November 23rd

Good morning to you all, both new and regular Messagers. Here's your prompt for today.


This is what they had to eat: quails eggs, shelled and dipped in celery salt; seared tuna steak, the smallest new potatoes and asparagus spears with little tubs of butter to pour over; bitter chocolate pots (he fed her using the tip of his little finger.)

This is what they had to drink: crystal jugs full of iced sparkling water (she fished out an ice cube and crunched it between her teeth, icicles sprayed from her mouth as he watched.)

This is what they wore: both arrived in black trousers and white shirts. They laughed and clapped hands, praising each other’s taste (he pulled her red leather belt free from its noose with his teeth, it fell curled like a snake to the floor.)

This is what the room smelt of: beeswax, lavender and the faintest taint of fruit (he rubbed an orange from the fruit bowl over her hair and inhaled.)

This is what they looked at: there was only one painting on the white walls, a black and white etching of an Eric Gill nude, her body curved in ecstasy, hands clasped high above her head. (she put out her forefinger and traced the model’s pubic hair so lightly he shuddered.)

This is what they talked about: how the soul would communicate if it could choose (poetry, he said. Painting, she said, my soul would need colour. Mine too, he said, and he whispered poems into her skin until she started to hear the rainbow.)

This is what she had in her handbag: one key, a chip from the roulette table, a pink lipstick moulded to the shape of her lips (he painted her mouth, careful not to go over the edges, and then when he finished he licked the whole thing off before starting all over again.)


  1. In the room, there is a long window which stretches almost the full length of one wall, but it is only three feet deep, at most, giving the effect of a cinema screen. So bright is the view that, around it, even the white wall looks dark. At the bottom of the window are the tops of three trees, two towards the left and one just to the right of centre. Improbably convoluted branches offer succulent leaves. Beyond is the lake. About a third of the way across is a small, white yacht at anchor. Its reed-slim mast waves gently, like a subtle metronome for the room’s silence. The far shore is a mirage, where muscular hills relax into a waking dream.

    She looks from the window, counting her pulse against the rhythm of the yacht’s mast. She thinks she sees the outline of a villa, high on the distant hills, but cannot be sure. She cannot be sure of anything. A bird crosses from left to right, skimming the first two trees and arcing further across the lake before dipping out of view. She turns away, towards the black and white etching. She reaches out her forefinger.

    He looks from the window. A bird crosses from left to right, skimming the first two trees and arcing further across the lake before dipping out of view. He watches momentarily, but his gaze strays almost immediately. He focuses instead on her reflection as she turns away. He watches her reach out her forefinger and trace the lines of the ecstatic figure, along the sinuous arms, across the taut belly and down to the pubic hair.

    He cannot be sure whether she is touching the dark curls or if her finger hovers delicately above. He cannot be sure of anything. He shudders.

  2. She worked hard to remember every moment, replaying the day in her mind over and over from the minute she drove away until the next time. Jim thought she had been to the Buddhist centre for a meditation day. ‘That does you the world of good,’ he said, when she came home. ‘It puts back your sparkle.’ Andy’s wife thought he had been playing golf. Her only regrets were that they could never spend a night together, and couldn’t share a bottle of champagne because they both had to drive. But maybe it was better to be sober and have clearer memories.

    Because those memories got her through the endless round of laundry, shopping, cooking and laundry. She thought of butter on asparagus as she held the head of a vomiting child. Whispers on her skin sustained her as she stood at the school gates. She had eaten an orange every day since last time, a change remarked on by her eldest child, to whom she said that vitamin C was good for you. Her dinnertime glass of sparkling water with ice helped her to cope with noisy squabbling mealtimes. And every time she unloaded and reloaded the washing machine, she thought of how they only managed half an hour in the casino, last time, before they were compelled to their room by an urgent need for privacy and intimacy.

    She wished she could be honest with Jim. But it would hurt him so, and she couldn’t do that. Nor could she give up Andy. So she kept everyone safe by keeping their meetings secret. And it was only a week until the next time. Her thighs trembled as she thought of his warm breath in her ear, his fingers on her skin. Soon she would have new memories. Soon.

  3. They always take breakfast outside; a selection of sweet dripping pink, orange and green melon, pineapple and pancakes followed by crispy bacon, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes with onion and peppers; muffins if they are still hungry, plenty of coffee.

    They watch News 24, CNN. How awful.

    They gather their novels, suntan lotions and start the hike over the rocks to the quieter part of the shoreline. Captain Rasta (not his real name) greets them at the beach hut by the coconut trees and warns them about the dangers of the sun. As they approach, the telescopic eyes of orange and black crabs swivel towards them and they can just be seen scuttling towards rocks and into tunnels; it is almost as if they had never been there at all. An area of sand decimated by the night’s high tide would be smoothed over, brushed clean of driftwood, baby turtle corpses, those who didn’t quite make it as far as the sea. A dead puffer fish lies at the shore and Captain Rasta comes to dig and hole and bury it; keeping the beach safe is a priority.

    She watches the sea. The horizon is a long way off in this perfect sky and brilliant sunshine so she focuses on the area about twenty feet from the beach. Every now and again a turtle surfaces and waves an arm or bobs up before disappearing again. How cute, she thinks.

    A waiter who has also trudged across the rocks to get to the quieter part of the beach comes to ask if they would like anything and she chooses a rum punch as it is getting hotter. She must drink it quickly before it melts in the scorching sun.

    With every sip of punch, she forgets what’s happened 2000 miles away.

  4. She recycled him. Right from the first question: “Got any old jumpers?”
    “They´re for the needy,” he said.
    She looked out at him from under her fringe. “They´re fashion conscious, too. Give me what they wouldn´t want.”

    He gave her his teabags and ties, old jeans, zippers and ski gloves.
    “More,” she said, and so he set off to ask all his friends.
    “Why?” they asked.
    “She needs them,” he said.
    They shook their heads.

    “All this enough now?” he asked with arms laden.
    She nodded and arranged piles on the floor.
    “Why?” he said softly.
    She winked, shook her head, just said: “Wait and see.”

    She worked for hours on end, days and weeks, and all the while he sat cross-legged and watched her.

    She frilled all his ties and sewed them together and made them into a long shiny skirt.
    “You´ll need a bodice,” he said, his eyes caressing her breasts. “Better still. We could stay here forever.”
    She blew him a kiss and arranged all the tea bags, strings hanging down like Swarovski pendants.
    “A necklace perhaps?”
    She blew him a prfft! And proceeded to triangulate all her zippers until she had a collar like Comme des Garcons.
    “What if I take you walking in the snow?”
    “Can’t catch me,” she said and slipped her legs into faded legwarmers that covered her Moon Boots and were made from his jeans.
    “But your shoulders. It´s cold outside.”
    She gestured to him that he remain seated while she arranged hundreds of ski gloves in a pattern over old jumpers. She sewed and she stitched hands, wrists and fingers until a cuddle-warm cape was completed.
    He clapped his hands. “My princess,” he said.
    “Trash is my passion,” she said proudly.
    He held out his arms. “My trashion is you.”

