Evidence of greatness

She looked in the mirror, and she saw herself for perhaps the first time in a while.

The once ice-blue eyes were now staring back grey.  A dull grey.

She hadn’t noticed before, how her face was now beginning to weather around the edges too.

The once plump, rosy and freckled cheeks were now slump, pale with dark age spots.

And now around those dull grey eyes, she had many lines that drifted off from the corners.

And her hair.  Steely-straw-like, but neat and always shiny.

She looked deeper in the mirror and smiled back at herself.

She was observing her evidence of greatness.

 

….

Prompted by this link.

Evidence of Greatness – Dead Deer

Evidence of Greatness

Often in the never-lost lanes of the Old Town
A cat is happened upon, a feral feline
At once at home, and without a home
Lost, found, sin hogar, sin casa, sin nada.

Casi siempre en las calles (always lost), of esta
Pinche cuidad, puedes ver un hombre,
Perdido. Yes, you can find this man, and
He cannot know, what it is to be home elsewhere.

Is he lost? This is home, to him.
Anda, duerme, come (casi nada) aquí, always,
Underneath these stars, the electric lights
That illuminate his once-loved face, una cara
Que tiene, somewhere, escondido, evidencia de su grandeza.

Today I wrote between 16:14  and 16:24. I was propted by an idea here. My other writings here. All my prompted writing here, my tweets here, and my book here.

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If you enjoyed this short writing, a whole load more are available in paperback, and kindle editions in your local Amazon site

A Gambler and a Thief – Dead Deer

 

A Gambler and a Thief

“In order to gain something you have to lose something. Steallng things from others in order to live is even more painful.” If Cats Disappeared from the World – Genki Kawamura

“I just want to be happy.”

Is there any more pathetic intention than that one? Happy? Those who have no idea what unhappiness, genuine unhappiness, is squeaking about being ‘happy’

Not having food in your belly, not being able to put food in your children’s bellies .That’s unhappiness. A vague sense of middle aged discontent after a comfortable and secure fifty or sixty years with twenty, thirty, forty more ahead. Unhappy? Don’t make me laugh.

But they can convince themselves it is enough, it is real. And by the time they take action .they have further convinced themselves it is not even a gamble. No risk. It happens to anyone. No one will judge me, and if they do how bloody dare they? Before long they see themselves, not a gambler and a thief, but as a noble hero caught up in an unfair world in which they battle courageously to the take the moral high ground.

What horrifc perversion of reality is this? Their made up notion of their happiness, and the important of their own happiness above all else, is not, of course, a personal thing. To gain it they must lie, cheat and above all thieve. Take what is not theirs.

How can they live with themselves? How can they live? Painful to live whilst taking from others? Indeed, but not painful for them.

For they are ‘happy’.

Today I wrote between 16:54  and 17:04. I was propted by an idea here. My other writings here. All my prompted writing here, my tweets here, and my book here.

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If you enjoyed this short writing, a whole load more are available in paperback, and kindle editions in your local Amazon site.

Mashed Taters and Creamed Corn Cake – Dead Deer

Mashed Taters and Creamed Corn Cake

Nervously she rose from her desk and walked to the photocopiers, huddled centrally in the large open plan office. She breathed deeply. How ‘odd’ it was that he happened to need some copies at the same time as her. Again. Almost every single time.

Once again the absurd dance, where he pretended to go the wrong way, into her, and ‘accidentally’ they bump into one another. He lent around her once again, to ‘help’ with the buttons, as if she needed any help!

Oh, and how odd, also, that he stands on the far side of the machine, how awkward to use thus, as she walks away toward her desk. She wonders if her back hosts little burn marks where his eyes laser into her – worse, not her back; lower down than her back.

Day after day after day she must endure this .It happens on the street as well, of course, everywhere in fact, even actual wolf-whistles, still, here in the twenty-first  century.

At work she should not have to put up with this (not anywhere), she has heard the stories of course. The lewd comments offered by the manager when another young female colleague finally complained.

She came to this office with such high hopes. She knew that she would make a difference, make a mark at this prestigious firm. And she could, has in fact, is doing. But she is hollow inside. They snidely take the credit for all her great work, everything she does so well.

She hasn’t actually heard the jokes yet, but the sudden awkward silence whenever she comes into the communal kitchen is enough, surely.

It’s just ‘bantz’.

On and on, this echoes down the centuries, self-fulfilling and damaging all of society.

