Thursday, 25 March 2010

#Fridayflash - Ladies Who Lunch

“How is your vanilla slice, Lucie?”

Evangeline tried hard not to sneer, as she tucked into her fruit salad with a dainty fork. It wasn’t as though Lucie had scope to be eating a cream cake…she was at least four pounds heavy in the hips!

“Oh, it’s wonderful, Evie!” Lucie declared with genuine enthusiasm, blissfully oblivious to the sly glances and smirks that passed between her companions. “Simply delicious! You girls really ought to treat yourselves now and again!”

“Oh, I couldn’t,” Evangeline smiled, though there was nothing pleasant about it. “I’m watching my figure…image is everything these days, isn’t it? And I wouldn’t want to show Daniel up at the next charity ball by looking a porker in my gown, now would I?!”

Jessica snickered at the thinly veiled insult, but Lucie seemed yet to be ignorant.

“I don’t eat dairy…” Jessica smirked, in an effort to confound Evie’s subtle nastiness. “It plays havoc with your skin tone…and, apparently, foreigners can smell you if you’ve consumed anything containing milk proteins! Stinks to high heaven, so they say! Just imagine…if Matthew’s overseas clients could smell me at dinner?! I would simply die of shame!”

Smell you?!” Lucie looked thoroughly amused and entirely sceptical. “Jess, that’s ridiculous! It’s like thinking all French people smell of garlic!” Lucie’s delight in the notion’s absurdity bubbled over, and she gave a hearty chuckle. The other women around the lunch table grimaced notably at Lucie’s frivolous, tinkling tones – her laugh was too loud, too crass…and it illustrated just one more way that she didn’t fit in to their world.

Lucie had married Richard last year…and everyone had been against it. There was simply no denying, the woman was from the wrong side of town!

Richard had clearly been smitten from day one…brainwashed, some might say… Lucie was so incredibly real, he’d asserted when he met her, suddenly strangely enthusiastic, his gusto rivalling that of a teenage boy. She was free – and totally unlike anyone he’d met before. Lucie did just as she pleased…was totally honest, and never apologised for being herself…

But everyone else could see, the marriage had obviously benefited Lucie far more than it aided Richard – he had got himself a shameful wife…a genuine disgrace, who wore inappropriate, short dresses at every occasion and never had the right thing to say. Lucie had earned herself a small fortune overnight…not to mention that gigantic country house in Hampshire! Oh yes…Lucie was very ‘new money’…and goodness, it showed!

Lunch, to Lucie, was about ordering the most expensive cream cakes, and drinking too much champagne.

“Let your hair down, girls!” she’d say, and have Evangeline and Jessica cringing, as she talked too loudly, ate too much food, and had the whole restaurant looking their way. Lucie simply couldn’t see that class and decorum were about less, not more…but less, in the most…well…respectable way possible. For the money Lucie paid for champagne and cream fancies, Evie and Jess could drink a £40 bottle of Appalachian spring water and eat organic rocket and crayfish salads – with no dressing, of course. Now that was classy…

With Lucie’s laughter reaching a crescendo, the women made their usual, untrue excuses, and left the Wednesday lunch in various executive models of Range Rover.

As she tottered to her own Barbie-pink version, on too-high Jimmy Choos, and watched Evie and Jess climb into matching, sleek-black examples, Lucie felt her diamond-studded Blackberry vibrating in the pocket of her designer jeans. As she worked the device out of the tight denim on her hip, she wondered which department store bathroom Evie and Jess would stop at on their way home, to purge what little lunch they had eaten.

Although Lucie knew how they felt about her…rude and loud, an embarrassment…she couldn’t help but feel sorry for these women. Evie and Jess were raised in this world, where nothing was expected of them but decorum, beauty and unconditional support for their husbands…so long as they were rich and successful, of course. Evie and Jess had never had the chance to know who they really were or what they liked.

Lucie read the message on her Blackberry. It was Matthew…again. It seemed Richard’s business partner was developing something of a liking for her. Poor Jess… Lucie wondered if she ever suspected her husband spent his lunch hour propositioning other men’s wives?!

Part of Lucie wanted to return Matthew’s message…something naughty and encouraging…as revenge for Jess’s suggestion that she smelled! But then, Lucie couldn’t do that to Richard…and she really wouldn’t want to.