  5. By some distance I prefer going to football matches rather than watching them on television. Like concerts, there is something in the sharing of the live event with other people, even though they are total strangers, which makes it a more satisfying, involving, experience. And while I’m happy to listen to music alone, I enjoy it much more when I’m with my boys.

    They’ve enjoyed the usual suspects such as Peter and the Wolf, but what they like just as much is music which nudges them to draw pictures using their own imaginations without spelling it out precisely in a story. I’ve spent several happy afternoons with them hopping, braying and roaring along to the Carnival of the Animals and it was lovely to hear them describing what the wood looked like in On Hearing The First Cuckoo In Spring. And while they seemed to find Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra a bit dull, they loved his Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes.

    Britten’s devotion to the sea shines through in the music which is why I think the boys like it so much: the first time T heard the section called Storm he beamed with delight when he guessed correctly what it was portraying (in fact he even went to look out of the window to see if it was raining). It also helps that the pieces are vivid enough to grab their attention and, at around four minutes each, short enough not to bore them. My own favourite has always been the first section, Dawn, but the boys both say they liked Sunday Morning best. I told them it was supposed to sound like a fishing village, but they said it sounded more like people hopping and banging into each other, that wonderful crowd feeling again.

  6. This is what I hate to eat: liver, fried with onions and mushrooms; smoked bacon, with or without sauce; potatoes, boiled fried or baked; white bread.

    This is what I love to drink: still water, no ice; vodka, with ice and freshly squeezed orange juice; rooibos decaffeinated tea, with the thinnest slice of lemon; champagne on Christmas morning with my bran flakes.

    This is what I hate to see: brothers, sitting in front of the T.V when they should be doing homework; disappointment, after ripping off the wrapping paper; unimaginative buildings, grotesque lego-like structures; semicolons, when I'm unsure how to use them; an only child, forced to leave her friends for a foreign life.

    This is what I like to say: the kitchen, it`s closed; strive for perfection, if you want to suspend living; hedges, cut them back; tomorrow, I can get back to you; is it summer, yes;
    the theatre, I have the tickets; forgetting, it just slipped away; fishing, looking forward to it.

    This is what I saw this morning on the school run: a boy, without teeth standing at a bus stop; his granddad, pointing at my car and laughing; a girl, playing football through the leaves with a newspaper; leaves, brown, red, burnt orange; English book, left in the car,(I`m expecting a call); hairdresser, struggling to get the shutters up on her shop; lollipop man, tentatively stepping off the kerb; neighbour, her house got done last night.

    What I remember from my wedding day: dress, ready the night before, six sizes too big; an aunt, refusing to let me leave on time; the car, wouldn`t start so we rang a taxi; the church, empty, everyone had buggered off to the pub; mascara, made ugly streaks down my ....


    (Just had the begging phone call)

  7. Dear Father Christmas,

    I hope you don't mind me writing to you. I appreciate that this isn't the norm, but I feel that in these times of rights and responsibilities, I should be allowed to write a list, too.

    This is what I want for Christmas, please.

    1. A doll's pram. One with big wheels so that it glides rather than bumps along the pavement. A satin pillow for luxury and some pretty pink (my favourite colour) sheets and blankets. Also a hood for the rain, and a sunshade for when the weather is nice.

    2. A new set of clothes, please. The clothes I have are very attractive, but it would be lovely to have some changes. Perhaps some dungarees and a girlie cowboy shirt for playing in, a smart suit and blouse for when I have to look business-like, with matching handbag, high-heeled shoes and leather gloves. A ball gown for really special occasions. This must be pink and go right down to the ground with lots of net underneath. Sparkly shoes and a tiara would set off the gown beautifully. If I could have a cape to go with it then that would make me feel extremely glamorous, but I don't want to appear greedy.

    3. A doll's house would be wonderful, although I realise that with the sudden increase in the cost of housing, this may be beyond your means. A two-up-two-down would suffice, but if it could have a little light inside, that would be wonderful.

    4. Someone nice to look after me. I would prefer a little girl, but in these days of political correctness, please ignore that bit if it offends.

    With lots of love,
    from the third dolly on the second shelf in your workshop.

  8. She sits alone in the shelter, her bus pass ready, handbag gripped with both wrinkled hands, one glove on, she’s dropped the other one on the way to the shelter but doesn’t realise it yet. He comes up to her, smiles, sits beside her. He loses no time on pleasantries. “What’s in that handbag, love?”

    “Nothing, I don’t carry anything, just a few odds and ends – a shopping list, nothing of any value” she adds desperately.”

    “Let’s see shall we?” It’s easy for him to take it from her, doesn’t need much force. There’s only a whimper of despair in response, she practically hands it over.

    “Don’t worry love, I’m not interested in raping old ladies, only their handbags,” He laughs softly.

    And the rape begins. First the zip. He can’t wait for it to undo, rips it open, tearing the soft plastic skin as he does so, leaving a pathetic wound. This is what he finds in her handbag: Credit card, mobile, door keys, note book with pin number, name and address, wallet, with a Twenty pound note, small purse with loose change, gold bracelet, photos, pearl necklace. Quite a useful little haul. He tears the lining, gropes inside, searches the pockets.

    His victim lies exhausted now at the side of its owner, no crevice left unexplored by the dirty, greedy fingers. It’s lost its identity completely, been converted in five minutes to a grubby piece of worn plastic, raped, no longer a purpose in life, beyond all use.

    A bus draws up on the opposite of the road, he crosses and climbs on; sees her bus coming with a curious sense of relief; glad she has her bus pass, a neighbour will help her get indoors. She’ll get over it. They’re quite tough some of these old birds.

  9. My mother never wore pink lipstick. She said it made her face look sallow. She wore shades of orange with names like Tempest and Tangerine Sunset. Her mascara came in a pink plastic box with a tiny brush and a black block she used to spit on. She wore Tweed perfume. But maybe that was later. Maybe the Tweed came along when she was older and started to wear clothes in autumn colours – green, russet, copper and brown. When she wore the midnight blue lurex shift dress she must have worn a different perfume – Coty L’Aimant perhaps. Her black evening bag had a diamante clasp. I could smell Nivea Cream and face powder when she bent down to kiss me goodnight. There is more than this. The pressure of her suspender belt clasps against the back of my legs when I sat on her lap in the red velvet seats at the Odeon Cinema in Bethany Square. And Bourneville chocolate that I said I liked because she liked it. And I grew to like it, so much so that I can’t eat milk chocolate at all now. I remember the dark, my bare legs swinging. The curtains open, and the light is almost too bright for my eyes. The usherette in her pink and white uniform walks back up the aisle with her tray of ice-cream tubs. The swing doors softly bump against each other as they close. If I turn around I’ll see one side of her face bathed in light, the sparkle of her eyes, but I keep looking ahead as the feature begins, the man with the oiled chest striking a big brass gong. This is the beginning. My mother’s arms around me, the scent of her. And I have no idea how it will all end.

