fiction, photography

THE EMPTY STATION

Chris R-1-78 Image by Christine Renney

The reception area is so vast that it easily engulfs all of those waiting. Each has found a space for themselves, somewhere to sit, to stand or to lean, even to pace, unhindered. Only he is unencumbered – he hasn’t a briefcase, no portfolio, no evidence of his brilliance. He has nothing to declare.
He watches the girl behind the desk and awaits his chance, the opportune moment to approach. Unlike the others, he hasn’t an appointment but instead a little insider info and a name and his plan is simply to wing it.
He isn’t sure if he is ready for what might be possible here and, standing in front of her, is suddenly aware of his ambivalence and casually he begins to improvise.
‘I don’t have an appointment.’
‘Oh,’ she looks up at him.
‘I know this is a little unorthodox but about eighteen months ago I worked with one of the employees here, freelance of course. He said that I should keep in touch, that I could contact him at any time. Well, I’ve been trying to reach him for days now, on the number I have for him, but keep hitting a wall and so I decided to come down here myself.’
This little speech rings in his ears, echoes in his head and sounds like utter bollocks. Even if it were true it couldn’t possible convince, could it? Surely not. But, yes, she asks it, the loaded question.
‘If you let me have your name,’ she says, ‘and the name of the employee I’ll see what I can do.’
And so he tells her and watches as she scrolls down the screen of her computer, searching for the name and number, for someone to call. He doesn’t bother to act incredulous, doesn’t pretend to be surprised when she tells him his colleague is no longer there. But although he isn’t really listening to the answers he already knows, when she asks him to go sit and wait he obeys.

It has all gone swimmingly and now that he is safely parked in lay-by a mile or so from there, he can give it some thought. It had worked like a charm; the name and his supposed association with a long since departed maverick. But his complacency had played its part, he had been impressive. They had repackaged their offer again and again. Coaxed him with the finer detail and all he had done was act aloof, as if he was about to get up and go.
Yes, without a doubt it had been the most auspicious of beginnings and eager to talk with his wife he reaches for his phone in the glove box, waiting impatiently for her reply.
‘It worked like a charm.’ It feels good saying it out loud but he now almost incoherent and the complete antithesis of his earlier self. Excitedly he blathers on, trying to tell it all at once, just what it will mean for them. A regular salary and the proposed bonus scheme, the health cover, the pension plan and the projected trajectory of promotion after promotion.
‘Are you sure about this?’ his wife sounds doubtful.
‘What do you mean?’
‘I mean are you absolutely sure about this?’
‘But we discussed this already, we decided together.’
‘Yes, I know, but aren’t you doing okay on your own? We’re all right aren’t we?’
‘Is it the deception? Because I lied?’
‘No, it isn’t that, well, yes maybe. I don’t know, I’m not sure. I know that you’re good at what you do and of course you will be good at it there and I know that it doesn’t matter, that we’ll forget but, I’m sorry, can we talk about it when you get home?’
‘Isn’t it a little late for that now?’
At her end she presses the red button and for a moment or so he sits with the phone clamped tightly against his ear to listen to the silence, to the highly charged static.

He is being led to his work station, not by one of the guys who last week conducted the impromptu interview. No, this is a fresh face, although following behind he hasn’t seen much of it.
The office is scarily large and he is reminded of a news room in one of those old black and white films, the chaos and the clamour. But he is mistaken, overwhelmed by the sheer scale and number of employees, all of whom are quietly engrossed at their screens. No, there is no chaos, no clamour here.
Up ahead, his guide is talking but he has fallen back and can’t hear. He can see the windows at the far end and hopes his desk will be in that area. At least then he will be able to look out.
And there it is at last – the empty station, his allotted space. He doesn’t stop but instead, forging forward, he pushes through the fire exit and wonders if it is alarmed.

Advertisements
Standard
life, poetry

Out Of The Mouths of Doctors

Your blood is
highly uncooperative.
If you were my daughter,
I honestly wouldn’t know what to do with you.
I’ve decided that you are not currently in crisis
because you’re wearing clean jeans,
so you’re free to go!
You have a very shy cervix.
I would let you borrow my pen
but you’ll probably steal it so…
Either my blood pressure monitor is broken
or you’re on the cusp of death right now.
It’s funny because you look normal.
You can live without water,
stop complaining.
Are these from rough sex
or do you always bruise like a peach?
Look at the state of you. It’s such a shame,
you could look really pretty if you made a bit of effort.
We’ve run out of vegetarian options
so I’ve brought you 4 pots of jelly.
Yeah, you don’t seem stupid enough to fall pregnant.
You can press this buzzer any time you need help,
but please don’t press it, it’s annoying.
At least when you’re mentally ill,
life is never boring!

