Choose Love

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To choose love was back up plan A.

Because love always saves the day, plays the hero and coats the dress in diamonds and pearls.

What can be easier than choosing love?

When boxed days rotate and high winds dissipate frantically built lodgings, I’ll call on love to rebuild.

When thorns creep up flesh and bones to choke the vein that feeds me, I’ll swallow love. Juicy, revitalising love. I’ll be replenished in an instant.

It was supposed to be that easy.

Love is warm and fuzzy and pleasurable and light.

Choose Love they said and all is coming. So, I chose love and yes, certainly all did come

And indeed, the eyes of change sneered upon routine, mocking until she got her way.

But to really choose love, all-out-no-going-back-love was the fucking hardest thing I’ve done and I cursed, not the days I’ve loved but the lifetime I haven’t.

I cried to the moon, to the stars, to any God who’ll listen ‘please make it stop’, but my choice, my choosing, what can anybody do?

Because choosing love shatters. Memories splinter and slice up your eyes, sharp tears are going to sting like nothing you’ve ever felt.

Fill up your hands with soil and bile and the rotten eggs you tread on, smear your face with shame, perversions and spiteful words you’ve laden upon others. You have to see the dirt, to taste it, to smell it. You’re gonna bond with festering bacteria that lives in disrupted guts and shit.

Because choosing love churns shit and it’s messy. Don’t be precious because shit can stain.

Choosing love? Don’t be precious about anything.

Love rips up the pleasantries and vomits on obligation. Nice? Forget it

Because choosing love doesn’t carry you, or soften the strike with feathered blades, it dissects you; it burns from you tattooed ideals and dented understandings

Choose love and you choose transparency as love isn’t blind. Love doesn’t play the game. Love isolates you from disillusioned masses and fake branding.

Choosing love, unconditional and universe-creating love invites old habits and disgusting manners back to the table.

Bring it ALL to the table, says love. There’s room.

There’s room for the dirt and the tears and the mess and the pain. There’s room for mistakes and mishaps and misunderstandings and misery. There’s room for the shame and perversions, the wrongs and the rights.

Choose love and you can’t deny hate

Choose love and you won’t shun pain

Choose love and you see there’s no distinction between the two.

 

 

Hazy

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My reality changed the day I decided it was one I’d manufactured myself.

Reality, I decided, is no longer seen truths or spoken absolutes.

See, the colours I notice are dependent on how bright the light and the brightness of light is dependent on far how I step into the dark. What a revelation! To know that depth of feeling is mirrored, no matter the direction. Walk away from your reflection and your reflection walks the precise distance away from you.

This is good news, right? In that case I have such joy and immeasurable pleasures awaiting me just after I prise my face off the hard concrete following a monumentally shit meltdown. I’m certainly familiar with meltdowns.

The hard task for me, where the problem resides is the hazy light that festers in-between, as that is where I seem to have aligned most of my deliberations.

The expectation of hazy smog has become routine, hazy light is safe, like the light you would allow into a room full of antiques, knowing little would threaten the ageing wood. A room where I can see the dust settle and although I know it’s there, I’ve become accustom to the feeling of ignorance towards the unseen. What is beyond my vision is beyond importance.

So I feel secure as I sit in this half lit room where blurred lines of polarities skim worn cushions and tacky ornaments that remind me of times gone by.

‘Oh how I wish those days were now’

Musty layers coat memories and I take comfort in the undisturbed and the scent of stagnant aromas, which are familiar to me. To invest only on the flip side of understanding, this kind of sheltered existence beckons all efforts and focus. Hazy understandings, I have dwelt over and over in places I know too well.

But then I get bored of hazy days. My throat begins to swell and words and beliefs that held such weight and conviction lose their importance. They cause obstructions as they wedge between coarse, tired vocal chords, fed up with the bullshit I’ve expelled over the years.

But it’s not bullshit, I remind myself as I can only match the light that I see.

Then I notice the air thicken and my persistent cough. I’d missed how sick I felt as the hazy light masked toxic pieces of hopes and wants and maybes. I blow the dust from my belongings and the debris stings my eyes. The room smells worse than it did before I meddled but I can’t stop now as I’ve stirred clear the murky glaze and Im fascinated.

Then I think about how hazy rays of dawn and dusk settle discoveries unearthed by the light of the moon and midday heat. And I want to be a part of that cycle and I want to discover more. I want to feel the afternoon heat and hear the call to hibernate as the sun goes down.

So that was the day I changed my reality and adjusted the light. I decided it was time to dissipate my fear of discolouring all that already exists. I opened the curtains and within a second, hazy turned to bright and crisp lines defined the darkness. It all became that little bit clearer, just a little bit that was enough, for now.

