scribbles tagged ‘flash fiction’

settled

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

His father

They’ve been together for 4 years. He’s only 21, it doesn‘t feel right. When I was his age I’d wake up in the morning, call my mates and we’d be in Athens by noon. We weren’t rich, we would find ourselves work there, stay all summer, make it up as we went along, We could get by. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife, we’ve been together for 20 years, but I wouldn’t do it again. Wouldn’t get married again.

A bee bumbled between us

At 21 he should be seeing the world, not settling down, there’s plenty of time to settle down later.

Her mother

He‘s got no money, he doesn‘t go out, he just sits in front of the TV and eats junk food. He can‘t cook. He’s doing a computer games degree course. He’s written one game and even she thinks its crap. She’s insecure and he’s a safe bet, she doesn’t love him so he can’t hurt her. His mother visits every week to deliver the folded, bagged, fresh laundry and pick up the stuff that needs washing. He doesn’t even take the laundry out of the bag. His mother does my daughters laundry too. They’ve got no life in them

candlelight flickers across her damp eyes

He’s a couch potato and he’s making her into one.


PS thank you to Ben and Alison. Love you. 223 word post before the PS
settled
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enough

Thursday, March 10th, 2011 | tags: ,  |

Pair of benches overlooking the English channelMy first thought was whether it had been lonely. To live where your death goes unnoticed ’til the neighbours complain about the stench

I hadn’t known you well, but liked you well enough. The mild mannered clever man that helped dad with the Times cryptic crossword and talked knowledgeably, with entertaining passion, about literature and science. You always looked contented, I enjoyed your company, your stories

Your evenings were full of conversations with Chomsky, Darwin, Einstein, Galileo, Heisenberg, Watson, and Wittgenstein. You liked the boys. With such good company there is little room for loneliness, no call for mundane conversations. Those lifetimes of literature can be enough

enough
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digital divide

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 | tags:  |

Bolted to the bench.

The white whirring slicer transformed the fleshy bodies of dead cows, sheep and pigs into smooth, thin, sandwich layers.

fingers? whoops!

 

digital divide
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comfortably middle class

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

does that hurt?

It’s not what I was expecting. When you open the door to a stranger they normally introduce themselves or ask if some named person is in the house. We held each other’s gaze while I tried to work out what he was referring to, before moving us on

can I help you?

is Nicky in?      I meant your nose

Was my nose bleeding? I ran my forefinger under my nostrils then inspected my hand. No blood or snot.

NICKY! SOMEONE at the door FOR YOU

He wore blue jeans, a Pringle jumper and a padded anorak that could have been picked up in a Marks and Spencer’s sale. Short back and sides, clean shaven, the boy lacked visual charisma. He looked comfortably middle class, visually unoffensive. Then it dawned on me that my nose-piercing probably made me unique amongst the people he talked to. Nicky was conservative with both a big and little c. She had already given me the benefit of her expertise on the painfully clashing colours of my dress, my unsuitable hair and recommended that I drop my friends because they risked being unsuccessful in life. They could drag me down.

Life. If she didn’t have one, she couldn’t fail. She was on-track for a Pharmacy degree, a husband, car, kids and holidays abroad. It didn’t map to my idea of life then. It doesn’t now.

Only when the temperature drops below -5 degrees

comfortably middle class
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five word flash

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

Police marksman arrived, we hid

flash fiction inspired by Ernest Hemmingway

While wandering through websites for writers I learned a lot about the writing community and a little about writing. I learned that:

  • when submitting stories to competitions it is considered a courtesy to submit them with 12 point font and double line spacing. No competitions provided guidance on the use of illustrations.
  • A short story is over 1,000 words. I’ve not yet found and upper limit but one site described a 7,000 word story as a short story
  • Flash fiction is normally used to describe stories from 5 to 500 words

Flash fiction is growing in popularity, blogging provides an excellent practice and publishing ground for Flash fiction writers. Several people wrote about how flash fiction is popular with readers because it fits with modern lifestyles. That’s right, blame the reader! We dont have the patience or time to read longer literary formats. Gosh, I hope that’s not happening, but if flash fictions encourages more reading that’s a good thing.

five word flash
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future perfect tense

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Will you have forgotten me? Our first kiss was a surprise, not in the script or rehearsals. You’d planned it without knowing how I would’ve reacted. Your move wasn’t blocked, your instincts were right. A perfect, if tense, moment.

