life, poetry, prosetry

Fantasy girl

37945898_225058491668746_2704218410081845248_nShe

has a fantasy girl

her fantasy girl

who is not hers at all

doesn’t know she exists

because existence is

overrated

like a star struck teen

or perhaps not at all like that

more a wreckage that has refused

to completely destroy

that last ember that says

please have some hope

things can be different

she climbs outside of the

mistrust and inability to believe

all the lies people have told her

in such a short life OH how many there were

she puts aside this giant reality

which of course in the real world she never could

because it’s proven itself too many times

to be the most real thing she knows

in this fantasy land

she trusts and believes words people tell

which of course would be suicide

if she wasn’t making it up

but here she is untouched

by the horror of trusting a promise

having it burn through your skin

into your oily marrow

as a lie

here, she controls the fluted outcome

and it is golden

her fantasy girl

you may not look at twice

walking down the street

she isn’t the beauty some of those

she shared a bed with were

she doesn’t have the tawny hair of girl 2

or the azure eyes of girl 5

or the coltish legs of girl 3

she doesn’t even possess

a particularly pleasing shape

or long neck or soft bottom lip

but she is incapable of deception

won’t lie even under pressure

isn’t going to tell you what you want to hear

or feel pressured to appease your query

she will

take you in her arms

and honestly give a damn

if she had scars

missing hair

ingrowing toe nails

threadbare clothes

faded underwear with stretched out elastic

and an unflattering sag

she’d be the best girl she ever let inside

where once there was only bleach and scouring brushes

from cleaning out heartache

now, she can open

the latched window to the garden

smell the chasing breeze of fresh air

knowing she’s not going to be burned in some

unguarded moment

like you feel when

you put everything into a bag

give it to someone and say

here, here I am, TAKE ALL OF ME

but be gentle, I am breakable

the person nods and promises eagerly

because they have yet to

try you out

but once they do and it becomes

an old thing, a worn thing, something

already accomplished

you are the yellowed paper

of yesterday’s fish and chips

tossed into a cold fast running river

sinking … sinking … sinking

she will take anything

even a sharp knife or a thick rope

or two fistfuls of pills and a warm oven

over that kind of destruction

where you feel scouged and robbed

of any ability whatsoever to

believe a single WORD

about love and forever and promises

they are the sticky gooey false

stomach sickening lies

that close your wind pipe

keep you vomiting over a dirty toilet seat

in your pretty dress you stupidly bought

thinking it would be such a lovely day

no let’s not return to that place again

even if it means giving up on

all of it

living instead

in the barrel of a gun

when you fire

you turn to

silver

 

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fiction, photography

HEIRLOOMS

Chris R-0883 Image by Christine Renney

In the past, when we argued, I would often throw something. Now words are enough as over the years I have become more adept at hurling them and I no longer need to rely something inanimate. If I happened to be holding a mug I would throw that and, after retrieving the largest surviving part, I’d throw that again and again. Or I might reach and grab for something close at hand, an ornament or a trinket made from china or glass, something that would break, something that would smash. If I happened to be holding a book then I would throw that. It wouldn’t break of course, not even after I had kicked it and stamped on it. Books don’t come apart or at least not easily. Try for yourself, take one down from the shelf, a paperback, open it in the middle and try to rip it in two. It can’t be done. In order to destroy a book you need to act methodically, to tear the pages one at a time. I have done this, but only once.
I hadn’t read the book but I remember it was ‘The Idiot’ by Dostoevsky. As I started to rip out the pages, T… watched but she quickly tired and, exasperated, she went to bed. ‘The Idiot’ is a big book but I persevered until each and every page lay at my feet. In the heat of the moment a book is decidedly unsatisfactory. A mug, on the other hand, is ideal. A mug will bounce unscathed across a carpeted floor time and again. Six, eight, even ten times, before it will begin to chip and crack and, when it does, when it breaks, something snaps and in the silence we are able to make things right again. To scrub at the coffee stains and sweep up the pieces, although for weeks afterwards, we find bits of the mug lodged here, there and everywhere.

