Dress him in a sweater
The excitement of the retirement home residents over yet another bingo afternoon left her yearning for a small explosive device. Not that the other activities were more fun. Like this knitting. They knit sweaters for dogs. Dogs! Not orphans, not homeless, not the affected by war. No. They knit for dogs. But at least she can take the needles and yarn with her to the park; it may take few hours before the caretakers notice she’s gone AWOL. She stretches her fingers. Damn arthritis. She wouldn’t mind to be young again for a moment, just like the two lovebirds strolling across the grass. She would pass on the drama of the youth though. That seems to be raised by a notch by each generation. Everything is going down the drain nowadays. Dogs wear clothes, men are crying and being old gives you the privilege to do what they tell you to do. Back to knitting, we don’t want the damn dogs to freeze.
I still don’t believe Dukey is gone. My little puppy. I keep thinking about him. I try not to, especially with the cuts at the office. I am so distracted and the work is getting to me. The queen B of a boss is breathing down my neck, terrorising me with her sneaky eyes from 9 to 6. I wish I could retire and sit outside and read, play with dogs or even knit like the old lady on the bench. Is that a little sweater? It’s too little for a baby though. Oh my, so sweet – I think she is making it for a dog. Dukey would look so cute in a red sweater like that. I say that to Tom, but I don’t think he is really listening. I always thought he couldn’t stand Duke, but then he – I can’t think about it. It was such a horrible day. Tom is fidgeting. Is he crying? I would never say he has such a sensitive soul. I squeeze his hand harder and lean on his shoulder to assure him he can count on me.
He blinks. He double blinks, triple blinks and flutters his eyelids so fast his vision is blurred. The speck of something is still lodged in his eye. His right hand is plastered up to his biceps and his left is trapped in hers. It would be unwise to try to extricate himself. He double blinks again. She keeps talking about the dog. Duke Zuzu Theodore the Third. There never was Duke Zuzu Theodore the First, nor Second for that matter. First class Pomeranian. First class yapping pom pom more likely. He was squashed under the wheels of the neighbour’s car two weeks ago along with his stupid heroic arm that tried to grab him out of harm’s way. She is still upset about it. Although it’s not a surprise that the mongrel ran off on the road. His eyes starts to water. Blink. Blink. How can I get this thing out of my eye? Triple blink.
Writing 101 – Day 9
Wednesday. Lunch break. The day of the food market. The windswept passageways of the architectonic disaster also known as One New Change are flooded with hunters and gatherers. 15 minutes wait for a paella is not worth of my time. 15 minutes of waiting for anything is not worth of my time. The dog must have eaten his wristwatch; mine commands exact 12:46. Second date has ceased to be a romantic encounter for me and I start scripting a dump-fest in my head.
I spot him at the Portuguese stand being swallowed by the chorizo lovers. It would appear he has forgotten to sharpen his elbows today. He struggles to manoeuvre through the gaps; an elephant trapped in a glass labyrinth would be more elegant. 12:51 and I’m faced with a rumpled suit and sweat patches. His mouth is opening and closing so he must be vomiting an apology but I am distracted by the small drop trickling down his left cheek. It is almost at his chin. I don’t wait for it to fall.
Writing 101 – Day 8
She smoothed the red envelope and
could just make out the cut out uneven squares
provided by the morning paper
I KILL YOU
She placed the unopened letter to the in-tray
and walked back to her desk.
She could still smell the glue on her fingers.
Writing 101 – Day 5
Joseph Andrew was born three weeks prematurely on a late summer day. The labour made Marika exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. The little bundle became the centre of her universe. Joe quietly suffered the change in hierarchy. He didn’t protest though and gave his son the privileges. They were a perfect happy family. Even Greta with her two sons visited few times, advising her, sharing secrets of parenting.
Their daughter Samantha Jane joined them less then a year later and Joe gradually stopped enduring her indifference towards him. She didn’t see the first slap coming. She felt alone and lost.
L O S T
T in the A to Z challenge.
Marika took her parents to all the London attractions, Joe unhappily followed. They were not speaking English and he was left on the outskirts of their conversation. She tried to translate as much as was possible but Joe didn’t take the exclusion lightly and was turning grumpier every day. Towards the end, he spent most of his time in the office instead.
