And so we tip over the halfway mark into the abyss with #51 ‘Found In An Old Man’s Belongings’.
Thank you, M from USA.
Found In An Old Man’s Belongings
You know those days where your cat won’t curl up with you? Where it sits close enough to touch, but with it’s back to you. That’s how Celie was. Her languid body sprawled beside mine but her mind elsewhere. If I ignored experience and attempted to embrace her she would silently endure. Then leap from the bed. I’d watch her saunter down the hallway with an understanding of what all those cat-haters were on about.
Celie didn’t care for pets. That’s how she said it, with her slight accent and proper English. I told her that was an interesting turn of phrase because that was the whole point – you cared for them. She shrugged and replied that French was far more interesting a language. I stared out the window until Celie sidled up and stroked my face.
Let’s go for coffee, she says, and I could try to resist and make a point but there wasn’t one.
Her eyes soften at an old man sitting with his dog in the café. She sips on her coffee and tells me she will take me to Côte d’Ivoire one day. She’ll show me the markets where her Grandmother used to sell bread and biscuits. My heartbeat thunders in my ears at how casually she says this but before I can answer there is a crash. The old man has dropped his cup and the dog is yapping and Celie is kneeling gracefully beside him collecting broken ceramic and handing him the contents of his spilled wallet. She winces but doesn’t recoil as the dog leaps and licks at her face while the man thanks her.
She sits back beside me and I’ve never wanted to touch her more but I don’t because I understand. Because I’m more of a cat person anyway.
Well here we are! Nearly one year later and officially halfway! I’ll try and save the teary Oscar speech for #100 but I would like to thank everyone who’s been kind enough to get on board and play with me. Oh and the Academy of course.
#50 was sent in by a mystery donor from Australia and I think it may have inspired a prologue to #48 featuring poor Henri with an i.
What do you think?
The flier could’ve been sitting in the mailbox for days. The edges were curled and water damaged making the words hard to read. The only reason she’d been getting her mail was because of man in the apartment across the courtyard. He kept collecting it and sliding it under her door.
She watched the flier slide onto her floorboards from where she sat in the living room with the drapes closed. It twitched for a moment as if alive and she ran and locked herself in the bathroom, climbing into the tub.
When she emerged, she padded down the hallway on her toes, leaving small wet marks on the floor like animal tracks.
She approached the flier and snatched it up quickly, along with the rest of the mail that had built up beside it, then sat and examined the flier, letting the bills and last notices slide from her lap.
Decide what you want… Develop a new vision… Accuracy guaran…
She pushed a piece of lank hair behind her ear as she turned the page. There were handwritten words scribbled in between the brochure’s information. Underneath the picture of the grinning woman who’d completed the course and changed her life.
…your sperm for toothpaste.
…all over the table…came in little blo…her breasts
She blinked before scanning lower where the red words weren’t smudged.
I know you’re inside.
She pulled her dressing gown tighter as the front doorknob rattled. She ran through the back door as she heard the key click and turn in the front lock, and stumbled through the darkness of her backyard, disappearing down the alley behind.
The man from the apartment across the courtyard opened his own mail at his kitchen table disappointed there had been no mail to collect for his neighbour today.
Some nice stuff that’s made me smile, blush and dork out.
I was also pretty chuffed to have my story ‘Pretty Lady” nominated by Bananafish Magazine for Dzanc Books’ 2011 Best of the Web.
My thanks to Rebecca from the U.S Detroit-area for sending in Postcard #49. Such a cute card, I really wanted to have fun with this one.
I guess I should also thank David Bowie… you know, for everything.
One more card to go until we’re officially at the halfway mark!
Green Apple Wine
Ground Control to Major Tom.
It’s hard not getting the song stuck in your head when we contact him like that. But since the incident it’s best to play safe.
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Dennis scans the sheet of lyrics before him and I roll my eyes. An IQ of 235 and he can’t remember a pop song.
Ground Control, did you know the stars look very different today?
Tom’s voice comes through our headsets and we lean forward and type furiously, adding data, removing.
DJ Dr. Bones just started a set. I gotta go dance. This is Panda Tom, signing off.
