Tag Archives: creative writing

Dinnertime

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Showered and fragranced, she slips into well-chosen clothes; clothes with the perfect mix of sexy and casual, as if it’s only by chance that she looks that way. She smoothes down her hair and applies the right amount of make-up – not too much; she doesn’t want her look to appear contrived. She checks in the mirror, and sees the reflection of a naturally alluring woman with a lovely figure. Her disguise is perfect. She leaves the house, and walks slowly down the road, with the merest suggestion of a wiggle, a carefully designed expression of uncretainty on her face.

She catches the eye of every man she passes. They look interested, but always, something startles them, and they recoil in horror, before making a wide berth – sometimes even crossing the road to avoid walking past her. She’s getting hungry; it’s been days since she’s managed to lure anybody back to her lair.

Presently, clouds cover the sun. Shadows fade. She spots a meaty giant of a man walking her way. He sees her lost-little-girl look, and pauses to ask her if she is OK. She gives him her well-worn story about only having moved into the area the previous day, and not being able to remember her way home; it always works. He asks for her address, and offers to walk her there.

Her sensitive nose picks out aftershave, lemon soap, coffee, fresh bread, ham, the ingredients of coleslaw, an encouraging tang of lust, and knows she’ll have no trouble. Beneath those ugly scents is the delicious perfume of blood type A, rhesus positive; her favorite flavour.

She sighs in anticipation of her feast.

Written for Michelle’s Photo-Fiction Challenge

©Jane Paterson Basil

Empty threats

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In the UK anyone who owns a TV, or watches TV programmes on a computer, must, by law, have a TV licence, which costs £147 a year. I just looked it up on Google – as I have no TV, I don’t need to know how much it costs. The licencing fee pays for our non commercial channel, the BBC.As there are so many TV channels these days, some people probably never watch the BBC, but they still have to have a licence.

I haved lived at my current address since May 11th, 20th 2015. I received my first threatening letter from the TV licencing company a few weeks after I moved in. It began by warning me that I could be fined some ridiculous amount of money if I didn’t get a TV licence. It told me how much a TV licence cost. Somewhere at the bottom it said that if I didn’t need a licence should go to their website and tell them – but then it said that they may come and check p on me anyway.

I didn’t feel like telling them I didn’t need a licence if they weren’t neccesarily going to believe me, so I ignored the letter.

A few weeks later I got another, slightly more threatening one, which also had the smallprint telling me to let them know if I didn’t need a licence, and that they may check up to see that I wasn’t lying.

I ignored it.

They sent another, and another. Each one was more threatening than the last. They were going to bring round the heavies and look for a TV, they were going to take me to court for non-payment… non payment of what? Why should they assume I have a TV? The vehicle licencing people never accuse me of having a car. What gives the TV licencing people the right?

I don’t like uncalled-for threats, and I don’t like the suggestion that I may be a liar, before I’ve even opened my mouth.

I ignored all the idle threats.

They didn’t visit me. I have a feeling that they wouldn’t be allowed to enter the building if they tried. Neither did they take me to court. It would have been difficult for them to do so, as they don’t even know who I am. The letters are always addressed to  “The addressee”, or some such nonsense.

Having used up all of their tactics to no avail, they then started right back at the beginning, with a repeat of their very first threatening letter to me, and now they’re systematically the whole rigmarole all over again.

The whole thing has made me quite cranky – in the American way (bad-tempered or irritable), but it’s given me a great idea.

A lot of the art in the famous Tate Modern art gallery is considered by many to be pretty cranky – in the British way (eccentric or strange), and some of the work submitted for the Annual Turner Prize is no exception – Tracey Emin’s ‘unmade bed’ being a famous, and controversial example.

I’d like to submit an arwork to the Turner Prize contest. I need an old TV which has had its guts ripped out. I couldn’t use a functional one, as I’d need a TV licence for that. I’ll tear up all of the many letters I’ve received from the TV licencing company, and artistically paste them on the TV sceen, making sure that the visitors and judges get the gist of what is written on them. My entry will be titled “Slapstick TV.”

I think it could be a winner.

The Daily Post #Cranky

©Jane Paterson Basil

Unravelled

You pursued me, pretended to love me, when all you wanted was control.

The day you met my kids in that cafe, you encouraged them to misbehave – made believe it was a harmless game. You played like a fun guy to make them like you, but you were a fungus of the most poisonous kind, killing my mind.

Your behaviour changed on the day you moved into my place, taking control of every corner of my life. You held the money and you chose my clothes. Soon I was clad in ugly rags. You bought the food, yet said we had no money for my children’s shoes.

