November 9th

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He waits until Annie’s asleep before he can do it properly.
It’s not that she resists him. She has no idea of what he’s doing. He knows that by the way she tries to keep secrets from him. It’s just that it feels more proper somehow to have rules.
So, only at night, when she allows the dreams to come, does he slip in too. It’s so amazingly beautiful, her mind. She’s no idea. Keeps saying things like how muddled her thinking is, how much crap she has stored away, so much useless knowledge.
But he walks round the loopy grey and silver corridors breathless with excitement. He’s been in other minds before, but they had regular clean outs. Annie’s kept everything.
He'll never get bored in there.
He goes down her playground memories, listens to the skipping songs, feels the fear as teachers prod and poke at him as he goes past, running automatically to kind playground assistants just as Annie must have done.
He can’t resist stalking her first loves, asking out loud how she could have found this one attractive with his red hair and freckles, or how this one could have found HER attractive.
But it’s the travel aisles he enjoys the most. Here he just sits and lets Annie’s excitement wash over him as she sees a whale swim up to the boat she was travelling to Greece in; snorkels over coral reefs in America, barters for Moroccan jewellery. He sips mint tea with her, scoops up spicy rice with his fingers and lets sweet candies explode on his tongue.
He never gets bored of it.
‘I love you,’ he tells her every morning. ‘You interest me more than any other woman I’ve met.’ And what he loves most is how much he means it.


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  2. Tonight, despite all efforts, sleep was a pleasure she would be denied. Not so for her lover, he seemed to be enjoying a blissful encounter with the realms beyond reality. She stared at his head. If only she could get inside, secure a promise, secure her future. She traced its contours to the charming dip in the nape of his neck, her eyes caressed the shapes formed by the organic nature of its structure. She paused to revel in the intricate join between his ear and skull. The perfect pink lobe’s contoured form was moulded by heavens hand in intricate detail. The tiny hairs, streamlined and tapered, became more downy as they petered out in the valley of the nape. So sexy. She wouldn’t wake him, though she wanted to say how much she loved him. Falling in love was never a problem, though persuading the recipient of her love to requite her love was. She’d found a ‘sense of worth’ with this man. He was sincere, had no hidden agenda, made her feel normal and showed her that she was not a mad fool perched on the verge of hopeless insignificance: Told her that her ideas made sense: that the things she knew, which had no words were real and that the people who’d hurt her in the past were cruel to her because she was pretty and clever, different and interesting. She should be proud and not concerned with their petty insecurities. So many hurts, so many fears, so much confusion, all replaced with a surge of hope, a tide of possibility, which, if she was lucky would lead to the perfect happy ending. When he awoke they made love again. When he left he said he’d give her a call, so she gave him her number.

  3. It is dark in here, and damp. There are masses of little wire type tendril things coming out of grey gooey lumps. Nothing much happens until, suddenly, one of the things starts thrashing about with little sparks flashing from the end. This seems to wake up some of the other wires which had been hanging limply. One after the other they straighten out and appear to wave towards the sparking one. It ignores all of them. Then another one sparks and both live wires home in on each other, their flashes merge and they seem to weld together instantly .

    Everything heaves and then stops. Another tendril comes out sparking and joins on to the first two. Then another and another and the whole grey mass starts slurping from side to side, but without the lumps merging.

    A wave of sound fills the spaces and echoes between the pulsating lumps. Words form with agonising slowness, echoing around the spaces and starting more sparks and flashes and waving wires. Old connections light up and wink like strobe lights. Something of deep significance is being constructed. In the dim light given off by the sparks it is possible for the first time to see that everything is happening in an enormous dome. There are red veins all over it, pulsing rhythmically.

    All this activity appears to be employed in the construction of a word.
    Now the strobes are blinking even faster and connections are being made and remade at ever greater speed and in ever greater numbers. They are beginning to generate warmth in the clammy spaces between the now heaving grey lumps.
    “ to...”
    The lumps shake meaningfully. New wires appear, like twigs on a fungus, and connect and spark and flash until all is light and heat.
    “...make my tea.”

  4. He'll need to wait until Annie's asleep before he can do it. But how will he know? She's just turned off the light in her bedroom, but sometimes she takes ages to drop off. He'll watch for an hour, that should be long enough.

    It's warm in the car and the radio is playing soothing music. The street outside is dark and empty. Other lights in curtained windows are going out, one after another. He wonders what people would think if they knew why he was there, what he has planned. He doesn't care, particularly. He has a need. Just once will do it. He's not going to hurt anyone. He's going to help himself.

    When there are only a couple of windows still lit, further down the street, he gets out of the car and bumps its door shut with his bum. He steps over the front wall and tiptoes across the lawn, then along the side of the house to the back door. The spare key is still under the same flowerpot, its remembered contours so reassuring in his hand that, for a moment, it's enough. But then he thinks of the sofa.

    The key turns quietly in the lock. He kicks off his shoes and walks into the kitchen, pulling the door to behind him. The lino's familiar smoothness beneath his feet brings tears to his eyes. He treads softly down the hall and into the living room, inhaling the wonderful smell of home. The sofa cushions yield beneath the weight of his body, just like they always did. He can't stay long. But, he thinks, he could always come back. Now that he's found the way, maybe once won't be enough after all.

    From the room above, he hears the crisp click of a light switch.

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  6. He’s strutting down the main drag carrying a black attaché case to match his high heels and stockings. His legs and chest are unshaved. His jungle-green bra matches his suspender belt and panties. Nobody looks at him. They’re not even averting their eyes. They just don’t notice.

    My husband dreams in media res, in colours and scenes and wakes up in a sweat before any epiphany. That’s when I say, tell me, and he does.
    “Can I have it?” I say.
    “You’re so greedy.”
    “What do you do with them all?”
    I grin.
    “I don’t want to know,” he says.

    There’s the one when I gave him a glass with a hairline crack and red wine seeped over his new white shirt. There’s another where the tiles in the kitchen were falling off the wall, and when he tried to catch them, they just fell more quickly. Once he’s given me his dreams, he forgets them, he says.

    I don’t analyse his dreams, I just play with them. I can sit for hours doodling and moodling.
    “I don’t want to go there,” he says.
    “Into that head of yours.”
    “It’s no big deal,” I say.
    “I can hear little cogs creaking away.”
    “That’s because I’m exploring stories.”
    “I don’t want to go there. Not with this last one.”

    When he was wearing his jungle-green undies, a writing mate had come to stay.
    He told her his dream
    “Can I have it?” she said.
    “Hey, but it’s mine,” I said.
    He looked at us both and shook his head slowly. “Why don’t you just share it?”

    My writing mate hasn’t done anything with his dream yet, and my little cogs keep skipping past the jungle-green lace. I guess the corporate drag queen’s on hold, pending a future board meeting.

  7. ‘You stink! All those with red hair smell and those freckles are an abomination,’ she says fiddling with a strand of lank hair.

    ‘I’m beautiful,’ I say taunting her by unwinding a ringlet. ‘I shower in raindrops three times a day, relax in a bath filled with amber oils, honey hued bubbles every evening. I smell of the warmth of the sun, a field of corn and my taste is sweet. I am like a russet apple ready to be plucked; a Titian oil painting in a golden frame surrounded by angels of light.’