Explore

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When people ask me

What have you been doing for the past few years?

I say

I’ve been exploring

They say

Oh how exciting, where have you been?

I say

I’ve been exploring the universe

They say

Wow, do you work for NASA?

I say

No!

They say

So how did you explore the universe?

I say

I slowed down enough to stop moving

They say

How can you explore the universe if you’re not in the universe?

I say

I don’t need to be in the universe, the universe is in me.

Texas Monologues – Part 1

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Sunday

You left on a Sunday

You walked out the door of the B&B on a Sunday morning heading back across the pond.

We’d been in Texas for over a week

The holiday wasn’t over for me and according to our plane tickets and the calendar on my iPhone, we had another week left.

I begged for you to stay

Not because I wanted you

At this point I don’t even think I liked you

I wanted to feel suffocated by your apologies, not premature goodbyes

Is anything ever premature?

It happens when it happens

When its time, its time

Anyway, that’s a whole separate mind fuck

“Get it together”

You said

“You always get what you want. I’m not pandering to your tears”

No shit Sherlock

And fuck you!

You were leaving me

In the middle of our holiday

And taking the car

In rural Texas

Great

And could you have left after I’d put some clothes on?

Au revoir naked I’ll-delete-your-number-later lady

Why do we feel most vulnerable when we’re naked?

Skin is our most permanent accessory.

You never shied away from telling me I had soft skin

And then you go and grate chucks from me with your corrugated intentions

Had I chosen to ignore this newly apparent drill sergeant you were so capable of imitating?

To answer my own question, yes I had.

It wasn’t newly apparent at all

You’d not changed since the day we met

See, you were a being that I’d never known the likes of before

My lust for you was driven by curiosity

Nothing more

What can I say?

I’m springtime heat

Forcing new buds to blossom

That’s me

And you played the game

You said I was medicine

Your bottle of pop carbonating flattened enthusiasms

Well I’ve got news Mr

I’m done being consumed

I’m no longer the syrup to coat your wounded memories

So

Me

On a Sunday

Naked

You leaving

A shaken bottle of fizzy gonna spray

Burst even

Was this intentional?

I have been blind to this malicious act

Blind!

Shit

Who am I kidding?

No I wasn’t

I knew

And you weren’t malicious, you were just afraid of a life already lived

And shit, what a life you’d led

My role as victim was convincing

And maybe I’d chosen the scariest looking ride

Because I collect thrilling stories to retell

Proof, of something

So

You leaving

Best damn decision ever made

Thank you, from the bottom of my explosive heart

It was because of you that I jumped out of my comfort pot and stayed, alone

And met new people

Tremendous people

And I was properly introduced to the woman I am

Yes, I am thrilling

Without the help of fairground rides

I’ve got more stories

But not to prove anything

So Thank you

 

This note ends here but my stories don’t

I’ll continue to tell them

Just not to you.

 

 

Noticing me

Did you notice me

When I walked in wearing an oversized t-shirt and baggy jeans – I just didn’t give two craps this morning. Wild gonna shine anyway and this fierce mane, plaited, tamed, will unravel come sundown ready for moonlit serenades and ritual explorations. You just wait.

Did you notice me

When I ordered an orange juice and swallowed two round pills for an ache that just ain’t ceasing. A problem I’ll never ask you to solve, a problem not even a problem but living in a square world gonna trip up any woman thinking in circles.

Did you notice me

When I sat and pulled out my notebook and pen to scribble. Scribbling scribbles I do pretty well, you wanna read my stuff? No problem, I’ll firm my wrist to smooth crinkled words, readable, for you. Staining pages ain’t always easy, and reading forced sentiment even harder. Been easy to hide behind confusions, until now.

Pen don’t work

Did you notice me

When I asked to borrow a pen? You smiled and said, “I don’t carry ink” … well I don’t blame you; it’s a futile habit. Language lost in those dimples anyway.

Did you notice me

Staring at the stars reflected in your brand new shoes. I ain’t never seen shoes so shiny, well if I have I don’t remember ‘um like I remember yours. A whole universe bows at your feet, including the asteroid belts restricting my view.

Did you notice me

Inviting ghosts, those left behind. Echoes often ignored weave their way home. They say you loose yourself in moments like these but shared glances raised forgotten cities.

I noticed you

An enchanting exhibition, pencil lines of perfection – damn, there’s artistry in those genes. Turquoise spells would bestow our children, if I wanted children, which I don’t but we’ll talk about that as we explore rivers and spirited mountains, together.