Their visit was over too soon she felt, but Joe was relieved to be back in the normal state of affairs. In retrospect he disapproved of the amount of time she spent with them and the lack of attention to him, rebuked the negligence for the flat and her chores. She had to agree that her parents’ visit was an intrusion and caused disruptions to their life. It must had been so hard for Joe. He needed his regularity, his routine to relax. He concentrated so hard on achieving continuous progress at work so they could afford a bigger place and their own family one day. She had jeopardized their future.
They got married next month in a small ceremony. She announced her marital status to her parents over the phone. When she was five months pregnant, they moved to a four bedroom house in Hampstead. She couldn’t be happier. She was starting her own family in a perfect house with a perfect husband.
S in the A to Z challenge.
Marika made sure the flat stayed in pristine state, food she cooked was worth a Michelin star, and Joe’s shirts were ironed and crispy white. Day by day. It filled her with pride that her man was so perfect. Her days were spent doing chores or shopping for necessities. She rarely bought anythings for herself, and if only sensible things; she didn’t want to take advantage of Joe’s money. It was December and she was living with him for four months now.
December was different though. Festive. This time she allowed herself to look for something special, a dress. The office Christmas party was in two weeks and she was going to be Joe’s plus one. She needed to look presentable, worthy of him. The dress was long, strapless and blood red. She felt beautiful and sexy, excited to see Joe’s reaction. She prepared his favourite dinner, lit candles and waited at the door wrapped in silk.
She returned the dress the next day and exchanged it for a black gown with full sleeves. Joe was right, the red dress was too provocative, it was after all still a business occasion. The party was success. It was the first time she experienced the exclusivity of City life, the elegant people, classy hotel reception, gourmet meals, expensive champagne. She even made a new friend. Mrs Goodman, Greta, the wife of the department director. They had two sons and Greta had never returned back to work from her maternity leave. They agreed to meet once a week for a coffee or a walk in a park. Marika thought she would like to have a child too.
Christmas was knocking on the door and she was thrilled as her parents were spending the holiday with them. It was the first time she would see them since she left home. Joe was uneasy and worried about their visit. His mother died and he had a difficult relationship with his father. Marika felt sorry for him.
Her family was to become his.
O in the A to Z challenge.
Marika met Joe in a City bar where she was collecting empty glasses from the tables in exchange for a paycheque. She was in London only three months and her English was still something that needed improving. He didn’t mind the wrong expressions she used and he made an effort to correct her. She was learning a lot just by talking to him. So when Joe asked her to stay after work one day, she didn’t mind.
They started dating. She was so happy that she found an Englishman for a boyfriend. The envy and jealousy of her flatmates were obvious (at least that is what she liked to imagine). She lived in an overcrowded three bedroom house in Edgware. She liked some of the co-habitants, some not so much, some she never saw because they were always working. Joe made her life better. He persuaded his boss to give her a job in the office to file documents and enter data to spreadsheets so she didn’t have to work in a place where drunken men were making advances on her. It was a dull assignment but she didn’t argue. She was thrilled to be in the same building as him. Not that they had many chances to be actually together during the working hours. Joe was very busy.
He suggested she moves in with him after two months. He was worried about the long travel from Edgware to City and dangers she may encounter. His flat in Waterloo was immaculate. Joe had a cleaning lady that came over twice a week but she felt she should do the chores herself. She was the lady of the house now – she would take care of her man. Joe agreed and suggested to her to stay at home; he earned enough.
They were so happy.
L in the A to Z challenge.
…you discovered a lost civilization?
Well, I don’t want to brag but I can tell you exactly what I would do because as it happens, I do have experience in this field.
I stumbled upon a lost society, when I finally commenced the long promised clear out of all the junk we accumulated and stored in our garage. They didn’t notice me and I was able to sneak really close. I was literally looking inside their round-shaped dwellings. As I observed them, I realised they don’t have eyes and therefore can’t see me. This gave me a boost of confidence and I began researching these creatures with the utmost seriousness of an amateur science enthusiast.
