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On The Button

I’m celebrating 2 years since my first attempt at flash fiction by sharing that first story from July 2010 (which is in fact more like a short story than a flash)
(Isn’t it funny – and rather worrying – how only 2 years ago I thought of sponsored academies as fictitious)

‘Zophar, listen.’ Luna crouched before him on the pavement. ‘You can get out whenever you want, okay?’
Zophar nodded, looking past his mother to the others. His body was poised in politeness towards his mother but in anticipation of other children, his eyes looked ahead to his new schoolmates and he willed her to say goodbye.
‘Did you Anti-Germ your hands?’
Another nod.
‘Where are your disposable toilet seat covers?’
Zophar patted his backpack.
‘And mask? Remember which pocket?’
More nodding.

His father opened the driver door of the car and the airlock was released with a Clop. Shhhhhhhh. He stepped out carefully, holding a green canister, spraying into the air as he approached.
‘Another squirt of Pollute Repel for luck.’ He misted the air around Zophar’s head and tiptoed back to the car, as if trying to avoid making contact with the ground. ‘One last button test, perhaps Luna?’ he called, slipping back into the car and sealing himself in.
‘Yes. Quick button run-though,’ said Luna. Tell me again.’
‘Emergency Back-Off spray, emergency water purifying tablet.’ Zophar’s fingers ran downwards over the buttons on his blazer at speed as he rushed through the list. ‘Emergency anti-viral pill, emergency contact button, emergency detox spray button.’ He touched his cuffs next. ‘Panic buttons. Now can I go?’ The five-year-old jiggled impatiently.
‘Anytime at all, if you are worried,’ continued Luna, ‘if someone touches you, if someone coughs near you, if the toilets are dirty. Any reason. You hear me? We’ll get you out straight away. Just press those cuff buttons. And when the car brings you back remember: shoes in the porch, through the first entrance door, blazer off, then through the airlock and straight to the arrivals shower. Don’t come in with your shoes and blazer and don’t touch the cruise control in the car on the way home. You hear me?’
‘I know, I know, you said. Now can I go?’
‘Okay.’ Luna kissed the air, not touching Zophar. ‘Go baby. Take care. Remember: buttons!’ She mimed pushing buttons as he ran off. ‘And don’t run or you’ll fall and touch the ground and I’ll have to take you home!’

Luna clasped her hands in front of her chin. ‘Good luck. Come home safely,’ she whispered.

Zophar scampered up the steps as fast as he thought he would get away with. He was more happy and excited than he could ever remember being.

This was better than birthdays. There were other children here.

The entrance was massive. It took up one whole side of the building.
‘Prevention Pharmaceutical’s Academy of Learning and Science welcomes you all and asks that when you enter the building, you do not share a door pod with anyone else,’ came a voice from within the walls.
Robotic eyes shifted around and each pod spoke instructions through hidden speakers as one hundred children at a time were allowed to enter the first segment where they were instantly separated by screens that held the children in stalls as they were scanned for identification and viruses.
Immediately three boys were locked in and a voice told them to wait until cars arrived to remove them.
Some newcomers were familiar with screening and airlocks. They stood patiently while the eyes and scanners moved around them. But the others, from older housing out of the city had not experienced Entrance Pollution Prevention.
Zophar could hear cries of ‘I want to go home,’ ‘I don’t like this,’ while others sobbed and tried to back out.
Luna had told him about the entrance and how other boys weren’t used to it. ‘They’ll soon get domesticated,’ she had said. ‘Everyone learns eventually.’

