waking dreams

Posted December 23, 2012 by richard
Categories: ideas, prose, snippets

He can’t tell the time from the light through the window. It’s too grey. Mute. It could be dawn, dusk, or noon. 

His heart pounds loudly as he squints at the alarm clock. It’s too far away to see without his glasses on. It could be six or eight. Either is fine. He can still sleep but his heart won’t slow down.

She sleeps on quietly next to him, on her side facing the other way. He looks at the duvet rise and fall as she breathes in peace. He wonders for a moment if she’s faking it, if she’s awake but just not wanting to face him. 

Squinting again at the clock, he sees it’s half past six.

It must have been a dream, he thinks. Something frightening; something horrible has set my nerves off. 

He slips out of bed and steps quietly out into the hallway. The coolness of the wood under foot calms him somewhat. He paces gently, avoiding the floorboards that he knows will creak. 

As he walks his chest settles; he tries to remember his dreams. There’s nothing. Just darkness and then the grey light. 

a hush

Posted November 17, 2012 by richard
Categories: general, ideas, prose, snippets

Her shoes whispered to the cobbles as she walked. They were damp, and she could feel them slightly gritty beneath her feet. They were not smooth, or slippery. She liked that. Her hands dug into her pockets for warmth, her right fingers wrapped tightly around an old key. She held it like a talisman; it comforted her. The collar of her black coat was pulled high, a scarlet scarf tucked tightly to her neck. She felt cozy as she walked, even as her breath steamed out and dissipated into the cold air around her. The sky crept close to the ground, dark clouds lumbering slowly from west to east. The town around her sat quiet and empty. The houses and streets were lit but silent as her shoes whispered to the cobbles and her right hand squeezed the key. 

The whispering stopped when she came to the doorway of a house that stood right where the cobbles stopped and the tarmac began. She drew the key from her pocket, the metal warm from her grip, and slipped its teeth into the tattered looking keyhole. Her breathing stopped for a moment, and she closed her eyes as she turned the lock. It was stiff for a moment, but the tumblers then gave with a satisfying ‘chunk’ that echoed across the cobbles, pushing back against the silence around her.

She exhaled, but then held her breath again as she turned the brass knob and opened the door.

dry

Posted November 3, 2012 by richard
Categories: general, ideas, prose, snippets, stories

Tags: , ,

He sat alone, embraced by the barren room. They had filed out slowly, each at a loss for words. They shook his hand or gripped his shoulder, but could not quite bring their eyes to meet his. Their eyes found instead the rug-less floor and empty walls and the middle distance.

After they left and the echoes of the shutting door faded behind them, he walked into the kitchen and to the sink and washed off the handshakes. The bubbles slipped between his fingers and down the drain until the water ran clear and bubble-less. He felt as his hands blushed red and tingled in the hot water. The handle squeaked as he turned off the flow. He flicked the loose water from his fingers to the floor but didn’t bother to dry them.

There were no more hands to shake.

With his wet hands he grabbed a tumbler and filled it half way from a fresh bottle of whisky left by one of the handshakers. He sniffed it and didn’t wince too much.

The floorboards between the kitchen and the sitting room whined a bit as he stepped through.

The chair wasn’t very comfortable but he sat anyway and sipped his whisky and stared at the blank walls. They were pale, blue, and unremarkable. In one of the corners on the ceiling an old cobweb looked like ancient ash.

He sipped and held it in his mouth for a moment before swallowing the burning liquid and long, slow breath. They were gone and he could surrender, finally, to the last few months. His face tightened around his eyes and cheeks His breath shortened. He gasped a few times and sighed.

No tears came.

The blood in his temples throbbed. Eyes squeezed shut, head lifted skywards, face in a grimace.

No tears came.

There was no relief. It all lay too deep, pressed down and buried.

His chest lurched. He curled forward and covered his face with his hands and tried to dry heave his tears through. His face bright red, brow bright red and glistening, but his eyes were still dry.

