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I made my own lemonade you know.

There are no windows in the eighty square paces of my world. No sounds. No references. My unnatural light comes from the gap beneath my door and through a gothic style opening in the thick stoned wall. The opening is too high for me to see through and my arms are not strong enough to bear me. But I think it only looks upon a corridor of equal boredom. I call it the Milky Way. The universe outside my timeless planet.

The ability to tell time has become the key to locking my sanity away from the madness. It’s the answer I plan to provide on my book-signing tour. The reason for my survival. The daily discipline that time allowed me to follow. I imagine the moment. I will clear my throat and steeple my fingers trying to look earnest as the reporters ask their questions. I’ll wear suede trousers, Manolo sling-backs and have layered hair falling over my sultry made up eye. I will flick hair sexily but not obviously as I answer their questions and wink at my daughter in the front row. I hope it will be soon. Away from here.

My black cobbled cell floor glistens with water at certain times of my day. It reminds me of a deep sparkling pond in a moonlight. I fished in it yesterday, something I have never done before and I have decided to sail a lemon boat across it tomorrow.
Sometimes I skinny dip. I almost wish for a guard to spy me when I strip naked. Look at my shrivelling breasts and protruding hips. Confirm that I am still alive and not just a colour that only exists in the light. But I have never seen my captors in the 128 glistening floor days that I have been here.

This floor phenomenon has led me to believe that I am beneath ground and the glisten is the evening dew, the damp of the night. Sometimes if I’m lucky I can walk barefoot through my pond on a warm dry pathway that travels diagonally across the cobbled floor. I think it must be a hot pipe travelling underground that dries the dampness above it, like a sheepskin bridge that transcends the cold sea. I call it my sandbank and I use it for walking our dog and flying kites.

My walls are also affected by the creeping dampness but I am thankful for it. Each mouldy patch of green and brown wall spreading mildew is another country for me to build. Another humanity for me to spawn and a democracy to shape. It’s my Wall of the World. My own unique atlas.

When the floor completely dries I am served a meal. A wooden bucket is pushed through the Milky Way opening and lowered to the cobbles with a rope. I presume that it is now morning.
Hard bread, a lemon, a steel can of thick milk, some rice and some beans. I have come to enjoy its lack of variety. To change would probably cause my body to react violently and weaken the control I cling on to. It would upset my routine, my control, a control that begins every morning by placing the contents of the bucket on the floor, where my pipe sandbank was, hoping for the transfer of some residual heat. I pour a half finger of milk from the steel can into the empty wooden bucket and quickly add the rice. I say quickly because to hesitate would mean a loss of the milk through the cracked base of the bucket. I lose little if the rice is added in one quick movement. It soaks the milk immediately. I have tried putting the rice in first and then adding the milk but for some reason the loss is greater.
Once stirred to the right consistency I then put it aside for dinner.

For breakfast I eat half of the bread with the beans and drink some of the milk. I am careful how much I drink as I cannot urinate until after dinner when the wooden bucket is empty and can be used as a receptacle, even though it leaks. I then rip open the lemon and put it into the steel can of remaining milk. My own lemonade. I put that aside for supper.
I have discovered that the bitter taste of the curdled milk extinguishes my night-time hunger pangs effectively.
The lemon reminds me of my little girl, how my husband teased her with the sour citrus taste when she was a baby. I therefore ensure my melancholy coincides with Homeland time. The part of the day I give to my family and friends. I do this after supper and before the floor glistens. The taste of lemon transports me immediately.

After breakfast I will usually pick up where I left off the day before. Lately it has been some political problems between the mouldy countries of Pikeland, the large pointed landmass that occupies grid A7 on my Wall of the World, and the United States of Comfort in Grid C8. Both are proving to have completely different outlooks on the World constitution that I am trying to broker and are arguing their positions well. The United States of Comfort is growing in size each day as the mould expands and swallows the minnow country of the Republic of Dog. As a catalyst to its defence I sometimes rub milk along its border to encourage its own moulded expansion but time is running out. I feel I will witness the demise of the Dog republic in the not too distant future. Whatever that is.

Hunger takes me again in the afternoon and I recite the first ten thousand words of my book and practice my responses to my gathered media before I eat the milk soaked rice from the bucket along with the remaining bread. When finished, my toileting begins of its own accord and I place the soiled wooden bucket into the Milky Way with a stretch.
Once completed, and if my toileting has not left me with pain, I do my workout. If I can’t exercise I choose one of the videos in my minds library. I watched The Champ yesterday because I wanted to feel sorry for myself. I felt it was my daughter’s birthday.

And then it becomes suppertime. My favourite moment of the day. The floor is beginning to glisten but before I sail my lemon skin boat or walk the dog on the sandbank I must contact Homeland and assist them with their day.
I drink my lemonade and uncover the black damp stain beside my bed. Homeland. Grid F2 on my Wall of the World. I can hear the bucket been removed to be washed in bleach, rinsed in scalding water and filled with pot pourri until the morning. I like to think so anyway.
I lie on my mattress, the only item of furniture in my cell, and curl up with my thumb in my mouth, holding on to the lemon taste. My knees and nose are tight to the wall.

I rub the black mildew stain and my little girl says “Hi Mummy”. She tells me how her day went.

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I made my own lemonade you know. by 


Inspired by the recent capture of a local Irish girl, as she worked as an aid worker in Darfur, I tried to explore the captivity and hostage of the body but not the mind.

Tags

life, family, imagination, captivity, hostage

Comments

  • pagan
    paganover 4 years ago

    you’re a cool writer cathal. what i find intriguing about reading your stuff is what you do with voice… you have a gift at dramatically shifting the sound of your pieces to an extent where they seem like they’re written by different people. it is an awesome quality that i think you’re a natural at, one of my favorite characteristics of your work.

  • Wow, thank you so much Gretchen. In fairness I think you can take some credit for that by setting such wonderful exercises that allow me experiment. I don’t think I’m a true writer like some of the amazing talent on RB, I don’t have a huge writing vocab, I just love trying to tell a story or portray an image or inhabit a life. And I’m learning a wonderful amount from the professional talented writers that some of you guys are!
    I really appreciate your generous comments.

    – Cathal .

  • bearwings
    bearwingsover 4 years ago

    well that got me involved……………..will be back to read more

  • thanks bearwings, one of my first pieces, a tad too serious for me I think

    – Cathal .

  • Pooh
    Poohover 4 years ago

    Betterer and betterer. Your pretty dammed good

  • stop talking nonsense and give me the next page of your loving hetro friends :)

    – Cathal .

  • timbuckley
    timbuckleyover 3 years ago

    This is a wonderful piece the essence of human survival is the ability to imagine and then to cloister one self in the womb to suck the soothing tumb, love your work have you been published you should be best regards from kerry

  • Hi Tim, great to meet you and thanks a million for the read on this one. It made me read it again and I immediately remembered the character I tried to get into when writing it. I’m trying to flute around and just writes lots of different things and styles and stories and I almost forgot about this captured soul, you’re comment made me think of her again so thank you for your insightful and over generous comment from the wonderful Kerry where the Killarney Art Gallery has introduced me to so many talents.

    – Cathal .

  • timbuckley
    timbuckleyover 3 years ago

    Thanks I am sure Declan Mulvany sends his regards your an amazing voice hope you make a few pounds or a happy life out of it

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