Did you notice me

Planning eternity within the pause of a breath. No need for marriage, contracts are for bricks and mortar. Our love coasts the summer breeze, comforting, dwelling upon warm sands. As clouds morph through the sunset, our love grows. Crescendos ain’t a necessity; I’ve dived into violent waters before.

Did you notice me

Playing calm, not wanting to draw too much attention, obviously my purr was too faint. You didn’t notice me, footsteps you’ll forget and shiny shoes heading someplace new. You left with no precious exchanges, carrying nothing of me as I inscribe the entire fucking manuscript of you. Beginning, middle.

End.

 

Messy

I remember our bodies sweating like sea lions

Simmering under the southern heat

Both full of bar food and dark rum from the night before

You drank enough for the both of us

But then you always did

I remember amber stained fingers from your Marlboro reds

Pawing at me

Curves purring

Tenderness ripe

Your hand melting upon my swollen stomach

Comfort deadened your weight

I crawled under you

Towards the sunlight tickling my toes

To fill up again

On something

I remember you stirring

Emerging from the airless pit ploughed by drunken words

A promise of eternity uttered

Yet hours evaporated

Forgotten

And empty longings coated our lungs

Our mouths were dry

For we’d swallowed all we could give

I remember watching smoke escape you

That first cigarette of the day

Rousing euphoria

I was never able to awaken similar pleasures

You wouldn’t allow me to

I remember we never cleaned up

A sink full of midnight cravings

Half eaten pancakes from 4am proposals

“Ask me again in the morning”

Well morning came

And bitter coffee softened the beaten shadow

Clouds of knowing

Knowing the rain would fall

To disperse such words

Never to be heard again

I remember the permanent current

A chaos never ceasing

I remember falling deeply in love with our mess

Mirroring untamed gardens

Seeds sown by others to grow wild within

I remember your divinity

But I was numb

Bursting with an excess of salty tears

Smudging the ink as we wrote our story

I remember the ending

Waves crashing

Eroding the chalk my bones were now made of

My survival depended on it

I cleaned up.

The Tree and Me

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“Stop! Look at me”

How sternly he spoke, the old crooked tree

“You’d just pass me by

With no thought as to why,

All the whispers you hear

As you draw yourself near

To us old, lonely trees

You can hear us say please,

Please listen to our stories

We’ve so much to share!”

 

“I’m sorry”, I replied

See, I’d not thought of why

As I’m so busy walking

I’ve no time for talking.

I most often I find

To talk slips my mind

And all through the day

I just seem to ignore those who get in my way.

 

So I said to the tree…

“I don’t walk through these woods to notice the birds

Or to wait for the breeze to carry your words

I take little notice of flowers in spring

Or the feathers that fall from a pigeons wing.

I can’t see the fairies that live in your bark

And the lure of their glow as they brighten the dark.”

 

“HA!” said the tree, “you can see to great lengths

To witness our world, what a marvellous strength!

Most humans will miss the beauty you see

And you are, after all, stood talking to me.”

I thanked the tree for being so kind

I guess he was right, I was not so blind.

“Come rest in my shade as the sun blares his heat

And take some weight off those travelling feet.”

So I did, I rested and we spoke some more

About the trolls and the fairies and forest law.

 

“Can you hear me?” a voice that came from afar

“Sure” I replied, “But can’t see where you are?”

“It’s me!” said the dog as he bounded our way

Looking as if he just wanted to play.

Yet it seems I was wrong, as he needed to pee

He cropped up his leg and aimed straight at the tree.

“It happens a lot” the tree did not care

“They all pee on me, from the deer to the hare.”

The dog perched himself in the shade next to me

In silence we sat, to just breathe, just to be.

The dog then said, “No-one hears what I say

My keeper, he walks the same way each day.

Yet I like to roam around places unknown

But I can’t as my keeper would curse and then moan.

So I ran from his sight to explore places new

What fun that I did as I’ve now found you!”

 

The story continues as next came a horse

“I seem to have strayed from my usual course”

This pleased the dog

“Come sit in the shade

This friendly tree made

We’re talking of nothing,

The best topic of all!”

 

So, the dog, the horse, the tree and me

We talked as you would over afternoon tea

Is it weird I can talk to a dog, horse and tree?

That I understand them and they understand me?

 

Three men cycled by, not a care in the world

Their wheels churned the mud as they skidded and swirled.

Up popped a worm, at first sight she looked sad

But her cheeks, they turned red and her eyes, they turned mad

“What’s this I hear?

I’ll make myself clear

I don’t like the sound

As you pound on the ground

It disrupts my day

I don’t like it that way!”

