Below is the third version of the text that I have written so far. I have added the final story but I am still looking for a way to concluded the piece. I have looked at several stories and poems but have yet to find one that fits my piece. I will update my blog when I find a suitable conclusion.
I am sat at a projection of a cliff as the audience walk in. I stand up to address the audience, saying:
“My dad is an adventurer, not officially, but he loves to explore. Every year since I was 5 my family and I have always gone to the same place for our holiday, Menorca. Whenever we go there my dad likes to plan journeys and walks to different historic monuments. Months prior to going on holiday you can walk in his office to find him looking at huge maps of Menorca, all covered in sticky labels to mark out travel destinations. His favourite are ‘Martello Towers’ – cylinder shaped defence towers that were used in the Spanish Civil War, built by the British. So, every holiday I go on these walks with my dad, sometimes my family tag along but usually it’s just my dad and I.
Now my dad isn’t a bad father in any sense of the word, but it is fair to say that he can get carried away, particularly if Martello Towers have anything to do with it. It was in these times, when my dad was distracted, that his walks didn’t go entirely as planned.”
I move over to a set of seven chairs which are laid out like a car and sits on the back row. I begin to tell a story:
“When I was 6, a time when my biggest concern was having enough pocket money to collect Beyblades and having air conditioning in a hire car was a luxury, one of our journeys started to go wrong before we had even started walking. I was sat in the back of a 7-seat people carrier alongside my brothers, my dad (who was driving) and my sister’s boyfriend (at the time).”
I ask the audience to sit with me, placing a cap and camera case over the audience member who is sat in the driving seat.
“It was a sweltering day so we all had the windows rolled fully down. Now I know you’re not supposed to but I could never resist leaning out of the window, letting the wind blow through my hair. It was shortly afterwards that the road we had been driving on seemed to just disappear. The car started to bounce, rattle and shake on the rocks and stones that the road now consisted of- sending me flying across the car (bearing in mind that I was about 3-foot-tall and weighing in at a whopping 40 pounds). Whilst I was distracted by the rocky road, I hadn’t realised the deep, thick forest that had started to envelop the car.”
The lighting fades from a bright warm light to a dark green.
“The branches from the trees started to reach towards us, the tree leaves that were as sharp as daggers slowly scraped across the car, the car crying in horror.
I stand up, pick up a plant prop and begins to scratch it against the car, making a sound effect of the car being scratched. I sit back down.
“The windows! We had left them fully rolled down allowing the very same leaves to reach towards us. SLICE, I narrowly avoid the blade. Everyone was frantically trying to close the windows, of course we had to roll them down manually- putting us directly within range of the tree leaves. Heroically I dived to wind up my window, I managed to turn the crank a few times but it wasn’t enough. The tree started to fight back, sending a legion of daggers towards me. I fell to the floor, covering my head from the bombardment. But then, a break in the attack, a moment’s respite- round and round I turn the crank. THUMP, the window was closed. The tree, clawing at the window. I think to myself: How many more innocents will be caught by this same trap?
I stand up and leave the car.
“I didn’t have much better luck once we’d reached the destination. The same sword-like leaves that had attacked the car now littered the floor, all at the perfect angle to claw at my legs – the leaves could pierce the flesh with one swift jab and that wasn’t the worst of it. Halfway through the walk we came to a huge swamp, the water was murky and long grass peered out from the surface. There was little more than a plank of wood acting as a bridge over it. Of course, my dad charged off ahead and my brothers weren’t much use either, leaving me to cross the ‘bridge’ on my own. Cautiously, I began to walk over the bridge, taking one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. My breathing slowed, I was completely focused on the bridge.
A spotlight appears at the end of the ‘bridge’, I move into it and begin singing a short extract from Eye of the Tiger- as if drunk.
Face to face, out in the heat
Hanging tough, staying hungry
They stack the odds still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive
It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
I return to the spot on the ‘bridge’ and continue the story.
“I had gotten about halfway across, but then there was a lapse in my concentration. To this day, I don’t know what made me lose focus. Before I knew it, my right foot had twisted making me lose my balance. Time seemed to grind to a halt. There I was, about to fall into the swamp, waiting for the inevitable rush of cold… SPLASH. The murky water went straight up to my chest, to my surprise it wasn’t as cold as I had thought, in fact it was quite warm, but falling in seemed to unleash an unbearable smell of rotting vegetation. BLEAGH. I was probably only in the water for a few seconds but it felt like a millennium. My sister’s boyfriend, being the tallest person there, lifted me out. As I was pulled out, I noticed that some of the water had gotten caught in my shoe, it could feel it swishing about. I took them off the second I was on dry land to empty them out. My favourite trainers were ruined. The rest of the walk I had to put up with the squelching sound that they made every step… SQUELCH SQUELCH SQUELCH. When I got back to the villa my mum tried washing them out but they never smelt the same again.
