Monday, April 8, 2013

Passage

She sat on the riverbank, close to the Rotunda.

It had been recently rejuvenated, with paint~ with a flair.
Colourful little touches embellished the stark white, on the upright stands, and the interior of the canopy.

Occasionally, on Sundays,  bands used the Rotunda, to play oom-pa-pa music, with trumpets and trombones and uniformed men, looking rather self conscious. A few people even came to listen, and, on sunny days, when the grassy banks were not damp, they would sit and clap, in small desultory bursts of applause.

This day, there was no band. Only the ducks were present, going about their duckish business. Paddling about, seeking who knew what, amidst the water, of the river, as it slowly meandered along.

It was Autumn, and the large leaves of the trees lining the banks were golden and orange and pale lemony-lime, spent greens, as they fell onto the grass and into the water. Their season for being had ended, and now they were destined to be part of the everchanging cycle of the river, the water, forever moving along. Life and death, the neverending cycle of the seasons. So calm, and so serene, as they floated by. She wondered idly, if they knew their season had ended. Wondered at the brief life they had had.

Then she thought about the wonderful striking, almost dazzling, dizzying,  shades, of limey greens, so arresting in their bright youth, of the Spring, when they burst forth, from the bare branches, and spread their wonderful canopy of rich green dapples in the sunlight, as the Spring turned to Summer, and the wonderful blooms became part of the splendour of the trees, the parents, to all the glory. The flowers looking like bright pink candles or pyramids of colour, so pretty, and enchanting.

She thought about her life, and the sadness she felt. She wished she was a fallen leaf, to be carried away by the river's flow. She would feel no more pain. She could just fade into the passage of nature, and not have to feel pain, or sorrow, for her losses.

The shadows were long, and it was suddenly chilly. She stood up, and wondered how she could return to her life, which seemed so pointless. She wondered if she could ever really feel again, if the pain and agony would ever end.

She tried to tell herself, Time is a passage, just like this river. It never stays the same, and moves along at it's own pace. For now, for her, the passage was much to slow. She wished the river was deeper, or fast flowing, and she could fling herself into the water, and be swept along, with leaves, to another destiny.



Monday, August 15, 2011

Storm


Her Uncle had owned the bach until his death, and he had lived there on his own, after his wife, who was her Aunt by blood, had died. After her tragic bereavement, her cousin, Gabrielle, had offered her the use of the bach,which remained deserted for much of the year.

The family, now comprised of the cousins, two sons, Martin, and Kelvin, and their sister Gabrielle, and their families, used the bach for occasional summer weekends, but for the main part, the little two bedroom dwelling remained unused. The old, leaning and greying stakes, with rotting strands of twine, in the back yard, were all that remained of her Uncle's valiant attemps at gardening. It seemed impossible that he had once grown tomatoes, and potatoes in the sandy waste, now filled with Gazanias, and weeds, Pigfaces, encroaching Lupins, and tussock grass.

This area was next to the dilapidated, and falling-apart remains of Uncle Ted's shed, which he had called his Garage. The old Morris had rarely been housed there, but had stood on the driveway, leading up to the doors. Uncle Ted had gutted and scaled his fish out in the garden, and he often collected kelp, to dig into the garden, and he claimed it was the reason he could coax tomatoes and even potatoes from the sandy waste he called a garden.


She was really tired, after her long drive, down from the city, and the turn onto the side road and up the rutted old road, that led to the Beach Bach, was a welcome sign that she was soon to rest. She parked her car at the bottom of what used to be the driveway, for her Uncle's little old Morris, and which was little more than tussock and sand now, and hauled her bags up the sloping front area, that had once been a lawn of sorts.

When she unlocked the back door, she smelled the peculiar scent of stale air mingled with salt and sand. She was instantly glad she had brought her own sheets, pillows, and two quilts. She stripped the bed, and made it anew, with her fresh linen, and quilts.

