Category Archives: Shorts and Stuff

Can’t believe I wrote this seven year ago. Where did the time go.

Through My Eyes I See It 

The trees in the park are glorious. Like a magnificent pavan they unroll as far as these old eyes can see; their ball gown finery, gold and russet and crimson billowing and tumbling in the breeze. The pain is good this morning. It is there prowling like a great bear around the battlements but for now at least the drugs repel it. Soon though the other assaults will begin, first on my physical self, and then on my poor addled brain.

Here she comes now the “care assistant” who in truth needs some assistance to care. Bright and brittle in lavender and body odour. Brace for the first wave of attack.

“Oh Amy, what are you doing sitting here all on your own? Let’s pop you with the others so that you can watch something more interesting. It’s no good you just staring out of the window at nothing all day.”

Staring at nothing, the billow and wisp of cloud, the glorious, glorious trees and the oceanic swells of winter wheat rushing before the wind. “Staring at nothing.” And she will take me and “pop” me before that abomination; the television. She will line me up with the others ogling in aquatic dumbness at the flashing colours. How I hate it, the joyless laughter, the high priestesses with their pregnant pauses and their pregnant bellies and the ignoramus hoi polloi giggling and flirting, leaping into mutual degradation all for their fifteen minutes and a free holiday.

Don’t “pop” me anywhere you lavender suited storm trooper. Leave me in peace with the song of the birds and the glitter of the frost where it lays encrusting spider webs beneath the hedge. Treacherous vocal chords gurgle and splutter. Outraged obscenities transmute into meaningless drivel and so I am duly “popped”. The second invasion approaches, there is nothing in my arsenal with which to repel.

“Hello Amy, it’s Thursday.”

Good God Mrs Wilkins you don’t say, a revelation beyond all expectations.

“My Gerry comes today. He comes every Thursday without fail. He’s such a good boy.”

First of all you overblown dollop he is not your Gerry. He is Gerry who belongs to the world, he has a wife, a life and a reason to be. He can wash himself, shave his flabby fat chops and presumably grope ineffectively at his wife in the dark to produce his disgusting progeny. He is not a good boy, he is an avaricious little man who comes every Thursday in the hope that you will have expired on Wednesday night and the home haven’t had a chance to tell him. He comes so that he can pack up your feeble belongings and once and for all put this whole miserable responsibility behind him.

“It is a shame that you never had any children Amy, they are such a comfort.”

Comfort my arse you silly old fool. A cushion is a comfort. Haemorrhoid cream is a comfort, Gerry is a cretin.

Now, it comes, the deepest torture. Another careless carer, her mind on bus stop gropes with spotty youths and illicit fags in darkened corners, will spoon pap into my gullet. Bang the spoon on my teeth again you moron and I swear I’ll somehow find the wherewithal to bite your hand. Oysters fresh from the sea in the South of France. Tender pasta robed in piquant sauce bejewelled with fiery peppers and bread still warm from the boulangerie. Drooling peaches and sun-filled melon with a Bacchanalian of sparkling white Bourgogne sipped from crystal goblets as the heat of the day bleaches the hills and diamonds sparkle in the bay. I can’t bear it, not another minute, not another mouthful, jelly and juice and plastic, oh god.

The outsiders approach. The floral tributes, chocolates, pictures of grandchildren. The hugs and kisses, grinning rictus and off set embraces. No don’t come over here, please don’t.

“Hello Amy, how are you today? You’re in the best place there’s a nasty wind out there and you’re lovely and snug.”

A force seven gale off the ocean, lifting my hair, gluing the clothes to my legs and startling tears from my eyes. His hair lifting and flicking as he smiles down at me, the two of us thrown together by the force of nature; external and internal. His arms a harbour, his broad chest my haven, and the warmth of his body welding us together in the blasted sunshine. The sudden silence behind a hedge, and the glory of daytime lovemaking. His tears, my tears, the ghastly separation as he leaves for the airbase, and the violence of waiting for his return. The devastation, the emptiness, and the total loss of reason when he is gone, and then the wretched years of decline becoming this traitorous slug of a body slumped in a dung heap home waiting for release.

