Thursday, 23 December 2010

Flash Fiction!

Annie

Running along the footpath, Annie noticed that the day was hot and sticky. Her top was light pink and she knew that soon, bright fuchsia circles would decorate her underarms. She was late.

As she walked into the office, her boss looked up, then at his watch. He hated late arrivals. She dashed to her desk, and as her computer loaded she began listening to voice mail messages, noting them down. When the morning had passed, Annie went to the loo to put some makeup on. Rummaging through her bag, she came across a box. She had forgotten the pregnancy test she'd bought the day before, in a rash moment after waiting in the queue at the chemist, when she had typically worked herself up. She put the box back in her bag and made herself up.

When she had finished, Annie was going to go back to her desk, but after looking at her mobile and seeing that she had ten minutes before the meeting, she went into the loo. Once more, she took the box out of her bag, and, now took out the white object. She read that the clincher of the deal was one line versus no line. She pulled her skirt up and her tights and knickers down, and, balancing carefully, began to pee onto the stick, trying her best to aim for the tiny window. A trickle of wee landed on her hand, and she giggled at the ridiculous scene in which she was starring. When she had done the deed for long enough, she sat back on the toilet and waited.

After two minutes, she glanced at the window. She saw one, tiny blue line. One line versus none, she said to herself, as she reached for the box on the floor.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Irish move to London

Micky set sail in 1968. I was full of beans, full of excitement and energy and dreams. I was ready to discover what was on the other side of the water, and explore it until I knew it like the back of my hand. I wanted to work, I wanted to earn money and save up. I wanted to save up and go to the bank every friday and pay my money into my account. I wanted to thumb lifts, meet people, buy a camper van and travel to my hearts´Ż┤ content. I was full of hope and dreams, strong and ready for the challenge that lay ahead.

It all happened so fast, the first few months, years. They all rolled into one another, quietly, without me noticing so that one day all the years crept up on me and surprised me with a heavy hand over the head. I arrived on a wednesday and the next monday I was working and getting up at six in the morning. Within a month I was in a flat and out of Allan´s sister´s front room and sleeping back to back with Allan, and I actually had a bit of a life going. When you´re getting up that early and working a physical job all day, you don´t have much energy left but for going home, having some dinner and watching a bit of television. I got into a bit of a routine and it wasn´t bad at all. Then, after about six months a job came up for a carpenter and I started working at the woodwork. That was even better. This wasn´t proving to be too hard, after all, I thought to myself one night as I was lying on the sofa falling asleep, my half finished dinner on the coffee table.

Some of the others didn´t take to it as well as I did. I took it all in my rhythm, I put my head down, worked hard, took my wages to the bank every friday evening as I had promised myself, and wrote a letter home on the weekend, and tried to get to know the city a little. The only part of London I really knew was Kilburn, in particular, Kilburn High Road, my flat, the route to work, and the supermarket. There was a little cafe that was nicer than the others that I went to sometimes for a cup of tea, or breakfast on the weekend, and to read the paper. It´s funny the way you find your place so quickly within a society. I got to know the few places that interested me, got to know the faces behind them, and sometimes the names behind the faces. Sometimes they knew mine too. I liked that. I hate to be no-body, an other body that passes through an establishment every day but that no-one knows anything about. The idea makes me sad, and because it scares me a little I always made an effort to make friends with these people I saw, so that if I didn´t happen to go one day, they would ask themselves, what ever happened to Micky? I like having an impact on people´s lives, no matter how insignificant it may seem. I called a man I had worked with years ago, once. I had thought of him several times, even though I didn´t know him so well, but we had got on really well. So I called his mobile. There was no answer and then a few minutes later the number called me back. "Hello, Sir," I said, "How are you doing?" It was a voice I didn´t know. His son. He asked who I was. I told him and I told him I had worked with his dad.
"My father died", he said. "He told me about you, he spoke very well of you."
I welled up. My throat tightened as I fought back the tears. "I´m sorry," I said. I didn´t know what else to say. I hate saying sorry to these kind of things; it seems one of the single most inane things you could say, but I can never think of anything better.

Allan found it tough. He took it badly when, on the first friday we received our wages, we went to go to the pub to celebrate over a pint. We chose a pub and went to the front door on the corner, where there was a sign at eye level. It read: "No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish". It made him physically sick. He turned and got sick on the road. I patted his back. He was angry, so angry. He was angry at himself for having turned to the road to be sick, instead of doing it in the doorway. It hurt him real bad, he said. He also took it badly when we would hear someone at work or on the street, say, "Fresh off the boat." He said he felt like a bull that had been shipped over in a cage. He´d get mad and hit back, swearing at them and telling them to go to hell. I stayed quiet.

Gradually, though, that eased off.


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning´s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, for I did not die.

A Bad Dream

People go by,
I smile but they don´t see me.
I try to say something but they walk past.
I shout but they don´t hear me.

The world goes round,
So fast that it makes me dizzy.
No one else seems to notice -
Too busy in their own worlds.
We all live on earth
But we aren´t on the same planet.

When they walk by I feel a breeze,
Yet they are all miles away.
I am only seen by children
That look at me curiously,
Until they grow up to be like their mothers and fathers
And know better than to lower their eyes to meet mine.

When I walk down the street
Crowds part and make space for me.
An empty, imaginary carpet lies ahead.
People bump shoulders, tread on toes...
To give me space.

If it were a dream I would feel like royalty,
I would be a celebrity on the red carpet,
Cameras pointed at me and flashes in my eyes -
But I am awake.