It was almost dusk, and she stepped outside the back door, to smell the salty air, and feel the fresh wind from the ocean. She could see the curve of the small bay, with it's bright sandy collar, and the gentle surf frills, as each wave broke gently onto the sand. The jagged black, and smoother grey, rocks at each end of the bay seemed to sit as guardians, over the little bay.

She flipped on the Mains switch at the power board, and wondered that the local authorities allowed the cousins to keep the Electicity supply available for use when needed.

She realised how tired she was, and the fact that she had more or less forgotten about food. She hauled the cooler from her car up the slope and took out the eggs, bread, tea and milk. There was an elderly refigerator, which seemed to be working, judging by the noises it was making, once she had turned on the electricity. It had a huge handle on the door, and she put her eggs and milk onto a shelf. She found an ancient toaster in a cupboard, which had doors on each side, though only one element seemed to be working.

She decided to have a boiled egg, and a slice of toast for her tea. There were three small saucepans, and a small frypan, in the cupboard below the sink, and the electric stove had two elements that glowed red, when she tried them all. She made a mental note, to get herself a fully functional automatic toaster as soon as she could, and also buy some butter, which she had forgotten she might need for the toast. The water from the tap was very reluctant, but eventually ran clear enough for her to risk using it for her tea. The electric jug worked to make a cup of tea, but it seemed to take forever to boil the water.

She decided to forgo a bath, as there was no shower, and fell into bed, and into a deep, weary sleep.


She awoke suddenly to a loud noise, sat up in bed in alarm, and could not at first remember where she was. The wind was a howling demon, and seemed about to enter the bach. It whistled and moaned at the doors and windows. She heard the roar and thunder of the surf, hurling itself onto the beach. It sounded so loud and close, she felt it might enter the bach, then remembered she was above the bay, and it surely could not rise high enough, to flood into her little sanctuary.

She pulled the quilts about her head, and fell asleep once more.


The morning dawned clear, calm, and bright, with not a cloud or any evidence of the night's fury, apart from the stakes in the garden having fallen over, and the twine being ripped from the stakes. The Lupins at the edge of the once-upon-a-time garden had been bent and wilted by the winds, but the sandy drifts appeared to be a normal part of the landscape.

As she looked out at the sunny day, she decided to walk down to the beach, and work up an appetite. She dressed in jeans and a T Shirt and decided not to wear sandals, since it was warm, and the sand felt soothing under her bare feet.

She crossed the dunes to the sand of the bay, and noticed all the drifts of kelp, lying thick and tossed along the bay. There were great piles of kelp, seemingly ripped from the ocean floor, by the fury and rage of the storm the night before. The stipes and blades lay strewn in heaps upon the sand.

A small, sad, silver fish lay dead, caught unawares by the ocean's fury, perhaps thinking it had found shelter in the forest of kelp, before it was plundered by the storm's ferocity, and hurled from it's haven, onto a sandy, hostile shore. She saw the glint of the fish among the kelp, and realised what it was, and what might have happened.

She noted that the waves seemed to have been thrown further up the shore than normal, and the holes in the newly wet sand, told of small creatures, whose homes in the dry sand have been invaded, flooded by the unusual influx of high waters.

As she walked along the bay, looking at the great piles of uprooted kelp, she saw something glinting in the morning sun. It appeared to be silver, and vaguely familiar. A great pile of kelp lay in a mound, and she suddenly realised what was silver.

As the waves lapped their foamy edges about the thick straps of kelp, and silver, she realised it was a high heeled sandal, in fact, pale blue and silver.

Incongruously, it was strapped to a foot. As she looked closer, she could see another, unclad foot, in the sand, under the kelp.

With mounting horror, she followed the line of kelp, and saw the long strands of brown hair, the side of a face, and the knotted, silky, pale blue scarf, around a slender neck.

An arm was flung out, fingers curled towards some unseen goal.

The kelp formed almost a blanket of modesty about the obviously naked body of the female, who lay upon the beach. The ripples of the waves poured foamy edges over the kelp, and gently rocked the naked foot back and forth.


