Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Keep Running

I run fast, as fast as my legs will carry me. I mustn’t get caught. I know he’s chasing me and he’s probably not the only one. I’ve gotta’ out run him. But I’m fitter, younger and I can not let him catch me. My arms power my body into the wind, the air is cool but I concentrate on my feet. I feel my feet hit the ground beneath me. I place one foot firmly in front of the other, focus on my breathing keep it steady and run and run and run. I ignore the hardness of the pavement as my trainers pound the grey slabs, as I power myself on, and push my legs harder to cover the distance, the ground beneath me moves faster and faster but I can hear the sirens. Screaming, wailing sirens, shriek as they advance towards the campus. The campus I’m trying to put some distance between me and the law. I dare not allow myself to think about her, examine what I did. I didn’t mean to… honest. I got so mad. I saw red. I saw red mist. She made my blood get up and then, there was no stopping. She doesn’t get me - I love her. I love her and only her. Stop thinking, keep running.

I can’t hear anyone, no other feet pounding the pavement, loud like mine. I want to glance over my shoulder and check. I don’t, I don’t want to know if he’s following me, close enough to close the gap. I just keep running. A sharp jagged pain grabs my attention, it tears at my side, vicious and spiteful. I clutch my side, Christ, not a stitch not now, as slow my pace. I catch my breath I begin to jog at a steady pace stop running flat out as the entrance to the walled garden comes into view. It’s just ahead, if I slip in quietly, will he see me disappear, will he follow? I scan the seats, most are empty at this time of the morning, people already gone to work in the offices, and it’s too early for mums with kids. A tramp sits on our bench, the secluded hidden seat under the arbour. We used to meet here every lunch time, just Susie and me. When she used to talk to me. I don’t want to share the bench with this dirty tramp. I need to be alone, get my head straight, work out what I’m gonna’ say.

‘Piss off mate, go on piss off, take your crap with you.’
‘Or what?’
‘I’ll knife you… that’s what!’ I watch relieved as the tramp shuffles away and I don’t get my knife out, but I feel it in my pocket. I like the feel of my knife in my pocket. It’s reassuring. I sit alone on the seat. My breathing is heavy, my chest aches I’m out of practice I haven’t run that far, that fast in a while. My hearts pounding, I take short sharp breaths and wipe away the sweat from my face with the back of my hand before it trickles down and drips. I know the police will look for me – what the bloody hell am I gonna do now? If only she’d stopped and if only she’d talked to me none of this would have happened. I just wanted to talk. Her voice keeps ringing in my ears, ‘I’m not discussing this…’ was all she said as she turned and walked away. How could she be so cold? Her red lipstick. I love her mouth. I want to pull her close, hold her fast, kiss that wide mouth, those lips.

‘Hang on a minute… I just want to talk.’ But she did not appear to hear me... my body tensed I wanted to shout, no don’t go, but I didn’t, there were too many people about. My feet begun to move as I broke into a sprint, I closed the gap and grabbed her from behind. Pulled her off her feet and back down the steps, she struggled but I’m stronger, she started to scream and then she stopped screaming. My knife was at her throat. Christ I’d didn’t mean to hurt her, I just had to stop her screaming, but other people started shouting. A couple of guys tried to intervene started to walk towards us, but I can’t remember what they said, I wasn’t listening to them. I dragged her hard, her feet couldn’t keep up, she stumbled but I held her firm, stopped her from falling to the ground. I get annoyed when guys give her so much attention. Susie’s gorgeous. I can’t handle it when other guys chat her up, don’t they know she’s mine? I simply can’t contain my anger, it grows and before I can stop myself my frustration spills over and I shout, lash out, and yell. I thought I could control my anger but I realise now I can’t contain my rage. I need to hunker down, hide from the world, and figure out what to do next. I want everyone to go away. Fat chance.

