November 4th

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129

It was the change in her knees she noticed first. She’d run further than ever before and was treating herself to a hot bath. She sang as she soaped herself and came to a full stop halfway down her thighs.

After that, she went on and on noticing. Her knees weren’t the only things emerging from the layers of fat, beautifully defined and purposeful looking. There was the faintest shadow of a line down the side of her upper thigh that grew deeper and deeper until she could run her finger along it. Her calves developed until she could cup one in each hand and feel how they moved when she stretched her leg.

Even dressed, she took to stroking her bottom feeling not so much what was there as what wasn’t. She’d tuck her hands into her waistband to feel the narrowness of her stomach. Whenever she went running now it was difficult to stop. She spent hours pouring over the map, planning longer runs. Once she got over the difficult first 100 yards, she felt she was floating. She’d just fly down the street, looking into brightly lit windows and pleased to be outside, to be moving onwards.

Onwards and upwards became the rhythm of her steps. She was levitating.

She used her body at every opportunity. Sitting at her desk, she’d flex her toes so she could feel the muscles react. Walking across to the photocopier she’d force herself not to break out into a skip at the very pleasure of the movement. She got so fit she couldfeel her skeleton moving. Every bone, every muscle, every fibre became a perfect machine that let her move.

Once someone asked her what she did. She smiled broadly, pirouetted on one perfectly toned foot. ‘I run,’ she said.

45 comments:

  1. Looking back (a long way now) to my childhood I was thin. I would run up the hill to the shops, a good mile away, for sweets which rotted my teeth but that was all. I got two old pence to spend at the newsagents on a Chocolate Mousse bar before primary school where my mother dropped me before going on to work. She called me a human dustbin, always willing to eat leftovers for breakfast; spaghetti bolognaise in the morning was my favourite. I ate peelings from cooking apples dipped in a plate of sugar, liked a thick crust of sugar dissolving into the cream on puddings as well as sugar and butter mixed up together, a delight I discovered when making cakes. I loved Nestle’s condensed milk in spoonfuls. For a savoury snack, I loved pork luncheon meat smothered with salad cream and rolled up and if I wanted to be healthy, an apple with a huge chunk of cheddar with digestive biscuits. Fabulous.

    I was thin. As I said, I ran everywhere. Always running to something as fast as I could. It was always best to be slightly cold because inevitably, I would get hot on the outside by the time I got to the brow of the hill and my hair would stop flapping in the wind and start sticking to the back of my neck. My thighs would be burning on the inside too but when I stopped, the cold air on them was tingly and the thud, thud, thud of the pavement still pounded up and down my legs until my heart slowed down again.

    Running like hell away from the house transformed my life; away from the fights, to a quieter life, a young husband and that was the moment I got fat.

    Kathryn
    andpetkat@yahoo.co.uk

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  2. Not running from, but running to. That was the best thing about it. After years and years of running away from the world, she was finally running towards it, arms out, heart beating and whole body ready to embrace the world.

    The worst thing about being fat is the retreat; the fearful curling into oneself and away from any human hands. She remembered days of being alone, surrounded by people, but alone, too fearful to reach out and say, "Hello. This is me." Fat becomes a dwelling-place, a definition. You’re no longer a nice person, or a happy person, a grumpy person. You’re a fat person. Nothing more, nothing less. No shades of grey. Just plain fat.

    Movie people talk about fat suits and people who go to movies laugh at actresses who put on a fat suit to be funny. But that's how it feels, being fat. It feels like wearing a great big puffy suit of flesh through which no-one can reach you. It’s a big barrier of tissue, an adiposal wall that stops you putting your hand out, stops you catching anyone’s eye and makes you feel like an actor in your life and not a real person.

    Now, with the running, she'd shed the suit. Left it behind at a charity shop door or in a skip somewhere. She’d consigned it to history with that first tentative walk round the block months ago. She'd shed it and was now running towards the world, with a smile and a song and a proud, "Hello. This is who I am."

    The power of her newfound frame gave her the courage to shake a hand, to make eye contact and to take part in her life. No more method acting; this was living. And she liked it.

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  3. Alzheimers is never far from my mind these days, brain deterioration my biggest fear. So recently I recalled an article found many years ago written by a psychologist with an amazing theory for the prevention of this scourge. He was an Australian I remember, which may have accounted for it. Anyway I’m working on it –how do you know if these things work unless you give them a go?

    I have to walk on my hands so that my head is near the ground. The blood rushes to the brain downhill and boosts its capabilities; that’s the theory. So far progress is slow but little by little I’m getting used to it, more adept, walking slightly faster, feeling less giddy. Generally speaking, people look better when viewed upside down.
    Eating is a real problem as this has to be done standing and the food is returned before I can swallow it. I begin to wonder whether the writer actually tested his theory before publishing it. I seem to think he didn’t. But in that case it makes me a pioneer which is very rewarding.

    The downside is that greetings are still awkward. People can’t be bothered to bend low enough to make contact with me and tend to shy away. I sense their puzzlement followed quickly by annoyance. I don’t let it hurt me. My palms are callused now, they never used to be, I don’t know why. My feet never got that way. I should look ridiculous wearing gloves! I have a permanent headache but I think that’s a sign that my brain is already becoming more activated, and I’m encouraged.

    The longer I continue to persevere the less inclined I am to stop. I hate giving in. I’m hoping it will catch on but there’s no sign yet.

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  4. When the cartilage in her knee tore she screamed until her voice was hoarse. Not so much from the pain, for unless she tried to put her weight on it the pain was just a dull throb; what she was screaming for was loss of mobility.

    She’d been overweight and unfit; spending years sat in front of a computer, afraid to leave the house until a session with a psychiatric counsellor convinced her to make just one step into the world outside. “Just join one group,” he said. “An hour a week with people you don’t know.”

    She’d tried belly dancing first. Being overweight seemed to be an advantage with that. She got to know the teacher and a couple of the other ladies and began to enjoy going. After a year of weekly practice the teacher invited her to dance as part of the troupe; a public performance in a mining village souk. She never went again.

    Swords had always fascinated her and she’d tried that next. Three years of historical rapier took her to the point of confidence with a blade in her hand. Her legs became toned and muscled despite the weight she carried in her torso. A chance remark by the groups leader had her reaching for her honour, and she remarked on the lie. Truth and honour had no place in the group and she was summarily ejected.

    Jiu-jitsu came next. In it she found a delight in the use of her own body as a weapon. She began to work up the grades, the weigh she had held for comfort beginning to drop away. Then came a bad throw and her injured leg and MRI scans and crutches.

    Once someone asked her what she did. “The crutch as a martial arts weapon,” she said.

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  6. I never could run properly. It’s kinda hard when you’ve got scales all over your body and a big fat tail that gets in the way. But I can fly. I’m a dragon, you see. Some even call me a dragon lady. I don’t know if everyone would. I smoke cigars and drink whisky, like Hemingway did. But I like to fly free.