    ‘But you are deformed with those pinpricks of sludge on your face. Your whole body is unsightly, not a miniscule of space anywhere. You will attract no one,’ she says.

    ‘My freckles give me character,’ I say. ‘They remind people of holidays in Florida, Crete where heat gives comfort, the sliver of rays on the sea instil hope. I attract everyone.’

    She was silent. Her brain chewed my words. She would spit them out at an opportune moment.

    ‘You’re a rat,’ I say. ‘You scuttle into drains, run along railway lines, lurk in the undergrowth. You smell of garbage, You’re unclean.’ Everyone loathes you’.

    ‘I have insuperable power,’ she says. ‘Fear is more appealing than love.’ My pink tail is like a thin slice of streaky bacon. It reminds people of the smell of a cooked breakfast wafting up the stairs. I am enticing. My fur is warm to the touch like velvet, to be stroked with care; never ruffled. I have white cousins, beautiful creatures who become household pets. I creep into their plush homes and share their tit-bits. It’s good.’

    I reach out to touch her. She is my sister, after all.

    She leans towards me, nips my neck with sharpened teeth. Draws blood.

  8. I keep the video library of my dreams in an oak cabinet by the TV. They rank in alphabetical order, from Abseiling in New York to Zebras in My Garden.

    Decades of dreaming languish in cases that are dusty, untouched. I haven’t re-run Crossing the Channel in a Dinghy with Mary Queen of Scots for years. Others are worn so thin from watching that there are fuzzy patches, grey blanks, where I have rewound, replayed, rewound. Unexpectedly Cast as Lady Chatterley to Sean Bean’s Mellors for example and, from my childhood, Queen of our Street for a Day.

    I watch a handful with my family, all certificated ‘U’. The children laugh at Mummy as a Clown Roly-Polying on the Sand and ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ as Mummy Rides through Space on a Donkey (although I have to fast forward through the crash landing on the moon and the subsequent alien massacre.)

    There’s an X-rated section of course, which I share with hubby, when he’s been good.

    But underneath the cabinet, cached away behind a false front, there are the boxes labelled For My Eyes Only. There’s sex, yes (with neighbours, with friends) and violence, a bit. But mainly there’s fear. Fear of falling, of failing, of forgetting, of betraying, of crying of trying of succeeding of facing of retreating of deserting of loving of losing of lying.

    I watch them alone in the dark, and try to see through the layers of the me that is mother wife lover friend; through to the other me that twists and turns down dark tunnels unearthing desires and needs unbidden uninvited.
    Afterwards I tuck the dreams away, secure the facade back in place. I open the curtains, I switch on the lights and I look in the mirror to check on who is there.


  9. At first it didn't matter. There was a kind of comfort in it, elation even. Feeling another human being so close , so interested in her. Her life, her wishes, her needs, her dreams.
    Even the little things. Opening doors, remembering to pick up her magazine when he fetched his paper. Asking if she wanted a cuppa' or a drink and then actually stirring his arse to get it when she said yes. And the feeling when it arrived, his caring and concern wrapping her up like her own hands around the warm cup.

    After she'd stumbled on what he was really up to, she kept her thoughts to herself, speaking only of trivia. What her Mum had said when she rang. How the BBC cheated in the cat naming. How they were meant to sort the rubbish in the latest council newsletter.
    "Beautiful morning."
    "Yes, beautiful."

    Mornings were worst.
    Telling her he loved her and how interesting she was. After a night of stomping around in her dreams. Poking. Prodding. Prying.

    So far she'd kept it all together, laying a false trail for him to follow. School days and travel. Mint tea and snorkeling. An old boy friend; that got him really excited, the twisted bastard.
    She'd never have known he was there if he'd just watched and kept his mouth shut.

    Please god, she could keep a step ahead of him.
    Keep him away from her mind's attic, where she hid and held and exercised and revelled in her real dreams.
    What would happen if he ever winkled his way in there?
    There'd be no future. She'd be finished.
    She shivered and turned over, glad he was not beside her.
    What on earth could she do to keep him out?
    She drifted.
    She dreamed.
    She could kill him.

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  11. She wishes she could control them, bend them to her will; discover what triggers them off.

    Sometimes they are outrageous, unbelievable; the occasion when young and beautiful, at a dinner party, she is placed next to Sir Laurence Olivier, who ignores her, as he concentrates on engaging the dowdy middle-aged woman seated opposite, in animated conversation, while she is left silent, unattended, listening to his unmistakeable voice resounding through the reality of her dream, hurt, fingering her diamond necklace, close to tears.

    Occasionally the doorbell rings in her sleep, penetrating the thick fog of a dream. She wakes, frightened, switches on the light, goes down into the hall and looks through the peephole. Nobody is on the doorstep, so she creeps back to bed and settles into oblivion, as the Dream Peddler slips silently away, unseen, smiling to himself.

    It’s a pity he isn’t more selective. Why does he never let her see those she has loved and lost? He must know she’s longing to see them again. So why deliberately hide them, the beautiful people? Why send her so many strangers, people she has barely brushed against, the drunk who’d leered at her from a park bench as she’d hurried by one morning; even faces of the unknown, that she has never seen, yet are so clearly defined, only to be erased on waking, leaving her questioning.

    Once he left her shivering on a strange doorstep in her nightdress; the door had opened and slammed shut in her face, but didn’t wake her. When she was young, she knew how to terminate a dream. But it meant standing on a breakwater and jumping purposefully into the sea. It always worked. But now he doesn’t allow her dreams about the sea, jealous of her one small chance of self control.


  12. I can’t sleep, no matter how tired I am. I wake within hours of going to bed and I lie there in the stillness and Jimmy is breathing softly and I hate him so much I want him to stop. I want him to die.

    And then I think about that: wanting someone to die, and what kind of person that makes me.

    And then I think about wanting myself to die, which doesn’t seem so bad. And then I think how terrible that is, that me wanting to die is not so bad.

    I think about what would happen if I killed myself. Jimmy would go back to his old life like nothing had ever changed. He wouldn’t even miss me.

    I have to get up then, out of bed, because I physically can’t contain the thoughts. I have to move. And as I get out, Jimmy doesn’t even stir. I open the door, go through, and click it shut behind me. And he just lies there.

    I sit at the breakfast bar and I drink vodka, with a little lemonade. It doesn’t help me. I’m so stupid. I should have known from the beginning. I’ve never been special and I never will be. I should have stayed with Gerry, in our ordinary life. But I didn’t, and now I can’t go back. Because Gerry has shaken me off like dust.

    I should eat, but I can’t. I put things into my mouth and try to chew, but my brain thinks it’s a bad idea. You don’t want that, you’d be better just fading away. You’re too stupid to live.

    I’ve got no one to talk to. I sit in the kitchen, on my own, in the middle of the night, drinking vodka, with no one to talk to.