He is here, he has come, it is time, thank God it is time.

“Nurse, excuse me nurse, can you come quickly and look at Amy I think there’s something wrong.”

Ah no for the first time in decades something is wonderfully right.

 

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Bubbles (re-post with a couple of amendments)

Sylvie looked down at the dishes in the grey water where her fingers disappeared under popping bubbles. Light sparkled and popped as the tiny globes exploded and infinitesimal rainbows vanished in the blink of an eye.

She had always loved bubbles, luxurious bath type ones that wrapped you in a quilt of scented foam. The ones children, and sometimes Sylvie herself made, blowing through a plastic ring, and the sort that floated out of wonderful bubble machines. Of all the things she wished she had, and there were many, a bubble machine came pretty high on the list.

Her fingers swished in the sink as she encouraged more foam to the surface and cupped her hand to lift out a palm full. Evening light through the window played in the froth filling her hand with a wonderland of prisms. Lowering her face nearer to the mound of soap she lost herself in the little technicolour worlds.

“What the hell are you playing at now you daft cow?”

The kitchen door slammed against its hinges, jolting her rudely back to reality. A vice closed around her wrist as he smashed her hand against the side of the sink over and over causing a couple of plates to cascade to the floor smashing against the tiles.

“Haven’t you finished the bloody pots yet you lazy bitch? Get a move on. You’re driving me to the pub. I’m meeting the lads in ten minutes.”

“Okay Dave, sorry. I was just looking at the bubbles.”

“Bubbles, soddin’ bubbles. Christ woman I swear you get more crackers every bloody day. Get a move on will ya. – Christ almighty, soddin’ bubbles.”

Her husband continued to mutter under his breath as he stalked from the room. She listened to him thud up the stairs, and shortly after heard the flush of the toilet and then the slam of the bedroom door.

Well at least he hadn’t really hit her. She rubbed at her hand as it swelled and discoloured. She watched fascinated as the bruise formed. No this one wasn’t too bad. For just another moment she stared at it, her face expressionless, her mind trailing slowly through her life. The pills from the doctor made everything dreamlike as if she was outside looking at herself.

She could cope with the shouting. It didn’t bother her at all any more, no not at all. The beltings didn’t really have that much impact, except when they were so bad that they needed a trip to the Accident and Emergency or the Walk in Centre.  But then it was really the embarrassment that upset her.  But, she could spread her visits through the three different hospitals available to her, or more often than not, no place at all.  Days of pain could be endured, she was immune to the pain after all these years and it was better than facing the looks and questions of nurses or worst of all the police. The sadness was the only thing that had an impact now, it was deep and grey and part of her soul. The doctor said it was depression and boredom and she should get herself a job. He didn’t understand though, Dave wasn’t about to let her go out to work. Not letting her mix with others was the main tool in his arsenal.

With a deep sigh she pulled out the plug and watched the water gurgle away down the drain, leaving little trails of white froth on the stainless steel. Sylvie would like to drift away like that, off down the drain and away.

She padded through to the hall, picked up the car keys and went out to wait for her husband in the car. As she sat, immobile behind the wheel, it dawned on her that the little car was like a bubble itself. True the windows didn’t sparkle or pop but they shone as the sun set behind her, and the blue paintwork glittered as the street lamps flicked on along the street. So really it was just like being inside a little magical blob of foam. She turned the key and backed out onto the road.

The headlights of the oncoming cars were like little gold bubbles. The traffic lights and the buses with all those sparkly lights inside – all little bubbles. She was floating, floating in the bubbles. She could just float away.

The screech of brakes as she passed along the High Road didn’t burst Sylvie’s little bubble. The car made its way up the hill and to the cliff where deep below the waves crashed and roared against the rocks. The air was full of the sound of the sea, and the sky a deep indigo, but Sylvie was already somewhere else. The years of struggle and tension had worked into her soul and now her soul cried, ’No more.’

The wheels bumped over gravel and then slid over the grass. She drove on and on and on. She took flight, she was free and she was flying. A fate, kinder than the one that had been her companion through the years of her marriage, snapped her head back and threw her into unconsciousness before the car somersaulted twice in its downward plunge.