She reeled back in horrified realisation, that this was a dead person.
She remembered the howling fury of the night before.
The waves crashing and thundering on the shore.
Was it outrage at this woman's death?
How had she died?


This may or may not be continued...

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Deal

The 'Deal' was set, with no name or formal acknowledgement, that it was, a 'deal'.

It was more of an 'Agreement' I suppose.

The Husband had been off at the 'War'.

The New Wife had been at home, gestating, and bearing, and giving birth, to the child, who had been accidentally concieved, at a contrived, conjugal meeting, hasitly convened, just before the Husband had been posted off, Unexpectedly, " Overseas".

Upon the Husband's Return, he was dismayed, and shocked, to discover he had a child, though he had known of her birth, and he had even looked forward to becoming aquainted with this small child who was the result of his final expression of love, with his new bride.

A fractious, hostile, jealous, little daughter, who obviously disapproved of everything about him.

How dare he come between her and her mother... and 'Little Sister'.

Wait a minute... Little Sister??

There could be NO Little Sister.

The Husband had been overseas, deployed in hideous warfare, too terrifying to talk about, on his return.

His Return, to a horrible truth, he did not wish to face, nor want to confront. His Bride had betrayed him.
She had born another child, after his,~ this second child~ not his.
The result of an accidental 'coupling'.

After much agonising, a 'Deal' was struck.

The Wife could keep His (Their) child, on condition she relinquished the second child.

The 'Deal' dictated, should the Wife decide to keep the 'Second Child' she could not have access, nor the custody of, the Elder, Marital, Child.

The Distressed and Distraught Wife, chose the 'Deal'.

****
The Myna birds screeched in the tall dark Pines, a cacophony to deride and mock, the Wife in her grief.

The 'Deal' had been struck.

She had forsaken her second born, and cleaved to the Husband, and her firstborn daughter.

Too soon, she was pregnant with her third child, a 'cementing' of the marriage, and a denial, in a sense, of her folly, her 'fall from grace'.

As she bore the hot and heavy pregnancy of this third child, the screeching of the Myna birds continued to torture her with their mocking cries and shrill intrusions.
How did she remain sane in all of this misery?

Her fractious first born continued to irk. She did not seem to be compatible with her father, who she continued to regard as an 'Intruder, and treat with Hositlity. The child was frightened of the screeching birds, and most of all, the dark and ugly, outodoor 'toilet', under the dark and brooding pines.

The poor Wife tried to deal with the fractious daughter child, and the screeching of the Mynas as she slaved over the copper, which she had to light, to wash the clothes, and the concrete tubs, in which she had to rinse, and rinse again, with cold water, in the outdoor shelter that was her 'washhouse'.

Her chapped hands were testament to the hardship. Her hands bled, as she pegged out the clothes on the line, in the cold air of Winter.

Then, in pregnant heaviness, she laboured over the tubs, in the heat of Summer.
The coal fire range became a challenge for cooking as the heat increased in the small farm house kithchen.
The grissly daughter and the standoffish Husand/Father, became her nightly juggling points.


The wife became demented, over the Myna birds screeching, the whining child, the husband off all day on his 'farming' tasks.

"If the baby does not turn around, we will have to cut it from your body. It will not live, but your chances of survival are increased." What chilling words, for a small statured woman, alone, and in grief still, from her recent bereavement, of a child taken from her.


The Large Son was born, after a protracted labour, in a small country Hospital. The Wife almost died, as her options of delivery or death, were given. No modern facilites available. I do believe the Large Son, set some type of record, for that Hospital. It probably stands to this day.

"Hard labour, seeming due reward, for a wayward wife, with guilty secrets and a 'Duty to fulfil'.

The 'Deal' did not last.

The Wife left, when the Large Son was quite young.

A Divorce was the outcome.

Or, one could say "The Deal Folded".



