Someone to Study

Just heard the lass across the way in the office here say ‘I aren’t bothered’ and, after five years of aural blindness, I realise that this is part of what the creative writing textbooks mean when they talk about different voices!

I shall be listening to what she says with interest from now on. Verily she is transformed from being a distraction that I have to put my headphones on to avoid, into a distraction I am right glad to have.

Right, back to my sandwiches.

(Funnily enough, she hasn’t said peep since I started listening to her.)

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Hedgehog Love

hedgehog

If you were a car I should see your body as an invitation to climb inside and be driven away. If you were a football team I would watch you for hours with cheers and moans and groans as your reward. If you were a newspaper I could hold you at arms length and look, look, look at your every detail.

But you’re a hedgehog and I’m just a boy in love with you.

If I had the ability, I would climb over your spikes, but only with permission because to do it without would be like requesting holes in my skin that I don’t have the capacity to fill so I ask for your suggestions as to how to approach you in order to fulfil my unexamined obligations.

Oh, and any advice on how to end this
ridiculous thing
would be appreciated too.

Three Points of View

Go, stupid brother. Go, you oaf. Go and leave your sister to me. Can’t you see that I want to get beneath her dress? Can’t you see that you’re not wanted here. Is there nothing I can do to make you quit this den so that I can pull your sister’s pants down and see what mysteries they hold? How much money do I have? If I give you all of it, would you go away and buy something from the corner shop and not come back to share them with us. We have better sweet things to do and see and play with and taste. Go away!

Why does he keep clutching at my pants and trying to pull them down? What’s so interesting inside them that he wants to remove them to see? Nothing there that I haven’t seen a thousand times. Nothing but holes and fluff. Nothing sweet or savoury. Nothing to set the taste buds twitching as much as his seem to be. And why do it in front of my brother? It’d be better to send him away first. I like this boy but I don’t want my brother to see anything that we do together. What a strange way to like me.

When will it be my turn? Why should my sister get all the attention! Why not claw at my clothes for a while instead? I have something more interesting for you to see than the flat nothing in her pants. And I’ll let you see it. Touch it. Taste it. I won’t struggle like this strange sister of mine. Send her away and let me have my turn under your hands. Grasp and grip me. I’m more matched to you than she is. What I feel, you feel too. When will my turn come. My turn to come. Turn to me. Come.

A Kind of Heaven

‘What?!’ She had straightened and now stood, ball in one hand and racket in the other, facing him with a slightly puzzled expression on her face. His gaze had just risen towards that face and his thoughts must have appeared on his in turn. He was thinking, partly now about her expression, but mostly about what he had just glimpsed.

‘Nothing.’ His denial of all his thoughts and feelings towards her. His intense longing. His appreciation of the view that had just been hidden away by the neck of her shirt. The thoughts that occupied his mind and dreams for years afterwards.

The thwacking of the tennis ball against the side wall of the house might, under certain circumstances, be annoying to anyone inside. Unless, of course, that one was a mother, and that she knew that the people hitting the ball against her wall were her son and the neighbour’s adolescent daughter; the one with the length of leg that she hadn’t quite grown into, the budding breasts that she hadn’t found a cover for; aside from a loose necked t-shirt that fell away from her body every time she bent down , and the nascent sexuality that she hadn’t quite figured out what to do with yet. Ah, but she would.

The week before that, that mother had asked her son if he was a ‘puff’. He was pretty sure he wasn’t but even a late-developer, such as he was, could feel piqued that she would ask; that she would cast such aspersions on his manhood! He’d said no, and let it go at that, but would be drawn to think about it for a long time.

Consequently, it was only natural that this mother would have felt more happiness than annoyance at the sound of their play. She did not want her son to be anything different from what he was but, still, ‘normal’ was easier to bear. She would have watched the way that he watched the neighbour’s girl and would have smiled in some secret place in her heart.

The boy smiled too as he again hit the ball hard against the wall at that oh-so-perfectly-judged angle. The one that meant she couldn’t get to the ball in time to hit it back. The one that meant that she had to walk towards him and the ball on the ground. The one that made it necessary for her to bend, with all the grace of a fawn-doe, to pick it up. The one that gave him his first glimpses of what he was sure was a kind of heaven.

