Category Archives: creative writing

An unoriginal tale

4f0733e811d10

My story is not a new one, it’s not original. It is the story of many women, through time, in this small place. From my grandmother’s bare floored wattle house, to my mother’s’ modest wooden two bedroom nestled between the coconut trees of Old road and then in my house, modern and picturesque still among the coconut trees, still touched by sweet sea breezes. It’s not a unique story.

I saw my mother give her life to a man, my father. A man who managed to be absent even in his presence. Stoic, unapproachable and rough.

I watched my mother wilt, from vibrancy to defeat. Her eyes grew sunken and sullen, the light of youthful exuberance gone even before she was properly forty. I saw her smile become a rare thing sometimes sliding off her face to be replaced by a look of miserable resignation when she heard heavy construction boots on the gallery in the afternoon, or the pitter patter and laughter of the little feet of his other children. The ones he had charged her with raising. I saw her skin take on a pallid waxy tone as if life itself was sucked from her bones by this ogre, who only spoke to command or criticize.

I never saw softness pass between them. In fact, what little of them in private I gleaned, was heavy breathing, grunting and then sobs punctuated by snoring heard through the thin wooden walls when I was supposed to be asleep. It was the way of things, and so I tried to accept that this was the way for me.

Until that day. The day I heard a stranger’s impassioned moans from my bedroom. Standing in the hallway, gazing into the mirror, looking at skin beginning to turn that pallid cast, and eyes and lip that had forgotten how to smile. I touched that face with hands ten years older than the rest of me. I was looking at my mother, as her cries echoed with the rhythm of loving that I could never remember being so inflamed by. A testament to pure pleasure I’m not sure I knew how to relate to. On my sheets. My scent was still on those sheets, his scent was still on me!

She cried and his voice joined hers in release. On my sheets! In my Bed! In this house meant to be our home!

“I love you.” His spent murmur. Word I had forgotten he could say.

While my mind played a myriad of memories. That used condom under the sofa, the lipstick on his collar, the smell of cheap perfume and smoke. The indifferent looks. The pregnant silences. The hunger for him to just touch my skin. The feel of my cold bed at 2 am, hoping and dreading that this would be the night he wouldn’t come home. I had not known, as I watched my mother that anyone could be so humiliated with an audience of only herself.

No, my story is not unique in it’s beginning, and in it’s end I traded one type of incarceration for another. This one is a choice and not a legacy, and perhaps the best cautionary tale I could give my daughter.

Resolutions

 

Everybody talks about a new world in the morning

The bartender leaves another bottle of beer, this is my 12th one I think. I lost count, but my head is buzzing and as long as I keep my thoughts away from the bad things, a smile tugs easily at my lips.

It’s easy to smile at the happy groups of festive people, out and about. Chatting and drinking, watching the John-bull frolic in the heritage square. How they squeal as the dancers approach them, laughing in their faked fight. I remember…no, I don’t want to remember.

“New world in the morning so they saaaaaaaaaaayyyy”

The DJ announces that it’s almost that time and everyone huddles in the cramped space of the bar. A man fights to the stool beside me, but not for himself, he props a woman up on it. She places her hand on her distended belly and beams up at him. Why does that ache so much?

Maybe something stronger. I raise my hand to the summon the bar man and a huge warm weight settles on my shoulder. It’s a friend, smiling brightly if a little lop sided, wishing me a happy new year and a blessed night. It will after all be better tomorrow, a new year, new possibilities, new us. I smile back and nod. Make that stronger thing a double.

“I myself don’t talk about a new world in the morning.”

…9,8…everybody makes resolutions, that make them feel all hopeful. Useless, I take a swig…7,6…it’s all going to be same tomorrow. The same sun will rise and the same breeze will blow. The same crooks will be in office and the same old walls will greet us…5,4…the same old limitations, the same endless scramble to survive, the same enemies dressed in masks we love. The same old shit that sends us out on Old Years night to drink alone and try not to remember the…3,2…the things that made us this bitter. 1!!!!!!!!!!!

New world in the morning that’s today.

Nobody noticed my cackling in their celebration. I was bitter. I had known it before I sat at this bar, but it mingled with the memories and stung worse than the cheap cane rum. No amount of pretty wishes made at midnight would make the morning glare any less painful.