We didn’t know then, that I would’ve stayed with you forever. After you’d left, I expected to find someone else, or that someone else would’ve found me. Decades later, my spontaneous phonecall bought four hours of laughter. Briefly, centre stage again before returning to my place in the wings.

My future will have been littered with walk-on parts, as an optional-extra.

This 100 word post was darned hard to write, more drafts than an Irish castle! I’m normally too lazy to think about using tenses and suspect I’ve used the future perfect, imperfectly. The effort was inspired by the efforts, and an outstanding 100 word post, of Happy Frog and I
future perfect tense
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slight side-step

Thursday, February 17th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

Kennet at nightA schoolboy sidesteps into a shop entranceway so that my path isn’t interrupted as I bruskly walk along King’s street towards the Reading train station. I had planned to step sideways, to let him amble on without interruption. His proactive gesture of consideration was a very warm untouch in this cold morning.

I smiled down towards my elbow, at his small uniformed frame, saying thankyou in the cheeriest voice I could muster. He didn’t look up to acknowledge my pleased surprise and gratitude. As if adults are obstacles to be manoeuvred-around, not heard.

This seemingly natural, unselfconscious, movement made my day. A million other small good things happened that day, but his slight side-step is a lasting highlight.

slight side-step
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beware the trees

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

trees are evil

with this one comment you intrigued me and raised the possibility that you were ever so slightly on a planet very distant from planet wendy 

How does that work, how are trees evil?

Tree bridges road

With an earnest expression you explained how they obscured street-signs so that you missed your turning or got lost in unfamiliar areas. They dropped leaves on sidewalks making them unclean and more slippy than is acceptable. They harboured birds that could poop on you as you walked underneath.  As you started the litany of tree crimes I had to work to subdue my smiles. As the list grew and your earnestness was maintained I felt the need to defend the behaviours of the trees, but decided not to take a contrary position on a topic that clearly raised strong emotions.

Later that evening you mentioned your allegy to mud, dirt.  In the ensuing conversation I let a giggle slip through. Not good, from then on I became the accomplice of the evil conspiracy. You needed to aggressively eradicate me, like dirt. Luckily, you moved to California before I felt the full force of your hygiene enforcement

beware the trees
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wrinkles are your friends

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

wendy: can you come out to play tonight?

you: Um, actually, no, not really, I’ve got some ironing to do

wendy: I’m only in town for a couple of days, what if I come over and we talk while you iron?

you: yes, that would be nice

As I watched you dig-out a pair of socks from the avalanching mountain of fresh laundry then

  • iron each sock, first on its own, then carefully laid under its partner,
  • fold each pair at a 45 degree angle from the heal so that the foot and ankle of the sock lay neatly together
  • Iron the folded pair
  • Then place them in your small pile of finished ironing

I began to understand why you had bought me an Iron for my 25th birthday present. I had never owned and iron before, nor since. The choice of present had initially baffled me, I don’t need an iron, its a rather functional present. I had laughed and said

Oh! an Iron, I haven’t got one of those!

Good, I was worried that you might have got one

As you ironed I noticed your attention to wrinkle, your precision was impressive, you blasted them out of existence with several firm strokes then placed precision folds and creases.  You ironed shirts, jeans, sheets, teatowels, flannels, hankerchieves and underpants. Underpants! Over 3 hours you eroded the mountain to merely a substantial hill of fresh laundry.

