Monday, 10 December 2018

Round 50.

50.


Edward’s daughter has an apartment across the river in the south part of the city.

The apartment has three floors and four rooms all grouped around a spiral staircase.

The staircase is made of metal and the wooden step on the first floor rattles when you step on it.

So Edward doesn’t.

He has slept the night on the couch downstairs and now is heading for the bathroom on the third floor, so he avoids the step so as not to wake either his daughter or her flatmate.

Edward has an important meeting on the south side this morning so he asked if the couch was free.

It was.

The couch was donated by the pharmacist in the village where Edward usually sleeps, they didn’t need it any more as it was in the way of the medicine cabinets and the  person who used it most, the pharmacist’s daughter, is travelling in Thailand with her boyfriend Leopold.

The pharmacist’s daughter’s name is Lucy and she used to play the drums with Edward’s daughter. They weren’t in a band but they went to the same music school and shared sticks.

The drum teacher’s name was Reggie.

Reggie used to have a soft spot for the pharmacist, but he’s moved on.

Edward’s daughter doesn’t call him Edward and she doesn’t call him Ed like his colleagues do.

She calls him Daddy.

Edward thinks this is the best thing about being a dad.

He was sad when she stopped holding his hand when they walked together in the street, but he is happy that there is someone who calls him daddy.

He stays at his daughter’s apartment sometimes, just to hear her say it.

She was tired last night and went to bed before midnight; she had been dancing and he sat on the edge of the bed and watched a film of the dancing on her phone.

She was in the corner of the studio, at the edge of the lens but he would recognise her even without his glasses.

He wears his glasses a lot these days.

It used to be just for the cinema, then it was in the car at night-time; now he uses them in the day-time too.

Without them he feels more open, with them he sometimes feels trapped in a diminishing possibility.

Not that much is possible at the moment; he fell from his bike three weeks ago and cracked his ribs.

Nick, a colleague at work keeps telling him that it will take six weeks for the ribs to heal and recommends being patient.

Edward is not patient when he is with Nick.

Nick calls him Ed which is ok and Nick likes to make puns, which is also ok.

What Ed finds difficult to accommodate is the fact that Nick’s wife is called Nicky and that Nick has just successfully found Nicky a job in the same office.

That, and his car.

Nick’s day car is a yellow soft-top sports car.

Edward’s favourite colour is yellow.

Edward’s car is a functional and very old grey silver box.

It has four wheels and runs and although he wouldn’t be seen dead in a sports car he would trade the colour at the drop of a hat.

Most of the world seems to him to be silver grey these days.

Except in his daughter’s apartment.

There is a maple leaf attached to the kitchen wall next to the photograph of Charlie Chaplin.

The leaf has dried to a crisp magenta colour; the photo of Charlie is black and white.

Edward was born in the same city as Charlie; the world had been black and white back then.

Edward’s daughter had asked him once; - Daddy, you know these photos that are in black and white?” – she was looking in the Family Album at the time, “was the world black and white too?”

Then he had said that it wasn’t, that they had colours in the olden days too, but these days he is no longer sure.

What was it that the writer had said in the book that he had never read? 

There was more outside back then.

The world was closing in.

Edward could feel it.

Everywhere and everyday a little more.

Except here.

In his daughter’s apartment.

Edward’s daughter has an apartment across the river in the south part of the city.

He is there, right now.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Round 49.

49


Isabelle works for a cosmetic company, but she wants to be a writer.

When she was nine years old she wrote a book about her sister and walked to the offices of a book publisher and gave it to them.

The editors politely thanked her and had a look at it.

They told her that it was a little short and a bit childish, but that she should keep at her writing.

She did.

Now she is forty.

She is writing a book about a mother who disappears and her daughter sets off to search for her.

Isabelle has a daughter, but she is separated from the father.

She has a lover, but she lives alone.

Tonight she has to go to a meeting that will finish about midnight and she will go home to an empty flat; she will be too tired to write.

Sometimes during the day she finishes her work before everyone else and would like to go home and write, but she feels under pressure to stay as long at her desk as the others who work less efficiently.

And when she does get home, and once she has cooked, she is too tired to write.

Bill doesn’t work for a cosmetic company but he is sitting across the table from Isabelle.

He too wants to be a writer.

He has started, but sometimes he stops.

He is waiting to start again.

He tells Isabelle about something that someone had said Stephen King had once said.

Stephen King wouldn’t write a sentence like that.

That’s not what Stephen King said, that’s what Bill thought after he had said it.

He told Isabelle that someone had told him that Stephen King had once said that if you sit down and write just 100 words a day then at the end of a year you would have written a book.

Bill was sitting down when he said this and he thought he should maybe listen to his own advice.

Then he remembered something that someone else had once told him that Oscar Wilde had said.

“I always pass on good advice, that’s the only thing to do with it.”

Bill wondered if that excused his procrastination.

Something else that someone once told him that Stephen King had said was that if you wanted to be a writer then you should read.

Bill likes reading.

He is reading a book about a policeman who is trying to solve a crime that might not be a crime.

Bill found the book in a box where people put books that they have finished and which they think other people might like to take or swap.

