Friday, 12 December 2008

Dragging the millstone

The stone hit with a thud and a whine. There was no movement, thereafter.
Though it was late afternoon, nobody was around the village green and no cars were driving past. Charlie acted quickly, dragging the body by the scruff of its neck away from the open lawn where it lay and soon into the bushes and soon into the trees.
He knew the hidden ways well, places where he’d hide and watch the children play. The body was surprisingly light. He looked back at it for a minute and saw blood pooling upon the crack in its head, mixing with hair and dead leaves.
When he was a safe distance from the village, he thought of leaving the carcass in the trees to rot, or for animals to feast upon. But his eyes heard the babbling of the brook and he was soon sliding down the bank with the small body trailing behind him. They made two firm splashes as they hit the water. He stopped to peer about the banks, for signs of fisherman or nosey children, but the area was as silent as any a dull day in Breckford ever was.
As he dragged downstream, the body grew heavier with water and his arm soon weakened. He eventually decided he would find a deepish pool, under overhanging branches, and weight the body down with stones.
Charlie looked down at the sad bedraggled creature he had killed. Blood mingled in tugging draughts from its head wound, matting its fur. Its pink tongue lolled from its once snarling mouth. Its tail hung pathetically and uselessly behind, like some broken rudder.
Still, it soon sank, and the stones fell slowly to crush its bones.
Charlie withdrew, up the bank, covering his pants with mud. On the shivering walk home his mind whirred with excuses, ready for the parental inquisition to come.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

A future explosion

Though he touched her and felt alive, he found himself more afraid of this girl than he had been afraid of anything, at any time in his life.
Her priapic presence was a joy to him, a real joy. He wanted to sing it to every man he met, that he was there, that he was at last in love. So long a disbeliever, he'd finally succumbed. He had found his faith; his calling.
Looking at her, as she slept, he examined what it could be that induced this terror in him, something that disturbed his slumber and worried him all day at work and then later when they ate (and he ate, but a little).
He analysed his fear, and it had always been aimed at the future. With other women, he had no such fear. The future was something unbeknownst, and he always felt that it would not contain the woman he was seeing at the time.
Now, however, the future was different, almost clearer. But it seemed to him a green field with a paradisiacal beach at the other side of it. This green field looked, at first glance, inviting; a thing to stroll across on a sunny day, arm-in-arm with one’s lover.
Stare at the scene, at the field, for a second or two, and see that it is strewn with ruptured bodies and dangerous craters caused by the eruption of once buried landmines parked, shallowly, beneath the lush and healthy exterior of the field.
This field, of his, was a trial. Everyday he would have to step carefully across it, measuring the green blades below with the progression of his feet, striving to cross with safety, without explosion.
He was scared because he now had to try and navigate this field, not alone, but tied to another who must somehow be shielded from potential carnage, underfoot.
As he lay there in bed – scratching his arm, a light sweat upon him – the bright beach seemed very, very far away.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The inevitable waters

The tide is rolling in now. I can hear it coming. I can feel it. And with each roll, my stomach turns and my knuckles go white.
I’ve never been scared of the sea before; I’ve never really thought about drowning or the creatures that lurk in its murkier depths, but it’s all I can think of now. When I come to the beach it fills me with dread.
A few days ago I had to tell Sylvie I was ill. There was no hiding it any longer; she’d done well to pretend she hadn’t noticed it in me. She looked at me for a while, right in my eyes, then welled up and asked if I was going to die. I told her that I didn’t know, that they didn’t know.
I stroked her arm, like it was her who was sick, and told her to sit down. It dawned on her this information wasn’t new, that I had likely been keeping it from her for a good while.
She asked me why I’d not mentioned this sooner, but I didn’t know what to tell her. She asked me how I’d managed to get myself to and from appointments, perhaps tests and procedures, without her help. She asked me earnestly and I just sadly shook my head.
She looked up slowly from the bed and queried with her eyes. Even more slowly, she shook her own beautiful head. Eventually, she stood up and pushed past me. I listened for her and heard the front door open and close, then the ignition of a car’s engine.
She hasn’t been home since. She must have picked Greta up and taken her too, because she never came home from school that day. I’d made ratatouille, just in case they came home. I ate what I could manage and threw the rest away.
I shan’t come to the beach much more, I think. I can’t get what I need from the water, it seems. Not anymore.
Ha! And now it seems it’s going to piss down upon me from above too. Well, if I’m not going to jump in, it’ll still drown me in the end, I suppose.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Notes left for someone to find

Calling from the hole;
The cracks beside this bed, will echo sounds lost through reams
Of scholarly failures before me,
Crying you to sleep or awakening your dreams.

And which of us will remain?
Ghosts walking among are soon to linger with kindred.
We may all be able to leave
But the house keeps a token; how large, depends on the dead.

Different now
From the moment of entry – yesterday or last year –
Change entraps time, snorkelling our memories;
Discarding flotsam, lampooning fear.

Time seems of little importance,
Life, at the time, now forgotten, along with the point of it all?
No deep truths, well, will we understand,
Here, our time is over, and soon some voice else will call.

We begin anew, elsewhere, somewhere
Separated, yet together; connected. You’ll find
You have the chance, here, now,
Not to understand your deep truths, rather the ones we leave behind.

Monday, 8 December 2008

The end of the rails

I’ve been driving the trams for years. ‘It’s a fine life,’ I always said, when people asked me. It’s not boring, like they think.
There’s a strange sort of freedom that comes with the trams. No-one understands that, when I say it to them. ‘Trams are stuck on rails,’ they say. ‘There’s nowhere to go than where you always go. A bus driver, even a train driver will need to go a different way sometimes, but you’re always on the same rails, going the same way, day after day.’
I find it hard to explain why I feel free on the trams. I can never explain my thoughts clearly when people ask after that. I tell them, sometimes, in reply, that I believe God has put before us a hundred and two different ways and means of getting through the day, every day. And if we thought, about all the different decisions we made in one single day, and where these all might have taken us, if we’d done things differently, then we might all go completely mad.
You see, these decisions, they’re taken away from me – when I’m on the rails. I only have to stop and start when either the lights or the people ringing the bell tell me to. Everything else has been decided for me. And I’m free, then. Do you see?
Found out I had some sort of chronic anaemia this year. Doctor didn’t recommend I kept working on the trams. Could be dangerous; if I got tired, you see. Could get sick from meeting so many people, too. Immune system’s buggered now, apparently.
So, the company are retiring me. Can’t get insurance for me to drive the trams, anymore. I’m into my last week on the route, this week. A couple of women brought me a card the other day; said they were very sorry to see me go, that I was the only friendly driver on the route, these days. That was nice to hear. Someone else said she had a present for me, but every morning she says she’s forgotten it and will bring it in tomorrow. She’s got so much to think about in the morning you see, so many decisions to make.
People tell me it’ll be great when I’m finished on the trams. That I’ll have so much time to relax and enjoy life; do all the things I missed out on while I was travelling the rails. But, truth be told, I don’t know what I’ll do. I don’t know what to do; what can I do?
When the rails run out, there’s only roads to travel and paths to choose. Sometimes it seems all too much, this choice, the unlimited journeys we can make. It all gets so overwhelming that I can’t think of anything else. I don’t feel free anymore and I can see the end of the rails coming up fast. All I want to do is turn around, and go back the way I came.

A century of postcards

I've made it to 100 Daily Postcards now. I like to mark things like that.

Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me and read on, especially if you've been a reader since The Daily Tale.

The year's nearly up and the stories are nearly done...