Next they were filtered into a huge glass cube. It was one of six on three levels. A voice told them to wait for the professors to collect them.
In this mix of trained and untrained five-year-olds, the difference was obvious to Zophar: the untrained boys had less shiny clothes and they didn’t have emergency blazer buttons. Zophar worried for them. But they didn’t look bothered. A few of them started talking to each other and they even tried to talk to the trained boys. Luna had said to keep away from untrained boys because they weren’t treated. He wondered if it would be safer to hold his nose then he wouldn’t be sharing their air. He held his breath for twenty seconds and gave up.
An untrained boy had been watching him. ‘I can hold my breath loads longer than that.’
‘Ludo’s the best at holding his breath. He swims underwater,’ said another boy.
‘He goes swimming?! Wow…’ Zophar stared.
‘Ye-ah, loads of us go. It’s really good for you.’ The boy threw off his blazer and mimicked breaststroke. ‘Gives you strong muscles. My dad said so.’
Zophar, Ludo and some others took off their blazers too, giggling as they ran in circles pretending to swim.

‘Why are your buttons so big?’
Zophar turned to see Ludo wearing his blazer and fiddling with the cuff buttons.
‘No! Don’t!’
The airlock opened and a robotic sensor promptly identified Zophar’s blazer. Ludo was shunted gently towards the door pods.
‘Please wait until your car arrives,’ said a voice.

From the door pods Ludo was directed into Zophar’s family car and within minutes he was lowered out at Zophar’s house.
A woman’s voice from a wall speaker said he could try school again tomorrow and she was glad he was home. ‘And remember:’ she said, ‘shoes in the porch, through the first entrance door, blazer off then through the airlock and straight to the arrivals shower. Don’t come in with your shoes and blazer on.’

Luna waited outside the bathroom with clean towels. She stared; horrified at the sight of the strange, untreated boy and then she hyperventilated.

Zophar’s father left Ludo in the entrance while he arranged his collection. Then the house and car were treated before the car was sent to collect the right boy this time. It had all been too risky and too stressful – Luna would home-school Zophar from now on.


This story is now published as an e-story from Ether Books:

(N.B. Thanks to Norman Geras – @normblog , who very kindly supplied me with the inspired prompt word: “prompt” when I asked on Twitter!)

Looby’s World

The gnomes would help her with this one, she thought, reaching down into a tussock, picking up Cyril and standing him in the palm of her hand level with her face. To the untrained eye it simply looked like she was pulling up and examining grass.
‘They’re coming to look at me again today Cyril. Going to need a bit of help with the entertainment,’ she said.
‘Only too happy to oblige,’ answered Cyril.
‘I would ask the tree people, but they sang a rude song last time and did you see their totally rubbish wavy branch routine? I really don’t think anyone else was impressed. I was the only one who joined in. Bit boring maybe…’ She gave a short example for Cyril’s benefit with only one arm so as not to drop him.
Number 8 laughed at her and motioned to Number 7 as they walked past on their way to their own house next door. ‘Mad as a hatter.’
‘Shhh,’ said Number 7. ‘Morning Looby love!’
‘Hello Seven,’ answered Looby.

Looby didn’t have names for people. She could never remember them the way she could gnome names. So she gave them all numbers. People were all frightfully stupid. Numbers 1 and 2, whom she had lived with all of her life – so far as she could remember – and were getting a bit wrinkly now, couldn’t see the gnomes and she was getting terribly impatient having to continually remind them who they all were. Still – they seemed pleasant enough and Number 1 made nice mini chocolate cakes for her to share with the tree friends. Numbers 3 and 4 who used to live in Number 1’s tummy and were always getting told off for laughing at her, came and went a lot, especially Number 3 who was going off for a long time soon to learn stuff and get clever at somewhere called Universe City. Maybe if he got clever enough he’d be able to see the gnomes when he got back and would stop looking at her in that painful way like she was a difficult maths sum that needed working out.

Number 4 liked to stay at Number 5’s house quite a lot, where he was allowed to have friends to play. Which was nice for Number 5 since Number 6 had gone to live in the sky. Number 5 was extraordinarily wrinkly and really not clever at all. She didn’t have a clue about gnomes. Number 6 had been good at pretending he knew about gnomes and could see them but Looby knew he could never really see them. He didn’t even put his glasses on for heaven’s sake! All the same Looby had been sad that he decided to live in the sky instead of at the house with Number 5. Once you go to live in the sky people can’t see you anymore. She knew because she’d looked and she never saw anyone in the sky. If anyone could see things it was her.

