Tuesday 11 January 2011

I have forgotten, I shall feed you a little. I'm sorry if I've forgotten how to cook.

They were angry - the sky had changed colour when no one had asked it to.

They didn't like it as much as they had in their past lives. They had invented their past lives. I pointed this out to them. They sneered at me.

They told me that I had got it all wrong.

They didn't remember things the way that I did.

By the time they had finished talking at me, the sky had changed colour again.

When they noticed that, they got angry with each other and refused to speak.

I left them to it and carried on my way to get the paper.

please ignore this

Thursday 7 October 2010

Marbles Came Out Instead of Words

I was sitting by the duck pond. I watched the ducks sticking their bums in the air as they searched for food. Some fully immersed themselves and I would try to guess where they were going to surface. One appeared to be fighting itself. A couple of swans drifted on the periphery, looking unimpressed.

A man sat next to me on the concrete step, a little closer than I was comfortable with. He looked distressed. His forehead was creased and his skin was pale, shining slightly as if covered with a thin transparent outer layer.

‘Are you ok, mate?’ I asked.

He turned to me and opened his mouth.

Marbles came out instead of words. One or two at first. They hit hard on the concrete and bounced three or four times into the water with a plop. More marbles came bouncing down. They didn’t stop coming. They built into a steady stream that stretched the edges of his mouth wide until a discordant waterfall was flowing from his distended features. The duck that had been fighting itself stopped to watch.

I’m not sure how long it went on for, but at some point it finished. The ducks came over to see what the fuss was all about - maybe it was the entertainment before their dinner time.

The man coughed into his hands a few times. He let out a laugh, which turned into another cough as a final marble popped out and bounced down and plopped into the water

‘Well, well,’ he said. ‘I feel much better.’

His voice was thick and dented, a marble possibly still stuck in his throat. I wasn’t surprised. He got up, patted me on the shoulder and left.

The ducks looked at me expectantly. I’m pretty sure they knew I had the last of an almost stale loaf in my bag. As I pulled it out, I could see the swans take note and start making their way over for a piece of the action.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Mountain Man

They called him Mountain Man. There wasn’t any reason that they called him that past the fact that he lived on a mountain. Right now he was flying a plane. They would never have thought that Mountain Man was able to fly a plane. He wouldn’t have either. But he was up there all the same. No lessons, no reading up on it, no co-pilot; just him guessing. He was doing ok. He was doing pretty well. He just wasn’t sure how to bring it back down, or how much fuel was left.

He looked down at the fields around him. He was far from the mountain now. Looking at the fields he found himself thinking about tea on Sunday evenings, watching the Antiques Roadshow. Crumpets saturated with butter, cheese and crackers, crisps, fruit and Battenberg. He wondered why he had loved Ballykissangel so much as a kid. He thought about Dervla Kirwin. I wonder what she’s doing right now, he thought as the sea came into sight on the horizon.

He flew out over the sea and started to drift out of conscious. The land receded behind him. As he leant back into sleep he pulled back the joystick and the plane angled up towards the sun.

Monday 5 July 2010

Seeing the Mountains from the Train Window, I Forget

The brown paint on the wood of the decking is chipped. Weathered grain shows through in patches. It is hot to the touch as I feel the contours on bare skin. I pick at a piece of the paint before I slip into the water. I let my body sink a moment, bubbles rising up my leg. I kick to the surface, back to the sound of the wind in the trees above.

I’m in the flat again. Dry and clothed. I expected you home, but I’m glad you’re not. Your washing up has been left on the side. You did not rinse the bowl and there are bits of tomato and green drying against its sides in the sun coming in from the window.

I put the radio on and dance momentarily to the song that’s playing. I make coffee. I was meaning to write or to read, but I cannot concentrate. I cannot order my thoughts, so I leave them alone and sit in the sun on the balcony and do not think much of anything.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

The Spreadeagle Rests the Noise

She closed her eyes and listened to the clatter and tumult of the bar. The pint she held was halfway down and still cold.