Another warn hand, this one smaller. Joined by another the circle my shoulders and someone almost half my size makes my whole body feel warm. I can’t look at her, I failed her, yet another year. Another new years, another set of wishes I wouldn’t be able to fulfill. the stool swiveled. Seated I was eye to eye with her five foot nothing.

And warm brown eye melted away something I wasn’t sure I wanted to let go. Something that said I didn’t deserve the shelter of her arms, the warmth of her smile, to be accepted by her. Everybody else knows it. Why didn’t she?

“Let’s go home.”

I wasn’t going to be a new world in the morning. But I had a new determination to earn her.

 

Home again

waiting-in-rain

I can see people bustling inside as I approach the house. I know that mommy is making bakes, and that the whole house smells delicious. Life, just up that walk, something that isn’t there in a cold stark dorm, abandoned by it’s residents for places like this. With lights on a tree, clearly visible through windows that glow invitingly.

Maybe it was that thought that had me back here, wrapped in nostalgia. Everyone else had a family, or a friend with one. I was a fringe dweller even among my closest, not close enough to be family. So why not go home, to my home and family.

I take a step and as I do I hear the clash of angry voices, then the wailing. My Mother, my aunt. I see my father’s slumped shoulders pass in front of the window. My sister bolts out and slams the door. Her eye is black. It all comes back. The contempt, the venom, the discomfort and the seething hate. The pall over everyone, the fear. This isn’t home.

I turn tail, back to the train station, and buy a ticked anywhere the next train is heading. Maybe there will feel like home.

The speech

In response to photo-fiction 64

By Professor Atkins, children’s author.

ca9ceed0ee3a689d927ea287da46a8f0

It was a castle, with a mote full of baby dragons. The kind that have to swim because their wings haven’t grown in yet. It was placed there by the old ones. The magical people, who once ruled the forest. They were majestic people, but they had to leave this world, they retreated into the veil, the place just beyond this world, and if we were good enough, quiet, brave and pure of heart, we would see them flutter through the trees. We played hide and seek with them for hours, we never found them, but we knew they were there.

On cloudy days though, the Motler would come. A dark presence that made the world cold and foreboding. An invisible force that we only heard, as it rustled past us. The Motler couldn’t pass the mote, because the old ones had spelled the castle so that they couldn’t touch us when we were inside. It was a good place for two 12 year-olds to hide.

Somewhere in high school the mote dried up, and the dragons grew up, and in many ways so did we. We came less frequently, and forgot the Motler. We thought to be too grown to dream, I guess. Until one day, we were just wondering, I can’t even remember what it was that happened that sent us back to the forest. Must have been something pretty bad. But I can’t remember.

I just remember us sitting on the old seats, amazed they were still in tact. Then slipping back into that world, that space, that happy. Like it had been just a minute and we weren’t just about the finish college. I don’t remember the sadness, just the old castle, and the dreams it inspired.

 

Whiskey Voices

In response to photo-fiction 56. This honestly isn’t what I set our to write, but this is what came first, maybe I’ll do another after catching some ZZZ

69-story

Her whiskey voice was strained now. Sounding like the rustle of dry leaves and pain. But she had summoned me here and as much as it pained me to listen, I would. She handed me an envelope and held my hand before I could open it.

“My mamma told me one lie in my life.”her voice rasping from her chest around the tubes that gave her breath. “She told me I would be fine, when she sent me off to live with the Hawthorns. But she knew what was to come of me there. She knew that even though Mrs Hawthorn said it wouldn’t hurt when her husband came, that she was lying. Because the mister liked the hurting and the bleeding and the swelling and the tears. My mamma knew, that when me belly started rounding and my chest, not yet breasts started to ache, they would call the doctor. If you could call him a doctor. He was a dirty old man, with a rusty knife and a folding table.”

Couching quaked her body and blood spattered her pillow but she struggled on. “When it happened the second time, I ran. 13 years old and half dead, I ran, to keep you baby.” she cupped my face, and her watery eyes leaked. “I ran for you baby, and until now we been running and he ain’t never found us.” She coughed, and laughed and cried her way into the hear after, still cupping my cheek.

I opened the envelope 6 days after her funeral, I remember it was raining. A letter and a picture of my mother at 14. I read the letter, my daddy Mr. R. Hawthorn was dead, and to his daughter, his only remaining kin, his estate and his plea for forgiveness.