    OK. I don’t fly properly anymore either. That happens when you get old. You feel it first in the knees and no amount of rubbing them helps. I’ve got a mate who’s a leprechaun and he’s promised to bring me some golden dust when things get too bad. Trouble is, the dust makes you shrink and I’m not quite ready for that yet. I’ve got stuff to do. I’m a muse you see. Don’t laugh, it’s true.

    There’s an Indian cowboy, one with a turban, who reckons that dragons inspire. Thinks they’re all magic. Wants me to help corrall his bovines, which I do with a long Prfft! while swinging over the sub-continent. And then there’s the Lionfish who wants to get into films, but not Disney, just shorty amateurs, he says. Don’t know about that one. But I’ll give it a go. Then there’s the Black Sheep and his rock guitar, who keeps getting pushed off the white-sheep islands. That one is tricky. There’s not much a dragon can do when the plug on a boombox is pulled. But I try. A judicious blast through my nostrils helps sometimes.

    It’s the knees that are cramping my style. I try flexing them when I’m alone in my cave, but they creak so loudly, it scares me. Yeah, dragons get scared too, you know. It’s not all fire and nostrils, but I do have to keep up appearances.

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  7. Chrysalis, butterfly, yawn, cliché. Bloody women, always trying to change themselves. Or, worse, other people. So some women are fat. Well, some men fancy fat women. Probably some women do, too. You see, I reckon that if you lose weight, the same number of people will fancy you, they’ll just be different people. So what’s the big deal?

    And what drives this craze for change? I reckon it’s to give women more to talk about. They can spend hours and hours talking about how they want to lose weight, give up smoking, find a man. Saves them having to do anything about it. Occasionally, of course, one of them breaks the mould. Then they’re applauded by all the others who go on to spend even more time talking about how they want to do this, that or the other, without in fact doing anything at all.

    Not that I’m advocating action. Far from it. I’m very happy spending my evenings and weekends lying on my sofa watching my TV. I don’t understand people who say there’s nothing on TV. We have more channels than ever before, and we can record programmes too. It’s a great companion. It doesn’t try to change me. I can change it, ha ha, if I want to, change the channel I mean. But it doesn’t try to talk to me about how I should live my life, tell me I’m a waste of space. Or, if it does, I turn over. I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t need to change. I’m happy with my life. I’m not a waste of space. I go to work, earn my living, and that’s all I need to do. Outside work, I don’t want to be doing. I want to do being. Living my life, my way.

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  8. ‘It was the running that did it,’ she says, ‘that and all the aerobics. No pain, no gain. It actually used to make me feel high.’

    She uncurls with a grimace, putting her hand on the small of her back as she does so.

    ‘First it was the knees,’ she continues. ‘One day I was happily running miles, the next I could hardly walk down the stairs. As sudden as that, it was. My knees creaked and crunched, I slowed down. In the end I had to give up the running. I didn’t know what to do with my time. Running had been my life.’

    ‘Quiet please. Downward Dog now,’ says the yoga teacher. As I kneel down, then shift my bottom easily up into the air, the teacher comes over to help my neighbour.

    ‘This will stretch out your stiff back,’ he tells her. She doesn’t think she can contort her body into the position, though it is actually far easier than it appears to beginners. She looks relieved as we finally settle down to relax and then get up very slowly, so as not to disturb our blood pressure.

    ‘When I stopped running I tried low impact aerobics,’ she whispers, ‘but then my back got bad. Now all I can do is this and swimming. Old ladies exercise.’

    She isn’t really old, of course. Not even fifty, I would say, although her body, which must once have been young and lithe, is showing signs of age. Varicose veins are visible below the cropped legs of her yoga pants. The outlines of her hips and thighs indicate lumpy cellulite.

    I daren’t tell her that I am nearly seventy. I just smile serenely as I stand solidly, on one foot, in the tree position, whilst she wobbles beside me.

    Namaste.

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  9. The site wasn't going well; numbers down, visitors elsewhere, advertising revenue didn't cover the cost of hosting. It had started very nicely. He'd put the first couple of gnome photos up as a joke, bit of coverage on a blog and, in truth, he'd been quite flattered. Staking his claim for a cyber gold mine.

    The numbers dipped though. The initial flood of wasters and students soon waned, somewhere else with more of an edge proving too attractive.

    That was when it started. Oh, he hadn't planned it when he'd put a couple of the gnomes - Stuart and Barney - into a 'compromising position'. He'd felt a little strange and if he was honest, excited by it, and then - kerpow - Graham Norton picked up on it for his TV show. Then Jonathan Ross, that fat bloke off Radio One - you name it, they were all on about it.

    He bought a new tank top for the Richard & Judy show.

    But it was so addictive. What had started with a cheeky doggie position, soon progressed to simulated copulation of every variety he'd ever dreamed of. It wasn't enough.

    Soon he was investigating pornography, visiting gentlemen's clubs, attending SEXPOs, buying DVDs in brown paper. He introduced sex toys into the mix, a bit of bondage, but it soon got out of hand.

    The death knoll was the night with his camera and a couple of underage gnomes on Hampstead Heath. Oh, he got away with it on a technicality - how was he to know? The little fuckers had beards after all - but that was it. His celebrity friends disappeared as quickly as they'd arrived when the wheels came off his bandwagon. It was over now, he knew that, but somehow just couldn't let it go.

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  10. You’re running towards something you can’t quite make out.

    You’re running away from something you don’t want to have to live with anymore.

    You’re running towards small, intimate cafes. Candles in glass jars on tables. People listening. Telling dreams. The brush of a hand on your sleeve you can ignore or welcome as you want.

    You’re running away from another night on the sofa watching other people’s lives.

    You’re running towards cool museums. Going to art galleries and spending the whole afternoon looking at just one painting. Squinting your eyes so you see colours, not outlines. Walking home alone so you can think. Observing beautiful things and not needing to point them out to anyone.

    You’re running away from following other people’s recipes, and the taste of fear you watch your family swallowing when they eat your food.

    You’re running towards the type of person who will ask you how much you can bear. Who will say have you been through fire, and hug you when you say, yes, I have.

    You’re running away from conversations about what you do, what you own, what type of job are you aiming towards.

    You’re running towards being able to open yourself up, to say I have no role, I am just me.

    You’re running away from clock watching, or not being in the right place at the right time, or being late, or early, or even punctual.

    You’re running towards cup cakes of every colour, of cakes piled high on special cake plates, of people who say I’ve made this for you, to make you smile.

    You’re running away from strip lighting, from views of other people working.

    You’re running towards people who say I’d rather be hurt than not take the risk.

    You’re running away from living through lists like this.

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  11. The blue shadows of muscles sliding under a silken, unwrinkled skin. The way the breath sounds as your long legs carry you around the track in record-breaking time. Paying attention to the song of the physical. It sounds narcissistic – it is narcissistic – but we no longer care. The physical is our release.

