Tonight’s short story is inspired by the wonderful new art installation, by Orla de Brí at the top of the renovated Belvelly Castle. His arrival really got me thinking and I thought his story would be the perfect way to finish the #septshortstoryseries . It’s a real short and sweet one.
(Photo is by Orla de Brí, @orladebri, the wonderful artist who created him)
Hope you enjoy!
The Thinking Man
Sometimes I stand here and think, other times I just stand here. This is what I was born to do, what I was created to be. My destiny marked out from the beginning. I am a guardian, a watcher, a keeper of the peace, an observer, a listener and a thinker. A golden tree, my companion and muse. She keeps me guessing.
I watch the sunset each evening, the deep oranges, the splashes of purple and pink, the dancing sphere descending before me in the distance through my golden tree and I wonder. I wonder what the sunrise looks like, how the watery sun peeks up over the horizon behind me. I dream of turning my head and watching its slow ascent into the morning sky. I feel its approach on my back, the slow increase of warmth, I see the streaks of light on the rising and falling river below, but I will never see it rise, I will never turn my head. I should take comfort in the glorious display that greets me on sunny evenings, when nature’s lightshow gives me a final goodnight, but I long to watch the sunrise. We covet what we can’t have.
I take the things I can see, I examine and wonder. I watch the traffic, mirroring the ebb and flow of the estuary, streaming on and off the island. I wonder where they are going, what jobs have them in such a rush and irritated stuck in the morning congestion at the mouth of the bridge? I think about the bridge, I think about the many people who have crossed it onto this Great Island. Their final journey on Irish soil before the adventure onwards to America, to a new life with big dreams and heavy hearts. They would have been greeted by my imposing pedestal even then, it must have been a sight to see, then as it is now. But today I am the guardian of the gateway, the keeper of the keep. I watch the people come and go.
The traffic like the tides, has its highs and lows, but it is unchanged by the phases of the moon; each morning’s off flow, balanced by each evening’s return. I see the people, some have become familiar and I anticipate them, know their habits, I’ve figured out their schedules, whether they are running late or out of routine. I watch their faces, their reactions to build ups, I watch the singing, the laughing, conversations on the phone and the rare tear. I listen but I cannot hear, I continue to watch.
Some I like, mostly the friendly faces, mesmerised by my arrival, heads dipping towards the windscreen as they pass to watch me gaze. They never forget to dip, they look up with intrigue and a smile. I like them. I like how their admiration makes me feel. I feel important. But there are others, aggressive and consumed by their own worlds inside their tiny metal boxes. They shout, bang their steering wheels and look annoyed, they never look up, but they do beep and I hear that. I don’t like it, but I hear it and something has to be said for that. What, I don’t yet know? It’s funny to watch people in heavy traffic, some seem so resilient, happy to have the time to sit and stare, to gaze up at me and my tree, to look out across the river, others are uptight and annoyed, the time wasted when better things could be done. Thousands pass me every day, and I think about them and their lives beyond the bridge.
After the chaos of morning tide there comes a lull. A quiet descends and my eye and mind are taken across the bridge to the sea of trees beyond. Unlike my golden tree these dance softly in the gentle winds, an ever-changing carpet of autumnal ambers and rust. A menagerie of strange and wonderful creatures live there. I hear their calls, loud screeching, skitting high-pitched laughter, low grunting moans. The wind sends snippets of the magic that lies beyond, teasing me. My imagination runs wild, I imagine African plains, wandering rhinos, tall elegant giraffes and giddy monkeys. A pelican has stopped by before, confirming that strange and wonderful things do live there and stoking my desire to scale these walls and investigate.
But my life is here, my role to stand and listen, to contemplate, to guard, to think. My company, my golden tree, a nod to nature’s futile attempt to take this castle back, she is all I need. Her role to simply be and harbour the roosting crows that stop to investigate her branches, search for leaves or berries, forage for what won’t be found. They sit in the branches contemplating me; contemplating them. Neither of us understanding why the other is here. I have a lifetime, far longer than yours to work this all out, and many, many generations of crows and drivers in their metal boxes will come and keep me company; sometimes I will stand here and think, othertimes I will just stand here.