My knife feels good in my hand. The feel of the cool blade begins to calm me down. I run my finger along the blade, bloody hell it’s sharp, the blade slices and breaks my skin, draws my blood. I suck my finger taste the metal. I turn the knife over and over in my hands, the sun glints off the blade. I like the way this knife makes me feel strong, protected. When she talks to me I like the way Susie makes me feel. If only she talked, not walked. I move my hair from my eyes, the sunlight pierces my brain, it doesn’t matter that I had good intentions this morning ‘cos I screwed up big time. I’m sorry Susie, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to scare you. Oh god she’ll never talk to me again. Never, not after…I plunge the knife in to my thigh. Shit! Can’t run now. The jeans grow red, a seeping creeping expanse of red. God my leg hurts. But not as much as Susie ignoring me hurts my head. If only she’d just smiled…


Hope you like this piece not sure what to do with it now… any suggestions?
Tried to capture a self-absorbed, self-centred youth.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A Jewel box of a gem

It is not often that I’m totally surprised or taken aback by a friend but recently I had a wonderful and unexpected experience. It may sound odd but I feel I’ve found a place I’d like to curl up and get very, very drunk.

I have a friend who lives in a house that is deceptive. From the street it looks quite normal, a two up two down Victorian terrace. But oh my, once inside there is another surprise. The house has four stories as it clings to side of a small cliff face and there are two further floors below street level, with narrow flights of stairs that are quite steep, which need care to be negotiated successfully.

Down at the basement level of the house is a door, narrower than usual and just wide enough to gain access.

The lights were turned out except for the one behind the door and then my friend suggested I open the door.

I was dubious, unsure what would greet me…

Oh the wonderment, the sheer beauty! Row upon row of neatly racked bottles. Iridescent colours, pale yellows, rich oranges, ruby reds and deep sexy clarets. Each bottle another version of sloe gin or raspberry vodka, well any clear alcohol that had been steeped in fruit from greengages to blackberries.

Truly it was a sight to behold.

Honestly I could have stayed there a very long time and consumed a vast quantity of medicine. Yes to me it looks like these bottles have truly magical and medicinal powers.

I think I was also struck by the neatness. Each bottle shone, glittered in the light, its own shade plucked from the rainbow, each bottle a different shape and size snugly fitted in orderly racking that displayed each individual item to its best advantage. Perfection.

It really was a broom cupboard in a previous life but boy what a transformation. Truly the best ‘make over’ I’ve ever seen.

Monday, 12 December 2011

‘Boiling a kettle & making tea.’

On waking the first thing you do is get up and go downstairs to make tea. The kettle stands silent in the same spot, waiting to be used. Your right hand reaches out and clasps the kettle’s handle and you pick it up one handed, then turn and walk towards the sink. With care you open the lid, and place the newly revealed opening beneath the faucet. The lid broke sometime ago and flies off into space if you exert too much force.

The tap is turned on. Water spurts, and then splutters, until a sudden whoosh of activity, it issues forth. You almost jump, and if you’re careless and drift a little the rim of the kettle will catch the fountain and spray everything. Wall, sink and wet your Pj’s’ with an unnecessary intensity of coldness that makes you swear out loud. Usually something suitably unrepeatable.

The kettle fills quickly not quietly. You turn off the tap. Push the lid back into place until it locks into position and with two hands carry the kettle back to the original work surface. With care you place it on the stand and flick the switch. The red light pops on. Cheery and bright in the winter morning gloom. The roar of the rumble as the water begins to boil makes the kitchen feel as if it is coming to life. The quiet solitude broken by the rapidity of the rolling boil. It’s quick this old kettle it’s why you haven’t replaced it yet.

Your hand reaches up in the air, finds the cupboard door without you looking, your fingers loop casually around the handle and pulls it open. The tea caddy faces proudly, outwards. You pick up the sealed container, pop its lid wide open and select two tea bags. These are dropped carelessly onto the surface.

The smell is familiar, slightly oily, aromatic bergamot the box had stated. The lid snaps shut. Seals in that fragrant perfume. And again without looking your hand returns the tin to its place in the cupboard, well-located, within easy reach for next time and with a lightest touch the cupboard door swings closed.

