Wednesday 26th November

As you all know, one of our reasons for running this project was to raise money for the Kids Co and we originally set a target for - of course - £300. Well, we're delighted to say that we have nearly reached this target which is much more than we expected. THANK YOU. You've made us very happy - it's great to think of Your Messages living on in this way after November. And here's your prompt for today:


26

They ignore the dripping taps and the damp spots. Look at the cherry blossom view, he says. They kiss, they dance. Months later, they can't stop worrying about the cracks.

31 comments:

  1. People nowadays fuss too much. In my youth, the cracks got bigger, but the houses did not fall down. The cracks got BIGGER but the houses did NOT fall down.

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  2. More specifically the ever widening fissure just outside the bathroom door. It developed a distinct character and particularly strident political views. Papering over the cracks became a very tempting option.

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  3. She’s Mary Poppins with a
    brolly on a red bicycle
    her skirt catching the wind

    but cracks appear in this illusion
    on her way in heavy
    rain to the store

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  4. But it wasn’t bad plumbing that sent Pinkerton back to his ship. Butterfly still gazes at the cherry blossom view, pink against the blue, and the robin trilling, “One day”.

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  5. “This will be my studio,” he said, picking the best room in the house; the wide verandah that ran the whole length at the back. “We’ll give up our respective studios to pay for the higher mortgage.” He turned to me, his face beaming. “Just think,” he said, “the savings in petrol alone will be enough.”

    “What about me?” I said. “Where will I paint my gaudy canvasses and dream of the flight of Icarus?”

    He waved a hand dismissively. “You can have the garage or something,” he said. “It’ll be light enough if you open the folding door.” He turned back to the room, oblivious to the estate agent’s gleam of a sale already ringing in her head. “I’ll have my easels here,” he said, “my canvas rack over here… look, there’s a toilet with a sink where I can wash my brushes…”

    I left him and looked round the house. It was old, but we could afford it, just, on my wage. He couldn’t contribute much. He was ‘a professional artist, dahling,’ subsisting on a small teacher’s pension and me, though I sold more than he on a regular basis. The bedroom was dark and smelled of dry rot and there were drifts of leaves in the loft, blown in through gaps.

    “We won’t be purchasing,” I told the agent. “It needs too much spending on it for any hope of living here.”

    “Your partner likes it,” said the agent, “and you haven’t seen the garden yet. It’s full of cherry blossom in the spring.”

    I looked through the glazed door from the dining room to the ‘studio’. “He won’t,” I said, “When the thin plaster has chipped away revealing nothing but the mirrors of vanity. Besides,” I laughed, “It’s too big for one person. I’m leaving him.”

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  8. Sorry about all the deletions - why is it that as soon as you post, you see something you want to change? :)

    Each springtime he counts petals
    tumbling from the tree, remembering
    each pattern of flight – so next year
    he can teach newborn blossoms
    how to scatter their pink promises
    of summer.

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  9. What those cracks, mud baked walls
    Could do their aging selves?
    Dilapidation and trepidation of death,
    Shake them not, memory of
    early life, the roses and jasmines,
    revitalise dying cells.

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  10. The softening wood of the window frames, the mortar falling out between the bricks like cavities in teeth, and that loose window rattling all night; All You Need is Love?

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  11. Familiarity breeds not contempt but cracks. They enlarge, great holes appear; her unwashed pants on the bedroom floor, his shaving water – a scum line. The abyss opens. They fall in.

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  12. When the Japanese Consul turned a deaf ear and kept stamping their transit papers thousands of lives were saved. Saved faces are forgotten and cherry blossoms now bloom in Vilnius.

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  13. It has taken everything they had, but they've finally done it. They've built something to be proud of, something that will stand against the storms, something that will last forever.

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  14. The cherry blossom is an underfoot sog. She hates the way he slurps his soup. She leaves on the late bus to Dewsbury with the last of the chocolate biscuits.

    Char - charlottemarch@btinternet.com

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  15. In the early days nobody cares about the damp spot. It’s a source of humour and bonding, a jointly conquered minor adversity.