Lucie smiled at just the thought of her husband, and wondered if he’d be finished with meetings early today. She’d bought steak for dinner. Climbing into her pink Range Rover, she threw the Blackberry on the passenger seat. Lucie stroked the pink leather gear-stick as she turned the key in the ignition, and slipped on her flamboyant sunglasses.

You might not be able to buy class, Lucie thought…or taste…but you can’t buy love or happiness either. Everything I need is free… she grinned to herself, still unable to believe her new life… and for everything I want, there’s a credit card!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

For Love Nor Money

For love nor money
I make you
but an eagle in flight
and less a child
that monsters might seek
to hide
beneath your bed.
Let it never be said, that I
turned the other eye
or was blind of cheek,
for it was me who peeled
the sheet away
and stood up beside you
to face the days and endless
nights, of black and green –
for I had seen
the colour of your
money long ago; but not your
love; no,
for that was buried too deep
and I would have to keep peeling
more than sheets,
more onion layers,
if I was ever to see it
at the stars;
but for your love nor money,
I know,
I shall never ask.

Ode to the Owl & the Pussycat...

As a child, I really liked Edward Lear. So, when asked to write something close to utter nonsense for a Leeds Savage Club writer's meeting, I think he may have influenced my response! :)

Carpe is Latin for a Fish

“Carpe is Latin for a fish,”
they said,
and were patted proudly
atop the head
by the master.
“Write faster,”
he insisted, and steam
rose from
their viscous pens,
as they copied, parrot-fashion,
from the chalky surfboard.

The swordfish tutor tried his best
to invest the depth of his knowledge
in the tiddlers;
and the school was doing
rather well,
despite a controversial decision,
not to admit any
students in shells.

you see…don’t do well.

He would stand before them
each day and tell
tales of life
under the waves,
hoping against hope that the shoal,
would learn of cars, and broccoli,
and caves,
and all things on land
that would stretch and expand
their little aquatic minds:-

“Carpe is Latin for a fish,” they said,
in unison,
and the swordfish swelled with pride.
Next week there’d be a fieldtrip
all the way
to the edge of the tide.

Why Not?

Why don't you just take what you want, when you want it? Even when it doesn't belong to you or it would hurt someone else?'s because that's wrong...isn't it? It's selfish and immoral. Even if you're an impulsive sort, like me, who generally does as they please and doesn't worry too much what others have an internal 'halt' button when your actions would cause someone harm... So who do you reckon put that there? Were you born with morals? Or did your parents teach them to you? And what could possibly make you lose them altogether? 

There are definitely people who don't have limits, and who will just take what they want...regardless of the consequences. So, how are those people made? ...And what is it like to be one of them?

This poem was inspired by a Leeds Savage Club writers' task, which specified we should write about something rising from the ashes, a rebirth, or a resurrection. I wanted to explore an event or situation wherein, a person reaches dizzying heights of disgrace, and, due to touching the gutter, rises to live a life 'free' and unaffected by moral then, by the new law of the Phoenix -

New Law of the Phoenix

go right ahead –
pull me from the gutter
and lay me to rest;
- God knows where I belong.

Certainly not in the realms
of the strong, for I crawl
more than I walk;
I have an ever-crimson
of shame
upon my head…

…it’s something I picked up in
your bed, no earthly doubt
about that.

But listen, sly, beautiful rat,
shut your mouth whilst I
hold court…
for I’ve always been
the smouldering sort…low burn
‘til the kindling ignites;
and there’s no stopping
a stalactite, once
it starts to grow.

So let’s
slow and win the race,
just like they said…
…and things will come,
true enough, I bet,
as a Phoenix
from the dirt;
a blaze to feed my
insatiable thirst to feel
something more,

something beyond these
unwritten laws of
minding my hands.

Why should I not
what I can?
And what wants me back?
Why should we not rise from the ash
of devastation
we know we will cause,
flying a flag for something more
than the children we are:
afraid to fall.

Brief Tempest

Two things I am not:
an idiot,
or a child…better yet
I am
a wild thing, sent with the moon,
when the wolf did howl.

Today you asked me
very obvious things
that I thought you knew the answers to,
…and that,
on top of this,
is just the sort of mess,
that makes me want to kiss
or kill you.