Maybe when you look at me you see all the soft wrinkles in my clothes, maybe you needed to give me an iron. It never ceases to amaze me that we are such very close friends. I’m so glad we are.

wrinkles are your friends
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don’t whack me on my new tattoo

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Dear Alice,

Thank you for your Christmas card, there’s no need to apologise, I still love you. You are special, I hardly notice my birthday nowadays anyway. Seem’s like you think your mind has been mush for years now, I don’t see or hear the mush, you are still as bright and beautiful as the Monday night in the alternative disco. Do you remember? The two prats who had made a big killing on the horses and thought we’d be impressed by money? You whacked me so hard on my new tattoo that my squeals of pain quickly reduced us to piles of mutual laughter and baffled the bullshit out of the guys! Forgive yourself, laugh again.

I know you love your step daughter, two sons and husband. You don’t tell me so, but I know you love them, it shows in the all-engulfing way that you support the smooth running of their lives. The meals you cook, the shopping you do, the events you attend, the cleaning, the taxi-driving, the advice. I hear how your life is all about making their lives easier. The girl I knew was always passionate about organising things, how else could you graduate with such a good degree in Library studies. You, engulfed in stories and classification. You were in ecstacy! I remember the stories of how you sorted out the Munich Siemens office, then in the 1990’s the local Berlin Government ‘lost and found’ office by pairing people separated by the wall using just a card system, then arranging Premier entertainment for visiting Warner Brothers stars. You are so good at sorting things and entertaining people.

Somehow you reserve the pain for me, you talk of your disappointments and burden. I wonder where is the happiness hiding, bring it out, I miss it, I love you

W x

don’t whack me on my new tattoo
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bonkers

Sunday, December 19th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

From job application to visa clearance took 14 months. From the day I handed my notice in at work we started to tell our friends and families about my new job in the USA.  Mostly people chose not to ask the obvious questions. As if we were all complicit in an assumptive silence. I was relieved when people asked

were you going too? No
Would we still be friends. Yes
How would it work? Phone calls and holiday visits
Why were we splitting-up? a 9hr time-zone gap, a 9hrs flight, we would not be a couple
Was it just because the job? ….

You are a good actor, you played the victim well and mostly I let you take the role without editorial. You would be staying here with our friends, I was leaving everyone. Leaving a way of life, friends, a job behind. It felt like I was running away. I was glad that I had been able to find somewhere to run to. Without your cold love I would never have had the confidence to emigrate, to take on a completely new job in a completely new continent, to take a mortgage on a house that wasn’t even built yet and whose plot I hand’t even seen.

you’re bonkers!

maybe I was

Previous paragraphs in this story:
  1. The begining of the end
  2. Send in the helicopters
  3. The usual please
  4. No compromise
  5. Ditched by the bitch
bonkers
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ditched by the bitch

Friday, December 17th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Pretty. Curvy. Reflective

has anyone ever told you that you are a callous bitch? Because you are

The vehement anger felt like a punch in the face. Especially suprising from an acquaintance that hadn’t asked, and didn’t know, why I was leaving.

This acquaintance assumed, like others, that I was leaving you because of an impressive job opportunity. The job offer was a serendipitous coincidence that you were playing on – for sympathy.  Your play was working well, at the expense of my reputation as a member of the human race. Rather than tell the pressumptious aquaintance the real reason I decided to counter-play on traditional gender role models, with a near* truth

I begged him to come with me, there are plenty of good job moves he could make if he wanted to come too, but he didn’t want to interrupt his service continuity with Natwest. We weren’t worth it

The tearfulness prompted by his verbal punch, and the real reasons, added a sense of pathos and enhanced the impression of sincerity. Perhaps his punch was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

* no begging involved

Previous paragraphs in this story:
  1. The begining of the end
  2. Send in the helicopters
  3. The usual please
  4. No compromise
ditched by the bitch
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intergalactic hazards

Thursday, December 9th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Recently the on-site health and safety police visited our work premises. They highlighted some of the more dangerous areas of our everyday practices. This device was cited as a potential risk due to an inadequate warning label.

