This piece of writing stemmed from a guided-write that I participated in during the second semester of my Creative Writing degree. We were played a selection of songs and each one inspired where the story would be taken. Two songs that jump out in this piece are Hall & Oates’ You Make My Dreams and David Bowie’s Life on Mars.
Really interesting and inspiring technique for those struggling with writer’s block! Enjoy…
‘Do you love her?’
I stopped dead in my tracks, my heart leaping to my throat, a deer in headlights.
‘You heard me.’ He said it with more force this time, adopting a stern, fatherly tone; ‘do you love her?’
An eerie silence fell between them and I leaned my head against the cool wall of the hall way, my suddenly sandy tongue plastering itself to the roof of my mouth. What do I do? Do I stay where I am, unmoving and unheard? Or do I creep away, risking the floorboards giving away my position, my unlawful eavesdropping?
I imagined him leaning against the marble kitchen counter, hands deep in jean pockets, head lowered, eyes cast to the floor. There came a sigh, from which man I will never know. Slippered feet shuffled on the kitchen tiles.
I closed my eyes and bit hard on my trembling lip. My mind conjured images of his father’s stern eyes, calloused hands resting on generous hips and a brow raised. My imagination mustn’t have been running too wild, as there came an exasperated sigh.
‘I haven’t even had this conversation with her yet, let alone you! I love her, Dad. I do. And I’m scared.’
I thought of his rough hands, like father like son, being pulled over his face and through his thick, dark hair. Another sigh was forced through pursed lips. Why are you scared? I pinched the bridge of my nose and concentrated on the scuffed skirting board, noticing for the first time the line of Thomas the Tank Engine stickers that paraded the edge meeting the laminate floorboards. I thought of the other fragments of vandalism around the house from his childhood; the crayoned characters behind the door of the cupboard under the stairs, the broken photo frame still parading the smiling faces of his grandparents, the paint on the face of the well-loved rabbit of his infancy that was still proudly perched atop his wardrobe. I let a smile creep across my still shaking lips. Continue reading
August 14th 2015
They stood in the crisp morning air, their clouds of breath colliding and dancing away with each other. It felt as if the whole world was sleeping, and they were the only two of mankind left to witness its beauty. The sky – bright white, almost fluorescent – hugged the horizon line like a glowing halo, the clouds dense and low and dazzling. She felt like she was breathing through new lungs; the boulders that had been clinging to her shoulders had been lifted, her throat no longer tightened when her turbid mind began to wander. She closed her eyes and heaved a satisfied sigh as the bitter air nibbled at her nose and pinched her finger tips. The field below them was completely empty, apart from a large willow tree that proudly sported a rope swing, and one lonely yurt. The plume of smoke rising from its makeshift chimney was being carried across the acres of land in a long, smooth line; no gust of wind to disrupt its travels, no fracture in its perfect poignancy.
They sat on that hill for what seemed like hours, talking about anything that came to them, be it relevant or irrelevant. At points they just sat in silence, appreciating each other’s company and allowing the six A.M. bird calls to accentuate the dearth of conversation. They watched the sun rise, listened to those birds sing their good mornings to one another, breathed the fresh country air and witnessed that perfect plume of smoke as it continued its adventure all the way across the land, as far as they could see, uninterrupted and unscathed. She imagined being as light as the cold air that embraced her, and letting the trail of smoke carry her with it on its journey. She fantasised about not having a care in the world, about drifting over the furthest tree she could see and allowing herself to travel wherever the wind took her. She’d start fresh.
As he began to make his way back to the campsite, she trailed behind him, smiling at the ground below her feet and giving mental thanks for the evening they’d shared. She wanted to tell him how much it had meant to her. He’d known what to say and when to say it yet he’d also known when it was appropriate to just listen. To just be there, a rock for her to cling to when she felt like she was drowning; a life jacket to hug her when she felt she could no longer swim away. He’d allowed her the time she’d needed to elucidate her disorderly thoughts and offered her the warm space that she’d needed – far more than powdery pills and plastic capsules – to empty her mind.
inspired by I’ll Keep You Safe by Sleeping At Last
August 22nd, 2015
She shouldn’t be with him. She should be with me. I know her; I know what she wants, what she likes and I know that he doesn’t. He doesn’t know her. Not like I do. I love her. I’ve loved her for years. I’ve loved her since we were thirteen and we sat at the top of the kids climbing frame and talked for hours about singing. I loved her even more when she told me she wanted to be on the stage. I said I did too. I loved her even more when she spent all night by my side when she introduced me to her friends. She didn’t care what people thought of her. She wanted to be next to me. I loved her even more when we stayed up till dawn talking about life, crying about exes, complaining about work, laughing at each other’s anecdotes.
I fell in love with her when she cried in my arms when she left, telling me how much she’d miss me, kissing my neck, holding me tight. I knew I was in love with her when I cried back. Me. Emotionless, insensitive me. I cried. I held her and I cried. I held her hand through the window of her car, kissed it hard, held it tight to my chest, promised I’d come and see her.
And she has no idea. She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know I’m in love with her. She doesn’t know how I feel. I’ve never even had the courage to kiss her, let alone tell her. I’ll hold her all night, listen to her sobs, press my face into her hair, be the one that’s there when she needs them the most. But I can’t bring myself to take my lips off of her forehead and bring them those few inches down onto her lips. Maybe I’m scared of rejection. Maybe my subconscious is saying NO, she’ll push you away in disgust. ‘You’re like my brother!’ she’ll exclaim. But there’s also a part of me, a very small part that thinks… maybe she wouldn’t? Maybe she’ll kiss me back, hold onto my hair, her breath hot in my mouth and tell me she’s wanted me to do that for years.
I told her that I’d keep her safe, no matter what. I told her she didn’t need to be scared anymore because there was no way I’d ever let anything hurt her. She’d looked up at me with those eyes the colour of a summer sky, tears saltier than a sea breeze and said she believed me. I promised I’d never let anything hurt her? If I’m selfish enough to tell her the truth, I’ll send her brain somersaulting and no doubt cause her a world of hurt. I can’t tell her. If she thinks she’s happy with him, then I have to sit back and let it happen.