  10. She was licked. Top to toe, ear to hip, nipple to calf. Crook of elbow to catch of knee. Layers of skin, layers of resistance, layers of life furred smooth by the microscopic tendrils of his tongue. His tongue a creature of its own volition, hunting down her instincts, her currents and streams and lavish odours.

    She was where it liked to be. In the hooked recesses of her creased desire, dipping and surfacing, lifting her blurred outlines to the air then drawing them down to crumple inside her again, lending her to those sharp front teeth to be pincer-edged then returned razored.

    She was lessened in scale and volume by this but magnified in feeling. Waxed and waned and waxed again. She ebbed to expose higher ground then flowed back to the sea. Tidal to his rudder of flesh as it patiently, endlessly, tacked and turned through the salt estuaries she became, thaws streaming down.

    She wanted more. Despite its practiced skills the tongue left her empty, only empty. Unreachably open. It lacked the depth to find her fully and in the end she obliged it to pull back, retract, fall silent so his quick half-smile could hide it.

    She wouldn’t even allow it to kiss her then. Turned her face away. Another prelude, another false start. Its promise broken on her soft responses, satisfied by outward forms. Able only to see what she could show, not what she contained.

    She wanted more. More of him, more from him. For him to abandon himself too. But how to take control? How to turn him to her wishes? And as she thought the tip of her tongue travelled slowly between her lips.

    She tasted its blandness. Not even herself. Locked it back in her mouth. Wouldn’t give him the pleasure.

  11. She was an artist, struggling to makes ends meet on unemployment benefit while she sent application forms and resumes to every gallery and teaching institution in the country. She spent a minimum of four hours every day doing this, determined to succeed where most graduates failed. She didn’t want to fall into the trap of taking a temporary job to make ends meet and finding that the temporary job became permanent and her ambition changed from being a successful artist to being the floor manager at the supermarket.

    There was one painting she was so proud of that it made her cry every time she looked at it. It was nothing special to anyone else; just an abstract arrangement of colours and lettering in oils on a three foot canvas but it had a depth of focus that she had seen once in a Kandinsky and had never been able to match before or after. The lettering, photocopied from her father’s old tobacco tin and blown up, made both a statement of the past and a dichotomy of meaning when applied to the canvas. She’d left out the ‘L’ when stenciling on the letters, allowing it to read “St. Bruno’s Fake.”

    It hung over the bed and they made love under it. Afterwards, with tea and cigarettes, they would throw pillows down to the far end of the bed and prop their feet up on the headboard to look at it.

    “Did you fake it?” her lover would ask and she would smile that wrinkled smile and tilt her head just so. “What do you think?” she would say and he would laugh.

    The painting always reminded him of those long afternoons with her. That was why, when they broke up, he stole the best painting she had ever made.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. he's trapped on canvas | bird of prey or paradise | calypso licks his tongue | taste buds, open arms | white fireworks over a white ocean | the fingerprints of a man on his brain

    he looks a hurricane right in the eye | he turns to sand, millions of grains | he's an island | a sugarcane cage | hibiscus behind his ear | he bangs a steel drum with his fists

    a man's fingerprint, the white of his eye | a silver mirror hung on his back | one useless black wing | can't fly from here or there | home is where the hard is

    he paints a self-portrait without rain | a password in his ear, a keyhole under his tongue | his jaw clicks open | apologies float out, become comets

    his man comes home | two cases of skin, one canvas | fingerprints are tattoos | the sound of souls crackling, the odor of another | islands merge atop a mattress

    they draw a world around them | neon lights in pub windows | a cobblestone alley | the grocer and his produce stand | a woman in a corner shop | a stray dog | four hairy hands, creating

    paint by numbers | 1 - lavender | 2 - magenta | 3 - evergreen | orange sky, blue sun | a red president gives a peace sign | the golden meow of a kitty cat | pacific rhymes with purple

    the picture is hung, face to the wall, in every house in the world | turned over only when ready | a kid looks when parents are away | a wife peeks while husband sleeps | a grandfather stares first thing in the morning | two men | faces camouflaged with fingerprints | a colorful splash of ordinary life

    Bill Trub

  14. To eat! Just to eat like human beings! To take one juicy burger slapped unceremoniously between the pieces of a dusted roll, relish spreading carelessly onto grasping fingers. Instead this dance of delicacies, each one carefully considered before administration in painful silence.

    Juice, or maybe coke, or better still one ice cold beer? A simple glass of wine would do. She bites the cube, and cold rips through delicate over-whitened teeth to jar the nerve and sear the tongue. She smiles seductively and winces with the pain. He shudders at the crunching grind of tortured dental delicacy.

    But what to wear? Who cares? The black and white will do. It never serves for other purposes and blends with unfulfilling décor. What is more it hides the fleshy folds of imperfection.

    All the time the cloying smell of over-cleansed "antisepticality" (to coin a word) tinged with mocking floral scents born from white coats in test tube decorated cells.

    The nude spread upon the wall? There is no welcome colour there, and no emotion. Instead she closes in, a crashing echo of the artifice within this room.

    And what of conversation? The day behind? The problems to be solved? No. Just mindless wanderings on poetry and art best suited to the naivety of teenage angst. He tries his best to make the words sound real, and she endeavours to react in something better than a sham of poor pornographic acting.

    They kiss and hold that touch for longer than is comfortable, each one inclined to let the other break the bond, 'til finally they part, each one sucked dry emotionally, and physically unfulfilled.

    And so it is done.

    Oh, God. Will this endless charade never end, he thinks in secret longing.

    Each night she prays for some small fragment of true love.

    Jon Ayre

  15. The level of tidiness in both her and her house spoke to me first of obsession, then frustration.

    She waved me to the table.

    "You have the money?" I asked.
    She gave a short, sharp nod, and took a pile of notes fom the drawer. Her hands hovered over them for a moment, but it was only a moment.
    "If you could boil the Kettle."

    I opened my handbag and tipped out the contents. She eyed vials, pots, tools with greed and slid into a seat entranced.

    "Before I begin, we need to establish a few facts. His name?"
    "Okay. Peel this apple, one long strand please." She did so without comment.
    "Drop it to the floor."
    We studied it. "J."I said.
    "I." She said.


    I cut the apple in half and picked out the pips, then scrunched newspaper into an ashtray and lit it. "Throw the pips in, one letter for each." She stopped at I. She'd dropped one.

    I wasn't having this. "Look, these tests are designed to determine your true love. Who is 'J'?"
    She wavered, but spoke truthfully I felt. "My neighbour John, he is helpful and kind; but Ian is flamboyant, stylish and good-looking."
    "It is not my place to say. But if you use the love-philtre on Ian, he'll be yours for three days, but once the geas has worn off he'll go back to ignoring you. If you use it on John, you'll be kick-starting the inevitable. He'll be yours for life."
    Her expression went cold. "I don't want your advice, I want Ian."