    That's the wonder of the Virtuality. Carping critics said, of course, that downloading ourselves into computers was at best a sort of living death, a frozen, silicon desert deprived of warmth, emotion, all the things that make us human. They never understood that all those things can be modelled, perfectly. The way it feels to be an athlete, a body cultivated to its physical optimum like the perfect flower that the breeder tweaks and primps for that Best in Show award, discarding the merely good and beautiful for their minor flaws. So now each of us is young, fit, beautiful. We have amazing sex – which is, after all, only another kind of sporting competition – as often and as frequently as we want it. We can eat as we please and never grow fat. We can even experience all the highs of any drug we choose, and never suffer any of the side effects.

    This is how humanity was meant to be. We are fulfilling our destiny. It's only a few sad individuals who insist on cowering inside the flesh. We feel sorry for them, that they'll never know what it is to be fully human. They claim that art and creativity have died in the Virtuality, but really, what nonsense! We don't need any music but the completely lifelike sound of our blood in our ears, or any pictures other than the glorious perfection of the avatars we wear. Our art is the very lives we live.

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  12. jan fortune-wood4 November 2007 at 12:14

    It was the change in her head she noticed next. Her lithe neck seemed to flex further. Out running she could scan the route with increasing ease. One morning she was sure her head had turned a full hundred-and-eighty degrees to le her check behind.

    In the mirror she noticed her features sharpening, her chin coming to a sleek point, her face more triangular. Her eyes became more prominent. Her vision was not merely perfect, but multiplied, like looking through a child’s kaleidoscope. She would gaze at herself, stroking the angular lines of her jaw.

    Her waist shed inches until it came to a point like her chin. It was impossible to find clothes to fit such a waist. Below her waist her body and legs were growing longer; longer and leaner. Now when she stroked her bottom it was not only the thrill of what was not there that delighted her, but something new; two sleek appendages growing behind her, hard and thin.
    She lost all appetite for salads and fruit smoothies, craved only meat, thin slices of barely cook flesh. At night she dreamed of running to catch prey: lizards, birds, rabbits, perhaps even a small deer. Her arms were thinner than ever. She flexed the joints with pleasure to feel the power of them, sharp and serrated. She pointed the one long tarsus that had replaced clumsy human fingers and practiced the words: coxa, trachanter, femur, tibia, tarsus.
    Her home was useless to her now. Cutlery was for those who were all fingers and thumbs. The bed was for someone too fat to run. She crouched by the door in a position of hungry prayer. When he post-man knocked she tensed her strong mantid legs and smiled in her mandibles as the door opened. ‘Run,’ she said.

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  13. “Let’s go see the runners,” he says. It’s a crisp autumn morning, only the fourth or fifth we’ve spent together.

    Really? Wouldn’t he rather stay snuggled in bed and watch them on TV?

    “Come on. I do it every year. It’s inspiring.”

    We bundle up and schlep into the crowds to watch them. Marathoners. I just don’t get it. Most of them look like they’re dying, and we’re nowhere near the end.

    “I’m gonna do this one day.”

    “Have fun,” I say. As much as I think I could love him, I could never imagine this.

    I tried out for track once, in junior high. “Such long legs,” they coaxed, “you’re a natural.” Desperate to fit in, I lined up for hundred-yard dashes. My lanky limbs tangled up in each other and I tripped over my feet, flying through the air and skidding along the gravelly track, trading the skin of my knees for the jeers of my classmates.

    “We’ll do this one day,” he tells me.

    Twelve years later. An arch of balloons floats ahead of me. A clock counts the hours, minutes and seconds I’ve been on my burning feet. Legs anesthetized by endolphins swimming though my bloodstream. Nature’s morphine.

    He floated through his last weeks on morphine. He didn’t dash towards death. It was a long, grueling process … no training program could’ve prepared us. When he reached the end, there were no crowds cheering. Only myself and the palliative nurse, the clock above his head flashing his finish time.

    The crowd chants his name as I push through the last hundred yards. I’d written it on my vest, and pinned his photo to my back.

    I sprint beneath the arch, unable to stop the tears running down my cheeks. Pain. Grief. Elation.

    We’ve finally done it.


    bob [at] bobzyeruncle [dot] com

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  14. I don’t walk anymore. And I most definitely don’t run. I float.

    I fly up and down the streets. You still tell me I can’t even though you’ve seen me do it. Apparently seeing is not believing anymore because refusal to believe is blindness. The way children can see angels and speak to long passed uncles and converse with animals and climb the stairs without touching and walk on water and heal… until adults convince them otherwise.

    Don’t tell stories. Don’t tell lies.

    We’ve ruined the children.

    (We are the children we’ve ruined).

    It took me many years to get back to this place where my feet don’t have to touch the floor. As a child, I levitated but I’ve stopped telling people since I let you convince me I was dreaming. I’ve always had a hard time separating my dreams from reality. You took advantage of that. You took advantage of me. And you dulled my reality. You perverted my dreams.

    You tried to kill my inner child.

    But I still breathe from the belly.

    And then I discovered others just like me. Others who did equally impossible things as children. Others who had been told not to tell stories. Others who had been told to put their imaginations away with their other childhood things, but secretly still sneak into that closet and climb up to the top shelf and giggle and spin, doing unbelievable things. Others who have still not forgotten, who still imagine, who still believe.

    They are called story tellers.

    But we know better.

    They are the speakers of the truth. They are the children of wisdom. They are the keepers of imagination. They are the administrators of magic. They are the hope for the future.

    Their’s is the impossible task.

    Save imagination. Save the world.

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  15. It was dark when the alarm went off at 6.40 to send her out to have her solitary swim before the crowds. She always swam 20 lengths which meant 20 times 20 meters equals 400 meters which equals nearly half a kilometre and she liked to imagine swimming from her flat down Kimberley Street turning left along Belton Avenue to the park gates and halfway through the park to that seat under the chestnuts. That was a long way, she marvelled, remembering how she had paced it out with her pedometer. She fell asleep. Five minutes later the alarm called again. She squinted at its face. Just another hour – still plenty of time. She changed the setting to 7.45. Dozing, she remembered her dream. She often remembered her dreams and was surprised how they affected her Mood of the Day, they say you wake with your children and sleep with your ancestors and who was it said your parents don’t die and go to heaven, they stay down here and come to live in you and she had felt her mother sinking into her somewhere deep down she couldn’t describe. Tim and Jayne had taken her to a party and people were friendly and food and drink was plentiful. There’d been a party at her house with a mixed bunch of family and friends and people she didn’t know kept coming and going and things were falling apart and her son had come to her looking very correct and said he and the woman he was with were going as it wasn’t the sort of place … she asked him why he and his wife, did she say wife, why did she say wife …..

    The alarm bleated. She turned it off with finality. Look, it’s Sunday, for Pete’s sake.

    judytattersfield@tiscali.co.uk

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  16. She used her body at every opportunity.