  13. She’s not sure what it is at first: not mind-reading, exactly. She remembers doing ESP with her friend Sophia when they were about twelve, playing telepathic Mastermind, where you only had one go at guessing the code. This is nothing like that. She doesn’t set out to beam thoughts into his brain.

    But she knows things are getting across without her having to say them, or even think about how to phrase them. He must have noticed that he knows more about her than he should, that he knows what she’s about to say sometimes. What does he think it is? Intuition? Inspired guesswork? A meeting of minds, perhaps? Great phrase, that. It implies there’s more to it than sex, whereas in the end…

    That’s where it really takes off, for her. I mean, having a boyfriend who can guess what you’re going to order in a restaurant, what you think of his parents – those things have drawbacks. They make you predictable, and tactless. Transparent. Shallow. But someone who knows exactly what you want him to do next, who can pick up on your fantasies without you having to whisper them in his ear, trying not to sound like some tacky porn film – that has definite advantages.

    In fact, she begins to wonder which way round it works. Do they have great sex because he can read her like a book, or do they have this amazing level of understanding because they’ve reached some higher plane of sexual congress? She’s sitting on the bed thinking about that when he comes out of the bathroom. He smiles when he sees her face.

    “Don’t worry about it,” he says. “All you need to ask yourself is, am I a sexy piece or what?”

    It’s the first question he’s asked her for weeks.

  14. I was up once for 27 days. That’s my record. When I came home, I slept a week straight. Like I was dead. Don’t remember a thing. When I woke up, I’d lost, like, 30 pounds and missed two months of school. First day back, I wore my little sister’s jeans. Felt good. People lookin’ and talkin’ in the hall like they know about me. They don’t know shit. Chad says I am alllll that, and don’t I know it. He’s sure too old for school, and he doesn’t need a job neither. He’s got all he needs in his ma’s kitchen. I’ve got all I need in his ma’s kitchen too. And in Chad’s bedroom. I’m going back first chance I get, first time my own ma’s back is turned. His ma dumped me off in the driveway at home, said she didn’t want a dead kid on her hands. I don’t remember the hospital part. I was down, down, down by then.
    That smell—like napalm in the morning—Chad hoots every time he starts cookin’. I don’t know what he’s talking about, but he and his ma sure think it’s funny. I was his best little helper, he told me. Then he told me get out of the kitchen and into the bedroom, and I WAS SO READY. He’d just touch me with one fingertip, and I’d explode. He’d point, and I’d go off. Just like that. That tripped him out. Like he had a magic wand or something. I was the best little porn star for him and his buddies for a while. Then I started freakin’ about cameras in the ceilings and got to screaming and fighting.
    The smell’s still on me. So I’ll go back. I’m his napalm in the morning.

  15. She watches as his thoughts play out above his head.

    She knows he wants to have her, to plunge into her. She can see it. Can see him naked, dripping sweat over her body.

    She turns to look at someone else. Finds herself looking at a hot dog vendor, his thoughts floating in a bubble above his head. If she wants to, she can reach up and grasp the bubble, hold the thought in her hands as it plays out. But this makes people look at her oddly.

    She had to stop doing that. But she loved the idea of holding a thought in her hand. She would blow on the bubble and watch it float into the clouds like a wish or a lost balloon. She smiled when she saw the vendors thoughts: people, rude, impatient, roasting on the grill, their fat sizzling.

    Another: a mother with her child. She watches as the woman rocks her baby, her thought bubble bright in the sun. She is thinking of her lover and wonders whether or not her baby is his or her husbands.

    She looks away. She feels as if she is intruding on others, but it has always been this way. She has never found a way of turning it off, of not seeing the bubbles. The only advantage is that no one could see her thoughts. She preferred it this way.

    She knew the only way to stop seeing the bubbles was to blind herself. She had the necessities at home, tucked away in a drawer, for when she could no longer stand the looking in. She would not use those things today however but longed to hold the ice pick in her hands, its point sharp enough to draw blood.

    Not today though. Today she only looks.

    Jamieson Wolf

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  17. Malika is afraid to sleep, afraid that if she closes her eyes and her subconscious takes over she will speak the truth aloud.

    At first Hussein teased her about her nocturnal mumblings. He told her she’d been talking about her seventeenth birthday and he’d started a conversation with her, a conversation she couldn't remember when she woke up.

    The second time it happened Hussein nudged her awake. "You just talked to me in your sleep again."

    Malika was surprised but not startled. "I did? What did I talk about?"

    Hussein smiled and snuggled closer, "You were dreaming about our wedding but you got lost and returned to Pakistan instead."

    "Did I cry?" Malika asked.

    Hussein smiled but his body tensed against her. "No, you laughed. You seemed pleased," he said.

    The third time it happened, after Malika was checked out of Bradford General because she’d ‘been a bit clumsy’ and given herself a black eye and concussion, Hussein prodded her awake.

    "Last night you were talking about monsters," he said.

    "Really?" Malika said, swallowing hard.

    "I told you not to be scared and you went back to sleep."

    "That was nice of you," Malika said, but when she rolled over there were tears in her eyes.

    The fourth time it happened Hussein shook her awake.

    “You were talking about leaving me,” he said. Then he shook her again, until she passed out.

    Malika is afraid to sleep, afraid that if she closes her eyes and her subconscious takes over she will speak the truth aloud. So she stays awake all night, locked in Hussein’s arms. When he goes to work she will doze on the sofa after she has watched “This Morning”, after she has picked up the phone to ask their experts for help. And put it down again.

    taylor_cally [at]

  18. I sat in your garden writing poetry on cuttle fish.
    You scattered my words across the lino,
    even the budgies refused to take an interest.

    We carved my words into the edges of pound coins.
    I handed them to the homeless.
    Couldn't escape a bruising shower of gold.

    You bought a cauldron, we cast a spell.
    A nip of Heaney, dollop of Armitage,
    scrapings from Duffy's finger nails,
    whiff of Plath, all bound with a sneaky
    shaving from Reed's eyeliner.

    It tasted foul.

    We added to our brew,
    Eau de Neruda, hair plucked from
    the corpse of Yeats' Black Bush,
    Owen's apple sauce, one of
    Hannah's used towels.

    It still tasted foul, though the apple
    and whiskey counteracted the taste
    of mackerel

    We stirred for days and nights if not
    without end, without sleep, finally
    contriving the perfect poet,

    it just wasn't me.

    I shaved my legs, adopted a Slavic name,
    removed my left arm with a small tiger
    you shoplifted from Harrods, and packed
    fudge between stealing tales of
    broken, abusive families.

    You got bored and left me.

    I got bored and left me too.

    When you came back you found
    me gone. When I returned I found
    myself and posted letters to Arvon,
    but forgot the SAE.

    I painted my nails black, wrote gothic
    muses, burned henna on the mantelpiece,
    wrote in lipstick on parked cars then
    chased them for reviews.

    You discovered S&M, we listened deafly
    to Donovon between lubricating the bridle.
    Your mother arrived with wide eyes
    but then she's Siamese.

    My father flew in from Italy to see
    if he could help.

    He said 'Enzo' you are a poet, and have
    I ever lied to you my son?
    You have just been unlucky, try and what
    is rightfully yours,
    will be your own.

