fiction, photography

CODA

Chris R-1-101 Image by Christine Renney

Peter walked behind the shops, not a shortcut as such but it seemed to him a better prospect than the high road at rush hour. It was bitingly cold and, hunched in his jacket, he trudged with his head down.
He heard them first and, looking up, saw the girls, pole dancers, huddled in front of the door at the back of the club beneath a small oblong canopy of whitewashed concrete. They shivered, drawing hungrily on their cigarettes, teetering on stiletto heels, naked but for a little shimmer and sparkle.
It struck Peter that this would have made a great photograph and if only he had his camera how easily he could have captured it. But he hadn’t and as he stood watching the girls the irrefutable fact that he couldn’t change this caused him to feel nauseous.
Forcing himself he turned away and moved on. Walking toward home Peter re-played the moment in his head. He had watched the girls for a minute at most but this would have been long enough. He could have taken ten, fifteen, even twenty shots, each of them a masterpiece and all potential prize-winners.
Peter couldn’t accept that he had missed the opportunity to photograph the dancers. To contemplate the idea that the image didn’t exist and that he wasn’t responsible for its existence was simply too much for him.
Before he had reached his flat he had managed to convince himself that it wasn’t too late, that the girls would of course reappear the following evening and that all he needed to do was be there, armed with his camera.
The anticipation was almost unbearable and that night he rested fitfully. Over the course of the next week or so he revisited the back of the club. From late afternoon until the last of the light died he paced with his camera, a stone’s throw from the busy high road.
Each day his impatience lessened just a little and at last Peter raised his camera and started shooting but the girls failed to emerge and the door remained firmly in place.

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fiction

DESCENT

Chris R-0315 Image by Christine Renney

I am attempting to forge a route that takes in all of my haunts, all the places where I have taken shelter after dark. The doorways where I have pushed back and stretched out and where I have slept. But there are too many and as I move between them, making my way back and forth, I feel disoriented and this sudden compulsion is now pulling me from the Centre or at least from the part of the City I have accepted as the Centre, a place where I have loitered and lingered. But my reluctance to leave seems to have deserted me and I am fleeing, but to where?
I am pushing against the City and it is dense and difficult to navigate. I look because I must but I can’t focus and I can’t see my way through. The idea of a Centre here, that it could exist, is inconceivable and yet I have conceived of it and somehow I have found my way. But how?
It must have been slow, my descent. So gradual that the progress I have made is all but impossible to detect.

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life, poetry

Poet for Hire

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I’m fucking shit at poetry (and almost all forms of art, most would say), so I offer you all ten British Pounds to the person who can provide the best response in the comments section – the ideal would be in a metrical pattern consisting of four lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter …

 

 

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life, photography

Lost Into Darkness

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I was up early this morning, or maybe I never made it to bed – either way, I wrote a ‘thing’ for the first time in a month. It looked good, read well. It had a start, a middle and an end – you, know, all that jazz. I was ecstatic at the output. Maybe I will let you read it one day.

I left the house for work, walking a familiar path to the Underground. I was thinking of what I had written, smiling at how clever I had been with my twisting sentences, the slick characterisation, the clever call-back at the climax that referenced the beginning. In my mind I began to edit, adding fresh pieces – to refine the start, to plump the middle, to polish the end.

Then the happiness faded. I started to see the gaps, the cracks, the fractures; the long-winded wordiness, ridiculous choices of my protagonist, the clichéd fait accompli of the antagonist. The weaknesses within my prose emboldened ink-black against the pure-white canvass.

In an instant this familiar path, along which I had been skipping, came to the downhill slope section where you will find the ruts and bumps. I stumbled and fell heavy to my knees, pitching forward onto my hands and left skin from my palms and knuckles upon the bitumen. That is when it came loose and tumbled away from me towards the storm drain. I watched it slip between the thick metal fingers – confidence in my words lost into darkness, and it was gone

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fiction

the butterfly collector

It was a butterfly that drew Aisha’s gaze to the bus stop across the street, where her husband was leaning against a post with his back to her, facing a woman who was standing too close.

Aisha was invisible, on the other side of the road, inside a boutique shop, pondering a scarf.

She first saw the butterfly on a mannequin that wore a flowered dress. Later it was perched on a windowsill, staring outside. Aisha crept towards it, sat on her haunches, and watched its wings quiver in the air-conditioning. Then she found herself looking out the window too.

Aisha forgot all about the butterfly, and as she leaned in closer, her forehead slammed against the glass.

The sales person jerked her head in Aisha’s direction and Aisha waved her hand to say I’m sorry, I’m all right, please don’t fuss. The sales person turned away reluctantly, suspicious now that the woman in the head scarf would cause more trouble. She caught the eye of a fellow worker and shook her head.

Aisha continued staring out the window and watched her husband run a hand through his thick, black hair then lay it on the woman’s shoulder. He pulled her close and Aisha thought she saw him kiss the top of the woman’s bare head. Aisha felt a rage that was terrifying in its volume.

She reached inside her bag for her mobile phone, watched her husband pull his out of his back pocket, glance at the screen to see who was calling, raise a finger to the woman, then turn away to take the call. He was facing Aisha when he placed the mobile against his ear. He said hello, but Aisha could not respond.

He said hello, hello, Aisha, are you there? Then he hung up. She could see he was unnerved because he looked up and down the street and ran his hands through his hair again. Aisha’s own crept up her face and formed a cave over her mouth. ‘What were you thinking, bastard?’ she whispered. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and let the air out slowly. When she was empty, she straightened her shoulders and walked to the cashier with the scarf in hand. She pulled out a credit card and laid it on the counter in front of the clerk. Aisha turned her head sideways and looked out the window.

The clerk, who had been watching Aisha, scrutinised her face as she rang up her purchase. When she was about to wrap the scarf in paper, Aisha placed a hand on the fabric and said, ‘No, I’ll be wearing this.’ The clerk nodded and handed her the scarf with the credit card and receipt.

Aisha thanked her in a low voice and exited the shop. Outside, Aisha looped the scarf around her neck and thought of nothing.

 

This story was inspired by Josephine R. Unglaub’s My Butterfly, My Axe.

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