    After a while it’s a no-man’s-land turf war.

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  16. You make the first viewing with your heart. The second one is with your head, the time to think of the practicalities of living there. A third is rarely made.

    It was to be an important move for them, the 'forever' house Amanda had heard it referred to on television. She had instantly liked the vast room sizes, the neutral d├ęcor and the way it flowed despite the numerous extensions it had undergone over its fifty years of existence. Most significantly, it was near the right school and this was what had attracted them to it in the first place.

    Amanda knew that on her third visit she would have to approach things a little differently. Fitting in their furniture was never going to be a problem, more a lack of it since their existing house was tiny. Yes, it had kerbside appeal. That was good. The hall: there was a piano. She wondered what sort of music had bounced off those walls. Classical or jazz? She moved on. The lounge was situated at the end of the house and felt clean, a place for watching television. Were they the documentary sort or soap addicts? Ah, the kitchen, her domain. She hoped that she could not detect the smell of meat cooking in the oven. Upstairs, the children's rooms were as she'd remembered, bright and happy. The main bedroom seemed peaceful enough, a sanctuary.

    Downstairs, Ray was talking to a CCTV drains surveyor. They were discussing the camera's findings. Apparently, they had never had any blockages despite the obvious problems.

    Between the two of them, they drew up a list of enquiries to be made by their solicitor, mostly about music, television programmes and what went on in the bedroom. The last question on the list was about their effluence.

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  17. (I think I might have cheated by making "no-man's-land" one word.. sorry!)

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  18. They lie awake, each listening to the bare branches squeaking against the panes. Now it’s only the scuttling in the ceiling that drives them to reach out during the night.

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  19. His personal habits were like the punctuation of the sign for FISH & CHIPS’ outside their local takeaway: conspicuous, offensive and inexcusable. At least a misplaced apostrophe could be corrected.

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  20. Yesterday the tap dripped; incessant drops like water torture. The baby cried, the cat shat in the corridor. With his open palm he caressed her face. Blossom opened. Love held.

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  21. Gerry said

    Grip nose firmly.
    With a small screwdriver remove grub.
    Force off cross head.
    Remove jumper.
    Tighten the gland.
    Rub with vaseline.

    Does tap still drip?
    It must be human error.

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  22. Each year
    they waited
    for spring's emblem
    of love
    they gathered up
    the delicate blossoms
    spread them on a bed
    of hope
    this year they flowered twice-
    named her Sakura.

    echulme@hotmail.com

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  23. Neighbour

    She wears her loneliness
    about her like a shawl.
    Husband, baby
    can't tug it off.
    First a dog is installed,
    then chickens.
    Her face brightens.
    Then they move away.

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  24. “They ignore the dripping taps and the damp spots. Look at the cherry blossom view, he says. They kiss, they dance. Months later, they can't stop worrying about the cracks. But by then, as you and I both know, it’s somebody else’s problem,” said Frank, leaning back on his leather chair.

    “You’re the reason people hate estate agents, Frank,” Joan mused as she took a drink from her gin and tonic.

    “Joan, you’re worse than me. You don’t admit to it. That makes you even more dangerous,” Frank was grinning now, “At least I’m upfront. Bring me those newlyweds, those first time buyers, those misty-eyed romantics returning to the home country. Bring them to ME!

    “But you’re not here to talk shop, Joan, so let’s go, what have you got for me today?”

    Joan eyed Frank cautiously.

    “No, I think our days of cosy chats are over, Frank,” she said, putting down her drink and pushing it away from her, “So, what do we do about our house? Crack it down the middle, or fight it out?”

    “I assumed you’d want a fight. Unless you’ve a new hobby?” Frank batted back to her with no hesitation, “Still, it is a shame. After all, we kissed and danced all over that house too, you know. That’s got to be worth remembering before we unleash the legal lions.”

    “We kissed and danced all right. Shame the other dancers aren’t here to join in the reminiscences,” she said coolly.

    “OK, I deserved that. What do you want? In an ideal world, what do you want? Let’s see if I might not just give it to you.”

