Saturday, November 01, 2008

So what else is happening in November....

Just in case you are not going to spend the WHOLE month counting words - 30 or 300 - on your fingers, there is lots happening with my fellow Bookarazzi members, see here.


Douglas Bruton said...

Dear Sarah
I have tried to respond to your 30-300 words thingy... but for some reason my response is not getting through. I am pasting it below. Is there any chance you could hang it up for me? Thanks


He remembers something. The smells perhaps. Of oil and cigarettes. Stale piss and flowers. There is still a flower stand, you see. Buckets of daffodils and cellophane-wrapped forced roses and carnations in too-bright pinks and yellows and reds.

Stand by the flowers, Edward. Till I come back. Do you understand?

And the child-Edward had understood. Had done as he was told. Had waited.

There’s a clock hangs in the station, face as big as the sun, the movement of the twin black hands making time’s passing audible. He remembers that. Recalls watching the slow ticking off of all those minutes, the minutes he stood hopping from one foot to another. And singing so his mind was not on wanting to go pee.

Then a woman kneeling beside him. Speaking soft and smiling and asking for his name. And he made a gift of it to her.

And are you lost, she said. Alone? Waiting for someone?

Edward remembers the hot sting of his boy-tears then. No words coming to his rescue. And looking over the lady’s shoulder, over his own, to see if she was coming. His first mother, not this counterfeit mom who took his hand in hers and led him out of the station and into a waiting car.

Edward grown now. Clutching a copy of the Times and waiting, like before, by the flowers. The clock still counting off the minutes, till she comes. And she will come this time. Maybe did before.

A sudden train pulls in. Her train could be. He cranes his neck to see. Strains to hear. In the sound of the brakes, crying. His and hers, as she steps down from the carriage, steps back in time, steps back into Edward’s life. They are strangers and Edward is singing through his tears.


Sarah Salway said...

Sorry, not sure what the problem is but it's up now. Thanks for taking part.

Douglas Bruton said...

Dear Sarah

I love this project... was sorry I did not see it until day one was past.

Like yesterday, I am having trouble posting on the actual site... no trouble posting here!! It will be something at my end, but being such a technodunce it will take some solving! I hope it is ok to post here and prevail on your good self to transfer what's here posted to the actual page... at least until I get the problem sorted.

Thanks for all of this.




The man behind the counter did not look up from the newspaper spread before him, did not move, did not seem to breathe. In the thin grey light that filtered through a frosted–glass window, he seemed a thing of shadow and dust and thought.

His voice was a surprise to Bellamy, as though it came from nowhere, as though it might be a voice in Bellamy’s own head, his own voice.

'Can I help you, sir?'

'I’m lost,' said Bellamy.

The man turned the page of his newspaper, slow and careful, neatly and patiently flattening it before reading again.

'You want Information. Just across the concourse. Can’t miss it.'

Again Bellamy thought the voice might be his own.

'I’m lost,' he said again.

'Yep, we get that a lot. Lost souls. Lost memory. Lost hope. You won’t find none of ’em here. It’s a running joke. Ain’t nothing you’ve lost hasn’t already been reported here. We get ‘em all.'

Bellamy stood at the door, silent and still.

The man behind the counter looked up, briefly, then returned to his paper.

'Lost your way. Lost your train of thought. Lost your appetite. Lost your reason for living. Ain’t nothing that’s lost hasn’t been brought to me. And it’s funny the first time. Don’t get me wrong. I laughed the first times. When they were new to me. Lost heart, lost courage, lost faith. But I heard ‘em all now, see. And they ain’t so funny when you think about it.'

'No,' said Bellamy.

'I got pairs of spectacles, handbags, a laptop, three library books, six sets of keys, one red stiletto shoe. That’s just today. All tagged and documented and sitting on the shelves behind me.'

'Lost and Found?' said Bellamy.

'Some things stay lost,' said the man.

Bellamy nodded.

Douglas Bruton said...

Not sure if you'll pick this up in time... but wanted to show I was still active.



They think I know. Everything. Before it happens. I’m omniscient, you see. That’s what they say. Omnipresent and all knowing. And the one true God.

I like it when they say these things. Laugh sometimes, so completely. We all laugh. But no one hears.

