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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.

Even the Odds Anorexia Sci fi

Record. Ready to engage. This is ED500, the time 6 a.m., 12/02/2025, location: bathroom. Two feedamile tablets (equating to the dosage of 1500 calories) taken. Weight: stable’

 I close my eyes and open them, and when I look into my black bordered mirror, I see me but a younger, naïve me staring back. I inhale and exhale creating a crescent shaped smile. My hair shines vibrantly, my face: doll like. My mouth flushed, it appears to have taken on a bitten nuance of natural rouge. I smile to display ivory white teeth only a poacher could appreciate. In my world, white teeth are a rarity on someone from my generation.  It has taken too many of us. I caress my prepubescent size breasts and so does she. Nipples aroused by the naked air. Small boned, fragile, envied. If Eve indeed took Adam’s rib, raw-boned: it should be on display. There is nothing more invigorating than this reflection. There is nothing more exquisite to be hold. That is all it is: a former reflection. I close my eyes and then open them again. I am back in my bathroom.  The first course of treatment started five months ago. I have responded well and I have been able to observe the many seductive versions it shows of me, without resorting to previous extreme coping mechanisms.  It was not always like this.

            ‘The starch whites’ snatched me away from my entire world because of it.   Desperate to claw back some control of my life, I signed up to this new radical method of treatment for it. They inserted a hippocampus-morphic capture camera (H-MCC) into my brain. It creates recollections of all of a human’s senses. I only need to say ‘record’ to activate it. This is a part of the rules of engagement. There is nothing more innovative in terms of therapy treatments for it.

                                               **********

‘Record and ready to engage. This is ED500, the time is 6 a.m., the date 12/03/2025, location: bathroom. Two feedamile tablets consumed.’

 Numbers flitter up and down. I look straight ahead, my feet push firmly onto the scales. Like a corset it dares me to breathe .The difference in numbers is a knife-edge in reality, but it will try to emphasise how little control I have if the numbers goes up. Today it is stable.  This is attempt 7. I close my eyes and for a split second the scent of oranges linger.

 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 breathe.  My reflection captures me in all my nakedness. My hair swathes over my scrawny shoulders and breasts. A pair of hands comes 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, awaiting 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 .My 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: bathroom. It feels more aggressive – not dormant as the manual states is 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 mealtime.  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 breathily 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 arches 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 pull 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 backwards 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 mal formed. I look like some freak, like some helpless victim with radiation side effects from some way out, 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 dread locked 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.’, Professer 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.

Ginger nuts parasite

This was the first piece of fictional writing I ever wrote. It was also graded and then I had to adapt it into a different genre.

 ‘Miss Sainte!’ the travel consultant’s hands twitch like a bees 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 bitter. 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 headfirst 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, Gingerbread, Ginger cats, Ginger biscuits, Gingernuts, 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 vocal 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: 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 rearview 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 overconsumption. 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 sterilizing?

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 me to 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 severs itself form 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 are 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 leapfrog. 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 demonical 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 you going- we agreed on this?’ Panic. There’s more screaming.

‘Why? Why? Why?’ Each “why” growing 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.

‘Hey! Listen can you hear that?’ they’re playing music!  What kind of sick set up is this? Beethoven’s, ‘Moonlight sonata’ is playing in the background. I touch it. The bump. I’m pretty sure this has got to breach my human rights.

A voice punctuates the air. It’s mine.

‘Number one. Gotta look after number one!’ That’s what my Mum always used to say… “If ya can’t put yourself first, you’ll never be able to put ya, child, first. From now on I swear it. I’ll make each moment in my life count! Maybe one day I will be worth being called a mum….sorry.’

My eyes close, a tear rolls down my cheek as I’m wheeled into theatre.

What are your views on Abortion?

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.

Daisy does time

 

High on life- no light of artificial sight.
I know what I will do if I ever get mugged.
I will look my mugger right in the forehead and say I can see the emergence of his third eye.
 
His monobrow will wriggle in confusion.
Then, I will 1970’s kung fu him in the balls – He will be blubbering.
 
This is my first chance to demonstrate my self-choreographed, self-defence, dance class, get fit for life infusion.
 
I’ll grab my bag and wallop him once or twice.
I’m not condoning violence, but I get the feel for it, I’m grooving, putting my own spin on it. So he rolls with the punches and I carry on rolling my dice.
 
Then when I feel we are on an even keel I’ll stretch out my arm, give him a hand up. Hell, I will even get down on one bended knee.
 
The score will be settled and even.
That is what you get, mate, for attempted thieving.
Panic alert flashes across my eyes. I didn’t know Mr potential mugger had another job. He’s a rather talented actor – he is making me believe he is actually bleeding.
 
