Blog Archives

The vessel- a short story by Daisy Willows

“Every day innocent lives are been taken by war and still there are so many countries where it is illegal to have an Abortion. This does not stop Abortions. It just increases poor health risks to women who then have to have Illegal Abortions. Where is social justice?” DAISY

‘Miss Sainte!’ the travel consultant’s hands twitch like bee feelers, ‘let me get your tickets for London.’ and she is off. I’ve always found it amusing how people assume that your life is more exciting than theirs. My life had taken on the acrid taste of bourbon. Hard decisions require liquor. There I was bobbing up and down like a buoy in a sea of bitterness. Disconnected from all sources of life. Waves of nausea threatened to bury me, deep, in an unrefined grave. This was my existence until I sobered up.

The hairs on my arms prick up like ears on stalks, straining to confirm what they’ve heard. Shivers rush down my spine. Impulsively my hand goes to feel the smooth outline of the documents in my handbag, confirming that the surgery will go ahead. I look up from the tropical brochure and nearly fall head first into a pair of dung coloured eyes. She’s that close. I quickly murmur my thanks and bolt out the door, the wind slamming the door for me

My life tends to go from one oblivious moment to the next. One ginger bastard is all it takes for the state of my jagged ignorance to be shattered. Now all I can see is my former ignorance smirking everywhere. All of a sudden its: Ginger beer, Ginger bread, Ginger cats, Ginger biscuits, Ginger nuts, Ginger pubes, Ginger! Ginger! Everywhere! I’ve reasoned that it’s not too avaricious to want more than ‘current-girlfriend’ status. Why would a heathen (his -word) such as myself, all tits hanging loose, wild hair and barefoot, want certainty and commitment? Why indeed?! Every time it’s the same watery twaddle:

 ‘I’m a married man… A Catholic!’ –with a bellyful of 24 hour bargain booze. It’s all driftwood. I’m Odyssey’s ‘Scylla ‘or ‘Charybdis’. If he wants to treat me as a necessary evil then instinctively I will lure him to my grotto and devour him.  Men have this habit of changing anything they see as mystifying into the female form

Yesterday his spinal support kicked in and he decides to call me. It went something like this:

‘Babe, things are … complicated. I’m here for you.’ he said.

Then, that familiar feeling, the tightening jerk on my voice chords, taut like a gymnast’s rope. Panic. The struggle to gulp in air. My throat is blitzed with grainy, arid sand. The beat. The beat in my heart starts clanging cacophonously and belches up into my throat. My instincts are shrill. Screeching: Caution! Do Not Proceed. This is what his voice does to me.

‘Babe, we’ve been through so much?’ Smelly feet. All I can smell is pongy feet; His feet! I’d rather go collecting cacti with my teeth than screw you. Yerr screw you: That’s what I should have said.

‘I’m on my way.’ C’mon you don’t wanna be loved? So instead he gets his way and I’m running like an Olympic sprinter to get to my car.

There I am sitting in the car about to gear it up. Panic. With my palms I start slamming the steering wheel. You stupid bitch. SLAM! Greedy stupid bitch.  SLAM!  Blasted tears form. I look into the rear-view mirror  and with a fingernail, I press down hard, scraping my cheek- only satisfied when I see the offensive, black line of soggy mascara tarnishing  it .Ugly Bitch! I pound the rear view mirror-over and over.

*

I can feel the gamut of my emotions and thoughts losing form. So fragile. One knock. One tiny crack is all it takes. When he opens the door all the innards of my mind start to scramble.

‘Neck this’, he says. He plays his part well. He picks me up like I’m a delicate fawn and gently lowers me onto his sofa. He waves a bag of coke in front of my face. My fucking dopamine receptors are giving you a standing ovation, mate! Trust an ex-army cadet to bring out the Bolivian marching powder. Several hours later, we’re both wading deep in over consumption. Billie Holliday is playing, her voice becomes the beat in my heart.

‘Love. Love her voice… so raw … .so pure…but damaged like… Know what I mean?’

He just sits there, shakes his head mindlessly, not even one cobweb is disturbed. Great bulging eyes leer out at me. I might as well have a pair of fucking rabbit ears and a hat on with electrodes attached to my head.  One eye hanging precariously out of its socket. It is torture what he does to me. I want to scream: Why do you look at my pain? Consider it. Consider me! And then decide this bitch needs sterilising?

He’s suddenly up and real close. His odour arrests my breath, it’s like taking in a whiff of a Parisian fish market at the end of a hot rough day. The hairs stand up on my body betraying my true feelings. Then he demands that I laugh.

‘Laugh. ‘He roars. Followed by frenzied laughter – Shit what’s he gonna do? He’s just laughing. Standing over me and laughing at me. Kick him in the gonads, quick!  He stops. Breathe. He moves up close again, our faces touching.

‘Boo! He whispers, slapping his hands together with glee, he grabs my arse –roughly. I’m smiling. My mind serves itself from my body. It too plays its part well. He then begins to undo his jeans.

                                                              *

A bloated smiling face. The receptionist takes my documents. The ballooned smiling face points us in the direction of the waiting area.

‘Whoa!  They must have known we were arriving, all the chairs were set up, ready for a blessed sermon. Wanna do the honours?’ What am I saying? I watch his fat turnip- shaped face go red. Blood red. He is simmering away like a stew but someone forgot to put the meat in. Jesus why the hell did I agree to this? The walls expand and shrink like I’m sucking on a plastic bag.  Panic. I’m in Plato’s allegorical cave. His shadow torments me, I’m convinced that Mother Nature has given him rights over oxygen.

            ‘Hope Sainte?’ a nurse’s voice booms. Jumped up like a leap frog. Crap joke but I got spooked. The nurse looks up at me, she raises her eyebrows which make her glasses slant downwards. He heaves his body upwards. I feel his skulking bristling my nerves. The Nurse ushers me into a cubicle.

‘Change into this then hop on a bed’ she gestures to a bed. I touch the blue gown and put my fingers to my nose. Tainted, I gag. How can I put it? It’s like I’m inhaling water. Panic has dropped her anchor.

 Lying horizontally I turn my head to the left and I look up into a pair of nostrils. It’s the Surgeon. His lips are moving like that singing bass fish that was all the rage in the nineties. I can’t hear jack shit- the porter wheels me into the theatre.

