I remember once, a few millennia ago, that there was a boy. A very small boy. He liked to wear his grandfather’s enormous tweed coat and aviators, to keep the ambiguity alive. Yet, being a small boy, there wasn’t much to hide. He had nothing to run from, perhaps excepting the cooties of girls his age. He hadn’t lived yet.
Or so they thought. See, this is the achievement of Scott Packer. He knew anything and everything, all and nothing of what he wanted, what the world meant and he could see the past, present and future of every being on the planet at any one time.
The boy in tweed fumbled in his pocket for one of the two notepads- both were of equal size and of equal thickness, leather bound and crinkled from coffee stain on the 4th page. They were a perfect simulacra of each other, and yet, the boy preferred only using one. He sat in the State Library of Kansas and wrote down every move of the small girl with strawberry-blonde curls opposite. Casually looking past his nose, he was in a mix of awe and horror at the vast forest of literature- both, non-fiction and history and overwhelmed at the stark silence of the forest itself. In the hall, they came and went and yet no sound of the cracking of twigs or migratory birds, made it’s way through the forest of books. And yet despite all the forest’s complexities, truths, originalities, faux pas, and jazz, the woodlands of literature had the adverse effect on Scott Packer. He turned to his notepad and recounted the number of times the small girl twiddled her hair, in relation to the amount of times she bit her lip. Che sera sera.
Closing his eyes, the boy in tweed fell. His head pounded, his stomach was pressed into his spine and his cheeks moulded to the shape of his teeth as he took a gasp of warm, fragrant air. 56 year old Scott Packer felt through his bristly excuse for a beard then dipped his leathery hand into his tattered tweed coat pocket, to fish out one of the two, leather-bound notepads. From their position perched atop his greying hair, Scott Packer retrieved his spectacles and squinted over the glare of the bonfire just in time to catch a glimpse of a silvering head of strawberry-blonde. He skirted around the carnival folk as they wiped off each other’s make-up and roasted marshmallows. Saccharine puffs of pink and white were released from their powdery encasements to reveal a sticky gloop that exploded in the mouth- but Scott Packer had no time to savour these marshmallows. Picking up the pace, he followed the woman into the side show alley to the room of kaliedescoped mirrors. From the outside, it seemed the room was no larger than a closet, but inside was a maze of mirrors reflecting off one another and each other. Scott Packer saw a feed of light from a gnat-gnawed patch in the blackness, a stream of light that failed to fill the room, but bounced off mirror to mirror to blonde curls to mirror. Scott Packer was dismayed at the rate at which the small girl had grown old- her once blonde curls disappointed him by being muddied with silver streaks. The curls of today were tightly sprung pencil shavings- curls with artificial colour at the end in an attempt to restore youthful beauty. But Scott Packer didn’t mind. This time, he recorded the lightening colour of the tips of her hair and the number of curls she had; as if it would equate to her pedantic and meticulous character. Hearing a soft, wispy, disembodied voice, he was blatantly told; “I’ve seen you before. Once or twice. And you always have a notepad. I think you’re a creep.” She eluded him once more. Che sera sera.
Frustration set in and 56 year old Scott Packer exhausted a long, exasperated sigh. Closing his eyes, his stomach pressed into his spine, his youthful body doubled over and his eyes felt as though they were spinning in their sockets. Opening them, Scott Packer no longer felt the weight of the tweed suit on his shoulders, rather the warm, rubbery hands of a tattoo artist pressing him into the cushioned table. He remembered, the money for this tat arrived in his 16th birthday card from Nan and the plastic notes were folded in the top pocket of his tweed coat, sitting on a chair in the waiting room. Distancing himself from the pain, Scott Packer thought about his notepad. He was nearly coming to the end of the first one, nearly filled it with pages of scrawlings- notations of the girl, how she had aged somewhat gracefully, what her pet peeves where, her habits too and where they got her later in life. She would have a good life, and so would he- he knew because he saw.
He had a strange gift that didn’t come from kryptonite or radioactive spiders. No, Scott never lived under any stairs, never been to the Hundred Acre Wood and had never in fact left Kansas, (actually, he had… a few times). But he could see his past, present and future all at once and decided to write about it. She took his fancy with her peculiar mannerisms and air of fresh daisies and golden syrup. She became his muse. But in all their years, he never did have the courage to talk to her. I don’t blame him. Back to reality, Scott Packer was proud of himself, for sporting the bravery of paying the dodgiest man in town to permanently draw this à just under his right collar bone. He saw it, somewhere once and decided to replicate it. Che sera sera.
Spine snapped like a twig, innards thrust backwards and jaw crushed, Scott Packer fell again. Before opening his eyes, this time he let his mind wander a while. Wet grit between his toes, cold clumps of itch stuck to the little hairs on his petite legs. Huge, encumbersome coat of irritating tweed that half-clung to his wet thighs and the crash of a thousand rain droplets on a tin roof. Scott Packer, aged 4, was by the seaside, tunnelling his way through a wonderland of packed sand walls of a labyrinthine nature. After working for hours, the small, small boy swimming in tweed decided he was finished and that he had indeed, built himself in. Great. How was he ever to find the girl and finish his novel now? With a sigh, he called to his Nan, whom he was unable to see over the walls of his sandy prison. Ducking under solid archways and pattering through passages, Scott Packer lost orientation and forgot his way out. Was it- Leftways? Rightways? Slantways? The labyrinth had enveloped him and sucked him into its depths but he kept on running and he never looked back.
Then he reached a sandy bench. Instead of sitting to catch his breath, Scott Packer decided to use it as a leg up- where he pulled his arms up to rest on the beach’s ground level. Looking to his right- he saw Nan, asleep under a beach umbrella. To his left- a maze of rock pools, stagnantly and curiously hiding other worlds to explore. Later. He looked forward to the endless sea, then to the end of the world- where the sea dropped off the planet as it met the sky. The greying monster reared up, frothing white at the mouth, then crashed just short of his sand castle and labyrinth- which was being inspected by a small girl. Spotting her, Scott Packer delved into his tweed coat pocket to fill in the very last few pages of the second notepad that he had- his novel was nearly finished. She walked over to him, peered into the pit and crinkled her freckled nose. Gasping, he looked down to scrawl in his notepad and note that she was biting her lip. But his eyes only made it to her ankles at eye level- there, was a temporary tattoo of this à , furrowing his brow, Scott Packer’s eyes flicked up to hers and she squinted at him for a second.
And she turned on heel and skipped away. His ideal had eluded him once more.
Scott Packer was left with two blank pages and no ending to his novel of life.
And that is my tale of how Scott Packer’s time travelling world ended, not with a bang, but a whimper.