Wait a few seconds – look left -look right -look left again. Got to keep my wits about me. Road safety training might seem elementary but it can be a lifesaver.
Seconds turn into the longest minute ever documented. I don’t think he is an amateur. In fact, I’m checking for signs of a well-known face; not some chip off the old block. I can hear the other stars calling out for their missing, celebrity neighbour.
Things are starting to turn grave. I’m the one who was in true danger.
Superheroes, do they exist?
I need one pronto – bring a carpet -we have a John Doe to roll up and we need a couple of spades and all of the aces. I need a super professional with a zany twist.
 
Moments pass. My superhero hasn’t pitched up, he must have run out of gas.
I’m on the run with an imaginary gun – this is not fun. He started it. What an ass!
 
“Oh why hello, officer, I know what this looks like. Yes, I am running” mentally exercising my train of thought.
“Hit and run?”
“I don’t drive officer. So can we skip the walk in a straight line, touch my nose and rub my belly and get to the part where we both laugh about this situation.”
We may end up in a quaint bar.
The one that sells all the good rum.
 
My mind is working overtime. Think! Think! What would any civil, well to do, ordinary, civilian lady do in my circumstance?
 
“Now, officer. I think we can have a bit more fun with those cuffs. Got any fur? oh, how I love to purr.” I’ll lean over just so he can clock my cleavage. Hey, this could work! Have you got any better ideas?
 
This may be my only chance.
 
“Ma am , Are you trying to poodle face with me?”
 
“Me? I don’t even own a dog. Are you trying to call me a bitch? Now that is offensive.”
I was merely using my right to freedom of expression.
 
My wits tell me to back the fuck down. He is jangling what sounds like more than one key.
He reads me my rights. I tell I’m Catholic.
 
I ring God daily, no messing with Angel administration. I have him on speed dial to atone for my sins.
Now, this-this is unjust. All this fuss. What happened to the good cop, bad cop scenario?
 
All I’m seeing is the end of his boot and my own reflection in his riot helmet gear. Have I been transported into some retro game and swallowed a mushroom and turned into super -uber Mario?
 
Granted, he is a shitty plumber. But, he does get to collect plenty of coins. Maybe I can bail me out.I don’t need no man to rescue me. I am the victim and the surviving princess.
 
I get the feeling the only jangling I am going to do is when I walk the line. Stub my toe. I think my entitled title just got ripped off me.
 
Scoundrel.
It was that mugger that’s got me in this stitch. I’ve been demoted to a rather fatigued and distressed seamstress.
 
Moral of the story?
Don’t go acting like those sensational media heroes.
 
Just let your entire shit go-
JUST.LET. IT.ALL.GO.
And tomorrow you will wake up not in a cell but smiling into your favourite stripy bowl of cheerios.
 

*inspired by absolute nonsense. Stream of consciousness

Mad Russian afterlife​

 Good Morning old man, and greetings on this day when at last you dare to look at the mirror of your past, with the eyes of the real world.

What have you achieved old man in the course of tumultuous existence, and who are you? The real you and not the extrapolation of your wanted desires and unfulfilled dreams?

Open your mind, old man, and taste the result of your self inflicted iniquities.

Your soul may cry without shame because you may believe that you have remained as proud as your own bloodline.

However, could your genetic heritage be only a figment of your imagination of your own chromosomes?

You see old man: You still do not know who you are yet.

It is a fact that you have been a factor in creating life…

What was a pleasure became a string of destinies…. children… grandchildren…

And the usual follow up of renewed dynasties.

You believe of course that you will be able to watch, through another dimension, the survival tribulations of all your descendants and attempt to guide their steps towards wisdom and love.

Your inquisitive and caring nature will probably resist the call of the master of the universe to join his own renewal through the absorption of your soul. Once it has left your flesh, blood and bones.

I know, old man, as I searched deep inside your mind, that you are not afraid of death. The only fear you may have could be an inner sentiment that you have not yet fulfilled some of your more attainable, and realistic goals.

Wasted or unexploded gifts, which we all possess and often ignore…

These could be the regrets of an afterlife, and it could also be through the line of some genetic heritage that one of your ancestors is attempting to reach you, and guide you.

Look again old man and listen to the real voices.

* written by my grandfather Nicholas Szynkarski- an eccentric, legend, philosopher, opportunist, a man ahead of his time. This is the introduction to one of his many mini-memoirs & fantasies mixed with nostalgia. He used to type it up on a dinosaur computer. In the days when we had to dial up to get a connection to access the internet.  I’ve kept hold of one of his books. This is the intro.

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

Fair wish World-scene one

I always used to think I was a bit loopy because I created characters in my head and-and acted them out. My family teased me and people must have thought I had multiple personality disorder (it was the 80s/90’s). My daughter does the exact same thing and I now realise that my mind creates stories and the best way to reveal those stories is by writing them down.

Here is the second draft for my TMA 3. I’ve finished the entire second draft this morning. YAY!

I’ve taken inspiration from the morality plays that were popular in medieval times. I hope that my tutor will see the relevance this play has in the message it sends out despite setting it nearly 90 years ago.

I think that all three characters have a bit of me inside them. I’m working on making the characters more well rounded. The next two scenes I’ve written shows a different side to the characters.