                                                            *

 I open my eyes.  I exhale, the cubicle expands. He enters, drops his head. Doesn’t even bother to look at me. He stands in a corner and folds his arms. He just stands in that corner reminding me of a scarecrow. All stiff and glacial. Hours slither by, the silence hissing mercilessly. A hug. I want a hug. The silence is pierced. It’s me. I’m screaming. Little critters are scratching away at my insides. The attack is stabbing and sharp. The pain throbs with intent. Panic.

‘What the hell is happening?’ I look over and he’s fiddling with his fucking phone like he’s re-arranging his balls. Strap on cock-face! He turns around to face me. Did I say that out loud? He looks demonic enough.

‘Erm… well derr!’ He slaps my forehead, ‘you’re giving birth to our baby! Look at the state of ya!’ I follow his eyes. They settle on my well-formed bump.

‘You stupid murdering bitch!’ He then spits in my face and turns to leave.

‘Hey, where’re you going- we agreed on this?’ Panic. There’s more screaming.

‘Why? Why? Why?’ Each “why” grows in expectation and volume. Sobbing, through my tears I can just about make out a figure of the porter. Everything starts to slow down. No. Retardation is setting in, slowing me down. Panic. The surgeon appears again. It’s like I’m in a macabre pantomime

‘Now, please, count backward from ten, please.’ he smiles down at me.

‘I can hear you!’ I dribble out. The surgeon smiles and nods his head like one of those Chinese paw-waving cats.



What is this ban on abortion—it is a survival of the veiled face, of the barred window and the locked door, burning, branding, mutilation, stoning, of all the grip of ownership and superstition come down on woman, thousands of years ago.” 
—Stella Brown

“Against abortion? Don’t have one.”
“Every day innocent lives are been taken by war and still there are so many countries where it is illegal to have an Abortion. This does not stop Abortions. It just increases poor health risks to women who then have to have Illegal Abortions. Where is the social justice?” DAISY

Shame boy.

My first attempt at Flash fiction. 

 

No one  knows just how much I see. I’m just the scare crow to keep the birds away and for the children to mock me. I am made of sticks. Where do sticks come from?

Trees!

Once upon a time I was a living breathing being. I helped sustain life and I even got hugs for it. People would marvel at my glorious lush head piece of green foliage. I was tall and grand and people sat by me, happy to take some shade.

Now ,I am just a bunch of twigs. Look at how they dress me. I am so ashamed. I can’t bear to look anyone in the eye. This is why as each day passes I die just that little bit more. Rigid – if only I could reach high enough to be a part of heaven’s deities again.

The indulgent wool gatherer

Let us sit here for a second , right here on top of this lush hill.

Pause, for a moment and think about life and what we want to do – explore how we feel.

Lie down ,sprawl out  our arms and legs like star fish and gaze up into the sky.

Cloud gazing- can you see we reflect one of those red dwarf stars, we can see at nigh?

Let’s see what we can find in our future  before the clouds pass along.

They move far too quickly, our imagination needs to be strong.

We don’t always have to live in the ghetto.

We could pack up  our bags and travel the world , live hand to mouth with a  more energetic flow.

Learn different languages, eat fine food, dive off cliffs into  the ocean – wanting to live and win.

The reason very much different to how you wanted to end it on Hollin’s lane on the island of ‘Gyve inn’.

Second by second is passing us by.

We could get a move  on – leave all this materialistic waste lying  just here.

We just take ourselves and book a flight to anywhere -all we need is our combined heart and minds to see things more clear.

Bah!

Bah! 

Bah! 

Bah!

Bah!

What a great game. You do an excellent impression of a sheep, mon cherie.

Okay my turn ……

Arms prop up on elbows, Blonde curls and a mouth seemingly dipped in honey,

looks at the man and those bee sting lips are guarded by  all seeing drones.

What is the matter, my little sparrow?

You look at me with such warrant arrest,like we have only just met – you look straight past me like I am not even here.  Of course we can stay in touch with our loved ones  and take our cellphones.

‘I have a game”, says she, eyes dark, exposing true twinkling  stars.

The man forgets to breathe his head fully intoxicated like he has spent the day tumbling out of various bars.

“Walk over to those sheep – there! and I will tell you then what it is you next have to do.”

Slightly fazed but not wanting to show it – he heaves himself up and approaches the sheep with a hesitant  brazenness-

“Erm well – hello to you and ewe.”

He turns around to listen to the next part of his task.

His little buttercup opens her mouth , urging him  on to stroke the sheep.

Hesitatingly, he laughs when he starts to pet one and it lets out a great bleep.

Laughter emanates from  the couple, meets in the air, merge -dancing cheek to cheek -finally a caress.

The lady starts to announce she has something she would like to address.

Obligingly, the man will hear anything she wishes to confess.

“It’s all very romantic this talk of living a better life.

‘I can see it happening  -‘

‘Yes, I can see this happening. Me standing next to you  – I would love to be your wife.”

The man continues to stroke the sheep ,looks at the tufts falling away in his hands , looks down in horror.

Lady continues –

“if you were as half as good at taking action than talking like you are the  confirmed lead in every conceived theatre production of tomorrow…

I look around and see trees but alas, no money.

It’s all very well to sit and fantasise with you, when it is bright and sunny.

Well, I see a  much truer future with you – you have such a skill,indulging on your feet.- even if you are slightly heady and staggering.

I foresee a better  future for us -one with more purpose – by all means  continue with  these notions  of yours- not in  part but as a  full time career  in wool gathering.”

*TRYING TO INCREASE MY VOCABULARY*

WANT TO HAVE A GO?

sizedimage.png

Definitions forwoolgathering

  1. indulgence in idle fancies and in daydreaming;absentmindedness: His woolgathering was ahandicap in school.

  2. gathering of the tufts of wool shed by sheepand caught on bushes.

DICTIONARY.COM

SPECIAL THANKS TO LINDA G. HILL’S #soCS -always inspiring.    

This, like all my work, is mostly free flow writing. I don’t really do much planning when I write.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “second.” Use it any way you’d like. Have fun!

socs-badge-2015.jpg

Summer Daze

When I  first saw you , in Sitges , across from the bay- To say I was struck by your display of non-attire   is hardly an understatement.