‘How many do you think I need? I do have to entertain for quite some time when she brings another person round and they have to write a story too so I like to help them to come up with good ideas.’
Cyril scratched his little gnome’s beard and cocked his head like a bird. ‘Percy got you into trouble last time, didn’t he? There was really no need for him to wee in the lady’s handbag. How about Arthur? He behaves. He and Roger could do a nice dance for your visitors. Maybe that would keep everyone happy. Oh and Denis does a great fishing talk. How does that sound?’
‘Denis broke all the biscuits last time and the poor lady had to pretend she hadn’t noticed. Although she did seem to like his knock-knock jokes. Yes, okay, I think a talk about fishing would be very worthwhile. You know, when the lady comes I might see if she wants be called Number 9 – She’s been visiting since Number 3 got out of Number 1’s bottom and we see her nearly as much as number 7 and 8 from next door these days.’
Cyril thought this was a very good idea.

When he heard Looby’s visitors leaving two hours later, Cyril snuck behind a flower pot to listen to how it went.
‘Away with the fairies, that one,’ said the stranger to Number 9.
‘Gnomes actually,’ hissed Cyril crossly.

Comfort Food

Decision made, deed done. Everything could go back to normal now and his family need never find out. So why didn’t he feel lighter? Why did he feel so troubled, sorry and guilty?

Adam dressed and went downstairs at the usual time, put the kitchen TV on and rummaged around in the cupboard for cereal. He sighed. He wasn’t hungry but he knew it would be noted and there would be questions if he didn’t eat, so he chose one of Millie’s kids’ cereals for a change. There was something comforting about the primary colours and child-friendly design. The jolly little shapes tinkled brightly in his bowl. Same stool at the breakfast bar, same morning news programme, same thumping, voices and watery bathroom sounds from above.

He looked down at his phone, thinking of Jess. He started to text her. ‘Hi. So sorry. Can’t stop thinking about you. Hope you’re ok?’
He didn’t send it.
They’d promised each other. No more texts. No one must know. He turned his phone off and turned his attention to his cereal. He forced in a couple of mouthfuls and looked up at the TV.

Poor Jess.

This was deep. He knew in years to come he would still feel scarred. He would carry what had happened forever and possibly never get to share it.

‘Don’t talk to me. Don’t talk about it,’ she’d said. ‘It hurts too much. I know we’ll see each other around the place but I’d rather we kept away from each other. Please?’
So that’s what they’d done. Or tried to do. He tried to block it and pretend it had never happened. But when she didn’t come in on Friday he knew why and he ended up looking it up on the Internet at lunchtime.
At eight weeks of pregnancy a six-week-old foetus is about one point six centimetres long… He got out a ruler and looked at one point six centimetres.

All weekend he’d thought about her bravery, her pain, his shame. This shouldn’t have happened.

He clenched his fist and thumped his forehead with his knuckles. ‘Awww Jess,’ he whispered, ‘I’m such an idiot. I’m so sorry.’

He forced himself back to the here and now. Life had to go on for them both. Separately. He looked at the time. He had a bus to catch in fifteen minutes and there was still three quarters of a bowl of cereal to negotiate. The multi-grained shapes floated soggy and lifelessly in the off-white swamp.
One point six centimetres…
He began to feel his chest heave and stomach lurch with an unfamiliar combination of sorrow and disgust and he swallowed hard to control it. He had to stop himself crying. He mustn’t cry in front of Millie whom he could hear bumping down the stairs now, chattering incessantly to her mother.

‘Morning love.’ A woman’s affectionate hand ruffled his hair and then she kissed the top of his head. Adam grunted and stared at the TV as he knew would be expected of him. But Millie, clever Mille, had spotted the difference.