They helped out by producing a temporary label, a post-it note:
Worm hole generator device

intergalactic hazards
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no compromise

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

but I love you

Sceptically I watch your eyes brimming with tears, marvelling at your apparant ability to turn the waterworks on when it suits you. Remembering the other times I’ve seen you cry, now seeing these tears with a new lens. In ths moment I am the cold person. Respecting your request not to touch you, I watch you cry, listen to your implores

you are the only girl I will ever love, I will love you for ever, you will still be as beautiful when you’re in your 90’s wearing a silly hat and quirky clothes. There is no-one else for me, please don’t leave me

a sailboat passesIn my arrogance I find your words believable, if a little confusing.  A day earlier and I would have accepted your words at face value, thrown my arms round your neck and showered you with kisses.

Today I wonder if you have mistaken loving me with your ability to manipulate me to suit your wonts. Is what you really love, having a quirky trainable pet? Could my role in your life be replaced by a chow chow? I try not to smile at the thought of you parading a chow chow at your business bankers social events. Smiling at inappropriate times has occassionally gotten me into trouble. Maybe there is a practical deal we can do that will work for both of us

I want the freedom to be happy, to love unselfconsciously with the whole of my being. If I am free to find a lover then I could remain living with you as a friend

The offer was not acceptable, a discrete affair was not an option. Even with your face glazed in brine you remain an uncompromising negotiator. Left with the choice of

  • staying in celebacy to avoid your tears and align with your concept of love, or
  • leave and risk finding both happiness and a recognisable expression of love

Still a suprisingly difficult decision, again I chose the risk of happiness over the certainty of your controlling, cold, love

Previous paragraphs in this story:
  1. The begining of the end
  2. Send in the helicopters
  3. The usual please
no compromise
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the usual please

Sunday, November 21st, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Pub frameAs we walked into the Robin Hood the landlady caught my eye and smiled. She had one pint pulled before we’d even reached the bar. With a smile for Sue you took the pint and walked off into the smoke . Sue and I exchanged pleasantries while she pulled my usual. Moving out of your home might mean this would cease to be my local pub, my usual pint, my friendly landlady.

Sue’s son was due out of prison soon. Sue was nervous about him coming back home. Would he be able to stay off the drugs, stop thieving, stop tearing her life apart. Taking a long, slow, sup from the first of what might be more than my usual 2 pints, I listened to Sue unburden her worries. My face would have shown the wear of my thoughts, looking like concern for her troubles. The reversal of tradtitional roles pulled a smile in the darkness, the customer listening to the woes of the publican. My burden was light by comparison to hers. I didn’t particularly relish the thought of meeting Sue’s son.

Peering through the smoke I watch you cheerfully chatting with a local school teacher. I’m in no hurrry to join you, everything I want to ask or say can be left unsaid in this very public place. . But some things will need sorting before bedtime. Bedtime stories that are bound to bring sleeplessness. I blamed the tears on the smoke in the pub.

Previous paragraphs in this story:
  1. The begining of the end
  2. Send in the helicopters

.

the usual please
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send in the helicopters

Thursday, November 18th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

continuation of: the beginning of the end
Cars splash in the puddlesThe path wasn’t wide-enough for the two of us to walk, not-touching, side by side. You strode down the middle of the path, looking straight ahead. Six inches to your left, our legs and strides the same length, I walked uncertainly on the grass verge. Watching my feet incase a dip or bump conspired with you to make me fall. You didn’t invite me onto the pavement or slow your pace to ease my stumbling. The tone of your walk clearly drawn to include no courtesy to me. The frosty grass crunched beneath my feet and headlights temporarily blinded me as we walked the mile in silence.

helicopter ride off LundyLike pulling a rug from under me, your few words had irrecovably changed memories from loving moments to contrived deceptions. Something inside me died. Years earlier we’d insured our escape from Lundy island for £5 incase the boat couldn’t land in a storm. A storm brewed, the helicopter rescued us. Now the magic rug had been pulled I wanted something more real, that helicopter, NOW. To be whirled away from the impending storm.