    You saddo.

  19. don’t run, fly!
    always chased
    but they can’t follow me here

    the buildings are beautiful
    the lights, gorgeous
    and i’m always running into friends

    brickhead is looking for me
    stickman wants me back

    what happened to you?

    it was a teddy bear picnic gone awry!

    always with the gum stuck in the mouth
    how embarrassing
    what about all these loose teeth?

    flip through the dictionary
    i can read here, too
    and never just in black and white
    just time and numbers and bathrooms that give me trouble
    the light switches never work

    i forgot my shoes again

    wrote another song
    someone else sang it
    but i wrote it

    learned about sailing in the hot tub
    fully equipped
    piano made sense

    and then my mom took a swing at me
    shot me once, too
    with a rifle
    she was mad about groceries
    and something to do with my grandmother
    i woke up sore
    in real life

    what does that say about me?

    this old familiar cottage on the lake
    where bad things happen
    and we sailed the ice berg right through
    and nobody even noticed
    stayed under water the whole time
    and he floated right over top
    held my breath even though i didn’t need to

    people in wolf’s clothing

    you visited me once after what happened
    in real life

    and you died
    in your happiest moment
    up on stage with the band
    crowd surfed up to heaven

    and i spent the rest of the day calling you
    because i’ve been known to predict things
    in real life

    leaving me stranded on a brick wall
    amid the fog
    watching the churning see

    he abandoned me, too.
    me with just this elephant
    with one tear

    but you left me with so much more

    who knows what he gets into while i sleep

  20. people I know painted with different faces, words jumbling from their purple lips and although the words are coming out upside down I know what they’re saying I’m about to reply when a shutter clicks

    and the scene changes, I’m at home but it looks different, all perspectives are distorted like looking through the bottle of a milk bottle, on the wall are paintings I’ve never seen of faces with smeared smiles and I can hear my mum tutting at me and realise they are pictures of me, when I turn my head the paintings follow my moves

    then my mum isn’t my mum anymore but the lady who sells me fresh cream doughnuts at the cake shop, she always picks the one with the most cream for me but I can tell she eats a lot herself she is doughnut shaped, even though she isn’t my mum I ask her what’s for tea, she smiles with white teeth and gold fillings and says you should know you’re cooking it tonight

    and the paintings whiz round and round and round and I fall over dizzy and when I get up I’m in a kitchen standing by the huge fridge from my ninth birthday party, we kept the ice cream in the top and the fridge leaked and puddled with water and melted ice cream, I remember the different colours swirling round and making dirty brown

    but it’s my birthday my nine year old self is saying to the doughnut lady who has now turned into my teacher, I just want doughnuts for tea, that’s ok she says but you need my teeth if you want cakes, and she spits out her false teeth and shoves them into my mouth and I choke and cry and try to speak but can’t

  21. Annie loves each morning's love yous, the devoted duck of his chin into the soft of her neck, the glossiness of his eyes, the lingering gaze. She savors the day with the recurring pause as she contemplates the continued play. Tomorrow is made by the sure captured love of night.

    She was gratified at how he extolled her complexion, the music of her hips and lips, but always there are more layers to a woman's skill than a man can imagine.

    She can feel in her neural pathways the sideslip where he passed last night, where he nearly lost his footing seeing Gerard wink. The territorial testosterone of him almost caked the silver travel aisles as it puffed like flour from him in the peculiar physics of the space.

    While he was lost in the crash of waves, Annie slipped away to check where else he had strayed, what caught his desire.

    The sweat of his flame-crackling hot hands played with a cobalt cup in her university 4th floor walk up. If she lifted its memory weight, she knows she would taste the echo of his lips, the subtle shift of his presence against her remembered.

    She sees him ahead, holds her breath and discipline when she wants to encircle him and let him know she watches.

    His shoulders are pulled forward by his eyes’ next spying. She stands behind the bench where he stretched his back, extending his legs. He watches her memories play across the park. She steers back quickly, overwrites the puppy that skirts the scene, not letting him see that it was hers, obscures the curses and sticks that rained on it from her father's drunken rants. She will chance his seeing less savory one day perhaps. For now she will be his China shop nymph.

    Pearl, email address at site.

  22. Who’d be in my shoes? It’s amazing the lengths people will go to not to mention it. I even adopted a three legged cat from the RSPCA. No one commented. Went to the vet for vaccinations and the vet said “She’s not walking too well is she? I think she may have a problem with her elbow”. Exasperated, I said, “Do you think it’s more to do with the fact that she’s only got three legs?” The vet ignored my question and went on to demonstrate how, when he flexed her elbow, she would pull away from him and that this was indeed the reason she was limping. Unbelievable. I’m surprised that I haven’t had a bill for treating the missing leg.

    I told the lady in Chadwick’s that I was looking for some brown loafers, probably size 9 but would she mind measuring my feet just to make sure?

    “That one’s coming up as a 9, definitely”. As she pulled the tape to check the width of the right, she recoiled slightly before quickly regaining her composure. She rushed off and I caught a flash of crimson from her cheeks as she disappeared into the storeroom out back.

    When she came back, I smiled, took the loafers and slid the left one onto my foot. I looked up at the assistant who seemed to be clenching her fist in front of her mouth. With both shoes now on, I leapt up, danced down to the other end of the shop and back again. “How are they?” she asked rather too condescendingly when I returned. “The left one feels fine but the right one feels a little tight”. She didn’t flinch. “I think it’s cutting into me here when I walk” I said, pointing to the top of the shoe.

  23. It is when he is awake that love is easiest. His silent sleep reminds me of his death. That one day the closed jaw that looks so like his mother’s old face will be closed forever - so give me him wakeful please, with his humour and music, his quick words and solid responses. He claims no love before me and we were elderly for marriage in these promiscuous days. I do not want to gather his secrets or occupy his memories. I find great consolation in our separateness and yet from this integrity we have produced children. I wish no one to rummage round my mind except at my clear invitation and I will offer evidence of what lives there journeys or the strong flavours of remembered meals.
    In my dreams I am often trapped in a large house with a sealed room and when I finally break down the door I find a space full of fungus so dense and foul smelling that the walls seem alive, to be parts of the body of some huge creature from another world, a creature emerging from the caverns of the earth. The first time I had this dream I was 6 and in the dream it was a cinema, rather than a house, with closed doors and I was lost running along corridors that resembled our local Empire cinema. When I found a room that contained other life a skeletal woman was jumping on a bed up and down, up and down and waving her arms in the dark air. This was the start of the fungus. It was creeping round the edges of that unlit room, in my dream, in my irrational days. I would have given the dream freely to anyone who wanted it. But no one ever did.

  24. How I wish I could get inside your mind.

    I wonder what you are thinking when you sit silently, staring into the distance, oblivious to all that is happening around you. I would so love to know what you find compulsively interesting in the tiniest details of your environment.

    I wonder what is so funny when you start giggling for no obvious reason. We have learnt that your giggles can mean trouble, that you are plotting something naughty, but at other times we can see nothing to make you laugh. Is your mind full of thoughts? You don’t speak, so do you think and dream in words or just in pictures?