‘That’s my cereal. He’s eating my cereal!’

‘That’s okay, Millie,’ said her mother, ‘there’s plenty left.’
She sat opposite Adam, blocking his view of the TV and examined his face. ‘What’s up love? Not hungry? C’mon. It’s me. I always know when something’s up.’
‘Oh… um… they were just talking about road accidents a minute ago and it made me think about when Cookie got run over.’
‘Bless him – the daft dog. But he was fifteen Ad’ and that’s a good old age for a dog, you know?’

She sighed and patted his hand. ‘It’s so sweet that all you have to worry about is our old dog. Oh – to have that innocence back again. Just school and mates. No commitments or worries at all, you lucky so-and-so. Long may it last. So cheer up young man and tell me what you’d like to do for your sixteenth birthday.’

A Person I Know Well…

I have a photo of her riding a horse before she began using hair-straighteners; a white-knuckled grip on the reins as they take a jump together. In those days, she drew horses and she drew horses and she drew horses. She drew horses until she could draw horses that looked like horses; from the first time she picked up a pencil until the first time she picked up a rock music magazine. Now she draws musicians, goes to their concerts and they autograph her drawings in admiration. Now her hands don’t grip reins, they spend hours controlling her hair and dancing over the strings of a guitar or the keys of her netbook.