And so said the tree…

“It wasn’t me!

Twas was the cycling three.”

“Ah” said the worm

“I see.”

 

The next thing you know

There are 5 in this show

And we all sit and chat

About this, about that.

 

The time soon came for the dog to go home

His keeper came by and gave him a bone

“I thought you’d run off, so I got you a treat

Let’s make our way home and I’ll cook you some meat.”

So off they went, and the horse, he went too

“If the sun were to set, I’d not know what to do!

It’s warm in my stables and I’ve so much to eat

I’ve people to brush me and public to greet”

So off he trot, his head held high.

“It’s you, me and the tree” said the worm to I

“But I’ll have to go soon as it’s getting too hot

If I stay here too long, I’ll go crispy and rot!”

She buried herself in the Earth, digging deep

It didn’t take long before she fell fast asleep.

And so said the tree…

“You’re more than welcome to stay here with me

It’s free in these woods, we don’t charge a fee”

Such words, they are truly hard to resist.

 

So I stayed with the tree as the sky painted pink

Not haunted by worry or reasons to think.

How perfect this moment, how perfectly free

I’m so glad that today I made friends with a tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wild Inside

The Moon was full and her beauty shone brightly over London town.

A young girl slept with her bedroom window open to let in the summer breeze.

Her clothes were sprawled all over the floor, mirroring the mess throughout the small flat she lived in with her Mum and Dad.

Her dad was drinking in the front room and her mum had fallen asleep on her bed. Most nights her mum would forget to pull the duvet over her body so felt a chill through the night.

The girl slept peacefully in her room.

She dreamt of dancing trees and pink candy water and a Red Serpent who lay motionless on the grass banks.

The girl was weary about the Red Serpents intentions.

“Red Serpent, I’ve never seen such a creature as you before as you’re not from around these parts, what are you doing in my dream?”

The Red Serpent looked directly at her

“Girl, I’m here to teach you”

This excited the girl; she’d never had a Red Serpent teach her anything before.

“Are you going to teach me how to slither through the grass like you?”

“No. You are a human and move upright, you will never be able to slither through the grass like me”

This baffled the girl.

“Well then, why are you here and what you going to teach me?”

The Serpent coiled her tail and sat up.

“You’ll see”

 

The girl woke from her dream on to a warm summers morning.

She could hear the television from the front room as her dad had fallen asleep in his chair.

Once her eyes were wide and the morning haze had lifted she noticed a Jaguar sat at the end of her bed.

Although she was a little scared, who wouldn’t be with such a large cat at the end of their bed, she addressed the Jaguar.

“Jaguar, I’ve never seen your magnificence before as you’re not from around these parts. What you doing at the end of my bed?”

The Jaguar licked her right paw, taking her time to answer.

“Girl, I’m here to teach”

This excited the girl; she’d never had a Jaguar teach her anything before.

“Are you going to teach me how to run as fast as you?”

“No. You have only two legs and I have four, you will never be able to run as fast as me.”

This baffled the girl.

“Well then, why are you here and what are you going to teach me?”

The Jaguar licked her left paw, taking her time to answer.

“You’ll see”.

 

The morning ritual of her mum shouting at her dad began and the girl knew it was time to get out of bed.

As the girl got ready for school, the Jaguar sat at the end of her bed casually cleaning herself.

The kitchen window was open and the girl enjoyed the warm air as she sat and ate her dry toast.

A Green Hummingbird flew through the window and landed on the kitchen table.

“Green Hummingbird, I’ve never seen your beauty before as you’re not from around these parts, what are you doing on my kitchen table?”

“Girl, I’m here to teach you”

The girl was dubious, as she’d had little luck deciphering the teachings of the Red Serpent and the Jaguar but nonetheless she was excited; she’d never had a Hummingbird teach her anything before.

“Are you going to teach me how to hover in mid-air like you?”

“No. You don’t have wings, only legs to walk with so you will never be able to hover in mid-air like me”.

The girl’s confusion grew.

“Well then, why are you here and what are you going to teach me?”

And before the Green Hummingbird could answer, the girl continued.

“I know, I know, I’ll see”.

 

A very bemused girl left the flat and made her way to school.

She took the path that leads along the canal; it’s only a short walk along the water until she reaches school.

As she walked past a canal boat she noticed a Brown Eagle perched on the roof.

How strange her sightings were this morning.

“Brown Eagle, I’ve never seen a bird as big as you as you’re not from around these parts. What are you doing on this canal boat?”

The Brown Eagle spread her majestic wings but did not speak a word.

