It rained up on the moor across from my home. I was dressed, in the words of my partner – “Like Michael Ryan about to walk into Hungerford.” I’d been taking the five mile route for the past six months or so. Two or three times a week of uphill slog onto the moor. I do it because DBT taught me I should get out into nature – if you walk, just walk, just … blah blah blah… I guess the main premise is just to be right there, right then. No time travelling, no worries about being a kid and all the terror of those times. Don’t concern yourself with tomorrow. Up here there is, when all is done, only me and the earth and sky. Everything else is man-made. Psycho-made.
On the moor, the pine forest cuts into meadow. The light opens out onto green fields and stone walls and off into the distance towards a hillside the other side of the valley. Someone told me there’s a nuclear waste dump over there, deep in an old mine. A throwback from the 1960’s and Rolls Royce’s cheap and badly informed radioactive experiments. I’ve never seen it up close. I don’t want to.
The footpath tracks across the small field system. The walls have tumbled down and the path hugs the side of the one standing high wall. There is never anyone about. Except some bulls. This time they chased me, smashing against the high wall I’d just jumped over to save myself. I still can’t work out why they wanted to kill me. They had no sympathy. Just animal unreasonableness. DBT never prepared me for death by goring. It’s not a self-harm activity you can go about easily and with predictable results. There is no control on how much blood, or pain, or the extent to which death will be brought about. Or how soon.
It rained harder. So much water ran through my jacket that I thought my skin was sloughing off. Trousers clung to my legs. Cold water ran down my face and dripped through my beard. The bulls watched from the field. They didn’t mind the rain. They wanted to kill something and cold rain wasn’t going to stop them. I’d never been attacked properly by an animal before. Not that I can remember. Sure, there were those bees that time, but their hearts weren’t really in it. And I think a cat bit me when I was little, but it never followed up on the first bite. There was no animosity. The bulls wanted more. I could hear it as they ran for me, and in the crash of horns against the wall after they had missed my ass by two feet.
In essence, as I entered my little village an hour later, there was no good reason for anything, ever. Not the action of the bulls, the hate, and certainly not for all the things that had bought me to the moor in the first place. Someone smirked at me from inside a shop as I slopped by in my cheap wet clothes. I knew what they were thinking, I was a failure; the village weirdo; unlikeable, crawling through life on his belly. They were right. I hated myself for it. I made it home, sad. The answer rang like a bell. I know there are some things I can control.
I had cheated serious injury two hours ago. But in my kitchen, with a small knife, I saw my blood anyway.