.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sense and Scents

I had a friend, who has passed out of my life, now, as some friends tend to do.

We moved our Country of Residence, and I lost touch with this friend. I often think of her, and I did value our friendship. She was gentle, kind, loving, and extemely fiesty, and strong.

I met her when my daughter was born, and we remained friends for a good few years.
She gave birth to another son, and another daughter, after our meeting, at the birth of her second son, and my only daughter, who was my youngest child.

I so admired her spirit, and her strength, in the face of her life's trials.
Her eldest son, was the image of her husband. Her husband had been raised in an orphanage, and had not known his parents. He had flaming red hair, from what parent, or ancestor, he had no idea, and had no desire to have any children. He had had siblings, he said, and they had been adopted by relatives, but no one of them had wanted the small, skinny, red haired little boy.

She told me that he had stormed out of their flat, when he learned she was pregnant with their first child. He was adamant he did not want children, to bring into this cruel world. He felt that his red hair had stopped his chances of adoption.

When their eldest son was born, in his image, with his flaming red hair, he was stunned to find he was totally beguiled with the child!
As his son grew, it seemed he developed a strange relationship with the child. He almost seemed to resent how much love and affection he felt for this son, born in his image. It was as if he loved him, but tried desperately not to show that love, or the depth of his feeling.

There ensued a gap of four years, when my friend failed to concieve another child, though she longed for another baby, as a sibling to her eldest son.
By the time her second son was born, the eldest son was almost five years old.

The second born resembled his beautiful dark haired mother. He had her wide brown eyes and her ready smile. He appeared quite different from his blue eyed, red haired older brother.

As time went by, the older son seemed, to outside observers, (such as myself, and my husband, and children) a somewhat 'different' child. He could be quite callous, and mean, to his little brother. He seemed to engineer events, where his little brother came to harm. The hand through the washing machine wringer. The game of "Let's gas up the truck" wherein he poured the motor mower petrol down a funnel into his smaller brother's mouth.

Their gorgeous dog's pup, who was "hit by a car" ~ except there was no car. The puppy was in a plastic bag, and mysteriously bashed to death. He denied he had done it, but my friend knew there was no other possibility.

By then, a third son had been born to the family, a beautiful blond haired, blue eyed boy, who seemed to be immune to his older brother's meanness and nasty tricks.

Thier father brought a baby rabbit home, a caualty of a hunting trip. My friend, who had a very soft and loving heart, hand reared the orphaned rabbit. It became her constant companion, hopping out to the clothesline, following her about the house. The sons appeared to love the little rabbit, as she did.

My friend found the rabbit dead, crushed by the hutch, which had seemed to fall upon the small creature. She could not understand how it could have happened, but her second son told her his older brother had done it. She did not want to believe it was so, but after the puppy incident, she knew in her heart it was true.

After the birth of her daughter, when she almost died, she had a tubal ligation, so there would be no more babies for her. She could not risk the chance of her dying, should she have more children.
She had grave fears for her eldest son's well-being, and she feared for his future mental wellbeing.

Her husband seemed to react with strange behaviour. She found out he had had an affair. It seemed uncharacteristic.

Their eldest son reacted to life with even more bizarre behaviour patterns.

My friend woke early one morning, with a strong perfume invading her nostrils.
There was a horrible sickly, sweet smell, almost like vanilla.

She lay in bed, sniffing the air, and she knew the 'scent' was not a good one.
Her instincts, her sense, told her she would not like the cause of this peculiar smell.

She delayed getting out of bed, as long as she could. Then she saw her eldest son's face, stricken and guilty, peering into the bedroom door, from the passage.

He stammered. He had tried to make coffee. He had boiled water, in a saucepan. He took the hot pot from the stove, and placed it upon the linoleum floor. It had melted a huge hole in the linoleum, which had caused the smell.

Not really such a bizarre behaviour.

It seemed to be a pivotal point, in her son's life, and her husband's curious disintegration into some form of madness.