Standard
life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Bus stop for restless people

1523000030-l
I get so easily hurt by
the change in people

how when they like you

you think they are being their true selves

their gentle care

mana to your eroded soul

it is merely the sticky gloss of their expectations and dreams

makes them so

appear attentive

short-lived when you do not

rise to unspoken expectation

once they know you are

just who you are

not

fantasy or the begetter of

their own glossy stage play

all the light

all the brightness

all the careful looks of care

are withdrawn

and they say

no problem

yes we can be friends
nothing much will change

but by friends they mean

I will no longer shine a light your way

I only did that because I thought

there was something else

on offer

as if you were a
tender piece of meat

swung at ill thought promise

for they exist at

the bus stop for restless people

who only give damn when they get

paid in turn

and they say
no we are not
people who feign or parry

we mean what we say

but they are

not true

to their word

or their word
is made of thin paper
submerged in the shallow lake
of their true

intention like

blotting paper absorbing

all the little stains and feelings

and no boat can be formed

for those left drowning

in their indifferent wake

Standard
poetry, prosetry

A Sorry State Of Affairs

Good morning, London.
If you’re reading this, congratulations!
You’ve lived to see another Friday.
Good morning, London.
If you’re reading this, commiserations.
You’ve lived through 1000 days of Brexit.
Another day, another death by blade,
another hashtag, another have-a-go-hero.
Atrocities peppered with royal babies,
terror on the back burner
to make way for another celebrity suici—
BREAKING NEWS
Reality TV Stars are Humans with Feelings!
(You say ‘stars’, I say ‘participants.’)
Anniversaries and gofundmes,
Westminster and Manchester,
Dunblane and Hillsborough,
Grenfell and 7/7,
stranger murder and internet danger,
lest we forget:
lest we forget that these events are out of our control,
we can only sit back and watch the horror unfold
from the comfort of our council homes
on our fancy new smartphones.
Victims getting younger,
prisons getting softer,
vigilantes getting punished for doing God’s work,
remember when this little island had so much to offer?
Oh my goodness, a D-list celeb has gained weight
“Look at the state of it!”
Religion preaches kindness,
ignorance breeds hatred.
Who’s Afraid Of ISIS State?
Sorry, we’re too busy to deal with
our own homegrown caliphate, sorry,
I’ve got to send Tesco a passive-aggressive tweet
about the absence of tomato in my BLT,
and come up with a witty response to theirs –
sorry. Sorry. I’m so sorry. Sorry.
Ah, our glorious nation,
built on a solid foundation
of queuing and apologising,
of sarcasm and profligation.
You’re blind, you have no legs, and you have 3 months to live?
Sorry, you’re not eligible for the full rate of disability benefit.
But the bloke down the road who is a roofer on the side
and can run up and down stairs?
GIVE HIM ALL THE UNIVERSAL CREDIT!
A sorry state of affairs.
Darling, #woke and #Brexit cannot co-exist:
the two are mutually exclusive.
But London’s burning,
and you can live stream all of it!!!
The newspapers are an endless torrent
of stories of hatching, matching and dispatching,
vile comments, casual racism and mansplaining.
Make sure you Instagram your #prayers
and Tweet your reaction,
live, as it happens
but, other than that,
do NOT take any viable action,
do NOT try to make a change,
do NOT get involved,
just collect your pennies from your plugs
and remember that you are #blessed.
Make sure EVERYBODY knows how much you care.
So I’ll see you for the revolution at dawn?
No, of course not. You wouldn’t dare.
The murder count rises
faster than the cost of cigarettes.
15p added on the price of a pint?
Oi, Hammond, you wankstain, you want a fucking fight?
(Anybody else still wondering how Tony Blair sleeps at night?)
How about we try to Make Britain Great Again?
Because we are actually were Great, once upon a time.
Silver linings, swings and roundabouts,
county lines and Leavers doubts,
4 hour wait for an ambulance,
and votes of No Confidence,
but when times get tough
we can all sigh with relief and say,
“At least we don’t have Trump!
Put the kettle on, love,
we could all do with a cup.”
This isn’t the Wild West.
This is a test.
And we are failing.