“Eagle, your silent teachings are wasted on me as I am human. I can’t sliver like a Serpent as I move upright. I can’t run as fast as a Jaguar as I only have two legs and I can’t hover in mid-air like the Hummingbird as I don’t have wings.

The Eagle remained silent.

All the girl could think to do at this point was wave goodbye to the Eagle and carry on her walk to school.

 

As the girl daydreamed out of the window during morning registration, the teacher shouted her name. The girl didn’t respond and the angry teacher cursed her distant behaviour.

The whole class started to laugh, as this was not unusual behaviour for the girl to daydream during class. She did it almost everyday.

The teacher laughed with the rest of the class and as the girl’s eyes began to well up with tears, the teacher screamed abruptly.

“There’s a Red Serpent coming out of my draw!”

The girl watched as the Red Serpent slivered across the desk and wrapped her tail around the teachers arm. The pen moved in the teacher’s hand and marked a tick next to the girls name in the register.

The class were mesmerised by these actions and it didn’t stop there.

A flick of the Red Serpents tail sent the teacher flying into the air, landing on her bum, shaking the classroom as she crashed into the floor.

The girl laughed, her tears disappeared and she thought about how afraid everyone must be to see such a wild and frightening sight.

But the girl was not afraid; she knew this Red Serpent. Her bravery shone as she stood confidently, defining her presence and inviting the Serpent to follow her outside to the overgrown bushes by the football pitch.

As the girl led the Red Serpent out of the classroom she could hear the boys clapping and the girls praising her actions.

“Thank you Red Serpent, you made my mean teacher cry”

“That was not my teaching today,” said the Serpent as she slivered away into the overgrown bushes, never to be seen again.

 

It was lunchtime and sounds of cutlery and chatter filled the canteen.

The girl was thinking that all must have heard of her bravery by now and there’ll be a queue of girls wanting to sit with her.

She sat alone and ate her lukewarm macaroni and cheese.

A carton of orange juice was thrown at the girl’s head by one of the boys sat on the table next to her.

As the canteen laughed at the girl, the school alarm went off.

There was no time to evacuate as the fierce Jaguar ran furiously down the corridor. All in her way were screaming and jumping to safety.

The boy who threw the juice carton froze in fear as the Jaguar headed his way.

It was too late for escape, the Jaguar wrestled him to the ground and as he pleaded for his life he accidently wet his trousers.

The girl was not afraid; she knew this Jaguar. Her bravery shone as she stood confidently in the surrounding chaos.

The girl demanded the boy should never throw a juice carton at her again and if he apologised she would release him from the grips of the jaguar.

The boy apologised and the girl led the Jaguar outside to the overgrown bushes by the football pitch.

As the girl left the canteen she heard rounds of clapping and teachers singing her praise.

“Thank you Jaguar, you made that horrible bully cry and wet his trousers!”

“That was not my teaching today,” said the Jaguar as she strutted into the overgrown bushes, never to be seen again.

 

The girl stood with her knees shivering in the cold, waiting in line during P.E to be chosen by team A or B for the netball game.

She thought to herself that after her heroic actions at lunchtime she would be picked first by the team captain.

She wasn’t. As usual no-one was picking her for their team.

The wings of the Green Hummingbird fluttered inside her stomach and the girl uttered, “Green Hummingbird, come out from there and frighten the girls who didn’t pick me!”

There was no sign of the Green Hummingbird but the girl could feel herself getting bigger.

Energy rippled through the girl, a strength building inside as she felt her body grow. It kept growing and growing, the ground seemed to move further and further away.

The girl felt 10 feet tall.

Now I’m so tall, both teams will want me. I can reach the netball post with ease and score the most goals!

Still, no one was picking her.

The girl was not afraid; she knew the strength of the Green Hummingbird.

She felt that it did not matter about being picked last as being as tall as she was she’d most certainly help her team win the game.

“Thank you Green Hummingbird, you made me tall enough to show off and score more goals than the other girls”.

“That was not my teaching today”, said the Green Hummingbird and at that moment, the girls stomach felt empty again.

 

It had been a long day and one she would never forget.

She felt confident and held her head high as she walked home from school.

The girl heard her mum screaming in the kitchen as she opened the front door.

Her dad had his hands wrapped around her mother’s neck. He was drunk as usual.

Today the girl had tamed a snake, she had calmed a fierce Jaguar, she had saved a boys life and she had grown ten feet tall with a Green Hummingbird inside of her stomach.

Her Dad was only a human, how could he possibly harm her more than a wild animal?

The girl was not afraid; she was confident the Eagle would turn up soon.