“I don’t mean to bewilder you,”
you say,
as you skip and frolic away across
the dunes of our living room floor.
“Change your mind
a thousand times, my love…
….I will settle
all scores outstanding.”

So, I write your name in sand-ink,
and together, we wait for it to smooth.
For as much as this one crashes,
and breaks,
we know,
calmer waves
will be along soon.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

#Fridayflash - Black Jacket

As she drew herself, reluctantly, from the thick cotton wool of sleep, Penny caught sight of a tangled shock of shaggy, dark hair, splayed across the pillow beside her.

She rubbed at her tired eyes, still sore from the club’s dry ice and the heavy make-up she hadn’t quite removed last night. Her mouth felt as dry as sawdust, but despite the discomfort and thirst, she was more than able to smile at the owner of the dark hair’s presence. Well…rather at her own presence. This was, after all, his place.

Penny pushed herself up on her elbow and leaned gently across his naked back, until she could see his face. Her smile widened…Anthony…or was it Andrew?…was still fast asleep, his long, dark eyelashes, resting softly on his stubbly cheeks.

In the early morning light that filtered through the curtains, Penny noticed he had a large, electric guitar, tattooed between his shoulder blades. It’s neck and fret board were now clearly visible above the bed’s white sheets. Penny wasn’t surprised she hadn’t noticed his body-art last night. When she met him, Anthony had been wearing a black jacket that now lay discarded on the bedroom floor…and after that…well, she’d only really cared about what wasn’t covering his skin!

Penny pushed her own, tangled hair back off her forehead and breathed out contentedly, recalling the moment she first laid eyes on Anthony. His jacket was the thing that caught her attention… It was flamboyant, a vintage cavalry coat, double breasted, with pewter buttons and beautiful, intricate, charcoal beading. Rare and expensive-looking, Anthony had worn it well. The jacket nipped in at his narrow hips, and suited his messy haircut and the shiny, white guitar slung across his body. Up on the stage, he’d had an air of all the best things from the eighties…rock music and neon, the remnants of Punk, and the advent of Goth. His pants were just a little too tight and the music seemed to be part of him. He had reminded Penny of her self…aside from a voice like silk, he could have been her male incarnation. Watching him, up there performing to the crowd, she’d found herself captivated…and covetous… Penny had seen something she wanted to own…more than she’d ever craved possession of anything.

Penny had also known, it wouldn’t take much to get what she so desired. The musician was very sure of himself…but Penny knew her own charms. A glance alone had Anthony hooked. Just a few flattering comments, a couple of drinks on a set break, and a wry smile from a table close to the stage, soon had him playing only to her. Penny had flicked her wild curls in measured seduction, and raised a suggestive eyebrow or two…before she fixed her bedroom eyes on his and waited for her prey to bite.

He had taken the bait, of course. Hook, line and sinker…getting Anthony out of that sexy jacket had been little more than child’s play! He was, no doubt, used to attention – he clearly knew what he wanted too - and last night, Penny could think of nothing better, than sinking gleefully into what stood before her.

Truth be known, she thought, as she leaned over Anthony’s sleeping form, observing their abandoned clothes, she could still think of nothing better…

Quietly, and gently, so as not to wake him, Penny slipped out from under the covers. She needed coffee. The beer had flowed freely last night, and her veins were screaming for caffeine.

Moving with as much stealth as she could muster, Penny pulled on her tight black jeans and the vest with the shiny print that she’d worn last night. Anthony didn’t stir, even as she leaned over him to push the curtain aside and check the weather.

It looked warm outside. Strong sunlight filtered between the densely packed buildings of the city centre. Penny drew back from the window, and picking up Anthony’s jacket from the bedroom floor, she slipped it on, letting her self sink into its scratchy, vintage felt. The fabric smelled of him, she smirked…but that would fade with time…

Penny stood before the bedroom mirror, stopping a moment as she passed it…and it was just as she’d thought. The jacket looked fantastic on her! It clung in all the right places and was well worth the effort to obtain it.

Buttoning its shiny, double breast, until the jacket’s starched military collar stood almost upright, Penny gathered her purse and slipped quietly from Anthony’s bedroom… She needed to order that coffee.

