Smoke Rings

fractal tangle

My office is lit by a small lantern and smells faintly of tobacco even though I haven’t smoked for years. Strange, I think, how it’s still a source of temptation. I look up from piles of paperwork to see my animus slouched in the chair opposite. Just as I expect: legs apart, elbow resting on the desk, cigarette burning continuously. He wears the white linen suit I gave him with effortless style considering his lack of respect for convention. I imagine him firing me a disapproving look for working so late, but I can’t quite bring his face into focus.

“I sent you a load of new material,” he says.

“Yes, thank you; it’s great.”

“You haven’t written it down yet.”

“I’ve been working! You know, on the day job that keeps us sheltered and fed?”

My animus does not understand the concept of ‘day job’. Nor does he understand timing, completion, suppression, or putting things in boxes.

“What about the ‘personification of chaos’ stuff I sent last week?”

“I love it, but it’s exactly that: chaos. It’s raw. Sculpting ideas into something coherent enough to share takes time.”

He is silent for a while, as though considering my words carefully. I go back to my paperwork, only looking up again when he says:

“Time is pliable, you know.”

“What?”

“It’s bendy, and it’s dispensable. You can make it disappear entirely.” When I don’t respond, he reassures me. “It’s ok; I’ve got your back. While I’ve been hanging around waiting for you to keep your end of the creative flow going, I’ve learned a new trick.” He blows four perfect smoke rings in my direction. “Climb in.”

“Climb in where?”

“Well, you’ve missed it now. Hold on; I’ll do it again.” He comes around to my side of the desk, spins me round on my chair to face him, and crouches at my feet. As he takes another long inhale, I get a clearer glimpse of his face. Not only does it feel as real as my looming deadlines, it feels like home. Chiselled cheekbones, light stubble, pale grey eyes. And then four more perfect smoke rings, right in front of my nose. I stare at him through their centres, and they absorb me completely.

It’s safe inside the rings. Snug. And yet, to my amusement, I appear to have been stretched. My feet are an immeasurable distance away, but I can just about see my navel. It looks more like a shallow kink in a piece of string than part of a human body. My animus is here too, in a form identical to mine. We coil around one another in a double helix, held together – or apart – by vibrating rungs of stardust. And, sure enough, there is no time anymore. No space, no light. Only ideas. I feel them nibbling at my centre, and I paint them by creating ripples in the void until they begin to look like smoke rings.

I blink several times as they dissolve, my eyes stinging, and my office materialises once more. There is no more work to be done today. The piles of paperwork are complete, I have summoned an odd little piece of automatic writing, and the fragments of tomorrow’s project are floating into place at the back of my mind. I stand and straighten my white linen suit. In a split second between pursing my lips and blowing out the candle in my lantern, I see there are words written in shadow on the wall: There’s Always Time to Daydream.

 

***

I didn’t want to do one of those ‘sorry I haven’t updated in a while’ posts. I thought, if I’ve got time for that, then I’ve got time to be creative with it, and this was the result. It was, in part, inspired by the experimental vignettes over on Writings from the Couch: a blog I recommend checking out if you haven’t already.

The new book is coming along great and will be in the hands of beta readers very soon. Cover designer and editor have been hired, so all being well it will be published at the end of summer. More details to follow… Also, if you haven’t checked out my first book yet, here’s a handy link to all the online stores where it’s available. You can also e-mail me to get a signed copy direct at orchidslantern@gmail.com if you like. A huge thank you to everyone who has already read it and left me lovely feedback and reviews, you’re the best!

9 thoughts on “Smoke Rings

  1. This piece became very real to me as I kept reading and imagining. I once read a piece by a Freudian psychoanalyst on a conversation with his anima, which appeared in The Cambridge Companion to Jung. There is much here in the images between the words. And thank you very much for the kind mention of my blog. Your imaginative work has inspired me to keep going.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. LOVED IT. cant help but wonder, though, does the protagonist take up smoking again? It seems to end with the protagonist and their anima becoming one again, so does that mean the protagonist was smoking the entire scene? I imagined it kind of like Fight Club, when the gun is not in your hand, Tyler, the gun is in my hand.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. I was thinking that the protagonist caught a vague smell of tobacco which awakened something in her unconscious, and the rest was her daydream. So when the ‘smoke rings’ dissolved the room returned (almost) to normal. I do like your interpretation though, and I always hope to leave my stories open enough that the reader can bring a bit of himself to the outcome.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This week, my goal is to get caught up on all of the blogs I have not read. I started with yours, and am I ever glad I did. You always inspire me, Caroline. Your imagination needs to be protected at all costs because what comes from it is pure genius. As always, extraordinary story. I purchased your book today…can’t wait to dive in!! Have a great week! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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