Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Empty Jar - -1/03/1986

{NB - all the work on this site was written by and is the property of Craig Guthrie. I originally chose the name of Emily Ellis Parker and billed the whole site as being her work, but after a publisher refused to consider the work on the basis that "you might not have written it" and advising me that the name Emily Parker was the subject of some discussion in a current affairs story, I changed it and put my own name on the site and changed the protagonist's name to Rebecca - however, she will always be Emily to me, as I had when I invented her, partly in my mind, character traits, as I imagined them, of the brilliant poet Emily Dickinson. To me, the change has taken some of the magic from the site, as I originally presented it as solely the work of the protagonist and was happy to work under this illusion. I have nonetheless complied in the hope that no more questions should be raised as to the author of this work.}

No, Emily it is...

“What should you write in your diary tonight Emily?” I asked myself.
Then, “Why are you writing in your diary tonight Emily?
“It is Kitty and she needs to be filled up, all those white spaces, like a teddy bear’s heart without the love of a child,” I answered myself.
And I began writing… The Empty Jar…

            There were two jars at the back of the large cupboard, in the dark place which saw no light.
            “It’s been so long, I've forgotten what’s inside me,” said the half-full, sticky on the sides with white mould growing on its innards’ jar.
            “At least you have something inside you,” replied the empty jar, “I can never forget that there is nothing filling me - no substance within.”
            “Wouldn’t you rather be empty and clean with a definitive wisdom about yourself, than infested and green, contaminated and confused about what exists within you?”
            “Empty? Empty? Anyone old fool can be empty!” exclaimed the Thorpe’s Strong Vinegar bottle suddenly from the narrower, cleaner shelf above.
            “Any old fool can give up on empty. You need to have aspirations jar. Sell something. Moreover, you need to have something to sell. A gimmick, a catchphrase, a tagline like mine: Thorpe’s Strong Vinegar – The One That Sucks Your Cheeks In. You need to sell yourself.
            “What would you like to be filled with empty jar?”
            “What would I like to be filled with?” replied the empty jar, “What do I desire to be filled with or what do I think would serve me best to be filled with?
            “Well, I should more than anything wish to be you, Oh Lord of Condiments. You, who is most full and empties but a little each time in altruistic nature due to your three-drop stopping cap. You, who have the power to extend life beyond its natural ends. You, who can preserve and enhance, blend and adapt. You, who have the power to provoke a reaction.”
            “You would not be satisfied as me,” said the vinegar. “You would desire always to be full, forever in torment through the heartless irony that your life should begin to diminish once you had begun to serve your purpose. Your tiny, paradoxical imperfection should torture you. In eternal torment from the day you began to fulfil your purpose.”
            “Then I should wish to be full of jam,” stated the empty jar. “Yes. Sweet and carefree. Oblivious to the fact that what fills me is disappearing and what remains is spoiling each new day.”
            “Jam would suit you well, but you’d still have to sell yourself. Any fool can remain empty, I've said, but selling is a different thing. Label yourself if you're empty. Label yourself with aspiration and something shall fill you. You have to have something to sell, you see? That something has to be what is inside you. A thing that may make life a little sweeter, or perhaps something that will make life a little more bitter - what we all have in common though, is that our purpose is to give and to be consumed. And therefore you have to advertise.”
            “But hold your horses Thorpe’s, isn’t this a bit rich coming from you, aren’t you in a disposable bottle, Oh Mighty Thorpe’s, Oh Preserver of Life,” the half-full jar said pensively.
            “How dare you speak to me in such a derisive tone,” blazed the one filled with malted liquid. “Can you imagine returning to the million grains of sand that you once were? I return to another state of consciousness when my purpose is fulfilled. You may have to bear many substances, good or bad, but I, I will remain pure and resolute in my existence, I have purpose and no distractions.”
            The empty jar spoke, “But I am not empty. I am full of air – a space to be pushed out when needs be.”
            “You are empty,” said the vinegar. “Empty and alone and you should never forget it.

I put my pen down and yawned, not sure who I would hold allegiance to.
Who am I?
I am Emily Ellis Parker.  A teenage girl in 1986, but I am not confused.
I exist in two dimensions to some, three to fewer, yet in just one to myself.
I am Emily and no other.
I am myself and I’m sure my purpose is to explore, experience and explain – my diary, my Kitty, is both my friend and my vehicle.
Mummy and Daddy have been arguing again tonight and Thorpe’s Strong Vinegar is the only thing that can remove the bad taste from my mouth.
And so here I am Kitty, trying to get to sleep while I'm unsure of whether I am selling myself, or Thorpe’s Strong Vinegar…


  1. This piece fuses prose and poetry so well. The contrast and confluence of the two makes it a fun, but didactic read! The prose element does the telling whilst the poetry element did the showing. It also poses some interesting age old questions; who are we, what are our values, are our values actually valuable, in what context, who decides... Thoroughly enjoyed!