Story blog

Key words with Peter and Jane – part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Amy on 12/08/2009

Peter and Jane swap keys

Peter was cooking spaghetti the wrong way. Jane rang the doorbell and then opened up with her old set of keys. She had come to say goodbye.

‘Hello,’ she said.

In the hallway she gave him the crap hug. The one where you don’t quite touch. Had to. Knowing how easy it would be just then to slip into perfect contact. Two bodies, used to fitting together can always click into place – like driving, it stays in your physical memory.

‘You’re early,’ he said.

Peter and Jane go to school

Shared history is a problem. All the tea-stained years and backed-up memories glaring at you like you owe them something.

And they went to the same primary school – something they never talk of now because the old memories have been almost completely wiped out – replaced with the Jiff-clean smell of the new, grown-up ones. And you never know if they remember what you do. You don’t want to ask in case they don’t remember. It becomes a pride thing.

But she remembers:

Flying lessons in the playground. Three steps and then a gravel landing leading up to the art room’s French doors. A metal bar running along the landing, parallel to the floor. She said, ‘grab hold of the bar and jump. (he jumped) Now keep jumping, higher and higher, and eventually we’ll take off. We’re almost there!’

And he taught her basketball. Not a proper game, just shooting hoops in the back garden. She was awful. Blindly happy when she got one in every twenty through the net. He had to let her be a bad winner then. Shining in her barely-there victory.

Peter and Jane take an overdose

Peter was friends with the in-crowd, without being part of it. Clever without being a geek. He had his crowd and Jane had hers. Their friendship took place outside school – Saturday afternoons when he’d knock for her, whole evenings on the telephone. They had designated playing counters in monopoly. She was his aliby for getting stoned. Their mothers were friends.

At fifteen years old they made a suicide pact. Peter’s first girlfriend was forbidden from seeing him by her strict parents. Life was over for him, and for Jane, whose crush wasn’t interested. Peter had approached him on her behalf and been told, ‘she looks like she’s got a nice personality.’  The words would ring in her ears for years afterwards as an excruciating whisper, like the soothing sound the sea makes before it sucks you under.

Jane was never alpha, but she blossomed – later than most, in her early twenties. She had a renaissance, as some clever girls do. She joined a gym and went from the 10 stone she’d been all her adult life to suddenly 9 stone. Less of her to go around and more herself then ever. She had laser-eye surgery, grew out the bad haircut, and then other things changed too. Men at work started holding doors open for her. Her father stopped hugging her. Women’s magazines weren’t out to get her. Clothes shopping was fun.

Peter noticed too.

Peter and Jane have a new hobby

Making love became something they did, like bowling or playing tennis. Then it became everything. Tennis and bowling were suboardinate.

Peter and Jane paint the lounge

Day eighty one in the new flat. Jane was painting the lounge. She wasn’t a natural. You had to strip the walls and then wipe them with turps before applying a layer of primer and getting started on the first coat. So seven weeks after beginning, she was finally bringing roller to wall, too impatient to keep the paint thin so each impact caused a light shower of paint flecks like spraying blood. She slicked on bile-green emulsion, dreaming of mass slaughters. She thought of a thriller she’d seen on the telly where the detective knew the murderer by the new carpets and drapes throughout their ground floor. Spanking new walls and floors covering the stains of a brutal massacre.

In between coats she checked in on Peter, who was in the bedroom, recovering from a nasty cough. She made him tea and put ginger snaps in a lattice arrangement the way her mother had taught her on sick days. You had to lick the corner of the biscuit to make it stand up…

more to come


My internet dating profile / Bob the pool ball

Posted in Uncategorized by Amy on 08/05/2009

Maybe in a parallel universe you’d be able to read 20 words on a page and instantly get who I am and what I’m about. But since we’re in this world, here’s a story about a pool ball called Bob…

Sick and tired of being pushed around, Bob the pool ball decided to go on a little vacation. So he got his stuff together (like his lucky lighter, and his passport with the weird photo where his face looks fat although it’s really not) and he rolled himself along the fake grass, faster and faster until he took off.

The flight was uneventful, and Bob was pleased to discover that the complimentary peanuts were honey and not dry-roasted. He ordered a bloody mary, then wondered if that made him look sexually ambiguous, then thought that if he was Spanish or Italian he wouldn’t have to worry about such things. But Bob was English, and so was compelled to worry about both his appearance and his social status on a regular basis.