She never returns my tweezers or my scissors and when I go to find them, her room looks like it’s been burgled. She sends me texts from the school bus to say ‘By the way, I’ve got a boyfriend…’ ‘My school report is on my desk…’ ‘I’ll be late home tonight.’
If you ask her, ‘Did you turn off your hair straighteners?’ she will always reply, ‘Yes,’ but the red light and the plug in the socket give a different answer.
If you ask her, ‘ Do you have any homework?’ she will reply, ‘No,’ but then her school report gives us a different answer.
Father’s Day came and went without a card or present while she moshed, mingled and burnt her skin in the June sunshine at a music festival and served cream teas to holiday-makers to earn money to buy more clothes.
She thinks about gigs, freedom and where she will go to university but when she forgets to eat properly, forgets to sleep properly, she lets me feed her, kiss her goodnight and send her to bed.

~~~~~

Inspired by the ten-minute writing exercise in last quarter’s Leaf Writers’ Magazine (which is fab and glossy!) to write about someone you know well without using adjectives, adverbs or abstract nouns to describe them.

Equilibrium

A quickie inspired by different thoughts mulling around my head for different reasons today…

The yoga and Tai Chi sessions on the wide sloping hotel lawn at dawn following early nights and early morning herbal teas; the perfect balance achieved by exactly the right amount of sleep, fluid and ‘mental attitude improving’ positions had grounded her. Everything was quiet, gentle, slow motion, thoughtful. After the first two days she had stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine, stopped biting her nails, fell asleep easily at night and now towards the end of week two could feel the strength in her back complimenting the strength of her mind. The anger and food cravings had passed, her countenance had softened and her equanimity had been restored to a state she couldn’t remember ever achieving before. As she took a ‘deep, deep breath from the diaphragm’ and prepared to ‘hold, hold, hold the position,’ she saw Sean and Jake running up from the beach after an early morning surf for their cooked breakfast and strong fresh coffee without her in the hotel conservatory as they had done every morning this holiday. Picturing Sean stepping into the shower in half an hour’s time, satiated by all but one of his favourite earthly pleasures she succumbed to an overriding desire to forsake the yoga, leg it ungracefully after him, lick her husband’s salty shoulder before challenging him to a tequila and card game tournament later that night knowing it would result in them spending their last day of the holiday blighted by alcohol poisoning.

Why dump @StephenFry & keep @LlamaKevin?

I joined Twitter in April 2009 because I was lonely and depressed. I wasn’t looking for love or a social life though, I was (and still am) married to the love of my life and don’t particularly like social commitments. I had started studying with the Open University again, had three children – one of whom was still pre-school – and I was suffering terribly from the recent vicious illness and subsequent death of my father. I wanted to share experiences and knowledge with like-minded people.
I was also quite simply over-powered by an enormous desire to write full-time and looked on Twitter for other writers. Without a clue where to start, I followed a few famous authors.

I also followed a few comedians and celebrities that I admired, such as Stephen Fry, Bill Bailey, David Mitchell and Bill Oddie (Bill Oddie, mainly because he was at school with my dad).

It took almost a year to get right but eventually I was tweeting with other OU students, juggling parents, writers and generally fun, intelligent people. I began to notice that complete strangers were often as funny, fun and intelligent (if not more so) than many celebrities and my followers and followees lists became more and more made up of male and female writers (mainly chatty females!), natural comedians, life observers and caring, sharing REAL people. I stopped following most of the famous people because they turned out to not be very interesting or obsessed with footie.

I am interested by other people’s recommendations as to who to follow and will follow fellow writers first and foremost. But I also follow back if a local person follows me or if I like the comments in someone’s twitter stream. People that write – in whatever phase of their career – are very interesting to me and I follow with great interest that first idea for a novel, a competition long-list/short-list/win, short story submission success, experiences of struggling with a family, etc, etc… I also love the sharing of useful and helpful information and websites. The ‘Retweet’ facility – although it may annoy some, has proved very useful.
I have a handful of favourite people on Twitter and they are in a private (at least I hope it’s private!) list. They to me are like real friends. I hope they feel the same.

By far THE best thing that has happened to me this year is the sharing of my writing and the reading of other people’s. I read a lot of writers’ blogs. I don’t always get time to comment so I send them a Twitter message or I retweet a link to show my appreciation. Feedback is essential to writers and I love it.
I have gained so much confidence this year from people who have read the Haiku on this blog that I thought were rubbish and I now participate in a weekly flash fiction group and let others know by using the hashtag #FridayFlash and posting to the fabulous @jmstro ‘s Utopia site

