Category Archives: Contemporary

Dark III

The second of Chrissy’s writing challenges was to …
“Ask three people, on line, on the phone or in person what their favourite onomatopoeia is. Write a short piece with these three words in the text.”
So the words I eventually ended up with are… sizzle, trickle, drizzle, purr and clunk…

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The guy in the park had been less informative than I had expected. He had done little more than tease me with the short interchange we had shared, then invited me to join him at a group of which he was part. He gave me a card, that was more like a tarot card than a business card and said he hoped that he’d see me at the group the next evening.  At the time I took hardly any notice of his card and shoved it in my pocket with little more than a quick glance.  From it I learnt that his name was Dane Slagskygge and that  the group, which he had already told me, was ‘From the Shadows’.

Walking to the park, and sitting in the sunshine had raised my mood slightly, but the encounter with Dane and now the drizzle that had started out of nowhere had pushed me back down.  The words from my waking dream were back with a vengeance and running round in my head.  They had returned as an intrusive repetitive purr but were gaining strength. A migraine wouldn’t be far away.

As I trudged homewards the sky darkened even more. It was clear a storm was coming. I was now wishing I had put on a warm coat instead of the shades that were now surplus to requirements.  The rain had started to trickle down my neck wetting my collar and my shoes were soaking up the water as it settled in small puddles.

Instead of rushing home and getting a complete soaking I decided to duck into the cafe I sometimes went to for breakfast. Looking through the window I could se that I wasn’t hte only one caught out by the suddenness of the change of the weather.

I pushed the door open making the bell above it jingle.  It was such a traditional greasy spoon type cafe. There was a low murmur of conversation but the dominant sound that grabbed my attention was the sizzling of the grill from which the smell of bacon wafted across the room assaulting my nostrils. I moved towards an empty table and took a seat on the bench along the side wall.

” You’re late today. The usual?” Belle, the waitress asked as she sidled up to me with a coffee jug in her hand. She was easily old enough to be my grandmother but as spritely as a teenager, and so much more pleasant. She placed a mug on the table in front of me.

“Fill her up,”  I told her pushing the mug towards her. “And yes the full veggie.”

“A man of habit,” she commented as she filled the mug. “Bad day today?”

“Again,” I replied. She instinctively picked up on my demeanor.

She knew me well and instead of offering some pointless platitude simply tilted her head signaling her understanding, giving me a wink at the same time. She grabbed my shoulder as she returned to the kitchen.

Beside me on the bench there was a damp newspaper. I didn’t usually read the news, finding it all too depressing, but something about the headline had caught my eye.  I picked the paper up and shook it out to read the article.  I was just a few words into the story when there was a loud clunk on the table. I looked up from the paper slightly startled, but it was only Belle with my all-day breakfast.

She was normally a seen and not heard kind of waitress, unless you were looking for conversation. Then she could talk the hind legs off the proverbial donkey. I looked up from the plate to her. For just a moment she had a blank look on her face.

“Don’t go,” she whispered. Her face changed as if registering where she was after a long sleep.

“I’ve only just got here,” I half-joked away the awkwardness.

“I know, love. More coffee?”  She asked brightly. It was clear she had no recollection of what she had just said.

I nodded and as she moved away looked back at the article I had been reading. ‘What the hell is going on?’ I asked myself under my breath.

01-14 Drizzle

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Who me?

Today at our new writing group we were asked to write an introduction to ourselves for someone else to introduce us to an unknown audience, either for a book prize or a magazine article…  Here’s my scribbling about me. (Which I am sure many of you already know, at least most of  the details, and some of you will already know a lot more). Our pieces were read out by someone else in the group…

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN I AM PLEASED TO INTRODUCE …..  Mark Tullett

AS a child Mark was told by his ENglish teacher that he would never write anything that anyone would ever want to read. I am happy to say he has proved her wrong.

In 2011 Mark wrote about his experiences on the Camino de Santiago in “The Magic of the Camino” and has followed that up with 5 novels (so far), 3 for children, which have all been well-received. Mark’s latest work is the autobiographical “Berwick Street To Barcelona” (available direct from the author) , the profits for which all go to charity.

Mark was born in Sussex, on  the south coast of England, the first son of a working class family. Writing was not something he ever dreamed of doing.

After school Mark studied catering in London where he lived for over 20 years before moving to Vilanova in 2004, which he had for a long time felt to be his spiritual home.