Sylvie would have enjoyed the bubbles as it sank under the ocean.

 

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A Nice Night In

Leaning against the grimy brick Mel scuffed her feet on the flags.  She flicked a fag end into a puddle of scummy rain water.  Her fingers quivered and shook, fiddling and picking at the little gold clasp on her shoulder bag.  She sniffed, wiped the back of her hand across her nose. She needed a fix but couldn’t have one yet, she needed to keep her wits about her.   She hated being out on the street, well of course she did but it was Saturday and so there was no choice.

If she could just stick with her regulars, Stephen and the big fat bloke who wouldn’t tell her his name, then she’d be in easy street wouldn’t she?

She’d been meeting Stephen for nearly a year now, every Tuesday and Friday and almost every Sunday.  He was nice, nicest bloke she’d ever met.  He was clean, pretty good looking actually and he always gave her a couple of extra quid.  There were times when she pretended, a silly little daydream, pretended that he was her boyfriend, her lover, her man.

The fat man wasn’t so nice but she felt a bit sorry for him really.  He didn’t often manage to get it up and his sweating was horrible, made her feel grimy and panicky sometimes.  He was never rough though and he always paid, even when he couldn’t manage it.  Every Wednesday and Thursday.  She only had to come down the town on Mondays and Saturdays and knew how lucky she was.

Saturdays were best for money, there were tourists and Stag Nights, usually so drunk that, either they couldn’t do it at all, or it was over so quick that she didn’t have to make any effort.  They always paid, well nearly always, a mixture of guilt and embarrassment made em pay.  Two on a Saturday was usually enough and then she could go home but it was raining and the middle of February, nobody out, no trade.

She shivered, glanced around, took a couple of steps across the pavement.  Tricia was up on the corner talking to someone in a black car, Sues was down in front of the Kebab shop, it was warm down there and brighter, a good spot, safer perhaps.

Eleven o clock, maybe she could call it a night, no that’d be stupid the pubs’d be letting out in a bit and if she could just get one job then she could get a bottle of cider to take home and then tomorrow was Sunday, a Stephen night.

A car pulled up to the kerb, she sashayed over the damp pavement.  “’Ello love, you lookin’ for business.”  Arabs, she didn’t do it with Arabs, they scared her.  She backed off, turned around and scuttered on her too high heels up the street a bit.  The car swung past with the driver’s window down, he flipped her the bird.  The gesture didn’t even register, the everyday currency of her life.  Sues, waved to her, face split in a grin.  She raised her hand in acknowledgement.

The night felt odd, uneasy, the mood was all wrong. She would go home.  There was a little stash in the wardrobe, she could take a hit, opt out for a bit, waken up tomorrow and tomorrow was Sunday.

She lit another fag, raised a hand to Sues and pantomimed a blown kiss.  Her shoes clattered on the road as she crossed under the streetlamps and tottered down towards the park.  Tugging at the skinny jacket, pulling the collar up to her freezing ears, she hunched her shoulders. A bus rolled by, in front of the park gates, blazing lights and pumping fumes, it was homely, took her mind back.  Back to when she’d been a nipper. Coming home from the pictures with Mum and Dad.  She was swept with memories. Days out, shopping trips, daft teenage nights and all the lost crap that had nothing to do with now, and this, and what she was.  Tears prickled at the corners of her eyes, the deep sadness that was always a whisker away nudged at her heart, she sighed.

The shadow against the wall moved.  It slid in behind her, floated nearer, she was unaware, wrapped in the past.   Her street sense was numbed by sadness, thoughts of the other life betraying her as they always did, taking her somewhere else, anywhere but here.  Her animal cunning and nervy vigilance were numbed by the dreams of what could have been, the ‘what if’s’ and ‘if onlys.’

There was very little sound, it was mercifully quick and, in the end strangely lacking in terror.