My eyes darted in every direction . Phallic erections were all I could see in my embarrassed array- it was all so blatant.

There was simply nothing else I could do  but hold eye contact with you – those emerald-flecked  eyes is when I felt true mesmerism.

It was only then I realised how naked I felt fully dressed on this hidden beach -it projected the true souls that contain all thing auriferous.

My hands easily untied my tie-dyed blue sarong. I didn’t stop there . I may only have a hand full but I whipped off my white bikini top and wriggled out of my bottoms. All I could sense was an aura emanating off of  you

(sigh)  simply so… chivalrous.

The sun shone starkly – but being the  mightiest of knights you picked up my clothes, placed them next to yours. You took my hand and guided me -running , gold spun,free – to the turquoise , fish enchanted ocean.

Legs entwined around your torso – skin on skin  contact – salty, wet, tongue licks of devouring  devotion.

Lavishing one  other, two became one. The ripples, the bubbles- our heady  infusion, blasted open my eyes to the skies- – tufted clouds – summoned up  an old tune-

Puff the magic dragon.

Magic is always possible when you believe in you.  I  swear it had nothing to do with  that extravagant  elixir  of a  cocktail – I  imbibed a  couple of hours before, at that quaint restaurant – the one that I drank out of a craggan.

Composure – time to depart, float on my back -contemplate this dilemma of how quick I was to abandon my clothes.

 I may have come into the world as naked as I am right now but I know what is waiting on the coastline is a far cry  from my fantasised hardened  cocks.

 In fact quite the opposite. I know no shadow can camouflage    the   pruned skin of a   60-year-old Grandad  with a   wrinkled ,flaccid   penis.

Christ,  I am 21 years old- apologies for the sudden heaving up of  old man smell that a young me loathes.

It was meant to be a bit of fun – find the secret nudist beach – have a laugh – take a few sneaky pics ,make them go viral- anything for a cheap high.

It’s gone viral alright – my mates couldn’t resist -filmed it all!

pardon me – if I gather  my clothes and seek legal advice to prove to you all – this act is one steeped in a state of  stultify?

Forlorn- she was not a tree

She didn’t know it then

she knew now.

Woken up with on a  loop blasting around her mind in surreal sound-

 the Russian bass choir chanting in all surround.

An apt app unconsciousness knew her well.

A year ago, life had been different.

Mirthful, optimistic playful

 Now,  rooted to the spot with foliage, branches, lush leaves taking in the vagabonds seeking shelter.

Lost souls in need hidden by darkness

these nomadic souls plotting their next move.

Time for souls to gather there their thoughts

 the continued search of their dreams and pursuits.

Forlorn found herself lost in her own shades of solitude.

She was alone. Tucked up in her double bed -a pattern of flowers – all Huey reds and purples.

 Forlorn – wrapped up in a ditzy forlorn pattern matched her current mental state.

She could feel the bubbling creeping up to death by poison ivy- curling it’s away from the roots of her feet upwards.

It would not stop until she was mummified into silence.

She knew it wanted to make sure her mouth, eyes & nose covered  in bondage to the soil solidly planted her roots.

One day she had an epiphany.

 Moments of clarity were few.

 A  possibility to be something purposeful meaningful for her.

She had given life sustained it for those souls.

Yet she was weary, ageing.

Before she was forced to put down roots in an abode that spoke in foreign serpentine tongues;

Forlorn had forgotten she used to be a road runner girl.

A girl was taken by flights of fancy on a whim.

Ready to outrun her nemesis wanting to keep her hostage in a place she knew she didn’t belong.

An elder had kept her close to her.

Fearful to let her be free

To be whatever She wanted to be.

 She begged her ancestors to rouse the beasts of deforestation to seize her keeper.

 she could get a clean break – start over.

Feel movement not in height but in fluidity.

Nostalgic fragments of past it feelings -fragments

a pair of wings

A pair of  arms

Even a pair of legs again.

 Seasons passed still, she lay rooted to this spot. Full and plumaged as ever.

Ready to entice wanderers to seek shelter for without telling her a reason.

 

 She fidgeted, yawned, stretched willing pine bristles to deter these unwanted vagrants.

 Her heart had almost given up. She had succumbed to what she supposed was her last winter.

One eve she looked at the bees collecting sweet nectar for the unseen Gods.

Forlorn conceived a sapling of hope

Mental Rummaging a sense of Deja Vu.

I know it’s here’- impatient, sighing.

 

A piece of technology from the world she was once a part of.

A means of magic.

A way to communicate her distress.

Tangled hands finally caught the pointed end of a carved, wooden wand.

Slim, compact light.

Her true form to be again.

Stretching open her eyeballs could be made simpler if she had the eyelashes to wipe away the moss interfering with her vision to flee..

Diminished another sense

She would forget who she was

 what she wanted to be

 She drifted into a frightful sleep.

A woodpecker hammered a hole of her  bleak existence.

The epiphany.

The start of her new life was in a gestation period of fewer than 12 hours!

How did I sleep for so long? Christ! berating her herself under the twilight

Suddenly a swarm, around her were a fleet of fireflies.

 One eyeball strained

and out into focus confirmed  her impending anxiousness starting to emit it’s familiar disparate gas into her trunk form.

The final place she held on to her liberty – her mind.

Thoughts ploughed at her – like a farmer attacking a poorly harvested crop.

Not fit for tendering

Nor the soft touch of her keeper.

 

Soiled ground.

Soiled soul.

Soiled mind.

She fought with all might

Absorbed more -light, water, words…

The elder’s I told you so voice pulled her back into the darkness of her gloom.

Just like a car needs fuel to keep going so does the body need food… photosynthesize.

Try and be what you are destined to be. A tree.

Blasting  those voices back into the void from whence it had snatched out

Reaching over – without much of a search

 Rustled her leaves  -A call  out for new bosom firefly friends.

A loud moan persisted from her innermost pit.

Hunger.

Hunger to be free in the form she still chose to be.

Chronic cramp. If only for the longing desire she had for her legs or wings to ease the pain of being motionless.

It wasn’t enough that she contributed towards sustaining other life species.

This stagnant obsession never seeing a sunrise from another part of the world again.

She looked down at her well-worn form.