    People like her always did. If they'd tried to reach for the attainable, they'd have had it. I wiped my opinion from my face and reached for the powders. It was her waste of money after all.

  16. Last comment: The level of tidiness...

  17. This is what he did three times before she interrupted him: repainted pink lipstick on her lips then licked it off.

    (You're using your poetic tongue to take the label off of words, she stated. The celery salt has a bit of garlic in it.)

    He replied. Now he experienced her world as painter, by drawing his thoughts on her lips. He hoped she sensed that the lipstick application every time wrote one word repeatedly.

    (How many letters is this word, she asked in a teasing voice. He said, a hint is that there are two consonants.)

    This is how they narrowed down their expressions: he stopped writing the word. He put away the lipstick. He picked out the chip from the roulette table and the key from her handbag.

    (I wonder how many people begin a relationship in a gamble or in a quest to find the essence what they're searching for, he asked rhetorically without a question mark in his voice.)
    Her response: she crossed her legs, exposing a large expanse of thigh.

    (Two consonants is a good hint. If there are two vowels and two consonants in a four letter word, I'll know one thing, if there's only one vowel, two consonants and it's a three letter word, I'll know another, she hinted. X marks the spot, she concluded.)

    This was his response: he shut her purse.

    (Perhaps my effort is too extreme. I'm forcing artifice when I'm searching for sincerity.)

    Her response: she leaned forward.

    (What you're saying seems to come from a woman rather than a man.)
    (Why do you say that? He asked.)

    She kissed him on the lips and inserted her tongue: he was very sensitive.

    (You had two words on your lips. But I had one. I gambled. Good-bye, he said.)

  18. Compared to the days when I walked the earth as a human being, the transformation is complete. Even though my owner affords me the respect, love, attention and warmth afforded a small child, there can be no disputing my newly acquired social standing many notches below ground level. Actually, to be truthful, my standing is about three and a half inches above the ground.

    There are some extremely limited benefits to this re-incarnation malarkey though. So I must be positive, identifying them first.

    Not having to get up early in the morning to go to work is delightful. An existence regulated by untimetabled sleeping, eating, sexual promiscuity and outdoor play holds certain magnetism. But…

    I’m struggling to adapt within the confines of a four legged, no armed mobility within the prison of my new, organic body. Sensations of acclimatising oneself to four tottering legs fused to shoeless feet are impossible to articulate – except to say it’s woefully uncomfortable.

    Worst of all is the total and utter eradication of privacy. Conducting ablutions in full view of all asunder may well be expected as the norm, but how would you feel about shitting in the middle of your back garden whilst stark naked? Sowing wild oats under a cloudless winter moon may seem exciting or risky, but the novelty soon wears off once icicles form around your exposed backside. And don’t even get me started on the whole territorial pissing thing. Or the thorny issue of vacantly immature dogs for that matter either.

    Bottom of the grumble list is foul condemnation of eating. Stinking, jellied meat remnants, processed from the remains of bone and gristle from God-knows-what animal, accompanied by tepid water served in a bowl on the floor? Debasing, that’s what it is.

    Furthermore, my whiskers are always in the way.

  19. Compared to the days when I walked the earth as a human being, the transformation is complete. Even though my owner affords me the respect, love, attention and warmth afforded a small child, there can be no disputing my newly acquired social standing many notches below ground level. Actually, to be truthful, my standing is about three and a half inches above the ground.

    There are some extremely limited benefits to this re-incarnation malarkey though. So I must be positive, identifying them first.

    Not having to get up early in the morning to go to work is delightful. An existence regulated by untimetabled sleeping, eating, sexual promiscuity and outdoor play holds certain magnetism. But…

    I’m struggling to adapt within the confines of a four legged, no armed mobility within the prison of my new, organic body. Sensations of acclimatising oneself to four tottering legs fused to shoeless feet are impossible to articulate – except to say it’s woefully uncomfortable.

    Worst of all is the total and utter eradication of privacy. Conducting ablutions in full view of all asunder may well be expected as the norm, but how would you feel about shitting in the middle of your back garden whilst stark naked? Sowing wild oats under a cloudless winter moon may seem exciting or risky, but the novelty soon wears off once icicles form around your exposed backside. And don’t even get me started on the whole territorial pissing thing. Or the thorny issue of vacantly immature dogs for that matter either.

    Bottom of the grumble list is foul condemnation of eating. Stinking, jellied meat remnants, processed from the remains of bone and gristle from God-knows-what animal, accompanied by tepid water served in a bowl on the floor? Debasing, that’s what it is.

    Furthermore, my whiskers are always in the way.

  20. “Forever?” She asked.
    “Forever.” He answered.
    He played with her hair. Twirling it in his fingers, brushing it softly with his hands and then taking hold of great handfuls of it pulling her head back and kissing her throat.
    She lay quietly with her head on his chest, listening to his heart beat for her. Her fingers playing up and down his arms and torso.
    “We should …” He began.
    “Shhhhh, let’s hold on to this moment. Forever.” She replied.
    “Forever.” He murmured back to her.
    Time slowed and they lived their love, breathing each other in and out. Holding tightly to what they had. Calling out to each other from the passion they held hidden. Afterwards they lay curled around each other, limbs entwined, whispering I love you’s and murmuring their pleasure at being together.
    His cell phone vibrated on the table.
    “We should …” She said.
    “Soon.” He replied. “But for a minute more. Forever.”
    “Forever.” She answered, but her eyes began to water despite trying not to show her breaking heart. Knowing that it would soon be over.
    “Shhhh, don’t cry.” He kissed her eyes, her cheeks, drank her tears. He became teasing and playful looking for her laughter and smile to return. He held her close and breathed her in as she searched his eyes again and again to reassure herself that it was more than just this moment.
    “How do we make this real?” She asked
    He kissed her long and hard until her breath was ragged and her heart was pounding and then he whispered in her ear. “This is real.”
    They got up and got dressed. He moved his hands over her skin with every piece of clothing she put on.
    “I love you.” He said.
    “Mmmmm, forever?” She asked
    “Forever.” He answered.

  21. Where do the words come from?

    The same place as the marks you make when you paint, I guess.
    I heard the songwriter David Gray talking on radio 5 about the way he sometimes just writes nonsensical vocals, carried along by a tune that may be only half formed in this head. As he works away at developing the music, he returns to the words which gradually evolve and become intelligible.

    Like a colour mix coming alive under the brush. Then when you block in light and shade each hue responds to its predecessor, in a different way from those around it.

    Sometimes he deliberately doesn’t complete a whole chunk of the process.
    He leaves some of the nonsense in.

    Is what a pop star writes real poetry? Is it proper music?

    His biggest hit Babylon started out on the page as “babble on”.

    I sometimes play the radio or a CD while I’m painting.

    So there doesn’t have to be an idea before the word comes, they can arrive simultaneously, or sometimes the word precedes the idea.

    The picture emerges from the medium.

    Like a temporal fusion.

    A what?

    “An act of creation by two elements coming together at a moment in time.