By the time we arrived at the pub, I understood that I had to leave you. I didn’t know when or how, but I knew it would happen. Perhaps that’s what you wanted. In employment contexts I believe they call it constructed dismissal:

  1. Your employer has committed a serious breach of contract
  2. You felt forced to leave because of that breach
  3. You have not done anything to suggest that you have accepted their breach or a change in employment conditions
send in the helicopters
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the beginning of the end

Thursday, November 4th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

The frost was already forming as we left our warm home, heading for an equally warm evening in our local pub. I love autumn, I loved him, the fleece hat I’d given him last christmas pulled over his ears and his hands deep in the pockets of an oversized down jacket that hid his slight frame. I smiled and smoothly slipped my gloved hand through the crook of his elbow

Don’t


Don’t what?

Touch me


I don’t understand

I don’t like being touched


There was a long silence as we walked along the icy pathway and the implications of his words painfully began to blossom

Is this a new thing or have you always felt like this?

I’ve always felt like this

With these few words he deliberately, irrevocably destroyed an illusion he’d previously carefully constructed.  Now he’d knowingly set us on different pathways. He was colder than the evening, colder than the ice. In my pain I lashed out with a warm, tearful broken whisper

you did a good job of faking it for 4 years


the beginning of the end
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international humanitarian crisis

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 | tags: , , , , ,  |

I hate French men, they’re all animals

puddingSpoken by anyone other than Jane this might not have seemed so suprising. Jane adored France. Studying business studies in French, recently returned from a year’s work experience in Paris. I listened, hoping my silence would draw out answers to the whirlwind of questions running through my mind.

Jane is one of the most beautiful young girls I know, palest china skin, amber glowing eyes, natural ring-curls, high cheekbones and a ski-jump nose. Even in this anger she maintailed a doll-like beauty. Our silence continued. Jane clearly had something to say about French men, but didn’t know how to continue

Do you want to talk about it?

Tears fell. Even for the most skilled coordinating crying, breathing, nose-blowing and conversation, is a tricky operation. Jane was skilled.  I listened.

I was raped

it wasn’t my fault

he was an animal

I didn’t report it

I’d invited him into my flat for a coffee

who’d believe the foriegn girl

french police are men too

they’re all animals

The only real suprise to me was her bounding this experience to focus on French men. Alas, she’ll learn that rape’s internationalised without me pointing it out.

international humanitarian crisis
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crackling air

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

door 27The orchestra emerges from door 27

The crash barriers help stop the rather untamed orchestra from rushing out and hurting any unsuspecting passing pedestrians.

The orchestra is normally kept underground, in a bunker, they are let out for fresh air on national holidays. One day I noticed a lot of people gathering around this door, waiting for a glympse of the orchestra. The atmosphere was electric and slightly damp. Crackling air

crackling air
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bedding

Friday, September 10th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

my roomHe looked like I imagined Heathcliffe, all those years ago when at 12 I lost myself in the book. Even a stream of famous actors had failed to live up to my imagination.  That day in our brief conversations I found him to be softly spoken, not self-preposessed,  considerate of the other people around him. The serenity round him was reminsicent of Gregory Peck.

The collar on his large white shirt had frayed through wear. It reminded me of my sweet smelling  ruffled white bedding, softened through use, always inviting. Together the rugged good looks, slightly neglected look and serenity had a powerful gravitational force on my heart. Alas, I wasn’t looking like Lauren Bacall or Audrey Hepburn. For a moment I felt terribly tatty, wishing I had practiced the socially acceptable art of girliness so that I could do all those things that are meant to be attractive, bat long dark mascara laden eyelashes at him, step forward confidently in high heels, smile with reddened lips and glance sideways at at him though contact lenses rather than spectacles. Luckily, this suprise moment of intensley painful insecurity passed quickly with thoughts of my resemblance to the fabulously beautiful Patti Smith.

