Assonance RA

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Yet more "Royal Astronomy" explaining the title. Drawing a clumsy and obvious parallel between their lives and the story Marc tells.

Submitted: November 09, 2008

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Submitted: November 09, 2008

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Assonance/Wanderland

It’s about midnight, I’m just kicking around my flat, listening to CD’s.  One track from one, one track from another, one track from another.  Feeling… dark.  Unfulfilled.  Unsure.  Feeling caged.  I consider calling Alice but it’s a bit too late really.  My cell phone rings.  Looking at it I see that the display reads ‘Alice Harper’ followed by her mobile number.
‘Hello?’
‘Marc?’
‘Yeah, you alright?’  No one calls late at night with good news.  That can always wait.  Bad news has to be forwarded there and then, no point keeping someone out of agony any longer than necessary.  I’ve always been wary of answering calls at night for that reason, which is why I’m so grateful for the advent of cellular phones with caller display.  At least that way you can gauge what kind of call it might be – you have an idea of what they might have to say.  Seeing her name I wonder what she might have to say.  My guilt brings forth infidelity from the depths of my mind – but from her and her feeble femininity forcing a quest for absolution.
-Marc, I kissed some guy the other day and it’s breaking me to betray you like this, I had to tell you, I had to.
I can see her on a dance floor in a club in the arms of a man, kissing and being kissed – tentatively at first before giving into this raw passion that is coursing through her, her violent lust for this man, hands on bodies, reaching under garments…
‘I’m just… I don’t know.  I shouldn’t have bothered you.  Sorry.’
‘No.  It’s alright.  Nice to hear your voice.  What’s wrong?’
‘No…’
‘Tell me, sweetheart.’
‘No.  Look… it’s just…’ I know it’s wrong but my patience already wears thin and I’m growing irate.  I try to keep it in.
‘What is it?  Tell me, come on.’
‘I just… I just feel shit, is all.  Sorry to call you.  I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?  Bye.’  She hangs up.  Menu, contacts, Alice Harper.
‘Hello?’ Traffic noise in the background.  ‘Where are you?’
‘I’ve just gone for a walk.’
‘Where?’
‘I’m going to the park by my house.’
‘Are you okay?  Well, I mean you’re obviously not okay but what’s wrong?’
‘Nothing.  Sorry.  I’ll call you tomorrow.’
Silence.  She’s hung up again.  And I waste a good thirty seconds or so wondering whether to go and see her or not.  Of course I have to go and see her.  I have to.  I call a taxi and in the lift to the ground floor I try her number again but there is no answer.  Why is she not answering?  What’s wrong with her?  Why is she calling me?

I light a cigarette and typically, the taxi pulls up.
“Alright, mate.  Can I smoke this in your car?”
“No, sir.  Sorry.”
“Oh go on, man.  I’ve only just lit it.”
“Okay.  But I’ll have to open the windows.”
“Nice one.  Cheers, mate.”
“Where to, buddy?”
I tell him and we make our merry way there.
I give the driver the seven quid for the fare and get out at the edge of the park.  The car pulls off and I look for a way in.  Obviously being midnight the gate is locked.  Like a naughty fourteen year old I look around myself and start to climb over the fence.  Unfortunately I am not as agile as I was at fourteen and coupled with my chalk ankles (numerous old skateboarding injuries) I’m making very heavy weather of it.  The fence is about ten feet tall.  It’s a small wall with these great green iron poles with skewers on the end sticking out of the top.  It has obviously been designed with the sole intention of keeping people like me out.  The designer, however, did not count on the pig-headed obstinacy of people like me.  Climbing it is awkward, principally because the bars are vertical rather that horizontal (or they would be a ladder) only joined at the top.  A few jumps and I manage to clasp the six or seven inches above the bar and start hauling my carcass up.  Not being an exercising man, or indeed able to hold my own in any sporting event, my arms burn with the effort.  Perched on the top I now panic, I am, as mentioned about ten feet up.  I can’t jump or I will probably shatter my delicate bones so, precariously, I turn myself around, all too aware of the concrete on one side of me and the flower bed on the other.  I hold on and drop backwards so the weight is on my arms and my feet are against the railings, I slide them down and, at about three or four feet off the floor push backwards and let go.  Landing backwards, I tumble through the flowers and come to a rest a bit too close to some dog shit.  Shakily I get to my feet and brush myself down.  I reach for my phone.
Menu, contacts, Alice Harper.  It rings and, ‘Hello?’
‘Alice?  Hi, it’s me.  Look, where are you?  I’ve come to see you?’
‘The park was locked so I couldn’t get in.  I’m just sitting over by the Leopold Road entrance to it.  Where are you?’
Shit.
‘No, don’t worry.  Just wait where you are.  I’ll see you in a bit.’
‘Marc, this is really sweet, you know?  You didn’t have to.’
‘I did.’  And I hang up and curse my feckless stupidity.  If it was a laborious process for me to get in, how the fuck did I expect her to get in?  Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.