The play is set in the  mid-1920’s -after the World War one and the Russian revolutions.

I want to thank Clarissa @  POETURJA for helping me develop an intriguing plot with her grimoire and insight into her ancestry of being a descendant of the misunderstood Roma Gypsies.

There is still a lot to polish and make it submission and MA worthy

Let me know what you think.

CAST LIST: (so far)

EVE

VLADIMIR- always wears gloves 

PANACEA

THE CROWD- actors and the audience

AMERICAN MAN

AMERICAN WIFE

EUROPEAN WOMAN

LOCATION: Paris, 1925

SUGGESTED STAGE DIRECTIONS (my undeveloped vision) bare stage – (audience act as the crowd for further scenes) are seated in a circle. All action takes place in the centre of the audience. Characters sit amongst the audience or come from behind to enter the performing stage. All props are simulated by actor’s mannerisms and minimal props. A box can be at table, piano, bench.   To evoke sensory surroundings multimedia like audio-piano music/ screens/ lightening etc. used to set the scene example to create the illusion of shadows, or people, to set the mood of the scene.

EVE is already playing as the audience find a seat.

NOTE TO SELF: BE VISUAL include all people who will be in the each scene setting. Hot seat 20 question for characters

SCENE ONE

EVE sits playing the saddest most melancholic piece of music at an old piano, in the jardinière outside. She sits in the centre of the room.THE CROWD sit and stand around her forming a circle. EVE plays on as the audience find a place to sit. EVE is absorbed in playing her music. After some time EVE stops playing. Bangs on the keys of the piano and begins to cry. EVE cries and cries and cries. Nobody comes to her. EVE stops crying.

EVE: Who’s there?  I know someone there is there. Show yourself.

(EVE seems to gaze through the audience. A spotlight comes up and sweeps across the audience illuminating them. The room goes dark. EVE begins to play again –a wild angry, jazzy piece of music.EVE plays until she falls off her chair. From out of the audience PANACEA, plainly dressed in dark colours approaches EVE. PANACEA attempts to help her up)

EVE:      Who are you?

PANACEA:  Hush, I am but an old dear who admires your music.

EVE:      How did you get in here? This is private land. If you are Vladimir’s friend…

PANACEA:  Who? I was merely directed to your playing.

EVE:      I tell you what I told him. No. I won’t do it.

PANACEA;  Do what, dear?

EVE:      You don’t know?

PANACEA:  No. I found the gates open and was guided by your playing.

EVE:      Oh.

PANACEA:  You seem almost… disappointed.

EVE:      I made the right choice. It doesn’t matter.

PANACEA:  A problem halved and all that.

EVE:      Yet I feel so guilty

PANACEA:  You seem /quite

EVE:      I don’t even know who you are. I can’t even….

PANACEA:    As you can see I’m rather old, nothing special – just a mere human – an old lady –nondescript

EVE:      You blend in with the crowd.

PANACEA:  Almost like I don’t exist.

EVE:      But people can see you and you –you can see them?

PANACEA:  Yes. I do and I suppose seeing they do. It is not the same as looking

EVE:      All I want is to be see the people Vladimir says we help.

PANACEA:  You have such a gift. The world must hear this and your face is –

EVE:      He did send you! Times have changed. These new admirer’s talk so strange. So many people are poor. I wonder how we can maintain our standard of living just because I have a gift. How can they just ignore and approve?

PANACEA:  Approve?  I don’t see many who wouldn’t. We do have mirrors nowadays.

PANACEA:  They don’t do me any good.

EVE:      they aren’t much good to me either.

PANACEA:  Who is Vladimir?

EVE:      Someone. Someone who wants the best for me.

PANACEA:  You have had a disagreement?

EVE:      I can’t shift this feeling -Something doesn’t add up. How can one girl ease the suffering of a nation- a world trying to make sense of all the lives lost? All those men dead.

PANACEA:  Is he ONE of those sorts of men?

EVE:      What? A soldier, oh no.

PANACEA:  The Don Juan types.

EVE:      Don Juan? I can’t even visualise what that looks like

PANACEA:  You know- charming, good looking. A bit of a lothario. Gets the blood rushing to the ears.

EVE:      Oh no, nothing like that. (blushes) He’s more of a guardian- a brother of sorts.

PANACEA:  Well, has he hurt you, dear? Roughed you up?

EVE:      No, nothing like that. He cares for me. I owe him all this. I should be begging in the streets for my bread like the rest of them.

(Silence)

EVE:      Hello?   Are you still here?

PANACEA:  Yes dear. I will sit next to you then perhaps you can see better.

EVE:      That is part of the problem.

PANACEA:  Well, turn your face to me. I’m not exactly beautiful as yourself. I get that reaction all the time.

EVE:      I can’t see you.

PANACEA:  You are…

EVE:      Yes. I am –that is why I’m so flaming mad. How can he expect me to be on show? (takes on mock man’s voice) Entertainment is what the new World needs. The old world’s need. We are doing A service to our people, he says. I feel privileged -far too privileged.