Monday, 31 May 2010

The dot of an i

I look down and find myself
Atop a Mayan ruin,
Gazing out over miles of Guatemalan jungle.
Lush green trees stretch their branches for miles beneath me,
Monkeys wake with the sun and
Yawn their howls through the branches that they swing through.
Birds flutter their wings as they stretch from their nest.
Beaks open and tweets sound to the ground where
A baby bird has stretched too far and fallen,
It´s head twisted giving away its broken neck.

I float within my thoughts,
Content and puffy faced.
A mere speck,
The dot of an i.
A tiny ink stain on this rock
That peeps over this green sea.

I must have leapt from a cloud,
For I don’t belong in this world that I have jumped into,
The way you jump into a dream -
Feet first, holding your nose -
And your eyes squeezed tight shut.

Friday, 28 May 2010

At Sea

I juggle with words but
They fall through my fingers
Like grains of sand.
It’s the beauty of the ocean
Before me, zapping any thoughts
That floate to the surface.

I sit, unmoving.
The only thing still in this storm of elements.
The tide playfully tickles my feet,
Drifting in and out of my toes.
I could be a rock -
Slowly being eroded
Until my hard skin is washed to the sea leaving
A softer, untouched shell.

I sit, in awe of the strong, lively waves
That tempt my toes to dance their way to the horizon.
I would be like a ballerina from Swan Lake,
Gracefully poised on tip toes
With hands joined as in prayer.
At home on the wave when
It arches my back to envelope me
So that I collapse, a rag doll.
Blown by the wind and thrown by the waves,
Unable to breathe and,
Like my words,
Unable to reach the surface.

Finally then, I would be at home on the wave -
Never to return to land.

A good quote

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" - Martin Luther King

Friday, 21 May 2010

Gold

Gold is a british one pound coin.
Gold is a medal that means
You’re the best.
Gold is the butter croissant melting in the mouth
On a Saturday morning.
It's hugging, and squeezing,
But it never being enough.
It’s sitting in your corner of the world
Between your four walls
And not caring what’s on them -
Or maybe it is caring.
It's having time to think -
To really think.
It’s your eyes fighting to close
And seeing darkness.
It’s standing still in one place
And being perfectly happy with where you are.
It’s the colour of the butterflies that flutter
In the pit of your stomach.
It is the soft, squidgy wetness that’s in
A colour that’s bright yellow and called gold.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Carpe Diem

When I wake up the day is mine.
I can do anything,
But I have cereal and go to work.

The sun falls and darkness prevails
Until the day no longer belongs to me.
It now belongs to tomorrow, and to yesterday.

I save for some day.
But as the days roll into each other
The way drops of water make the sea,
I wonder if that day will ever come
And how will I know when it has.

I hope that my savings, my hopes and dreams
Don’t become like a Famous Five book
That sits in a drawer with moth holes in its pages,
Waiting to see the light of day.

A non-practicing catholic,
I pray that I can learn how to
Seize the day.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

These Four Walls

I got off a boat and they
Brought me here for
A new life, a better life.

Prisoner of war.
That’s my name. I am defined by first being kept within these four walls
And second by the war that tore
My mother apart, my sister apart.
That tore my father apart.

Asylum seeker.
That’s me. Seeking asylum
In this island that covers me like a fishing net.
I don’t want to be here.
There is no goodness here,
For me, under this net that doesn’t let me breathe.
In this place with alien names and alien people
And alien, horrible food.

A new life, a better life.
Between these four walls.
These unpainted, rotting walls with mould growing all over them.

I stop listening. What is the point in listening?
I stop reading. What is the point in reading?
I stop watching the screen with moving images
That upset me.

What’s the point?

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Ritual

Reaches for the concealer and
Starts under the eyes
To cover the dark circles.
Whether they are there or not.
Applies it to the blemishes and the T area.

Looks in the mirror
Where the blank canvas
Stares back at her.
On with the rosy cheeks
So that they smile shimmer dust.

Paints the eyelids.
Sometimes green, sometimes brown,
Natural or bright - depending on the mood
Of the canvas.

Paints a black line to frame each eye
As a mount frames a painting.
Doesn’t notice the squiggle from where she jumped
When the doorbell rang.
Coats the lashes so that in a blink
Longer, fuller lashes bat back.
The final touch exchanges her pink lips
For blood red, voluptuous ones.
She smiles at them and watches them curve up at the edges.

Takes a deep breath.

Lives a new day every day
With a different face -
Not her own.
She can’t leave the house without her face,
She can’t see him without her face.
He falls in love with her
Face.

She sighs.
Tired of painting on this mask.
Of talking, laughing, kissing from within it.
She wants to leave it at the bathroom sink,
But every morning a bare, unpainted face
Stares emptily back at her
And she can’t help herself. She
Reaches for the concealer

I'm Avocado

Play with my hair.
Twirl and twist it between your fingertips.
Massage my scalp.
Manipulate me with your hands.
Make me avocado -
Soft, round, eyes wide closed.
Ripe.

Play with me.
Make me giggle.
Make me scream.
Make me suffer as I pretend
I am in pain.

Don’t play me.
Let us just pretend.
I sit in your palms -
Soft, round, peeled.
Don’t squeeze me to death.
Don’t crush me, and don’t let me drop,
Or I’ll be smudged all over the ground.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Read Me

Like a book,
Read me
From front to back -
Or top to toe.

Open me up and delve in.
Please,
Come in to
My world.
Pick me up
The way you pick up something lost
On the bus, train, plane,
In your bed and in the loo.
Wherever you like, just
Open me up.

Others see my sleek surface
But you read between the lines.
I’ll take you on my journey and we’ll come
To discover it together.

I’ll take you where Gulliver went if you
Open me up and come with me.

Read me
Like a book.