    With her kids it was a feeder, a cushion, a comforter, a prop. Even a punisher, when she took hold of their wrists and told them she’d squeeze harder if they didn’t stop. Or she’d turn her back on their tantrums; her silent refusal to respond driving them further into a tumbling mash of emotions.

    She used it as a threat with her lovers, withholding tenderness, or companionship, or sex. Or as a reward she presented to them after they’d been particularly attentive, or when she needed something – money for the school exchange trip, dinner at the new Japanese restaurant, the fee for her massage course. She imagined herself like a plate of petits fours, allowing different parts of her to be selected and nibbled. She wondered if it was possible that one day she’d be all eaten up.

    The only time she felt she wasn’t using her body was when she was alone. Even though she might be standing over a pile of ironing, or running for the bus at the corner of the street, her body didn’t really exist for her then – she was a mind being carried in some kind of vehicle, but the vehicle was immaterial.

    But as soon as she came into contact with anyone else, then the whole shape and weight of it returned to her consciousness – her breasts and legs and buttocks in the presence of men, her skin and hair and feet with women of her own age. Kids made her aware of her height, her hands. Old women were the most problematic – in their stooped and wrinkled presence she began to shiver, cold seeping through her flesh, into her bones. One day she’d be like them. And how could she use what they had?

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  18. Her skin was still embroidered with scars. Silvery ones were criss-crossed with newer, uglier red ones. She pulled her cuffs down in an attempt to hide them.

    ‘How are things now?’ I asked her.

    ‘I still hurt. When I have a bath, I soap my skin and I can see the yellow marks of the old bruises. I wash around the dark blue ones. They’re too painful to wash. Some of the scars are so deep I can put my fingers in them.’

    ‘Do you feel safe here?’ I asked.

    She just shrugged, in an odd. lop-sided way. One shoulder was still frozen. I made a note on her chart.

    ‘My bones hurt. My skeleton scrapes against my muscles and makes them ache. My muscles irritate my skin.’

    Her blown glass eyes reflected the lamp behind me, it was the only thing giving them life.

    ‘We want you to feel safe. This is a very secure facility.’

    This time she smiled. And I wondered where she found the energy. Her case file was heavy on my lap.

    ‘One time’, she said, ‘he broke my ankle’. Yes, I already knew that. It’s all here on page thirty-two. He used a baseball bat. How can anyone do that?

    ‘That was after the last time I escaped – and he found me.’

    ‘This is a very secure facility’, I repeated. But it sounded hollow and unconvincing even to me. Men like him are cunning, they never give up.

    ‘This is my third secure facility’, she said. ‘Each time he finds me – and punishes me.’

    I didn’t know what to say.

    ‘I always know when he’s getting close’, she said. ‘I can smell him.’

    I made a doodle on my pad. ‘And what do you do when you feel him coming?’

    ‘I run’, she said.

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  20. Eleanor folded. She fell to the ground as helpless as a rag doll. Consumed with pain, her head splitting, her eyes seeing double, her ears exaggerating every sound, her speech incomprehensible, she was forced to give in.

    Bed became her refuge. Throughout the grim winter when winds from the north ravaged the countryside, split open trees, uprooting them and tossing them aside like bodies in a war zone, she lay with twitching limbs cocooned under a duvet.

    Spring approached, tight buds dotted trees, a prelude to their blossoming; green shoots thrust their way through the resistant earth and unfolded; the warmth of the sun dissolved the last of this bleak time. But Eleanor made no progress.

    Days lengthened, skies became a palette of blue tinged with pink, the garden a blaze of colour and she was placed on a sun bed under the fronds of a willow tree. The healing touch of the sun began unlocking her limbs, crippling pain lessened, her speech returned. But walking evaded her; her wasted muscles folded at any attempt and she erupted with anger.

    ‘I shall walk,’ she whispered to the breeze. ‘You’ll see. I’ll walk.’

    Autumn began on a glorious note. She marvelled as leaves changed into the colour of gemstones; red and yellow berries adding their vibrant hues to the scene. The acrid smell of bonfires, marshmallows toasting, the sound of chestnuts splitting open delighted her. The time had come to respond.

    Eleanor took her first step. Moving at snail’s pace, guided by outstretched hands, encouraging words soothing her racing pulse, she grabbed hold of the nearest piece of furniture and clung on. Shaking with the effort, her heart leaping in her chest, she took a second step then collapsed as weakness swept over her.

    ‘But I walked,’ she smiled. ‘I walked.’

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  21. She found him. He was sitting in alleyway. It had been his shadow that she had noticed first.

    He stank of alcohol. She bent down towards him, her long red hair covering her face in the darkness. "Are you alright?" The voice was light and lilting. Almost as if she were singing.

    The man looked up at her. "Been better." Each word was a rasp. "Spare change."

    "I can't give you money." The woman said. "But I can give you something else."

    "What is it you have for me?" He was desperate.

    The woman smiled kindly at him. "Aren't you eager…"

    It was when she touched him that he became afraid.

    He felt a soft pain start at his stomach, a pulse that he had felt once before. He resisted at first but then gave in. He let the pulse fill his body and soon felt light. He felt lighter than he ever had.

    The woman looked down at him She felt him leaving and a tear slid down her cheek. He was one of hers and now she must come back to her. It was awful being their creator. Giving them life only to have to take it away.

    She gathered up what she could see of his spirit into her hands. Putting her hands around the floating white cloud, she cupped the smoky substance. When she unfolded her hands, there lay a delicate ruby.

    Opening the bag that hung open at her throat, she put the bead inside. She then closed it, a sigh escaping her lips.

    She would leave the body for the police to find in the morning; she would have what really mattered. She ran then, picking up speed as she went.

    She raced between the buildings, knowing where to find the next soul.



    Jamieson Wolf
    jamiesonwolf@gmail.com

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  23. He doesn’t want to make a thing of it, it really doesn’t matter, but do you realise that every time you have a bath, you put your head under the water for such a long time he thinks you’ve drowned. And he gets worried, but doesn’t want to do anything because, and obviously you’ve noticed this, you’re not wearing very much.
    In fact, nothing at all.

    Now you may wonder, of course, what he’s doing in your bathroom, but you’ve got used to having him there. Pottering. He doesn’t really do any harm. Part of the scenery. And if you did put your head under for an inordinately long time, long enough to do damage, then he would be useful.

    Or maybe that’s why you’re doing it. You come back from a long run, and very long they are these days if you don’t mind him saying, and perhaps you’d rather be on your own, it’s the only way you get any peace these days, by putting your head under, by blowing a few bubbles, and seeing the rest of the world through the surface of the water.

    And it may have been better if you’d tried to talk to a few people about how he’s suddenly appeared, you can’t get rid of him, he doesn’t bother you, far from it, but you can feel his concern. It should be nice, it should be comforting, but really it’s a weight you don’t want to have to bear. Not in your private moments.

