F3: ‘Paper Boats in the Blue Hour’


The room is cramped, but curiously endearing. Sprawled on the bed, Anna flicks idly through one of those vapid, content-free magazines – glossy, with improbably posed fashion models, and pseudo-articles claiming some special insight about lifestyle perfume. Too tired to read, but not yet buzzing enough to bother moving from the bed, Anna instead stares at letters – a matter of shape, colour and typography – with words continuing to elude her slowly melting brainspace.

There is a knock at the door. She moans half-heartedly in response.

“Anna? Are you okay?”

The voice is Sam’s – tentative and amused. She can’t really be bothered to let him in. The energy expended wouldn’t really be worth the ensuing benefits of his company. Heck, he’d probably demand more of her energy – opinions, ideas, conversation – once he wormed his way in. Best to take a pre-emptive strike, nip it in the bud.

Then the caffeine hits.

Looking back from that which is yet to come, the rest of that night sees Anna and Sam as but crudely folded paper boats, freed from the solid certainties of land. Here, time mimics the weather, forming eddies and channels, and settling in pools. They talk about the first book, and Sam’s script. He has a sketchpad, and she clutches his script to her chest – annotations in red. He tells stories; bawdy, and heavy with tangents, and Anna titters – politely at first, but then with genuine humour, a laughter originating from deep in her belly. With coffee as lubricant, they volley ideas in an evolving game of wits and one-upmanship. The priest dies fifty, a hundred deaths – fragments of glass shattering on flagstones. Murder witnessed from every conceivable vantage point. A plane crashes in slow motion; a sheet of watercolour paper is crumpled into a ball; a leopard leaps. And you’re there, watching as they grease the spokes with a never-ending supply of silty liquid, scalded tongues, and a bloodstream of sugar and caffeine – pumping energy to every forgotten corner of the body. Energy borrowed from their future selves. Steam rises, lazily, from coats draped on radiators and half-full polystyrene cups. They keep powering onwards, afraid of stopping, thinking, in case they lose momentum. Finally, the blue hour arrives, an unwelcome herald of approaching daylight. They try to lock it out, but light begins to seep under the door and through the curtains, forcing the remaining shards of reality into retreat. As the shadows fade, the narrative artisans fall into their own peculiar darkness, into rapid eye movement and muscle spasms. A theatre of dreams, with audition speeches from a never-ending conveyor belt of unemployed actors. Then, a tide of overpowering boredom, as the landscape melts away; their orbit degrading into free-fall where recursive visions of mechanical debris and skeletal cathedrals bloom; a nauseating panorama of noise as they plummet into the void …

6 replies on “ F3: ‘Paper Boats in the Blue Hour’ ”
  1. Thanks, Shaun! I think I’m starting to realise that I’m best at writing when my logical mind and internal editor are caught off-guard. Now, I just need to devise some harebrained scheme, perhaps involving a dictaphone, alcohol, Sigur Ros and a system of randomized alarms.

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