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Monday, 20 February 2012

Chris' Sandwich

 Well again, an entry that is something taken from my Creative Writing course. After last week's challenge I was left without an item around which to base a short piece. However there were four that had gone before. A button, a chicken a toothpick and a statue. So, for the sake of attempting something a bit different, I thought I'd try and weave something around all of them! Why not! 

Chris sat at his desk counting away each second of the day. A long day. A Monday. Time had not only begun to drag, for him it was going backwards. He swore that for the ninth time today the clock on his PC ticked passed three o’clock. If he consumed another cup of tea not only, he was sure, would it be a world record but he was certain that his bladder may also explode killing not only himself but everyone within a three mile radius. At this point in the day, he didn’t care.

He prodded another chocolate button around his notepad before spearing it with a toothpick. One more sugary sacrifice - he consumed it with glee. Making a game out of such mundane activities normally passed a good few minutes of the day. Well, an hour on a good day. But, it being a Monday, the magnitude of boredom was hard to tackle in such a way. Chris knew that he could sit a mannequin at his desk, a statue in honour of the tedium, somewhere that any data processor could worship at and not one of his colleagues would bat an eyelid. People could come from all over the world, a pilgrimage of sorts. Some to pray, others to share memories of when they too were trapped in an office, chained to a computer, brains switched off and emotion left at the reception door. Others to simply pity the poor fools who’d yet to find the enlightenment of promotion, the higher consciousness of middle-management. Maybe Chris could sell tickets. Guided tours? Sell small souvenirs and charge £5 for a photo of you sat at the desk. Black and white of course.  Either way he was sure that not a single person in his office would notice in the slightest. “Not even if I were dead” he mused. “Not even then” his sandwich retorted.

Now, Chris’ mind and fervent imagination frequently wandered to the realms of ‘what ifs’ and on the more optimistic days ‘if onlys’. He often discussed in the recesses of his mind what colour he would be if he were a dragon, for example. But he had, until now, refrained from starting philosophical conversations with his lunch. He looked at Sal and Shelly, sat opposite. Neither had looked up from their keyboards and the clatter of nails on keys continued uninterrupted. After a moment more, he looked down and whispered, incredibly self aware that he may be crossing the line into utter insanity, “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“I was just agreeing with you. Nobody would notice. Not even if you keeled over right here.” Chris was taken aback, almost hurt by this. To think it oneself was bad enough but to hear it from an inanimate snack, wow, that was something. “Well. They might. They might miss me?” he replied more with hope than assurance. “No, they don’t even know your name. If you were going to make a lasting impression or a name for yourself you’d have done it by now mate. I don’t know why you even bother. Your problem is you’re chicken.” There was no small irony in it’s statement. But the sandwich, meat content aside, was right. Chris’ heart sank as he pondered this for a moment. He slumped back into his ergonomically adjusted chair. He’d heard the same from his friends, his ex-girlfriend, even his mother. But this time, for some obscure reason, it hit home.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Harold and the Duck

So I've not written a lot for a while. I know. Well, not a lot that I've posted on here at least! The good news is that I've got the bug again. The bad news, at least in some way, is that I've started a Creative Writing Course with the Open University. Now that is in fact good news but it does mean that I am going to be writing mostly for the course for the next couple of months. Little pieces, projects and the like. However with the fact that any feedback is worth getting I decided that I'd post pieces here too.

The premise of the bit below is that we set challenges for one another based on a word or item. The item thrust my way (on a forum, not literally) was a stuffed duck that squeaked. The result, is Harold and the Duck.

Harold carried his toy duck through to Fiona. As he dropped it by the side of the bed a meek squeak crept out as if in fear of breaking the silence. The silence that had lasted for too long as far as Harold was concerned. Still Fiona didn’t stir, her tired eyes stayed fixed on the television but she was taking nothing in. A blur of colours and white noise to provide at least the sensory numbing she needed to hold back the tidal wave of despair. Harold was having none of this, he was tired of being ignored and more importantly, he was worried about Fiona.

He rested his head on the edge of the bed. No reaction. Finally he gave in and nudged Fiona’s arm. Startled she flinched, scaring Harold who immediately withdrew. “I’m sorry Harry, I’m so sorry mummy didn’t mean to scare you”. Tentatively he returned to the bedside as Fiona cooed and stroked the hair from his face. As his heartbeat calmed he paused, reached down and held the duck towards her, squeaking it, once, then twice. All of a sudden, as if something inside her had been switched on, Fiona took the duck and a faint suggestion of a sorrowful smile appeared at the corners of her mouth. She lifted Harold onto the bed and held him.

“I guess you think you haven’t got anyone to play with anymore don’t you young man? I just really miss him. But I know it’s been hard for you too. It's been tough on all of us. Still, you don’t have to worry anymore. We just have to be strong for each other now, starting today. What do you say?”

Harold said nothing but leant lovingly on her listening to her heart beating. It’d been three weeks since the accident and this was the first time that she’s spoken to him. It’d taken Harold ten days himself to realise that Steve wasn’t coming back. That explained the tears. The cards. The strangers who visited almost every day, talking to Fiona behind closed doors and away from the children. Harold was the man of the house now whether he liked it or not so it was his job to get Fiona back to the world of the living.

“So what do you want to do?” said Fiona, energized by his affection. I know. It’s been long overdue. I think it’s about time we went for a long walk in the snow – you love the snow don’t you?” Harold wasn’t waiting one moment. He leapt to his feet, tail wagging, and fetched his leash from downstairs. Finally she was back and he wasn’t going to let her slip away again.