It’s Monday. I don’t get paid until Friday. We’re screwed. We’re absolutely fucking screwed.
I’m terrified of getting nicked. Social services’ll take the kids away. People’ll say I deserve it. That fat lazy unemployed slag with her mental health problems. Look what she’s putting her kids through. How’d she get herself into such a state?
Like they have a clue. Like they ever look under the surface.
Fucking scum. Pointing their fat fucking fingers at me. Judging me. They want me to fail. I fucking know this.
They never have to look at themselves when they've got someone to blame.
The Pet Detective
I was the best private eye in the city.
Every morning before the day’s work I read quietly, my body in full sun.
“Lola’s gone!” The shout made my whiskers twitch. James.
I peeked over the book at my irritating neighbor. Lola was his daughter. Sweet kid.
Sniffing the air, I caught blood. And something else.
“She wear lavender?”
“No,” Eyes wide, “A clue? There’s so much blood. You think she’s okay?”
I swung my legs off the desk, slamming my book down with a loud thud.
“Dammit Jim, I’m a cat not a doctor! Let’s go.”
A Slippery Dish
Liz wondered if their guests could catch the whiff of Phillip’s cooked Conger eels mixed in with her homemade taramasalata and warm pitta bread. She thought she’d shown great fortitude tolerating ‘Spike’ and ‘Evelyn’. The slamming of their muscled bodies against the glass tank’s walls in their bedroom gave her nightmares. Phil lost three fingertips to the slippery duo, but he shrugged it off. “Accidents happen,” he laughed. Liz noticed her husband of twenty-five years chewing hard on his food. A thread of something rubbery protruded from his lips. Liz sighed with satisfaction. “Bon Appetit everyone,” she raised her glass.
I opened my eyes and spoke with the angel at the foot of my bed. He didn’t have wings or look like Brad Pitt. His name was Derek; originally from Basildon.
“What happened to me, Derek?”
“You’re dead,” he replied.
“How?” I asked, my voice catching in my throat.
“An hour ago. They tried reviving you. Your time of death was six-thirty.”
“So, I was on my way home from work then?”
“I suppose so,” Derek replied, not seeming to care one way or the other.
“Did they say what caused it?”
“You were texting someone, apparently.”
A Picture of Youth
'We were happy though, weren't we?' No response, so he answers for her. 'Sure we were. Before you got sick. Before they put you here.'
Nothing again. Only that fixed glassy smile, the sparkling monochrome eyes gazing blindly up at him, their champagne fizz undimmed by time.
He plants a parting kiss on her brow, icy cold to the touch, and lays a hooked finger against the pale glossy cheeks, grey, paper-thin.
Then returns the treasured snapshot to his wallet, steadying himself briefly against the too new headstone -- 'devoted wife, mother and gran' – in readiness for the slow trudge home.
Every six minutes, Pulse appears, rash-like, on my feeds: Fb, Twitter, Outlook, BBC>SPORT>FENCING. How they dodged the Beeb-E-Cee's advertising remit I'll never know, but there it'd be; before and after pics of a Polynesian-lookin' woman who had subscribed to Pulse, shoved her blood their way and remedied herself on their advice.
I plunged and ordered a Pulse-Pack, which subsequently arrived. As I prepared to aspirate my one remaining knee, Buxton yelped, annoyingly, at life. I headlock'ed the hound and withdrew its sputum.
Soon I would post Buxton's - not mine! - blood back to Pulse and await the results with disturbing intrepidation.
The Day I Died
My life was perfect until our safe home was broken into by a massive hand. It took my siblings as they screamed.
I watched as they were given to this giant grey monster; it snorted them into its nose and placed them in its dark cavernous mouth. White blades cut into them, shredding their insides.
The hand reached in slower this time and took me out of the bag; I clung onto the hand.
I lay dying. I felt my eyes grow heavy as I saw the hand take out Mother. I closed my eyes as I heard her wail.
The greyhound and the wind know each other well.
They speak the same. Roaring at the start of the chase, in the fury of the storm, and calming to a whine and a whisper.
The wind brings rumors to his long nose. It tousles his fur, tickles ears so they twitch and twist and it plays, throwing leaves to catch.
The wind pushes him, slows him when the race is done and carries him home from a tumble.
In return, the greyhound gives body to the wind. So that man may know what it looks like in flesh and bone.
