fiction, photography

IN A PARIS HOTEL ROOM

Chris R-1-93 Image by Christine Renney

When it happened they were away from home. The smell was so invasive that, for a moment or so, Harris was unsure of where he was. Lifting the thin sheet he looked down at himself and at Geraldine, sleeping soundly on her side. He remembered then that he was in a hotel room in Paris and although the smell didn’t lessen it did suddenly seem a little more bearable. He was abroad, in a foreign country and this was something alien.
Convincing himself that it was coming from outside he slipped from the bed, careful not to wake Geraldine, crossed to the glass doors and stepped out onto the tiny balcony. It had been raining, the air was still fresh and the street below was still wet. In the cars’ headlights the moist air glinted.
The smell didn’t dissipate and at first he couldn’t locate it. It remained exactly the same despite the open doors. Harris realised it was coming from him, that he was the cause of it and he started to claw at himself, to pull at his pyjamas, to sniff his underarms and his hands. Harris was sweating, despite the chill of the air, and suddenly he was aware that his awareness of anything other than the smell, of anything outside of it, was non-existent, that it was all he could taste.
He stepped back inside and, swiftly and quietly, made his way to the bathroom. He pulled the cord and in his bare feet he stumbled on the tiles. This was something at least, his fleeting blindness, his blinking, his needing to adjust but the smell, well it was still rife.
Standing in front of the mirror he lifted his pyjama top and let the bottoms drop. He looked but there was nothing.
Why?, he asked himself. Why here and why now, so far from home? How could he hide this, how could he conceal it from Geraldine?
He stepped into the shower and again it was something, the water hitting his face, stinging his eyes, burning his skin but he knew it wouldn’t last. And afterwards, wrapped in a towel, he dropped the toilet lid and sat. Had he ever felt as ashamed as he was about to? As embarrassed as he would be when Geraldine awoke and found him like this?
He seriously considered leaving, going home but how could he? He imagined himself trudging through the streets of Paris, hunched in his overcoat. How could he make use of public transport or take a taxi? And then there was the airport and the flight. No, it was impossible. He couldn’t leave, not like this. He had no choice but to stay and face Geraldine.
They were here for three days and Harris felt sure that it would pass. That if he could sit quietly in the hotel room he could conquer it.
At first Geraldine didn’t mention the smell, but although it was only a matter of minutes, to Harris it seemed like an eternity.
‘You’re not well, are you?’ she asked. Pulling her robe tighter around herself she stared at him. ‘You poor thing,’ she said moving closer to him and placing her hand on his forehead. ‘Well you don’t have a fever;
what do you think it is?’
Harris groaned. ‘I don’t know. Can you smell it?’
‘Yes I can smell it.’
‘Then why didn’t you say?’
‘I didn’t want to embarrass you.’
‘Oh.’ His heart swelled. ‘I’m sure it will pass, given time but I’ll have to stay in here I’m afraid.’

Harris insisted that Geraldine go out and explore, see Paris. He didn’t want her to miss out because of this, because of him. He realised as much as he needed her, that if he was going to beat this he needed to do it alone. But the idea he might lose her was something he couldn’t put out of his mind.
Geraldine had left the television on and, flicking back and forth, he eventually settled on one of the music channels. Turning the volume low, he lay back and tried to concentrate.
Although he wasn’t really interested in the constant stream of videos he found himself drawn to the screen and, despite himself, he watched the unceasing parade of forgettable pop stars until at last he recognised a piece of music.
Harris turned the volume higher and listened. It was Radiohead’s ‘The Pyramid Song’. When it was finished he hit the mute button and tried again to relax. But a pattern had been set and in this way he passed his day. Whenever the animated film accompanying the song appeared on the screen again he hit the button and listened intently.
When Geraldine returned that afternoon, nothing had changed. The smell was no worse and no better; it didn’t drift on the air and escape through the open window. It was bearable now perhaps only because she believed it would pass, that it would go, but when?
Harris was sitting stiffly on the side of the bed, waiting yet again for her to speak. She stood mute, trying to make some sense of it but struggling. It was like a block of ice that wouldn’t melt.
‘What have you been doing with yourself?’ she asked.
‘Trying to relax.’
‘Have you been reading?’
‘No.’
She glanced at the television.
‘Have you been watching this all day?’
‘Yes, well some.’
‘Does it help?’
‘No – maybe. I don’t know.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’ve been listening to the same song all day long; each time it comes around I turn it up and listen.’
‘Which song?’
‘Radiohead.’
‘Which song?’
‘The Pyramid Song.’
‘Ah.’
‘Do you know it?’
‘Yes – which album it is on?’
‘Amnesiac.’
‘And you have the album at home, right?’
‘Yes.’
‘Would it help if you could listen to it here?’
‘Yes, I suppose it might.’
‘Then I’ll go out and buy it and something to play it on.’
‘Yes,’ Harris stood and began to pace excitedly, ‘I think it might help. We’ll try it tomorrow.’
‘No, the shops are still open. I’ll go now.’
‘And the Messiaen ‘Quartet For The End of Time’ if you can find it.’
‘Okay,’ she said, ‘I’ll see what I can find. I know what you like.’
Geraldine lifted her handbag from the top of the bedside cabinet.
‘I’ll be back as soon as I have found them.’ Standing in the doorway she smiled at him.
‘I really do believe this is going to work. In fact, I think it’s working already. Just keep thinking about the music you want to hear and then perhaps tomorrow you’ll be able to see a little of Paris before we go home,’ and turning she pulled the door to and was gone.