The shape loomed beside her, caused her to gasp, just once there wasn’t time for more. There was no pain, not at first, just a flush of wet heat on the front of her body, cooling quickly in the February chill.  Then the pain hit with the second slice of the blade, a pain so deep and so unlike anything else that it refused to be named.  She tried to scream then but the pain had stolen her voice. The shock rendered her dumb, mouth gaping, hands slick suddenly with the flow, groping at her belly. Another thrust, she folded at the knees, crumpling quietly to the floor as her life stole away with the footsteps, running in the direction of the park, thudding on the grass.  She heard the bus whining now as it started the climb to the church, the rumble of tyres on wet tarmac, softer, fading, fading until finally there was only silence and the shine of the spreading puddle of darkness under the street lamps…

“I’m home, Fliss, it’s me.”

“I’m in the kitchen Stephen, won’t be long.”

“Right, d’ya want a drink.”

“No thanks, not just now.”

“You going to the Gym tonight.”

“No, I thought we’d stay in.”  She waited, spoon poised above the pan.

“Stay in, but it’s Sunday. Oh, well I might have to pop out later, I said I’d meet Phil, that’s okay isn’t it.”

“Put the news on will you, the television.”

“What? Oh right.  Did you hear, I’m going out later, that’s okay isn’t it?”

“Reports are coming in of the discovery of the body of a young woman in the Victoria Park area of the city.  The dead woman was found in the early hours of the morning by a man walking his dog.  We understand that the woman, who was apparently in her early twenties, was known to the police and had been arrested in the past for soliciting in the Mill Road area of the town centre.  Police have issued this photograph of the victim and are searching for anyone who may have seen her in the town centre or Victoria Park area in the last few days to come forward.  Any contact will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

In the kitchen, Fliss stirred the soup slowly, quietly.  Her ears were straining, would he speak?  The washing machine whirred, starting the final spin.  She walked through to the living room where Stephen stared wide eyed at the photograph on the screen.

“Actually, I don’t think you’ll be going out tonight will you Stephen, I thought we could have a nice night in together, just the two of us.  It’d make a change for a Sunday, don’t you think?”

 

 

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Short Story – Love is blind.

I groaned even before I opened my eyes I’ll admit it, Bloody Valentine’s day – Yay.  So, we had to start early, pratting about with stupid roses and pathetic shiny hearts scattered on the table tops.  They’d all have to be cleaned up later and we would have to do it because the cleaners had refused.

We all had to wear antlers – bloody antlers with sparkly heart shapes on em. I ask you what the hell have antlers got to do with sodding Valentine’s day – huh.  Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Luigi had us all in for a staff talk before the lunch time service.  “You are my link with the lovers – oh for Pete’s sake.  My waiting staff are the ones who make the impression on my beautiful romantic customers, well I would have thought it was the free pudding and inclusive wine deal but, hey what do I know?  You must smile, be so very, very nice to them, make the restaurant hum with love.”  Hum with soddin love, he’s from Preston, Luigi, his name is really Les but he’s got so caught up in his pretend Italian background he makes me want to vomit.  On he went “Make sure all of the candles are lit and the glasses are sparkling yadah yadah yadah and not a word of thanks to those of us who had taken an extra shift to help out.”

So, I thought of the extra cash and the red stiletto heels I was going to buy with the bonus, I gritted my teeth and I got on with it.   It was every bit as ghastly as I thought it would be, simpering bloody girls giggling and crying and stupid arsed blokes looking smug, – Oh look at me aren’t I the cat’s pyjamas, I’m so cool, I remembered to make a booking three weeks in advance and with a bit of luck it means I’ll get my end away tonight.  Pathetic.

That was until they came in.  I saw one of the other girls jump to open the door, that was what attracted my attention.  Two older people struggling with the heavy wood and glass.  Milly showed them in and checked their names and took them to the table in the corner, one on my tables.

I grabbed the menus and gave them a minute to get themselves sorted, coats off, seats adjusted but they were making all sorts of fuss, that table is behind the pillar and I couldn’t see everything that was going on but something was.  Yes, I admit it I sighed, great just my luck a high maintenance pair.  Nothing to be done, think of the shoes, think of the shoes.