He threatened suicide. He went on massive drinking binges. He was never physically abusive, but his mental violence increased.

My friend left him. I don't know what became of her, or her children.
We were in the throes of moving countries, and I lost touch with her.
She is often in my thoughts today.

Her sense, and her scents.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blues

A lonley woman stands pegging out her washing in the still morning cool.

She looks at the clear early morning blue of the cloudless sky, and is reminded of her mother's eyes, which were just the colour of this early morning clear paleish blue sky.

A wash of forlorn loneliness for her mother sweeps over the woman. Still, after thirteen long years, the sting, the ache, of missing her mother remains, as sharp and painful as ever.

She remembers the man who fell in love with her mother. He used to sing "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?" to her mother every time he saw her. It became a sort of joke and her friends and work colleagues teased her mother about the man. He had curly gold hair, and a wide smile, and bluer than Burmese-blue-sapphire eyes, which sparkled with joy, whenever he looked at her mother.

The woman remembered, that as a child, she had liked this man, whose simple adoration of her mother had seemed so kind and true, and just plain loving. She remembered thinking, that if her father could not be in her life, this man would be alright. He had none of the guile, or slyness some other men seemed to hold. She felt he would cherish and treasure her mother, in a way she deserved.

This man, who sang or whistled with joy around her mother, was a hardworking man. He had no wife or children of his own. The child the woman was then, did not understand why this good man was alone.

Now, she gazes up at the blue sky, and sees that perhaps the man was thought to be too 'simple' too 'uncomplicated'. She does not doubt that his love for her mother was true, but on reflection, his intellect would probably not have equalled her mother's, which was quick and restless and ever questing for knowledge.

Another man, with foxy thin features and sly, muddy brown eyes, also fell in love with her mother. A man who had no right to love her mother. He already had a wife, sons, of his own.

As a child the woman had detested this man. The man once told her mother that if looks could kill, her daughter would have surely had him long dead. It was true.

It ended in tears, with her mother's beautiful blue eyes crying. She held no illusions that the man would or could, leave his wife and young sons. She did not wish another broken family, with children to mourn the loss of their father.

Years later, when the woman understood more of the causes of her mother's grief and pain, she remembered the shadows, which often passed across her mother's morning-blue, mourning-blue eyes. She wished her mother's life could have been different.

Wished sometimes that the simple man, with his singing, could have cherished her mother and loved her forever.

Looking up at the later, bluer sky, clouding over, the woman recognized that life's blues are often like the swiftly changing skies.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Wild Wind.

You cannot see the wind, he said.
I replied, I can.

You will only see it's tracks, he said
I replied, That may be so.

But I can see it in your eyes, I said.
I can see it in your smile.

I know you'll soon be gone from here.
I see your smile is false.

I see your restless breaths, like ripples in the corn,
A swathe across a meadow.

The shadow of the wind~chased cloud
Is written on your face.

His protests sighed, the gusting wind delayed,
His knowledge of his going.

In the night I heard the wind, rise, and call his name
I saw the wind, a master with a slave.

He is gone of course, at the beckon of the wind
I hope his journey, with the wind will keep him safe.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Stranger's Cat.

The work was hard. Gut wrenchingly, heartbreakingly, hard!

Harder than either of them had anticipated. In ways, largely unseen, it took it's toll. Both physically, and mentally.

The long hours of the days, beginning early, stretching into the late night, often after midnight before the stairs could be climbed, so wearily, so slowly, and the blessed collapse into the warm bed, could begin to to untangle knots of weariness.

Or simply bring an initial oblivion that was neither restful, nor healthy.

There were the many exits and entrances to be checked, double checked, to make sure they were all secure. Window locks to be checked, rechecked. The Garden area had to be checked to be clear, to be locked securely.

Overtiredness often prevented restful sleep. Sudden starts of wakefulness would ensue.
Had there been a noise? A tinkling of glass? Another broken window? Another break-in attempt?

