Sunday, 8 June 2008
The emptiness was loudest at nights. It took him ages to get to sleep, its thick distressed gurgles ringing incessantly in his ears. At first he’d thought it was tinnitus, but after a while he’d noticed how the sound got louder the closer he was to a wall, a radiator, a pipe. He’d taken to keeping the central heating off, even in winter. The emptiness was intolerable when it was hot, its fiery whips lashed against his flesh until it bled. One night his neighbour came home to find him lying naked in the snow outside his front door.
Everyone had told him he should move after she died, that the house they’d shared for so many years would feel too empty without her. But that was nearly ten years ago. There was no point moving now, it wouldn’t make any difference. The emptiness had started running through his veins.
Monday, 2 June 2008
The other half of the reasons why she’d left him were smaller, more discreet. Take his selfishness in bed for a start; he’d refused to try anything for his snoring, said it was a natural bodily function and he wasn’t willing to have it interfered with. Then there was his tea-making – not only did he put the milk in first, but he left the teaspoon in his cup so long that all their teaspoons were either bent, stained a hideous copper-brown or most often both. And why oh why did have to suddenly stop still every time he wanted to say something when they were walking down the street, even if it was raining? Surely even men could walk and talk at the same time? For anybody else these reasons mightn’t seem like feasible ones to want to leave someone over, but after seventeen years these originally minor annoyances had become as conspicuous and unbearable as a misplaced apostrophe.
Sunday, 1 June 2008
She didn't believe in all that star-sign airy-fairy malarky. But she’d read her magazine cover to cover bar the stars and she still had ten minutes of her journey left to kill. It was better than nothing. ‘Beware of something red, it could change your life’. Something red. Red. The bus? Not prepared to take any chances, she got off at the next stop and walked the rest of the way to work.
Now that she was late she decided to take the lift up to her floor. Even though she worked on the seventh floor she never took the lift, not after seeing that film where all those people get trapped and…hold on, why had the lift suddenly stopped? She looked at the buttons. The number seven was no longer lit. She pushed it again. Nothing. Number 6. Nothing. Any button, any floor, just to get it moving. Nothing. There was only one button left to try. She was about to push it but a sudden thought froze her finger mid-air. The emergency button was red. Images from the film flashed through her mind - the caged-in people, a sudden almighty jolt, a flash of white light, then the lift hurtling downwards into darkness.
But why on earth didn't you push the emergency button? Her boss had been furious, couldn't understand why she had stayed in the lift all morning without raising the alarm. Time-wasting, deliberate skiving, that’s what he’d called it. She’d felt too much of a fool to explain. Anyway it wouldn’t have mattered, it was just the excuse he’d needed. Someone had to go, the Credit Crunch had spoken. How could she have been so stupid? She wished she’d never read her bloody stars. Read her stars. Of course, that was it, her stars…something read.
Monday, 7 April 2008
The wardrobe was good for hide and seek and for disappearing into when I didn’t want to be found… I feel the cold metal from my tap shoes digging into my skinny legs as I crouch in the corner of the wardrobe with my eyes closed to shut out the darkness. But I stay where I am because I believe that one day the back of the wardrobe will suddenly open and lead me to a world of snow queens and talking lions and enchanted forests. A world where I can be a real Snow White, the heroine of my own fairytale. I hear my Mummy’s footsteps, followed by her voice. I know that any minute now the wardrobe door will open and I’ll have to climb back out. Back into my bedroom. My first bedroom. A room where fairies are trapped in wallpaper and can only come out at night when no one’s looking. At least they didn’t think I was. Even fairies make mistakes.
Saturday, 5 April 2008
Thursday, 3 April 2008
It was her pert buttock that started it all. He pinched it as he passed her in the club. She saw him blow her kiss as he walked towards the bar, motioning for her to join him. Her friends urged her to follow, told her he was far too fit to ignore. And well, she deserved a bit of fun after the way Andy had treated her. So she DIO’d her Bacardi Breezer and followed the trail of testosterone.
He’d insisted on walking her back to her Mum’s. On kissing her goodnight outside the front door. She thought he’d started walking back down the path as she turned the key in the lock, but suddenly there he was pushing her inside, pushing her forwards through the hallway and into the kitchen. One hand over her mouth, the other pushing her forwards. Forwards over the kitchen worktop. Darkness. The sound of a zip opening. Her arms flaying across the worktop searching for something. Help. The sponginess of the tobacco packet first, then on top something small, hard. Grab. Flick lighter. Flame to denim. Shrieks. Obscenities. Legs being slapped.
Jeans pulled down. Off.
She watched his silhouette run from the kitchen and out the front door, then stamped on his jeans until all the flames were out. Her Mum’s kitchen thick with smoke.