    I wonder why you constantly tap solid surfaces, until your tender knuckles become raised with calluses. Do you like the feel of different textures or is it the noise you enjoy? We know, of course, that people like you experience extremes of the senses. Noises that are painfully loud, smells which attract like a magnet, lights which hypnotise.

    Those who do not yet know you cannot possibly conceive how much appears to go on your mind. ‘There’s not much there,’ said your first teacher, but you have already proved her wrong. There is a lot going on in there. It’s just that we cannot decipher it most of the time.

    Autism has been depicted as a puzzle with a piece missing. I don’t really believe you have anything missing. But you look at life differently to me. You recognise and acknowledge kindred spirits, those who think in a way similar to you. The rest of us are largely irrelevant unless serving your needs, yet you are not without affection. A hug or kiss from you can melt the heart.

    How I just wish I could get inside your mind.

  25. “Tell me how much you love me,” she says, propping her hand under her chin, her elbow disappearing into the dimpled down of the pillow.

    “More than you’ll ever know,” he mumbles from the edge of sleep.

    “How do you do that?” she demands


    “Fall asleep so quickly.”

    “It’s not difficult - I’m exhausted. You wear me out.”

    She laughs and snuggles in close to him, resigned already to the fact that their conversation will have to wait until later in the morning.

    He opens his eyes briefly, raises his arm and brushes away a wisp of hair that rests on her nose. “We’re good together, you and me. Aren’t we? I mean really good?” It’s a rhetorical question. He doesn’t expect an answer and has already closed his eyes again, the need for sleep pulling at him.

    She studies him with the fascination of a child examining a new picture book, taking in every detail as if she’s seeing him for the first time. ‘Yes, we’re good together,’ she thinks. ‘Really good. And things will be alright this time if only I can manage not to spoil them.’

    She turns onto her back and faces the ceiling. He stirs momentarily and then settles. She focuses her gaze on a crack in the ceiling that seems to have widened since the last time she looked. She starts to repeat the mantra in her head, over and over.

    Take it slowly
    Let him lead
    Don’t ask for too much
    Don’t smother him
    Don’t obsess
    Don’t get jealous
    Don’t make him regret loving you

    Take it slowly
    Let him lead
    Don’t ask for too much
    Don’t smother him
    Don’t obsess
    Don’t get jealous
    Don’t make him regret loving you

    Don’t make him regret loving you

    Don’t make him regret loving you……

  26. He spotted her straight away - a plump, unattractive teenager sitting alone in the station café with an overstuffed holdall at her feet. She was picking nervously at the edge of her polystyrene cup.

    “Mind if I share your table?”

    She flushed deep crimson and nodded. The polystyrene cup was empty.

    “Let me get you something, sweetheart.”

    She tugged her sleeves down self-consciously but not before he’d noted the tiny lacerations inside her wrists.

    “I bet you’ve never tried an Irish coffee before.”

    She giggled and shook her head.

    “Go on, be a devil!”

    He winked when he placed the warm whiskey and coffee topped with cream in front of her.

    She took a tentative sip. “It’s nice.”

    “Why don’t you tell me about it, darling?”

    Maybe it was because of the glow spreading inside her or because she couldn’t believe such a suave, older man could be bothered to talk to someone like her, but Danielle found herself telling Charlie about everything - her new stepfather, her mum behaving like a teenager, the cutting. Once she started she couldn’t stop. She even told him what her stepfather did to her under the stairs the night her mum passed out on the sofa. She hadn’t even told her best friend, Paige, that.

    Charlie shook his head sadly.

    “Sweetheart, you’re special. I can tell that from just looking at you. You think it’ll be easier for everyone if you’re not around.”

    “Wow, are you like some sort of mind reader or something?” said Danielle, pink with pleasure.

    “I guess you could say that. Tell you what, why don’t you come to my place, it’s only round the corner? We could talk more easily there.”

    “We-ell, okay,” said Danielle as she scooped the last bit of cream from her glass with her finger.

  27. IT was in Tidal Park that Bernard met Amanda and their love blossomed here to
    Its full fledged fruition. Her lovely lavender smelling skin with soft texture, her dimple in the
    Plumpy cheeks and her enticing look all endeared him to her heart. But to his dimay,
    Suddenly that Bernard finds that Amanda is changed and maintains a somewhat
    Inexplicable distance .Of late she sounds deep and secretive and Bernard has his
    Own misgivings whether there is love lost between them. Amanda has her own dreams ,
    Dreams in which she unearths her feelings to the surface, she perhaps blabbers and
    Opens up her heart ,in her dreams , Bernard does not like her surreptitious behaviour ,
    He wants to record her nocturnal utterances in sleep, her esoteric experiences so that ,
    He can know without her knowledge what is going on. A woman’s heart is vey deep,you
    Never know what is passing in her mind, he broods. How deeply i loved her, how concerned
    I was, how patient with her nasty moods , how mean she could be? Bernard ruminated
    Inwardly and there should be norm for everything and I cannot approve of her
    Chimerical or non serious attitude, This is love genuine love, and life and how can Amanda
    Be so callous ? is she mad or what?

    Even in our day today life we come across myriad of examples where people entangle
    Prematurely in love and wasting their times study and in some cases due to the
    instability o f either man or woman the love proves to be a fiasco and proves to be fatal.
    Now Bernard is flying to America, she floats in his imagination, he recapitulates her childhood
    Days, views her innocent schooldays , strong in love.

  28. Every so often, one of them drifted through the hallways of Nathan’s memory. Old friends from days gone by.

    Macon was his favorite. A tough-as-nails biker he met in New Orleans — scary on the outside, but inside a heart of gold. Protective of his friends, perhaps to a fault.

    Viktor … the charming (but temperamental) Russian boxer. A very mean drunk. No telling what he’d get up to, or where they’d end up if Viktor was around. Waking up in Central Lockup should have been a clue to cut that cord, but he stuck around awhile longer. Where was Macon when you needed him?

    Laurie. The teen-aged wiccan poet. She was scared to death of Viktor (so why’d she date him?). One night she forgot to hide her poems (painfully self-conscious, bless), and when she discovered the boys had read them, she started again. Small sets of parallel lines on her inner thighs. She confided to Nathan, who promised to keep her secret, but then AJ found out.

    Ah, AJ … the compassion of Atticus Finch and the cruelty of Addison DeWitt. Despite Nathan’s protests, he let everyone know that Laurie was self-harming. “It’s for her own good,” AJ convinced them. Why did he have to be so mean about it? He nearly destroyed her.

    So many others. Just on the verge of sleep, Nathan might catch a glimpse of them, like bit players in long-forgotten movie: Auntie Vi (who loved her opera); Donald, the effete young dancer; Billie and her wigs; transgendered Alison, who channeled Joan of Arc.

    Like random thoughts during mediation class, Nathan merely acknowledged their memories. No need to dwell, just let them pass on through.

