I’m in a room with mismatched curtains, wooden floors and freshly painted skirting boards. There’s nothing here except for a computer and an office chair on a rug that’s rucked up around the edges. I can’t see what to do…
“Come out! Come out!” screams a voice in my head and then I remember this is real life and not the fucking Crystal Maze and neither Ed Tudor-Pole nor Richard O’Brien can save me however much I beg, plead or wheedle.
Besides, it’s an automatic lock in.
The sky colours in the dark with pink and orange fingers.
Birds chatter their approval in myriad voices growing bolder with each passing minute. Guinea fowl screech from the rooftops, setting the dogs to lend their rumbling bass to the chorus greeting the dawn.
According to the wonderfulness of the world wide interweb, blog etiquette – and by etiquette I mean tricks you can perform to get more readers engaged – dictates that a blog post should end with a question.
There was probably a point to that opening paragraph but then I got distracted by two things.
Firstly, the idea of a blog dictating something conjured up images of a whole bunch of words clustering together to form a likeness of Hitler strutting rage-filled and jack-booted across my perfect word-free (undoubtedly white, possibly blond-haired and blue-eyed) page spouting propaganda.
Secondly, I got to wondering if it would be simpler to just read the last line of every post in a cliched Australian accent so that a question would be implied? Thereby obviating the need to pose an actual question.
Today marks the 25th time that I’ve been fortunate enough to sneak some of my words past the editorial team at Literally Stories. They’ll see through all my limitations one of these days but until then I intend to wallow in the thrill of people I respect enjoying what I have to say.
The new piece is called February. I hope you like it.
“I told him it wasn’t on the menu but he said I should speak to you.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry. He’s been coming here for as long as I can remember.”
Harry Shaw didn’t hear the conversation from the kitchen but he was confident of the outcome. His starter portion of veal tonnato on a Thursday evening was the ballast that held the unravelling of his life firm and steady. He was as much a part of the A Tavola furniture as the black and white shots of spaghetti-eating celebrities that filled most of the walls. For Harry, Thursday nights offered up the perfect mix of ambience and peace. Enough noise for him to bask in the warm, familial murmur of a well run machine but not the overt harshness of a full house weekend.
“Morning old chap.”
“I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
“Do what Nige?”
“Shorten my name.”
“I apologise. What can I do for you Nigella?”
A little something I wrote while killing time at Cape Town airport this afternoon. Big thanks to Rebecca Field for reminding me of a storytelling construct I’d forgotten about!
Can’t keep track of how many hours I’ve been here but let’s just say it’s been a few. Delays. Excuses so lame no doubt that they aren’t even bothering to communicate them.
This morning I woke up in bed with an old man’s hand.
Not a severed hand from a different, older man.
Nothing as sinister as that.
No suggestion that I was, in some way, being sent a warning message from some aging mafioso masquerading as a perfectly normal member of the Twilight Valley Nursing Village who, for reasons best known only to himself, had given up on the cranial end of horses and settled for lopping off the hands of his fellow residents before depositing them in the beds of strangers under cover of darkness. There was a suggestion far back in my family tree that there was some sort of Italian connection to my heritage but even so the link would be tenuous at best. It’s not like I’m the direct descendent of Guiseppe “The Limp” Panettone or some such.
The hand, I confess, was my own.
Going home or, more accurately, travelling from your home to a place you used to call home years ago drowns you in familiar dislocation. Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep or the fact that these journeys so often start in the soft hours before dawn that heightens our sensitivity to the weird. Either way, you feel like an interloper in a land where time, unlike your memories, has ticked on.
Bypasses plough their economically booming furrow through the land. New buildings thrive in the displaced earth on either side. That’s what it said on the slideware so it must be true, right? I wonder what happens when there’s nothing left to bypass.
Didn’t so and so used to live there? Next to the roundabout? Wait…was there a roundabout there before?
In the end everything will ignite.
Books. Skin. Pre-apocalyptic utopian puppies.
All of it.
My second novel will smoulder alongside the incinerated remains of my first while I stab at my molten keyboard, desperate to smash out a story idea before my fingertips fuse to the metal.