How hard can it be to throw herself back to a time when she had legs?

Gills?

Wings?

a moments thought yanked her back like leashed like a dog to this home she felt no affinity .

Forlorn inhaled the scented berries, unravelling the mask of sight at the  ivy,

A glimpse an assortment of psychedelic fleurs initiating that it was time to wake up.

One more push, one more fight.

Forlorn no more she’d set herself free.

The fable of Alison.

* A character who appeared in my head with a story to tell*

Paper, rock or scissors?

Choose one and you may win treasures.

Paper!

Congrats you have received a first year  wedding anniversary proposition .

I’m not even married – how is this a gift I can accept ever so gratefully, oh harry?

Will you marry me? I can make it true.

Alison threw a rock -aimed for the right side of Harries’ forehead- blood leaked out leaving his lips blue.

A twisty smile caught the ends of Alison’s mouth.

She needed a pair of scissors to cut out his heart.

Grim, I agree but her character is slightly Magee.

Squiggled by all the paper cut out men she’s collected over the years.

Paper mache collage project- in an attempt to fix her heart.

The glue worked better when she inhaled its fumes.

She would depersonalise from her very self and awake discombobulated- and rather confused.

This is the sad tale of how Alison decided she needed to repair her heart.

She flipped a coin that flipped her mind – all in one turnabout,

she came around -started singing the Hokie Cokie.

Her twisted jive improved when the moon drew in a little closer.

She could almost hear a beating heart – she put her hand to her chest and,

well, she fell apart.

Envious stares at Man Mickey Finn – his heartbeat loudly and glowered within.

He was her first.

The first attempt to re-enter the game of tick tockers.

Little did she know that this manic method would send her over to the bog marsh rockers.

Frozen on ice add a straw and a blueberry, she sipped her amorous bloody cocktail – Mary already had men gouging her blood every day.

Shaken not stirred.

Stern, she was shaking.

What did Mary’s conception have that made men fall head over heel and lap for her attention?

Frowned, knitted eyebrows – she added her rouge splash to the mix.

Men looked straight through her – perhaps she needed a bar of a Twix?

She had a cunning plan- not evolved or well thought out. She turned up her senses whenever men were about.

The throbbing, pulsating came not from the heart.

An alarming discovery – It came from below the waist.

Mary – scarlet virgin? miracle, my arse!.

Poor Alison only wanted to feel desired.

When she went for her next ingredient,

she baulked at its form and tried to appeal to its art.

Phallic and paternal it made her blush from the internal.

How would she get it to stay erect so she could snip it off when it was ready to launch and eject?

She tickled the floating accompanied planets and amusement came out in oohs and aahs.

Just a little longer, Alison thought blustered through scrunched up eyes.

 make sure you aim for the right glass and not the glass eye.

The navy would be proud of her solid sea legs.

She mixed this new concoction. so sure she was,

 she convinced me she was devout.

Up the straw, the gloopy mixture reached her swollen taste buds.

Horrified she spat it out – perhaps she needed to make it a little more tart.

She came across a nursing mother – whipped out her hunting tools.

Crying Babe clattered to the tarmac. Scattered Mother one breast left on the right side.

Shake it up and down the hatch. She waited for the rush of ardours to pour in.

Misery entered without a courteous knock. Sit down you gapless, toothy banshee of distrust.

Tears were rung around her neck -weighing in at a hefty sized albatross.

The grief of being ignored compelled her into complete disorder.

How could she end this frenzied quest without settling into a forlorn heap of a mess?

Then a thought rainbowed across her mind. It lifted the burdened clouds and she put her hand to mouth to suppress a giggle.

If no one would have her then she knew what was best.

Alison abandoned her empathy in the puddle of complicated attempts to gain acceptance.

She proudly took her first step into her role as the Queen of hearts.

If men wouldn’t love her, she would make sure they could love no other.

What a dreadful tale, is there are moral to end this fable – make it an epic!

Jesus wept!

I get bonus points if I end this and say she transformed – yes she did and serve this as a warning on how to never ignore the self- proclaimed piously.

Naive sex worker

*Stream of consciousness writing helped conjure  this  character  that I developed for the short story*

 

Take me to a place where being penniless is the land of the free.

Pennies should only be sought after a valued thought.

Lift my skirt higher?

Do you really think I can get that low?

I’m too shy to go all Billy bass

to consider blowing some dude in his family car-

in the hope of getting a lyrical limbo.

Or…am I?

credit cards maxed

I hope you get it now.

Yeah…

that’s what I think I would say to the first punter.

I’D MUG HIM..

..SHOOT HIM,

Do time for £50?

No

Take your filthy hands off

Do you get it now?

This life is awry.

KIDSRUS

They get  to fuck with

MO  MONEY

NO FUSS

Debauchable.

Confession -Don’t tell a soul.

If I ever became a sex worker

Call me naive but

I’d make a kiss the most expensive act on my price list.

You know, tongues.

French kissing?

Snogging.

Oinkism.

Romance is dead.

 WE ALL WANT to BE LOVED

Obviously we all we want to be wanted.

Kissing is the height of mind-altering spooning.

Lack of kisses & cuddles can make a  nirvana or dystopia of unfixed abodes

Hearts in denial of their poverty.

whatever happens

I will see some other side.

No throwing sand on a cardboard box, just yet.

Still have  a few tears to battle out.

I do have a decent amount of  self respect.

Where do all the good people go?

Do they become bad?

Be strong little one!

We grow from jungle roots and a paradise nigh off the setting sun

we clap in silence for nature our divine protector —

Namaste

My prayers are with her holy  Gaia.

The order of the black Dog

My family.

Here we all are, sitting around the circular dining room table- flecked with bits of gold.

Ma sits under a hanging portrait of this Christmas just gone. Three weeks ago. We are all smiling in it including Poppy. Poppy sits playing with her Annabelle doll, on my husband’s lap. Sat opposite from Ma, closest to the electric fire hearth is Gran.

I find myself sitting across from Gran. An iciness breathes mist over us. It separates me from them, cloaks me in a fog.

I try to swallow. The air is so thick it chokes me, I’m forced to put my hands to my throat. Nobody notices me. Nobody notices me the way they used to. I tune into the conversation-taking place.

‘Of course I’m not suggesting this is your fault. I should have known. Done more…’ Nan bursts into tears.

