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DG, you’re in a mess now.  How did you get in to this place, this dingy and forgotten little shack, alone and cold?  How did you find your way to be huddled in the corner while they, the bad ones, hunt for you?  They’re outside, DG, they’re outside right now.  Let’s retrace your steps and play a little game. Do you remember those choose your own adventure games your brother used to play? Yes? Okay, let’s focus on them. Where shall we start?  Not here, not in this place.  Let’s go further back to 2004.

You’re driving to Cornwall with the ones you love.  There are three of you in the car and one of those is a dog called Wulfric.  When you get near Polperro there’s a terrible storm. That’s familiar isn’t it?  Okay, so you decide to pull over and stay the night in the car.  Imagine we’re back in that moment.

Do you drive on to Polperro despite the roads and how bad you know the breaks are and how naked you know the tires are?

Or do you pull over, like you did, and sleep the night in the car? You know what this leads to. This is how Jaime was conceived and of course because Jaime is conceived Jaime is born and you know what that leads to.  Are we right in saying that a slight divergence in choice here at the moment of driving to Polperro would affect where you are now?  Try it, DG.

Ok, so you choose to drive on but you must know things aren’t that easy.  You were on holiday for Christ’s sake, you had a boot full of wine and the whole point of the holiday was to have more sex because you hadn’t been.

So you’re back here, back in this place.  Outside you can hear a dog and you know it’s not Wulfric.  You can’t tell how far the dog is away but you’ve locked the door. Is that enough? Is that lock, that rusty and loose lock, enough?

Let’s try again, okay.  Let’s go back to when Jaime was six.  You were making dinner and you had a choice. You could have made Toad in the Hole but you chose to make spaghetti.  You know what happened. Jaime choked and you were home alone so you picked Jaime up and turned Jaime right over and ran right out into the street shouting for help because Jaime was going blue. It was there in the middle of the street, alone because everyone else in the cul-de-sac must have been out or just ignoring your cries for help, it was there that the tiniest bit of mince shot out of Jaime’s mouth and Jaime stopped going blue.  We both know nothing terrible happened that day but if you had chosen Toad in the Hole would things have been different now.  Let’s try that.

Do you make Toad in the Hole with pork and herb chipolatas and the red currant jelly you mix into the batter?

Or do you make spaghetti Bolognese with whole milk because you saw a TV show once where the chef, Jamie Oliver probably, used whole milk, just a little whole milk?

You’ve chosen to make Toad in the Hole.  What do you think happens now?  Do you think that none of this would have happened because you made Toad in the Hole instead of spaghetti Bolognese? DG, do you think you’re God or something?  No one’s action can alter the course of history like that.  None of us matter when it comes down to it. You’re right, there was a slim chance that making Toad in the Hole might have changed your own course but in the end the events around you were too great and you end up here anyway.

Do you know how dirty you are?  Do you know how you stink?  I know you’re hiding here; you can’t just go outside to shit. Okay, but what if we look at another possibility.  What if we look further back?  What if your initials weren’t DG?  You know that your mum wanted to call you Sam.  Then you would be SG wouldn’t you.  We could go further back.  You mum wasn’t always going to marry your father.  She was engaged once, did you know that?  She was engaged to a man named Cameron Scott.  I know, it’s a common enough name.  That would have made you SS.  SS, do you want to try again?  I know, the dog isn’t barking but that doesn’t mean they’re not still close does it? Maybe you should go and check; maybe Jaime is with them after all.  Okay, we’ll come to Jaime. First let’s deal with this.

Are you DG?

Or are you SS?

You’ve chosen SS.  Don’t you realise that even if you were SS you’d still be, in some way, DG.  I’d still call you DG anyway.  It would be DG who was here in this place and it would be DG who isn’t God.  You know that don’t you?  You know none of us are God.  You know that even if they find you it doesn’t matter what happens then.  The memory of the world, of history, is fickle. No one is recording this, no one is writing down your story. What makes you permanent? Where’s your mark?

Okay, let’s try one more time. I promise you this could work. Trust me, DG.  Okay?  I said we would come to Jaime and we have. I know this might hurt but you have to face the truth. You know as well as I do what happened.  Both of you were running and Jaime fell.  You know what happened.  The dogs barking.  The voices shouting.  You could see them.  Jaime, your Jaime, you didn’t reach out did you?  You left Jaime there and you kept running.  What if you had reached out a hand and picked Jaime up and kept running together? Shall we try that?

No, you can’t face that possibility can you?  You can’t let yourself believe you made a choice, a selfish choice.

Ok, you keep running without Jaime and you end up here in this place scratching your initials into a wall.  Why are you doing that, DG?  What do you think that will do?  Are you doing it because of what I said about history not being recording?  Do you really think this place is permanent?  Do you really think someone will see DG and know you?  I don’t see anything about you abandoning Jaime in those marks. Why don’t you write that, why don’t you write ‘I am DG and I abandoned Jaime to the dogs’.

Come on, let’s just try that other possibility.  You could have stopped and picked up Jaime, your Jaime, and took your chances.  Or you could have left Jaime, kept running.

Which is it?  Of course I know what one you really want to be able to choose and in the end choosing Jaime will only bring all this to an end more quickly.  There’s no way it would mean you’d be safe, don’t be silly.  Let’s just agree that things have got pretty bad and none of us can help how things have got, do you agree with me? Okay DG, now look how your hands are bleeding from all that scratching, let’s just unlock the door and see what happens. No, there won’t be any other option. No, I was lying when I said you could go back. This is it, linear and straight and singular.  There’s just this DG; open the door, go outside and bring all this to its end. Go to them. Come on, let’s go to the dogs.


About michaeleganpoetry

Liverpool based poet and editor. I have had four pamphlets of poetry published, most recently After Stikklestad (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010). Penned in the Margins published my first collection, Steak & Stations, in 2010.

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