Tune in next week to find out
how many people are arrested for no reason at tomorrow’s march,
which members of Pizza Club ordered which toppings,
what Tommy Robinson’s been up to,
which actor has been denied planning permission,
and who has been a very naughty boy!
Don’t forget to like and subscribe! @me!
@mememememeit’sallaboutme
Abusive comments will be [screen-shotted
to be discussed in Daily Mail Online
before being] deleted because
WE DON’T TOLERATE TROLLING.
Stay woke, stay blessed and,
as always, stay safe.

Standard
fiction, photography

TREMORS

Chris R-1-74 Image by Christine Renney

He wanted desperately to pinpoint when it began, the exact moment that he had felt the first tremor. But it hadn’t happened like that, suddenly and revelatory. No it had been slow.
Ever so gradually he became aware of something happening beneath his feet. Slowly he had become more and more attuned until he was able to anticipate when the next tremor would occur and, readying himself for it, he could prepare for the impact.

He wondered if there were others who felt the tremors and suffered as he did. He watched his family and friends. He studied people in the street, in the supermarket and on the bus, people anywhere and everywhere. He concluded that if they did, if there were others who felt the tremors, then they were much stronger than he and better at hiding it.

He sensed that he had always sensed them, subconsciously at first of course, and then consciously. They were buried deep down in the ground – the faintest of flickers, dying torches in the darkest mine shaft. The tremors hadn’t surprised him, hadn’t shocked him and this, in itself, was shocking. And now they were taking their toll and he could no longer stand firm and continue as if nothing was happening. He could no longer pretend

Standard
life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Untitled #39

I forget

What I lived for back then

Maybe just hope

That indefinable future stretching unknown

It always baffled me how the young

Could give up and try to die

When there was always hope

And some sympathy for their tender years

I want to say to them

Wait until you get here

Then the going gets quiet

People don’t check on you

There is no sympathy for your failing

We’re supposed to be stronger

What doesn’t kill us, right?

Not true

Everything that’s destroyed me did not

Make me more resilient

That’s a lie we tell ourselves and our friends

Or maybe for some it’s a truth

Not for me

I feel with every battering less and less

Less willing to stand and fight

For why?

The illusion things will change?

The care that rarely solidifies

I am so good at lifting others up

So poor at building my house

Because I gave my faith to them

And made nothing for myself

Instead I hear, the voices of the past

Telling me why I’m worthless

And it isn’t just the past

It’s recent and the scar

Never heals

I am

Broken

I survived only to

Fall

I am hurt beyond description

I ache and feel pain every hour

Nothing I do seems to change

The sorrow of every day

It’s too easy to dismiss it away as

Clinical depression

It is not

I simply wish I could safely die

I wouldn’t even feel guilty anymore

I’m too tired to care

Maybe when you’re not cared about that’s what happens

I find it hard to understand why more don’t share my sentiment

I don’t enjoy life

I have no purpose

I have been left by those I loved

I stand alone

Not blaming anyone

Just seeing through

The bullshit

I wish right now

Life were a dream and death reality

An external sleep

No trespass no hope

It has long been gone

And I have tried for ages to hide my belief

There is no point

For whom?

There is a crack in my heart that runs so deep

Maybe it was all a mistake

I wish I could rewind until

I ceased and never had been

It is hard to want to undo yourself

As you continue to flourish

I am tired of trying

I feel that’s all I’ve ever done

It’s a bit of a delusion

Trying and being in pain

Why try? For whom?

If there is no one

I hear the bus

Letting off children

I remember

Being a child

I wasn’t happy then

It’s not who I am

My mother was right though she was wrong

Maybe I’m a lesson from which others learn

There isn’t as much meaning in everything

As we are told

Sometimes we just exist without meaning

And it’s ugly and long

Too long

I wish I didn’t know

How most books

End

Standard
poetry

Reason

Isn’t it strange that I am your voice of reason
but not my own? And for good reason, too.
Me being your conscience seems so unreasonable:
there are so many reasons why I shouldn’t be,
why you shouldn’t listen to me,
and yet you do.
Words fail me. Reasons fail you.
You are not my reason for being here,
just as I am not the reason that you’re still here too.
There’s no rhyme nor reason to any of this.
No raison d’être to be found in our town.
‘Reasons’ doesn’t look like a real word anymore,
for some reason.
It looks like it should be the season for treason.
No rhyme, no reason.
No rhyme nor reason to be found in our town.

Standard