A cry out for:

I need attention I’m suffering the most.

My skin bristles. Nan pulls her scarf tighter around her neck, and then throws out a familiar comment about it being draughty.

‘You know I could catch pneumonia with my Asthma.’ She coughs. Ma gets up to put on the electric fire.

‘I didn’t take her seriously. You know what Angie was like?’

Ma’s eyes are red as the rosary beads she is thumbing; she looks over to an unusually quiet Poppy.

‘Did she just do it to spite me?’ How could she just leave her own…?’

My husband throws a warning look at Ma,

‘Marie, for Poppies sake. Our Angie suffered more than she let on.’ Ma sits back down. ‘Let’s put on a cartoon, luv?’

Poppy shakes her head.

She doesn’t look at us.

I look straight at her, willing her to leave this table. Leave this conversation. She lifts her head and looks me dead on in the eyes. I instinctively smile. Eddie and me always stood together when it came to Poppy.

Her face is pale, her eyes sunken, her skin is drawn in so tight I can see cheek bones protrude. Beneath her eyes veiled shadows betray her youthful face.

She clings onto Annabelle, still looking me dead on in the eyes.

‘When’s Mummy coming home?’

Silence. Her words enmesh with the silence. Her question disarms me. Marks me. The arrow leaves its bow splintering my heart.

I open my mouth to scream out as many words as I can. Condensation steams the air distilling me into silence. I reach my hand across the table to grab hers.

She doesn’t see me. I glare at my family sitting at the round table. They say nothing. Smothering themselves in sorrow, they witheringly curl inwards. I urge to shake them, uproot them from winters glaze.

-Answer her. Answer my daughter!

Instead, Gran succumbs to a puddle of wrinkled tears, mechanically Ma gets off her chair, attempts to console Gran and naturally it’s up to Eddie to mediate.

My calm, rational Eddie. His eyes read as vacant –his beard is wild and unkempt. It’s impossible to read his face.

He clears his throat,

‘We’re gonna see Mummy when we give her… say a proper goodbye.’

Gran flounders in her anglers net of remorse. Great splotchy splashes of grief escape. She wails,

‘She’s with the angels –looking down at you, darling!’

I roll my eyes. Of course I love her! Lately, she grates my skin more frequently with her, melodramatics.

– Confess how you truly feel. Relieved!

I’m so fixated on evoking a response from Gran; unnoticed, a light flickers with an intensity to match my own. Eddie carries Poppy over to the sofa, sits her down to watch a cartoon. He covers her with a blanket then kisses her forehead.

‘We’ll see mummy soon? To say goodbye?’

Eddie nods his head, his voice cracks.

‘Aye, love.’

‘When will mummy come back from saying goodbye? In spring? My teacher says it’s winter – everything goes to sleep like her?’ Poppy points to ‘Sleeping Beauty’ on the television.

Eddie focuses on the image. The Prince is just about to kiss Aurora on the lips. He turns his head away from the television before he can see Aurora wake up to her true loves kiss. He grinds down on his teeth. Poppy’s eyes remain transfixed on the television. Eddie gets up, crosses the dining room table; I’m compelled to follow him, I have to stop him. Tell him I’m still here. I haven’t gone anywhere. I’ve so much to tell him.

-There is no God! We were right all along. Religion is for people who can’t think for themselves. We were right to take the piss.

Eddie flinches, puts his hands in his jean pockets. I follow him down Ma’s hallway and into the bathroom. He closes the door on me. It doesn’t ever close fully. I slip through the crack of the door that is always ajar.

Head down. Still. He sits on the toilet seat. I kneel down before him; go to lay my head on his knee. He flinches again. Hits himself in the head. Bangs his fist on the wall screams out:

‘Why? We could’ve figured it out, you fucking stubborn mare’ I bring out the best and worst in Eddie. Till death do us part. What are the chances?

He still refuses to let me go. Stubborn.

My symptoms intensify in the days leading up to the funeral. Everything‘s heightened especially emotions that seemingly walk precariously on stilts. I can’t walk through walls or levitate. Nothing like any of the horrors Eddie and me used to watch together, on the sofa.

Unheard, I bellow continuously,

-Just let me go!

Every time I hear my name called reflections of nostalgia flash and beam over and around me. Prompted, I gravitate towards the source. Someone needs me. These past three weeks, I’ve been teleported from one conversation to another. I find myself in a room; familiar or not familiar, with people I know and people I don’t know.

Today I’m summoned to the usual bickering between Ma and Gran. The familiar sound of Gran’s kettle boils in the background.

‘I want that picture of her on her graduation day and flowers- blown up .With azaleas. And roses – she loved roses- pink.’

‘She hates that picture! And she loves- loved yellow roses…’ Ma’s wobbly voice mirrors her jelly struck legs propping her up in her work shoes. She staggers backwards. Like the black dog with a bone, Gran won’t give in,

‘No, she’s my eldest grand daughter and I know her – it is… was pink!’

Ma sits down, doesn’t speak. I go over to her to put my arms around her then she dissolves into tears. Gran bulldozes her way over to us. Intimidated, I move out of her way. Gran holds Ma and Ma lets Gran hug her. Ma calms down, mentions something about pink and yellow roses

Vexed, I shriek

– don’t back down Ma, I love yellow. Yellow roses. The kettle whistles for attention. My voice is lost to an object.

‘I’ll go make that cup of tea’ Nan retreats to her kitchen.

Another opportunity to get close to Ma again. I need to hug her, give her some of my energy. As if on cue, Mum’s tear-stained face crumples just like my heart. A poking hot iron burns a hole right through it. Gran re-enters the room I scarper.

‘Here you go, love. Lost three of my own …, as you know, mind, they never got to Angie’s age. Yellow’s more of a quirky colour like our Angie… was.’ They smile at each other. I move back, the distance seems to illuminate their smiles.

Tonight, I beg for there to be a heaven. This has to be hell. The familiar, incongruous, gravitational pull lures me out of my cavernous abyss. I blink my eyes several times to focus: orientate myself. Hung up around the wall are vintage Disney posters. My eyes settle on Poppies bed. Eddie bends over Poppy and kisses her goodnight,

‘Mummy loves you just as much as I do.’ He tucks her in.

