Archive for July, 2012

A rabbit, running through its meadow, is shot by them and dies in that instant, falling to its side, front feet crossed as if in prayer. They wait, watching for its soul to rise, or for its resurrection, or for someone or something to come and eat it. Nothing more happens. They shoot it again. Nothing happens again. Stage one is inconclusive.

They buy a rabbit made of stone and place it in a room with a live rabbit, caught not far from the meadow of the shooting. They make comparisons; try to understand why one might be preferred over the other. Both rabbits adapt quickly to the new environment, especially the stone one. That, for them, is merely a side note. At one point, 00:14:53.271, the live rabbit imitates the posture of the stone rabbit, but the moment does not last. They make frantic asterisks, await the same occurrence to repeat, but it does not. They keep the stone rabbit and release the live one. They shoot the stone rabbit. Stage two is inconclusive.

They buy another stone rabbit. They place it on a balcony – a sort of outside place which is attached to the inside of a dwelling. The humans seem particularly fond of these spaces, sacred realms perhaps. They leave the stone rabbit alone; they do not even watch it.

They spend the next week slaughtering the entire human population of one island attempting, perhaps, to establish that curious emotion which has, so far, evaded them. It does not come. They feel only sadness, as is their manner.

They return to the stone rabbit before departure to find a little green shoot has grown through a crack in the balcony floor, defiant and bright. They rejoice a while, they dance, they feel a brief joy again, but they cannot understand it. They question the stone rabbit, receive no answers. Stage three is inconclusive.

Later, however, they decide against a global invasion and return instead to their homes.

Words: 330

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Lying on the bed looking up at the sky I think of flight. The clouds are wispy and moving fast like sped up film. There’s one that could be the ghost of the white rabbit: in ever such a hurry to get to who knows where and for what pointless purpose? It’s summer and the swallows are on wing. Their aerodynamic exhilaration is mesmerising. I admire the smooth, confident calligraphy of their swooping circles and figure of eights, so unlike the absent minded scratchy doodles on my notebook by the phone. Bloody call centres.

“What a complete and utter unmitigated fiasco, eh puss?”

The cat, curled up and dreaming at my feet, mutters as if to reply or complain. Her interest in things that fly has long since waned. I resolve to try phoning again for the ticket refund. But not now.

“Well, it’s an ill wind. That’s your annual trip to the cattery cancelled.”
Amelia stretches out her front legs as far as she can and releases an extended, almost musical purr like a happy sleepy sigh. There’s a smugness in cats at times like this. ‘Why would you want to go on holiday anyway?’

I imagine myself on a long haul flight, peering out through the tiny window at the clouds alongside. The sky above my window still looks as blue and warm as the Andaman Sea, or maybe even an Anglesey rock pool…

The swallows are still figure skating through the air tracing the outlines of invisible infinity symbols. They are like planes in a holding pattern awaiting a landing slot, but they never land.

Words: 270

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I like coming this way. The motorway doesn’t really show you where you are; this way you can see what you’ve passed and what’s coming. The motorway’s a blur and the cars overtaking make my windows rattle.

I stop at the last services before the bright red soil towers either side of the road, looking like a strange new country. I eat in the car, our customary packed lunch: egg mashed with salad cream on white bread, hula hoops, a flask of coffee and then jelly babies; always need sweets for a long journey. When you were driving I used to unwrap Foxes Fruits for you to suck between pursed lips.

At the crest of a familiar hill, blue soars up through the haze of sunshine below. “I can see the se-ea”. I was always the first to sing that, whether I could see it, or whether it was just the sky being extra bright. Either way, it means we’re nearly there.

And then I am. Clicking the handbrake on I stretch my arms over my head, brushing my hands along the fuzzy ceiling. I notice the pale orange gate and two milk bottles by the front door.

Winter mornings, we’d run to see if the milk had frozen, a column of white ice bursting above the rim. Youngest, smallest, and more interested in my breakfast, I wasn’t often first to the door to see the overnight magic, but it amazed us all every time.

Listening to music far too loud now the engine’s stopped, I have more jelly babies: black, red, red, green and orange together. I don’t want to ring the doorbell because it won’t be your pastel outline obscured through the glass as you fiddle, clattering the safety chain. I start walking, past the flaking orange paint, away from the empty milk bottles. Eventually I’m at the top of a familiar hill, and I can see the sea.

Words: 326

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“Stop, stop the car. I feel sick.”

“Will someone open a window for her?”

