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Dave Doesn’t Live in Dave’s House

Dave was a foster dad. He was quite a young and inexperienced dad. But he walked tall and he talked the talk and he had a few lessons in household management in a very big unhouse-like building far away from real people…
So he knew all about families, didn’t he?
He spoke with authority about mortgages and nappy economics and floated on his back on his enormous lilo in his swimming pool in Tuscany while revising for his big “How-to-bring-up-children-on-a-budget” exam.

He had lots of foster children but he didn’t see much of them. He preferred to hang out with uncles and aunts and nannies and teachers and doctors at meetings in restaurants and talk to them over lunch about how the children were doing rather than ask them in person. He invited lots of people to these lunches who had never seen a child before but could talk confidently about how to discipline a child. Dave remembered how convincing these people had been on the school debating team – even when they’d been talking rubbish and he respected their authoritative air and talent for quoting statistics (and he understood their accents a lot better than he did the poorer people’s).

One day Dave popped his head round the door of the playroom and was surprised to see how many children there were. He knew there was a number but he hadn’t really visualised them or bothered to see them as individuals before.
“Oh, that’s not all of them,” said one of the carers. “There are more children in the building, but some of them can’t find a space to play because there’s not enough room, others can’t find any toys because there are not enough to go round. And some…” the carer sniffed sadly… “some can’t make it downstairs because they need help getting here and there are not enough carers working hands on, on a daily basis, for that to be possible. Only the pushy ones that hoard all the toys are managing to enjoy themselves. I think it’s even possible that some of our children may have slipped through the safety net.” She pointed to a trampoline in the garden with a holey old safety net. “You promised us a good safety net, remember?”
“Get rid of that net!” ordered Dave. One day there will be a new one, but for now, make do with the ground.”
The net came down. The children that were outside sat on the ground and stared at the trampoline.
“No. I’ve changed my mind,” said Dave. “No net. It’s too costly and it’s more important that the brass numbers on the front door are replaced. What will the neighbours think? It’s crucial that our numbers look at least as good, if not better, than the neighbours’.”

A small child with tatty, over-sized hand-me-down clothes came running over whispering, “Daddy, Daddy,” in small, poorly voice. “Want an apple, Daddy, want an orange, Daddy.”
“Call me Dave,” he answered.
“Charlie needs more fruit, Dave. They all need more fruit,” insisted the carer.
But Dave had glazed over. He wasn’t listening. He was reading the bank statement. “We must cancel the music lessons. Surely their parents can pay for those. There’s not enough money left in the bank. And you’ll have to spend less money on food,” he said helping himself to another croissant and opening the mortgage statement. “Oh! Look – this house is costing us money!” he gasped. “Right. You need to pay off the mortgage. We can’t be owing people money – it doesn’t make me look powerful enough!”
“But we were paying the mortgage when we all had jobs,” protested the carer. “And anyway – it’s not your house to sell. What we really need is another house and more carers and then everyone can look after each other prop-”
“I’m in charge!” interrupted Dave. “In order to pay off this mortgage you must stop the children getting poorly, you must make them share nappies and beds and make sure they say goodnight to me on the phone so I don’t have to physically see this going on. And make them do sums instead of drawing pretty pictures then we can save money by buying only grey pencils and not coloured ones. Sums are more useful than pictures anyway. Now, pass me a clean child and a nappy and take a photo of me pretending to change a nappy and give it to the local press.”

One of the older, brighter children walked past, straight out of the front door with a small suitcase. “Bye,” he said, “I’m going to live somewhere else where there’s more food, books, toys and creativity and I will read stories to the children there. I’m sorry to leave. I love my little brothers and sisters but I’m just so hungry and bored. I hope someone else can read the bedtime stories now that I’m going.”
Dave waved him off “Never mind about stories. Books are expensive.”
Another child came towards Dave that looked familiar.
“Is this one of my own? Is this Jack – my flesh and blood?” Dave asked, “I need to get him out of here. Fetch him some clean clothes and I’ll take him to live in my London flat.”
“Won’t you stay?” asked another carer. ‘There are children that want to talk to you.”
“No. You didn’t really think I was going to live here with you lot? Anyway I’ve got expensive heating and insulation plans to cancel for this place. Come on son,” he said to Jack. “Lets get you a new blazer for school.”
“But I thought we didn’t have any money…?” The carer was confused.
“No. You don’t have any money. I do. Must go. My driver’s waiting.”