    An impulse rather than an action created following a thought.

    Did David Gray say all that?

    Words, music, images. Maybe they are all different aspects of the same thing.

    Maybe they are the same thing.

    Talk is different.
    Talk is ok.
    Yea, but it’s different.

    You mean like when your words were coming through my skin, that was sheer poetry.

    And when the colours of you and me mix, that is pure art.

    Or maybe it’s music.

    Who knows?

    Why talk about it?

    Shall we just do it?

    Temporal fusion?



    Again and again!

  22. “Would you like to come back with me so I can show you my etchings.” You said it so innocently as if you really were just asking to take me back for a cup of coffee and a chat. Usually I would have made an excuse about how I had to get back to let me dog out, but something about you intrigued me enough to play along for a while.

    Your car smelt – not in a bad way - but there was a faint lingering scent of something earthy and oily that I couldn’t quite place. You put on a tape and I found myself admiring your good taste in music . You sang along, badly and completely without any inhibitions. I liked that about you.

    The building in which you rented your flat didn’t look too promising. It could certainly do with a lick of paint. I guessed it was out of your hands. Once inside the vestibule we climbed up what seemed an interminable number of stairs until at last we reached your door.

    Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw as I crossed the threshold. All around me, covering every single square inch of wall there were works of art: paintings, etchings, charcoaled life drawings, pencil sketches, work in pastels, crayons, acrylics, oils. There was art everywhere.

    I stood there speechless, taking it all in.

    “It’s beautiful,” I managed. “Is it all yours?”

    “Mostly. A few are friends’.”

    I turned in slow circles not knowing where to look.

    “I bet you thought I meant come up and see my etchings didn’t you?” you teased.

    “Well, maybe I did” I conceded hoping that had been on his mind too.

    “We can do that as well if you like. Once you’ve finished looking. There’s no hurry.”

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. It felt different like this. He pushed her down into a chair and left her in the dark. The armchair wrapped it velvety cushions around her. She knew it was red, but couldn’t see its colour. She scraped her nails against the grain, trying to feel the deep crimson through her fingers, and the pale silkiness as she smoothed it back.
    ‘Wait there’ he said ‘I won’t be long’.

    She did as she was told. The clinking of glasses from the direction of the kitchen told her what he was doing, but she had no idea why she was sitting in the pitch black.

    The darkness was absolute. It pressed on her eyes so heavily that she closed them. It rushed down her throat when she inhaled and she could taste it on her tongue. The chair’s embrace turned from a hug into something more sinister.
    ‘Ben, where are you?’ she called, her voice stretched by the blackness.
    ‘Won’t be a mo’ he called back cheerfully.
    ‘I don’t like the dark’ she confessed.

    He heard the tension in her voice and came over to her.
    ‘I’m here’ he said, kneeling down in front of her. He pressed his hands either side of her face, tracing his fingertips from hairline to lip to chin.
    ‘This is how I know you’ he said. ‘I know you by sound, touch and…’ he kissed her, inhaling deeply, ‘…by taste and smell.’ He groped for her hands and placed them on his own face.
    ‘I need you to know me the same way.’

    She traced her fingers over his face, feeling the stubbly cheeks and chin and the curve of his smile; feeling the physicality he brought to her life.

    They sat in silence for a long time until his stomach rumbled and she laughed.

  25. He was called: Sebastian

    She was called: Consuela

    He came from: the Home Counties though he’d lived in a boarding school near Windsor most of his life and had spent all his hols on an estate in Scotland near the River Dee

    She came from: the outskirts of Medellin in Columbia, South America, where her mother and father and seven brothers and sisters still lived.

    They met when: Sebastian was doing work experience in the antique shop belonging to a school chum’s father – he rather thought he might want to go into that sort of thing and it meant he could hold off going to the university that three generations of Chaise-Temples had already attended and continue chasing hot totty with Wills and Tarqs at nightclubs with names like Cordelia’s for just that little while longer - and Consuela arrived to vacuum the carpet in the shop

    She was working as a cleaner because: she’d originally come to London to learn English but now needed to pay off the boob-job and bottom-plump that she just had done even though she was only nineteen

    They spoke: broken English and bad Spanish but the pinkness of her cheeks and uncontrolled snorts between his words said it all

    He first noticed: the way the aforementioned bottom jiggled perkily as she vacuumed the stairs

    She first noticed: the longing in his blue eyes

    This is what his mother said when he got her on the mobile as she marched down a fairway: Good grief, Sebastian! I think you’d better speak to you father

    This is what his father said whilst pausing on the stairs of his club: Are you certain, old chap? What does your mother say?

    This is what Consuela’s mother said: Ai Caramba! We’re going to have an Englishman in the family!

  26. Sometimes those special moments of connection fill up your senses. Afterwards every tiny detail is etched in your memory for ever; what you wore, what you drank, the smell of him, the colour of the bedroom wallpaper. On other occasions the detail fades into insignificance but the sexual chemistry remains imprinted in your mind.

    We had always got on well, even though I was the only girl in an open plan office full of young men. It was on a business trip that things changed; and suddenly I felt a little shy to be there alone with you. For a week we stayed in a little country pub and I remember spending the last evening in the bar, talking endlessly. You told me that you were expected to have an arranged marriage soon. At closing time we stumbled slightly drunkenly upstairs towards our rooms and, eyes locking as we paused in the corridor by my door, the tension felt electric.

    At that moment anything could have happened. But I didn’t want our working relationship spoiled, I didn’t want the office staff to know and, above all, I couldn’t bear to be hurt yet again. So we stood there, unable to part, and it seemed forever until you silently embraced me, then turned away to your own room. I rocked and cried myself to sleep.

    Soon afterwards you moved on. A year later I did too, although our paths crossed again at a training course. We laughed together, but never mentioned that night. Two more years had passed when, lunchtime browsing in a department store, I suddenly saw you emerge through the revolving door and freeze.

    You were married and I was newly engaged. You kissed my cheek sadly and although we were working near each other, we never met again

  27. Words

    He wrote a haiku in the sand. As he finished the last syllable the sea washed it away. The sea eats words, he said, and his lover agreed. It eats words and spits them back out. They walked along the edge of the waves, the out-going tide leaving a debris of rope, tin cans, driftwood. They poked at the tide-line with sticks searching for words. His words or any other words they could find. Everything was broken down by the waves, so they collected letters in a bucket and spread them on a picnic blanket. What do these letters spell? he asked his lover, and they both stared at a mess of vowels and consonants, barnacled and tangled with seaweed. This ‘F’ he said is rough as stubble, feel it. His lover stroked the back of the ‘F’ and agreed it was a rough ‘F’ from a hard word, perhaps a ‘FUCK’. They watched each other with lingering eyes. He noticed the sand-pressed sweat on his lover’s skin. His lover noticed the freckling on his shoulders, a flush of sun. They wanted to brush the letters aside and lie on the blanket together. A kiss perhaps, stroking, or more. There was a heated silence. He was playing with a smooth-worn ‘O’ with no doubt in his mind about what ‘O’ stood for. Come closer, he said to his lover and he whispered other letters, starting with an ‘L’ and an O’ ‘V’ ‘E’. His lover added the letter ‘R’ and they smiled. Yes, he said, all those letters are mine. They spent the rest of the day abandoning letters, losing them in the sand, in their hair, in grass growing behind the dunes. There are no words for us, he said. His lover wondered how to respond to this.