Is it hot in here? Do you always drive like that? Put that cigarette out, I can’t breath. Don’t look at me like that. Like I’m some kind of animal.

You are an animal.

No you are. Road hog!

Who do you think you are?

Seriously I feel really ill. The walls are closing in. Everything’s going blurry. My life is flashing before me. I’m dehydrated. I’m burning up. I think I’m going to faint. And you don’t even care. Sitting there all smug behind the wheel of your precious little car. Without even a thought for me, and the fact that I might be dying.

Why don’t you just give it a rest? This happens every time we go out.

“Well I’m sorry for getting a little travel sick.”

But we live in a car! Or had you forgotten amongst your incessant complaining?

“Look. I didn’t ask to be put here with you.”

Yeah and neither did I.

“In that case we should try and get on.”

You are impossible to get on with. Everyone thinks you’re so sweet and kind and fluffy, with your rosy cheeks and silly smile. It makes me sick. But no one knows what you are really like. I can see you for what you really are.

Oh yeah and what would that be?

A big ball of hot air; an over-dramatic dashboard hogger. Need I go on?

Fine then, I’ll leave. You’ll never see me again. Banished from the dashboard, thrown out in the cold, no money, no food, nowhere to go. Laid up in a random car boot sale somewhere. Priced at 10p, because that’s all I’m worth; because that’s all you think I’m worth.

“See, there you go again.”

Whatever. Now move up and stop crowding me.

Words: 310

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“God I’d forgotten how hot it gets here.” I said as we sat on the open, top deck of the sightseeing bus.

“You’ve been here before?” Ed asked
“Yeah I came here five years ago with the girls; and I had to come back, it’s on my bucket list.”
“So why ask me and not the girls?”
I gave a knowing smile.

“Because you’re on my bucket list too.”
Ed looked puzzled.

“How you mean?”
“How d’ya think?” I mocked.

I’d been in love with Ed since our first lecture at uni; he was eighteen and all teenage-angsty, I was older and less so. He thought of me as an older sister, I thought of him constantly. Years had passed since then; they had been kind to Ed, he still looked young and sparkling, I looked older and less so.

“So what else is on this bucket list of yours?” Ed asked as we lay in bed three days later.
“Errm, nothing now; I’ve done it all.”
“Really? You’ve done it ALL?!” Ed laughed.
“Well I’ve done my ALL!”

And I had. In four years and twenty-seven days time I would have been forty; and years ago, before I’d heard the term ‘bucket list’ I had my list of ‘things to do before I’m forty’, they were:

Get a tattoo
Learn to Tango
Go back to Barcelona
Shag Ed Linley

“So there’s nothing else you want to do in life?” Ed asked as he pulled on his Bolton shirt.
“Nope; I can die happy.”

But then it struck me; I’d forgotten something!

“Crap, get married in Vegas; that’s on the list! Can we go and get married?” I pleaded.

Ed laughed.
“Don’t be daft!”

“Please, it’s on my list of things to do before I die, and three months ago the doctors told me I had three months left, so it’s probably only days now; please, please can we go to Vegas and get married?”

Words 325

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It was January. What trees saw fit to inhabit the the industrial estate were blackened from a heavy winter; branches raw and rotten from a cold and unforgiving season. They hung silently in the frozen air as, beyond the chain fence surrounding the compound, dark hulls of cargo ships slept uneasily in the rotting port waters.

He prized away her photograph with a butter knife, careful not to tear at her perfect image. It was lonely work and he needed some company; even the teenagers had enough sense to stay out of the cold. He slipped the yellow photograph into the breast pocket of his coat before reaching across the desk for his torch.

He called her Phillipa and she had called out to him; the only vision in that tattered book of stern Victorian nobility. She had deserved better than the company of those sour men and their twisted values. He patted his top pocket reassuredly as his thick boots scraped across the cracks of familiar concrete.

It was February and the weather had grown crueler. He huddled in the chair of his cold shed, enchanted by the photograph he had propped up against the spine of that old album.

She became more beautiful every day, he could swear it. Her smile had become wider and her cheeks glowed through the monochrome. He took her home and she watched over his dreams as he slept.

It was March and the chain fence beyond the shed rattled in the frozen air. His shock knocked the desk, spilling its contents across the floor. He swore, reached for his torch and stepped out into the cold.

On the floor of the shed, the photo album had fallen open. A dozen angry faces stared up from its yellow pages, their sour expressions distorted with rage and pain. Skinny arms and dirty fingernails reached out from their thin bodies towards the camera.

He was not the only man in love with Phillipa.

Words: 330

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