    But then in what other moments should he appear? Because he doesn’t want to make a thing of it, it really doesn’t matter, but he’s starting to wonder if you’re drowning outside the bath tub too. If you get lost under the surface everywhere. And he gets worried.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Your body changes slowly. Slowly, but inexorably: once you’ve started, there’s no going back. You don’t think you’ll notice much at first but you do: you notice being tired, feeling pretty awful in fact, which you may not expect. But you stick it out, and with any luck you start feeling better pretty soon. More alive than before, with more blood pumping around your body, every nerve ending sharp and vibrant. You feel like twice the person.

    Then you begin to notice your shape changing. You feel your new contours surreptitiously, enjoying the curves you haven’t had before. Lying in bed at night your body feels like a secret kingdom, a territory you haven’t fully explored. You marvel at what it can do, the way it is adapting and changing. Sometimes bits of you feel uncomfortable, aches and pains take you by surprise, but it’s a small price to pay.

    As the months pass you feel stately, serene, superior. Secure in the knowledge that you’re engaged in something new and important while everyone around you is going on just the same as usual. You might have slowed down a bit, but you feel wonderful, and people keep saying how well you look. It’s exciting, making plans, thinking about where you’re heading.

    The last bit is the best. You may not have thought of yourself as an athlete before, but your body has some more surprises in store. Sure, it hurts, but you remember what they say: no pain, no gain. And the power of those muscles – muscles you never knew you had – is something you’ll never forget. They’re primed, and they just get on with it now, without much conscious involvement from you until the final push. And then you’ve done it. There it is: new life, made by you.

    plemingcrow@aol.com

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  25. Running …

    Away from the more appetizing shelves in the store with chocolates, cakes.

    Away from the comfortable evening discussions with friends about the new apricot chicken recipe over a glass of wine and a selection of canapés with shrimps and caviar.

    Away from your own fridge which you bought so proudly believing it would contain a rainbow of ripe fruits and vegetables, but it now contains chocolate mousses and TV dinners instead.

    Towards a frustrated solitary afternoon when your husband is working late and all you want to do is stretch out on the couch with a bag of chips and relax, but you know you shouldn’t.

    Away from your friends’ birthday parties because you know once you start tasting those delicious morsels you won’t be able to stop. And the wine adds extra calories too.

    Away from the TV shows you loved to watch: beauty pageants, singing contests, soap operas, even detective stories, because they’re all so thin and wholesome and they make you feel guilty and envious.

    Towards loneliness when no one calls you anymore for your famous double chocolate layer cake recipe because once you yelled at a friend over the phone for tempting you to eat.

    Towards disappointment and sadness when your husbands only grumbles when you again serve him with the same tasteless meal consisting of celeriac and unsalted crackers that you’re forced to eat. He used to thank you for his meals.

    Out of patience when you’re constantly tense, afraid that you’ll eat something you’re not supposed to.

    Running round and round in circles in your head; losing weight, losing friends, gaining muscle, losing will, losing spirit, gaining weight, gaining nothing.

    You run to the store to buy a big chocolate with hazelnuts. You pay, you tore the wrapper and bite into heaven.

    Brigita Pavshich
    brizitka2001@yahoo.com

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  26. Others treated her differently too, she became known as “oh her, she's the runner”. The Runner. It became what she was, soon too, running in fun runs to start. She was often recognised by other regulars, she became one of them, the elite, the front row. And when she won her first half marathon she was given a standing ovation in the mess hall.

    The problem was, it took over, she went places, not to see them, but to run, she was – The Runner – capitals, no name nothing else. Her performances as a guest were commented on until the next race. Others, coaches, anyone in fact, would tell her what was wrong. With her gait, stride, shoulders, arms, anything. She longed for the run she enjoyed at the start, for the changes she had seen back then. But changes now were generally bad, downwards. They involved the team doctor, the physio, the others.

    She found herself dreaming of the run, the perfect run. In silence, just running for the pure exhilaration of running. Muscle and bone, mind and body, working together. She knew it would be soon, she had that sense of readiness that she knew from ages past. It would not be long and it would happen.

    There were one hundred and sixty seven of them, all elite, all in their peak. Lined up at the edge of the Gobi desert. Ahead one hundred miles of heat, sand, and...

    The Run,

    Pretty soon, they were spread out across miles of barren terrain, she lost sight of everyone else. It was hot, but as she ran it just got easier, in the groove she found as a beginner. She had wings.

    “BBC News – Organisers are still searching for the last runner missing in the exceptional storms across the Gobi desert.”

    Jim Barron
    jimbarron@walkauvergne.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  27. You sculpt me and I sculpt you. You sculpt me and I sculpt you. You sculpt me and I sculpt you. You sculpt me and I sculpt you. You sculpt me and I sculpt you. Careful, the knife is very sharp. You sculpt me and I sculpt you.

    You bear the brunt of me and I sculpt you. You sculpt me and I bear the brunt of you. You circle me and I circle you. You circle me and I circle you. You circle me and I circle you. You circle me and I circle you. You run me and I run you.

    You sculpt me and I hire you. You hire me and I sculpt you. You sculpt me and I tempt you. You tempt me and I tempt you. You tempt me and I tempt you. You make of me a sandcastle and I paper kite you. You owl me and I owl you.

    You follow me and I follow you. You follow me and I follow you. You follow me and I follow you. You follow me and I follow you. You follow me and I follow you. Let me see. I think that you touch me and I touch you.

    You breathe me and I breathe you. You repeat me and I repeat you. You hear me and I hear you. You smell me and I smell you. You think me and I dream you. You hear me and I hear you. You speak me and I speak you.

    You paint me and I paint you. Careful, the paint brush tickles. You cat me and I dog you. You rabbit me and I mink you. You root me and I seed you. You stem me and I flower you. You lion me and I lion you.

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  28. Soon she stopped taking baths altogether. A machine for running had no need for baths of water. She wanted oil, fine oils for different purposes. Ones to soothe, ones to heal, ones to cool or warm.

    This was her life now, running and oiling. She applied lemon oil in the morning to energise her for the day ahead. She’d rub in almond oil for protection before she went out to run. Afterwards she’d massage herself with birch oil and a little arnica to relieve the aches in her muscles. She’d use rosemary and camomile to keep her joints mobile, lavender and rose if she felt exhausted or stressed, tea tree and olive oil if she was in pain, jojoba for its antibacterial properties if she ever spotted a blemish, and silver fir for rejuvenation.

    By now, even standing, every one of her muscles had a clearly defined shape, and when she moved she could see them engaging, extending, contracting. She installed a full-length mirror so she could watch herself rubbing the oil all over the ridges and into the hollows of her body.

    Clothes became uncomfortable, in any case she had no desire to hide her muscular beauty, she would only wear a black sleeveless cropped top, a matching pair of high legged briefs, and running shoes.