You pull open the fridge door. The light shines out highlighting its contents. You stoop, retrieve the bottle from the door rack and twist the green cap off, intending to remove it, place it on the work surface. The lid flies. Airborne it crosses a vast expanse of floor before landing with a clattering noisiness unlike any magic flying saucer. You go to pour the milk and stop. Turning you open another high level cupboard, reach up and take down two mugs, one a pretty multi-coloured butterfly scene on a lilac background, the other an old favourite, a VW Golf.

The milk is poured, measured into these two receptacles. I’m very particular milk first then the tea, never the other way round. You humour me, ‘Yes dear,’ when I say I can tell the difference. And opening the drawer beneath the kettle you rummage, find a spoon and place it on the work surface next to the mugs.

At last the kettle finally boils, it switches off and you lift it. Pour a small amount of water into the empty pot. You put it back and pick up the patterned teapot, a modern design in blue and white, with both hands and swirl this hot liquid around before turning and tipping it away down the drain. The warmed ceramic pot is ready. Teabags are dropped into its cavity and the kettle is picked up. You pour slowly, the steam escapes, rises, hits the surface of the overhead cupboards and curls out tendrils of white vapour that disappear in an instance. You return the drained kettle to its stand, it clicks into place. Before you pop the lid of the tea pot on, you stir the water into a whirlpool and watch the teabags swim, round and round.

You take two steps and nudge the green lid out from under the washing machine with your big toe, pick it up, blow on it to make sure there is no dust adhered to the lid and twist it back firmly. The milk is stowed away and the fridge light goes out, extinguished until the next time. The kettle is quiet. The kitchen is silent.

You fold your arms, wander over to the back door and look out over the garden, the garden wears a thin layer of frost, everything is coated in white. You pull your dressing gown tight around your torso and you wait for the brew to stew. You round your shoulders, then shake them out before stretching your arms above your head. But you do not yawn.

Occasionally you will place the cups and the pot and the sugar bowl on a tray and then go back to bed but not today. You need to get going. You need a shower. But not before this amber nectar has reached your lips, revived your dry thirsty throat. A sudden cough grabs you. Your body convulses. The wait is almost over, one final stir with the discarded spoon, its time to pour the tea.

A long stream of dark golden brown liquid ascends from the pot to the mug. It mixes with the milk, turns pale. Fills the mug. Bubbles form, sit proudly in a gaggle on the surface that makes you smile. Yet as the bubbles dwindle, your smile fades.

Temptation to lift a mug and sip this hot invigorating liquid will result in a burned mouth. Patience is required. You pick up both cups and head off back up stairs, whistling.


Observation of the small details in life can help me and lead me to write a more detailed character/situation. Writing a piece like this about an everyday occurrence, with all its attendant actions can be a cathartic exercise.

When I wrote this piece initially it was in the first person. But then I decided to attempt the second person, which I’d never done before. I wanted more distance and to give the impression of being a voyeur. I’m not sure if it works. But if I don’t try these variations I will never find out what does and what doesn’t work.

There are so many things that I could take for granted and in trying to find the magic/mystery I may miss important elements that are essential to a character.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The 'Magic' in my day

I often sit and wonder at the beauty of the day. This morning is no exception. The day dawned dull and full of despondent clouds. A few hours on and it has cleared to reveal an ice blue sky, a crisp chill in the air and sunshine. The sun creates its own magic as the fence at the end of my garden begins to steam, soft tendrils of curly-cue smoke drift on a lazy upward spiral… in no rush to be released to vanish into the ether. For me this is magical, that an almost transparent mist can rise and vanish before it is seen, and if I had not paid attention to the small things then I would have missed its beauty. But enough of my mesmerised daydreaming I have chores that need attention, but next tea break I’ll sit by the window and watch the view change.

Did you experience a Magic moment today?