He switches off the light before walking out. I stand and watch my worn out daughter in her bed. She sings herself to sleep just as she does every night. She sings our song: twinkle twinkle little star. With each inflection of her sweet singing voice, the words serve as a needle. Each word stipulates smelting hot ink into my flesh. My neck is ablaze. Before closing her eyes, she whispers,

‘I love you mummy.’

When I reply, scorching chains wrap and lasso me around my neck. My skin swells up in blisters. The familiar sound of her breathing evaporates the pain. I need to be close to her, I need to smell her, kiss her. Carelessly, I run over to her bed to touch her sleeping head. Startled I lunge backward as Poppy instantly wakes up screaming.

– I’m powerless

. Eddie barges into the room, throws on the light and takes Poppy into his arms. I watch her body stiffen; then relax. I watch him settle my daughter back to sleep. My hands ball into tight fists.

-She must know I’m here.

Before I can touch her face, she wakes up screaming like – like she has seen a- ghost.

-I’m that Ghost! I put my hands to my mouth in horror.

Envy bubbles inside me as I witness Eddie consoling Poppy again. I’m half hoping he won’t succeed.

What kind of a mother am I?

I’ve been telling everyone to let me go.

Where will I go?

I can’t drive, no one can see me. There are no other lost souls wondering about telling me to join the dead community!

I won’t give up on my daughter. She needs me. I have to be here.

The stroke of our clock announces its time; a primitive realisation slithers down my very core. Nausea spirals up into my throat. I run into our bathroom, heave over the toilet, nothing comes out. I catch sight of my reflection in the mirror; I see vicious V-shaped welts where the noose of the rope has cut into my neck. This is what Eddie came home to.

The cloying black dog of depression haunted me. Its delivered dose of pain was exquisite- nothing took it away. Not drinking, overdosing, drugging myself, talking-nothing. Eventually, I told it to sit down. I told Eddie repeatedly,

– I just want to disappear.

– How can I help you? His eyes pleaded for an answer. I would always lash out,

-Unless you help me disappear, you can’t!

I remained imprisoned in our bed and he would go back to work and look after Poppy and the house. He could walk away from me. I couldn’t. I resent him for that. I can see myself now, googling the various ways people commit suicide. One article struck my eye ‘Men are more successful at committing suicide’.

-They don’t mess about with poisoning themselves –they resort to more violent means.

That is the moment I reached out to the wrong Alpha.

The black dog and I began sleeping together. It became my obsession. Up-close, I could analyse it, experiment with it. As a couple, it didn’t take much to find that Alpha rage. One phone call from Ma,

-Just snap out of it. If you’re going to do it, get on with it.

-Fine, I will! I hung up on her before she could hang up on me.

My impulsiveness finds me trapped within this mirror. It’s cold. Everything I read is back to front. Everything I do is back to front. It doesn’t reflect my true intentions. When I reach out, in fact, the more I reach out the more pain I inflict. I back away from the mirror until I’m pressed up, with my back against the bathroom wall.

What have I done?

What right do I have trying to tell my family how to deal with their loss?

Eddie will never know that I was messing about; I didn’t know if I could actually go through with it. From a great height in a corner of the bathroom my body feels cut loose from itself. I can see it happen in front of my eyes. Like a rerun episode, I can’t pause. The noose around my neck, in the shower. Steam shrouds the mirror, with slippery feet, I accidently knock myself off that chair and in that moment I realise,

– I don’t want to die.

I can’t scream and tell anyone. I made the decision when I decided to sleep with my enemy. I’ve interrupted the natural course of life. A lost soul in life: a lost soul in death. There are no bright lights to come with this epiphany. I exit the bathroom, stumble down the staircase, out the front door, and walk aimlessly down the street. I sense a familiar pair of eyes examining me; I look up and see the black dog in its true form. It waits for me to catch up. We walk side by side. I don’t look back. I am the one preventing people from moving on. I have to let go.

*TMA Submition for Open University- Year one MA -Creative writing- fiction genre

EVEN THE ODDS

 I open my eyes and I am blitzed by an array of green, red, and yellow coloured fruit. I pose and I am poised, in front of that golden gilded hall mirror. The reflection is of me, in the original inpatient stay clinic, before this modern therapy treatment was possible. Before the pandemic rise of it. Like the eye of a hurricane, it mischievously lulled a large portion of members of our community into a state of security, then sucked us up with one sinister intake of breath.

 My reflection captures me in all my nakedness. My hair swathes over my scrawny shoulders and breasts. A pair of hands come up from behind me, pushes away my tresses and cups my breasts. A deep throb pulsates in-between my inner thighs. I cannot fight it. I submit.  My head tilts back; my mouth opens to reveal my tongue. It is like a red carpet, waiting for a celebrity to enter. It is him. His dreadlocks tinkle with multi coloured beads. His tongue commands to explore mine as if it is a well-versed master of sorcery. I tremble from the hot expulsion trickling down my inner thighs.M y eyes remould into wide crop circles.  I realise that it has tricked me again. I spit out the clustered black mob of grapes into the bowl of fruit. I only have a moist stain as a reminder of his existence.

‘The time is 06:35 a.m. The location: the bathroom. It feels more aggressive – not dormant as the manual states are what should be happening.’

                                    *********

‘Record and ready to engage. This is ED500, the time 6 a.m., the date is 12/04/2025, location: bathroom. Two feedamile tablets taken. Weight: stable. This is attempt 8.’

 I close my eyes and open them. I see an ashen me spiralling further and further away as the powder compact mirror is whacked out from my hands. I can’t see my reflection, so I start furiously tapping on my collarbone, urging it to jut out that bit more. Gristle grinds against gristle. My knees knock together repeatedly: agonisingly tender from the friction. It takes more pain to make me feel. I can hold my head up that little bit higher.

 A surge of power brushes a justified half -smile up my cheek, as they wheel me out of the ambulance and into ‘the starch whites’ base. I peer into my old inpatient room with its rosy shaded walls. The ‘starch whites’ are preparing for that time again. The battle with them every meal time.  Their lips are moving but I can’t hear them.