When my daughter was four, we visited my aunt in Karaganda, a city in the middle of the dry Russian steppe. Tumbleweed grew everywhere. In the summer, tumbleweed’s prickly seeds fell off the plants and gathered into large clusters. They rolled around the steppe and along the city streets.
“Mommy, what is it?” my daughter asked.
“Tumbleweed,” I said. “They tumble wherever the wind blows. Camels eat them sometimes.” She had already seen a camel in a zoo.
She wrinkled her little nose. “What if a wind blows, and a camel is hungry?” she asked. “Would the camel chase them?”
Come on. Throw it…
Yeah, of course I’m ready. Throw, throw, throw!
Where’d it go? Where?
It went this way. I know it did. Where, where, where?
Is that it? Nope. Similar, but not right.
This is it! Yay!
Quick. Pick it up, pick it up. Before anybody steals it.
Now, quickly, which way did I come from? Gotta get back to him.
Back as fast as I possibly can.
Look, look. I found it. Here it is
Sorry it’s a bit slobbery.
Throw it again? Pleeeeeeez?
I could play this game all day long.
Still a work in progress, the pebble sits in my palm. Some tasks, however, are complete -no features remain- either groove or protrusion. The surface ground down over geological time and blinked from existence. All corners chipped away by churning rocks and abrading particles. A once and future mountain; a once and future speck of dust. All that remains is a half-inch thick disc of uniform depth, but not uniform shape, to be tossed back into the sea’s never-ceasing tumbler, to bleed matter until the pebble is nought but a grain of sand. The perfect dimension for a mythic universe.
The Greenness of Home
Cold, north-easterly wind bites through my anorak, nipping at the flesh beneath my sweater. Wrap up, she said. I did but it hasn’t made any difference. Still the cold seeps in through the gaps. Penetrates my bones until they threaten to crack. Muscle isn’t much help. It pounds and strains against the elements – against the sorrow that remains since he departed. Those things are best remembered and not spoken of, she said. I think she means unfelt. As if he never breathed. As if he never was. I feel him still, when I’m quiet. Here in the greenness of home.
That day my previous well-established world crushed and I was thrown into the ice-cold current called – adult life. A phone call summoned me to our neighbours, the Dixon`s. In the drawing room I met their guest – a heavily made-up elderly woman with enormous earrings.
“Now when you have come of age, I and my husband decided it was time you learned the truth. Your father sends his greetings. He loves you.”
I must have fainted as next thing I remember was a glass of water pressed to my lips. I knew that from now on I was on my own.
“We havenʼt heard from your mum all day.”
We trudge round, hands gripping pocket linings. Ring the doorbell. Knock loudly.
The lounge is vacant, television blaring. The dining room silent, cereal bowl empty.
Bedrooms lie as still as their dust.
Laurence rushes to the bathroom, I catch a glimpse, I pull him back.
There, slumped on the toilet, Mills and Boon has fallen flat. Blue and black and sagging all over.
The lounge isnʼt vacant now, voices murmur.
I listen as they drag her down the stairs, with the opposite of ease. Bump bump bump bump.
Fall from Grace
The feather floated down, drifting side to side on the warm air rising from the sea; gliding then suddenly dipping as a gentle breeze nudged it along. Soon, another feather appeared and then another, until a shower of cascading white feathers drifted in a haphazard pattern against the dazzling azure sky from which the sun shone upon the Aegean Sea. Feathers were blown towards an island, where a child watched and waited, chasing the feathers until he caught one. The child was unaware of the figure falling into the sea, as he ran home to show his mother his prize.
Move and You Die
Move and you die. Simple as that.
An exhale. A twitch. A blink out of line. Just because its dark doesn’t mean they can’t see you.
You’re not the only one here. There are others trapped within their own bodies. You can feel the heavy beating of their hearts pulsating through the room and the screams bouncing off the internal walls of their brain. How did we get here?
There’s a hand on your back.
I mean, what hand? There’s no hand on your back, pay no attention to that. Just your imagination playing tricks on you!
Your nose itches.
But Not Forgotten
“She’s lost it!”
I was vaguely aware of peripheral laughter and smartphones.
“GUYS! Get to class. Lauren? You… okay?”
I wasn’t. It hurt my head and my heart to exist right then. The intensity. Dread.
Sir sighed. “I’ll get Mrs Paul.”
I stared around the office, waiting to be dismissed.
‘A blip’ they called it. Stupid little word; over as soon as it leaves your lips. Temporary. But the damage is lasting.
Blip. Like. Blip. Share.