I read somewhere that they think of me as the great clockmaker. It’s a metaphor. I understand that. And as the clockmaker I have created the mechanism and set it all in motion.

Of course the metaphor is a little thin when you examine it. All those gears and wheels, the escarpment and the spring and the balance, everything working so predictably and the hands turning, and time measured in a way that follows a regular pattern. What I have made is a lot more complex and a lot more surprising.

Starting it all was tricky enough. More than a simple cosmic clap of the hands and a godly sleight of hand. But where it all will end, I cannot tell. They argue over whether everything is chance or determined. The truth is, I make things up as I go along and the final page is far from my thoughts and always a mystery to me.

Not omniscient, you see. But seeming so to those who know so much less.

And as for ‘the one true god’. It doesn’t make much sense. Not really. One god? Alone? And with all that power to create? Doesn’t it make more sense that I’d fashion myself a companion? A buffer against the great cosmic loneliness. Rather than a timepiece to mark the empty eons.

As for truth. Trust me, there’s a balance. Always. And sometimes lies in what I say. But they hear only what they want to hear – not the laughter or the lies… or even the truth.

Sarah Salway said...

Have put it up, Douglas - but very strange for it not to be working still. We did get it checked. Anyway, no probs, keep sending them to me and I'll bung them over. No, no, no, I won't - I will copy and paste with exquisite care....

Douglas Bruton said...

Think the prob is maybe with my computer. Having it checked this weekend. See below my 6th November piece. Thanks for all your extra work on my behalf.


I read a lot. It's what I do. What I've always done. Books piling up in all the corners of my world and words stuffed into tight spaces in my head. So many words and some of them leaking out now. Spilling onto paper. But in configurations I don't recognise. Not really.

She was pleased, my mam. Pleased at first. Told all her friends. Could read before he could talk. That’s what she said. Though it was a lie. And big words too, she said. Bigger than big, is what she told them. She laughed when she said it. But there was an unsquashable pride then. I could see it. And she wore it like a fine dress. Danced it all the way from one end of the street to the other.

Then there were prizes. At school. For reading. And more books. And she grinned. So full of it. As if it was her accomplishment and not mine. And she clapped the loudest in the school hall. Look at me. Look at me. That's my boy, but look at me. Still dancing, twirling in that dress.

Maybe I am too cruel.

I read by torch light under the covers. For years. I read when others watched the television. I read at the table and almost forgot to eat. I read through all the waking hours and sometimes in my sleep.

She said I'd go blind, my mam. Said I should walk out more. Into the sun, maybe. Where it's bright. And girls are. You won't find all you're looking for between the covers of a book. That’s what she said later. Confessed she didn’t understand then.

But she was right. I wear glasses now. Thick lenses and the books so close I breathe in the words. Have to now.

Douglas Bruton said...

And just because I am enjoying the prompts... here's one for the 7th November:


Bartram lay with one hand behind his head, the jut of his elbow like the sharp point of a small wing above his shoulder. His other arm was under her, holding her close. She was curled into him, warm, smelling of something sweet and floral. Bartram wished he smoked. Just in that self-satisfied moment, felt like blowing post coital smoke rings into the air. It would complete the picture, he thought, a celebration of sorts.

Bartram could feel her breath against his skin, the rise and fall of his own breathing lifting her head a little. Colleen did not speak and he wondered if he should. He wasn’t sure what was the right thing to say. He wanted to know if it had been alright. If he had done the right things. If she had come. It was important, he thought, to know.

Colleen stroked her fingers against him.

Bartram seemed to recall her moaning, quietly, under his touch, her eyes closed, tight, not with something like pain but its opposite. Seemed to recall. It all happened so fast. He didn’t know if it was too fast. He tried replaying what had happened. In his head. Felt all the details evaporating, thinning to nothing in the snatch of his memory.

Except that it had happened. It had. He insisted. Though who would believe him afterwards? With Colleen. He was smiling. The best feeling in the world, nearly. He wanted to tell her that. Wanted to tell her he loved her, but thought she might not understand. He did love her. Thought he must, then and there.

Bartram felt a tingling in his fingers, pins and needles, the blood cut off by the weight of her. He didn’t know how long he could stand that, how long before he could move.