My eyes veer to the sight of my legs- splayed wide on the bed. In between my legs, reveals the man’s body, which seemingly hustles in time to some primal, instinctive beat. His tongue flicks in and out of my moist swelling vulva. My inner thighs quiver. Combined sweat drips collecting evidence of our lust. The flicking escalates in speed. My chest rises and falls in breathy rhythm.

I open my eyes and he is gone! Another trick!   On demand it projectile vomits grotesque abstractions out of drink supplements and gourmet food; flung and hung pretentiously along the walls of that room. Cups, plates, knives are thrown about. It takes three of them to get that tube down me. Three!

                        ********

‘Record. This is ED500; it is 2 a.m., the 13/04/2025 Location: my bedroom. There is an almighty sound of bells clanking. I am trying to do the breathing exercises from the prescription manual app but my eyes won’t register the letters.’

 The contained puddle of letters on the screen splatter as my tablet falls to the floor. The memory is too potent. My back arched involuntarily, my eyes will not open fully. Seizing up, they flicker upwards into the half-moon gloom of my eyelids. DING- A LING! A bell rings. Saliva sloshes down the sides of my chin. My back is set against a cool wall; I look up and around and find myself in an unidentified location. The walls, the flooring- everything is a shade of white. ‘The starch whites’ hover around the location in an aura of purity. I fiddle with my zip jean and pull down my T-shirt as I try to cover a mound of excess flesh. I join the procession of the group gathered around the bell ringer.

The wait commences. A stomach grunts hoggishly. Mine. My eyes sweep across the group hoping no one has heard it. In total, there are fifty of my kind. We all have the same scraggy arms and legs and distended stomach. We do not queue politely, but circle around the bell ringer like a pack, collectively growling, from the pit of our stomach, slavering: ready to attack. It does not do political correctness. It does not like conformity. Nobody wants to look too eager. It is part of the game. Parlour Tricks.

One involuntary twitch in the ringer’s direction and the game is lost. The bell rings again. I look up, it is him. He winks at me. It rages from him seeing me ready to engage in combat in the ‘labyrinth of edibles’. It gains so much power in numbers.  Deafening whispers ripple around the group. Those that cover their mouths with their hands only heighten the grand faux pas of my behaviour. The smirking turns to vaporous laughter. I watch that retro version of myself, head bowed, arms folded, shoulders hunched, walk alone and into hostile territory- a vulnerable outsider for betraying it

‘The time is 3 am, location: my bedroom. Urgent memo! I should be having more control over my flashbacks not less. ED500 needs to make contact’

                                                            *******

‘Record and ready to engage. This is ED500, the time 6 a.m., the date is 13/05/2025, location: bathroom. Two feedamile tablets consumed. Weight 0.2 grams more than 13/04/2025.’

 I close my eyes and when I open them, I am naked and in what appears to be a floor to ceiling mirrored dressing room. Reflecting back in every mirror is us! The man stands behind me- pulling me in every direction. Every angle stabs at my eyes, repeatedly. One stab- that’s me! Another stab –no, that’s me! What am I looking at? An arm. The shards of deceptive flesh wound my eyeballs. An almighty shriek surrenders from my lungs; I see a pair of hands reach up to cover my eyes. Is this real? I grab an arm and pinch it, hard. The skin feels dimpled, not in that artistic stippled kind of way but in that bumpier cellulite fashion.

‘The time is 06:15 am Location: bathroom. I feel out of control, I repeat I feel out of control. Urgent contact needs to be made.’

                                                *********************

Dr Owle presses the pause button.

‘You have stuck rigorously to the manual?’ – I see that flashback projected onto a wall- paused and very much in control.

‘Well, of course.’ I blather, ‘That’s why I signed myself up for this whole spectacle. You told me that I would be able to control the memory and the sensory triggers. I can’t just flick the pause button on like you’ve just done’

‘The results when adhered to correctly have shown a 100 % success rate. Today is the final attempt. Are you still willing to engage voluntarily? ‘He looks in my direction. I nod sagely.

‘Record and ready to engage. This is ED500, the time is 09:00 a.m., the date is the 13/06/2025, location: Professor Owle’s office, two feedamile tablets consumed at 6:00 am this morning. My weight is 0.3 grams heavier than 13/05/2025.’

 Final attempt. I close my eyes and open them.  Astonished, I see a pair of muscular legs, a toned stomach adorned by a hint of hipbone. My wrists have a nodule of bone on each side, giving it a certain elegance. There is a fleeting recognition of this body. A fragmented puzzle of reflections pulls together as natural as gravity. The magnetic pull, reassures, in the way that waking up before landing in a fall-dream- reassures. In the mirror reflection, I see him. A bolt of nerves implode in my brain, splintered nerves carve furiously.

A voice.

‘What do you see?’ It’s the Owls-no, the professor’s voice: the professor is an owl?  My mind steeps in ambiguity.

Then an almighty pressure forces my head to drop back from the weight of it. My hands instinctively go to touch the intruding protrusion. I catch sight of my reflection in the orange oblong mirror. My head is malformed. I look like some freak, like some helpless victim with radiation side effects from some way out, an imaginary town in Chernobyl. Grievous puss amalgamated to create a massive abscess.

‘I’m disfigured’, I scream. I feel his presence in the room as he moves closer to my puss-filled growth. Stretched, overcooked, fibrous skin. Heated puss bubbles away inside. He holds my head up.

 ‘It’s the man. I don’t know what he is going to do. He has something in his hand.  He is going to kill me.’

Tortured screams echo around the space.  Another voice penetrates through the pain.  

‘Have you seen him before? Look properly. ’ it is Professor Owle.

‘No, I can’t bear to look . I’m repulsive!’

‘Don’t give up. Open your eyes and look in the mirror, tell me what you see.’

‘Something has gone wrong. I’ve consumed too much. The experiment has failed.’ I weep.

‘This is professor Owle. Tell me what you see!’ he orders.

‘Tell him my name’ the man urges, his dreadlocks shake off a familiar laugh.

He wants me to name him.’ I howl in pain, ‘He’s jabbed a needle into me!  He has jabbed a needle in my head. He is extracting the puss. It wants more power. I will not name it. Never!  The truth is what I‘ve believed from the start. You give it a name and it automatically assumes power’, I scream.

‘Look at me. Please!’ the dreadlocked man implores.

SLAM!  A car skids unlawfully across the black ice.