But as he landed, these thoughts started to drift away, and Bob found himself sinking into a state of deep relaxation. He wasn’t just calmer, but also felt lighter, as he found himself floating on the surface of a strange, pleasing, amber pool. As bubbles massaged his aching paintwork he breathed in the hoppy smell, and was just starting to drop off when he noticed the cylindrical wall of glass encasing him. Bob was claustrophobic and the glass appeared to him like a prison within a hall of mirrors. ‘I have to get out’, he thought desperately. But it was too late, drowsiness took over, and he sank beneath the surface into an abyss of terrifying tranquility.

Carolina and God

Posted in Uncategorized by Amy on 06/05/2009

Our front door is heavy and God just got out between the gap before it swung shut with a clunk and I didn’t bother to double-lock.

‘Come on God,’ I said, ‘We’re going for a walk.’

It was cold and I thought how right I’d been to wear my gloves as I left the drive, God following at my feet.

On to the street, we walked past the bus stop where there was a teenage girl waiting in a very short skirt and I felt cold looking at her and I looked away. As we walked, God started playing a game, running a few paces ahead, then waiting for me to catch up.

Everyone had told me it was a silly name for a cocker spaniel. Especially Richard. He was the worst. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, darling,’ he’d said, staring down at his jumper as he talked, looking for imaginary lint.

But I didn’t care. I loved my little God and I could call her whatever I wanted, and everyone else could go to hell.

We trudged along, God and I, under an upside-down carpet of cloud. She was so good, you know. She always kept up, jiggling like a belly-dancer, little legs skipping along. I would never slow down for her. Puppies may seem soft and needy, but you only need to be a little bit tough and their doughy hearts turn into the hardest diamond, flushed full of blood and stronger every day.

I’d found her at the pound 3 weeks before, and since then we’d walked a little further every day, but this would be our longest walk yet.

Richard never got home till gone seven, so we had all the time in the world. Just as I was thinking of Richard’s arrival and picturing his face, a gust of wind hit us and she whimpered.

‘Come on, you,’ I said. ‘That’s a good girl.’

We walked past the old Sunday school and the playground that reminded me of my own school, in a different town in a different time. Before perfectly-aligned cutlery and no split infinitives.

We walked past the post office with the nice Turkish lady and the old man who always smelled of soap, but we didn’t go in this time.

We walked past the furniture shop with the sign in the window that said ‘Closing down sale – FINAL DAY!’ Five years, that sign had been in the window. But this time it really felt like the final day, and for the first time in five years, I stepped inside to have a look. I milled around, pretending to look for a bargain, but there was nothing worth getting and I saw the sales man coming at me so I quickly ducked back out again with God at my heels.

Back on the street, a drop of rain fell on my hand, then one in my hair, and in a matter of seconds it was gushing down, and it was wonderful. I love the rain and so does God, so we were happy as Larry, two wet peas in a pod.

As my duffel coat became heavy with absorbed rain water I had a sudden feeling that everything was going to be ok after all. And as I thought this I heard the words in my head: everything’s going to be alright.

We walked and walked and the rain stopped and I could smell the after-rain smell and it smelt like a fresh start.

We reached the town centre and went in to the station where I thought about getting a coffee but suddenly I wasn’t remotely thirsty. So we walked up to platform 9 and here I stopped and dropped my heavy, zip-up bag to the floor, and my shoulder muscles woke up and the air danced around them. I knelt down and reached into the front pocket and got out the ‘single with animals’ ticket I’d bought a week ago and showed it to the ticket inspector.

Then I picked up my bag and we got on the train, and I put my bag in the overhead compartment. And I picked up God and held her on my lap and I thought about Richard coming home with his collar flapping and him fiddling with the key in the lock, and then coming in, and switching his work shoes for his slippers, and picking up the paper, and I wondered how long it would be before he noticed the empty wardrobe and bookless shelves and the radio gone from the kitchen.

Someone shouted ‘all aboard!’ and the train started moving and as the breeze crept in through the air vent I breathed 5 wasted years out of my lungs and I rubbed God’s back and my heart was singing.

We were going home.

Make yourself at home

Posted in Uncategorized by Amy on 06/05/2009

Hello. I said I was going to set-up a writing blog and here it is. See? But it felt a bit much to start the first post on a story without any foreplay, so here I am, waffling on in my usual, meta-rambling way.  Oh God, that was two adjectives, right next to each other! I might as well give up now.

So anyway, I’ll post up a couple of stories to get the ball rolling. Please comment away (hopefully with relevant feedback, rather than just random mutterings like ‘my foot hurts’ or ‘when’s lunch?’). And writing crew, get posting!