The support and camaraderie have been tremendous.

Today it finally became clear that there wasn’t anyone I wanted to follow if I couldn’t interact with them. If I want to know what Stephen Fry is up to there are plenty of retweets of his comments. I love him to bits but let’s face it – it’s a one-way street! I have also dumped any authors that don’t interact or reply to my messages. They are either too busy or too rude or both. The lovely ones remain (smile).

By the way Llama Kevin is real.

Omission

‘Sorry – do you mind? I’ll just sit here on the floor. I won’t get in your way.’

‘Doesn’t bother me. Seems a shame with that lovely skirt though. An hour they give me for these loos. An hour, I tell you! I could clean all day and still not get rid of that smell. Gawd knows what they do in here Friday nights and I’m not sure I want to know.
Someone’s wedding, is it?
Oh, there, there. Have some bog roll. Emotional things – weddings. A winter wedding, hey? Did she wear white?’

‘Hasn’t happened yet. Twelve o’clock. But I’m not sure she should marry. I don’t think she’ll be faithful.’

‘And you’re wondering whether to say something to the groom before it’s too late?’

‘Something like that. Be easier to stay here and not go at all.’

‘Sit there as long as you like, love. Nice buttonhole. What are they?’

‘Snowdrops for hope, violets for faithfulness. Talk about setting yourself up for disappointment.’

‘You married?’

‘Not yet.’

‘Still young, plenty of time. Me and Don never married. He wasn’t perfect but I loved him. I learnt to ignore him straying because it was better than the alternative.’

‘Which was?’

‘Not being with him.
Five to, love. You’ll miss it.’

‘It’s okay. They won’t start without me.’

‘You’ve pulled all the violets out.’

‘That leaves me with hope. It’s better than the alternative.’

‘It’s your wedding? But you said…
So who’s the lucky feller?’

She is. Bye.’

‘Oh…’

Venn and the Art of Paper Bandages

When it is all over.
When the cards and flowers cease, when the concern is no longer manifest, when the customary obligations tumble back into your path and the time has come to stop drinking yourself into a stupor every night. When you are stalked by a dark shadow-ghost, when you close your eyes at night and cannot think, blink or dream away the agonising picture memories of suffering and death. When you wake bruised with tiredness and remember that nothing is the same. When crime and horror films do not entertain but trouble and scratch at your weakened heart, when suddenly every phone call might herald bad news. You know that you are in your own circle.

It always comes back to Venn Diagrams. In a roomful of people at a wedding, a funeral, a birthday, everyone has something or someone in common. Linking arms, embracing, nodding in understanding and recognising similar characteristics creates overlapping relationships, unions. Intersections.

But the salient part belongs only to ourselves, and in our own circle we remain detached in our own cognizance.

The terror of an ugly death and loss of a parent left me bubble-like, floating, bumping, bobbing. I shared many experiences and sights, was involved with group discussions, linked to many by common characteristics and a common cause yet always looked at everything through my eyes, at my father dying, feeling my loss. I began to want less and less to participate.

After eight months I shrank the intersections, rubbed out the unions and retreated from the Venn Diagram. I tried to close my circle, but a great ugly gash remained. Scarred and scared, I was tired of sharing. I wanted solitude. I wanted peace.
The Autumn heard my plea and sent me to a sun-warmed garden step with a notebook and pen to witness blue skies, September sun and busy blackbirds. I found good. I found minute by minute simplicity and I found words. I sat still and enjoyed warmth, softly falling leaves and creaking trees. I wrote for no other reason than I needed to. Pages and pages of colours, shadows, smells and sounds. Mounded damp pages from my tears and from the bathroom where ideas sprang pay homage to nature frantically toiling around me while I merely existed and observed.

A year on, I wander the house with my soft-cover notebooks. I place one beside me each night and reach for it in the morning. I have found comfort and security in the healing properties of ink and tree pulp. I am not yet mended but I am patching myself with paper, righting myself with words and beginning to relearn the art of finding joy and success in recognising those with similar attributes and forming unions and intersections again.

Common Ground

From completely different worlds a parrot and a swan met by chance.
They saw differences immediately. They didn’t think they would get on.
Her parrot friends weren’t too keen on narcissistic swans, always admiring their reflections in the water. His swan friends thought parrots were loud-mouthed show-offs. But for some reason they found each other intriguing and ended up spending time together.

It was tricky. He fought against all his swan snobbery, she fought with her parrot urge to mock him and they fought with each other.
‘It’s not going to work,’ he said eventually.
‘It’s not going to work,’ she repeated.
They went their separate ways.

Days later the parrot found her fellow parrots unusually irritating and flew off to find peace by the river. Looking down she saw the swan necking with a female and knew then that she loved him. Seeing him with a new mate made her wish that she could have been a swan. But she was a parrot so she flew back to her own kind and tried to be a good parrot.
