All 5 entries tagged Prose
View all 86 entries tagged Prose on Warwick Blogs | View entries tagged Prose at Technorati | There are no images tagged Prose on this blog
February 14, 2009
Hamsters and Eggs make the Best of Friends – redraft focusing on voice
Re-draft of an exercise done last term, focusing on voice rather than on the weirder elements of the original excercise. Unfortunately, I don't feel that this piece reads quite right just yet, so may have to see if I can do some additional tweaking later on.
Hamsters and Eggs make the Best of Friends
The girl knelt by the cage and peered at the fluff-ball in the corner. She rummaged through the various foods she had raided from her mother’s kitchen, where she had hauled at a chair twice her size in order to reach the cupboards. She selected a stale cheese and onion crisp, poking it through the bars at the small rodent on the other side. It was eaten. The hamster crunched it.
So, that was a success: the hamster likes crunchy food. What to try next?
She knew. She’d had to clamber right up to the highest shelf to acquire it, banging her forehead on a cupboard door in the process, but she had finally looted her mother’s supposedly secret stash of liquorice toffees.
Not so good. Apparently sweet, hard, and sticky didn’t go down so well with hamsters as with humans.
So something softer? There were some leftover hardboiled eggs from two weeks ago that she’d found at the back of the fridge. She carefully mashed the egg through the bars towards the rodent’s quivering nose. The egg was well on the way to decomposition and had become a hive of different food-poisonings, all of which were now soaking into the hamster’s system – but she didn’t know this. In the child’s mind, the link between nasty smells and getting ill was non-existent. Getting bored with the repetitive process of giving her hamster supplementary nourishment, she started to absentmindedly pick at the luxuries herself, making up restaurant games in her head, until her Mummy made her tidy up and go to bed.
The next morning she woke up early, head spinning, stomach rolling, and feeling spectacularly sick. As she tottered on unsteady little feet towards the bathroom she noticed her hamster on its back in the cage, all four paws in the air. She stuck a finger through the bars and prodded it. Stiff. Strange… why wasn’t it moving? All thoughts of the pet vanished as her own illness clamoured for attention.
Two hours later she sat on a bed in the city hospital, an IV drip snaking into her arm. Her Mummy leaned over to her.
“Lizzy, this is Doctor Conran. He doesn’t know what’s wrong with you yet, but he’s going to help you get better, okay?”
No. It was not okay. Lizzy didn’t want to be here, she wanted to be home. She didn’t want to be stuck with the doctor, he had cold hands. He prodded and poked and she didn’t like it. The man had short blondish hair and big, hazel brown eyes, with a wide and welcoming smile, but his eyes were full of quiet contempt. Lizzy stuck her tongue out at him, turning away and crossing her arms in a sulk.
The next morning Conran told them it was a viral infection; he could only treat the symptoms, not the cause: that was down to her immune system.
As soon as she heard the news, Lizzy’s attitude brightened. Finally she would be able to escape the mean man and have fun. As they left, Lizzy sighed with relief and sagged against her mother, her body tired after killing off the infection. She was glad she was going home, and secretly started plotting Barbie tea-parties in her head. She wondered if she’d be allowed to paint her bedroom pink?
In the driver’s seat, glancing back at her little girl’s dozing form, Lizzy’s mother desperately tried to remember if they had any spare shoeboxes lying around the house.
February 03, 2009
A whisper through the trees, her laughter slicing through the air.
The sound of her light steps leaping over the undergrowth and moving towards me, dead sprint.
Is there anywhere I can run? There certainly isn’t anywhere I can hide: she knows this place far better than I do.
No definite place to run, so just keep moving. Anywhere is good.
A delighted giggle and a flash of black hair, a glimpse of the taunting jaguar of a girl sliding through the trees.
I scramble up an embankment, mud burrowing under my fingernails, before taking a tumble down into the stagnant remnants of a stream that lurks on the other side. I freeze for a moment, listening for her.
No, not silence. A muffled snigger and the soft crunching squelch of leaf-mould sinking beneath the pressure of her knees. She’s right on the other side.
She’s found me.
January 28, 2009
Notes to Jilly
Notes to Jilly
You know what, Jill? Every time you come around to ask me a vaguely unsettling question you always follow up my answer with the words “Don’t worry, there’s nothing to worry about. Thanks for your help.” And you know what? That always sets alarm bells ringing. And we’re not talking little hand bells on a shop counter to get the assistant’s attention, oh no: we’re talking about standing next to Big Ben at twelve o’clock on a really quiet day. You say something like that and you know something’s wrong.
Every time you say that I can’t help but worry.
Every time you say that it means another sleepless night for me.
And every time you say that, I can’t help but fear, somehow, that it’s all my fault.
So what’s happened then? You came around to my house last night all concerned questions and “don’t worries” and then left without another word of explanation. You don’t even have your phone with you, so I couldn’t call you.
It’s Timothy again, isn’t it? It’s always Tim. I don’t think he deserves you, Jill. He always takes and takes and never gives anything back. He’s no good for you, Jill. You care for him too much.
So tell me then, what’s he done this time? Got drunk and fallen into the canal? Got high and assaulted the policeman? Been so out of his head that he’s set fire to one of the local tramps, because, after all, they make such pretty torches? Or has he tried to kill himself again?