But, of course, heaven is just another name for hell when you can never quite open your mouth wide enough to buy a ticket; even when that ticket is waved in front of you. Right in front your stupid, staring face.

57 Years and 3 Months (10th of 12)

0 Years and 0 Months
6 Years and 4 Months
12 Years and 9 Months
19 Years and 1 Months

25 Years and 5 Months
31 Years and 10 Months
38 Years and 2 Months
44 Years and 7 Months
50 Years and 11 Months

57 Years and 3 Months
I remember how innocuous it’ll seem. It’ll start out like a normal conversation: plodding pedestrian-like down the slow lane. And then, with the kind of motion that widens the eyes, it’ll veer right, cutting across several lanes of traffic, clipping a truck on the way, but staying, how the heck!, upright, then slamming into the central barrier, teetering on two wheels before finally ‘righting’ itself smack-bang in the midst of the frantic rush of the fast-lane. Ninety-nine miles per hour with nowhere to go but Rage City.

From ‘what do you want for dinner, dear?’ to ‘I want a divorce’ in sixty spite-filled seconds.

‘What?! Because I want you to decide what we’re having for dinner?’

‘Yes. No! Because I have to decide everything; and I’m sick of it!’

‘Aw, c’mon, it’s hardly everything,’ grabs at the closest memory and flings out: ‘I decided what we watched on TV last night.’ Expression struggling for smooth but falling into ruffian.

‘Yeah, your favourite programmes! I didn’t even get to watch Strictly!’ A face twisted by a longing for colourful costumes and elegant glides.

‘But you recorded it!’ Logic, the last refuge of the criminally psychotic.

She’ll throw down her phone, but oh so carefully onto the cushioned sofa and stand to face me, her eyes barely reaching up to my shoulder but her anger exploding beyond the limits she will have promised herself that she’ll never pass. A clenched fist; eyes narrowed that they show the barest glitter of tears and yet wide enough to let in all the pique and perversity they could and would collect.

‘You’re not worth it,’ a measured start, ‘you’re not worth the twenty three years I’ve given you,’ fingers unfurl; a stab at my breast but aimed at my heart, ‘you’re not worth the words I’ve wasted on you,’ louder now. A step closer. A heat and a spread-fingered push against my chest, ‘you’re not worth my words. You’re a worm. A miserable worm and if I never say anything to you again …’

‘Then shut your face then.’ Not anger, but calculation. Nothing like the passion and commitment that I should, but will rarely show her. Nothing of my heart. Just a blunt tool to achieve a blunt result: a quiet life.

And it’s this longing for a quiet life that’ll bind me more to habit and the long and distant vista of an empty heart than any other thing. And it’s not even to be a real longing. Just a shadow of a memory of a promise not kept.

I can remember now what I’ll want and I can remember what I’ll think that I’ll want. A never-needing river of life is my vision and yet, when I move past the last squeeze and crush into a space of light and love, these memories will leave me and I’ll cry once and for all through those three-score and ten. It’ll start with a squawk and continue with a constancy of complaint. Key-ah, key-ah, key-ah; the ugliness of catch and release of air in the throat. All those words and each fed through a filter of forgetful and hurt.

‘Yeah, you’d like that wouldn’t you. You’d like me to play housewife. To cook your meals and clean your house …’

our house’

‘… and wipe your arse when you get old and sick and you’ll leave me.’

This last with a wailed shout and a palm slammed against my chest with the strength of the frustrations of years behind it. The table won’t have been built to take the sudden impact of my weight against its trinket-laden top and it’ll collapse with a crash that’ll startle the Dawsons from their place by the wall, ears agog, to start towards their phone, where they’ll snatch it from one to the other in their haste to call the police to come, come quick, he’s murdering her!

The ambulance will win the race by a bare minute. Time enough for the paramedics to rush in; shut the door why don’t you, snip through the belt and the back of my pants and, without warming her hands, probe at the bones at the bottom of my spine. And it’ll be then, with her hand on my arse, that the police will arrive and my wife will slip past them and walk, with the air of a woman going to meet her lover, towards the waiting taxi. Going, gone and never to return.

63 Years and 8 Months
70 Years and 0 Months