Human race held back by its so called ‘great’ men, the achievements of fifty-plus percent ignored, or stolen. Talent stifled and squandered. And why? Power? Just pathetic male egos, threatened by someone more able then they – but only if woman.

Today I wrote between 18:55  and 19:05. I was prompted by an idea here. My other writings here. All my prompted writing here, my tweets here, and my book here.

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If you enjoyed this short writing, a whole load more are available in paperback, and kindle editions in your local Amazon site.

Juggling Julie – Dear Deer

Juggling Julie

Awake at six am, two minutes to breathe. Then it begins.

Up and into the kitchen, kettle on, bowls and spoons out, get cereal and juice ready. Shout the kids, quick shower, out, and now really cajole the kids down to eat.

Play a game – ‘Who can get dressed the quickest?’ – how much longer will they still fall for that?

Out the door, walk the kids to the school gates, remind one about P.E. and assure the other you’ll be there for the concert at lunchtime.

Run to bus, panic at traffic, get to work on time – just. Manager gives you a look. Please God, no call from the teacher today.

No lunch, but manic running around means you see the show (The definitive guide to parenting: ‘Show Up’). Back to work.

Boss being an insufferable bore, as usual, but today you must get those reports done, no avoiding that. Working hard all afternoon but still finish late. Hurried call again. 

Reports finally done (manager long gone) rush to sister’s flat to get the kids. Usual craven gratitude to a sister who says it is ‘a pleasure’ (and actually, means it) but this does not resolve your guilt and self-loathing for letting her, and your kids, down. Again.

Stop at shops to get stuff for your mum, kids complaining, stop at mums you have to take a tea, guilty you stayed so long, guilty you could not stay longer.

Tea for the kids, bath and bedtime, find the energy from somewhere to read a story, you all three love it, but it is exhausting and your head nods while you read. Guilt again. ‘Do the voices, mummy.’

Cinema at the weekend, and swimming too, if you forego your Friday night bottle of wine, a small price to see their joyful wet faces.

Julie has been juggling life since the man she thought she knew, and knew she loved, turned out to know he did not love her, and was not who she thought she knew, but a selfish, childish, cunt.

Today I wrote at thirty-three thousand feet, between 11:34  and 11:44. I was prompted by an idea here. My other writings here. All my prompted writing here, my tweets here, and my book here.

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If you enjoyed this short writing, a whole load more are available in paperback, soon to be in a Kindle edition too.

Feb 25th – Juggling Julie

February 25th – Juggling Julie

10.28-10.38

Julie liked to juggle things. Ordinarily, this would not be a bad thing, but in this case, liked doesn’t really go far enough. With Julie it was a sort of compulsion. Julie had to juggle things. All things.

It started innocuously enough. Her uncle bought her a set of juggling balls for her tenth birthday and then, over the course of that birthday afternoon, taught her to juggle. Julie juggled from that point onwards. She got good.

Julie juggled through secondary school. At first it was entertaining: for her friends, her classmates, even her teachers. After all, who doesn’t like to see a bit of juggling. She saved up her pocket money and progressed from balls, to rings, and then , on her sixteenth birthday, to a set of fire clubs. She juggled for money in the street, worked out a little routine set to music, and made money from tourists happy to have their summer afternoons interrupted by a bit of street entertainment.

One Saturday, just before her A-levels, Julie took herself off to Covent Garden, and set herself up there. She didn’t come back.

Obviously this was a concern to her parents, who, although they had their daughter’s best interests at heart, thought it best for her to complete her education. I’m happy, she told them, I’m doing what I want to do. Ans so they agreed on a year out, allowing Julie to follow her juggling dreams, as long as she promised to come back and take her exams.

Julie moved to France.

She fell in lobe with a street magician called Fabien, grew her hair into dreadlocks, stopped wearing shoes. She did the summer fairs in Avignon, Marseille, Nimes. She juggled knives, fireballs, anything she could get her hands on, and she still got better. She didn’t come back to take her exams.

In Nice she was approached by a representative from Cirque du Soleil: they’d seen her work, liked her look, thought there might be a way they could fit her into the show. Julie said goodbye to Fabien, and moved to the USA.

It was with some pride that Julie’s parents, along with her uncle, were in prime seats in a fancy arena in Los Angeles, watching Julie open the show, juggling, spotlit while acrobats tumbled around her. They were open mouthed as they watched her juggle chainsaws from a trapeze, swinging high above the auditorium, bathed in applause.

