Saturday 27 June 2015

"Changes" by Rachel Butterworth

Changes by Rachel Butterworth Walking through the woods, I feel the sun flicker on my face. That singular, almost tender touch makes me smile. I am reminded that I haven't done that for some time so I allow cold, wet fingers to readily confirm this barely remembered movement of my lips. It isn't unusual for me to walk this path. I have known it all my life. The trees go through their predictable, monotonous changes, bluebells come and go, birds chatter, rabbits naively trust my traps and the path, although getting gradually lower as it makes its way towards the river, remains the same width. Not much changes. My life is a series of sameness. Mornings wake me with a silent screaming frustration and nights leave me asking why I am kept here. Just me...and her. I walk the path in the same way I have done many times before. No slower, no faster. My old brown shoes, her rejects, are the same; they know the route as well as I. My coat, too small and riding up my now long, fourteen year old arms, is used to being held shut against bitter winds; winds that disturb both hair and mind. Today the wind grabbed my very soul, if there is such a thing, and here I now find myself on this familiar path. The chain to which my left foot is tethered has been expertly measured to allow my journey to the river. There was a time when it was long enough for me not only to collect it's water but to enter and bathe, to wash my hair, to soothe the sores caused by the constant rubbing of the shackle. Funny how I hated it then, how it's restrictions frustrated and angered me. It was only after voicing my desire for its removal, of earnest promises to remain within strict boundaries (which, in turn, only resulted in it's shortening) that I finally began to simply accept it. Some changes are bad. I can hear the river now. I always hear it at this point in the journey, even on days like this when the air swirls, leaves dance and branches crack. It's here where the trees begin to thin out and more sky becomes visible. More sun too on days when it decides to appear. She told me if I looked at the sun I would go blind but never told me why. She told me many things and yet taught me nothing at all. I wonder, as I have wondered many times before, where the river leads. It strikes me that I have never cared to wonder where it comes from; what it's beginnings are. My eyes are always forever drawn to where it is going and I wonder if one day it will allow me to be its travelling companion. Then the chain becomes caught and reminds me of my fate. Not much changes. Oh, apart from the fact that today I am carrying my mothers head in a jute shopping bag...

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