    And whatever he did, he wouldn’t tell Doctor Jenkins. Four hundred volts hurt like the devil.
    bob [at] bobzyeruncle [dot] com

  29. They don’t give answers – they pose questions. They are so peculiar that you wonder where they come from. Someone else must have written these bizarre dramas, surely not you, you couldn’t invent such scenes. Remember that dream about the filthy old woman who somehow got you into her power, you couldn’t escape, to make use of your belongings and your money while you stood in your best clothes and your expensive hairdo, unable to act, helpless as a five-year-old child. There was some idea around that you were her lodger, but you knew she would soon take everything you had. Who was this person and how did she get into your head? She wasn’t like anyone you had ever met. You didn’t know her and would never want to.

    Dreams can show future possibilities that look evenly balanced. In one, you were looking at the sea and someone said It’s getting very rough, look at those waves building up, it doesn’t look too good to me, and you looked and it seemed that yes, there were waves building up, then you looked again and the waves were the same as they had been before, just ordinary waves on the sea. But were they getting bigger or were they not? Would they grow and grow and at last rise up and overwhelm you? The question hung unanswered, yet when you woke up you had a very small feeling of optimism. If it had gone badly the other way, you would probably have had a nightmare and may not have remembered the dream, but would have been afraid and depressed.

    You can make friends with your dreams and receive their messages with respect. Think about what they have to tell you because as you get older, you will dream less and less.

  30. The first time, it felt like she’d been burgled. People say they feel invaded after a burglary, no longer safe in their own home. That was exactly how it felt. She was having a very peaceful dream, being rocked in a hammock above a milky sea, when a door was suddenly flung open and there he was, stomping around in her head and flinging open the drawers of her mind.

    He was so crass, too. No cat burglar, that’s for sure. Putting his fingers into things, pulling things open, wandering around in her past in a pair of great big bovver boots and wearing a silly gawp on his face. If she were going to break into someone else’s head, she’d do it subtly. She’d tiptoe in, fearful of being caught. She’d sliver in like a fairy, flit about, scent things and leave, just as quietly. She’d be the Tinkerbell of mind burglars.

    Over the years, she’d grown used to his nightly visits. His style had never improved, it was still as if he were an undergraduate playing a prank, with muffled giggles and salacious gasps. He still strolled the aisles of her mind, tasting things, feeling up her past as if it were a schoolgirl in a miniskirt. But there was something comforting about the fact that he returned every night, something adorably idiotic and puppyish that he kept turning up as if her mind was a delicious bone that he loved turning over and reburying when morning came.

    So when he woke every morning and without fail told her he loved her, with that same canine eagerness, she would laugh, ruffle his hair and tell him not be such an idiot.

    Then she’d put his water down, pat his smooth fur and tell him she loved him too.

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  32. For months he enjoyed her life, there was nothing he did not interest himself in and catalogue for investigation. It took him a while to notice the change in this world, at first he just basked in sunsets he had never seen, enjoyed pleasures not of his making, but things were changing.

    He encountered less past, and certainly no people, and no matter which doors he opened he seemed to come back to the same place. soon be time to move on, new pastures and new memories to harvest. It would be a wrench, since this was the first person he had come close to being at home in.

    One more week, then onwards. He just had one last hope for the centre, and soon he thought he would find it. Maybe even tonight. But as each morning arrived he realised how tired he was, he found himself running through empty corridors, darkness following, it took strength to pull himself out. But still he was drawn back, and each morning she rolled over to him, smiled her big smile and said, “hello lover mine, how was your night?”.

    Tonight it was time and he knew what he had to do. He entered normally, running to her deep centre, but this time he just took door after door, quickly, no choice involved. Until suddenly he stopped turned quickly and returned through the door he had just used.

    He was unprepared for what he found. They where all here, Annie in every guise, and at their head was the Annie he knew, the smile, “Hello lover, now I can keep you forever” darkness

    He woke with the sound of doors slamming and an uneasy feeling that he was lost somewhere, but never mind, here was Annie, smiling, waiting for him to wake.

    Jim Barron

  33. “Come on,” he says laughing. “I want to take you to this place.”
    “What place?”
    “A little restaurant, I went to with a guy from work. I know you’ll love it.”
    “How do you know?” I ask.
    “I know you. Trust me. You will.”
    We drive across town in a pouring down rainstorm, through 6 inch deep puddles with the radio blaring and he holds my hand. We pull up in to what is clearly not one of the better eating establishments in the area and I look at him.
    “Trust me,” he says.
    We dash out of the car, headed for the door when suddenly he blocks my way and in the warm summer rain, wraps his arms around me and begins to kiss me , softly, deeply, drinking the rain from my lips. It’s only a few moments but we are soaked to the skin. He takes my hand and we go under the awning and into the hole in the wall masquerading as a restaurant. I start to slip on the tile floor but he catches me before I fall and kisses me again.
    He orders hot tea and then our dinner without allowing me to even look at the menu. When I start to protest, he puts his finger to my lips.
    “Trust me, I know you, you’ll love this.”
    When the food comes its incredible! Different than anything I’ve ever tasted! It’s delightful and I’m laughing at how much I’m enjoying it. The look in his eyes is startling.
    “What?” I ask him.
    “Nothing. I just love to please you.” His words touch my heart. I touch his face and kiss him.
    “How did you know I would like it?”
    He laughs. “I know you.”
    “How did you know?”
    “I know you, I pay attention.”

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. He’ll never stop loving her.
    He knows where she goes in the mornings and loves when she kisses him and says, ‘I love you, too’. He looks at her and smiles. He knows she goes to Prets where she toys with her raison Danish while she reads the morning news, all the while day dreaming about him over her early morning brew.
    He normally gets to George Street before 10am and sits behind his desk to begin his first appointment for the day. He loiters this morning as he revels in the sunshine of last night’s coral reefs and warm sandy beaches. He longs to get his first appointment over so he can see her in a boat in the ocean where wonders never cease. He reaches for the phone and dial a number.
    He never gets bored ringing her to say ‘hello’.
    He knows where she’ll be at 12pm. He rings Chez Antoine and books a seat in her favourite corner for her so she can lunch away from the noisy sandwich bars and avoid the trampling herd of hungry office workers, eager to grab a bite and head back to the office, shouting abuse at everyone. He dislikes seeing her upset as it hurts him to know she feels unhappy. He feels her pain and he knows what to do.
    He never fails to ring her in the afternoon.
    Today, like other days, he gets out his binoculars, pivots towards the window, slid open the blinds and aims it at the building across the road. He sees her. He sees that she is speaking with a client and wonders what they are discussing.
    He drops the binoculars. He gazes blankly at her picture on his desk. He feels betrayed, hurt, destroyed, ‘I know him, his freckles are apparent’


  36. I should never have started doing this. But my own dreams were so boring – the temptation to sneak into other people’s was overwhelming. I used to dream about food. I’d pass along the buffet looking at succulent sausages, mouth-watering mushroom vol-au-vents, chocolate confections ... I’d load up my plate, one of everything, piled sky-high. But I never got to taste any of it. What kind of dream is that?

    And houses – it isn’t always the same house. Sometimes it’s a house I recognise – a house from my past. But with a different slant. The street outside has changed – or the front door … Always there is a ladder and a secret passage – leading to a part of the house which was never there in reality. There were variations on this , but none really held my attention.