The croissants were filling. Dave loosened his belt, sighing heavily.
“Are you alright, Dad?” asked Jack.
“Yes. I’m alright, Jack.”

Looks Lovely From The Air

Well it’s circles, innit? Always circles, we gets.
Always circles and always perfect. Sometimes going in and in and in and sometimes overlapping. But always circles ‘ere. And not a sound.

Ted Cromerty over at Downpool, well ee always gits ‘em maze type ones. Not maize maze but maze, you know? Like a puzzle type-a thing an all 3D an all … Does look lovely from the air, though, so they say.

Anyway. Uz gits the circles.
And no sign nor nothin’ like that ennathing’s been yur. No tracks, no footprints.
An’ I’ll tell ee what else. There’s never a single bent over stalk where there’s not menna be. Tiz perfect – like I say. Just there when uz wakes up.

So that’s how uz knows them’s ailyens

Becoming a Storyteller with Friday Flash

I believe I can make a story from anything, apparently nothing even. Stories appear to me suddenly seemingly on the air or they formulate from snippets of the world around me and my imagination works on expanding, distorting or reorganising into fiction just about everything I see or hear.
I repeatedly have to discard most of these ideas because I am not in a financial/domestic position to donate enough time to turn everything that comes to me into that tangible complete form, known as a story, to share with others.
This is the curse of the writer without an agent or a publisher.
There is no one waving a contract at me or tapping me on the shoulder saying, “Write. It’s what you do – it’s who you are. It’s your profession.” So I have to do everything else that serves a purpose in our daily lives and save the writing for … for when I can sneak it in like a lover (Ooh… I think I’ve used that writing/lover analogy before)

But once a week there is an event known as Friday Flash that gives me the permission, the urgency, the legitimacy to sit down and create something.

Because it’s that one day, the only day and the story must be within 1,000 words it seems doable, allowable and from the first week I joined in it seemed like a proper commitment. I can say to my husband, “Oh, it’s Friday Flash time” and he knows that although there is little obvious gain for anyone else in the family from my writing, that it gives me immense joy, satisfaction, a sense of self and purpose and something new at the end of it that makes me buzz more than any retail therapy.
And it gets better. One of my Friday Flash stories has won a competition and 7 of my previous Friday Flash stories have just been published in e-format for Ether Books.
I now call myself a writer and not ‘aspiring’ or ‘wanna be.’
Thanks to Jon Strother who set up Friday Flash for creating this community that helped get the ball rolling for me.

Here’s how Friday Flash works. From organiser, Jon Strother’s “Mad Utopia” Site:

“Write a piece of flash fiction, defined as 1000 words or less, post it to your blog, and then on Friday tweet about it on Twitter (or some other social network) along with the link to your post and the hashtag, #fridayflash…If you want your story to be included in my weekly listing visit the #fridayflash Collector and add the details for your story. It will then be included in The #fridayflash Report.”

I have been studying creative writing academically with The Open University for a year and a half and the formal feedback of a professional writing tutor is extremely important. I also took part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November which has given me the beginnings of a novel to work on. But nothing beats that fabulous feeling of knowing that once I’ve posted a link on Twitter and facebook to a new story on a Friday that within minutes real people will (hopefully) be being entertained by my latest story. And that’s why I write – to be a storyteller.