Please, Jill, I wish you’d keep your mobile with you: I hate having to slip these notes through your door all the time. Oh, and you seriously need to get your answer machine fixed; it’s been broken for ages.
I’m really sorry, Jill. I know I exaggerated. I know Tim probably wouldn’t have done all those things I said. He’s not that bad. He’s not good, mind, but… look, I know I’m harsh on him sometimes; I just worry about you. Please give me a ring when you get this note. Thanks.
Hi, Jill. I know you’re at the hospital today, but just dropping a note to say that I think your Mum called round. At least, I think it was your Mum. I mean, it could have been someone else, I haven’t seen your Mum for years. She drove a green car.
Has somebody nicked your mobile or what?
Hi, Jill. Just wondered if you wanted to go for a drink tonight?
I’ve found my old phone if you want it. I don’t use it anymore and you’d have to delete all the numbers from my contacts list, but it works just fine.
I’ve just told my parents the news! They’ve asked if they can have permission to send round ridiculous fluffy toys in varieties of pink and blue with little hearts embroidered all over them?
You’ve left your phone behind again, you silly thing. I can hear it ringing in the hallway.
Your phone was switched off.
I heard Timmy coming in this morning. He seemed in a right bad mood; I could hear him from right across the street. Is everything alright?
You know you came round yesterday and asked if I’d seen Tim? Well, I went out clubbing with some work friends afterwards – it was the Blues House we went to – and I spotted him there in the sea of people. He was with some shifty looking bloke.
Hope everything’s ok. Please answer your phone when it rings next time.
You’re not really pregnant, are you Jill? I saw you coming home yesterday. You looked ill.
Jill, where are you? I can’t find you anywhere. There’s police here saying Timmy’s been found dead, hanging from a tree. Please, pet, where the hell are you? Your Mum’s here and she’s going frantic. The police are preparing to break the door down. Please, Jilly darling, please answer a phone or come to the door and read the note and answer it or something. Please let us know you’re alright.
Please stop delivering to this house. They won’t be needing it anymore.
If you’ve got any problems with anything then just slip a note through the red door across the street.
December 31, 2008
Debitum Naturae — "He found the corpse under a blanket".
He found the corpse under a blanket. It was his mother. It was huddled up under its bedclothes, soaked in its own urine, its gnarled hand curled around a trashy romance novel. The corpse was curled up in the bed, foetal position. His fingers rasped gently down its paper-like cheek. He wondered why it was that corpses’ skins felt like paper. Before the corpse had emerged out of the chrysalis of the frail old woman, his mother had always had soft, smooth skin. His cheek was soft; he could feel it even through the stubble.
He looked down at his feet and up at the bed; he realised he had fallen away from the touch of skin on skin and was crouched against the cheap chipboard wardrobe. He turned dully, staring in a blind haze as the ancient telephone rang and rattled on the tabletop. He took it off the hook and left it lying, and stared with a bittersweet intensity at the numbers on the little dial. His mobile started vibrating gently against his thigh and he reached inside his pocket to switch it off.
Turning slowly, he walked over to the bed and stripped the blankets back from underneath the corpse’s armpits, before walking out of the little bedroom and down the hallway into the bathroom. He put the plug into the bath and turned the cold tap on full blast, knowing that using a hot bath on a corpse would be foolish. He didn’t want it to start decomposing yet.
He went back to the bedroom that had the corpse in it. Taking the clothes off in the conventional manner would be difficult now that rigor mortis had set in, so he found some scissors and cut clean lines up from ankle to neck. He gathered up the damp strips of cloth and dumped them in the wastepaper basket before leaning over and reaching out to lift the stiff bundle of bones into his arms.
As he trudged back to the bathroom he could hear the water nearly reaching the rim of the bath. Quickly stepping into the room, he placed the corpse down on the bathmat and gave the tap a couple of clumsy twists, before dipping his hand into the chilly water and letting some of the excess water out.
Once the water had drained, he lifted the corpse again and, with some awkwardness, he lowered it into the bath. The corpse bobbed gently on the disturbed water, bumping softly against the sides, its ratty grey hair fanning out behind it. Watching it, he reached into his pocket, switched his phone on, and dialled. The corpse floated.
“Hi, Lizzy, it’s John,” he said. “Mum’s gone.”
She sat in her garden and screamed.
She screamed again.
She dug her nails into her palms and burrowed her feet into the soil, pushing up little uneven mounds of dirt.
She pushed off from the rock upon which she was sat and ran across the garden until she hit the privet hedge on the opposing side.
She sank down to the earth in a rustling of leaves and a snapping of twigs, the whispering of beetles in her ears.
Alice McLullich yelled out questions and answers and accusations.
Alice looked down at her hands and saw the marks the nails had left.
She inspected the soles of her feet and saw the scratches the stones had put there.
She curled up on her green patch of grass, shadow cast across her figure in the evening light by the twigs criss-crossing above her, and winced as she felt the pain of the wound a sharp branch had torn down her flank.
She shut her eyes and tucked her limbs into herself, using the breeze as her blanket.
Alice McLullich sobbed, but nobody heard it.