She waited as she had been for a half hour or so. She didn’t mind. She had been early. But there was no rush.

She opened her eyes and saw a solitary man sitting on the corner of a table that he was sharing with strangers. The man had a plastic bag on his lap, which he was reaching into and pulling out a variety of pebbles. He arranged them in front of him. The strangers glanced at the pebbles that were gradually filling the table, but carried on their conversations without commenting. Eventually the plastic bag was empty. The man scrunched it up in his hand, got up and left the pub. The pebbles remained on the table.

The conversation had dried up between the table's inhabitants. They sat in silence and contemplated the pattern laid out before them.

Monday 3 May 2010

The Briefcase

The mariachi band had left a briefcase in his bar. They had slept on the stage after the gig and left early in the morning, packing everything away except the briefcase. He put it behind the bar and got on with things, thinking they’d come back for it or call. It troubled him. It was a pretty ordinary suitcase. And very light - almost as if it didn’t have anything inside it. He tried the catches on it, but it was locked shut.

As the day went on and turned into evening, he realised he kept touching the briefcase absentmindedly as he served customers. He nudged it with his knees, stroked a hand across it when he bent down to pick up glasses. When he finally locked up the bar shortly before dawn, he decided to take the briefcase home with him. It didn’t want to be left alone, he felt. When he was home, he placed the briefcase in the middle of the bedroom floor, so that he could see it from his bed, which he climbed into and fell fast asleep. When he woke up he discovered he was holding the case in a tight embrace against his chest.

This was odd, he thought. Not too healthy. He decided to track the mariachi band down and return it, rather than wait for them to come back for it. He tried calling the number he had booked them through, but the line was dead. He got in his car and travelled to the small town they had said they would be playing next. He went to all of the bars in the town and asked if the mariachi band had played there. Eventually he found the one that they had played at. The owner told him where they had been going next. He got back in his car and travelled to the next town they had been going to. Again, he did the rounds around the bars until he got the information he needed.

He ended up driving up and down the country, trying to catch up with the mariachi band, but never quite managing it. He slept on the back seat of his car, clutching the briefcase for fear of losing it. He carried on looking for the mariachi band, but found himself taking it slowly, not really wanting to find them so much anymore. His thoughts became less coherent. His beard grew long and his armpits grew smelly. Eventually, as he drove across the desert, his car ran out of petrol. There was nothing for miles around. He would never get anywhere on foot.

He took the briefcase and sat down on the ground a short way from the car. He decided to see what was actually in the briefcase, if anything. He took a rock from the ground and spent a while trying to break open the catches. After a while he gave up and decided to rest. He woke up a few hours later, very red faced and burnt. He would have cursed his stupidity, but his mind was still too drawn to the briefcase. He tried the catches again. To his surprise, they opened without fuss, as if they had never been locked.

He opened the briefcase wide. Neatly lined up inside were stacks of waffles covered in Nutella, melting in the heat. One by one he picked out the waffles and slowly ate them, not pausing until every last one had gone. He sat there in the sun, face smeared with chocolate, smiling a very large smile.

I Rubbed the Surface of the Pebble in My Pocket

As I stood surveying the calm sea, thinking how nice it was not being able to see any signs of civilisation, I noticed something rising in the water. It was a black dot around fifty metres away. My first thought was that it might be a seal, but as it moved towards land I could see that it looked more like a bowler hat. Rather than float as you would expect, bobbing on the waves, it moved steadily in a purposeful straight line. Where the water started to become more shallow, the bowler hat rose and revealed a head underneath it. A smartly dressed business man gradually emerged from the water. He was very dignified, despite his sopping wet clothes and the water leaking out of his briefcase. As he passed me he lifted his hat slightly and bid me good day. I turned to watch as he disappeared amongst the sand dunes.