Thursday 25 March 2010

To the treehouse


He refuses to hear, striding on down the lawn.  His ungainly trainers, bought a size too large for him to grow into next year at big school, threaten to trip him nearly every step, but he stomps onward.

"Max!  Where are you going?"  Ellie is tugging his arm to slow him.  "Max.".

He stops, and turns to his younger sister.  

"I'm just going.  Away from them."  He waves his arm back towards the house and, as if he were a conductor drawing music from an orchestra the sounds of angry shouting rise once again from the dining room.  Even leaving his lunch uneaten and pushing through the patio doors into the garden hasn't stopped his parents yelling at each other.

"Please don't?" 

"It's always the same.  Every bloody weekend."  Ellie looks fearfully toward the house as he swears.  "They pretend like it's a nice family lunch, then they just row.  I've had enough."

"What are you going to do?"

"I don't know.  Just go away from here for a while."

"What should I do?"  Ellie's voice is trembling, her eyes wide open and watery.  The pale of her face, full of uncertainty, contrasts the lurid Disney characters that gambol gaily across her t-shirt.

Max breathes deeply, looks at his feet and closes his eyes.  He holds his breath for a long moment, long enough for them both to hear the shouting stop, as if silenced by his stillness.  He smoothes the front of his shirt with his hand, exhales slowly, then opens his eyes to look once more at Ellie.

Don't worry Ellie.  Come with me.  Let's o and play in the treehouse for a bit".  He smiles softly.  Slipping an arm around his sister he steers her towards the bottom of the garden.

Wednesday 10 March 2010


The door closes only with a firm shoulder, creaking over the jamb and ruffling the carpet to isolate a small l-shaped room.  More furniture than space; bed, desk, wardrobe and table loom over narrow red-carpeted valleys.

The wardrobe is like a mountain, a blank-faced massif of wooden veneer topped with teetering crags of papers and files, foolscap spilling like snow and threatening to avalanche the duvet far below.  

The bedside table's dark wood is bleached with a chorus of halos from overnight drinking glasses.  A skewed pile of books sits within easy reach of the bed, train tickets jutting as ersatz bookmarks.  Above the bed posters detail improbable mountain-bike stunts and sweat-sheened cyclists powering to victory.  

At the desk and shelves, where the light spills glare over diary, homework and scraps of paper, the music system is surrounded by an ever-expanding kaleidoscope of CD cases and book spines.

At night, car headlights slide across the ceiling, left-to-right at 6:00 as commuters return to the village, and right-to-left at 11:15 when the pub kicks out.  

In autumn, the gales rush and push through the trees outside and crash on the window-pane.  In summer the window stays open through the night and leaves hush me gently to sleep.

200-ish words about somewhere indoors remembered from childhood.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

The observed life

I'll admit it was his body that first attracted me.  There is something about the way the line of his torso flares up from muscular waist to shoulders broad and flat that excites me.  No outfit masks that beautiful taper, even winter coats reveal the sumptuous dip of lower back before it swells out into buttocks.

It may have been his body to first catch my eye, but since first moment my passion has been anything but shallow.  I look past the well-toned figure to see a generosity of spirit as he greets his colleagues, a potentially proud father as he plays with the children of friends, and an inspiring joy as he revels in the bars and nightclubs.  

Our time together now is interrupted often as I become overwhelmed by the certainty of future happiness.  I see us galloping horses on a beach in Corsica, the warm evening air scented with sea.  I see us brewing tea for each other as the winter evenings draw in, quiet conversations in our cosy lounge.   And I see us laughing as we push the pram containing our precious newborn through summer parks.

I'm not the only one who notices these things.  When we walk down the street, I sometimes spot others performing double-takes, unable to drink enough of him in at first gulp.  More than once I've passed young women clustered in a hateful coven and gossiping easily with the cadence that speaks unmistakeably of murmured expressions of lust followed by knots of distasteful cackling.

I bathe in this cascade of impression and feeling again as the front door of his house opens to let light fall into the evening.  He stands, silhouetted against the hall light, clad in running kit and ready for evening exercise.  As he locks the front door I shift lower into the gloom of the car seat.  This is not a suitable place for us to meet for the first time.

Another creative writing exercise, this time with the goal of unsettling the reader through an unreliable first-person narrator.