    One morning she felt a strange rigidness in her muscles. It was especially noticeable in her feet and legs. She decided to go running immediately. She ran to the park feeling leaden. Just inside the main gate she actually had to stop, but when she tried to move again she couldn’t. The hardness had affected every inch of her. She was fixed, an athlete poised for the sprint.

    That night a couple carved their initials into the heel of the shiny new statue.

    sandra.andrews@blueyonder.co.uk

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  29. The other question had been more difficult to answer. ‘Why? Why have you started running, that’s a really solitary pastime.’

    That was exactly why, she had thought, that was what she needed, solitude, time to reflect. But had she? She concentrated on how long it now took her to rerun some of her first runs, pushed herself to achieve good times on new ones – no reflection, exhilaration, not thinking, living, living again at last!

    Her mind was now as free as her body, the relief when she recognised it was immense. Her mental cage had evaporated like the sweat on her back. As she ran each new route, tearing around bends and racing across fields into new places, ones she chose, this way, that way, no holds barred – wherever she wanted to go, nothing, no-one was there to say, ‘No!’ or, ‘Stop’.

    He, he could not say ‘No, you silly bitch, get back here, do this, do that’. It wasn’t only the fat that was gone it was the bruises too! She felt fit and strong, not weak and vulnerable, stupid and fat – not any more.

    That dreadful night, the ordeal of getting him to hospital despite his orders, daring her to lift that phone. And the consultant, ‘Harry, you must realise that you have had a warning, you’re a lucky man, but only if you take notice.’ They thought he was just a thirty a day smoker, a couch potato who snacked constantly. They didn’t know that his nightly exercise was slapping and punching his equally obese wife, who couldn’t escape his fists.
    Her smile, as his last deep rasping breath sucked into his chest was the last thing he ever saw. He lay where he fell after the lunge she had sidestepped, eyes dilated surprised, she thought, as the life left him, and her life began.



    jane redjane77@hotmail.com

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  30. As she began to emerge from her cocoon, lighter than air she began to laugh and sing – in the shower or as she strolled down the street. Even her eyes began to dance.
    Her freer self began to appear. At first she thought she was mistaken when she saw it reflected in someone, some man’s eyes. One day while rushing in out of the rain she saw a reflection in the window and had to stop and turn back to see – not recognizing herself.
    But how had it happened? She was suddenly taller, more graceful. She pushed herself to run further now no longer for the freedom it had begun to bestow upon her but also to catch the beauty that was apparently there to be caught.
    She had become convinced that the lesser self that had enveloped her was who she was. This other that happened as women grew older. This kind of stodgy, solid self. You know the sort that young men don’t see and women aren’t threatened by. The kind of woman welcome at parties because they bring good chips and dips and have a pleasant demeanor.
    After all she had been that other for so long. But now. Now! Here she was like a beautiful swallowtail stretching itself out after emerging from her cocoon. Exercising her wings … until she was lifted high.
    She knew that she had become when suddenly reflected in the eyes of the dearest of her brother’s companions she saw a flame she had never encountered before. Long after she had decided singleness and a cat would be her life. She had not expected to find it but there it was … burning in her direction. She felt it as she shook his hand and heard it there hidden in his laughter.

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  31. It was the bubbles she noticed first. Creeping under the bathroom door.
    Damn! She hadn’t realised she’d left it running for so long.

    A wave of whiteness hit her as she opened the door. It felt like being surrounded by marshmallows, rolled up and covered in gooey whiteness.
    She submerged herself in the warm sweetness, so absorbed that she even licked her lips expecting sugar.

    Paah! She spat out the bubbles, snapped back to reality by the soapiness. It reminded her of when she’d actually dared to swear at her mum, never actually believing the threatened punishment. But she should have known better – mum always did what she said she would. The toothbrush had been loaded with Imperial Leather and her tongue and teeth had been thoroughly scrubbed. I’d like to see her try that now she thought, crossing her arms and stamping her foot defiantly.

    But the foot splashed. Splashed? She looked down, water gushed past. The shag pile bathroom rug squelched as she wiggled her toes, just like her grandson’s toes, paddling in rock pools last summer.

    She took a step towards the taps, the water was pouring over the edge of the bath. Huddles of bubbles floated round and round on the surface of the water before diving to the floor.

    She had to clear up the mess. They would never believe this was a one off, that she had got distracted by Eastenders, that maybe she had dozed a little. This would be another reason for them to say ‘it’s just not safe here for you anymore’.

    She fought off the memories that bubbled to the surface, knowing she must focus, must turn off the taps before the water brought down the dining room ceiling. That had happened before – dad had replastered it, she remembered when…

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  33. All this was serendipity, the way most things are, stumbling across my old school photograph. Forty shivering ten-year-olds ranged on benches and chairs in the playground, dodging showers. Me, a bookend on the second row, a crossed-legged Roger Thompson at my feet. An unremarkable kid, a mousy fringe flopping over one eye, white shirt and stripy tie, a 1968-length pleated skirt, showing off my wide expanse of thigh.

    When it was snapped, you’d been gone a year already.

    It was that photo that reminded me; a long forgotten scene I toddled into once when I was small. You and Big-sister pouring over your old photographs. Mummy, you have such lovely knees. Everybody else’s are so fat and ugly. Yours are beautiful. I’d do anything for knees like yours. She never needed to. You both had legs like mannequins. My knees were horrible. Pallid, bulbous, with stubbly, fleshy kneecaps spilling over my elasticated socks. Lumpy, repugnant, in need of drastic measures.

    It’s been a dream but I’ve made it now. These days they wheel me out at conferences. I’ve become quite the celebrity. Psychiatrists publish papers about me. Oprah and Jerry jostle for my time. I’m the doyenne of Daytime. I don’t mind. It took my life-savings to buy a surgeon willing to perform elective surgery. And the carers and house modifications have not come cheap. ‘Body Integrity Identity Disorder’ is the name of the condition they’ve attributed to me. I’m an extreme case, apparently. Most ‘sufferers’ just fantasize or else will only amputate one limb. But it’s amazing the improvements in prosthetics over thirty years. These knees are silky-smooth like baby skin, with a cheeky dimple beside each patella. If you catch my picture on the cover of the latest TV guide, you’ll think this other daughter’s done you proud.
    kay.thedawsons@btopenworld.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. In the matrimonial market, apart from dowry, status, educational qualifications, family backgroundWhat is of primary match matters mostly consists of slimness and tolerably good look. Keeping your body fit is essential not merely from aesthetic point of view but also for purposes of mobility, and obesity is more than not abhorred. This was some ten years ago. We sent a photo graph from our family of a girl to a respectable and eligible bachelor for the alliance to fructify and the reply was negative. This was quite understandable for we did the same thing for our groom sometimes back.
    W ho would not like good looks? Who would prefer generally uncouth appearance? Why? We on our own may not like be bedridden on ground s of ill-health. What is the immediate remedy? Exercise, playing games walking, running running for hours together. Soft skin, thin legs and flat tummy and over all a very flexible and bending thin structure , this is a pretty good example ofok chart . In my home town a fifty five year old comes round the local temple ten times a day more for fitness purpose than it is a vow , she candidly admitted. To please her husband and to appear smart so that he would not meander in search of younger flamboyant girls, as it happenedin our relatives circle.
    As I sit down before my writing table, my eyes are inadvertently drawn toward Nimmy a woman whom I have been seeing for the past twenty years running, running is in her blood,And the paper which she holds also runs and for all these she is a confirmed spinster.. Had she been married, all along running what would happen to her husband and children? Family? Household?
    God only knows.
    Radhamani
    poet_radhamani@yahoo.com
    pearlradhe.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. Eve has been watching a TV programme about a woman in a care home. She was born the same year as Eve but looks older. Eve looks down at her hands, and stares at the brown liver spots covering papered skin. She used to have beautiful hands. Today, they look odd somehow, incomplete. She turns them over and traces the truncated life line to its extremity and thinks, not for the first time, that it should have been her. It is then she realises her ring has gone.