Throughout the following section, the light slowly cross fades from a warm light to a hot red.
Of course, not all our journeys were that eventful, in fact when I was 14, one of our walks was a little anti-climactic. My dad, sister, brother, brother-in-law (to be) and I left early in the morning to avoid the heat. My dad was in search of this grand monument that was quite literally in the middle of nowhere. We had been walking for about an hour when we came to a fork in the path, the path to the left looked like it was used to access the nearby farm lands, whereas the path on the right seemed to continue on the path we had been walking, so naturally we went to the right. Another hour of walking and the path just seemed to carry on and on. My dad had said this was going to be a short walk so none of us had brought any water, which in hindsight was a very unwise decision. By now the sun had really started to come up which only made the humidity worse. A bead of sweat crawled down my face from under my cap. I took it off a shook it, trying desperately to get the wind to cool it down.
Finally, we reached an opening and there in front of us stood a small white wall. I ran to the wall to hide myself in the scarce amount of shade it offered. We were all exhausted and sizzling. Continuing any further seemed suicidal. My dad scouted ahead to see if he could see the monument he was looking for but it was futile. While he was gone, I decided to make a small engraving on the wall which said: J.G + L.S 2010. For some reason when naming us, my mum and dad had a fondness for names beginning with J so putting J.G covered everyone on the walk except for my brother-in-law (to be) and so I went with J.G + L.S. With that we headed home. Whilst the walk itself wasn’t all that eventful, my brother-in-law (to be) ended up in hospital the following day due to severe dehydration, which probably explains why he’s never come on another one of my dad’s walks since.
Now you’re probably wondering when this all started.
I hand out scripts to the audience ‘casting’ them as characters in the final story.
The first journey that I can remember took us across an enormous cliffside. Peering over the edge, it felt like I was hundreds of thousands of metres from the water. I picked up a coarse, shrill rock that fit perfectly into my palm and hurled into the ocean and then I waited… splash. A tiny sound echoed from the sea, it was lost in the sounds of the waves crashing against the cliff- a battle that is as old as time.
My dad had already become distracted by his goal, a Martello tower that was perched on the edge of the cliff we had been walking along. In his words:
DAD (in a gruff voice): It was strategically placed here, with another Martello on the opposite side, so that any ships coming in to dock would be pincered by gunfire.
Whenever my dad talked like this, my brothers tended to mock him, comparing him to Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses.
BROTHERS (imitating Dad’s voice): During the war…
My dad started to pick up the pace, marching swiftly towards his objective whilst my brothers and I lagged behind. I remember my dad telling them to keep an eye on me.
DAD (in a gruff voice): Keep an eye on Joseph.
A sensible decision considering I was only 5 at the time, and that he was otherwise distracted. By now, my dad had gotten so far ahead that my brothers had stopped bothering to follow. They just started to walk wherever. Now I’m not sure what inspired me to do this: maybe I was looking for Dad, maybe I was just eager to explore, but I decided to wander off on my own. My brothers hadn’t been keeping an eye on me so they weren’t there to stop me from leaving. Of course, as a 5-year-old the most fascinating aspect of a cliffside is the sheer drop. So I headed directly toward the edge.
I creeped closer and closer to the drop. I could feel the light spray of the water brush across my face as the waves hurtled towards the cliff. By now, my brothers had realised that I was no longer walking with them and thought of the trouble they would be in if I wasn’t with them when my dad got back. So they started to shout for me:
BROTHERS: Joseph! Jooseph!
I was too far away to hear them and my dad was miles away, presumably thinking one thing:
DAD (in a gruff voice): Martellos, Martellos, Martellos.
As I edged nearer and nearer to the drop, my brothers became increasingly panicked.
BROTHERS: Jooooseph! Jooooooseph!
Then, out of nowhere, a German family appeared. I can’t remember exactly what they said to me, but I remember feeling scared- after all school had always taught me never to trust strangers. So I began to walk with them, in search of my brothers and my dad, obviously my brothers would want me to find them first. Eventually, we came within earshot of their cries.
BROTHERS: Joooseph! Joooooseph!
To which one the German men replied:
German Tourist (in German accent): Don’t worry, Joseph is with us!
At some point in our conversation I must have told them my name. Of course, my brothers were hugely relieved that they wouldn’t have to tell my dad about this- well at least not straight away, they would wait until it could be looked back on as a funny mishap.
It’s funny, these moments in my life that, at the time, were worrying and alarming are some of my fondest memories. I could tell you all about the dangerous walks that I’ve embarked on, everything that’s gone wrong and every time I’ve been hurt. But I couldn’t tell you about that one ice cream I had, it’s flavour, where I was, who I was with.