How to Organise a Chaotic Brain

1. Get up late.
2. Spend the morning in your pyjamas.
3. Decide to make a list.
4. Go to fetch a pencil and notice that your phone needs charging.
5. Take your phone around the house with you, looking for your charger.
6. Notice that one of the children is only half dressed and do a bit of nagging.
7. Take your phone and your child’s pyjamas to the washing machine and start to organise the washing.
8. Remember that you haven’t made a list and leave the washing “for a minute…”
9. Go to look for a piece of paper and decide to put the kettle on as you walk past the kitchen.
10. Go upstairs while you are waiting for the kettle to boil and wonder what you are doing up there.
11. See your phone charger and try to remember where you put your phone.
12. Pick up your charger and a pencil and walk back downstairs past another pile of washing.
13. Remember you haven’t put the washing on yet.
14. Leave pencil and charger on the kitchen table and go back to the washing machine.
15. Sort washing into piles of importance and colours. Then realise there is not much coloured stuff so shove it in the machine any old how.
16. Realise that you don’t have everyone’s school uniform and turn the machine off again.
17. Remember that the kettle was on a while ago and go back into kitchen and reheat water.
18. Sit at kitchen table and start writing “Number 1” on list but realise it is lunchtime.
19. Ask son to make youngest child a sandwich so that you can get on with everything.
20. Continue list by writing “Do washing” next to number 1. then lift head to ask children if they have given you all their washing.
21. Go into study to put computer on, while waiting for sons’ school sweater.
22. Sit down and check emails.
23. Wonder why children are fighting and realise it is teatime.
24. Turn washing machine on.
25. Open freezer.
26. Put fish fingers in oven.
27. Pour wine.
28. Put a tick next to “Do washing”
29. Make new heading: “To do tomorrow”
30. Drink too much wine.
31. Take list up stairs and fall asleep on it.
32. Wake up thirsty at 3am in a mad panic with list stuck to your face and swear to be a better person tomorrow.
33. Wake up again tired and foggy, wondering where list is and try to remember what you were going to do today
34. Get up late

Humble Abode

“Frank…” She smiled at him with the same blackcurrant eyes that crinkled and turned up at the corners, making her look ten years old again.

“Rosemary.” He smiled back warmly, yet nervously. “It’s been so long.”

“Too long,” she replied, taking his large, brown freckled hands in hers. “Nearly forty years.” Their thumbs quietly noted each other’s prominent knuckle joints and loose, wrinkly skin.

“And all because…”

“No, Frank. Say no more about it. It’s all in the past. You’re here now.”

“I need to say how sorry I am, though. I was so childish. It wasn’t important.”

“I forgave you years ago, my darling. Come in. You must be freezing. Come and see my humble abode.”
She led the way – not that it was needed – into her tiny, square council bungalow and motioned towards the sitting room.

The central heating hit him with a hot, dry, home-furnished, carpety smell that was unfamiliar.
“Yeah. You’re right. Really felt the cold as I stepped off the plane. Haven’t had my face sting like that for decades. Oh, you’ve made it nice. Real nice. So different to the houses back home. It’s so hot we keep the soft furnishings to a minimum. Oh and look at all the old photos! Oh – and you’ve got Dad’s cigar box!”

“Home? Is that where you call home now?”

Rosemary looked so small and lonely that Frank wished he’d chosen his words more carefully. He looked down at her, wanting to hug her, cry, take care of her. But he felt frozen by years and years of guilt and being here with her, seeing how sweet and fragile she was, only made him feel worse.
But, bless her, she knew and immediately brightened her face for him bravely. “Come and see the kitchen. Tea? Bet you haven’t had a proper cup of English tea for a while?” She patted his arm and crinkled her eyes at him again.

It took three seconds to view the claustrophobic kitchen and overwhelmed by the tight space, Frank wandered out again, leaving her to it. He strolled the four steps across the hall, eyeing the family photos on the walls, recognising an old painting or two, peering into the barometer. “Jeez,” he whispered as he went back into the sitting room, “everything’s so bloody small here.”

He remained on his feet, with his arms behind his back, taking a step or two towards each nic-nac that his eyes lighted upon. He noted their mother’s old writing table, and their father’s footstool. It must have been terrible for Rosemary sorting through their belongings alone. How could he have been so mean and greedy? It was quite clear from her humble surroundings that she hadn’t stolen his coins. She was a good, kind person. He shouldn’t have accused her.