All of which goes to show that sometimes, even if they’re as off-the-wall as juggling for a living, you just have to follow your dreams.

Like Julie.

 

Inspired by a prompt from here

Hippopotamus Expectations – Dead Deer

Hippopotamus Expectations

Working forwards tended to result in more satisfying outcomes but it was not always possible. Aim low, and the chances of disappointment will also be lower. This may, or may not be true, but what we do know is that Juan had only modest expectations.

From the outset this project was a half-arsed, half-formed, after-thought. Juan himself certainly would not even call it, or consider it, anything so grand as a ‘project”. It was just a thought, a semi-idea that came to him one Tuesday afternoon, but it was enough for him turn it over and spend an hour or so trying to see if it might work. He was unsurprised, and barely disappointed, to discover it would be doomed.

‘Surely you have to succeed, if you give everything you have.’ Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop

An achingly sad line, and Juan is busy proving the exact opposite right here. Failure in one field, however, does not mean failure in all. Barely thinking about what he had started, and certainly with no follow-up initially, it was some time before he even noticed what was happening.

When he looked, he found it had grown. This encouraged him to give it an hour or two smoothing out some obvious problems. It continued to grow and grow outside of his control. Juan had given almost nothing and become a sensational success.

What lessons for life do Juan, his creation, and his story give us? Try everything you think of? Don’t give it your all? Throw enough pebbles and you’ll hit a duck, one day? Fortune favours the lazy?

His next project had gargantuan expectations, and naturally failed in all respects, apart from a mammoth return in schadenfreude.

Today I wrote from 22:09 to 22:21. I was prompted by an idea here. My other writings here. All my prompted writing here, my tweets here, and my book here.

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If you enjoyed this short writing, a whole load more are available in paperback, soon to be in a Kindle edition too.

Feb 24th – Hippopotamus expectations

IMG_1127

(Photo: author’s own)

February 24th – Hippopotamus expectations

21.35-21.45

The hippopotamus is considered to be very aggressive and has frequently been reported as charging and attacking boats.[90] Small boats can be capsized by hippos and passengers can be injured or killed by the animals or drown. In one case in Niger, a boat was capsized by a hippo and 13 people were killed.[91] As hippopotamuses will often engage in raiding nearby crops if the opportunity arises, humans may also come in conflict with them on these occasions, with potential for fatalities on both sides.[92]

Wikipedia

List of most fatal animals

This is a list of the deadliest animals to humans worldwide, due to animal attack as cause of death.[9]

  1. Crocodiles kill an average of 1,000 humans per year from crocodile attack
  2. Hippopotamus kill an average of 500 humans per year from attacks
  3. Elephants kill an average of 500 humans per year from attacks

The hippopotamuses were having crisis talks. Something needed to be done.

For years they’d made 11th place in Wikipedia’s list of most fatal animals their own. They were comfortable in 11th: there was no way they’d be able to overtake the crocodiles above them – there were more crocodiles, for a start, and then there was that whole never smile at a crocodile thing…they even had their own little rhyme to reinforce their threat to humans. They’d considered trying a never say ‘hello’ to a hippo campaign, but it didn’t seem to take off, so that had been abandoned fairly soon after its inception. 1000 deaths was a lot, too: it was too big a gap to breach. No, the problem wasn’t the crocodiles above them: it was the elephants below.

They were going to be unbearable.

The Wikipedia page had been updated the previous week, and an emergency hippo council had been convened to discuss the problem of the elephants. It wasn’t a local issue: the elephants in Africa were, on the whole, pretty civilised: a few tramplings here and there, but nothing that the hippos couldn’t deal with. It was the ones in India that were the issue. Kids, as always, getting smashed on fermented fruit and rampaging through villages at will, dispatching humans left right and centre. No respect for the hippos at all, and now the African elephants were crowing about it, sending their stupid little birds to sing of their victories across the mud baths.

It was clear a plan was needed. The hippos needed to up their game if they were going to stay in 11th place. And they needed to stay in 11th place: it was a question of self-respect.

Suggestions were welcomed from all. There had been a couple pf emails from the slowly growing hippo population in South America, imported by Pablo Escobar, of all people, but as yet all they were doing was getting the locals to protect them, which wasn’t really much use. They could, obviously, count on the South American hippos for support, but they weren’t promising much in the way of killings. The same could be said for the Pygmy Hippo population of the west coast: they were good at knocking things over, if needed, but their record of zero kills wasn’t particularly encouraging. Their larger cousins emailed back, telling them to up their game.

