Baby before birth
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Life, chaos and inspiration

by Ant Neely

A  baby sleeps in warm amniotic fluid, cushioned from the world. It’s safe here, and the child is peaceful. Music seeps in from the outside – the baby wakes and kicks with excitement. This is as close to experiencing zero gravity as he’ll ever get. Fittingly, the track is Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”

As the song reaches the final few bars, the baby feels a sharp contraction … then another. The baby furrows his brow – the wispy, beginner eyebrows meet in the middle.

The journey begins – downwards – accelerating into life, and …

… out of the mouth of a water slide and into the arms of his waiting mother. The baby is a four-year-old boy now. He roars with excitement.

He and his mother share the same smile, the same eyes, the same heart. To him she is beauty, she is love, she is home. To her, his bright eyes are full of wonder and promise.

He wriggles free and plunges below the surface of the water – shimmering light cuts through the cascading blues. A swimmer powers by, splashing, churning. It all seems so familiar …

Low, semi-tones on a double bass. The swimmer thrashes on, unaware. A fin slices through the water. The shark rolls to reveal that dead eye.

The boy, eight-years-old now, sits between his parents at an outdoor cinema, in the Middle East. He holds their hands tightly, staring at the screen – transfixed as Jaws drags his victim downwards. His older brother plays it cool, slurping sticky Fanta from a thick, glass bottle.

The boy glances up at the desert sky, sprinkled with blinking dots of light – trying to understand what it all means. A shooting star zips across the roof of the world. The boy nudges his mum.

They gaze at the stars together – eyes full of wonder.

The boy, fifteen now,  plays the theme from Jaws on a powder blue Fender Strat. Rock stars and films stars adorn his bedroom walls. Isaac Asimov and Aldous Huxley crowd the book shelves.

The Strat starts to feedback and the boy, just for a moment, pretends that he is Jimi Hendrix.

In the kitchen, below, his mum stirs a pot of chilli, a little splashes out onto her top. His dad wets a cloth and hands it to her. Another squeal of feedback cuts through the ceiling. Their dog looks distinctly unimpressed.

His dad rolls his eyes. ‘We shouldn’t have let him buy that guitar.’

His mum laughs. His dad’s face lights up at the sound. ‘It makes him happy.’

The dog gets up, breaks wind, and wanders out.

The boy is eighteen now – dressed in jeans with torn knees – Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue on his Walkman. The dog drags him up a Glaswegian street. They stop at the cinema and he studies a poster – Cry Freedom. He buys a ticket.

A few months later he sits on the couch, next to his mum as they watch the same movie. He knew she would be moved by it. He squeezes her hand.

The dog, in front of a roaring fire, farts in her sleep. The phone rings – he gets up …

… twenty two years old now. He walks in from the balcony of his tiny Los Angeles apartment and answers the phone.

His face falls. He crumples.

Two days later, back in Scotland and surrounded by his dad and brothers. His mother’s face waxy and white. A morphine drip feeds into her arm.

The doctor enters and closes his mother’s eyes for the last time.

Confusion. Disbelief. Arguments and blame. Life descends into the chaos that is death. He thinks he cannot go on, but …

… a year later, a gentle melody washes over him. He climbs out of a borrowed car and spots the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Her eyes dance with life and passion. Her blonde, curly hair diffuses the sun.

He smiles. She smiles back. Within seconds, he’s fallen in love. He reaches out to shake her hand, in that oh-so-English way, and …

… another year later he slips a wedding band onto her finger. Their adventure together begins.

Entering the gates of Pinewood Studios. Skiing in Lake Tahoe. Playing the powder blue Strat at a gig.  Christmas with his brothers. At their favourite deli with her family. Walking a variety of dogs, over a variety of years. He only wishes his mother could have met her.

Later, a ‘Sold’ sign hangs outside of a pretty English Victorian terraced house.

He is almost 40 now – nearing the age when he lost his mother. He holds the front door open as his wife steps out, carrying the last of their suitcases.

He looks at his wife. She nods and smiles.

Dimensions movie posterThe newspaper reads: Couple Sell Home to Make Film, Dimensions: a line, a loop, a tangle of threads.

“Life’s too short,” said the filmmakers, “and we didn’t want to reach the end of ours and regret not following our dreams.”

He watches with pride as his wife directs the first scene from their first film. Actors, clad in glamorous vintage attire, fix a time machine, made from an old piano.

His wife’s eyes are glued to the monitor. His eyes are glued to her.

Yet another year has passed and he roars with happiness as she steps onto the stage to collect the first of many awards.

Later still, and ding – email alert. It’s from Hollywood Journal. She opens it.

“Would you be interested in writing a blog about what inspires you?”

He leans back, closes his eyes and starts to think …

A  baby sleeps in warm amniotic fluid, cushioned from the world. It’s safe here, and the child is peaceful. Music seeps in from the outside – the baby wakes and kicks with excitement. This is as close to experiencing zero gravity as he’ll ever get …

Ant Neely

About Ant Neely

Ant Neely is a writer, composer, lost little boy and husband of director/art director Sloane U'Ren. "Dimensions" screens in L.A. on October 9/10 and at select cities in the U.S. via filmfestivalflix.com. The movie is out on VoD on October 18. You can watch the teaser trailer here - DimensionsThe Movie. Follow us on Facebook and @DimensionsMovie

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