She intervened, pulling her dad off her mum, yelling at him to go. The girl had never felt such strength, such determination in her spirit.

The shock in her dad caused him to freeze. He let go of her mum, turned to the girl and hit her hard across the cheek, causing a bruise to appear the next day.

Her dad cried.

Her mum cried.

There was no sign of the Eagle.

“Thank you” said her mum as she hugged the girl so tightly the girl couldn’t catch her breath.

The girl said nothing as she watched her dad leave the flat. He was never to be seen again.

 

When evening came, the clouds hid the moon and the girl snuggled into bed.

She imagined the Serpent, the Jaguar and the hummingbird.

“Eagle where were you when I needed you the most?” uttered the girl to the sky in the hope of some response.

Her eyes closed and she quickly fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.

The Eagle perched herself on the girls window seal and watched her sleep.

The girl did not dream of the Serpent, the jaguar, the hummingbird or the Eagle. Instead she dreamt of visiting the park and enjoying a lavish picnic lunch with her smiling, happy Mum.

It was perfect.

 

 

Salad Sandwiches

I’ve been attending my new school for one month now. It was my 14th birthday two weeks ago and no one in my class knew, so the day was just like any other although I did have salad sandwiches for lunch, my favourite. When one has a dad who has a breakdown after his wife dies and then buys a riverboat to live the life of a hermit, one has absolutely no say in the matter other than what the authorities tell one. That one is I, one and I are one and one is a pretty lonely number when you’re 14 and hitting puberty. I’m not allowed to have a breakdown because I legally have to go to school and I’m always being told that kids are resilient creatures. I didn’t know I was a creature but then I didn’t know a tomato was a fruit so it seems I have a lot to learn.

If I were to view my life through a practical lens, it would be more convenient if my mum had died after my 18th birthday. Then I wouldn’t have to live with Aunt G. I could have moved to France or married a vegan farmer who lives in Cumbria, just like my mum would have liked. If vegan farmers don’t exist then I could plant potatoes and sell home-made jam. The landscapes of London would be projector slides in my memory. I’d never have to walk through concrete fields again. Actually, it would have been convenient if my mum hadn’t died at all and we’d made home-made jam together but I can’t think about that because I’m a resilient creature.

Dear mum,

I often look at the Eucalyptus tree in the communal garden at the back of the house. It’s really magnificent… you would have loved it. I look at the bark and try to guess what colour it would stain the silk dress you wore to my birthday last year (you remember, the white one I wasn’t allowed to touch as I had sugar coated fingers after eating too many cola bottles). I remember the colour of the wildflowers boiling in the large pot that was too hot to put on the front of the stove. The home made tie-dye trousers you made me wear when you’re friends came over for coffee just to show off your new creative hobby, even though I couldn’t do up the zip. The discussions you had with dad about cutting down on his meat consumption, to which he’d just nod and say, “I hear you”. He’d still buy the reduced chicken curry on a Monday night and beef cutlets on a Friday but you didn’t say anything because you loved him. I didn’t realise how much you loved us all. Now that you’re gone, I feel it was endless. You made loving dad look so easy but I see now how difficult that must have been as the more I need him, the further away he seems to travel. The day you died your top was bright yellow to show off the turquoise necklace you’d found at a jumble sale, it was your favourite. You died wearing your best clothes, like you knew that day was your last. Maybe you did know and you were dressing up for God. I think I’d rather be there with you. I’m wondering why God took you and kept me here because it’s shit but then he knows how shit it is because he’s God.

I have a long list of questions.

Love Me.

P.S. Dad always looked like a rusty pipe but mum, you shone like a ruby.

Dad and I clash; I guess that’s why he chose France over me. I can’t fathom the impulsive decision he made, his moving to France. He’s never even been to France! They do eat lots of meat so maybe that’s why. Mama J told me, “sometimes life throws ya the queen of spades and ya gotta take the hit until the next hand of cards is dealt”. That’s rather nonsensical to me. Mama J loves to play cards and tells me that in the game of Hearts, you’re screwed if you get the queen of spades. She creates gems of wisdom, snippets of advice each day that must float to her mind as she engages in conversations with herself. The best conversations are the ones she has with herself, apparently. There are no limits to the randomness that comes out of her mouth but mum was exactly the same. Every girl needs a hippie in her life. The only card game I can play is rummy, Mama J taught me three days after I moved in with Aunt G. It was a good distraction although I never win. Mama J is a card shark! I don’t mind losing because I like the homemade rosehip tea she brews, she tells me its good for concentration so we drink it each time she gets the pack of cards out. I love her rosehip tea, losing tastes so much better when you wash it down with pink petals and dried lavender.