When I wanted to stop eating meat, you bought half a pig.

When I planned to give up chocolate, you showered me with the goo. You even bought me a man’s tee shirt that said “Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians”. How could I possibly have worn that?

You bought me another that was steeped in chocolate fragrance.

You asked me what was my favourite fragrance, bought it for another woman and made sure I saw it. You wanted me to think it wass for me, and I did, giving you the opportunity to tell me it was for Kaye.

You had fun with that nasty little game, and Kaye always played along. I was meant to see the expression on your face when you spotted her in the street, and you both intended to make me feel humiliated as you flirted with each other.

I saw Kaye try to play the same tricks with other men while their wives were present, but none of them played along.

You made me sell my house, and we moved. You adult son came to live with us, and the two of you made it clear that me and my children had no rights. You ganged up on us, making the most unreasonable rules. We were there for over a year before I discovered that my name was not on the deeds. You had stolen the home that I paid for. Meanwhile your son was stealing money, and you were blaming my oldest child. I laid a trap, and proved it was him. When I spoke to you about it, you stammered, looked lost, and then became angry.

“What abot Sarah,” you yelled, “she left her bag in the hall when she came home from school.”

That was one of the rules; my girls were not to leave their bags in the hall even for a moment. Sarah had gone to the bathroom before putting her bag away.

You fathered my two youngest children, and used them as a weapon against me, spoiling them and bullting them in turns, being deliberately inconsistant, making empty threats so that they ended up confused and warped by you.

You made me feel ugly and unappealing. I did my best to please you, but that only made it worse. Other men found me attractive, and even tried to steal me from you. At least three of them went to great lengths, but ai came to the conclusion that they were all crazy – why would they want someone as disgusting as me?

I shut myself off from friends as you humiliated me whenever there was an audience. If anyone came to dinner you would push you plate away, saying the food I’d carefully cooked looked too horrible to eat.

If I made an effort to look nice, you’d glance at me then turn away, as if my repulsiveness made your eyes hurt. The more I tried to please you, the worse you became. I could tell a thousand stories of your dirty antics, but I’m bored with talking about it.

You denied your warped psychology – tried to make me believe I was paranoid, and it worked. For a long time I felt too pathetic to leave you. You made me think I was too useless to survive on my own. It was only after I finally got away that I found out the worst of your crimes.

I must have been blind not to have seenwhat you were. The clues were there every time we walked down the street.

You should have gone to prison; for a while, that was what I wanted, but it was not my choice to make. When the secret reached the ears of the man who broke your ribs in revenge for what you did, you thought his sin was greater than yours, which goes to show just how sick you are.

You tried to unravel me, and for a while it looked as if you had, but I survived, and now I understand, it was you who was unravelled. My mother once said you were inadequate, looking sad as she spoke those words. She was a kind woman. I wonder if she knew what an understatement she’d made.

The Daily Post #Unravel

©Jane Paterson Basil

Circle

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See my feet?

Imagine them being at the centre of a circle two meters in diameter.

Intimate friends and family and may stand toe-to-toe with me, within the ring. They may reach for my hand, put an arm round my shoulder, and in greeting or for comfort, give me a hug.

Those in need are also welcomed in, if my presence may help.

Aquaintances and associates may place their heels several centimetres within the line, but not come too close without my willing agreement. Fake affection is not permitted.

Those who would do harm to me, my loved ones or even an innocent stranger, must stay away from my territory, lest I invade theirs with my tapping fingers.

Written for The Daily Post #Territory

©Jane Paterson Basil

How high is the fridge

 

I was with my friend, Elaine, this afternoon, when my son rang me to tell me about an achievement. He had some free time on his hands, as his girlfriend, who likes to be called Krusti, (though she’s not crusty) wasn’t around. Mid-sentence, he suddely started making “Ugh! Errr! Yuck! What the…” noises. I asked him what was wrong, and he shouted:

“The cat’s done a crap on the fridge. What’s going on? Why would she do a thing like that? It’s horrible. It’s a classic cat-shit – you know, the kind that can’t be anything but cat shit. I’ve got to go now. I have question her about it. She’s got some explaining to do.” (He has a close relationship with his cat, and thinks he may have been a cat in a previous life, so he was probably serious.)

He came out with a few shock-horror expletives, then tried to excuse her by saying that maybe she’d been unable to get outside in time. He repeated that he was going to find Rusty and interrogate her about it, and put the phone down.

Roaring with laughter, and with tears in my eyes, I told Elaine what had happened. My explanation went something like this:

“(Ho ho hee hee), Rusty (gaffaw), Rusty’s done a (hahahahaha) crap on the fridge, and Paul has gone off to (roar, choke, cough) question her. I expect he’ll try to make her clear it up.”

