It is the excess dust blowing out of the attic, into the bedrooms, into the kitchen, into the lounge. It's the not-quite-falling-fast-enough to escape it. It's the falling-too-fast to be unscathed. It's a generation's old coats.

To The Furnaces

by Corey Wakeling

Collecting dust to better name names, I am getting much further now. You would be surprised. There is time spent, and then there's dust and time. In my father's attic, with his mother's things, I trace the length of my leg by following it around with a finger, effacing the dust that coats this wooden floor evenly in a line around the leg. This floor is also the ceiling to my father's bedroom, except the surface is different. If the ceiling were coated in dust as the floor to the attic is, he would choke in his sleep every single night. He will never get my mother back with that kind of behaviour. He wants events and yet isn't willing to make events of sleep apnoea. School boys can make armies with the right literature. Give them the right literature, and we will have less attics, and less dusty children. I wouldn't like to call this tracing a chalk line because that might mean a presentiment of death, so please don't think anything of the sort. Wearing my grandmother's coat, I see what the people in London in 1952 were getting at. First of all, a blue as dark as this won't be marred by the smoke from the coal fires. Won't deter fathers from taking their women back. Of a heavy linen, the coal dust might be shaken from the surface before entering as lovely a house as this, with ceilings and panels of arabesques. Like this. I have seen my grandmother's house, and it is this house, but it is also her doll's house in this attic of hers and my father's. It has had the coat over it, so the dust inside it is minimal. Mostly made of wood, the doll's house otherwise contains bakelite figures, figures of human beings bearing striking similarity to the human beings I've met in my time. And I've met a dozen, a many dozen. This is figurative and not abstract. They are even wearing the same clothes as the men and women of my grandmother's young adulthood in 1952. It is practically The Strand in my father and grandmother's attic, inside my grandmother's dollhouse. Brushing dust from stone. How strange then that these figures resemble those in the photographs from my childhood – all black and white, or brown – decades after the time that my grandmother played with these toys. They must have been terribly conservative, my family, to wear the same clothes, figuratively speaking. Unimaginative, if you like. After having left my mark in the attic, a full tracing in place, I make my way back downwards into the world of Dad, put on the full, navy blue coat and cover my nose and mouth, descending past the second floor, the first floor, through the kitchen, into the cold fireplace, further down and down, scurrying, scratching, digging, burying, scooping and digging, until I'm truly there, with the coal at my teeth, my eyes all dusty, my tongue dry like stone, Dad calling out to me, until I am all of it.