You know that feeling when you have worked on a story so much that it is now lifeless, and you think, ‘Did it ever live?’. It’s like, it’s like, it’s like when a fisherman pulls an octopus out of the crystal Mediterranean and takes it to shore and beats it on a rock until it’s dead and what was jewel-like in the water is now jelly on land and what was beauty is now death and what had potential is just wet and slimy flesh grey on grey rock.
The baby is nearly thirty months, not truly a baby any more. He can climb stairs, pedal his tricycle, put words together in groups, although only his mother is very good at understanding him. He pronounces words using only half of his mouth, making the sounds fluffy and intimate. Only if you spend a lot of time with him will you understand his way of speaking. His mother likes this. It’s nice for her that they have this almost secret communication. She’s the one who explains the world to him. She knows that soon he’ll get better at speaking, and soon enough he’ll be at pre-school, and he’ll have other people to explain, and he’ll need her less and he won’t want her so much and this soft time they’re sharing will change into something else.
Two people, at not quite their first meeting but coming together out of boredom and as a result of the deliberate steeping of their own hearts in salt, in a squat-style nightclub in East London at the beginning of Spring, will medicate each other’s wounds only partially successfully and, kiss.
I’m still working on my dissertation and creative project story fans (as of writing only 2000 words and lots of edits to go). Next month normal service resumes but until then please enjoy this guest post by the very talented Sue Oke. She blogs over at susanmayoke.com. Pop over and say hello!
North to South
It’s the voice I hear first, a baritone with the unmistakable soft edges of a Yoruba accent. We turn at the same time, tentative smiles of recognition blossoming as our eyes meet. And then he’s grinning, wrapping me in bear hug, his enthusiasm temporarily infectious.
‘How are you? How are the children?’
I grab a breath, the rote , ‘We’re fine,’ slips out of my mouth.
He barrels on, ‘And what of Oga?’
Oga… chief… boss… master… he’s using a title to refer to the man who, twenty years ago, used to be my husband.
In July, August and September I have to write a lot to finish my course. Instead of writing new things for my blog I’m going to tart up some old things. An early version of this story appeared in Words With Jam magazine in 2011. Let me know what you think.
The ice cubes in Ali’s glass made tiny twitches as the vodka melted them. ‘This means something,’ she said, her voice hoarse.
‘I’m sorry?’ I said. My chest ached with the sadness that bore down on my ribs. I wanted to drink, and talk, and not think about the way each second, or gesture or even thought, was a second, gesture and thought further from where you and I had been.
In July, August and September I have to write a lot to finish my course. Instead of writing new things for my blog I’m going to tart up some old things. Here, from November 2011 is one of the first re-tellings I tried out. Let me know what you think.
November: 14 Down, Mythical Maze (9)
After Theseus leaves
What kind of madness can you call it that led Ariadne to this island? She tries to remember, but her memories wisp away when she attempts to catch their threads.
She showed up in a taxi. The sort that trawl the train station picking up tourists and children making brief prodigal returns. She took from the taxi a re-purposed cardboard box. Its four flaps were folded closed rather than taped shut. Her only other luggage was a hard plastic case on wheels.
She introduced herself to the receptionist as Shona Omara. The receptionist, who was also the proprietress Mrs Headle, told her how to find her room.
Shona pulled her case up three flights of carpeted stairs to the third floor. Along the walls of the staircase Shona noticed scuff marks, presumably made by other guests dragging their own luggage. She made a second trip to the lobby to collect the cardboard box. Continue reading
In this story a young man, older than a boy but not so mature that he would be expected to have as many regrets as he in fact carries around with him, leaves his home town, Hull, for an odyssey he himself cannot see the end of but in which the reader or listener of the story thinks they can predict where his story will take him.
I lived on a mountain. My house had thick walls made of mud which men had carried on their backs all the way from the river banks of my home country. They were whipped up hillsides, forced over rocks wet with pure river water and through gullies slimy with stinking moss. The rugs in my house had been stitched by the women of my father’s house. They cried over each stitch. I could taste their tears when I put my tongue on the rugs.