The Country area was so much darker than the City had been. The far reaches of the huge car park area, shadowed, even darker, with the huge pine trees along the perimeters. The row of old, cobbled stables, which were no longer used, since there were no more horses to be stabled.

Homes now to the River Rats. An assortment of old bricks, Timber, Corrugated Iron sheets, broken furniture.
Rumour had it, that a previous owner had housed his pride and joy, an old Jaguar car, in one of the stables.
He seldom, then never, drove the car, but had loved to boast of the fact that he owned it.

One fine day, an admirer of Old Jaguar Cars came to visit, to ask if he could see the prize. Imagine the owner's horror, when he came to show off his pride and joy.
The River Rats had made mince meat of the engine's wiring. They had chewed the leather seats, making wonderfully comfortable homes for their many offspring. Even the woodwork on the dashboard had suffered. There was no part of the once precious vehicle which was untouched.

Locals sniggered, snide remarks about 'Just Deserts' were made about the greedy owner of the Country Hotel.
The locals were heard to murmur such things as " Monument to Ratshit" and
"Rodent Motel".

All that was gone when the new owners, the young couple, with such High Hopes, and Eager Dreams, took on the new prospect, of the Country Hotel.

Each afternoon, the female half of the couple, tired beyond belief, crept up the stairs to have her two hours respite, between Lunch time meals and Evening Dinner, if there were guests, which there often were. If no guests, most often Staff to be fed... after all it was a "Country Hotel", and there were no Takeaway shops to provide food or sustenance for hungry staff.

The Village had a Fish and Chip shop, but hours were limited, and appetites were not always inclined to their fare. The 'Missus' in the Hotel did not 'do' hamburgers, nor meals, apart from staff or guests.

There was a weekend Bistro Restaurant for diners. A chef/cook presided, & Bistro Type Meals were on the menu. Popular. A source for many bitter tears on a Sunday, when the 'Missus' had to clean the grease spattered kitchen, deep fryers, grill plates. The Extractor Fan. A monumental task.

The 'Missus' learnt to despise the 'Bistro/fast food kitchen' with it's fatty detritus, it's film of filth on every surface. The filthy linen, left, smeared & greased, to be cleansed of all grime, before next Restaurant Night.

Every Sunday was spent in tears, of despair, at the futility of it all. She felt she paid far too high a price for her money.
Perhaps if she had not had pets, she would have lost her mind.
Her GP advised her to change her life. Her physical problems were directly caused by her occupation.

One day, she sat in her 'sanctuary' upstairs, watching the passing parade of the small village, below

She noticed a large truck, roll to a stop outside the small cluster of shops in the street. She saw a Ginger cat, appear to disappear under the wheel of the huge truck. She looked again, but saw no cat run, saw no more evidence of the cat.

She waited, feeling very unsure. She watched. The truck driver emerged from the Butcher, and started his vehicle. He had walked around the truck, as if he, too, had felt perhaps an animal may be hiding there.
As he began to roll, slowly off, there tumbled out a Ginger cat, from a wheel well.

The watcher, from the Hotel, sprang to her feet, raced downstairs & rushed accross the street.
The Driver, sprang from his seat, & ran to the back of his truck, just as the watcher arrived.
"Oh My God" he said. "I had a feeling there was a cat there, but I could not find it!"
"I know" the watcher replied, "I was watching. I could not believe it was still there!"
She scooped the cat into her arms. "I will take it to the vet. I have no idea whose cat it is, but it needs help!"

She raced to the vet, which was close, in the Village.
The vet took one look decided it had internal injuries.
"Hold it for me?" she asked the watcher.
"Of course" the watcher replied.
"It's gums are pale, it has internal bleeding, injuries."

As the watcher held the cat, it died. She was so glad to have been able to hold the poor animal, to try to give it comfort. Tell it she loved it.

She knew her days as a Country Hotelkeeper were severly numbered.
In days that followed she shed many tears for the Stranger's Cat. No one came forward to claim the poor little Ginger Cat.