    She must have lost it last night at the community centre when Bid dragged her out of her seat to join in with the hokey-cokey. She hadn’t wanted to – all that knees bent, arms stretch, rah, rah, rah nonsense. That must have been when it slipped off. She should never have worn it out, especially knowing it had grown loose.

    If Ron was here now, he’d sort it out. He was always so good at that sort of thing. He’d make the phone call, talk to the manager, ask them to search. But there is no Ron and she will have to make the call herself. Best to strike whilst the iron is hot, as Ron would have said.

    She locates the phone book in the side table drawer and finds the number surprisingly easily. She goes through to the kitchen to find the phone which is precisely where she’d left it. With it is the ring, Of course - she remembers now, she took it off to peel the vegetables for her supper and then Bid phoned in the middle of it all.

    It’s a relief not to have lost it after all so why is she crying? The truth is she doesn’t feel much like celebrating, not without Ron here.

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  37. Her smile broadened into a laugh echoing her gentle laugh into the realms of an enchanting sanctuary where she often wondered at intervals during the day.

    ‘I run’ she reiterated almost echoing the sounds of her imaginary instrument, ‘only the 3K run though in Hyde Park, for my sins, I suppose.’ Then she drifted back into that transcendental state where guardian angels kept her path as free from troublesome byroads as her bank manager from the credit card company which she loathed as much as paying the congestion charge when on business trips in London.

    She turned over a leaf in her address book and tapped the number of her masseuse.
    Tap, tap, tap.

    ‘Mimi, can you fit me in Saturday?......Okay, see you then…’ She rang off and rolled her neck around in an anti-clockwise semi circle as the muscles relaxed a little. Her day had been hectic. The morning meeting had turned out disastrously wrong with her interior designer N Haslam not being able to attend the site meeting at lunchtime so that they could finish to schedule on refurbishing the Mansion – the kitchen was the last part to complete and now it looked like they were in for an extension of time which didn’t suit the budget well.

    Her manicurist was due to arrive soon and just in time for her to get ready for a meeting with the client who’d come all the way from Saint-Germain-en-Laye just so he could see the refurbishments in its final stages before heading back home. His time was limited and he expected results. How was she to know there were going to be delays.

    She dialed a number. Matt answered. She breathed in deeply – sighed then blurted out,
    ‘You need to be here pronto, Gerald won't be lunching…’

    Colleen
    coll@literaryspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. I need your help please. All of you, actually. I'm looking for a time-troll. I know it might sound ridiculous to you, but he's out there somewhere. The problem is that I don't know what he looks like. I feel fairly sure it's a he and not a she - trust me, I have a feeling for these things. But I don't know anything else about him. That's why I need your help.

    I know what you're thinking. You think I'm unorganised, or that I sit around all day doing nothing and then panic because time has run away with me. Well, let me tell you in no uncertain terms that the whole of my life is about time. Lack of it, too much of it, spent wisely, spent foolishly, running out of it. But I am a master at organising it.

    You see, I love writing lists. I have daily lists and when I'm feeling ultra-efficient I write time allocations against each task. Of course, these are always put in order of priority. However, I have long realised that if I think a particular job will take me one hour, then it will invariably take me two.

    This isn't the problem. I am now resigned to the fact that everything I plan to do will take twice as long as I originally thought. But allowing for that, what I can't fathom out is what happens to the time between jobs. So the next time you've finished doing something, and you've got, say, a half an hour to squeeze in another job, and suddenly it's an hour later and you still haven't started your planned task, could you have a look round for me? I'm sure that the troll will be lurking somewhere, and if he's got my time, can I have it back, please?

    From: Yvonne Moxley
    Email: y.moxley@btinternet.com

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  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  40. Write about a walk
    Great expectation
    Take the long white steps at the side entrance
    to the Tate Britain
    Begin...
    I stand at the top and contemplate a journey through to room 24.




    ………………………………………………………………………..but how to write and step?
    Start to step…
    But after only three steps I realise the steps are
    ………………………………………………………………………………................. too long!
    Uncomfortable.
    ...who designed these?

    A means of disrupting my complacency with stepping,


    I always took it for granted
    stepping
    now I have a disrupted comfort zone.

    Problem

    I must take a step down..
    Then
    Another Step …………………………….. Along
    to reach the next step down
    ………………………………….An in-between step!..........................................
    A step
    before
    stepping down!
    What a waste of time!

    I feel like a child again.
    A toddler who must regroup his feet on
    each step
    before attempting his next death defying
    ..
    feat.
    Annoying?
    ...not only is this almost impossible (walking and writing ) but now I have this extra burden.

    I am forced into a new rhythm... somebody else’s design.
    It impinges on my freedom.

    I stand and contemplate my plight, the flight..
    my fight with the flight

    I will disrupt the sequence, go against its subtle decree
    I will make
    a little skipping step ( in between the big strides) , trick my feet, thus enabling myself to be lowered
    onto each new step by a
    different
    foot each
    time.
    You see, that is what I do not like...
    the feeling of landing on the same foot each time... it feels wrong.

    Off I go. A new plan,
    now master of my descent.

    This is no natural phenomena


    I wonder how others set about this task...
    As I step I watch.
    What joy, what rhythms.
    Couples find harmony,
    symbiotic grace
    groups seem to dance.
    Overwhelmed by the fine display I make a note……



    I trip

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  41. At first Henrietta thought Tony was joking when he challenged her to a race. She had been telling some other colleagues about her latest victory and they had been admiring how her long, athlete's legs when Tony butted in.

    “Fancy a race round the block? Winner buys a slap-up lunch.”

    Henrietta stared at him. He was short and fat by anyone's standards. She couldn't imagine he had ever run anywhere. He got breathless even climbing up the one flight of stairs to the office. Mind you, it was hardly surprising given that heavy camouflage coat he seemed to wear everywhere.