The absence of any photos of children and grandchildren of her own was stark. How unfair that he had been so blessed with a big family and she had no-one.
He chuckled at a cheeky-grinned photo of the two of them as children and thought about what mischief they might have been up to seconds before it was snapped.

Behind the telly was a photo he did remember. A clipping from the local newspaper after he’d found the coins: Local Boy Strikes it Rich! And a small write-up about how his parents were going to keep his coins safe until he was old enough to sell them himself. His future was secured. Or so he had thought…

He tapped the top of Dad’s shabby old, worthless cigar box thoughtfully as he read the article and he thumbed the catch absent-mindedly. It sprang open unexpectedly.
Inside was a piece of paper from the British Museum with details about Roman coins and identification. Mum and Dad must have had them valued for him. He didn’t remember them doing that.
He pulled it out and looked at the date, scratching his head.
Eight years after Mum had died and 10 years after Dad had died.
He went to put the paper back in the box and then he heard it. Dull and unassuming, but nonetheless the unmistakeable chink of old coins.
As he picked them up and turned them over and over in his palm, china teacups rattled close behind him in their saucers.

“You little bugger,” he said, without turning round.

Shut Up and Listen (and read and think)

Do you know where your opinions come from?
Throughout my childhood and teens and into my twenties, I didn’t read newspapers, pay much attention to the news, listen to discussions about serious issues. I thought three things about broadsheets, Radio Four and serious discussions: they were for corduroy-wearing intellectuals, they were boring and they were for older people.
But I did quietly study people. Because I was shy, I watched and I listened. I noticed differences and strains. And I read a lot of fiction. Books for any age will examine relationships, the way humans interact, the habits we take on subconsciously and deliberately. But badly written books make a lot of assumptions and don’t question them and it’s only an awareness of ourselves and the world around us that can help us to challenge these assumptions.

I have noticed over time that the world is full of commentators – and not just social networking and blogging ones. Everyone seems to be repeatedly airing an opinion about things they see and hear and the awful thing is these opinions are often not thought through or even the true opinion of the person voicing it. People regurgitate at lot of the stuff they heard as a child, that they read in the tabloids, that they pick up from their peers. There are lots of clichés out there. People are living by well-worn tropes. People fool themselves that they have an opinion and a valid one at that but how often does the average person sit down and think about what they are doing and saying and why they are doing and saying it?
How often do people readily change their minds about things? And why do so many people think this is a bad thing?

If, unlike me, you did grow up listening to Radio 4, reading broadsheets and taking an interest in intellectual discussion, you may now be mingling in a world of ponderers, informations finders, educated non-judgemental people. (I do hope so. It must be lovely!) You may have sat up late at night at university, reading poetry or putting the world to rights over too many real ales and broadening your understanding and acceptance of alternative thinking. You may then be surprised to know how little other intelligent people are taking on and processing thought-provoking information.

In 2000 I discovered The Open University – originally to learn how to use a computer and the Internet. I gradually began to notice, through using social forums, how narrow-minded I was and how at risk I had previously been of getting stuck in a system of fixed assumptions and set ways. Without realising it I had become unintentionally judgemental and, quite frankly, rather silly and unoriginal in my thinking.

Later that year I signed up for a social sciences course and (cliché alert) it changed my life. It opened up my mind. It taught me that there often is no right or wrong, or only one valid opinion on anything and that figures are not the same as facts. It taught me to be less judgemental, more accepting, more curious and to be brave about challenging assumptions, general consensus, behaviours and – well, everything.

What’s really sad is that it made me realise that, without knowing, I had been trying to be something I wasn’t all my life, just to fit in. I had obsessed about being a perfect mother (what the heck is a perfect mother anyway?! That’s a huge area for discussion), looking my best, having a pristine home, following the correct protocol, for social habits such as Christmas and Easter, doing the done thing when I gave birth in hospital, getting babysitters when I didn’t even want to leave my precious young babies, involving my children in lots of social activities and keeping up appearances, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… The list is huge and it includes many assumptions about gender roles that make me weep today.
I was even letting other people tell me what to do all the time and how I should be living my life. I didn’t realise that I could adequately decide things for myself. I also watched a lot of television and let presenters present me with information and facts without question.