The months before would not move. They rasped inside him. He breathed again and sipped his whisky and let it burn.

walk in white

Posted September 26, 2010 by richard
Categories: general, ideas, prose, snippets, stories

The snow crunched and squeaked beneath his tattered boots. He felt his ankles and shins tense, this way and that, keeping his balance. Once every hundred or so yards a foot would slip, and he would steady his weight by grabbing the dry stone wall to his right. Each breath he felt fill every space in his lungs, the air viscous, creeping through the network of tubes, channels and chambers. His face stung on his cheeks and the borders where his lips met his skin. He could feel the hairs in his nostrils turn brittle and feel as though they would shatter with impact. Tears grew in the corners of each eye, brought forth by the weather.

Or that’s what he told himself, anyway.

bonfire skeleton

Posted July 22, 2009 by richard
Categories: general, ideas, prose, snippets, stories

She looked among the charred wet remains. The blackened circle surrounded by damp sand. Green glass, melted, deformed, twisted into abstraction lay buried in part under the ash. She saw no smoke but she smelled the memory of it. Her fingers ran through her hair and grains of sand fell free, their landing a whisper. She shivered slightly and put her hands in the belly pocket of her hoodie. Her hair fell in front of her eyes but she didn’t bother brushing it aside.

About 10 feet away slept a boy. Or maybe he was just passed out. Half his face was covered in sand and his mouth was open. She could hear him breathe but tried instead to hear the sea.

The sky above her loomed low. She felt she could touch it. It brightened though there seemed no source for the brightness through the cloud. It sucked the colour from all around her. The sea lapped and looked of slate. It seemed a dead dawn.

A half-empty bottle of port sat in the sand a few feet from the scorched patch. She sat down next to it and peered down its neck, judging the remains. A small sip, to see how it sat. A deeper sip. It was sweet and hot in her mouth. It burned a little as it went down. She gasped and her eyes watered. She laughed at herself. Composed again, she looked out to the slate sea and the smattering of rocks that peaked through the high water, studying the ripples as they spread out from the stones.

A half-burned plank lay next to her feet and she picked it up and threw it into the pile of ash. Another sip. She felt a drop of rain and then another. She looked up, as though she needed to know from whence it came. It was a light drizzle, and it made a light hiss as it hit the water. She looked towards the sleeping boy and the rain did not move him.

Another sip and she stood and brushed in vain at the sand, trying to dislodge it. The rain fell harder.

She looked again towards the sea and stared and drained the last of the port.

Then she turned around and walked away, leaving the scorched sand and the sleeping boy alone in the rain.

an old road

Posted June 20, 2009 by richard
Categories: general, ideas, prose, snippets

He slings the handles of the duffel bag over his shoulder and slips on his headphones. The sky hangs low but it’s dry and mild. There’s no breeze, for a change. He pulls his hat down low and turns the volume up a little. The ripples lap the harbour walls but he doesn’t hear them. The handles tug on his shoulder and he shifts the weight a touch. Within the bag sit a costume, a shaving kit, some other bits and pieces he might need along the way.

He looks out towards the sea and pulls out the earbuds. The odd gull hovers ahead. The boats sit quiet. The tide’s receding and the lobstermen are nowhere to be seen. He hears the lapping now, and a gull squawk or two.

He’s been here before. He turns up the road he’s walked so many times. He hugs the duffel with one arm. It’s uphill now, and steep. He puts the headphones back in and chooses a song, something with energy.

crunch and slip

Posted March 16, 2009 by richard
Categories: ideas, prose, snippets, stories

The sound of the snow pleased her. It crunched and it squeaked at the end of every step. Her boots slipped a little as they compacted the fresh powder. For each of those precarious split-seconds her heart jumped. Just a little. There wasn’t any real danger. Just that momentary slip – an inch or so, maybe less.

She breathed heavy and watched the steam of it drift away among the falling flakes. It was thick and turned the world around her into a winter mosaic. Everything familiar was different, temporarily veiled.

She stopped to kick a drift, giggling as the powder exploded from the tip of her wellie boot.

Her mittened hand waved at old man walking his spaniel; the animal amazed, confounded and delirious at the strange new medium that surrounded it. More laughter as the dog chased the falling snow.

She scooped with both hands and shaped a rough sphere. The ‘phap’ as it hit the stone wall echoed: a satisfying punctuation to her throw.

Before long she heard branches dripping, and saw above a sliver of blue sky.

She walked a different way home, listening to the crunch of her boots and the jump of her heart with every slip.