PANACEA:  I wish I could feel the world the way you do. It’s unique.

EVE:      That’s the problem. Everyone always goes on about how unique I am. How lacking in sight makes me special. Everyone wants to take my picture with me or listen to my music, but then, soon, people seem to grow weary and they just disappear, and I’m left alone in the darkness again.

PANACEA:  Some people only come out when it’s dark, child.

EVE:      How would I know? My darkness is my light and I have nothing to compare it to.

PANACEA:  I blend in with the world. Just another face in the crowd

EVE:      You sound saddened by it?

PANACEA:  No, it’s just normal.

EVE:      That’s what I want. Normal. I feel everything.

PANACEA:  To see is not-to-not feel.

EVE:      Yes, but there are these things – filters. If I could see maybe, my other senses would be diluted. Not so overpowering. Not so smothering, I feel unbalanced.

PANACEA:  Yes, a woman at odds with her world. I’ve seen years of the world. Felt it too. I often wonder what it would be like if I lacked in sight and well……

EVE:      It’s frustrating. I feel the need to increase all my other senses to make up for what I lack. If I could only see with these eyes, what other people see-

PANACEA:  What will you do about Vladimir?

EVE:      I trust him but he doesn’t understand.  He believes if I could see this world that my beauty would be lost. That me not seeing what I look like and the world looks like is what makes me- this “unique” word. I hate it.

PANACEA:  So, he saved you….

EVE:      from a life living on the streets, from the orphanage. With his business acumen, we are still able to afford all after all the devastation.

PANACEA:  Doesn’t sound like such a bad fella.

EVE:      He’s not. He just doesn’t understand how much I long to see Miss, Mrs?

PANACEA:  Call me Panacea.

EVE:      …Like the word? How droll.

PANACEA:  Yes, I was born with a gift to help those at odds with themselves.

EVE:      You can give me the sight I crave?

PANACEA:  It’s not a simple process. It requires/

EVE:      I don’t care. Name it. I have money. Anything. What is your price?

PANACEA:  Money is useless. The elixir needed to seal this contract is what is known as trading your essence.

EVE:      Essence? my soul?

PANACEA:  Not quite. I’m not the devil. Think of essence as an ingredient. If you barter, your unique essence say- to me. What makes you taste different from the other cookies of the world is your flavour- your essence. You want vanilla. You inherit my essence, I yours

EVE:      I wouldn’t even know where to find my essence. What would I gain?

PANACEA:  you could gain your sight.

EVE:      And you would want to lose yours! why?

PANACEA:  I’m an old dear. I’ve seen enough of the world. You, however, have so much living to do. You have these unique gifts yet you are not happy with them because you can’t see them like the others.

EVE:      You make me sound ungrateful.

PANACEA:  Now that is what you said. Not I.

EVE:      Forgive me. DO you have all your senses?

PANACEA:  (laughs)I can hear you. Your music. I see your apparent beauty. I feel your soft skin, smooth – no wrinkles. Untouched by sunshine. (breaths in to smell EVE)

EVE:      Why are you smelling me?

PANACEA:  I long to use my other senses more…I’m not going to eat you, this is not a fairy-tale

EVE:      I’m sorry. I feel so stupid.

PANACEA:  Never mind, it shows you have a highly active imagination. Much sought after in the world where vision is so vital to be a part of this world.

EVE:      How could you possibly have had enough seeing?

PANACEA:  Maybe it is because I met you. You captivate me.

EVE:      I wish I could see what you mean.

PANACEA:  Maybe your male friend is right. It would ruin you to see the world. (begins to get up)

EVE:      Where are you going?

PANACEA:  Leaving you to work things out. All feelings pass (small pause) eventually.

EVE:      No, that is an untruth. Mine grow. Intensify. Mine never leave. They haunt me day and night. Please don’t leave me alone.

PANACEA:  (sits back down) Will you play again and let me consider your eyes.

EVE:      I can’t see you, though.

PANACEA:  (frustrated)I know a way to access your essence.

EVE:      Panacea you can give me sight?

PANACEA:  If you want it as much as you claim, then perhaps it may work in your favour.

EVE:      Why?

PANACEA:  You question far too much and believe in far too little.

EVE:      Okay, I will play. What do you/ want?

PANACEA:  Play me a song that reveals everything about you to me

(EVE begins to play, looks at PANACEA. PANACEA touches EVES face, her lips and leans into EVE as if to kiss her. EVE stops playing.?

EVE:      What are you doing? You ‘re not one of those Lesbians are you/?

PANACEA:  Does it matter? (laughs) More a Thespian.

EVE:      what does kissing me must do with giving me my sight? I may be blind but don’t mistake that for being a fool.

PANACEA:  Me? Mistake you for a fool. (long pause)

EVE:      I apologise. I /just want….

PANACEA:  Have faith that what we do on this day will give you what you say you desire.

EVE:      I’m scared.

PANACEA:  Scared didn’t win the war.