Several suggestions were considered as possible. Taking up residence in public swimming pools was considered a viable option, notwithstanding the concerns about chlorinated water. An advance group was dispatched to scout major cities for the best locations, and to report back by the end of the week. Another suggestion, to disguise themselves as goats and infiltrate petting zoos was also considered worthy of action, and again hippos were dispatched to that end. Similarly, obtaining jobs as ground crew at as many sub-Saharan airports as possible was seen as a way to raise the odds of fatalities significantly.

In a revolutionary move, a small group of highly trained hippos was authorised to take action against the elephants, initially inside Africa itself, and then, more ambitiously, within India.

Hippopotamus expectations were high. The elephants had better watch out: 11th place was not negotiable.

 

Inspired by a prompt from here

 

 

Deviant Daughters – Dead Deer

Deviant Daughters

“Just because we are twins, it doesn’t mean we are exactly the same,” exclaimed Sonia, for the millionth time. So many expectations around twins, ‘solos’ are fascinated by what it is like, the mythical intuition between them, and of course the stories, the urban legends about what they get up to.

One, or rather – of course – two, could not readily explain what being a twin is ‘like’ anymore than one (two) could explain what it is like to have three arms, or to have been born hundreds of years in the future. It just was, and always had been. Two souls, always together yet always separate. The more interesting question is what it is like to not be a twin. Consider responding to that next time you ask a twin how that relationship works.

It can be fun, surprising people with your identical faces, but it also becomes a bore. The same questions, the same jokes, the same suggestive suggestions.

In so many ways they are of one mind, though. Music, work, politics, all of these things, and more, they agree without barely a word between them. Going through life, two lives lived almost as one, sneaking into each other’s bedrooms all through childhood, to share a bed, as they shared thoughts.

Parents proud, of course, and love them equally, naturally. How odd it was, then, that in common with ‘normal’ siblings, each had a slightly closer affinity with one parent. One closer to the mum, the other the dad: this is the only manner in which these daughters deviate.

Today I wrote from 18:52 to 19:02. I was prompted by an idea here. My other writings here. All my prompted writing here, my tweets here, and my book here.

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If you enjoyed this short writing, a whole load more are available in paperback, soon to be in a Kindle edition too.

Feb 23rd – Deviant daughters

February 23rd – Deviant daughters

12.40-12.50

The alarm bells really started ringing when their third babysitter that month phoned, in tears, asking for them to come home. The cut short the meal, paid the bill and left, hardly speaking in the car on the way back. They knew what they were going to find.

They found it.

[Scene: A living room, ordinarily furnished, nothing too extravagant. On the sofa, in tears: one babysitter, Louise, aged 17. On the floor, smiling up at their parents: the twins, Eva and Marie, aged 3. Also on the floor: one upturned coffee table, with a leg smashed; one vase of flowers, also smashed, the flowers with their heads removed scattered across the carpet; one bottle of Coca-Cola (belonging to Louise), empty, its contents also spread across the carpet, and two of the walls.]

“I’m sorry. I – ”

“It’s OK, Louise. It’s not your fault.”

[Emma, mother. Smartly dressed, but with a look of resignation in her eyes. It is almost as if she has seen all this before, because, of course, she has. Louise is, as has been mentioned, the third babysitter this month. It is the 23rd of February. This is only the third time they have tried to go out, and each has been less successfully than the previous one.]

“James will drive you home. Won’t you, Jim?”

[James/Jim. Father. Loves his twin girls with all his heart, but is equally exasperated by them. They are angels during the day, when either of their parents are around. Their deviance from the norm comes when they are left, with anyone, ever. James’s own mother has a scar from a scratch from Eva above her left eye, made when Eva was less than e year old, made not with a fingernail but with a plastic toy which, if it hadn’t have been impossible, looked like it had been deliberately sharpened to cause harm.]

“Of course. Come on Louise. You’ll still be paid.”

Casting a look at his wife, James led Louise out of the front door and into his car. Emma heard the engine start and the car pull away. The twins played happily on the carpet, looking up at Emma with round, wide, innocent eyes as she started to clear up the carnage of an hour or so earlier.

“What are we going to do with you?”

The twins just smiled, a smile full of love, and joy, and innocence. The twins were happy. The twins knew that it was only a matter of time before their parents tried to leave them with someone else again.

 

Inspired by a prompt from here