T… was frightened by my outbursts and believed if I didn’t react in this way that I would lash out and strike her. But it was only when the argument really took root, when it wouldn’t stop, that I would throw and break something. Of course, it wasn’t always a mug but sometimes things that were much more valuable and difficult to replace. Heirlooms, things that had been passed down and things we had bought together and which, over time, would have come to mean so much more. I won’t bore you with a list but I did once break a clock, a wedding present. I lifted it from the mantle and flung it to the floor. I kicked it, stood and stomped on it. Grinding the glass and the face and the mechanism until all of the tiny parts, the cogs and the washers and the wheels, were embedded in the carpet. Later, we hadn’t any choice but to carefully and painstakingly pick them out.

I am now aware, however, that T… has begun to replace some of the things I have destroyed from our past. I wouldn’t even have noticed if it hadn’t been for the book, not even the clock, but there it is up on the mantle, exactly the same although of course it isn’t. I wonder how she did it, how she managed to find it? And I would like to ask but how can I, how can we talk about this?

After finding the book and taking it down from the shelf, I carry it with me and begin to wander through the house, searching the rooms and discovering item after item, things I won’t list, not now, not here. I’ve told you about the book and about the clock and that’s enough. And the mugs of course, although they don’t matter, mugs are inconsequential; you use one only for so long and then replace it. Eventually I sit and start to read ‘The Idiot’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky, a copy of the book I desecrated long ago. It has the same cover, a sky blue border and the same painting on the front. ‘Portrait of Ivan Pochitonov’ by Nikolai Dmitrievich although of course these details I don’t remember.

T… comes into the room and, noticing the book, she asks quite coolly, ‘Haven’t you read that before?’.
‘I started once but didn’t finish it,’ I reply, ‘and I’ve decided to try again.’

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fiction

CAGED

Chris R-2-20 Image by Christine Renney

The bird had fallen down into their chimney. They had missed this, hadn’t heard its descent. Trapped and stalled but still attempting to fly, the bird bounced against the bricks.

They could hear the wings beating, its head and body bashing against the thin board that had been tacked in front of the fireplace.
‘We have to do something,’ she said.
‘Like what?’ he asked.
‘What do you mean, ‘like what’?’ she glared at him, incredulous. ‘We need to get it out of there, to set it free.’
‘How?’ From where he stood he studied the board. He couldn’t see any screws or fixings and suspected it had simply been glued into place and that removing it wouldn’t be difficult or particularly disruptive.
‘If we’re going to remove the board we need to get in touch with the landlord,’ he said. ‘It’ll pull the plaster away with it and could cause some damage.’
‘I don’t care!’ she stepped closer and, reaching out, placed her hand at the centre and the board wobbled slightly. The bird had quietened a little but now began to thrash and flail more violently.
‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ she said to it. She moved back.
‘We have to help it,’ she pleaded.
‘It’s a wild bird,’ he said. ‘If we let it out it’ll be disorientated. How will we deal with it? It’ll be covered in soot and I don’t know what else.’
She crossed to the window and, drawing back the net curtain, she flung it open.
‘It’ll find its own way out,’ she said defiantly.
‘I’m not so sure, why don’t we go out and when we get back it will have gone.’
‘No,’ she shook her head, ‘it won’t be gone, it will be dead.’ She moved to the kitchen.
‘I don’t care,’ she shouted back at him, ‘about the damage or the consequences.’
He listened to her rummaging in the junk drawer until at last she came back brandishing a paint stripper.
‘If you won’t do it then I will.’
He had been annoyed by just how indignant she had become and at how quickly. But the indignation had now turned to something else, something less fleeting, more settled. He took the paint stripper from her.
‘Okay,’ he said, ‘I’ll do it.‘
The board was indeed flimsy and, pulling away from the wall, it started to bend. The bird was bashing against it and then it wasn’t. He was shocked by how small it was.
He released the board and, letting it flap back into place, he stood and together they watched the little bird fluttering in front of the open window.

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