I have a Jon Bon Jovi poster on my wall next to my bed. I didn’t bring much from my old house, my old life. We didn’t have much anyway and what we did have didn’t match. The sofa was taken from a skip when a neighbour was having their downstairs renovated. The kitchen table was bought at a car boot sale and it took dad two months to find four odd chairs that comfortably fit around it. The table was more of a coat collector than a place to sit. Dad never hung up his jacket in rightful place of the closet under the stairs. Mum got fed up with the role of husband-tidier-upper so the table housed unused placemats, dad’s worn jackets and lots of woodworm. I kiss my Bon Jovi picture before I go to bed, thanking him for protection as I sleep. He seems like a good bet. He’s got muscles and he writes songs about heartbreak. Who doesn’t trust a man who expresses their vulnerability and wears cowboy boots! I reckon if I could call on any living spirit, his would be most suited and he’d fly to my aid like a bee to a blossom tree.

So thinking about my birthday, there was this one kid at school who sat next to me during lunch break. He was enquiring as to why I didn’t have any cheese in my salad sandwich. Salad sandwiches are my favourite so Aunt G said I could buy an extra packet of mixed leaf salad as a birthday present. That was the only present I got. She never stops giving.

“What’s the good of a salad sandwich with no cheese?”

His trousers were too short and he had a spot at the end of his nose. Now, I usually refrain from making judgements but this looked particularly painful, like his skin was sheltering an army of bacteria. I stared for longer than was comfortable, I knew he was staring back; maybe my pores were inviting an examination also. I had washed my face this morning but grease seems to ooze like molten lava these days. An uncontrollable eruption can occur at any moment, my pores have become incredibly uncooperative recently. My mum used to say I’m as stubborn as an ox so I wasn’t about to be the first to avert my gaze. He caved and grabbed my bag.

“What else you got for lunch?”

There was nothing else to eat in my bag.

“Are you an anorexic?”

WHAT.

“I watched a programme about anorexic girls who think the leaf of a lettuce is too fattening and they won’t look good in their boob tubes”.

This boy is weird.

“I’m not anorexic and I don’t have a boob tube”

“Then why do you only have salad in your sandwich?”

“Because it’s my birthday and salad and margarine in a sandwich tastes like heaven on earth.”

I could see this confused the hell out of him. He scrunched up his nose, causing his top lip to rise, showing off his discoloured braces.

“Margarine? I only have butter in my sandwiches.”

I could see this kid was going to be hard work.

He was waiting for me at the bus stop after school.

Before I could recognise his face amongst the herd of uniformed kids, he bellowed at me, “What year are you in?”

Everyone at the bus stop stared at me.

Fact: I don’t wear the most fashionable shoes, I don’t even know what store they’re from as the insole was worn down by whoever owned them before me. Mum got all my shoes from the charity shop. Waste not, want not and all that malarkey.

Needless to say, when you wear old, worn shoes to school and some weird kid shouts at you and then nearly everyone in your school stares at you and some girls laugh at you because you wear old shoes and no one knows who you are, those are the moments you want to die. I ignored the boy and walked straight past the bus stop. It was a nice evening so I decided the 30-minute walk home would do me good.

“I’ll walk with you!”

I went from wanting to die to wanting to kill.

“You can tell me more about salad sandwiches”.

“I don’t live near you”

“Yes I do, I’ve seen you walk into the corner shop at the end of my road”

God must hate me.

Even though I picked up my pace and made every effort to ignore his company, he skipped beside me and talked non-stop about genetically modified farming the whole 30-minute walk home.

 

 

 

 

Supermarket Sweep

A shop assistant told me off the other day for sitting on the floor in isle 6 at the supermarket. It’s against shop rules apparently, to sit down when you’re bored of searching for everything on the very specific shopping list you’ve been given by your obsessive aunt.

“You’re not allowed to sit here,” said the guy wearing an apron. His nametag was scratched but I could make out he worked at the fish counter as he smelt like as open tin of tuna that hadn’t been refrigerated. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not doing any harm just sitting here, minding my own business. I just wanted to assess my next move in this busy store and rest my legs in the process.

“Really, you’re going to have to get up. Where’s your mum?”

I suppose it’s fairly normal to assume that when a 14-year-old girl is sitting on the floor in a supermarket it’s due to her rebellious nature towards her mother who has most probably walked away in humiliation.

My reply was monotone, “She’s dead”.