Having traced his family lines back through the years Mark was delighted to cont one of Britain’s most famous writers as one of his cousins. That cousin was William Shakespeare.

Mark currently shares his time between wiring, teaching English to the locals and running a tourist apartment in Vilanova. He lives with his rescue family of two dogs and five cats.

front cover

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In the Dark

Another friend, Chrissy, has a writing blog, similar to this one and is, this year, posting a weekly challenge. She has just posted the first of these… here’s my effort…

It was suggested that we close our eyes and freefall comment on what we saw, either getting someone to take notes or record ourselves.

***************

Having been posed a writing challenge I  decided it was about time I wrote something again. It was a little outside my normal methodology but I thought it would be good to try something completely different.

I decided to lie down on the bed and as suggested in the challenge closed my eyes, having already set the voice recorder on my phone to listen in and record any ramblings.

The blackness was complete. I saw nothing except a faint imprint of the room which my eyes had just closed off from.  I squeezed my eyes tight shut, and still just the blackness. I let my mind wander as I laid there, bidding welcome to whatever thoughts that may come.

What felt like just a few moments later I opened my eyes. I was sure that my creative flow was temporarily dried up. I blinked a couple of times. Around me the room was pitch black. The darkness I had experienced when I had closed my eyes first of all had taken over the day. I could still more or less see the outline of the furniture around the room, or at least thought I could. It felt like the light had been sucked out, even the streetlamp that normally shone through the window was dark. I turned my head to check the time on the alarm-clock. It too was dark.

‘Must be a power cut,’ I told myself, all the while feeling something had changed, something was wrong.

I reached for my phone. It wasn’t there. The bedside table wasn’t there. I waved my hand around, stretching back to touch the wall. It wasn’t there either.

“What the…” I whispered into the room.  There was no other sound. Even the sound of my voice was muffled.

Below me I could still feel the bed, the warmth from the duvet against my back, and under that the cushioning spring of the mattress. The comfort of the pillows was still real, and the throw with which I’d covered my feet was still there as far as I could tell, but nothing else. Clasping my hands on my chest I closed my eyes tight again. I had no intention of moving until I understood better the situation I had woken upon, besides I needed to stop the racing of my heart and conjure up some saliva. My mouth was completely dry.

“Calm down, don’t worry. There has to be a logical explanation,” I told myself.

“Yeah right,” I replied. “One, don’t tell a worrier not to worry; and two, logical explanation, in whose world?”

“All you have to do is wake up,” a more logical side of my brain told me.

“So I’m sleeping?” I asked.

“Duh,” Replied the same logical side. “Just go with it and count yourself awake.”

“One, two three… nine, ten, eleven,” I counted opening my eyes as I said twelve aloud.

The room was there just as I had ‘left’ it moments ago. I looked at the alarm-clock. I had fallen asleep and dozed for almost an hour. I picked up my phone. It was still recording. I turned the recorder off and clicked the link to play the MP3 file. The first three words I heard on there chilled me. I quickly closed the app. I’d had enough for one day.

dark_room

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Lest we forget

If you’ve read #Berwick Street to Barcelona you’ll already know this story, although I don’t think I fixed it on a day in time.  It was on this day – 11th November 1998 that we said goodbye to our first.  Probably my worst day up that point. Thre have been too many more contenders for that title since.

It’s Never Enough

I had been sitting in my office when the phone rang with the worst news possible.

“The tumour is inoperable. There’s nothing we can do, I’m sorry. Would you like to come collect her and bring her home?”

I slammed the door to my office and broke down. Goodness knows what the rest of my team thought. I was in shock.

I called Tony: “They can’t do anything for her.” The line went silent. “I’m leaving work in a minute to go pick her up. Can you meet me there?”

And that’s what we did, met outside the vets to pick up our little girl who had a month to live at most. Our journey home together was in silence.

*******

The night before the fateful day we were aware that Chasca’s condition had worsened and she no longer had control over her bladder. I cried as I cleared up after her, and still told her how much I loved her.

“We have to decide now,” Tony was practical.

“I can’t do it.” I was sobbing.

He held me until I managed a level of control again. “It’s best for her.” He took my hands. “She’s suffering now. It is a privilege that we have had her and a privilege that we can stop her suffering.”

“Can you call?” I begged. Tony nodded. I cuddled up to Chasca knowing it would be her last night with us.

*******

 “They’re here,” Tony told me as a car pulled up outside. I was sitting on the rug in front of the fire holding Chasca telling her how sorry I was and how much I loved her.