Well I took them the menus, they were holding hands and he was leaning over and kissing her on the cheek, and I mean they were old they must have been nearly fifty.  I felt like making that fingers down the throat gesture but that would have lost me my job and I thought of the shoes!

So, I got there and by now he had picked up the freebie rose and kissed it and handed it to her and she was sniffing at it, oh bloody hell, think of the shoes, think of the shoes.

Then I saw, two Labradors under the table, well behaved, tucking themselves in out of the way, both wearing yellow harnesses.  The bloke turned to me “Hi, could you be lovely and read the menu to us, do you mind?  They were still holding hands, they were both smiling and then he said “It feels so lovely in here, you can feel the love in the air.  It’s our big treat this we come every year it’s the anniversary of the day we met.  Are you all wearing those silly antlers again? The waitress last year said they were giving her a headache.”  I nodded and then realised that wouldn’t do it and so I just muttered

“Yeah, yeah sparkly antlers,” and I looked at her and at him, sitting there so – you know together somehow and so happy in spite of their problems.  I poured them some water then I told ‘em, “The tables are set with white linens, the cutlery is the heavy silver stuff that we keep for special occasions and there are silver vases with red roses in each one.”  There are little shiny hearts scattered on the tops.”  I picked a couple up and gave them one each to hold, “there are vases of lilies in the corners, I expect you can smell those?” she nodded then,” The lights are very low and candles are stood on all the window ledges in red heart shaped holders, each table has a wine bucket with white wine chilling, Shall I pour yours now before I read the menu to you?”  He nodded and reached out and just found my hand and squeezed it.

“Thank you, thank you so much. That’s the first time anyone has taken the time to tell us what it looks like.  It sounds wonderful, you have made this so very special for us, bless you.”  I think they enjoyed themselves.  I even sneaked some chicken to the guide dogs.

Yeah, I got the shoes, they rubbed a blister on my toe

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Another Drabble drip

Into the Light

Kirsty flew down the alley behind Mr Khan’s convenience store. There was a doorway down here she could hide in. She’d used it before when the bloody gang with Pansy at the head and the baying bitches behind her, chased her into the dark. She couldn’t face it, the spitting, the hair pulling. She pushed in, leaning against the old door, blinked away tears. Someone had tagged the wall, Stevo.

Steve. Her hero brother, dead in Afghanistan. Steve who never ran from anything, who died saving his mates. She felt him there beside her and stepped out into the light.

 

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Holly and the Mistletoe

It was over, Holly reached up and took down the last piece of Mistletoe, it was the great bunch that she had hung over the entrance.  In the days before Christmas she had dreamed of how it would be, she would hear him, the taxi door, and she would fling back the door.  In the light that flooded the path he would be highlighted, his uniform dark against the background light of the street lamps, his medals glinting and his smile, his beautiful smile lighting the night and warming her world.

When the phone rang, a whole week ago now and she heard the voice she had known straight away that it wasn’t good news.  They had agreed you see, when he first went away that they wouldn’t fall into the trap of regular calls.  On the surface it appeared a good idea and many of the troops committed to it but often and often she had seen what it did.  When the call was delayed, the trauma, the fear and anguish until news came through, either the lines were down or there had been an extra patrol but it was too hard, harrowing and wearing.  So they agreed, he would ring often but always unexpectedly, unlooked for.  The surprise was a thrill and though she lived, all the time in the hope of the call she didn’t experience the fear when there wasn’t one.

That last call though, she had known immediately that it was bad news, his voice, subdued and careful, and he told her. “I’m sorry love, I don’t think we’ll make it home now for Christmas, I can’t tell you more than that.”  She had been stoic, understanding, a soldier’s wife through and through and as her heart broke she made jokes and told him stories, what the family had done, the silly dog chasing a squirrel, the car passing its MOT.  When the call finished he was reassured and happy, she put down the receiver and let the tears flow, the hot angry, sorry, self-indulgent tears.  She gave them their time, from long experience she knew that not to do it would leave her irritated and depressed for weeks and so she indulged herself in the cleansing grief and so as before, carried on.