After these words left my mouth I realised this could also be another presumed reason for my collapse on the supermarket floor. It could be that I’m inconsolably upset that my mother has died and due to my underdeveloped coping skills as a teenager, I’ve come to the supermarket to vent my pain and seek the help of strangers. This wasn’t the case for my sitting on the floor, I just wanted to rest my legs because when you’re 14 food shopping is boring. It’s most probably boring when you’re an official adult too (I’m not sure what age you can stamp yourself an ‘official adult’ as Aunt G still cries if we run out of digestive biscuits and she’s 58).

“Shit, I’m so sorry. Are you Ok?”

Am I Ok? I don’t know the answer to this question, I seriously don’t.

“Not really”

“Do you want me to call anyone? Does your dad know you’re here? I can call him from the phone in the back office”.

Wouldn’t that be incredible, if this guy could just call my dad using a special phone in the back office? Imagine if this phone was so miraculous it could dial into a part of my dads mind, a part of him so deep it’s heard nothing but a death tone hum since my mum died, 6 months ago. This phone could tap into his maternal psyche, wake it up, inform it that my behaviour has become so out of the ordinary that I’ve taken to sitting on supermarket floors. Undoubtedly his awareness of my current behaviour would draw him back to London, even if it’s purely out of curiosity (he’s a nosey bugger). Even if he wanted to go someplace else, like Dorset or Cumbria or the highlands, I’d happily jump on a train and meet him there. Dad always wanted to live in Cumbria. He had this idea about buying a farm, even though my mum was vegan. He said that he’d raise the cows with so much love that when it was time to send them off to slaughter, they’d be the happiest cows on death row. Mum was obviously disgusted by this idea but liked the idea of Cumbria so they’d often talk about moving there and buying an old farmhouse with plenty of cats and no cows. Dad still asked if he could have a shed to make cheese in, mum agreed. She later told me that he’d never actually do it, as he can’t even nail a banister to the staircase wall, even though she’s been asking for two years now. Her exact words were ‘how the hell is he going to manage sitting in a shed, churning cheese when he can’t even hammer a few nails into the wall… dumb idiot’. We never did have a banister. You also need cows to make milk but dad really was a bit of an idiot, most of the time.

I felt this was an appropriate time to explain my situation to a stranger. “My Dad’s living on a barge in France and he doesn’t own a phone. I suppose he could be anywhere by now but we’ll never know. Well not unless he sends one of those pigeons with a message tied around his neck but my dads never handled birds so he wouldn’t have a clue what to do”.

I didn’t move, I know I should have, just to break the awkwardness. The shop assistant who’s name I couldn’t make out, well he looked puzzled and rather worried I might cry or something. He smiled and nodded sympathetically but said no more to me. He beckoned to his colleague who was reducing the price of bagels with his red sticker gun.

“I think we have a situation here”.

This is not a situation.

I believe screaming in public is considered ‘not the done thing’ but I bet my whole £20 savings that many have contemplated, even fantasied about screaming the house down more than they’d like to admit. Lets say if you get to the post office and the queue is so long it’s out the door, then you see there’s only one member of staff in service and the parcel you’re posting is for someone who has their birthday tomorrow so you have to post it as you made them a promise. This scenario has never happened to me, however that doesn’t stop me from imagining it could induce a frustrated scream and maybe even some swear words for good measure. I was now beyond just resting my tiered legs during a shopping trip.

Maybe I should create a situation.

If I hadn’t felt like screaming before I was observed as a ‘situation’, I sure did now. I wanted to empty my lungs like they were full of lethal fumes and only death awaited if I didn’t release immediately. I could feel the well of rage filling up, my tears patiently waiting for the red light to flow purposefully down my cheek. Powerful electrical currents possessed my feet, pulsating, taunting me to stand up powerfully and swipe the shop assistant across the face with my right hand. My right hand was getting ready, preparing for war.

The shop assistants were not fuelling my battle imaginings; the sticker gun was not enforcing primal instincts to attack! One instructed, “I think we should get the manager over”

War had begun.

I crossed my legs and swung forward, hauling up my body in one heroic movement.

I am a warrior!

“She might not be right in the head”

I am a warrior!

“Kid, you’re going to have to leave the shop”

I am a warrior!

“Kid, say something, you’re being weird”

I am a warrior! Except I’m not a warrior at all, I couldn’t talk, my tongue felt bigger than my mouth and my right hand numbly remained at the side of my hip. I then did something that would make my Aunt G proud. Something that completely negated all the sadness that rose so abruptly inside of me. Something that pushed the rawness of my pain deep inside my tummy to live with the night terrors and panic attacks. I smiled at the shop assistants and picked up my basket, in one carefree motion.

“Where do you keep the tins of tuna?”