The box is attached to a wall in between the Estate Agent and the Antique shop.

It’s not really an antique shop, but it’s a shop that sells old things.

The owner of the shop takes the old things and turns them into new things. People who wouldn’t buy the old things come to the shop and buy the new thing.

It’s a clever business and the owner doesn’t want to be a writer, he is happy turning old oil-cans into table lamps.

Opposite the shop that sells old oil-can table-lamps is a small house with the number seven on the door.

Behind the door a man named Richard lives with his wife.

Her name is so complicated that no one they meet can remember it, but it begins with and A.

Richard and A are happy in the house and they consider the number 7 to be a lucky number, even though they only have two dogs.

A is a painter, her paintings are a little depressing and they always have a dog somewhere in them.

Richard is not sure if he wants to be a writer, but he could be.

He used to work in a bookshop far away across an ocean that separates his old life and his new.

It was a famous bookstore, almost mythical.

Jack Kerouac once visited it and Richard was polite and said hello.

Actually, that’s not true, I made that part up.

Jack Kerouac may well have visited but Richard would have been much too young to even have been there had it happened.

Writers do that; they make things up.

Sometimes the things they make up are true; sometimes they are not.

Writers can hide the made up truths among the made up lies.

I am trying to write.

Richard could be a writer but right now he is learning to make the best pizza anyone has ever made.

His wife is a painter.

She is a depressionist painter.

I just made that word up so I am happy; I am not depressed.

Bill is depressed because he hasn’t written anything all day.

Isabelle is depressed because her work stops her doing what she wants to do.

Isabelle works in a cosmetic company, but she wants to be a writer.


(note from the editor - i misplaced my camera, so i misplaced my photos of rounds, so this post was late and the one before had a temporary photo, which i quite like so it's still there, and now i've found my camera, so here we are again)

Monday, 26 November 2018

Round 48.

48 (temporary post)


Jenny went to the underwear party.

This sort of event used to be called a Tupper Ware party.

Now, it’s Under Ware.

She bought a black top with polka dot see-through sleeves; it had been reduced from 90 euro to 20.

A bargain.

Sal asked if she could touch; Sal is a woman.

Jack fancied touching it too, but he didn’t feel he could ask.

That was as close as he could get to feeling.

Jenny was wearing boots.

The boots were unlaced.

Jack thought they looked cool, and mentioned it.

Jenny goes to a kick boxing class and shows jack a video on her phone of her in a gym kicking a plastic dummy called Bob.

Jenny’s husband is in the video too, kicking bob.

Jack doesn’t say anything else and goes and makes a coffee.

Sal has already left the room but she is talking to a woman about the underwear party.

This woman has ash blond hair - if such a colour exists – and is wearing tight grey jeans and doc martin boots.

Although they are laughing Jack considers it better to say nothing.

Jenny’s hair is not blonde. It’s reddish brown.

Auburn?

It used to be purple.

Caroline walks in.

She has a big black bag that she leaves next to the table.

Jack falls over it as he is leaving the office.

He looks at his car.

It is covered in untidy layers of red dust from the Sahara. It fell on his car with the rain last night.

The Sahara is a long way away.

The car is old.

Jack is older.

But he is young enough to like Jenny.

Jenny has a sister, but Jack doesn’t know that.

He doesn’t really know Jenny, but she knows she has children.

Before she mentioned the underwear party she told Jack that her son had been to see the latest version of the film Thor.

Jack thought she said Saw.

Saw is a horror film.

There are many versions.

So he asked if it was Saw 28.

It was meant to be a joke, about the number of remakes that have been remade.

Jenny said yes it was.

She was still thinking about Thor, which probably hasn’t been remade half as much.

Jenny’s son is about 10; he shouldn’t be watching Saw.

Jack was confused.

He didn’t think Jenny was the sort of mum that would countenance such a thing.

He hadn’t imagined she would go to an underwear party either.

The world is full of surprises.


Monday, 19 November 2018

Round 47.

47.

The man waiting for a bus at the corner of La Rue de Metz and La Rue de Languedoc in the heart of Toulouse is wearing a fluorescent orange anorak.

He is also wearing black trousers, black trainers and very thick-lensed glasses, also black.

He is staring intently at next year, as depicted on an oversize wall calendar that he is holding.
Despite the depth of his lenses the man’s eyesight is not very good and the cardboard wall calendar is pressed tightly against his nose.

He is looking at the signs of the new and full moons, the shading of the holiday periods and above all at the empty spaces of each day that can be filled with possibility.

His eyesight is so bad that it is not clear if he knows how violent the orange of his anorak actually is; the other people at the bus stop have stepped backwards to give the colour room and there is something about his separation from them that makes the man look like a giant mole.

He has just bought the wall calendar from the stationary store that is housed in a grey stone building that stands behind the bus stop. It is the first calendar for next year that the shop has sold, it is only the beginning of October and most of the customers have not finished with this year yet.

The orange hue of the man’s coat is exactly the same as that of a jumper that is hanging on a rail in a shop in Barcelona, many miles to the south. 

The woman who has just put the jumper back on the rail really likes the colour but believes, unnecessarily, that she shouldn’t spend any money on the first day of her holiday, on anything other than a bottle of wine and some toothpaste.