EVE:      I never thought of it like that. Could we try again?

PANACEA: One more chance. In hindsight, I may change my mind and decide to keep my sight at this rate.

EVE:      No! I mean, it’s yours of course, but I really want to see.

PANACEA:  Let me taste your tears. (leans in to lick EVES tears) Such melancholy. Such innocence…. Play on, child. I must know your name.

EVE:      I can tell you. My name/is…

PANACEA:  (shouts) Don’t speak it. I will find your name. That is how I will find your essence. Now play.

(EVE begins to play, looks in the eyes of PANACEA. While EVE plays, PANACEA licks the tears from her face and begins to suck on the air of EVES parted lips. EVE falls to the floor. PANACEA looks down at her, PANACEA sits at the piano, begins to play a neurotic piece of music. PANACEA finishes the piece, gets up, nudges EVE with her foot.)

PANACEA:  I dedicate this piece to you. The essence of Eve – foolish. foolish Eve. (gets up leaves pushing past the crowd)

(Lights down)

SCENE TWO

(Outside in the garden, EVE sits at the piano playing – she keeps making mistakes. Stops and starts. VLADIMIR paces up and down wears gloves)

VLADIMIR: No. That is not it? Where is the haunting draw, the sweet enchanting forest where we forget all pain? Start again.

EVE:      (hesitates) Can you just listen, please.

VLADIMIR: I am. This is not good enough. (realizes) How many times, Cherie?  You are already behind and the show starts in less than a fortnight.

(EVE begins to play. EVE stops and puts her hands to her forehead. VLADIMIR stops pacing and rushes to EVE)

VLADIMIR:     I know I push you. You know I want the best for you. You have another headache?

EVE:           yes.

VLADIMIR:     (takes a bottle from his jacket) Here take one as precited. This is all nerves. The mind plays horrible tricks on someone who is utterly gifted.

EVE:           But don’t you find it most peculiar? What an unusual woman. It felt so real. Are you sure you didn’t see/her?

VLADIMER:      Mon Cherie, no more with this talk of absurdness’ have a duty to provide for our community. (motions to ENTOURAGE to make EVE presentable) ah, here come the publicity people. (to EVE) Not now, Cherie. Performance face – smile –a little more- higher. Manifique (ENTOURAGE fix makeup and hair, take pictures. Flashes of light and voices commanding EVE what to do. EVE poses then frowns)

PHTOPGRAPHER:  Turn left. No left. Chin up – Aliyah fix her make up. Liberty her hair is not staying static. Eve, place your hands just so. More delicately. Girl, move her into position.

EVE frowns, VLADIMIR with a wave of his hands clears away the entourage. Everything is quiet again.)

VLADIMER:      Cherie, what do you want me to tell you? An untruth. I saw you were fatigued, I found you at the foot of your piano. I picked you up and called on Doctor soigneur immediately.

EVE:           Please, Vlad. I haven’t stopped having nightmares. I don’t feel myself. The boy…He is Everywhere.

VLADIMIR:      And that is precisely why you were to take the prescribed pills for your disorder. We’ve all been through a lot (more patient) I can’t collude with these fantasies.

EVE:          I feel lost. No – I misplaced. Since Panacea, all I see is this boy. I feel more sickness in my heart/than ever.

VLADIMER:      Ha! What a perfect name for someone to help you regain your sight. (laughs) I love your imagination. You cannot grasp how important this next performance is. People ae coming seeking for jubilee, peace, coming from afar, the Americas, England. Important writers, artistes. Don’t you see?

EVE:           No, Vlad, I don’t.

VLADIMIR:      Come repose with me on our favourite bench in the jardinière. We can play our favourite game. (helps EVE up and walks to the bench in the garden both sit down)

EVE:          I don’t want to guess what the colours look like. Everything has become so triste. I know you want the best for me.for our community I – can we stop for today/ I..

VLADIMER:      (Sits EVE down on the bench/VLADIMIRE sits down and admires the Garden) Feel the wind. Smell the fleurs. This always lifts your spirits.

(EVE puts her hands to her cover her face and screams out)

EVE:           Don’t touch me!  (lights flicker in multi colours- EVE stands up and stumbles backwards. VLADIMIR rushes to catch her) Eve, what is it? Control your senses.

(Sounds of houses exploding. Windows shatter, Gun shots. Screams of men, children and women.EVE points to a war zone. EVE starts to run towards the noise of screams)

EVE:           The war. It’s started again. Run. Vlad.

VLADIMIR:      looks around to where EVE is running. Looks confused)

VLADIMIR:      Cherie, calm yourself. There is nothing there. Let’s get you back to your room.

EVE:         It’s happening. I have sight. Can’t you see? Hear?  What is wrong with you? They are shooting innocent people (A woman’s voices cries out as she is being raped. EVE runs to towards the attack, VLADIMIR stops her. There is a struggle, the cry of people burning alive and dying. Silence and then a BOY starts to howl in pain. EVE cries) That boy, he’s in pain. He’s oh – Mon Dieu -is ablaze

VLADIMIR:      Enough! (picks up EVE and attempts to take EVE back inside)

EVE:           There is a boy. He’s on fire. You can’t leave a child. (to DISFIGURED BOY) What is your name child?