    “It'll have to be the whole office, if you're sure you're up to it.” She didn't want the proposition to turn into a date. She wasn't really interested in the meal either, too much overindulgence and excess calories. But a win was a win. And she was certain to win, Henrietta thought, flexing her muscles and pirouetting triumphantly.

    Henrietta had just turned into the last street and could see the finishing line when she started to feel light-headed. She'd skipped lunch again. Her legs felt uncharacteristically weak and her vision was blurred. She heard a sound like a farmer's shot gun as a car backfired. Then she felt the cold hardness of tarmac.

    Jogging past ten minutes later, Tony was more surprised that there was no sign of Henrietta at the finishing line than the ambulance parked in the street. He noticed a crowd gathered round someone lying at the side of the road. But he didn't stop, there was no point, there were already plenty of people there to help. Besides, he hadn't much farther to go now, Tony thought, puffing steadily on down the street and across the finishing line, dressed as always in his heavy tortoiseshell coat.

    Sarah James lifeislikeacherrytree@yahoo.com

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  42. As a child, I always wanted to be a bird. In summer I’d watch them swooping and skimming for flies, low across the park pond in the late afternoon. In winter I’d watch them flit and chatter, excited at the feeder in our frostbound garden. On holiday, my brothers would build sandcastles and swim, but I would just lie on my back watching the gulls wheeling and diving.

    Later, I discovered Ovid. I thrilled to tales of transformation as my imagination dived with feathered Aesacus and soared with Ceyx and Alcyone, metamorphosed from the pains of the world to share an eternity of sky. Tented in my night-time nest, I would read by torchlight until the down of sleep fell soft on my eyes and my dreams bore me heavenwards. So many years ago.
    ___________________

    The first thing I noticed was the change in my knees – a slight stiffness and a rough reddening of skin. After that, I went on noticing – a slight but incessant itchiness on my arms, my shoulders and across my back. There was the faintest shadow of a line tracing my shoulder blades which grew deeper and deeper until my fingers felt soft bristles.

    It was in the bath that I noticed the first sleek, blue-black feathers. Nervous, excited, I turned my head and saw, reflected through steam, the spreading darkness, rainbowed like oil in sunlight. As I stared, half hypnotised by the emerging patterns, I flexed, testing my new responses reactions. Gaining confidence, I spread my arms and rippled into life, every bone, every muscle, every fibre becoming a perfect flying machine.

    I keep my clothes buttoned tight so no-one will guess. It is my secret. But once someone asked me what I did, and all my feathered throat could answer was: caw, caw, caw.

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  43. Automotive advancement spanning previous decades, of both technological and engineering excellence, have considerably transformed today's driving experience. Such quantum leaps of progress couldn't assist Max with his current predicament.

    Multitudes had universally transformed since his entry into the business twenty years perviously; yet for his abundant knowledge and guile,he was shafted. He only had himself to blame.

    Arc lights emanating from anti social road works smothered the newly acquired car in an avalanche of early morning sodium, amputating the dense void of darkness in a provocative, flickering dance whilst he cursed their brillinace, stabbing his line of sight.

    An ovrwhelming bank of information goaded him brutally, divulging too much for him to bear. Hundreds of micro sensors located throughout the vehicle's entirety provided a constant, nagging reminder of the deep hole he now inhabited. Right now, it was nice - but not totally essential - to know that outside the temperature was three degrees, or that the water and oil readings were normal, or that his current trip had eaten 27 miles of tarmac thus far, or that the time was 3:39 AM.

    Cruising beyond the paradise of the final service area before the carriageway dwindled to nothing more than a thin, single ribbon of concrete, Max thumped the wheel in vexed agitation. Leaving a trail was the ultimate cardinal sin. He found no comfort or warmth within the dulcet tones of the twilight radio announcer, disinetrestedly broadcasting the latest round of utter gloom, despair, suffering and pain engulfing planet earth since the previous, similarly pessimistic transmission.

    The car was still going strong, despite the fueal gauge reading a big fat zero. He'd been running on empty for twenty miles now. he wasn't too sure how much longer he could ride his luck.

    Next time, he would check everything before stealing direct from the showroom.

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  44. She called it the running dream. Each time she recounted it her eyes leapt to life and sparkled with the intensity of its energy. The rest of the time they remained expressionless, small black raisins sinking into thick pink sponge.

    Charlotte was twelve the first time she had the dream. It had recurred each night ever since. Exactly the same dream: same colours, same sounds, same textures. Every night for over forty years. The only thing that had changed was its length. A dream that had once filled entire nighttimes was now a mere snapshot in an album of nocturnal reveries. She had started going to sleep earlier in the hope that the dream would have longer to surface, longer to free itself from the tightening chains of her unconscious and resurrect itself in all its former glory. But it hadn’t worked. Maybe it was the morphine, slowly rusting the cogs of her mind and bringing it to a standstill. That’s what it felt like, a gradual all-consuming slowing. A familiar piece of music nearing its end. But when she thought of the running dream her mind picked up pace and her heart pumped faster inside its prison. Her slow monotone speech quickened and danced to a familiar internal rhythm. Words sprung from her lips and pirouetted around the room, delighting whosever ears cared to listen.

    Each night when the running dream came to her in her sleep, her heart quickened and sweat appeared on her animated brow. ‘Run!’ The sound of her own voice never failed to wake her.
    “Don’t worry love you’re having a nightmare, that’s all. Go back to sleep.”
    Charlotte looked at the nurse through weary eyelids, trying to cling on to the dream’s fading energy. If only you knew, she thought. If only you knew.

    Sarah C
    missec99@yahoo.com

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  45. How to fly.

    Forget any childish fantasy about flying down the stairs. This is, of course, impossible.
    Flying is not something to be taken on lightly. Remember the old saying ‘There are old pilots and bold pilots but no old, bold pilots.’


    To practice for your maiden flight, first find some level ground facing the wind.
    Ensure that there is a suitable unobstructed area straight ahead for not less than 100 yards. A gentle downward gradient is ideal.
    Extend the arms fully, with palms facing down towards the ground. Twist each wrist in turn to alter the angle of incidence of the palm to the airstream. Do not let the pressure of the air raise or lower the arm.
    Now twist both wrists together so that the thumb rises slightly.
    Feel for a lessening of pressure on the feet. When this is achieved, increase the angle of incidence slightly further, concentrate hard and the feet will lift clear of the surface by an inch or so. Gently lower the leading edge of the hand and make a controlled descent to the ground.
    Repeat until you are able to rise and fall like a yo-yo as much as 18 inches on each cycle.
    For the trial flight, face the wind and start running gently forward. Accelerate slightly (lope, don’t dash) whilst raising the thumbs a little more to generate lift. The angle is critical-- too much and you stall, too little and you achieve a minimal lift which makes it impossible to achieve forward motion when your feet lose proper contact with the ground.
    Lean forward on the lift of your hands and you will achieve flight.

    From now on your progress will depend entirely on practice. As a trained flyer you will soar, bank and turn to your heart’s content.

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