.

First though, I should say, I’m sorry to anyone who stumbles over this by chance.

This isn’t for you.

I’m not writing this for everyone. I’m writing this for one person. I know who that is. Do you know who you are? Have you found me yet? I’m writing to you - for you - and this is the only way I can think of to do it.

Right. Stella. Odd, intriguing Stella. I’m not sure where to start. How do I begin to describe her to you so you’ll know what I mean. So you’ll be able to picture her. See her as I see her. Understand.

No. I don’t think I can now. Not yet. Maybe later. No – not maybe. I promise. I promise later.