When we parted I took his hand in both of mine, smiled into his deeply dark eyes, and told him that I was certain that we would meet again.

bedding
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Paris mourning

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

New year really started in the bathroom of a 3 star hotel 45 minutes walk from Notre Dame. Not midnight amongst the Europeans singing, hugging, kissing and drinking. A houseparty of strangers. A strange flavour of tonic water.

It wasn’t raining, but the clouds seemed to crowd right into the bathroom mixing with the steam where the taps ran water into the bath as quickly as it ran out the plug hole.  I’d tired of scrubbing. Red and wrinkled skin from hours of soaking, foaming.  Sometimes if was difficult to tell if this was real or a dream.

The effects of the spiked gin and salty tears were gradually wearing off, being replaced by a profound silence and a kind of numbness I’d never known before or since. I drank more water. Sometime I would have to leave this room, through the one door back to the bedroom. Have to look into his eyes and see all that had happened the night before reflected there. All his questions and apologies, all his needs and regrets had to be faced.  There wasn’t enough room for me to run with the water down the plug hole.  Watching the water spiral down I wished as hard as I could to either wake from this dream or slide out with the water.

Slowly, precisely and with the conviction normally reserved for reprimanding criminals I turned the taps off, rose, dried and dressed myself. Blew my nose. Drank more water.  Closed the window. Composed, upright, dry faced.  In the privacy of my mind I could hear the applause and cheering for a well excecuted restoration job.

 I walked out of the bathroom

 

Paris mourning
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hearts and noses

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

the snow is cold and fresh, lets go out on the downs and make love, I really want to make love outdoors, please…

I knew the pull of making love in freshly fallen snow.

But not with him. We weren’t even friends, let alone lovers. Once I would have considered that all part of the fun.  I’d learned the hard way that strangers with a sense of vitality, of living life to the full, seemed to come in a package that perversely included a need to possess, control.  To own you in a way that breaks legal and moral boundaries, that breaks skin, bone, hearts and noses.  I’m more cautious now.

Masturbate or find another partner, I’m not interested

hearts and noses
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smell the colours

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

 lover: you’re a very visual person

wendy: I’ve got two eyes and I like to keep them peeled lest I start to loose things and fall over more than normal

lover: no, i mean you like to make love in the daylight, outdoors

wendy: that”s so much more than visual. Thats the breeze drying the sweat on your back, smell of the dew on the grass and the leaf mulch in your hair, the shiver from the scatchy snow on your buttocks.  That’s not just visual, that’s living.

lover: that will take me a while to get used to

But he never got the chance to ‘get used to it’ because I wasn’t patient enough to be waiting for someone in their 40’s to learn how to make love out from under cover of darkness, sheets and comfort of artificially sprung surfaces.  There are times when throwing caution to the evening breeze is exhillerating and worthy of a plunge

smell the colours
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practical pairings (pt 5) – working fiction

Monday, July 26th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Coursework finished 4 hrs before the 4pm submission deadline. A large vegetarian Kebab from the local take-away would make a grand treat for finishing with time to spare. I pounced fluffily across campus in the invigorating October sun.

wendy!

Someone was running across the road towards me. I didn’t recognise the run, the outline, or the clothes. As he faded into my myopic focus I could see his black mohiecan haircut was lankily lying along his scalp and that his misshapen faded t-shirt had all the style of a salted slug.

steve

Apparantly he’d had some sort of terrible time that involved lots of drugs, and rainbow hairdye experiments, that went horribly wrong. He was lucky to have any hair at all. Poor boy. He didnt get my messages. He tried to call for me but I was never in and my flatmates hadn’t passed on the messages he’d written.  But now he found me, just in time, 4 hours before the coursework submission deadline.

have you done the coursework?

yes

can I borrow it?

why?

so I can copy it and hand in the same work as you

No

Oh

You should let your tutor know about the problems you’ve been having, they’ll be able to arrange your coursework around your porblems. You could still get the full benefit of actually doing the work. Maybe they’ll give you an extension. I wouldn’t want your reputation sullied by the blemishes of having your name on my work.