Elaine looked at me stonily. “I don’t think that’s funny,” she said.

I carried on laughing, at the same time trying to remember Paul’s exact words, so that she’d share the joke. I mentioned that he thought Rusty may not have been able to get outside.

Now she looked puzzled.“Jane. It’s not funny… how high is the fridge?”

I’d never seen Elaine so po-faced. She usually laughs at the things I find funny. Being too slow to come up with “Dunno, but it smells pretty high right now,” I stood up, and held the side of my forefinger against my forehead.

“How did she get up there?” she asked.

I explained. “There’s a window beside the fridge. She’d have jumped onto the sill, and then onto the fridge. She often gets up there.”

“What?” She shook her head as if to loosen the dust of disbelief. “Has she ever done anything like that before?”

I couldn’t understand why she was so upset by my hilarity.

“No, she’s usually very clean, apart from all the hairs on the carpet. She’s long-haired, so it’s a bit of a nightmare hoovering up after her.”

“What?” she said again, but she must have decided to gloss over the hair issue, since she added “Why would Krusti crap on the fridge? Is she mad?”

That finished me. It took a while to splutter out the words “not… Krusti… Rusty…. the cat.”

Finally she saw the funny side, but by then, I almost needed medical attention, and by the time she’d stopped laughing at the misunderstanding, so did she.

You may call me squeamish, but in the interests of good taste, I chose to forego an image for this post. 😉 🙂 😀

©Jane Paterson Basil

Maps

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We all have our own, personalised maps, which we carry in our heads. Red and green roads leading to doctor, family or shops may stand out from the rest, these destinations painted in gold, grey and red, radiating from the place where we live. As we age, the world moves on in jagged stages, and the trails may change.

Addicts have maps, too. Ten years ago, two of my children displayed theirs, waving them in my face, their ash-stained digits tracing narrow, blackened tracks for me, gazing with sinking-unblinking-blinkered-blinded-pinprick-pupilled eyes, eyes which failed to see their fall, or the festering fissure that yawned each time they entered my chest.

The creases of the pocked pages of their maps made a smudged and faded cross in the middle of the paper, and that cross marked the spot that gave me unlikely hope. It was the abode of E.

Like many, E. had his sad history. As an illiterate kid, he’d assumed that when he grew, his feet would fit into his father’s shoes. His father would teach him the specialised trade that he practiced, and the people in his little world would gaze in awe. He would be made; in his own eyes, he would be an idol, like his dad was to him. While he was still in his teens, his father died, leaving E. helplessly clinging to the scarred fingers of his suffering, sole surviving parent, as he swung one inch above an open hole.

His own hands, slick with sweat and tears, slipped, and he fell, readily descending into the well of addiction. When my children met him, he was in the depths of that hellish pit, eating needles and rocks, and beginning to think there may be better nutrition at the surface.

E. spoke to them, and later, to me, of recovery. Though they weren’t yet ready for the pain of healing, he had planted seeds in their brains. Later still, I met him on a hill. He was clean, and he said it had been easy. He’d put on weight, and got a dog, a black whippet, to keep him company. From then on, whatever shape he may be, when I sighted his canine friend, I knew he’d be nearby.

For a long while, my children danced in the dark, down where hollowed-out passages lead them to their punctured desires.

Meanwhile, E. looked down, nostalgic for the closest thing to comfort he could recall. This time, he jived to his decline, ignoring the facts of it, chasing the cackling witch of addiction, tasting her many flavours, licking his lips, greedy for the next tickle in his nose, the next explosion of the brain. Speed, cocaine and spice; banned drugs and legal highs of of every kind, while he told himself:

“At least it isn’t heroin.”

As my children slowly rose, raggedly climbing over craggy stones and sly shale, sliding, then climbing again, they met E. several times, going down.

I watched my two, and I reached, while they were yet out of reach, until I saw they were scarring my heart, and in doing so, tearing their own souls. So I stood back, crying, “Here I am. Find me in your own time. Come to me when you hunger for love and not for drugs. Come to me, not for money, or to sully my truth, but free from the uncouth devil that charms you, holds you in her sticky arms. Come, let me to stroke your sore feet.Feel my warm hands on your face. Come to me for a smile or an embrace.”

Their sinking-unblinking-blinkered-blinded-pinprick-pupilled eyes gazed, glazed. Agonised requests stuttered from across the caked terrain. They begged for sharp things, for painkilling murder in the veins. They begged for death, diluted in the blood.