Tony let the vet and her assistant into the living room.

“Do you want to do it here?” she asked. I couldn’t answer. I nodded as the tears flowed freely.

Tony and I knelt and held Chasca as the procedure was carried out and she slowly fell asleep in our arms.  Ironically on the radio Sarah Brightman was singing ‘It’s time to say goodbye’.

“She’s gone,” the vet announced. After I told Chasca how sorry I was yet again and professed my love for her I ran sobbing into the garden.

*******

In the aftermath I was told too many times- she was a good age; 14 is a good age for her breed, at least you had her for a long time. I wanted to scream “It’s never enough.”

Please never tell me a dog is just a dog.  They are my family, my life, my love. Have been and always will be.

Chasca

Another of my favourite photos …
With Chasca in the garden in Brockley.

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One of those days

This morning started slowly for me today. It’s probably my age but most morning’s start slowly these days. Leaping out of bed is a thing of the distant past.

After walking Franki this morning, Cuddy had wisely opted to stay in bed a bit longer, I slipped my muddy shoes off and made breakfast for the TulStig pack. Harvey has started to become more vocal now when I am late with his meals.

After breakfast I was getting ready for my Catalan class and putting my shoes one when the doorbell rang, causing the usual doggie rush to the front window barking furiously as they went.  My back isn’t too good at the moment and putting my shoes and reaching the laces is a bit of a trial, and takes much longer than it should. Anyway when the doorbell rang I had one shoe on and one flip-flop (Indoor wear here). That’s just how I went to the door.

At the door was a very amiable delivery man with a large package (add your own jokes here) for me. It was a new cat scratcher. With five of them in the house now it is clear that the current one which is already on its way out won’t last much longer. As I signed for the package I noticed that the delivery guy looked down and saw my original footwear combination and smiled. I caught his eye and just shrugged, after al I’m sure he’s encountered worse. Strike one.

This little drama meant I was later than I had hoped and as I rushed off into town I realised I had forgotten the apple turnovers I had promised to drop off at the school for June. Strike two.

Checking my email on the way into town I noticed I had one from TripAdvisor asking me to confirm my licence number for TulStig Delmar. After an aborted attempt to get through when I got to the Catalan school building I phoned again when I got home. The woman who took my call was very helpful and very apologetic for the putting me out. When I asked her name to thank her I was sure she said ‘Jelly bean’. I immediately repeated it back to her, telling her that I thought it was a very sweet name. “No, Geraldine,” she replied. “Geraldine.”  I apologised thanked her for her hap and hung up before laughing away to myself for a couple of minutes. Am I losing my hearing too? Strike three.

I’m now indoors for the rest of the evening, nothing else can go wrong can it? ….

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Problem solving

Today’s writing comes from an interesting writing prompt in a writing group I belong to on FB.

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I couldn’t bear it. I had known for some time that I needed to make some kind of big change in my life.  My home, which had been a haven I had really loved in which I had felt comfortable and safe had gradually felt more like a cage in which I was locked, or dare I say a coffin in which I was gradually being interred alive.

My lover of five years had proved to be worse than a snake in the grass, poisonous.  While looking for new batteries for the wireless mouse I had found letters hidden at the back of his desk, letters from another woman detailing their encounters. They were the straw to break the camel’s back of my love for him.

Just under an hour ago he had come home with flowers and a huge smile, completely oblivious to what I had discovered.  Now they, like him, lie motionless on the floor, both not long for this world and neither of any further appeal to me.

The shots must have been heard far and wide for in the distance I could hear the sirens, but I was not one to be re-caged. My bag was packed and I was ready…

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Jealousy

With Nanowrimo just a few days away I thought I better flex my recently unused writing muscles, so here’s the first offering in what has been too long…

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Three times he’d called her this afternoon and three times she had hung up on him. He was loath to try again. Perhaps he hadn’t given her enough time to cool off, but last time they had had a row she complained when he had left it longer before calling her again. ‘Damned if I do, damned if I don’t,’ though Tim.

He put the phone back on his desk and decided to leave it a little longer before trying again. At least Myra would know he had tried to call already.

As Tim tapped the keys to his all singing all dancing MAC he couldn’t stop thinking about Myra and what had started their stupid spat. Every few seconds he glanced at his mobile sitting on his desk, willing it to ring and for it to be her.

The previous night they had gone to the new seafood restaurant that had opened in town down by the Quay. It already had a reputation for having the freshest fish and the most imaginative dishes on its menu.

