Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986


I’m wandering around aimlessly, alone. It’s dark out, so dark. I can barely see before me. It feels like it should be snowing. I wish it was snowing. That would be more romantic at least. Without the snow it’s just sad. I am so very alone. I’m sitting now. I’ve changed my mind, I stand. I sit again. I lie back, and stretch out on the cold, damp floor. I move to make a snow angel. The gravel scratches my bare ankles. When did I lose my shoes? I’m staring at the sky and it is charcoal. I can hear shouting. It’s muffled; everything sounds underwater. I close my eyes and I can see bright colours, swirling and twirling in a black ocean. Electricity vibrates through the current and the bubbles are fluorescent. This isn’t beautiful. This isn’t artistic. I see this every time I close my eyes. I haven’t slept in 5 days. About half of the weight of the world is on my shoulders; I’m carrying the rest in the bags under my eyes. You free up a lot of time for existential anxiety when you don’t sleep. A can comes rattling towards me, curiously fast, for there is no wind. It settles at my side and looks at me with big, doe eyes. “Do you see the colours?” I ask. I can’t remember if my eyes are open or closed. I don’t know how I can be sure. “Of course. They’re beautiful.” I can hear them now. Explosions accompanying the incandescent shades bursting across an inky canvas. No. “No.” I say shaking my head. The sounds are so loud, penetrating my brain. Travelling around my head on a series of intertwined waves. “No they’re not. How can you see this as beauty? This is torture.” “You don’t like them?” I consider knocking the can away from me. I can’t deal with being patronized right now. “Why would you say that? Why are you saying this?” The noise is getting louder, the waves in my mind are shaking, thinning. They can barely hold the weight of the sound. I grimace and stretch out my right arm, forcefully. My fist swims in empty air. There’s nothing there. The world is silent. “Hello?” The can is gone. I lie there. I’m trying to melt into the ground. I’m trying to become a leaf, to blow away with the nonexistent wind. I’m trying to become a gravel angel, I want to float up to gravel heaven. I don’t know how long it’s been. Is it the New Year? How can you tell? Open your eyes. The sky is pale blue. The sky is pale blue. It’s not dark! I can hear the soft chiming of birds in the trees that I can see stretching high above my head. They’re reaching up to those clouds I can see that have delivered the dew that I can smell in the air. I sit up. I can see and feel indents in my ankles from where the gravel has nested overnight. I can hear the sound of bells ringing in my pocket. Bells ringing in my pocket. Reaching in I expect to find a tiny church with a couple kissing at the altar, the bells crying the joy of their love… I pull out my phone and press the green button. “Yo! Happy New Year! Where are you? Let’s get breakfast!” That’s how you know, I realize. When everything is dark and even the insertion of light does not make you see. When you’re lying on the ground being patronized by a coca cola can and you see no end to that one moment you’re in. That’s when you realize, it’s a new year and life goes on. The world keeps turning and we celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of a new. When really, nothing ends and nothing begins. We just keep on keepin’ on. And that’s all you can do. You can’t let the darkness get you down, don’t keep your eyes shut too long. You gotta open them at some point. Eventually, the birds will sing again and the sky will be blue again and someone is going to ring you for breakfast. And you can stay on the ground staring into the darkness or you can get up, dust the dirt from your clothes and walk away from the gravel angel stuck to the earth. Put one foot before the other and be easy with the knowledge that you probably have enough for an egg and bacon McMuffin with the change in your pocket.