This time though her soul wouldn’t accept what her head was telling her, surely he would come, this would be their last Christmas as a couple, next year there would be three of them, a pile of baby toys under the tree, the silly pretence of Santa and the tiny new life which would demand a share of the fun and the affection.  This Christmas should have been the last on their own and now it wasn’t to be.

She had waited all day, Christmas Eve, jumping and starting at each car door slamming, peering through the curtains into the damp night and then when the phone had trilled she had answered it with a traitorous heart knowing that it was the end of hope.  They had tried to be upbeat and cheerful but they were devastated and she had spent Christmas day alone and sad…

She was glad it was over, the fire in the big metal drum was warming as she flung the tree into the conflagration and the cards and tinsel.  Yes thank goodness, it was over and now there was the New Year to look forward to, the baby and Steve, soon now he would come.

She raised the sprig of greenery gathering the trailing branches and lifting them high, “Don’t you have a better use for that?”

She turned, the mistletoe gripped tight, her eyes already flooded and there he was, his eyes alight with love as he reached and took the branch from her, held it high and lowered his head, his lips seeking hers, his arms folding her, her and their baby, and their future. Christmas might be over but the rest of their life was just starting.

 

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Arrangements

“Hello Mum, it’s Martin.”

“Hello love.  You alright.”

“Yeah, you?”

“Oh aye not too bad.  Knees have been givin’ me a bit of jip but the doctor gave me some pretty good pills.”

“Oh right.  Well good.  Listen, reason I’m ringing. Well, Christmas.”

“Oh yes love.  Yes, Christmas.”

“Yeah.  Thing is I wonder if you’d mind if I come and get you on Boxing Day.  That’d be the Friday, bring you for dinner on the Friday?”

“Oh not Thursday then, not on Christmas Day?”

“No, thing is Melanie was thinking that maybe it’d be a bit noisy for you.  With all the kids here and her mum and dad and Stella and Paul she thought you’d find it tiring. After all you will see the kids at New Year when you baby sit.  Tell you what we could have a glass of bubbly then before Me and Mel go out, that’d be nice wouldn’t it.”

“Hmmm.”

“Mum, are you there?”

“Yes love I’m here.”

“If you really want to come on the Christmas Day, I’m sure it’s fine you know.  It’s just that well Melanie thought eleven is a funny number to seat at the table, odd you know.”

“Hmm, now that dad’s gone you mean?”

“Oh, well I suppose.”

“Look tell you what love.”

“Yeah.”

“Tell Melanie I’m really grateful, she’s so thoughtful isn’t she.  Thing is though I don’t think you need to worry about it.”

“Oh.”

“I don’t expect I’ll be here by then.”

“Oh now come on Mum don’t talk like that.”

“No, I didn’t want to upset you but I really don’t think I’ll be around.”

“Mum, what’s up. Look, tell you what I’ll come round and we can talk about it.  Not tonight, well I can’t make it until next week but well can you tell me now?”

“Alright then, you see I just don’t think I’ll be back from my trip to Spain with Colin.  I must introduce you to Colin one of these days, maybe when you’re not so busy.  Bye love, best to Melanie.”

 

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The First Christmas

It was a gold one, with some glittery stuff around the top, you know round the bit where the metal wire goes. We’d had it since I was a kid.  I’d had no idea where it came from, none at all.  It never occurred to me to ask it just – was.

Every year we’d take out the box of decorations, trim the tree and round the fireplace.  I liked it best when it was really cold.  It’s strange isn’t it, when we think of  Christmas we think of snow, cards have snow on them, we even stick cotton wool on the windows to pretend it’s snow.  Well actually we don’t do that so much anymore nowadays it’s all spray and stuff.  The thing is though it doesn’t does it? – snow I mean.  I can’t actually remember any Christmas when it’s snowed and we’ve had to wear hats and gloves and carry hot potatoes, oh the hot potatoes thing was from that book – Little Women, they used to carry hot potatoes to keep their hands warm.  Now that I think about it that was a Christmas present.  I loved that book, read it over and over when I was a kid.