    Annie Clarkson

  28. This is what I can taste. The garlicky tang of anaesthetic; its metallic edge grating in my sand dry mouth. My mouth is so full of soreness and swelling that sometimes I can taste my own blood. Acid rises up from my stomach and dissolves the calcium in my teeth. It tastes like mouldy chalk.

    This is what I can smell. Lilies. But, you should never bring lilies into a sick room. They are a precursor of death. The pollen insinuates itself in to my nostrils and makes me want to sneeze. But I can’t. I can’t move. Sometimes they put an oxygen mask on my face. I breathe in, but oxygen does not have a smell. Disinfectant. They keep the room very clean. So that I won’t catch an infection. They intone the names reverently: MRSA, C Diff. Food. I can smell it but I can’t taste it. I am fed by a tube and a drip.

    This is what I can see. A black sheet with silver stitches flashing across it. A bonfire blazing. Fireworks skidding across the night sky. My mother’s face. A jack-in-the-box popping up out of nowhere. Showers of neon rain. Scenes from my life flickering like an out of date movie.

    This is what I can hear. The machines are beeping. People come in and out and talk in hushed voices. I catch the odd thing.

    ‘You should talk to him. They say that hearing is the last sense to go. If he hears your voice he’ll know you’re there.’

    ‘Wake up! Please, wake up. Squeeze my hand if you can hear me.’

    I can hear their footsteps. I know who is in here by the pattern of their feet. Strangely, their voices all sound the same.

    This is what I can feel. Nothing.

  29. This is what they had to eat: strawberries from the UK, caviare from Russia, T-bone steaks from Texas, the best Italian coffee - pretty much anything they damn well fancied. On a whim - so much the better. Oh, and plenty of dates - they're local.

    This is what they had to drink: bearing in mind the Kingdom is alcohol-free, plenty of soft drinks and sparkling water. For special occasions at one of the many five star hotels downtown, a few glasses of 'Jeddah' champagne would hit the spot and get the party started.

    This is what they wore: anything long-sleeved and loose. The colour choice was limited. White for him and black for her. What SHE wore was immaterial (absolutely no pun intended here) as it had to cover her from head to foot. However, please note that INSIDE the marital home she could float around in the best of what the European fashion houses had to offer, French and Italian were particular favourites.

    This is what the room smelt of: oranges and lemons.

    This is what they looked at: the world through the $ sign. Motto = money is everything, everything is money, you are ABSOLUTELY nothing (you are worse than a stray dog in the dusty street) without money.

    This is what they talked about: the price of oil, yesterday's, today's and most importantly, tomorrow's, the price of water in relation to the price of oil, the price of gold (24 carat) ... and the price of camels.

    This is what she had in her handbag: zillions of store cards covering every continent, a big bottle of Chanel No5, glossy photographs of their three sons currently at a Swiss boarding school, (none of their only daughter who lives at home and whom they see daily, anyway).

    Louise Laurie

  30. "you'll never make any money writing poetry," he said. if i had had a car i would've run him over. twice. the music came on inside my head. it always does right about this time.

    "you need to do this and you need to do that. you need to do this and that. this and that. this is that is that is this and this this this this this and that."

    he was just trying to help, i think. no, i know he was. he is. he loves me and he doesn't want to see me hurt. but he doesn't know how much beauty there is in pain.

    'i'm not depressed.' i told him again. "i think you are," he diagnosed. he'd been on the web on some medical site and had plugged in my so-called symptoms. "it's a classic case," he was sure.

    "you're in a manic state right now," he said proudly, like he'd just gotten an A in math. he's an engineer so he's good at stuff like that. me, not so much. i like to write.

    i said, 'i'm pretty sure i'm not manic depressive, dad. sure i have bad days, but who doesn't? that doesn't mean i'm depressed. just means that i'm broke.' i laughed while he shook his head. "you think this is a joke?"

    'yes i fucking do!' i wanted to yell in his ear. 'yes, i do.' is what i actually said.

    he had a wife and four kids when he got fired from his job. i don't know what that kind of panic is. i don't want to know that kind of fear. maybe that's why i don't have children of my own. what if i couldn't live up to their expectations? it's bad enough i can't live up to his.

  31. This is what they had to eat: he ate nothing: she assumed he was Meeting Someone later. She was ravenous but didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing her in the throes of comfort eating. There wasn’t anything in the fridge anyway.

    This is what they had to drink: he’d brought a nasty bottle of Chianti – she knew him quite well enough to know it was meant as an insult, not a gesture of friendship. She said she’d wait until later, thanks, even though she wasn’t Meeting Anyone, and she knew he knew it.

    This is what they wore: she didn’t recognise any of his clothes. A leather jacket – I ask you, what a cliché – and a pair of designer jeans of the kind which are meant to slide down over the bottom. She couldn’t remember what she’d put on, and didn’t dare look down.

    This is what the room smelt of: exactly what it always had. There is no disguising smell: the lingering smell of family life.

    This is what they looked at: he looked pointedly, steadfastly at her, as if to show he was capable of being steadfast when he believed it was necessary. She looked at a point over his left shoulder, mostly.

    This is what they talked about: all the things on the list he had brought with him. All the things he didn’t think she needed to spend money on any more. None of the things she wanted to talk about.

    This is what she had in her handbag: a letter from her daughter saying she knew it would hurt her feelings but she’d rather live with Daddy. A ticket for the cinema from three months ago, the last time they went together. A bottle of pills she didn’t want him to see.

  32. This is what she felt: that the bitterness of the chocolate over the salt salved the cold ache in her tooth; amusement at the memory of her belt in his teeth; a still resonant thrill that he had invaded her mouth with his finger; playful anger at the lingering orange smell in her hair; that the painting had mimicked and mocked her; that the skin-poem didn’t quite scan; regret that the single chip was all that was left of her gamble; time passing. Soreness. Tired.

    This is what he felt: no regret, joy, the dry remains of their evening, a deep ache in his belly, the roar of his car shrinking her world in his mirror, laughter in his belly. Manly.

    This is what he remembered: the too-long lingering smell of asparagus, the grip of her lips on his finger and the thrill as she licked the chocolate, being fed an ice-cube and refusing to bite it, having his body painted by her, her face when she lost the last of her chips, lending her some of his own, a fiery glance, the taste of her lipstick. The feel of her forehead against his.

    This is what she remembered: unpaid bills skulking in a drawer, a missed phone call, the full washing basket, what she said, what she hadn’t said, how he had looked, all the ways that he hadn’t looked at her, the sound of the door hitting its frame, the sound of his engine starting, the sound of her breath catching in her throat. Toast burning, too late.