On arrival Tim had thought the decor a little kitch,  ‘hadn’t the whole fishing nets and bottles thing been done in  the seventies?’ he had quietly commented to Myra as the manageress approached them. She replied in less than a whisper that she didn’t agree with his assessment. Tim remembered her words exactly. She went on to say that she thought it looked homely and was more than appropriate for the kind of restaurant it was. Of course her little speech had been more for the manageress’s benefit than his. Sometimes she seemed to enjoy embarrassing him in public, or ‘calling him out’ as she would tell him should he ever mention it.

Tim had smiled his lopsided smile at the manageress and tilted his head in a kind of apology. She nodded what Tim took to be an acknowledgement of said apology and showed them to a table by the window overlooking the marina. The music that gently filled the restaurant also sounded like some kind of throwback to the seventies: ‘easy listening lift music’ he would have commented had he thought Myra would have agreed, and not put him down again. Outside the lights of the boats were twinkling in the dusk, and the wind whistled past their masts twanging the lines as it did so making a marine symphony of its own. The manageress handed them menus and told them the day’s specials before slipping away.

“What was all that?” Myra asked once the manageress was out of earshot.

“All what?” Tim had asked innocently.

“That goofy smile, the tilt of your head and your come to bed eyes,” Myra spat back at him.

Tim knew there was little point arguing when she was in that kind of mood. he leaned across the table and took her hand. “It was nothing and I’m sorry if it looked otherwise. You’re the only woman for me, you know.”

Myra smiled and the fire for a fight went out of her eyes. Tim hoped that that was that for the evenings confrontations.

They each studied the menus commenting on the dishes as they went, until a waitress came by to ask if they wanted drinks. Tim’s suggested that they go directly for a bottle of the oaked chardonnay, which he knew Myra adored, and was sure he had made the right choice when Myra leaned in and touched his hand commenting that it would be perfect, calling him darling into the bargain.

As soon as the waitress left their table Myrtle’s face changed again. “If you don’t stop flirting with every large breasted creature in this place soon I’m going to up and leave.”

This time Tim had had enough. “One, I am not flirting and Two, please lower your voice. People are looking.”

Myra looked around and seemed to be mollified by the stares of the other diners. She simply glared at Tim one more time and returned to studying the menu.

Moments later a waiter appeared with their wine, served it and said he’d be back in a moment to take their food orders.  Tim noted Myra’s smile and possibly suggestive comments to the waiter but thought better of saying anything.

When the waiter returned Myra flirted with him outrageously once more as he took their order. Inside Tim broke a little but again let it pass.

The rest of the meal passed off without incident until it came to dessert. The restaurant had an old fashioned trolley on which the desserts were displayed, although it was clearly an updated version with covers and some kind of cooling mechanism.  Tim almost rolled his eyes as the waitress rolled it to their table and asked what they would like.

Once their desserts had been served and the waitress had rolled the trolley away Tim met Myra’s eyes to see a fire burning in them once more. She accused him of choosing something from the bottom shelf simply so he could get a better look at the waitresses ample bosom as she served. He told her she was being ridiculous and their meal was finished in an uncomfortable silence.

In the car on the way home Myra once again levelled accusations at Tim for flirting while retorting that her behaviour with the waiter was nothing of the sort.

As Tim pulled up to the kerb outside Myra’s building she jumped out slamming the door behind her and rushed inside with no further comment, leaving Tim wondering how they were still together after two years especially when Myra’s jealous rages had grown over the past few weeks.  In all honesty he knew the reason he was still with her. He loved her above everything, and hoped that one day she’d realise that. He knew her past well enough to also realise that she had been through the mill with relationships, especially the last one before they had met.

Having run through the whole sorry saga from the night before in his mind once more Tim picked up his mobile and after a few seconds indecision called Myra’s number again.

“Hello,” said a deep voice that Tim didn’t recognise when the phone was answered.

“Hello? Who is this?” Tim asked brusquely having been caught off guard.

“Mr Wilson. It is Tim Wilson, isn’t it? That’s the name that came up.” the voice told him down the line.

“Yes, but…” Tim stuttered. His mind raced trying to work out who the voice could belong to.

“Mr Wilson. My name is Officer Hedman. I’m sorry, but ….”  The line went quiet.

‘Had the officer hung up? Was the call cut off?’ Tim wondered, his mind full of worry, as he shouted into the dead line, “Officer, Officer.”

 

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