VLADIMIR:     (firmly)There is nothing there.

EVE:           Look! That poor boy. (to BOY) It’s okay, we’re getting help.

VLADIMIR:      (looks back and puts EVE down on the piano chair.) Take these. Now.  You need to stop this. You want people to talk. Say how you are a crazy fool.

EVE:           Talk? About what? People dying. Innocent people. We are at war, again. Why did you not summon the staff to help? We were the closest to -that boy.

VLADIMIR:     There is no one there. (shouts). Nothing. No boy on fire. No war, you are hallucinating. Shut up!

EVE:           That boy. (looks up and past VLADIMIR’S shoulder. Frightened she points) There he is, right behind you. His face. (walks towards the DISFIGURED BOY) How can you be alive, child?

VLADIMIR:     Enough! I’m trying to look after you.

EVE|:        (EVE touches VLADIMIR’S face) You know I wouldn’t ever lie to you. The boy is a mess. Disfigured for life. Who will look after him if we don’t? (to the DISFIGURED BOY,in  darkness) Don’t be afraid- We can help you.

VLADIMIR:    (slaps EVE across the face) How dare you! You vexed wrench

EVE:           I’m not crazy. I’ telling you the truth.

VLADIMIR:     Who have you been talking to? Tell me now.

EVE:           Nobody, Panacea. She gave me. I can see…

VLADIMIR:      She must be some spy. I get it now. Oh Merde, alors!

EVE:           A spy? Why would you have spies? That is irrational.

VLADIMIR:      What witchcraft is this? (Grabs EVE’s arms) close your eyes, wretched girl. You ungrateful wretched girl. Everything I’ve done. For you.

EVE:           Why can’t you see him. He’s right behind you.

VLADIMIR:      I forbid you to speak. Spies trying to plot my demise. You see nothing – only what you have ever felt. You see the real me. (places EVES hands on his face)

SCENE THREE Pain

(It is the day of the concerto. EVE is led by VLADIMIR to her piano in the centre of the courtyard. It is a bright day. EVE sits down to play. EVE starts and stops. Composes herself. A collective intake of breath from a crowd. Silence. EVE looks around and then begins to play a song so painful tears stream down her face. There is the wail of cries from THE CROWD. They are being drawn into EVE’S song. The song takes on a hauntingly melancholic tone. MAN cries out from the darkness of the crowd)

MAN:      I thought you were here to light our sorrows not waddle in them

(THE CROWD murmurs in agreement. EVE continues to play. The melody grows more and more melancholic. Then furious and choppy)

MAN:      (to VLADIMIR) What’s wrong with the ole girl, Scar?  I want my heart to forgot about all my woes, little dove. Play something else. Play something else.

CROWD:    (whispers and chants over and over) play something else.

(EVE carries on Tears streaming down her face. VLADIMIR comes into the arena and whispers in EVES ear. EVE changes the tune to a more upbeat piece –one with more cheer and spirit. The crowd cheers- shadows draw closer to her like a moth to a flame. EVE bangs hard on the piano. EVE stands up. She looks to the crowd – the audience and points out at the AMERICAN MAN)

EVE:      How can you delude yourself – when last night your honest and loyal wife questioned you about your whereabouts/ You beat her. That is why she has pain around her eye. (All lights focus on AMERICAN MAN and his WIFE.   WIFE takes a hand to her battered eye to hide it.)

MAN:      What would you know about my whereabouts when you can’t even see?

EVE:      Your wife knows the truth, you should leave her to get on without you.

MAN:      You leave my business to me and you concentrate on yourself on entertaining us. Don’t need some woman thinking.

EVE:      (to WIFE) You know he’s with another. Day and night. He beats you because he knows she will never leave her husband. You don’t have to live like this. You don’t have to live with this abuse.

MAN:      (shoves  WIFE behind him) how dare you speak such lies.  You are a witch.  A temptress. An evil mark shows itself on you. You may be fair but those exotic features.

EVE:      No. the evil mark likes on you.

MAN:           You are supposed to be blind. What a charade – looks at this trickster (to THE CROWD) How would she know I am in the crowd if she has no sight?

EVE:          I’ve been cursed with sight.

THE CROWD:     (CHANTS) Gypsy! Gyspy! Gypsy

EVE:           I’m not a Gypsy! France is my home. You flock to me to forget about your vices, your impulses, your humdrum existence. I am not your remedy. I play from my heart. My heart sees what it sees.

VLADIMIR:      Eve! Enough, Sit down and play for your welcoming audience. (softer) Now.

EVE:           In my heart, I see your old man and you (she points to EUROPEAN LADY in the crowd)

You! that sparkly watch that doesn’t fit your wrist is from a day haggling at the market. Ripping off fancy men. After this show, you will sell all you have – including your flesh to escape from the world you despise.

