Browsing, trying

The dictionary defines it as the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone, which is mostly how Maud feels about most of life, but sometimes it slips into apathy: a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.

She browses life for points of interest, she knows what it is to be interested, she knows what she is interested in, in theory, but she can’t find anything to hold onto, anything to get lost with. She likes the idea of bits and pieces of the world, but really she could take or leave them, if pushed, if someone said they were going to disappear.

But she knows that this is the task of life, to find something of interest and pursue it, so she continues to browse, image search, initiate chats, flick through miscellaneous film footage and save gifs of dogs on her phone. She is trying.

She is waiting, maybe, asking others to offer something worthwhile.

Loneliness, Emptiness.

Maud had decided she was roughly midway between the two. A Jamaica Inn style halfway house of yonder year. Except it was yonder-now. She went on an internal loop in her mind to decide which one had arrived first. Did the loneliness cause the emptiness to come or was she empty first and then realised it was a lonely-empty she was stuck to? Did it matter either way? It really did not.

But what is the purpose of it all? What makes it meaningful? How do you know when you reach that point, is it a feeling? How is it that others seem to so perfectly know what their purpose is and fulfill all their obligations and still have the capacity, mentally and physically, to do other things?

It just looks so impossible. So unattainable. So far away from where she is. Inadvertently letting a huge sigh escape from her lungs she realises two things; 1 - she had been holding her breath and 2 - it was definitely time for a biscuit. She pondered that maybe the postman will offer something worthwhile today when they bring the parcel she is expecting. Despite the postman being a somewhat passive way to search for inspiration it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

Was it?

When the postman arrived and looked to the window. She was standing there, every so hopefully.
PLLLEEEASSEEEE, she thought.
but instead he just put a bunch of letters into the postbox and was about to leave.

as he turned to leave, Maud ran outside.


But the postman was a teenager with earphones in his ears and left without noticing her.
She walked somberly in her nightgown to collect the mail and then back inside, hopelessly.

Perhaps it was not yet time, for her to read the good news. So she slumped on the couch and cried, fearing what she would need to do next, now that the options were through.

Maud took another biscuit. She was currently quite concerned with bourbon biccies but had, thankfully, matured far enough to be able to simply bite the biscuit like a normal person and not have to split it and half lick-half nibble the centre’s cream out.
She pondered that fact for a moment and wondered if it was indeed more mature or just that life has so tainted her she now considered it more mature. Fuck. Life could grind you!
(In an act of blatant defiance she started to carefully take her bourbon biscuit apart. They may take our lives but they’ll never take our immaturity!).




Yes, she had options. She had seventeen other options. Surely they had something to add? Surely between them all they could make sense of this madness? Surely someone held the key to the locked door of her padded room and could help unbuckle this really bloody annoying straight jacket that they insist she wore each day. Man. It made typing so hard!

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Her parcel arrived the following day. It was exactly as she’d ordered. And exactly as dull.

She lay in the bath for over an hour, watching a spider thread a web between the plant pot and the light shade. She thought about how urgently she had called after the postman the day before, and how she was glad he hadn’t heard. She didn’t have anything to say anyway.

A walk to the shop at the top of the hill would kill a couple of hours, and lunch - if she cooked - another.
She scrolled through recent messages and wondered who she could call, but settled on no one, on account of her having so little to report.

She walks the long way to the shop, looking for new back lanes and assessing garden aesthetics.

No one knows how long it’s been since Maud left the house. Least of all Maud. Maud doesn’t know how long it’s been since she began walking. The cupboards are full and there is evidence that the last meal she ate was beans on toast, with a cup of normal tea. Friends had gotten used to long periods of silence between messages or calls, there wasn’t much to say these days anyway, and Maud always seemed to just be getting on with life. They supposed that was exactly what she was doing now.

From the top of the hill she could see all the way to the sea in the south east, and across to the mountains in the west. The wind near pushed her over if she didn’t hold herself against it and shadows raced across the city, across the moor, through the trees in the park, along streets where her brothers lived, her parents, her colleagues, all neatly tucked away in row upon row of hand-sized houses.

She could hold her life in her hand now, it had become so small.