1850 – Ireland:
I am somewhere, anywhere, alone and hungry as sin.
The world is cool as the morning presents the new day in vibrant colours reminiscent to that which I’m accustomed back home, pressing it’s expansive bosom against the rolling countryside. Witnessing the skies has me yearning for familiarity. However, thinking of home only makes my stomach grumble and twist, and I make a point of containing my thoughts. Of course, without fail, my mind wanders to those I’ve left behind to brave the Great Hunger.
I shake my head and alter my thoughts to the good it will bring leaving them now, but spending an eternity with them later.
With that thought in mind, the morning starts to look inviting as does it start to seem pregnant with new possibilities towards an uncertain future, and a future of the purest darkness.
By midday the burning hills have started to come apart at the seams, throwing tufts of elongated shadows across the fields, turning once green vibrance into black despondency, and with it, my mood.
I am hungry.
Of the food my mother packed, only crumbs remain. My waterskin is almost empty. I haven’t eaten all day, and I can actually feel my energy seeping into the ground as I place one onerous footfall after the other.
My mind is foggy now, and it is not without difficulty when I try to discern a small bivouac from the rounded heads of a few large boulders, an unseen fire pushing smoke up into the air along with the tantalising smell of roasting pig.
What happens next, even after I got my family into the new world with me, remains a mystery amongst my descendents and to this very day.
Feral with hunger and thirst and disillusioned by the prospect of finding wonderland, my body starts to take me towards the encampment – and even if I were of mind to calculate my actions, my body simply takes over and carries me towards possible hostile territory in search of vital sustenance.
Unable to control my feet, I wander into a circle framed by small tents now merging with the afternoon shadows. I approach the fire smack in the middle of the clearing around which a dozen or more haggard brutes are sitting drinking beer, speaking in sombre tones or singing sad songs led by haunting Uilleann pipes. Above the fire, skewered with a rotating rod, is a colossal, golden, gleaming pig, its fat hissing softly as it drips into the fire.
Without a sound, I make my way through the group and is baffled by their inability to react to my invading presence. Withdrawing a knife from the satchel slung over my shoulder, I start cutting the meat, pushing chunks of steaming flesh into my satchel to bursting, all the time wondering when one of them will take notice. Sure that there are enough left for all of them to last a week, and enough for me to last until I can find a ship, I ghost myself away from the fire as I watch their unseeing eyes blink in the dancing firelight.
Even at a considerable distance, I hear no raucous shouting, and I perceive no single individual following me, demanding the return of their stolen meat.
It’s as if I was invisible.