In a world whirring, changing, how do you raise chicks? Buy a house, go to work? Or travel abroad? Use public transport? You have money worries…lack of parental support or maybe too much parental support… And what about keeping your friends and social networks..? It’s a big ask.
‘Why are you carrying an anchor?’, she asked him. ‘Isn’t it heavy? Where did you get it?’ ‘I need it. It keeps me sane. In one place’ ‘Mine’s smaller than yours!’ ‘Mine? My anchor..? I don’t have one.’ ‘But you’re holding it now. I can see it and it’s bigger than mine.’ ‘Where?’
He didn’t see his own anchor but she clearly held one. Could she be right? ‘Nonsense’, he dismissed the idea.
Yet her anchor seemed over the year to get lighter. It didn’t seem to hold her back. She put it down where she needed to and pulled it up when she wanted to get going. He could see she carried it, like a weight of iron.
He approached her one day to ask ‘Can I hold your anchor?’ ‘Not till you hold your own.’ ‘I haven’t got one.’ ‘No? It’s on the floor. There. Right beneath you. I’m surprised you can hardly move.’
He looked down. A metallic flash shot up into his eyes. He felt the cold, rough metal he was dragging. His anchor. How come he hadn’t seen it before? He thought he’d just been putting on weight.
‘Bye. I have to fly’, she said. ‘For how long? Will you be back?’ ‘I don’t know. I’ll see you. I need to fly. ‘Bye!’ And with that she took off.
One day, he took up his anchor and started walking till he came to a park. He sat down next to a homeless man on a bench, hoping he wouldn’t see he was carrying an anchor. ‘See you’re holding your anchor.’ ‘You noticed?’ ‘Yes, I’ve got mine here. It’s good, buried deep in the ground. It keeps me here, keeps me sane. My world, you see, here.’ ‘But how can you..?’ ‘I’ve tried but I can’t carry my anchor any further…I got as far as here and here to drop. Suppose I’ll die here.’
But he didn’t want to die here. He shared his sandwich and drink with the homeless man and picked up his anchor and walked on. How heavy it felt. He groaned.
He came to a town centre. Many people were struggling, rushing from one place to the next. Overhead, others still were flying, balancing their anchors as if they were made of aluminium or inflatable, even. He thought he saw his partner, flickeringly, but perhaps not. He felt lonely. He missed her. Funny how he’d missed their anchors growing. Should he keep his? It actually felt part of him. He looked carefully at it. The weather had worn the edges round. Rust had got a grip at the bottom…not unattractively. The chain around his neck chafed his skin. He tried to take it off but he couldn’t.
He carried on till he came to a beach, dragging his anchor round and round on the sand, forming a shell. Exhausted, his legs gave way and he found himself sitting in the centre for how long, he didn’t know. He fell into a deep sleep.
Someone was singing to him. He heard her voice. ‘Are you ok?’ He lifted an eye lid. There she was, stood, floating in the shimmering light of the sun. ‘Come with me.’ ‘I can’t. I have this anchor. It’s too heavy. I can’t do any more.’ ‘But look, I have my anchor too.’ And she started laughing, started dancing. ‘Why isn’t it heavy?’ It looks so light.’ ‘Oh, it can be heavy, when I need it to be. But if it was heavy all the time, I would hate it. How would I live? How would I be free?’
‘It’s not that easy. I can’t lift this.’ ‘Here, let me help you. Come on, your hand. Stand up.’ He struggled to his feet. ‘Would it be ok if I held your anchor for you?’ ‘Would you? Yes..!’ She picked it up. It seemed to float on her palm. He felt its lightness. He moved slowly, his movement freer without the anchor’s weight.
‘Come with me’, she said. ‘When was the last time you kicked your feet in the sea?’ ‘Oh, that’s such a long time ago…I don’t remember.’ ‘Then, come on. I’ll take both our anchors for now. It’s quite simple, once you get the hang of it.’
She took his hand and they walked into the surf. He noticed how beautiful his anchor shone in the daylight and how colourful was the chain of flowers joining her to her anchor. He looked down at his own chain. One link was broken and a bud was forming.