Anyway, usually Christmas is warmer than you’d think and that’s disappointing – to me anyway.  Mind, that’s not all that’s disappointing, is it.  Take the turkey, it’s such a big deal, should it be farm reared or free range, definitely not frozen and how big and even nowadays what colour feathers it had.  I mean I ask you, when the darned thing’s cooked and carved and slathered with gravy it doesn’t make a ha’pporth of difference what colour feathers the poor thing had does it.  Still and all though there’s all the fuss and then blow me down, nine times out of ten we’d start eating it and Mum’d say, “Oh this is disappointing it’s dry – don’t you think it’s dry father, it is isn’t it.  It’s dry.”

So, we had this bauble, every year it just got stuck on the tree in amongst all the others and then blow me down this year we took it out and it was cracked.  It had been wrapped up in tissue same as always and nestled in an old egg box but something had happened to it up in the loft and the darned thing was cracked.

Now, I’m not a perfectionist, I haven’t got one of those conditions – I don’t know what you call them, they’re a modern thing Compulsive Obsessions or something but I do like things nice, especially at Christmas, well if you can’t have it nice then when can you?  So I said to Dad, “I’ll just chuck this one shall I? Put it out with the rubbish like.”  Well, you’d have thought I’d offered to fry the goldfish.  He grabbed it out of my hand, snatched it away and carried it off into his room.  I found him later, sat on his bed he was and d’ya know he had great big tears rolling down his cheeks.

He’s been stoic, up to now I mean.  I will say that, he’s been a brick, right up until the bauble incident and for some reason that was the thing that finished him off.  Apparently, it was the first one they ever bought, when they were first married.  They were so short of money and couldn’t afford any real presents but Mum had managed somehow to scrape some together and she had given it to him on Christmas Eve tied on to a tree branch that she’d painted red and that had been their Christmas tree that year.  All this time and I never knew, I never understood.  All the stuff that they went through together, four kids, the war, him out of work.  Then the happy stuff when they both worked and we all grew up and did okay.  And now she’s gone and he’d been so brave and that was the thing that finished him off, that bloody Christmas bauble.

“It’s her.” he said, “We had this all our married lives and it’s always been there, a reminder of all she’s ever done for me,  all we worked for, she’s here in this, her hands have polished it hung it on the tree and then wrapped it and packed it and put it away. Even last year, she put it away.”

Well I couldn’t bear it, seeing him all torn up like that, I mean she’s been gone since May and this is our first Christmas without her but I thought we were doing okay and then it all fell apart all over a blinking Christmas decoration.  Well, what could I do, we got the glue out and it’s there now, up at the top, I did put it a bit to the back ‘cos the crack shows but the look on his face when I tied it to the branch.  Well – so okay it’s not perfect but  as I say nothing ever is really, I’ll bet the turkey’ll be dry and it’s one of those that used to have black feathers – apparently.

It can’t be perfect can it, but we’ll make it the best that we can and she can watch us from wherever she is, heh, maybe from inside that blasted cracked bauble.

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Heroes

“This bloody coat isn’t any use, mind how could a coat be any use, poor coat, dripping, muddy and mouldy.  I’ve put a coupla extra layers on but still I’m shivering.  I tried to put some more socks on earlier but my boots are too small, one sock boots these.

I think we’re okay in here mate, we’re okay, safe now for a bit anyway.  God I’m cold, are you cold, well of course you are.  I wish I had a blanket for you Jack, I wish I had a blanket and a dose of morphine I’m sorry mate. Continue reading

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A Darker Moon

It was a full moon last night. I went to lock the doors and moon shadows painted on the grass caught my attention. The trees at the bottom of the garden are pines, dark coloured in the summer and black in the winter moonlight. Between them is darkness, pits in the fabric of reality. I watched the shadows deepen as they took on a quality richer than before. The moonglow tumbled into the void, silver sliding into a black hole.

It seemed to me then that the blackness crept forward; a treacly slithering across the dark lawns. At first I believed it to be nothing more than just the reaching branches casting shadows in a new direction.  It advanced beyond the reach of the greatest limbs. Continue reading

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