    This is what they thought: she wasn’t really his type, he wasn’t really her type, they were too similar, it was a mistake, it was fun, it would never work. It was too risky. That he wouldn’t call.

    He called.

    Icarus300 @

  33. They sat under a canopy of bougainvillea entwined with jasmine. The heady perfume, in addition to the torrid heat, brought on her migraine.

    ‘I can’t eat much,’ she said taking a sip of sweet white Muscat wine. She would rather they had a carafe of water but this was a special visit and she didn’t want to appear petty.

    He toyed with a bowl of salade nicoise, mopping up the juice with chunks of local bread. His lips glistened with a mixture of olive oil and garlic. She dipped a napkin into her glass, reached over and slicked them clean. ‘That wine’s good,’ he said. ‘Let’s have another glass, but you must eat something.’ She peeled a tangerine and sucked the juice from each segment; squashed a purple plum until it felt mushy then shared the flesh with him.
    ‘We’ll have coffee later,’ she said. ‘It’ll be cooler then and maybe I shall manage a little Mousse au Chocolat.’

    He took her into the house which smelt of thyme and lemons. Grabbing a couple from a blue bowl, he threw one into the air but it dropped onto the cobbled floor and split open. The old woman in black sitting near the door, scowled in disapproval.

    He stood like a statue mesmerized by Picasso’s skill; his brush strokes painted directly onto the stone walls. A genius or a sham, she wondered but said nothing. He was lost in admiration at the originality of the artist.

    ‘One day I shall paint you,’ he said engrossed in the woman lacking a nose, an eye in place of a navel, her skin a mess of green and purple blotches, a wisp of hair creeping into an ear.
    She remained silent.

    But he became a plastic surgeon striving for perfection; she was long forgotten.

  34. It was as routine a sight as mother would feed her little one by her fingers, her affection too.
    While coming from my evening college I used to meet these two, may be budding lovers,
    Rosy hands clasped, dressed alike and the partial gloves popping out, perchance inquisitive
    to, know about their repartee. Black trousers mocked at their white skin. Bubbling they were,
    workmates in their early twenties. Always balanced in food, dress, taste and both of them
    Were dedicated to writing poetry, workaholic and conditioned to certain kind of balanced living.

    “Why don’t you join for mini party”, Bindu invited me for that was her name, on a Sunday, I
    Accepted the invitation and Bindu and Balan offered me a warm welcome. It was a compact
    Single bed room, fully carpeted, mosaic walled, with ornamental designs of flowery tales
    Spread on them, their poetic aura would have been rekindled by this decor .There hung a Mythological picture in which Radha and Lord Krishna entwined and the latter with a flute.
    Red coloured carpet with flowers and romantic lovers of Arabian Tales embossed upon
    it breathed an exotic exuberance. I could smell the lavender room freshener and the fallen
    Rose petals in the vase, a perfume like.
    The invitatory smell of the culinary dishes spread on the oak dining table with a Rexene
    Cloth on: the cucumber sandwiches, the carat grated with salt and pepper, the fried fish,
    The potato chips with spinach pounded with coriander leaves. Orange marmalade and sliced
    Apples –As a pure vegetarian, on to the other side the fried fish, retaining my vegetarian stuff.
    Over the table, we were delighted to know that the trio consisted of poets, we were poetry
    Lovers, and we discussed Modern poetry and poetry was our dessert.

  35. He caresses the slender line of her neck with his left thumb and index finger, loosening further the chiffon scarf slung lightly around her shoulder blades. With the gentle touch of his right hand, her head inclines towards his as his tongue glides salaciously down the porcelain contour and touches the tip of the scarf as it falls reluctantly to the ground in a heap by her heels.

    The sheer thread of silk at one corner catches the rubber sole and like an obedient chihauhau it trails behind her as he takes her hand and guides her into the Rose Antechamber where he takes a souffled arbroath smokie cream with foaming hollandaise sauce from a waiting silver tray. This he slips between his fingers and into her open mouth, touching her tenderly as it goes in.

    He invites her tongue to move slowly around her lips, smearing it seductively with the creamy sauce. He closes his eyes as the taste lingers in his mouth, content as a hungry seafairer returned to dry land, enjoying the mind’s eye’s travel, immeasurably. As he opens his eyes and looks up, he sees a waiting tray of Savignon Blanc. Taking a glass, he puts it to her lips whilst looking at ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’ where the god of wine leaps from his chariot towards the fair maiden clad in a robe loosely wrapped around his torso. (He jolts involuntarily as his notices the scantily robed scene of faithful followers).

    His eyes follow the room and stops at a fountain of glass where more wine trickle down into the pool of rose petals, effusing the air with a scent he knows only too well. This time his smile broadens into a smile she knows only too well and they disperse into the dimly lit room.


  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. She ushered the children in ahead of her.
    ‘My teeth,’ she told him. ‘They hurt so much. I can’t chew. I can’t drink. I can’t bear it any longer. I’m in such pain.’
    ‘Let’s take a look. Just lie back in the chair.’
    He was a kind-faced man, elderly, slightly camp - she had always wondered about that - and he could never keep his body still. His hands, however, were rock-steady as he brought the mirror and pointy thing towards her mouth. She closed her eyes.
    He prodded.
    ‘Are you stressed at the moment? Worried about anything?’
    ‘Ahh ah.’ She waved vaguely at the assembled small children.
    ‘Oh, yes.’ He nodded unknowingly. ‘Well, your enamel is a little fractured.’ He withdrew his tools.
    ‘What does that mean?’
    ‘You are grinding your teeth, my dear.’ He raised an eyebrow. ‘Do you grind your teeth?’ The way his voice rose, placing the emphasis on the word teeth, made her wonder what else he thought she might be grinding.
    ‘I don’t think so. I’m not aware that I do.’
    ‘Well, you just need to relax.’
    She stared at him for a moment.
    ‘And you have children, do you?’ She asked.
    ‘No,’ He shook his head, and smiled the smile of the ignorant. ‘Well, try to relax anyway. Take anti-inflammatories, three times a day, for at least ten days. That might help.’
    But, I’ve had this for six months. Didn’t you hear me? I can’t bear it any longer. You must be able to do something…
    He was extending his arm, now, inviting her to leave. She gathered the children. The appointment was at an end.
    She could have cried.

    And now, crunching ice-cubes between her teeth in some desperate show of machismo, she feels as though she is spitting icicles.