Every moment is forever. Permanent. Unforgiving.
Text from Dad:
Where are you, Lauren? Mum is worried. Come home. Please.
A - list meditations
"Why would I ever marry YOU?" screamed the brunette, banshee, who we'd all seen, a week before (having won a minor - celebrity, jungle - based game show), clucking about on local television.
Flummoxed, the six foot tall, sturdy, dread- headed man levelled her with his base voice,
"This too shall pass and you will still want the love that only an honest life can provide."
"What? Get away from me, you freak!"
And with that, he departed, as his silence danced delicately down the street.
As she twirled to meet her paparazzi, her heel snapped in the brittle, reception of no-one.
Don't you think the doily makes the phone less intrusive? The monitor more inviting with some net curtains?
I swapped the office chair for a rocker, instead of propping myself up unnaturally.
With some pillows it even doubles up as a bed.
I found a plug for my kettle, easing kitchen congestion, and a lamp added much needed ambience.
Work life balance was further improved with the addition of the washing line and ironing board.
Admittedly though, the canary does whistle too much when the television is on.
Sorry, I don’t understand?
You’re sending me home?
But I am home?
An Unlucky Accident
“One for sorrow, two for joy…”
“What does it mean?” His son asked.
“You should salute a single magpie to cancel out any bad luck,” his dad said. “Or something unfortunate will happen. Two for joy means something good.”
“Did you not do that before your ladder slipped?” His son questioned, eyeing his father’s plaster cast.
“No. My bad luck, huh.”
“Hmm,” his son answered, walking away. He didn’t like to tell his father that he’d been riding his bike and accidently knocked against the ladder causing it to slip. Thank goodness he’d just seen two magpies thereby escaping punishment!
The way how Mr. Kaczynski was treated in the media was a case of "Wittgenstein’s cat."
To the U.S. government, he was pure evil and later, slipped into the same category with the foreign terrorists. During his captivity, the world turned into a wasteland. The "overlords of technology" aggressively executed their programs, destroying Nature.
The state of the world, a fact, as Wittgenstein would state, should be a proof for every one of the 7.7 billion inhabitants of Earth that Mr. Kaczynski was right all the time. Wittgenstein’s blessing is that he has not been forced to witness the insanity.
A grand display of porcelain dolls decorates the otherwise empty room. Seemingly the same, but each with a personalised touch. All are clothed in a white pinafore dress, a red ribbon tied around their waist. Their eyes are are framed with thick lashes, coated with mascara, and curled to perfection. Red painted mouths are pushed forward in a pout, waiting for lips that will never meet.
“Wow. Their hair is so soft,” she whispers.
He stands behind her, stroking the back of her head, and pulling a knife from behind his back. “Yes. I think yours will fit quite nicely.”
Hands Across Time
Mary waits at the gate. ‘Hello, my love, I’ve been waiting for you.’ She stretches out her hand.
The one I held in the back row of the pictures. The one I placed a ring on and pledged ‘till death do us part.’ Those hands peeled potatoes, rolled pastry for the best apple pies, soothed our baby girl, bashed out ‘Moonlight Sonata,’ on our old piano and ignited passion skin on skin in the dark hours.
‘What kept you?’ She asks.
‘Oh, you know life and stuff.’
She smiles. I take her hand and together we walk into the light.
She pours herself another glass of water. Her wrist aches, but she doesn’t show it.
‘This chicken,’ he says, holding up a strip of brown meat. ‘This is special.’
‘Thank you,’ she says.
‘It’s excellent. I mean, really excellent. One of the nicest meals we’ve had in a long time, don’t you think?’
‘It’s nothing. I threw it together.’
‘I don’t believe that. Not for a second.’
‘Would you excuse me?’ she says, standing.
A flicker of irritation passes across his face, but then he is eating again.
‘This chicken,’ he says, as she leaves the room. ‘Superb. The best.’
The Bird Feeders
As the hearse drove away I recalled that fateful morning when I had found Tom struggling for breath gripped by a severe asthma attack.
I glanced over the fence at the empty bird feeders now hanging deserted in Tom’s garden. For reasons unknown the birds had always preferred Tom's feeders to mine, something Tom took great pleasure in reminding me of whenever I popped round for morning coffee.
I then turned and watched in awe at the finches balancing precariously on my feeders. Patting my thighs in quiet contentment I suddenly realised Tom's missing inhaler was still in my pocket.
Story #39 was pulled out of Drabble #2 by the request of the writer.