LADY:          Trollope- we’ve heard the rumours Gypsy girl .

VLADIMIR:      My esteemed friends. – this is but part o the show. An experimental piece, if you like. Our eve here is tired. the gifted do sometimes have a bit of those head malaises, non?

EVE:           You all pour your sorrows into me-I can only play what I see and feel and this is what you will hear tonight.

VLADIMIR:      sit down (THE CROWD jeer at EVE. VLADIMIR forces EVE down into her seat.) Play. Do your job.

(EVE sits still, the light is dim, so dim and when she begins to play again she pounds at the keys with anger, cholere. EVE cackles sneers – kicks at the piano in rage)

EVE:           Damn you  – all of you!   I’m not your plaster. I’m not your cure. I am a young woman who absorbs all your pain. I want to be free. free. Go all of you.

(Silence)

VLADIMIR:      apologies friends.  You heard of her fall. The accident? she has been unwell. (EVE doesn’t look at him or the crowd – she walks out of the circle of the crowd and into the dark. A moan comes out that doesn’t sound human.  An animal sound of a cow being slaughtered. EVE stands and looks past VLADIMIR’S shoulder)

EVE:           Panacea!   You. What did you do to me?

VLADIMIR:      (carries on trying to calm the crowd) Please, apologies. She is ill. She – I will make sure you all are reimbursed for this terrible, I mean uneventful experimental performance.

EVE:           Don’t just stand there. You lied to me. You lied. What is this curse you give me? Why?

(PANACEA comes out from the shadows and walks through the crowd and past VLADIMIR and EVE and sits down at the piano and begins to play that frenetic piece of music – ‘Eve’s Essence’. VLADIMIR freezes and goespale. The CROWD quieten.)

VLADIMIR:      How?

EVE:           My song. (runs towards PANACEA) Give me back my essence-evil woman.

VLADIMIR:      (catches hold of EVE by the arm) How can you know this song?

EVE:           Now? Now you can hear what I hear. Why not what I see, your stupid fool of a man. Look! I implore thee.

VLADIMIR:      (To EVE) Enough with these games. What is it you want from? Tell me. Who corrupted you?

EVE:           That is my song. My essence. She is playing my song.

VLADIMIR:      Your song. Ha!  Who told you? Don’t make me strike out at you again.

EVE:           You know this song?  I’ve tried to remember since Panacea stole it from me. Sight she promised. A gift. A trade off. I’ve been bamboozled.

VLADIMIR:      Don’t make me turn around and march over to that damn piano and chop it up then burn it. I gave you everything. After everything I did for you – for us. This. (THE CROWD is silent. Shadows of THE CROWD draw to PANACEA playing ‘Eve’s essence’.

EVE:           I’m not doing anything. Please, Vlad. I would never hurt you.

VLADIMIR:      Who found you at the orphanage? Took you in? promised to nurture you? Who promised to take care of my blued eyed Fair haired gypsy girl?  you betray me- like this.

EVE:           Gypsy girl?

VLADIMER:      I can never forgive you. This is not the girl I knew. You are ruined.

EVE:           Vlad, (looks over at PANACEA, eyes widen) Why is that boy there?  ( to DISFIGURED BOY) come here. Stay away from her.  (to VLADIMIR) Why is that boy close to her. He is beckoning you….

VLADIMIR:      (begins to cry) You can’t do this to me.

EVE:           Do what? See with your own eyes. Don’t do this to me! Make me out to be a mad vexed woman.

(PANACEA stops playing, abruptly.)

PANACEA:       Don’t be afraid boy. (VLADIMIR jumps in fright) You can’t escape who you are. Don’t worry I can assure you I can’t see. Not even your bloodied parents anymore.

EVE            What are you? What is she talking about?

PANACEA:        You were all I had… you deserted me. And I’m evil? I didn’t choose this gifted curse. I was born with it – Just like Eve except she saw nothing

VLADIMIR:      No, you are not real. I don’t believe it. (to EVE) Stop torturing me. You are playing with me.

PANACEA:       Boy. I don’t blame you for leaving the revolution but to leave a lady to those priggish animals and steal my money.

VLADIMIR:      Shut up You evil wrench. I left you for dead. It’s impossible. That was my family’s inheritance.

EVE:           Impossible? what’s impossible? How do you know this creature? Answer me. Who is she?

VLADIMIR:      No woman in your condition could have survived – in those conditions. I refuse to /believe this.

EVE:           You know her. (PANACEA laughs)

VLADIMIR:      These are… Eve, these are extraordinary circumstances I find myself in. Stop laughing your old cow. Stop it. (PANACEA begins to play ‘Eve’s essence’)

EVE:           These are certainly not circumstances I foresaw.  If you know something about this then spit it out or damn you both to hell.

VLADIMIR:      (quietly)We never spoke of –well, I demanded that when I took you as my own we would never talk about how I found myself in that orphanage.