‘One double strength Americano, please…’ she mused triumphantly, fingering a pewter button as she imagined her order. ‘…To go.’ There would be little point in pleasantries now…Penny already had exactly what she came for.

Sorry about my late post (again!)...was traveling last night, on a ferry to Rotterdam. Needless to say, the on-board musician was wearing a rather wonderful jacket... :-p

Saturday, 13 March 2010

#Fridayflash - Caitlin

It's Mothering Sunday in the UK on 14th here's something fitting... ;-P   
Caitlin’s mum was one of those people who didn’t care much for life. That was partly what made it easier for the six-year-old, to watch when she drank the poison.

Caitlin knew that poison made mummy happy. And when mummy drank enough, she would sing - loud and raucous, at the top of her voice… Caitlin liked that! They would have parties, she and mummy, and Caitlin would sing too, staying up way past her bedtime. It was lovely to be so happy with mummy. When mummy drank the poison, she loved everyone – especially Caitlin – and she would tell her, over and over again.

Mummy liked poison so much that sometimes, she would spend her money for food, on poison instead. Caitlin was always hungry when she did that, but it didn’t matter. Mummy said life was very sad without the poison…and Caitlin didn’t want her to be sad. When mummy was feeling happy, that made Caitlin happy too.

Mummy kept her poison under the sink, or under the mattress…or sometimes under the sofa cushions when she watched telly. Caitlin had tried the poison once, when she felt sad, but it wasn’t a bit like the potions in Alice in Wonderland as she’d expected. Caitlin didn’t grow taller, or instantly start to laugh – the poison just tasted funny, like it would burn the skin off the back of her throat, and it made her cough until she was sick.

Mummy said poison made Caitlin ill because, it was just for grown-ups. One day, she said, Caitlin would grow to like poison as much as she did…maybe even as much as grandma had. Caitlin had never met grandma, but she’d seen poison make mummy sick too, and she knew she would never like it.

When mummy had too much poison, or worse, no poison at all, she would fall asleep for years, like Sleeping Beauty. When that happened, mummy would always be too tired to take Caitlin to school. Caitlin had tried waking mummy to remind her, but then she got very angry, which always meant getting smacked. So Caitlin would go to school on her own…because if she didn’t, her teachers shouted too. Sometimes Caitlin had dirty clothes, or put them on inside out. The other children laughed at her then, and called her horrid names, and mummy was right - life was hard and sad when she didn’t drink any poison.

Mummy hadn’t had any poison today. Or yesterday…and she’d been crying, a lot. There would be no money for poison until Wednesday, and that made mummy very sad, and very cross. The only time she wasn’t shouting at Caitlin was when she was sleeping. Then she seemed almost peaceful, just a little restless - like the princess from that fairytale…the one who could feel the pea under her mattress…

“Caitlin?” Miss Barratt’s voice drew the little girl back into the empty classroom. “You’re last again…” The teacher smiled. “Isn’t your mummy here yet?”

Caitlin broke her daydream, shoved her homework into her backpack and shook her head. Mummy had been asleep when she left for school, and she would still be asleep when Caitlin got home.

“Is your mummy coming to collect you?” Miss Barratt said, with concern. She’d been a little worried about Caitlin lately…the child seemed, well, neglected…but it wasn’t polite to pry.

Caitlin shook her head again, and Miss Barratt frowned.

“Is someone else coming to collect you?” The teacher crouched beside the little girl’s desk when she didn’t respond to the question. “Caitlin,” she said softly, “where is your mum?”

“She’s sleeping,” Caitlin whispered. “She’s always happy when she’s sleeping.” Miss Barratt looked puzzled.

“How do you know she’s sleeping, Caity? Is she sick?” Caitlin nodded.

“She was,” the little girl’s wide, blue eyes met her teacher’s. “And she was sad…but she won’t be anymore. I helped her.”

“That was very nice of you,” Miss Barratt smiled. “How did you help her?”

“Like the woodcutter helped the wolf,” Caitlin suddenly grinned, her milk teeth displayed in a sickly proud sneer. “She fell asleep then…so I’ve got a hundred years now to find her a prince and…” Caitlin caught herself abruptly, and looked a little panicked. “Miss Barratt?” she said, somewhat urgently. “Did I get muddled? Does a kiss still wake the princess if she hasn’t got a head?!”