  38. She had felt the prick of each needle and lay there, unmoving and uncovered, on the narrow table, thankful that the air was warm and not icily cold like the streets outside. The room had a faint antiseptic smell. After the needles he went away saying he would be back soon, and she could hear him talking in the next room and heard the grunts of the person he was with. She had never experienced anything like this before but began to doze uneasily on the hard table. She woke suddenly in bewilderment when the door opened and he came in again. Standing by her head, he told her to turn onto her back, and then placed one of her arms across her breasts so her hand cupped her shoulder. He did the same with the other arm. He raised her up by the nape of her neck and placed his clenched fist against her spine just above her bra strap as she lay prone. Then he seemed to fall on her and the weight of his body against the fist beneath her spine made her cry out. He put his fist further down her spine and repeated the movement. And further down again. He was strong and did with her what he pleased. He made her sit on the side of the table and clasp her hands behind her head. Putting his arms round her just below her breasts, he suddenly pulled her upwards so she could feel her lower spine dropping away under her own weight. There were two sharp cracks. Finally, he lay her down again and rolled her head from side to side before jerking it hard towards himself. He told her the adjustments were good, to take her time, and see him again on Monday.

  39. It was room 228.

    It was room 229 and we ordered artichokes beforehand. You said you didn’t know how to eat them so I pulled the leaves out for you and dipped them in butter. It ran down your chin and I scooped it up with my middle finger and you licked it off. I remember the waiter, very disapproving, fake accent. “Has madame mislaid her napkin?” He kept coming back to fill up the water jug just to keep an eye on us.

    Actually it was asparagus, not artichokes. It was mid summer so they would have been in season. Did you really believe me when I said I’d never eaten them before?

    Remember how we both turned up in black trousers and white shirts. You had that bloody blue belt that I couldn’t undo.

    It was red. It always was a bit tight. I wasn’t sorry when it went missing.

    Perhaps it’s still upstairs, still under that bed after all these years.

    Remember there was a picture on the wall over the bed, a nude. You said I had a better figure. I took the frame down and put it on the sheets, tracing my finger slowly round and round her outline. You watched, you were shaking.

    I remember. It reminded me of my mother.

    Your mother for Christ’s sake?

    My parents had a picture in their bedroom, an oil painting from Boots of a naked woman looking over her shoulder. Browns and golds and bad brush strokes. Every morning dad would get out of bed, pat her on the bum and say “good morning darling” and my mother would laugh.

    And your point is?

    They were married for 43 years. He might not have fed her asparagus every anniversary but he must have been doing something right.


  40. Sura looked at the statue in front of her. She was naked and her knees were drawn up to her chest. Her head was down, looking at her toes and hair fanned out from her head to cover her.

    "What do you think she'd sound like if she could talk?" Sura whispered.

    "I think that she'd talk in song." I said. "Every word a different song, every phrase a symphony."

    Sura sighed. "Do you think there is anything that sounds that beautiful in life, Kumi?"

    I looked at the statue as I contemplated her question. "Certainly." I said. "You're beautiful."

    She blushed and took my hand. "I think she would speak in poetry."

    I looked at her. "Why do you say that?"

    "She looks broken. Aren't all broken people poets?"

    I think for a moment about Susanna Moodie and Sylvia Plath. I think of ee cummings, Leonard Cohen, Edger Allen Poe, Carol Shields, Magaret Atwood. I think of Bach and Mozart and Chopin, Tchaikovsky. I think of Shubert. I think of Klimt and Van Goh, Picasso, Renoir, Monet. I think of Stephen King, Rudyard Kipling, Johnathan Swift and C. S. Lewis.

    "I think all broken people are artists." I say, shocking myself. "I think they create to fix what is broken within them."

    Sura is quite for a moment while she digests this. She reaches out to touch the statue, to caress it lovingly. When she touches the stone, we hear a rumble from within it. A flash of gold along cold, dark stone. A hum comes from inside it.

    We watch as the statue straightens her head, hair falling to either side of her face. We see her eyes, her lips smiling softly as if she knows a secret. Looking down no longer.

    "She's no longer broken" I say.

    Jamieson Wolf

  41. Philip Marks and Erin Dean

    The wedding was held at Tunbridge Wells Registry Office (which disappointed the Groom’s Mother, as she was expecting them to get married at her parish church so all her friends would come to the service). The Bride wore a white empire line dress (which was a shame, according to the Bride’s Mother, as she would have looked better in cream or ivory and she’s lost so much weight recently that something with more of a waist would have been more flattering) with a cathedral train (a huge waste of money, said the Bride’s Father). She carried a hand-tied bouquet of pink and cream roses and gypsophila (the sub changed it to ‘baby’s breath’ and the chief sub changed it back again). The Chief Bridesmaid was Alison Jones, the Bride’s best friend who carried a single cream rose and wore a shell pink princess line dress (and far too much make-up, according to the Bride, who had specifically asked everyone to look natural). The other Bridesmaids were: Wendy Marks, the Groom’s sister, who wore a shell pink princess line dress (and a look of resigned boredom) and Elizabeth Catsford, aged 12, who wore a shell pink dress with layers of tulle and carried a hand-tied bouquet of gypsophila (and a heavy heart because she had secretly loved the Groom since she was six). The Best Man was Jack Catsford (whose girlfriend is really annoyed with him for neglecting her at the reception). The wedding was conducted by Yvonne Fisher and Beryl Pye (who would rather have been at home watching a weepy film). The Bride and Groom are honeymooning in Tuscany (which the Groom’s Father thinks sounds a bit cheap). Abel Houseman took the pictures (and wishes he hadn’t because the Bride’s Mother is a cow).

  42. The room smelled of an old woman’s perfume. Thick and heavy, the scent would stick in the back of your throat, so pungent you could taste it.

    “Sweetie, how much of that did you put on?”

    “Just a couple of sprays. It’s pretty, isn’t it?”

    It’s all about positive reinforcement encouraging creativity (because emotions turn on dime, and we don’t want tears), so you have to say things like, yes, it’s lovely but you only need the teensiest bit. The idea is to wear a subtle scent, not to leave a vapour trail hanging in the air. You’ve had this talk, but sometimes she forgets and wants to feel like a lady.

    She’d strike up a conversation with anyone, shopkeepers, waitresses, cab drivers, people on any queue. Telling them stories that go on way too long, repeating tales that have no bearing, making inappropriate jokes because her grandpa thought they were funny. I’d hold her hand and smile, sometimes whispering “that’s enough, dear.” After all, she’s not my kid — it’s not my job to teach her social skills.

    She soaked up language like a dried up sponge. Reading signs out loud, no matter what they said, like she was announcing things to a blind person who’d lost his hearing aid. “Tesco.” “Mind the gap.” “Have an enchanted holiday.”

    And the neverending questions, even when you knew for a fact that she knew the answers. “Is that (insert name of television program) you’re watching?” “Is this the street you live on?” “Are jalepenos hot?” “Did I tell you (insert relative’s name) came down with (insert disease)?” “Is that beer you’re drinking?”

    It became a game to listen to her repeat stories, trying to figure out which details became more exaggerated.

    When did my mother become one of my kindergarten students?


Add Your Own Message Here
If you want to take part - great. All you need to do is add your response to our message here as a comment, but remember it has to be exactly 30 or 300 words, and it needs to be posted before 8am GMT the morning after the original post for each day. Please also remember to add your Name and Email Address to the end of your message, so that we can get in touch if your work is selected.