EVE:          You are an honourable man. Are you not?

VLADIMIR:      You were born in Romaine. The orphanage-  was both of our home’s. Few places like that are kind and they were, especially during those times. Our country was in flames. Blood everywhere. Corpses. Vile acts. There you were- abandoned.

EVE:           No.

VLADIMIR:      We survived. You were a baby. I didn’t know you were impaired. I knew what our people would do to a fair-haired Roma like yourself. We escapNo-one-one would suspect us, they said. They promised freedom, n new life. All I must do was help smuggle in weapons.  You were the only one who wasn’t frightened of me. You only saw the good in me. Your lack of sight was my rebirth- our rebirth

EVE:           Lies. Obsession with fame and my looks and glory and… I thought I was helping people.

VLADIMIR:      You are. You were… The world with eyes is a hell of its own, I tell you. Your greatest gift was to give your heart to those who so desperately needed to forget – what they see- have seen.

PANACEA:       Boy. How long are you going to drag this out? Get on with it. We shall make a man out of you yet.

EVE:           (to PANACEA) Who are you?

VLADIMIR:      (softly)My grand mere – she was – is (turns around see’s PANACEA is horrified) is… but how?

Silence

PANACEA:       No, boy. I’m not a ghost, not a witch just cursed with unusual gift of seeing the past of every filthy boar piggish human. Yes, what are the odds? I should never have been discovered but life has its twists… and magic of sorts.

VLADIMIR:      I didn’t mean to leave you.

PANACEA:       I have been waiting for the right moment. Biding my time.  Waiting to sense what kind of man you become- and Eve was truly a find.

EVE:      you can’t see, Grandmere. Only the.

PANCEA:   Past- I struck a deal with mad Bolshevik. I got more than I bargained for. The senile old man missed his wife –wanted to live in the past and I would settle for the future – we merely wanted it so much –we got what we wished for.

EVE:      What have you inflicted me with?

PANACEA:  How he adores you, loves you. You see Eve. Vladimir for all his grandiose gestures is superficial. Not the benevolent man he pretends to be.

VLADIMIR: Grand’Mere stop. I’m sorry. I was a child…

PANACEA:  (ignores VLADIMIR) The only reason people accept him is because of you. Or what you had. Beauty, innocence, the gift to soothe all pain from others with your playing.

EVE:      No, he has been there for me.

PANCEA:   If you had eyes like I now do or indeed like the rest of this crowd you would see he is a monster. A disfigurement. You were his key to this fickle world accepting him.

EVE:      What is she talking about?

VLADIMIR: Grand’Mere I was haunted by your recantations of my dead family. You terrified me. I still don’t understand this curse.

PANACEA:  Maybe you understand it a little better now – it is your curse too. Life is all about lessons and there is as lesson to be learned here. Something about appearances etcetera etcetera… but what do I know? (starts to play – THE CROWD are lured by PANACEA’S playing, under a spell)

VLADIMIR: You must restore her. Grand’Mere –she is innocent. Please.

PANACEA:   We all are at some point.

EVE:      I wanted it so much. I wanted to see. How wrong was I?

VLADIMIR: give it back. Give Eve what is rightly hers. It’s me you seek to punish

PANACEA:  (stops playing) Stop trying to fight it. You know what you really want to do.

VLADIMIR: She is an innocent

PANACEA:   Used by the likes of you, boy.

VLADIMIR: I can take care of you. I have money, estate everything. Let me make it up to you.

PANACEA:  Doesn’t work like that. I’m not some conjurer. I was merely born into this world with my fate and somehow that fate changed. I haven’t the answers.

EVE:      But I don’t want this sight. I don’t want it.

PANACEA:  Those touched can’t ever be untouched again.

VLADIMIR: But you. You see.

PANACEA:   Keep up. I saw the future. Now I see nothing. Just like Eve. I feel and I play and I have what I want.

EVE:      But if you can see the future, how is it I can see the past?

PANACEA:  Obviously, I should have taken you for a fool. I think you are missing the point. I don’t decide how the universe decides. I saw an opportunity and I took it. I’m merely human after all. (starts playing again)

(EVE and VLADIMIR look at each other)

VLADIMIR: I’m sorry Eve. I was…

EVE:      I can’t bear to live like this.

VLADIMIR: Yes. Life is…. You didn’t have to see that.

EVE:      We can’t undo this? (unwillingly moves towards PANACEA.)

VLADIMIR: I’m sorry, mon Cherie but I can’t stop myself much longer. I must forget. I must forget if only for a while.

(VLADIMIR walks up to PANACEA and strokes her hair, kisses her, then listens to her play.

EVE:      You can’t leave me. I can’t do this. Panacea please! (starts walking closer and closer to soft music) I will never forgive you but alas, I can’t fight this pain any longer. Make it go it away. (slumps at the feet of PANACEA who plays on. lights down.)

IF YOU MADE IT TO THE END. I SALUTE YOU 🙂

 

(copyright Daisy Willows/ Natasha Bodley)