They appeared to be having a heated argument, you could see the different fractions and attacks at each other. They differed in colour though not much as they were all kind of yellowy grey and green, the strongest parts blackened but still clearly of the same family. To be quite honest, they were rather ugly with their fluffy miniature tentacles reaching and spawning out farther. And they were noisy, not loud noisy but boisterous noisy and their living standards were fairly low, not to mention their behaviour. Definitely not appropriate for apparently advanced civilization. After some time I could make out what the argument was about as they spoke a simple language and used only limited vocabulary. There was a vote being challenged about abandonment of patriarchal system and a debate about pros and cos of establishing a democracy at the same time. And possibly a brawl about a most suitable textiles and whether or not textiles are suitable environment for something.
As I mentioned, they settled down in our garage, to be exact on the borders of the northern and eastern wall and the adjourning corner. The wall they possessed was the one with the leaking gutter outside. Now when I’m thinking about it, what if they were not survivors of a lost civilization but mere mutants? Who knows what hides in the gutter. Maybe I will find another community out there. Doesn’t matter. I would do exactly what I did with the folks inside. Decimate. Kill. Wipe out. My wife hated them. There were clear signs that they were planning a complete takeover of the area, and possibly the whole house. She was convinced their plan to slowly spread out over the walls and under the carpets, poisoning the air with their fumes and choke us in our sleep would work out if I hadn’t discovered them. I think she was right. I should check the gutter. I think I will need more bleach.
What if February Challenge
you discovered a spaceship in your neighbour’s garage?
I have moved into my parents house when my father passed away. It is a quiet suburb. It suits me. The hectic lifestyle of the city brought me only ulcers and a heart attack. Now I work from home as an accountant. I have a dog. Benny. He was my dad’s. He is twelve. I walk him every morning. It is usually dark when we go out. We meet the young kid from across the street with his puppy labrador. I think his name is Max. The boy, not the dog. Sometimes we see the nurse who is renting a studio at the end of the road. She wears that ugly blue uniform that somehow looks really great on her.
I also help Mr and Mrs Parker to do their bills. Mrs Parker doesn’t talk much. Mr Parker even less. I go over to their house once a month to sort out their invoices and receipts. Their house is immaculate with tasteful decorations. It feels almost like entering a catalogue picture. Mr Parker always sits in the library, reading. The books there are arranged in rows and rows of librarian perfection. He barely lifts his eyes to acknowledge my presence. Mrs Parker always prepares a tea. Exactly the way I like it. The cup remains full and the liquid pleasantly warm during my whole stay in the study room. Mrs Parker must be keeping an eye on it. She has the gift of moving without a sound.
One day I finished the paperwork earlier than usual and went to the polished kitchen to find Mrs Parker. It was empty. I thought she must have just taken a cup of tea to Mr Parker so I made my way to the library. It was equally empty. I was not familiar with the rest of the house and it felt wrong to raise my voice to shout for their attention. I was lost in the eerie uncertainty of my next action, when I heard a noise from the garage – beeping and humming noise at the same time. I turned around and walked through the back door.
My first instinct was to scream and run but Mr Parker looked at me with his placid look that gave you no chance. My body was moveless, frozen in trance while my thoughts desperately fought the incomprehensibility of the situation, my sanity on a brink of extinction. He kept his gaze locked until I finally felt calm on the inside. After all it was not that crazy. It was actually rather understandable and most definitely really cool. Mr Parker owns a spaceship. I asked: ‘Could I have a ride?’
What if challenge January
The air smelled of apples and fresh cut grass. Our foreheads were touching and your breath danced on my face like summer breeze. Your fingers travelled in all directions while I tried to tame the words that threaten to escape my mouth before sounding pretty and perfect. I felt like a moth trapped in a lampshade.
‘I love you’, I said and met your eyes, a ‘but’ at the tip of my tongue.
You stopped the word with your lips. ‘I don’t want to hear the but’, you whispered in your ragged shallow voice that echoed through every cell of my body. You kissed me again before I had a chance to reply. All those elegantly arranged words in my mind began to untangle into letters and the letters transformed into fluttering wings of butterflies. I tried to catch them. I did. But they were dancing in no order, creating colourful chaos and they were mesmerising. After a while I stopped trying. I just watched and enjoyed their show, the ‘but’ lost in a swarm of butterflies.