Ten years of reading, listening and thinking has – oh go on – It’s “opened my eyes”! I see things better, I really do, with longer, wider vision. I will not accept regurgitated information under any circumstances. It makes me cringe. I question everything. I look deeper. I may come back to the same conclusion, I may not.

Here’s a commonly used cliché: When someone’s in hospital everyone says “Oh dear. Well he’s in the best place.” How many times have your heard that? Why is it the best place? Yes the NHS is brilliant and I’m very proud of it but I can think of a few examples where it turned out that hospital wasn’t the best place.
And why in the UK are we always telling children not to talk when they’re eating? Hasn’t anyone noticed that teatime is in fact a fantastic time to catch up with what your children did that day?
Why do we repeatedly tell men they can’t multitask, or do the washing properly or talk about emotions? Haven’t you heard the “Give a dog a bad name…” cliché ? 😉
Most men are actually as good as women at housework, cooking and childcare. Some are actually better. Yup. It’s not a woman’s job. Men just haven’t had as much practice on the whole.
My advice to my children is always to question everything. Particularly to my son who watches far too much Jeremy Clarkson! (And why is Simon Cowell on television so often and why does anyone respect the noise that comes out of his mouth? ) Be aware of opinions presented as facts. Raise an eyebrow at clichés. Question traditions and behaviours performed “en masse” and modern social habits just because that’s the way it’s done or they’ve always been done that way (the chances are – they haven’t anyway).
Get your head around an alternative opinion and then by all means dismiss it if you don’t agree.
To do this we all need to shut up sometimes and listen to, read and think about the world around us.
I’ll shut up now.

No more than usual…

A story about daily family madness firing from all directions.
Written in chaotic dialogue

Oh. I don’t know, Henry.
I’m itchy Mummy!
Why don’t you know?
Because I can’t know what you’re thinking.
Mummy! Oh-wuh! It’s still really itchy!
I know Eliza, just try not to scratch… Oh Katy – turn off that Playstation!
It’s not a Playstation, it’s a Wii.
Whatever. Turn it off please. You know the rules.
No, Henry. I told Katy to turn it off, not start a new game.
Argh-argh-argh-argh-argh! Make it stop!
Okay – let’s get some more calamine lotion. Come on ‘lize. Henry! Katy! No, turn it off and go and do some drawing. Jeez, you lot. Okay. Henry turn it off then and Katy come with me.
Oh! Why?! But you said…!
Stop shouting at me Katy and come and get dressed… All I wanted to do was load the bleedin washing machine… it’s not like I was trying to have any fun…
You were shouting at me!
Was I? Yes, well, I was trying to be heard.
And I need to be heard too, Mummy. You told Henry you can’t know what he’s thinking. Can you know what I’m thinking?
I do try to. I try hard to know what you’re all thinking and Daddy and Grandpa and old Mrs. Morgan when she drives at a hundred miles an hour out of the Denby Road junction without stopping or looking or indicating.
A hundred miles an hour?! You should tell the police! Does Daddy drive that fast?
No Eliza! Put it down. I’ll do it or it’ll go everywhere and then there won’t be any le-…. Ugh.
Mummy. Henry’s still on the Wii. I can hear that car game. Henry! Mummy said…!
Alright, Katy. I’ll deal with it. Just go and get dressed. I need to clear up this pigging mess before it stains.
Everything’s in the laundry basket.
It doesn’t matter. It’s not like the Queen’s coming over.
What shall I wear?
Anything. Anything at all. Just get dressed!
Henry! Turn that stupid Play-X-game-thingy off, fetch me the kitchen roll and then get your bloody backside up here and get some bloody clothes on before I lose my temper! ! QUICKLY!
Puddles! Splash, splash, splash,
Oh Eliza…
Ah. Henry. Thank you. Now go and get dressed. Right, Eliza – stand on this towel. Don’t move.
What shall I wear?
Phone’s ringing Mummy!
Don’t get it! Leave it!
Anything Henry. Just get dressed!
No Katy! I said leave it. I can’t talk to anyone now!
But it might be the Queen!
I can’t reach my t-shirts!
Wear something else then.
What though?
Anything. Wear what you wore yesterday.
But it’s dirty.
Who cares. No one will notice.
Mummy. It’s Daddy on the phone.
Oh Katy I said leave it! I’m covered in… and well … Hello? What, now? Well I’m kind of… Right. I’ll go and turn the computer on. Can I email it to you? No. It’s alright. I’ll do it now. Bye. Right Katy. Take Eliza into her room and help her get dressed.
What in?
Anything! Just get her dressed.
But she’s covered in calla my lotion…
I don’t care! And why are you wearing a witches costume?
You said…
Oh – never mind.
Henry! Finish wiping the bathroom floor for me and then everyone come downstairs!