Steve found Karen who leant him her work to copy, he wrote a piece of coursework in 4 hours, got reasonable grades for someoneelses work, for a firction, he was good at working fiction.

practical pairings (pt 5) – working fiction
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practical pairings (pt 4) – elusive

Sunday, July 25th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

10 more days to produce a joint practical report. Each day I walked passed Steve’s home and called for him. He was always either out, off his head, or sleeping. He didn’t turn-up for classes either.  I suspect he was really living in Pill village.

After a week of not being able to coordinate any sensible time with Steve I decided to cut my losses.  Doing the work in half the allotted time, with half the workers, my maths told me this would be 4 times as hard to do now because I’d tried to work with Steve. Sigh. No more calling for Steve. Hoorah!

The experimental work, persuading 20 people, all strangers, to give me 15 mins of their time to make 30 line-length comparisions was a fun way to meet people in pubs. The research for, and writing of, the report was also fun.

Steve was soon forgotten.

practical pairings (pt 4) – elusive
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practical pairings (pt 3) – doors of perception

Saturday, July 24th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

Paul let me into Steve’s home. Student accomodation, 9 boys sharing a kitchen and washrooms. Ewe. Steve was lying face-down on the hallway floor making a gurgling sound that could have been a variation on his normal giggling.

what’s wrong?

he’s stoned

drunk?

No, high

I laughed. Steve had already started without me. Our coursework was an experimental study of the effects of the Muller-Lyer illusion characteristics on visual perception.  Steve had clearly bypassed the constraints of the specific illusion, the visual sense and the experimental method. Steve had gone straight for an immersive qualitative experiential study through the doors of all perception.  You had to admire his rebellious,  innovative and hands on approach to his degree studies.

I’d heard about drugs, not taken any, not really interested in taking any. The opportunity to talk to someone while stoned was a first for me and very tempting. Our interviewing skills practical wasn’t due for a while, but a bit of up front practice could come in handy.  Happily I bounced over Steve’s twitching body, sat on the floor by his head and tried to attract his attention.  He garbled and giggled and gurgled, but nothing recognisable as a word, no phrases. I got bored of watching this body with all the control skills of baby.

when is he likely to be compus mentus?

I dont know

can you let him know I called and ask him to call for me when he’s got his marbles together

yeah

practical pairings (pt 3) – doors of perception
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practical pairings (pt 2) – posing practice

Friday, July 23rd, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Not cute, like Brad Pitt or Jonny Depp are cute.

Not handsome, like Daniel Craig or Sean Connery are handsome.

Steve had something, like Robert Carlisle or Gary Oldman have something.

Instead of working on our psychology practical coursework we spent an October Saturday afternoon wandering round warehouses, photographing them. Steve giggled a lot, like my grandmother or Alan Carr giggle.  Often. I wandered after him, playing the audience, taking photographs, and enjoying the peace of the places.  Practical work? We can start on Monday, no hurry….

practical pairings (pt 2) – posing practice
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practical pairings (pt 1)

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

lecturer: you will work on this psychology practical in  pairs

Ony 2 weeks at University, one as a fresher and one on the course. It was easy to predict how the 29 girls and 3 boys would pair:

  • Tom, from Dudley, the folk music fan would pair with Rob the straight looking, quiet, guy. Rob was sectioned less than 2 weeks later.
  • Steve with his white and lime green mohiecan haircut, white leather biking jacket, gold nose-ring, black and bleached stained never-ending drainpipes would pair with Karen the silent dumpy shuffling goth who reminded me of a doormouse in need of a haircut.
  • The gaggle of girls who dressed for their intended career paths as personnel managers in neatly ironed pastel coloured blouses and pencil skirts would all pair together.
  • Heather from Sheffield, in her Def Lepoard t-shirt, locks that bounced on her hips, cowboy boots and a laugh that could stop a bus at 100 yards – would pair with her flatmate – me. I definitely got the best deal.  Me, straight a-line bob, pointy nose, cheshire-cat-grin and home-made 1920’s styled hand-made clothes in black and white.

