The last couple of days have been very busy. The calm of our little castle of tranquillity and laziness have been utterly gutted, and is lying on the floor ready to crawl under the bed to hide, and it snarls at us if we try to approach, and waves a knife around for protection.
Cat plus two dogs have been very sanguine about us running about, and I think somewhere they have shared a bowl of popcorn, and are watching us as if we were at the circus. Maybe apart from the cat who is plotting our downfall, but doesn’t all cats do that?
Our cat’s name is George, by the way. It is a name that has stuck. He looks like a George. And no, it has nothing to do with the royal baby. I think that we should sue the royal family. There can only be one royal George, and that is the presumptive dictator of the entire world, our cat.
It is now ten days until our wedding, and it feels like there’s a clock in our lives that keep ticking down. One of those analogue clocks that tick and tock, and on the day I’m sure it will set off an alarm that will wake the dead. Maybe we’ll be dead by then from all this running about. Maybe we will wish that we are dead then.
But even in this chaos, I’ve found the time to actually write. Something. Over the last days I’ve basically written a novella, about 20 thousand words, of something that has nothing to do with the books I am supposed to be writing. Since I haven’t posted any of my fiction in ages, here’s a snippet of about a thousand of those words. The usual caveat applies: it has to be edited, because this is just the first regurgitation of the first draft. I’ve only edited lightly for spelling errors.
I always have trouble thinking up ways to get the engine of a story running. This is no different. Maybe I’m being a bit ham-fisted in my method of getting the main character out of the house so that he can run into the plot he has to follow.
At the lounge table, Deirdre turned her finger around a blond lock of hair, coughed and waved one hand past her face to fan away the cigarette smoke from her eyes. She turned, and in the corner of Tom’s eye he saw that she smiled that smile she always smiled when she wanted him to do something. The tip of the cigarette jutted straight out from her hand and trembled slightly.
Her smile was her begging smile, her manipulation smile, her ‘she was going to be really annoying’-smile. Her I’m going to tell Tom to do something annoying smile.
On the television the Tardis appeared in the intro to Doctor Who, and the muted music started playing under the presenter’s words. Tom couldn’t hear the presenter’s words while he waited for her to say it.
“Sweetie, run down and buy me a pack of fags, will you?”
Every week at the same time he sat down to watch this show, and she knew that, and still she asked. She didn’t ask an hour ago, or two hours ago, but now. His hand flicked out toward the television. “Later. I want to watch this.”
“But I’m all out and the shop closes soon.” She crumpled her pack together with the hand that didn’t hold the wavering cigarette, and then threw the ball of paper and plastic at him. It hit the side of his head and bounced down on the floor and rolled under the glass table.
“I want to watch this!” The protest sounded too desperate, too keen, but this episode was going to be great, and if he didn’t watch the mates at school would spoil it tomorrow by giving every detail. He couldn’t talk to them about it either.
That tight ball in the stomach grew hotter because she never thought about his wishes, and didn’t care. Why did she always have to be so unfair. If she wanted the bloody fags, it was just fifty yards to the Tesco Express down the hill. She could go herself.
He didn’t look around at the sound of her chair scraped the wooden floor or the shuffle of her feet across the floor.
The Doctor had just appeared, and was running across a field. The image jolted, then shrunk to a white dot at the centre of the screen. The screen became black, and the sound vanished.
To his left, Deirdre lowered the remote control, and shuffled toward the kitchen with it pressed against her chest. “I’ll get the money,” she said. Tom bounced to his feet and followed her to the kitchen, hand stretched out to grab the remote. “Mum! Give me that!” He held out his hand. “I’m missing everything!”
“You can watch it when you come home. The shop closes soon. Don’t make a fuss, sweetie”
“But I’ll miss everything!”
The begging look had gone, and now her mouth was a thin line, and her blue eyes were sharp and aimed at him. The big ball of heat in his stomach flared even larger. It was so unfair. If she wanted the bloody fags, she could just go herself.
“I’ll give you a tenner extra. Buy something for yourself, all right?” She said.
This was his life with her. Always at her beck and call. Nothing he ever wanted mattered. His mouth opened to shout these accusations at her, but the skin between her eyebrows wrinkled, just like it always did when she was growing angry.
Her hand stretched out with four five-pound notes between her fingers; money that she slid out of the her large leather wallet. She held the money out to him, but only after several seconds did he snatch them out of her hand.
She smiled again, not really the begging smile. This look was more superior, more gloating as if she was enjoying her victory over him. She gently patted him on the cheek, and muttered a “That’s a good lad” before she turned to put the wallet back in the cupboard. “I’ll make us some tea while you’re out. Are you hungry?”
He shook his head, and retreated to the hallway to put on the shoes and the jacket. He tore the clothes on, and jumped into the shoes. Once outside he didn’t close the door – he flung it shut behind him with a bang, and the rumble of his feet down the stone stairs to the ground floor of the council house illustrated his rage.
He was going to miss everything.