    So, that’s when I started sneaking into other people’s dreams. Starting with Esther. She had an interesting face. And she made the mistake of falling asleep. With her mouth slightly open …

    At first the dream was fascinating, if a little x-rated. Now - that bloke in her office that she fancies – someone should really tell him that his luck’s in. It felt a little voyeuristic being involved in this– so I decided to move on.

    Now I’m about to try Marcus. I know Marcus – we play snooker together. I should be fairly safe in his fantasies.

    At first it’s the usual stuff – a bit gung ho maybe. Saving maidens from dragons – exciting if you like that sort of thing.

    I’d forgotten about him being a soldier. Even in his dreams he’s in a war zone. Bullets crawl past my ears and the ground explodes before me. This isn’t a dream, it’s a … oh god, can you die in someone else’s nightmare?

  37. The Numbskulls was a cartoon in my childhood weekly comic that showed a cross-section of a head with little characters, the eponymous numbskulls, running each department; Brain, Smell, Hearing, Taste. They communicated via telephone and each week there was a different disaster to be averted.
    That’s how I remember it anyway. It might not be right. The fellows in my Memory Department seem to be on strike most days now. They used to be such good workers, bringing sharp, clear images to me whenever I ordered them, and sometimes when I didn’t. They had an excellent relationship with the Vision Department, the Smell Department, the Hearing Department and especially the Taste Department.
    As well as the numbskulls in my head, I have little men working under my skin. Skinjerkers, I call them. They have never abandoned me. Just today my friend Ailsa came over and talked about the gay holidays our families used to take when we were girls,
    ‘Surely you can’t have forgotten our holidays,’ Ailsa said.
    But the lazy fellows in my Memory Department quite failed me, I couldn’t remember any such times. Ailsa went on about the long, hot summer’s days when we’d smother ourselves in oil and lie on the beach to fry. Then the skinjerkers woke up; all of a sudden the heat flushed through me, turning my skin quite pink just as if I was lying in the sun again.
    The sensation brought all the numbskulls back to work. I could distinctly smell the sickly sweetness of the coconut oil, taste my favourite minty Beech Nut chewing gum and my vision was filled with clear blue sky. The Hearing Department provide a clip of seagulls screaming, I didn’t like that so they substituted one of Ailsa and me talking.
    It’s all connected, you see.

  38. When Annie told him she was pregnant, Gareth was delighted. In fact, he already knew. There was no doubt in his mind that he knew her better than she knew herself. It was the greatest news he could imagine, and he told her so.

    It was after Annie had Charlie that the problems      started. It wasn't obvious   at first, but as tiredness        took over, she changed.    She became harder    for him to read       and Gareth began    to notice gaps      . She would forget     things:       missing    names, missing      places; absences        when Annie seemed to slip away    so far into her mind      that even Gareth couldn't find        her.

    He tried   to talk to her, but      it was difficult       to find time    alone together     to do so. Her life was absorbed,       by Charlie;    her sleep       broken and restless.       Her thoughts    appeared to him erratic,     her mind disorganised.       He could no longer map    it, and what he could find      was filled with nursery rhymes, cooing       and shushes.    All of what had made her so interesting     to him – the variety and depth       of her intelligence,    recollections     and experiences –       seemed to have vanished.    He couldn't touch    her any more, and it was not just her body     that she kept solely        for the baby,    but her dreams.      Or perhaps,        it was not   that these things had disappeared?      Maybe she was more in control         than he thought,   and simply wouldn't share     them with him any more?     Either way, he was scared           of falling    through the holes.

    Gareth tried to plug     the spaces,        with what he remembered    for her. But the colour      seeped away from his version       of her life.   She was a different      woman: a stranger        , with no past    or future he could explore      . He was stuck        in a present    filled with nothing      but nappies,        crying    and sleepless nights.

    Sarah James


  40. Mum’s found out about us. She heard me whispering to you when I was supposed to be doing my homework, she barged through the bedroom door and caught me touching your hair.

    ‘You need to stop dreaming and get in the real world,’ she shouted.

    ‘You’ve no right coming in here,’ I screamed back, but she just went mental and tore down your poster with her nails.

    She said I should concentrate on my exams. Like I need qualifications to be an actress, but I didn’t tell her that.

    Anyway she shouted on about how opportunities were wasted on me and then she started crying, like she always does and then she went to her room and shut the door.

    So I pulled out my new magazine’s double page poster of a really fit picture of you and I stuck it on the wall. I used long pieces of sellotape instead of blue tack, just to piss her off.

    And then I climbed into bed, pulled up the duvet and looked at your new poster, thinking about how we first meet. It’s at some pool party in LA and I’m an up and coming actress. You’re talking to the paps about how sad it was that your wife died so tragically, when you see me strutting by the pool. The paps turn too, their cameras clicking as they take photos of me looking stunning. I walk right up to you and say something funny. You look at me with your sparkling blue eyes and your smile rides up to your cheek bones like it does in the new poster. You tell me age doesn’t matter, that fifteen is the new twenty one. You say you suddenly believe in love at first sight.

    That’s mum’s problem see, nothing to dream about.

  41. She knows perfectly well what he is doing, and she doesn’t like it.

    Every morning, he smiles that smarmy smile, and tells her how interesting he finds her. Patronising git. As though that would make her swear undying love for him. A man who loves her for her mind? Isn’t that what every woman wants? Nope. But that’s what he thinks. She knows he’ll do anything for sex. Because that’s all he wants, isn’t it? She knows.

    She knows because every night, while he is sneaking about in her mind, she is sneaking about in his. And, while his back is turned exploring all the junk she has placed in his way, she is picking over the real man. The man who likes to be in control, of her mind as well as her body.

    She can cope with the physical stuff. That’s just a matter of close your eyes and think of England, but she can’t cope with the mental violation. While he thinks she’s asleep, for Christ’s sake. He can’t keep his neurons off her. It’s mental rape.

    So, why does she stay?

    Because she is scared to leave. Because she knows what he’s thinking. She knows what he thinks he would do if anyone ever betrayed him [his words].

    So, each night, while he stumbles about amongst her carefully laid disorder, she is searching for his weakness, for some little chink in his paranoia. For some way out. Of course, she hopes she might come across a side door leading to sanity, but she’s not found one yet. Nor has she found any sign of the love that he professes for her.

    ‘I love you,’ he says in the morning. ‘You fascinate me.’

    She returns that smarmy smile, and pretends to not know what he’s talking about.


  42. Stabbed by jagged slivers of molten glass, distilled through barbarically sharp needles of sand numbering their infinity; the burning remains of my once liberated eyes are barely able to fight. Illuminated by crimson clock, internal despair is only equalled by raging desires of release.I want to cry in desperation and succumb to a pattern of regulated cranial activity. Wherever this curse originated, I wish to provide notice of my intentions to return it to the rightful owner.