The wine is to help her relax tonight and the toothpaste is for the morning when she wakes up.

On the last day of her holiday, once it is too late, she will regret not having bought this jumper. She will have forgotten all about the wine but the toothpaste will be packed away in her luggage.

Her husband says that the orange jumper suits her.

On the last day of the holiday, once it is too late, he will make her promise that the next time she buys the clothes that she tries on and likes.

Across the road from the shop is a café; the walls are covered in artwork.

Randomly.

There is an orange on the counter of the bar an I can see it from where I am sitting; in a moment I will ask the waiter to pass it through the orange squeezing machine on it’s way to becoming a Zumo de naranja to accompany my café con leche con croissante.

My breakfast.

My Spanish.

The waiter only speaks Spanish when he needs to, he would prefer to converse in Catalan.

The Catalan flag has a lot of orange in it and the flag is in evidence as a referendum is underway on the regions future and ability to continue organising referendums that the national government opposes.

I say nothing of this to the waiter.

Outside the café a lot of people are standing around a lamppost taking pictures of it with their phone; some are taking pictures of themselves taking a picture of the lamppost.

Others are taking pictures or people taking pictures of themselves taking pictures of the lamppost.

I look at the lamppost as I walk past.

It’s a nice lamppost.

But it’s a lamppost.

The beach is not far from this lamppost, and the sand is orange. It has been raining so the sand is wet and footprints remain clearly as you pass.

A woman is standing by a sculpture she has made from the sand; it has taken her two days and it represents a cathedral. 

At the front of the cathedral a small fire burns, the orange sand has become blackened with soot.

The woman is a long way from home; she is also a long way from sober.

She spends the money that is gifted to her creation, on alcohol.

Further along the beach a man is sweeping the sand in front of the dragon he has built. He too has added fire and smoke to his work and flame rises from the mouth of the dragon.

The smoke and fire seems more at home in a dragon than in a cathedral.

It is uncertain that he is drunk.

There is a train that runs past these sculptures, this sand, along the coast towards the villages of the north. 

The train is silver.

And orange.

They say orange is the colour of joy.

The sand is orange.

I drank an orange juice this morning.

The jumper that never got bought is orange.

The anorak of the man standing at the corner of La Rue de Metz and La Rue de Languedoc in the heart of Toulouse is orange.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Round 46.

46.


He is 25, she is a little older.

He is asleep, but it’s already eleven in the morning; she is walking on the beach below the headland where the van is parked.

She is a stranger in this land, but she doesn’t recognise it and it doesn’t trouble her.

She wakes early most days.

He sleeps most mornings.

During the night, they make love.

On the beach she finds a bird, it is injured. It can not fly and makes no attempt to move when she approaches.

Her movements are slow, careful, and graceful and she gently takes the bird in her hands. Her hands are warm, though a little damp from the sea; she had needed to touch the sea.

The bird feels the warmth and it feels the sea and knows it is where it needs to be; the bird is going to die soon, it’s injuries are too severe but the bird knows that in these hands is where it needs to be.

She carries the bird along the beach, stepping carefully between the rocks and the shells. She takes care not to break or disturb anything, and then she climbs the hill and opening the door enters the van.

In his sleep he senses something and opens his eyes, there are four eyes watching him. Two he knows, he stared into them last night at the moment of orgasm and will never forget them, the other two are new and already distancing themselves from life.

He pushes up onto one elbow and yawns, he is naked, vulnerable but he doesn’t recognise this; it troubles him not.

‘You’re awake’, he says.

‘I found this’, she replies.

‘I think it just died’ he says, and she looks at the bird now peaceful and restful in her hands.

‘Can we bury it?’ she asks.

On the beach, later, they stand looking out at the grey sea.

‘This is a good place’, she says.

‘It’s going to rain’ he replies.

****

He is 27, she is a little older.

She is waiting outside a small station, deep in the countryside.

It is night; there is no one on the road.

He is in the van, driving; he is late.

They are both excited.

The headlights of the van swing across her face as he turns into the car park, she smiles and he smiles and cuts the engine.

‘Your late’, she says.

‘I’m sorry’, he replies.

They kiss.

As they drive deeper into the night, she leans close against him; he can smell her hair, her skin, her sex.

They stop by a small stream, alongside an old stone bridge.

They take off each other’s clothes and make love but she leaves her white ankle socks on as the air is cold.

In the morning he sleeps, it is almost eleven.

She walks along the stream, looking for treasures.

****

He is 62, she is a little older.

It is eleven and he wakes; the sound of the falling rain comforts him and he folds himself deeper into the covers.

The doors of the van are open and he hears the wings of a bird that passes and settles in the apple tree on the other side of the low stonewall.

It is autumn and the air smells of cider.

And smoke.

He is a stranger in this land.

It is her land.

But she is not here.

She is a stranger in another, on the other side of mountains that now separate them.

She is awake; she is walking in her garden.

She takes a fig from a tree and holds it in her hands as once she did a small bird.

Her hands are still warm, but they no longer taste of the sea.

She bites into the fig.

The juice trickles down her lips.

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