It was the truth that we wanted, the simple truth. Truth, without any complications, no conditionals, just a representation of how things are, in words, perhaps, but not necessarily words. Truth could come in many forms. Truth in symbols, in numbers, in sound, in colour, in a leaf on a tree, a carp in a pond, a candle flame, or a scattering of dust on the wind.
Let us have the truth, and don’t try and deceive us. We will know if we are being deceived. We need to know how things stand, how everything is, at this moment, and all moments that have ever been, and if possible all those that ever will be. The truth isn’t bound by time, or by space. It is boundless and encompasses everything. All that is, and all that could be. All realities and imagined and as yet unimagined realities.
The simple truth.
The couple were on the beach that morning, and Harris was there observing them. He had to sit quietly and write down everything he could. First the obvious things, what they looked like, a simple physical description, body shape, age, facial features. What they wore, how they were with each other, what they did.
Then Harris had to try and work out their conversation. He knew he could risk walking next to them once or twice, but he couldn’t stay close enough to hear much, nor to pick up any detail, so he would have to guess most of it.
The male protagonist had mentioned something about the tide, but the female was more interested in the houses that lined the cliff top. Harris could tell she was lost in a dream of living by the sea. Harris assumed they were in one of the many rented cottages in the village, they didn’t look like a couple who would bother with hotels.
Then Harris noticed his watch, and her tattoo. His watch was ridiculously big, more an orrery than a watch. Harris imagined it worked like a sundial, perhaps the gnomon could be flipped up when it was needed. And her tattoo, it was beautiful, a woodpecker, or a kingfisher, or maybe a bird of paradise. But it was so alive, so real, and when it suddenly took flight and soared up, its blues and greens shimmering in the morning sun, the three of them stood, shielding their eyes, until the bird merged with the brightness of the sky.
You kick the stone and you say the stone hurts your toe.
So don’t kick the stone.
The stone tumbles over the edge of the pond and lands with a plop. You say you heard the plop, I heard the plop, the frogs and the trout heard the plop. But I won’t accept it’s anything.
Let’s start with colour. There’s no colour out there in the world. That lovely shimmer of iridescence on the dragonfly. You know, secretly, it shimmers only in your mind. Nothing like that could really be. Could really be.
But when I hold your hand, and you make me laugh, I can forget all that.
There was another time when we came to the brow of a hill and saw a line of radio telescopes as white as bone. They shone in the afternoon sun. We didn’t realise they were so close. They seek out quasars and pulsars and report it all in some unintelligible code that only the ones with the doctorates and years of sitting there staring at the screens can ever hope to understand.
Take a sip of this Stroh 80 rum and tell me it’s not real.
Watch the fish at the bottom of the pond, sliding through shafts of afternoon light and tell me it’s not real.
In August, towards midnight, we can lie on our backs in the garden, a blanket up to our chins, and watch the Perseids ignite as they hit the upper atmosphere. We’ll have a flask of tea and some snacks and I get to search for your hand in the darkness.