March 21, 2021 § 4 Comments
The air is hot and dry, and the lichen-stained headstones are draped with clouds of slow moving pollen. Bees dip in and out doing barrel rolls. She takes photos so she can name them from the poster on the kitchen wall. The grasses and wild flowers are turning brown and the ripe seeds quietly explode. The smell too sweet. It takes her back to honey gathering time when she turned the handle of her dad’s extractor. It creaked and leaked honey and pissed the bees off for days. ‘I’m not surprised,’ she complained. ‘It’s stealing’.
She breathes in deep and wills the pain to stop hurting her head, to stop making her shout in her sleep. The dreams never wake her and she never remembers them, but he does because her sounds wake him. He sits up in bed and watches, his arms open ready to gather her.
The buzzing makes her sleepy. She sinks to her knees between two graves, and lies flat on her back, legs together, arms close to her sides. She breathes slower and slower until she forgets to breathe. She begins to feel light. Unseeable. Invisible. In a place where time doesn’t move. She can’t feel her body resting on the ground. She looks down. It’s there, it’s resting, but the eyes aren’t seeing. The grass is so long no one will see her.
So this is how it’s done. What will she say if he finds her like this? “I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to be dead,’ she’ll whisper.
His eyes will look at her steadily and his mouth will say, “And what is it like?’
‘It’s fine,’ she will answer turning her lips into a smile. ‘I like it’.
September 26, 2020 § 2 Comments
Christopher is my enemy today and his tadpoles are dying. ‘I’ve been thinking,’ he said, poking the tadpoles in the jam jar with a stick. ‘I think I’ll be a spy when I grow up’.
‘You said you were going to be an astronaut,’ I reminded him.
‘That was last week. I will be a spy. Hide round corners and shoot bad people. Be responsible. Honour my country. Could be bloody.’
I kicked him on the shin. ‘Copycat. In any case your tadpoles will die if you don’t feed them.’
‘They live on water, stupid. In any case girls can’t be spies. You’ll have babies and wash and scrub and cook all day long.
‘Oh yes they can. Who says I have to have babies?’
Christopher stuck out his bottom lip. ‘Do you really want to be a spy, then?’ He fished out a dead tadpole with his fingers and flicked it at me.
‘I hate you. I shall be an artist or a pilot and grow flowers and make perfume. In any case, tadpoles eat bacon. Shall we go and ask Mum for some?’
‘Cissy,’ he said.
‘Murderer,’ I replied.
October 18, 2016 § 17 Comments
The Goodness of Mr. Smith
Mr. Smith rolled off his wife onto his side of the bed and opened his eyes. He scowled at the hairline crack creeping across the bedroom ceiling noting it had grown another inch since last Saturday. He made a note in his head to telephone the plasterer.
Mr. Smith was waiting – waiting for Mrs. Smith to say what she always did. Then it would be his turn. Yes. Lovely, dear. Thank you. Every Saturday after the ten o’clock news and before midnight the conversation would be the same, but this time it wasn’t. Mrs. Smith had fallen fast asleep with her mouth open and was snoring. He put his usual words away and began to feel a little light headed as new, unfamiliar thoughts formed in his mind. They bubbled up into his mouth and tried to come out. Mr. Smith clamped his jaw tight shut.
Yes, said the thoughts. On balance it had been rather pleasant, although I’m glad there hadn’t been over much foreplay. It’s been a hard week at the office and I’ve got quite a headache. Of course it’s always nice to feel another skin next to mine, but as the years have gone by making love to you has become rather a chore.
The thoughts carried on, determined to come out of his mouth. Of course, the reasons are clear to me. First, you have not aged well. Your skin has grown sallow, and your flesh has become increasingly flabby. Your wonderfully pert bottom, once small and irresistible, has become large and wobbly. And then there are the wrinkles. Mr. Smith touched his lips to make sure no words were coming out, then continued.
The real problem, as I see it, is we have been married too long. Familiarity has dulled my ardour. Your body no longer excites me. Of late I have found it increasingly pleasurable to imagine a new woman in our bed when we are making love on Saturday nights.
Mr. Smith became aware of a stirring and felt a flush of heat creeping up his face. He decided he must concentrate a little harder so he stared closely at the hairy mole on Mrs. Smith’s cheek.
The thoughts were backing up in his brain and making him feel a bit jittery, so he breathed in a big noisy breath and allowed them to continue. I think it may help our love life if I were to have an extra marital affair. Of course, I would be discreet. It may perk up my interest, and also, in the long term be of benefit to you. It may encourage you to shave your excess body hair, particularly that unsightly moustache that has taken to growing on your top lip. It might even inspire you to buy some interesting underwear.
Mrs. Smith snorted rather loudly in her sleep and groaned. Mr. Smith gulped down the remaining unspoken words, and felt them return to the confines of his highly disciplined mind. As he quietly plumped up his pillows and straightened the duvet one last thought appeared. There will be plenty of other opportunities to express my desires. And after all, the last thing I’d ever want to do was upset my dear wife. He gently nudged Mrs. Smith and kissed her cheek. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Lovely dear. Thank you.’