Oh – why’s this telly still on down here, kids?!
This area of pressure should remain over us for the foreseeable future
You don’t say…
So the sunshine and warmer weather we all woke up to this morning should be hanging around for some time now
We have sun? Ooh look, yes. Hello outside world. Remember us?

Well this is nice, isn’t it?
Why are we having a picnic?
Because it’s fun.
What’s this?
It’s a sandwich.
Yeah, but what’s in it?
I don’t like jam.
Yes you do. Just eat it.
Can’t I have Marmite?
Do you see a jar of marmite in the bag? No, don’t look. Of course there isn’t one there. We’re in the middle of a field having a lovely picnic. I can’t change what food we have now. Just enjoy yourself, will you please, Henry.
OW! It bit me!
What bit you?
The ladybird.
Ladybirds don’t bite, Eliza.
It did. I hurt. Ow!
Are there any crisps?
Where would I have got crisps from, Katy?
The shop.
What shop. We haven’t been to a shop.
Can I have a drink?
Oh. I didn’t bring drinks. I brought fruit.
But I’m thirsty. Like really really thirsty.
I want Daddy!
Yes. Well. That’s great. Thanks. May as well go home I suppose.

Hi folks! How are we all?
Daddy! We had a fab day! We went for a picnic!
A picnic?
Yeah. With sandwiches and everything! You should have been there it was brilliant.
Oh wow. You lucky things. I wish I had been there. You guys have so much fun while I’m out working. Hi love. Thanks for the email. What’s up? Headache? Stressful day?
No more than usual…

Ether Books (and me)

For those of us that always carry an iPhone or iPod Touch around with us, the free Ether Books app is a brilliant way of passing brief periods of time at bus stops, on trains, in the loo, while on hold to our favourite utility company, in our lunch break, if our partner is watching something boring on TV, etc, etc, etc.

If you love to read and find yourself with an odd minute or two and don’t have a hulking great book, magazine, laptop, Kindle, (other readers are available ;)) on your person, the Ether app is a perfect way of sneaking in a bit of quiet, palm-sized escapism.

Six DaysI’m happy to say that my first stories for Ether have been published on their app. These first few are free, very short or “flash” length fiction. And there are more stories on the way.
There are many other free stories by other authors and longer stories too – for just a few pennies. And if you’re not sure you can afford a few pennies, all stories have a blurb and a first page preview to help you make up your mind.

I recommend giving them a try. You have nothing to lose!

Ether books publish for iPhone, iPods and iPads and their app is free.

Make your train journey home a little less tedious! 🙂


I bought good trainers – expensive trainers. I made trainers my full-time project. I researched trainers on-line for days. I Googled trainers, I compared trainers, I price-checked trainers. I read about arch supports, sweat holes, road trainers, gym trainers, fashion trainers.
I grabbed a Pot-Noodle, went back to the computer and tapped in “On-line Sports Shops”.