Meanwhile the swan realised that he didn’t enjoy necking with other swans and decided that he missed the parrot’s company. He really wished he could be more colourful and noisy and parrot-like. But he was a swan and couldn’t live amongst parrots.

Yet something deep within both yearned for a life-long partnership and they wandered restlessly beyond their usual boundaries, once again meeting by chance.
‘It was painful to see you with someone else,’ she said, ‘but it helped me realise that I can never be with you.’
‘It’s not that I don’t care for you,’ he said, ‘its just that we’re so incompatible.’
He talked for hours about his family and his home and she told jokes and they preened together. When they said goodbye they carefully placed one white and one red feather crossed on the ground and agreed to meet there as friends the following day.

Over time the pile of feathers grew from two into a cosy nest of yellow, blue, red and white and eventually the two birds stopped going back to their own kind. Away from their old homes their common ground became a place where their friendship could grow. They discovered that they could be close even though they continued to disagree for eighteen years.

After the swan’s death the parrot’s family came looking for her. But not wishing to spend the next forty years without her mate she had wound his limp neck tightly around herself until she could no longer breathe. And there her family found them, entwined together for all eternity.

Are You My Wife?

Incoming call from Unite International

– Hello.
– We’ve found him, Miss Ford.
– Where?
– New Zealand. But… Look. I should warn you, he’s not in a good way. He’s taken an overdose and they’re not very optimistic. It seems he didn’t want to be found. We’ll understand if you don’t want to go. I’ll send you the data results to look at anyway. I’m sorry but it is our duty to give you all the information.

Click

24 hours later

– Welcome Miss Ford. This way please. How was your flight? I assume you’ve been filled in on the seriousness of his condition? This is the first time he’s been on any database. His profile is completely new to everyone. Such a shame.
Here he is. I can stay – or?
– No. It’s okay. Thank you.
Hello, Nathan.
– Are you my wife?
– Apparently we’re one of the best matches ever.
– I’m sorry. I just didn’t like the whole set-up. It’s no way to find a partner.
– It’s worked really well for many other people.
– Yeah. Well. I wanted to meet the girl of my dreams on a beach or in a club, at uni or even in an online chat or whatever… Get to know someone, get to know different girls. Properly. Make mistakes, ya know, be human… Sorry if it… ya know…
– And I’m sorry you’re… That you’re ill.
– Yep. Well. Things didn’t work out. Turns out life sucks. I don’t wanna be around anymore. The world’s got all creepy. Women saying they can’t have a relationship with me because I’m not on the database. Information Technology has made everyone bonkers. It’s just a shame I got found and now I have to die slowly instead of quickly.
– Is there nothing they can do?
– No. It’s too late. My organs are all fucked up. There isn’t enough time for transplants. And I was never on the – ya know…
– …The database?
It’s quiet here. Too quiet. Oh, hey – I made you a music mix.
– But you don’t know my …
– Oh but I do… Here. See the play list?
– Yeah. Great. It’s good. You did well. Man – you really get it. You really get it. It’s perfect.
So… gasp … Tell me. Where’s our house?
– Well… As we both hate the cold and love the sea but we both love British pubs and British humour, live music, green fields, fishing and snuggling up in front of the fire on Christmas morning… I thought maybe Cornwall?
– Yeah. Cornwall is cool. Great place to bring up kids. How many kids?
– Three?
– Perfect. Ow.
– Are you okay?
– Yeah, yeah… Well, no obviously, but ya know…?
I was thinking about a dog. One of those daffy, long-haired ones that are good with kids like a whadyacall-em? Irish Setter?
– I have an Irish Setter. He’s called Daffy. I really do.
– You do? Unbelieveable man.
– Does it hurt to talk? You’re whispering.
– Come closer. I’m getting weak. Tell me about our children. What are their names?
– Well I’m thinking Anna, Matthew and Thomas?
– Nice ordinary names. Good.
– You teach them how to fish and surf and you build them a tree house and a go-cart and we grow apples and keep goats because we can’t be bothered to mow the lawn. We live outdoors as much as possible in bare feet and we hate the hustle and bustle.
– True. So true. Goats instead of a lawn mower. Ha. You crack me up!
Sigh
And you….. you ummm….
– Nathan?
Nathan. Shall I get someone?
– Sorry. Umm… Getting sleepy.
Did you really wait? Did you wait all this time?
– I was sure. I was just so sure that you were out there. Somewhere. My perfect match.
– Sorry. So sorry. Maybe you were right. I do like you. You seem to fit. Your eyes look familiar. I like the way you smell.
What’s your name?
– Emily
– Nice straightforward name. Perfect. You’re perfect. You have such a kind smile. I trust you. I always wanted someone I could trust. Hold my hand. Please don’t cry.
I’m sorry Emily.
– No, Nathan. I’m sorry. I made a mistake. All those places you visited. All those lovely places. All the things you did. I should have been out there doing them too. We probably would have met then. But instead I was waiting for the call.

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