    3:36 AM; my little remaining drowsiness evaporates with precipitous annihilation, like a tear exploding upon a hot stove. I should be grateful, as a gentle oozing or eroding would surely mimic identical residency within deepest hell itself. For the thousandth time tonight, I rub my concrete lacquered eyelids, ejecting phantom remains of somnolence, feeling them crash and roll across the uncarpeted floor, audibly resonating, creating sweet music akin to vagrant pearls slipping their careless handlers.

    Beyond the fragile layers of exhaustion and sick dismay, liberating me of hope, I mourn the loss of dreams. In waking hours, they are nothing more than brightly couloured, sugar coated chocolate drops - an easily attainable temptation exists, but the reality can be crushingly disappointing once the delights are sampled. Unlike concrete dreams; incarcerated deep within the minds eye, locked away inside a lead chamber - dangerous, delicious secrets yearning for release, yet contented by their protected anonymity.

    Slipper shuffling into the kitchen, there is little else to do other than reinstate the kettle into active service. Tonight's veil commences withdrawl in an hour, followed by a dawn chorus without need of introduction.

    Maybe I've been afforded and incredible gift, an opportunity to fill blackened cracks forced by slumber.

    If so, why can't I start next week instead?

  43. I.

    you mean the world to me
    and it won’t end because you chug
    jugs of Cabernet Sauvignon
    or because I’ve enjoyed
    a few good men,
    some older than you.

    We search for each other
    in our vices. Our consciences
    shake us awake at four, make us
    heavy-headed, pillow-hungry

    let's meet halfway
    in a shared dream.
    Maybe in a palace
    in Baghdad. Maybe there,
    apologies sound like songbirds.
    Maybe we'd get more bang
    for our buck, more body bags for us
    to carry to the Tigris
    our rumbles of the past
    and finally sink them.

    Maybe we need a war zone
    to recognize a tiff.

    there’s a ghost locked in my head.
    It’s your blind father, tapping
    a braille pocket watch, reminding me
    that hindsight is 20/20 and obese
    with regret, but foresight is a cure
    in our palms.

    Lets unclench our fists
    and find it.


    find me in black-and-white,
    circa 1986. You hold the negative
    of a photograph in front of a lamp
    and you glow atop my shoulders.
    "Who's my best bud?"
    Your small voice chirps, "Me."

    I remember throwing quick punches
    centimeters from your face, so fast
    the motion would flutter your bangs.
    Your old man was a boxer before
    a father.

    let's meet halfway
    in a shared dream.
    Maybe in Hope, New Jersey
    at The Land of Make Believe.
    Maybe there, we could ride
    a rollercoaster with so many
    ups and downs that our past
    will seem serene.

    Maybe we need an amusement park
    to recognize the hilarity of living.

    there's a carousel of masks
    that we've worn to act like fools,
    enemies, traitors, and kings.
    Our characters always danced
    on lies and we only opened our eyes
    beneath blindfolds.

    Let's unblink for a moment
    and really recognize each other.

    Bill Trüb

  44. (no 179) reply to message of 9 Nov

    I wake first. I always seem to wake first. But I'm tired this morning (God, it's Monday morning of all mornings), as if something -somehow - has been nibbling away at the edges of my sleep overnight. Its been happening a lot lately. As I try to rub my eyes with a delicate touch, I let in the morning light, by degrees.

    And I muse - restful nights should naturally follow restless days, shouldn't they? That's the natural order of things, isn't it?

    And God knows - I need my sleep. And Ken knows I need my sleep. I prod him with a silk elbow. He moans and groans. I groan inwardly. Talk about not enough hours in the day ...

    Potter, pooter, or just plain ponce about the house all day doing bugger all - is a sin in my book. Should be up there alongside sloth and greed, I tell you. And way before piffling pride and envy. I don't have time to recite them all now but Ken has plenty of time ....

    I knew I'd have gone stark starin' bonkers if I'd stayed at home, been a (shudder) housewife. The word itself makes me feel a bit sick. But 'househusband', well, that's a different word altogether. I'm OK with that. So's Ken - I think.

    When "Travel Plans R Us" took off, I was elated. Ken said he was elated too. Ken said it was all down to my thoroughness. Apparently, thoroughness is my middle name. I can smell a thorough business deal a mile off.

    I can also smell when Ken's decided to have too many 'dress down Fridays' and hasn't cooked the evening meal. I sigh and say I'll order takeaway after I've had a stiff drink - or two.

    written by Louise Laurie
    I tell Ken he wouldn't last five minutes in the office.

  45. I can feel him in me, poking around in my secret places with his puny probe. Still, I’m surprised he doesn’t know I know. What does he expect, that he’s undetectable at night while I’m sleeping? Sometimes I think he must believe he’s actually lying beside me. But I can deal with him on automatic.

    I let him think he can go deep. I muddle everything up, past realities and future dreams, films I’ve watched, books I’ve read, places I’ve been. I swirl it all round to confuse him, to keep him from sensing that I’m controlling him. And he thinks he knows me. I’m not his first, but he thinks I’m his best.

    I’m in touch with every one of his forty billion neurones and I’m doing some tricky things with them. He has a little present from me after every visit. I can explore his cerebellum, disrupt his co-ordination, make him feel a bit wobbly for a day or two. Or I can get into his brain stem. He’ll have difficulty breathing or swallowing for a while, I’ll even raise his heart beat. But it’s his cerebrum I’ve really got my eye on. If he doesn’t leave me alone.

    I wonder how he’d like to wake up one morning to discover that he could feel the touch of everyone he could see? Imagine being on a crowded tube train. Or what about playing around with his PYY triggers so less of it gets into his guts? He won’t know when to stop eating. I can program his cells to respond to a single number, say five. Any time he sees five in any form he’ll experience a barrage of electrical signals. He’ll go off like a pinball machine when someone hits the jackpot.

    It’s me that’s going deep.

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  47. It’s twilight that she likes the best, that time-between-times when it’s neither evening nor night, when the sun dips to the horizon and leaves a glow in the air like ultraviolet must feel if you could see it. Clouds flicker across a Prussian blue sky that promises fresh moondust to make sparks as it enters the atmospheres; falling stars for fairies to wish upon.

    The bats come now. Whirling and swooping in acrobatic loops across the deepening gloom, their forms visible for only a second as they whisper past on the hunt for midges and moths.

    Somewhere toward the river a dogs barks, the sound a curious blend of the soothingly familiar and a hint of perceived danger across the gloaming. She finds it comforting and leans back against grass that still holds the warmth and scent of the afternoon sun. An ant struggles past, the movement of its feet over her hand pricking against her consciousness as she registers the itching precariousness of an existence other than her own dependant upon her whim for unknowing life or unexpected death.

    She closes her eyes. Overhead she can hear the chatter of leaves as they discuss the nature of the universe and the low creak of trees, chuckling over the foolishness of their children. The scent of flowers as they close for the night drifts past, sickly sweet lily of the valley competing with the blurred tang of ozone as the streetlights flicker in the town below.

    She smiles and sinks into the earth. Beetles and worms ignore her, busy with the final tasks of the day before the cool of the evening shuts down their activity. The roots of the yews and beeches tickle her nostrils and make her want to sneeze until she reaches her lover six feet down.


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