    “What I want is to have been able to see the cracks, Frank. But since that’s not possible, the house and the cherry tree will do nicely.”

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  25. WORRY OVER CRACKS

    They were not noticed at first. So small, like the whisper of new webs spun by money spiders in the beards of old men. Like the scratches left on glass by women with long nails. Easily missed, they were. At first. Not cracks really, so fine.

    Nothing more than a fine crackleglaze was all it was, slow-spreading across the ceiling, down the walls, over the floor. At first.

    ‘It’s pretty,’ said Freya.

    ‘Like the patina of age,’ said Luke. ‘Like an old jug my mother kept, its porcelain belly an all over delicate pattern of tiny cracks. I remember she kept used bus tickets tucked in that jug, all the journeys she ever made in the tears of paper she collected.’

    And Freya and Luke, hand in hand, heads tilted in a posture of listening, heard noise. And the sound at first like the clicking of small tongues or the snapping of small fingers. And there was a sort of music in what they heard.

    Then the lines deepened, darkened, joined one to another, made splits in plaster, in wood. And through the gaps grey dust drifted, collected in corners of the house, dragged around on their shoes from one room to another. The sound grew too, into a low moaning that kept Freya awake some nights, and Luke too, though he pretended to sleep through.

    They papered them over, pressed filler into the spaces, smoothed and sanded flat, painted out. But they came back. Cracks, so big at last that people outside could see in, saw Freya shouting at Luke, shouting to be heard over the wind that roared in the room where they were.

    ‘It’s not what I thought it was when we were young and the house new,’ said Freya

    Luke said nothing, feigned having not heard.

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  26. It was a hard go of it. They plowed after the cherry blossoms fell, but it wasn’t soon enough. The tiny shoots of cotton stalk rising from the furrows needed more time. By midsummer, the sun turned wicked, the land dried up, and the red clay turned to concrete. The shoots that rose hopefully from the furrows withered and died, brown leaves finally crackling and rasping for breathe. The white fluff they hated to pick turned to dust, leaving them to wish for something they never wanted in the first place. But they had no choice.
    Jackson and Elizabeth had tried best they could to keep their cash crop alive. Cotton was next winter’s sustenance and next year’s planting. It was money. It was their future. Elizabeth’s back ached from hauling buckets of well water to the fields several times a day. But she couldn’t get to all the plants in time. Her efforts weren’t enough. There wasn’t enough moisture to go round. The plants furthest from the house yellowed and drooped first, and then browned and dried, rattling their last when the well ran dry.
    The furrows in Jackson’s brow became as deep and constant as the haze stretching into the dusty sky each afternoon. This land was all they had, and some portion of it must yield if they were to eat next winter. For now, there was always milk and eggs and dandelion greens, tough bastards. Drought can’t touch such as them. Jackson took to the woods and usually came back with turkey or deer—at the least a squirrel for the pot. But it was only enough for a day or two. Tomorrow, next month, and next year stared back at them from the hardened clay and withered stalks of corn like three wizened old crones.
    Valerie Gregg valgregg@comcast.net

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  27. 'You should have been born a girl,' my mother said. 'We could have stitched and embroidered things. Hung them over the damp spots you botched up from start to finish.'

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  28. The cracks in her face appeared slowly. She knows that she is no longer the maiden or mother. Now, as a Crone, she will see all. She will see everything.

    Jamieson Wolf
    jamiesonwolf@gmail.com

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  29. It seems that in a house as in a relationship, only time will show the true extent of any hidden damage that will cause problems as walls settle into place.

    redjim99

    jimbarron@walkauvergne.co.uk

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  30. Hunkered down into the landscape, the old house had seen it all. Its cracked windows and skewed slates could tell many a fine tale. If anyone was prepared to listen.

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  31. Metamorphosis

    Lollipop-pink-candyfloss trees
    appeared on the page.
    A grownup said: 'how lovely',
    pinned them to the wall,
    where they became
    'cherry blossom' -
    not the same at all!

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