The smell of sour sweat hangs in the air.
Operations have been in lockdown since Tom went crazy. Dennis keeps muttering that robots aren’t supposed to go crazy and kill their crew and think they’re space pandas.
Well Tom did before he even left the station. The ship is still in the hangar but Tom is in deep space.
The program had been simple. Get Tom to make contact. Once contact was established,***Classified***. Then we bring him back.
It’s gotta be a dream.
I roll my eyes again.
Dennis, just focus on your lyrics.
He throws the sheet.
What’s the point?
Because it’s the only way he will answer us.
Tom suddenly screams and we all clasp our headsets.
Grease Monkey just reported from the engine room that there’s a serious problem with this tin can.
His voice lowered
Also, planet earth is blue.
A charge of static cuts into his pause and the Company announces,
Code Challenger. All staff to safety positions. Code Challenger.
Dennis runs for the door as we crawl under our tables and Tom whispers,
Ground Control, planet earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.
This year is starting slowly, friends and loved ones.
You ever get those decades you just want to kick in the teeth?
Luckily my words and determination have returned before anyone had to get hurt.
Fresh start >>>>>>>> HERE.
Thank you LMB for sending in this photograph that’s haunted me since it arrived.
Have You Been Here Before?
The knock on her door is loud.
She turns down the radio and doesn’t move until it sounds again. This time with a hesitant triple tap.
She shoves her cigarette in an ashtray resting on an unpacked box and answers the door.
He is her neighbour in the little cul de sac of apartments. He sticks out his hand and offers his name.
Henri with an i is wearing a woollen vest over a crisp shirt.
Aren’t you warm?
She asks and colour floods his cheeks as he looks at the cream slip she’s wearing.
She asks him inside for a cool drink and cracks a tray of ice cubes over the kitchen bench. He lowers his gaze as her breasts move inside the lace of her slip.
She looks down and shrugs.
It’s hot, she says, and passes him an iced tea.
He asks how she’s settling in while looking at all the boxes piled around the room.
The same as always.
She says that she moves around a lot.
You haven’t been out of the house since you moved in.
She asks if he’s been watching her.
He looks trapped but answers that the woman that lived here before her didn’t leave the house the whole time she was here.
She just sat at those curtains and watched everything.
He looks at the yellowing lace and his eyes shine.
She tells him she has left her house. That she works nights at a brothel and usually avoids her neighbours.
They finish their tea in silence and she sees him to the door and watches him cross the courtyard back to his apartment.
Do you know where she went?
She calls out with real concern in her voice.
But he closes his apartment door behind him without answering.
“Man seeks to escape himself in myth, and does so by any means at his disposal. Drugs, alcohol, or lies. Unable to withdraw into himself, he disguises himself. Lies and inaccuracy give him a few moments of comfort.”
My teeth are falling out. They crumble into my hands in shards. I spit handfuls of them out and sob in between heaves. They’re sharp. Brittle. Black.
I run my tongue over the teeth remaining and realise it’s not over. More are loose. I cough and a large molar falls into my palm. It’s not discoloured. There are no holes. This tooth shouldn’t be in my palm.
The rest are my fault. I know they were inevitable. The rotting, broken teeth. But this one isn’t fair. I shove the pointy edges back into my mouth, but my gums have already smoothed. Hardened. My tongue runs along the edge, worrying the delicious itch. I press harder and pain overwhelms the itch as a satisfying burst of blood fills my mouth. I swallow the metallic taste and am reminded of your come. The new teeth break through and I try to remember the exact taste of you but the fresh blood running down my throat and chin swamps the memory. I look into the bathroom mirror and laugh at the shadow standing before me. I look at the sink filled with my rotten teeth as new ones emerge and imagine this would be the kind of dream that would disturb you.
I decide when I wake up and roll into your arms, I won’t tell you. I’ll kiss your ribs and remember I shouldn’t tell. If I do I’ll be disappointed by your silence. Your lack of courage. I smile into the mirror, exposing my new bloody teeth and wake with a gasp. My back is covered with a thin film of sweat and I reach through the pillows already deciding to tell you everything before I realise you’re not there.