I was wrong with two predictions.  Without a glance her way Steve strode straight passed Karen, placing himself between Heather and me.  There was something sneaky and slinky about the move. His first conversation with me was to ask if I would consider working with him on this practical.  I was flattered. People who clearly put so much time and effort into peacocking rarely noticed my acceptable variation on mainstream self-presentation. What prompted this?

Karen’s hand lifted a swathe of black backbrushed bush from her face and her piecing brown eyes clearly shifted from Steve to me. She turned abrubtly and shuffled double-speed in her overly tight long skirt, to Heather. Heather welcomed her with all the warmth of an earth mother. My already strong relationship with Heather wouldn’t be dented by this unexpected abberation.

I agreed to work with Steve, we arranged to meet that weekend ….

practical pairings (pt 1)
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mountain mary

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

wendy: i think I must be lonely

mary: rubbish, you are the least lonely person that I know, you just spend a lot of your time on your own

We met several months before.  We both started a ‘mountain glacier hiking’ course.  At 60 Mary was the oldest person on the course. She had not signed up as part of a couple nor was she treating the course as a mate-finding opportunity.   How refreshing. I soon started to seek-out Mary’s company while hiking and during the rest breaks.  I quickly tired of the chattering from other hikers, normally affluent couples considering what gear to purchase, what restaurant to recommend.

At 60 Mary’s love for her terminally-ill bed-ridden husband was not stated, but it beamed stronger than a lighthouse.  She recorded our hiking sessions, the beautiful scenery and laughter,  for him with her new digital camera.  He could feel part of an active interesting life because she sought this life out and carefully bought it back to his bedside with love. What a fabulously generous heart.

I fell in love with Mary. Not the love that hungers for sexual validation. Not a love that needed to be returned.  There was deep peace in her company. Knowing this I invited myself to her home in the foothills of Mount Ranier. The home she had built with her husband before his death so noticibly stepped towards him.

wendy: can I help you gather the leaves from your garden?

Mary: yesthey  will fall as fast as you’ll be able to gather them

After a morning gardening, mostly in silence, we went inside and Mary finished the home made french onion soup.  She talked while she stirred. Talked of how her father raped her and how the authorities didnt believe her story. Talked of how her sister committed suicide. How she left her bilogical family and built her own new family.  How she worked to help abused children and beaten wives. Clearly she has known and seen more loneliness than I could feel.

The cedar dappled autumn sun played on her face.  No tears, no frown lines.

It seems we have both found some form of peace amidst life, in the silences

mountain mary
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goodnight claire

Friday, April 30th, 2010 | tags: ,  |

Sheepishly Claire shuffled toward me.   Years of trying not to impose her pressumed  unwanted presence had refined this shuffle to an art form.  Her 4ft 10inch  plump-Gothness  covered her  painfully polite nature and razor sharp awareness.

I watch my friends re-arrange their stance to make it more difficult for Claire to catch their eye, start a conversation. We’ve all tried, we all know how conversations  with Claire unfold. Last weekend I spent 8 dark hours exploring ways through her sadness.   I’m just the latest in a string of well meaning people trying  to pull her away from believing death is her right choice.   One by one the good souls pull away from her,  to save themselves from drowning in her engulfing sadness.

When she died it made complete sense to me, she was finally free, all the people who cared about her were finally free.   She taught me to respect that choice. Sometimes I see Claire in the street, in a conversation with a friend or stranger.   I remember her fondly.

After Claire’s suicide I moved into her room.

goodnight claire
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