I narrowed down the possibilities and looked at the calendar: I’d kept myself busy for four days.
I clicked “Checkout”, I paid extra for next day delivery and then I went to the pub and lost all my cash in the fruit machines and buying everyone else drinks.

Then the next day I ran. I ran and I ran and I ran.
Melly from the pub, stood outside having a fag and laughing at me. ‘Run, Forest. Run!’ she shouted, cackling with smoker’s laughter until she coughed.

I ran out of town.
‘You haven’t dealt with me,’ said a voice.
I ran faster. I ran high and I ran low. I ran fast down the hills so the wind roared in my ears, but the voice carried on the wind and still found its way into my ear. ‘You haven’t dealt with me.’

I ran home. I was red, I was sweaty, I was hurting. I didn’t care. I put the TV on in the kitchen and the iPod on in the sitting room. I watched sad bastards while I ate crisps and made a cheese and pickle sandwich and I listened to angry bastards while I went back online and researched headphones.

I went out and I got drunk.

I woke up in the sitting room, put on my trainers and I ran.
I ran into town and I bought headphones.
“Ever fallen in love with someone, ever fallen in love,” shouted the music into my ears as I ran and tried to cross the road.
‘You haven’t dealt with me,’ shouted the woman in the white Renault. I blinked in the sun. It wasn’t white, it was yellow and driven by a man.

I ran home past the pub, past Melly having a fag. She turned her back on me and Carys from the kitchen shouted “Bastard!”
I ran home. I was red, I was sweaty, I was hurting. I didn’t care. I put the TV on in the kitchen and the iPod on in the sitting room. I watched sad bastards while I ate crisps and made a cheese and pickle sandwich and I listened to angry bastards while I tried to remember what I did last night.
‘You haven’t dealt with me,’ said a voice from the TV.
I looked up at the photo of a mother and baby on top of the TV. The mother stared out at me, crying. ‘You haven’t…’
I grabbed the photo and squeezed the frame so hard it cracked in my hand.
‘No. It’s too much. Stop it.’

I went to the pub and people were uncomfortable around me. I sat in a corner and got drunk.
I woke up on my doorstep at 4am.
A hand touched my shoulder in the half-light and encouraged me gently to my feet. ‘Go to bed. Sleep. Rest. Take your time.’ I looked around and no one was there.

I lay on my bed and saw a face in the dark. ‘No. Go away.’
Pain in my throat. Pain in my eyes. Breath building in my chest. A noise escaped from my mouth as I tried to fight. ‘Ah. Oh. Ow,’ I cried. It hurt inside and out. I didn’t want it to hurt. I just wanted to stay drunk forever.

The sun was high in the sky when I woke and looked at the clock. It was lunchtime. I was starving. I walked slowly to the kitchen, turned on the TV and listened to the news for the first time in weeks. I froze and stared at the screen when I heard the date. I’d been in bed for two days.
Outside. Some roses the landlord had planted were budding. Soft pink. I took the kitchen scissors, went outside and cut the pretty little things down. I dropped them in the kitchen sink and then I took a long, long shower in silence but for the constant, steady sound of water.
I found clean clothes in the tumble dryer. I picked up the roses, cutting my hands on the thorns. I hurt. I cared. ‘Dammit,’ I sighed as tears came too easily to my eyes.
I walked to the pub with the roses in a plastic shopping bag. I walked in, left one on the bar and walked out. Someone saw me, someone followed me. I don’t know who it was.

I went to the cemetery. I found the grave. I stood and read the epitaph.
‘Hullo, Mum.’ I said.
I stood still.
I remembered her good points and I remembered how she thumped me when I puked in the back of her white Renault. I gave her the roses. I screwed up the plastic bag and put it in my jeans and I sat on a bench. I felt my face get wetter and saltier as I thought about loneliness.

Fade down light grey. Fade up dark grey

Script-writing while outside a grey sky day grows darker.
Hoping for a sunset I look up but the only colour comes from a light bulb reflection.
My tea is cold.

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