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poetry

Heartlock

my heart: a chunk of amber
an ancient rock
washed up from the baltic
opaquely transparent
like us
our love: the mosquito inside
a moment in time, chaotic
stuck in perpetual flight
frozen in aberrant delight
preserved lust
trapped trust
your smile: fossilised
your lies: petrified
those years spent
were no accident
you’ve still got
my heart in a headlock
my head in a heartlock
unbolt the deadlock
let us see the light
of day
again

 

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life, poetry, Uncategorized

Night becomes us

pexels-photo-240174 - Copy

I push people away

as they pushed away from me when I first learned

that’s what people do

so run ahead and do it first

you might tell them your real age, or show them the scars in your skin, that usually does it

with online trolls who really only want a

mirror little narcissist

you might show them your face and all the welts that

lay invisible and divisible like trails of tears

finding only drought

you might reveal your defeats and play join the dots

with stories for each one and then you may

know me just a little

except I don’t want to be known and even as I write

I remain anonymous to myself

the perpetuation of a dream instead

where we dance sweaty and disordered with our hair

collapsed like flamenco skirts in rivers of ruffles

two people with thick manes and thin skin

I taste blood on your lower lip and the depth of it

makes a vampire of me

your pulsing neck is salty from your keening

we interlace our hands like church mice and bad girls and best friends and artful dodgers

I feel your fingers pulsing within me as together we cleave

so much comes from a body who wants and so little from one who does not

when I see you, I want to close my eyes and hold onto the image

how you stand, the light caressing your flawless skin as

oil might run her rivets down your elongation

If choice were a bird, I’d choose you again

And once more, with the release of my lips from yours

A song passed between mouths like a key

Open my heart, keep yourself there

If choice were a thought, I’d choose you again

And once more, with the capture of your ebony and ivory

You, who is seamstress to my soul, play your flute

I hear it behind my eyes in the vault of my trust

If you were a dream I should better wish to wake

Our drowsy love may keep us drugged by its tempest

Sleeping in the passion of your touch

As sun sets and night becomes us

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fiction, photography

PRECINCT

Chris R-1-81 Image by Christine Renney

After visiting the shopping centre they always lingered, had done for years. It was difficult now to pinpoint exactly when this had begun, much less how or why. It was unspoken that, once the shops had closed, they would skulk along at the edge of the precinct where the teenagers gathered.
Pubs, clubs, burger bars and pizza joints dominated and the couple would find a table where, from behind the plate glass, they could gaze out across the now car-less car park.
The litter, the day’s debris, had been swept and shovelled against the kerb and in each and every corner and crevice. The youngsters didn’t seem to mind. They kicked through it, tramped on it, added to it, restless and eager for the night with all its possibilities.

The couple talked over their pizza, dissecting the lives of others, of old friends, people they rarely or never saw anymore, colleagues from work and people they barely knew. They raced toward conclusion after conclusion, invented scenario after scenario. There was something about that place, that time, that offered obscurity: a middle aged couple with nowhere particular to go, nothing to do except to visit the multiplex cinema to see the latest blockbuster – ‘Action/Adventure’ or ‘Romcom’, sequels and prequels they watched indiscriminately. But this particular night their hearts weren’t in it and so they began to wander.
This, in fact, was what they had wanted to do all along. Simply to walk, just to be here and not feel the need to dress it, to skirt around this fact. They were elated and entered a busy pub. It was like walking on air and the drink helped to prolong this feeling and then, suddenly, the moment was lost. The revellers had deserted them. Of course, they could have followed, chased the party, found another pub or even a club but – they had shopping bags to cart and so stayed put, drinking until common sense prevailed at last and they began to make their way toward home.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Moving toward light

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

When I am sad, a voice, not unlike my own

chastises the impulse

if it is that, wishing to rise beyond, crush of emotion

when I am sad, I make myself sadder

by listening to those inherited echoes, telling me how I should feel

shutting down the validity, condemning feelings less than

knocking walls already fragile, disqualifying the emotion

when I am sad

I think of your disappointment

how much you wanted me to be

a thing of steel

reflecting only brightness

nothing dull or sorrowful

how I became in irony, almost everything you loathe and detest

I would say I am sorry, for your distress

but I learned instead of words, to be sad

maybe in part, because I saw, that flint in your eyes

nothing else was there

though in truth I was sad, at six years old

watching kids bully each other

knowing then, inequality and inequity

imagining the fight before I had, grown tall enough

hoping The Magic Faraway Tree

was real but knowing if it were

children grown to adults, would cut it down

when I am sad

sometimes it helps to think

love cannot be broken

by sadness or loneliness or grief

love stands as our first flower

even as it no longer exists the scent remains

to save us from disappointment

of so many other things

including each other and our infinite ability to be cruel

I am still the child with the blue rabbit

watching adults lie to each other

and kids emulate and pinch, the very stuffing out of hope

for if there is a Magic Faraway Tree

I think it would not be

for you or thee or me

like all magic things

only reveal itself to those pure hearted enough to know

sadness is manufactured by what we do to each other

with each cruel act it grows

if we let it and if we don’t

then next time I am sad

I will think on other things

like your voice and how

you make my heart quicken, just in your use

of words, the familiar cadence a worm

reaching deep into my heart

moving toward light.

Standard
poetry

7 Things I Learnt At Uni

  1. Jumping to your death is better than getting eating by your mother
    Re: hamsters
  2. You can obtain a degree in English having studied only 4 hours of Shakespeare over the course of your entire life
  3. Her Majesty The Queen is reet petite
  4. There are kids in the world who are so rich that they don’t do laundry:
    they wear a pair of socks once then throw them in the bin and buy more
  5. You shouldn’t pour boiling water on coffee – it burns it – 85 degrees is optimal
  6. Don’t make somebody your everything because. when they’re gone,
    you are left with nothing
  7. All food looks better when served on a square plate
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