Every time I saw E., he would look at me, eager, shifty, from the edge of the abyss, his arms  battling with Saint Vitus dance – but losing, his loose, drooling lips speaking through frowsy, chemical haze “I am clean, Jane, see, I am clean.”

My children peruse the bright, speckled lanes, marking out new trails on their maps. Laura, thrilled with her pristine plan, takes me on brief excursions down spingtime highways, pointing out primroses, softly smiling, soaking in sunshine, her lovely eyes holding mine, as they silently describe love, regret, compassion, and hope.

Paul knows that if he shows me a roadmap, I’ll suspect it’s stolen, so he keeps it folded, and stays away from my desgner rage, designed to keep the wolf at bay. This could be a good sign, but I shall not waver from my decision to stay distant until I feel safe.

Today, I got a text from Laura. “Hi mum. U want to come ova? xxx” My reply was followed by “How about 5 o’clock. Love u lots. xxx”

I looked into the cavernous hole below. Neither of my children did I see, just a man with a black dog; a whippet. I didn’t immediately recognise the guy; he’d lost weight, but I knew the dog immediately.

I went into my kitchen to make coffee. From my window, I could see E. waiting in the rain, waiting impatiently, pacing, waiting at the bottom of that yawning cave, waiting, waiting, for his dealer who lives in a flat – marked with X in the rusty colour of old blood, on E.’s crumpled map – a block away from me.

Beneath gratitude for the new hope given to me, I feel sorrow and pity for E.,who planted the seeds of recovery in my offsprings’ heads, so long ago, when even the echoes of my own laughter had become a distant longing. I watched him on the incline, climbing so much faster than those tied to my womb, and I saw him topple and tumble back into the pit. I saw him crumble beneath the weight of hollow air. I felt the void that his father wrote, with ink that wasn’t there,  his dead fist limp in the grave, unable to grip a pen that wasn’t anywhere.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Out there (Stream of Conciousness)

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In the enclosure below, white buses wait for children playing soldiers, intending to defend a country that doesn’t know where it’s going. Behind red brick and jagged wire, Army green shreds of a greedy empire cling, ragged, to their skin. Sergeants scream at lagging lads, as the keen stand to attention, toy guns polished and ready for the killing game, never questioning that they are on the right side. Whatever the cause, they will blunt their bloodied swords and raise the tainted flag of false victory, as the foe breathes his final breath, to find the only peace he will ever know, in death. Yes, they will say they have killed the beast, yet our fear will continue to fester, until we learn to live together.

Along the road, cars drive by, intent on many urgent or indifferent missions, while buses carry harried housewives home with their cache of nutritious food; but I am forgetting – those days have receded into history. The women are working, or fearfully trailing, to the Jobcentre to be sanctioned for something they didn’t understand, wondering how they will buy bread next week, knowing they may have to join what they see as the queue of shame for a free food handout. These days, the buses drag students to and from uncertain lessons in subjects they don’t want to learn, and can’t, because the courses are substandard, except for the fortunate few, who have up-to-date tutors and superior curricula.

Meanwhile, in a city we used to call The Smoke, due to the smog that hung over it, parliament buildings rumble with government people who shoulder the true blame, yet walk without shame. They jumble justice and shuffle the cards; each card bearing the name of an unwilling servant whose choice has been stolen by corrupt officers with too many ticks in too many boxes, pencilled in by people who thought only to make their own lives richer, but didn’t think to look for the truth behind the lies. Too late to take back the mistake they made, their spirits turn to sludge as they trudge though Satan’s paperwork, getting tripped at every step.

Outside, rain dulls the senses, though the day is brightened by a fading line of bright sky on the horizon. Through dripping windows I watch the traffic lights go by, to sweep around the roundabout nearby.

Suddenly I catch sight of the golden glow on the central island, and I wonder how, or why, it passed me by. My eyes are awash with yellow narcissi, trumpeting silently, promising that Spring will come, as it always does.

I feel shame; it is the daffodils, and not me, which have become the change I want to see.

I let the feeling trickle through me, feed me, maybe improve me.

The rain ceases, the sun shows its face, painting the sky blue again, making the trees glisten with drops of nature’s liquid saviour.

The world turns at its usual speed, and even with our destructive nature, we are tiny, and we cannot slow it. We can kill the deer, and ourselves, but the planet will endure until infinite space holds up its hand.

But that is not enough for the deer,  or for you and me.

Image: The least attractive  portion of the view from my window, showing the army cadet building on the right, with the white buses below, and the daffodils on the traffic island behind.In summer the trees cover a lot af the scene, leading the eye toward green hills on the horizon.

©Jane Paterson Basil