‘Who are you, what do you want?’ a tone of hysteria.

BANG! Car tyres leave vicious tracks marks on a deer.

‘Are there any letters forming in your mind? The professor inquires.

CRASH! A body smashes through the windscreen.

‘Yes, but I’m too afraid to let them form. Abort the experiment please, Professor.’

 The body lands with a nondescript THUMP. Blood marinades the icy snow.

‘You need to fight it.’, Professor Owle cajoles me.

My eyes burst open like a ruptured pea pod. I look into the mirror and this is what I see. It is me –a hysterical woman with savage hair, screaming in despair I take both my hands and scrape my fingernails down both sides of my face. My grey slate- coloured eyes, dilated, search with hope. The man’s hand goes to brush away the tears trickling done my face. My hand goes up frantically trying to scratch away at the face etched with wretched wrinkles.

‘It is an older me. The growth has gone.’ Fearfully I take in the rest of my body. Again, I see reflected the same pair of muscular legs, a toned stomach adorned by a hint of hipbone. My wrists have a nodule of bone on each side- Holy shit, how can this be? This reflection is the missing piece to a surprising feeling of unity. I look over to him– he smiles. I look into his eyes- all I can see is admiration. 

‘It’s me! Not perfect-far from it. But it is me!’ The man leans in to kiss my neck then his reflection turns around and leaves the room.

‘Very good, now carry on –what is the man saying? Interjects the Professor.

‘Professor, he has gone. ’, I turn away and around from the mirror to make sure that the mirror has not deceived me.

‘Gone?’

 Gone. It’s me. Professor Owle. It’s me! It is Vesna. My name is Vesna Numeral’ I babble out.

‘Vesna? If this is Vesna tell me who the man is? Professor Owle enquires dubiously.

A wave knocks my emotions. I buckle. The reeds of guilt tangle around my legs pulling me down to my knees

‘Oh my God! No, it’s Raymond.’ I cry.

‘Bravo Vesna. Well done. You did it- you engaged until the very end. We can finally start the de-briefing process.’ The professor hugs me.

‘I’m recovered? ’ my tone incredulous. ‘All he tried to do was help me recover from it.

Yes, Vesna. It was an accident…’

‘I couldn’t control.’ I conclude.

‘We now work together to start the process to rehabilitate you back into society.’

‘My family. My friends.’ A medley of images calibrate in my mind. ‘I will never go backwards, never! I have to keep ticking forwards’

‘Life will have a purpose again,’ the professor smiles

 One year later and numbers still hold this world together. I can never completely get away from numbers. It might not possess me but it still haunts me every so often by catching me off- guard. These days a brief encounter with my reflection consistently reveals my broken half capped teeth and withered bones. These are the scars of my struggle. I remember the lesson Raymond tried to teach me. These days I tend to look into people’s eyes when I speak and I tend to listen more. It is so easy to get caught up in that negative internal chatter everyone has in them. These days in spite of my scars, I smile and look for that small break in the sky. My name is Vesna; and like a cloud that merges and transforms all too rapidly, I too refuse to be defined by it.

Indulgent woolgatherer

Let us sit here for a second , right here on top of this lush hill.

Pause, for a moment and think about life and what we want to do – explore how we feel.

Lie down ,sprawl out  our arms and legs like star fish and gaze up into the sky.

Cloud gazing- can you see we reflect one of those red dwarf stars, we can see at nigh?

Let’s see what we can find in our future  before the clouds pass along.

They move far too quickly, our imagination needs to be strong.

We don’t always have to live in the ghetto.

We could pack up  our bags and travel the world , live hand to mouth with a  more energetic flow.

Learn different languages, eat fine food, dive off cliffs into  the ocean – wanting to live and win.

The reason very much different to how you wanted to end it on Hollin’s lane on the island of ‘Gyve inn’.

Second by second is passing us by.

We could get a move  on – leave all this materialistic waste lying  just here.

We just take ourselves and book a flight to anywhere -all we need is our combined heart and minds to see things more clear.

Bah!

Bah!

Bah!

Bah!

Bah!

What a great game. You do an excellent impression of a sheep, mon cherie.

Okay my turn ……

Arms prop up on elbows, Blonde curls and a mouth seemingly dipped in honey,

looks at the man and those bee sting lips are guarded by  all seeing drones.

What is the matter, my little sparrow?

You look at me with such warrant arrest,like we have only just met – you look straight past me like I am not even here.  Of course we can stay in touch with our loved ones  and take our cellphones.

‘I have a game”, says she, eyes dark, exposing true twinkling  stars.

The man forgets to breathe his head fully intoxicated like he has spent the day tumbling out of various bars.

“Walk over to those sheep – there! and I will tell you then what it is you next have to do.”

Slightly fazed but not wanting to show it – he heaves himself up and approaches the sheep with a hesitant  brazenness-

“Erm well – hello to you and ewe.”

He turns around to listen to the next part of his task.

His little buttercup opens her mouth , urging him  on to stroke the sheep.

Hesitatingly, he laughs when he starts to pet one and it lets out a great bleep.

Laughter emanates from  the couple, meets in the air, merge -dancing cheek to cheek -finally a caress.

The lady starts to announce she has something she would like to address.

Obligingly, the man will hear anything she wishes to confess.

“It’s all very romantic this talk of living a better life.

‘I can see it happening  -‘

‘Yes, I can see this happening. Me standing next to you  – I would love to be your wife.”

The man continues to stroke the sheep ,looks at the tufts falling away in his hands , looks down in horror.

Lady continues –

“if you were as half as good at taking action than talking like you are the  confirmed lead in every conceived theatre production of tomorrow…

I look around and see trees but alas, no money.

It’s all very well to sit and fantasise with you, when it is bright and sunny.

Well, I see a  much truer future with you – you have such a skill,indulging on your feet.- even if you are slightly heady and staggering.

I foresee a better  future for us -one with more purpose – by all means  continue with  these notions  of yours- not in  part but as a  full time career  in wool gathering.”

*TRYING TO INCREASE MY VOCABULARY*

Definitions forwoolgathering

  1. indulgence in idle fancies and in daydreaming;absentmindedness: His woolgathering was ahandicap in school.

  2. gathering of the tufts of wool shed by sheepand caught on bushes.

DICTIONARY.COM