18. Alterity

How Heaviness Was Washed Away 

by Méabh Fearon

I wanted to write about a very simple form of gratefulness. 

When I say simple I mean that its components are primary or rudimentary. 


Gratefulness like a bowl of pasta and tomato sauce.


Its fabric is made of everyday things: it is an expression of gratefulness that relies on perspective. It comes down to mindset, so it’s simple but it’s not
self evident—

There is no true explanation.

This isn’t a good morning

I don’t feel any surge yet

Heavy head. Thumping temples. 

I groan and lie still, drift back into a dream breathing gently

dark colours swimming under my eyelids. In out, in out,


I decide to wake up, enough inactivity. My brain jump starts as I

try to get my bearings. Smells of mustiness. The hum of

the refrigerator fills the room. My skin feels tense.

Scratchy. I move lazily, turn the tap on, fill a glass of cool

water, I lap it up it swirls down my throat and gives me a



Today, nothing has been planned: blank page in my diary. I

pause. Should feel thankful for this respite.


Water was good, next comes m u s i c

I switch on my phone  //  White   screen  //  The phone starts

buzzing, a series of messages keep the screen alight: Lewis.

Johnny. Claire. Claire. Colleague. Another one from Claire. I

don’t read them right away. Gulp of water. I let my sleepiness

stretch on, I am not getting dressed, not eating, not reading not

talking not listening. Not yet. Suspended time. My focus is

inward I don’t know how to explain the heaviness that’s

latched on to my gut this morning. There’s nothing to be

moaning about. And still, it’s there, solid.

My phone buzzes, it’s a call I ignore it, it buzzes again, caller

ID: Claire. Hi! did you get home okay? … Cool cool. …no I

haven’t seen it. I’ll have a look around it probably slipped in

between the cushions of the couch. … haha yeah sure. … I can

give ‘em back to you just need to get a move on. … ok. … I’ll

keep you posted. And … I really enjoyed last night. … ‘kay, bye.

Click. She lost her expensive leather purse somewhere under

my sunken couch.

I start clearing the table. Soapy water runs on my hands.

Mind reels back to her body. Fist time I saw it, it was leaning

over the zinc counter in that crummy bar we always go to with

Philipp. Her voice ordering a beer, the red light caressing her

shoulders and clavicles. Butter colour. Last night. Her

voice twists my stomach again. Goodness. 

Headphones on, //  volume to the max  //. My shoulders and hips

churn to the music, the movements wake me up. Coffee is on

the stove. I pop into the shower. Relief and steam build up.


As I grab my phone I hesitate, scroll through the contacts. I

haven’t seen HER, or HIM, or MY BROTHER in a while. I want

to now. I send a couple of messages, needing to get in touch.

Some will be up and about, I know for sure. 

//Bang//. I shut the front door. I’m out, on my way, ready for it.

The weight of the day has been lifted thanks to those who sent

me running down the six flight of stairs. My sister and brother,

my sisters and brothers. Gabriel, Philipp, Sarah, Johnny.


 In the street, people are milling about, pulling trolleys and

carrying grocery bags. Supermarkets and restaurants run in a

single file along the footpath. Speckled sunshine streams

through the leaves. There are families and old folk. I look at

their faces, I am among them sharing nothing but skin

and bone and fears and hopefulness. Sweet stuff.

There is also the lingering feeling of Claire. I can hardly keep

my cool. Like caffeine coursing through my veins in constant


I walk hard and fast. The soles of my boots are hitting the

tarmac. I walk a very long time, because I can. Heading to

where they are waiting for me.

They are sitting round a table on rickety stools. The bar is

perched on an incline, looking over far off skyscrapers. I don’t

need anything more. They haven’t seen me, absorbed in talk.


The feeling of stress is at bay. I don’t even have to try.

Easy goes. Soon their heads will turn and it makes me grin.

Hey there stranger.

How’s it going? I ease myself into the conversation. So, it

begins. Smiles in our eyes as we look at each other. I crumple

the tab between my finger and my thumb. Philipp’s deep voice

crackles with laughter. Today we are together


I don’t know where I’m going



The direction I am taking is not careless. Voices

sound familiar. I have grown into life as it has grown unto me.

Wind and sun on my face. Everybody knows. Everybody could

scribble about it. My breathing is deep, from the bottom of

my lungs, from a place where exhilaration is born, that

feeling when you could shout out and rip your throat off,

looking back into the face of a long-gone friend. Top of the



Words spilt across the page like a glass of alcohol thrown

into the air just for the hell of it.

I’m on my way. Doesn’t come easy.

 Surging on

Heaviness washes away