Disappearing Ink

Joanna Lilley (Creative Writing: University of Glasgow)

'A total living experience
which can transform consciousness'
the brochure said

Workshops, gatherings
Mediterranean sun, Aegean sea
Not your average holiday
Not your average price
but how much does it cost to renovate your soul these days?

Strangers on Saturday,
best friends by Tuesday
We confided
I wasn't the only one looking for a miracle
We all believed in magic
We were going to return home:
focused, centred
tanned, slim
And - if the magic was strong enough -
in love
with ourselves if we couldn't fall in love with each other
A soul-swap instead of a house-swap
This was no time-share, this was forever

cotoneaster shadows on terrace steps
warm shiny sea
small safe waves
bamboo huts and soft fleece blankets
The brochure foretold it all

Write a letter to yourselves
the work-life balance tutor said
A month after the holiday, she would put it in the post

I filled eight sides, torn out from my A4 notebook
I knew exactly what to write:
Demolish old habits, refurbish old goals
Do more cooking and less eating
Make yourself someone another could live with
Be a real artist, stop running those workshops down on the estate

We addressed and lick-sealed the letters ourselves
Ragged notebook sheets folded into
delicate airmail envelopes

When, a month later - old habits dying hard -
the letter came
there were four sheets still,
the same torn-out-notebook paper
But only these words,
one per sheet:





I wasn't the only one looking for a miracle
We all believed in magic

eSharp issue: autumn 2003. © Joanna Lilley 2003. All rights reserved. ISSN 1742-4542.