OUTAGE

The night of the power outage, Bernie calls me to check that I’m okay. This was about two weeks ago. I tell her yes, yes I’m fine, then ask if she’s okay, but it’s all very quick. And then I feel some sort of jittery guilt that I didn’t talk more with her, so I call her back and ask her if she’s really okay, that she didn’t sound herself just now, which is a lie. She sounded perfectly alright. She says she’s okay, really she’s fine, all with a smile in her voice. I tell her I spoke earlier … Continue reading OUTAGE

River Sigh

The others leave, one by one, and it ends up being just me and Ginger at the steps by the river, sipping from the bottle in lukewarm turns and staring out to the monstrous city lights that seem close but are worlds away. ‘Let’s get some chips,’ he says. ‘You go,’ I say, resigned. I knew it couldn’t last, just me and him. ‘I’ll wait here,’ I say. He takes the bottle from me, and takes it with him. He won’t come back. He’ll start talking in the chip shop. To another, more interesting, more attractive. He won’t be back, … Continue reading River Sigh

WAITING

I’m waiting for the tram, at the junction. Waiting where the streets cross, and the lights change, and the cars stop and go in regular patterns, repeating over and over. Passengers stare and I stare back, like we’re sizing each other up. My tram’s late, so I have to keep waiting. And all the time more cars in streams of colour. Different colours, but they look the same. They might as well all be grey. Where’s everybody going? Why am I the only one waiting for a tram? Just now, somebody else arrived at the stop. Another. He stood behind … Continue reading WAITING

NOTHING

‘None of this is real,’ he said. ‘Didn’t you know that? Did nobody ever tell you?’ ‘They told me other things,’ I said. ‘Stories and rules. But not that. These trees, and the sky: they’re real, aren’t they?’ ‘None of it. All of it doesn’t exist. It’s a confection; as real as a puff of dragon’s breath.’ ‘But dragon’s breathe,’ I said. ‘And I exist. My skin is warm.’ I took his hand, and placed it onto my bare chest. ‘ Where I touch myself, here. There’s life beneath my fingers. Can you feel it?’ ‘It’s illusory. All of it. … Continue reading NOTHING

PASTEL

There was that time in Bournemouth. One of the summer holidays of guaranteed sunshine. I was about six years old and one afternoon I had my portrait done by a woman near to the beach. It was done in pastels, I think. It must have been pastels because they smudged, and if you rubbed a patch the colour came off on your finger. The artist signed it. I was very happy with the portrait. Go and show it to people, said Mum, said Dad. Show it around. In the guest house. I ran down to the kitchens. ‘Look at this,’ … Continue reading PASTEL