Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Piano Lesson

She perches by the door. Her myopic owl-eyes peer from behind thumb-thick glasses, and miss nothing: not one finger fumbling its turn, the others scrabbling to cover its mistake without missing a beat, without tipping the coin, the fifty pence piece she has balanced on my hand. The notes tinkle, obedient in line, ordered to the end of the scale.

I look round with a flourish. My fingers and I, we have got away with it this time.

She misses nothing. Her eyes don’t blink. She saw the fumble. And for a moment, I fear she will flap across the room, talons outstretched to rip off my smile.

But she doesn’t move. She draws breath with a hiss. “Again” she snaps.

I turn back to the lined-up keys, back to my fingers. I begin again. My hands tremble.

She lets fly a screech as the fifty pence falls.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Salt Pit Pond


This pond is only a few fields from my house, yet I’ve never seen it; it’s hidden in a dip. It’s on private ground, and no path runs near it. But this morning, I blazed a rule-breaker’s trail. I waded through fields of soggy grass. I clambered through barbed wire fences, much to the dog’s disbelief. And I took these pictures.

What a beautiful spot. If it belonged to me, I wouldn’t want trespassers muddling around it either.


Furrows





The dog-of-small-brain and I regularly walk around this field. It has been ploughed in the last few days. Its year has gone nearly full-circle, from cast-iron soil frozen through the winter, to green stems springing up, from the wafting gold I photographed at midsummer, to the giant bales which so terrified the dog. And now back to this. Chocolate fudge furrows, the air filled with the primal, spicy-sweet scent of warm, damp earth.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Mist

Last night, the dark sky was punctuated only by stars. There was a frost, the first of winter; this morning I had to scrape ice from my windscreen. As dawn broke, I watched mist rise, charmed from the ground by the shining sun. It rose, shape-shifting like my thoughts, moving to the pulse of something unseen. It moved, prowling around the autumnal trees like a beast, a mythical thing beyond my comprehension.

I shivered, and hurried downstairs to take refuge in a very normal pot of tea.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Common Sense

“Neither of you have the common sense you were born with,” my father said, doing that snorty thing he does at the back of his throat to show his contempt. He turned back to his newspaper. Actually, he’d barely looked up, only to give us a slapping glance.

My sister and I studied our shoes, smarting at his scorn. It wasn’t our fault; we hadn’t known what to do. We’d shouted at Monty, hoping some semblance of obedience might propel him out of the flower bed, but he’d ignored us. He’d carried on digging with all four paws. Yes, so we’d given in when he’d done that mournful pleading with his runny brown eyes, and let him off his lead, but we hadn’t foreseen petunia carnage.

We were sent to bed with no supper. I lay there the dark, and stared into nothingness, wondering how long it would be, how old I had to be before I had ‘common sense’. How would it happen, would I just wake up one morning and find myself wise?

I still have no idea.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Impassivity

“Excuse me,” she said, her words hard with frost. “Could you get out of the way, please? Some of us have been waiting for ages, you know.”

I had been waiting too, but I apologised, and shuffled aside. She elbowed past, her heels stabbing the ground, and snatched at what she wanted. I made myself smile, always polite, always agreeable. I stood smiling while she helped herself.

And she took everything. When my turn came, there was nothing left for me.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Just desserts...




“What are these?” Steve asks, examining the dainty petals decorating his plate.
“Crystallised violets,” I say. “They’re edible. They’re ever so easy to make.”

He tentatively puts one into his mouth.
“They’re nice,” he says, and scoops up some more with his spoon.

“Fran, you’re so clever,” says Gail. “I don’t know how you do it. And I just love the colour of this blackcurrant sorbet. It’s so rich; it’s beautiful.”

“Thank you,” I say, blushing. Everything is from the garden; I have grown the ingredients myself.

They coo about how I am good at making things, and what a wonderful gardener I am. But I don’t tell them that the dark purple petals are monkshood, and I don’t say I have spent years creating these puddings, cultivating resentment. Because these are not just puddings, you see. These are my brother and sister’s just desserts: justice on a plate.
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