I see her sitting on a wall outside a newsagents, briefly illuminated by the headlights of a passing car, smoking a cigarette.  I jog a little over to her.  She does not see me yet.
‘Hey!’  I shout.  She looks around but does still not see me.  ‘Over here, in the park.’  I yell.  She looks over, narrows her eyes and focuses on me.  a smile splits her head in two.  She pulls her coat around her and walks over.
‘How the fuck did you get in their?  I thought it was locked.’
‘Umm.  Well, it is.  I climbed in over the fence.’  I hang my head in shame as I realise just how ridiculous this seems.  She reaches through the bars and grabs me, pulls me towards her, kisses me,
kisses me,
kisses me.
I will be totally honest now, the kiss knocks me sideways.  It eats me up and I so want to be eaten by her.  I feel myself swelling inside and I can tell that she is smiling by the shape and feel of her lips on mine and I want to grab her and pull her closer to me but for these damned bars.  She finally separates us from this Siamese kiss, still smiling, with laughter in her voice she says;
‘That is so ace.  You are so ace.  It’s just the sweetest thing, like… wow!’
‘Yeah alright, don’t take the piss.’
‘No really, it’s phenomenal.  You climbed that wall for me?  Amazing.’
Awkwardly I mutter that nothing is too much trouble for her.  She smiles still.  She turns her back to me and sits on the wall in front of me, I wrap my arms around her and breathe in her hair.
‘Tell me a story with a happy ending.’  She asks.  I reply that I don’t know any.
‘Very po-mo.’ She says.  
‘A story about us?’  I ask.  She says not to tempt fate.
‘Do you know,’ I ask ‘The story of the royal astronomer?’  She says that she does not know the story.
‘A long time ago, when I was young and you were even younger, [‘Just get on with the story.’  She interrupts.  ‘I’m setting the scene.’  ‘Story.’] there was a kingdom.  And in this kingdom, there lived a king.  [‘Obv.’  ‘Will you shut up?  I’m trying to tell a story.’  ‘Yeah but nothing’s happened yet.’  ‘Just shut up.’]  Like many of his day, he believed that the actions of men on earth were governed by the celestial bodies, [‘Stars?’  ‘Stars.’] and as such employed an astronomer to study the heavens.  [Surely he’d be an astrologer?’  ‘Just still your lip for a bit, okay?’  ‘What you gonna do?  Eh? You can’t chase me can you?’]  One day the astronomer came to the king with some terrible news.  “My liege,” he said, “I am sorry to inform you that the world is coming to an end.”  This shocked everyone, somewhat understandably.  The king wanted to know how he knew this.  The astronomer replied that he had long been monitoring the skies and has noticed that more and more stars are not there, or less and less stars are there… I forget which.  The stars were vanishing and as the stars ruled the world, with no stars, there would be no world.  This was a catastrophe.  The king demanded a recount.  The astronomer recounted and yes, there were fewer than ever.  The world was ending.’

‘And?  What happened then?’
‘Gimme a kiss and I’ll tell you.’  She turns and kisses me.  Magically.  ‘The world was not ending.  The astronomer was wrong.  The world was not ending, he was going blind.’
‘That’s it?’
‘That’s it.’
‘That’s crap.’
‘No.  think about it.  It’s all about relative situations, isn’t it?  The astronomers world ends, because all he has done is watch stars, but the world keeps on going on for everyone else.  Or maybe the world ends for other people as well but they don’t have their own stories.’
‘I think that they should all have their own stories.  Everyone whose world has ended is entitled to a story, I think.’
‘Nice idea but impractical.  The world keeps on ending, but people areto stupid to know it keep turning up as if the fun’s just starting.’
‘Well I don’t think it has a happy ending.’
‘What are you talking about?  The world doesn’t end.’
‘Marc, just because the world doesn’t end doesn’t make it a happy ending.  Tell me another one, this time with a real happy ending.  Or funny at least.’


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