Vilcanota River

7 September, 2011 at 22:38 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

I look out from the hillside. My stone gaze falls on the grasses, the condor flying above and the Vilcanota rushing below.

My eyes have gazed from this rock even as it has eroded and I have slid, slowly, gradually, closer to the valley floor. They painted me, thos people who ran across the mountain-tops. They who sought to tie me to the roof of their world. They shored my mountains, propped up the landslides and tried to turn back time in that way people have. Still the condors spread their wings and fly above me. They did not succeed, those mountain-runners and I have not seen them for years upon years now.

The ground of the Urubamba Valley calls me on, the grasses grow up around me and my rock face erodes. The passers-by still see me, and my heart calls to theirs as they pass. It is only a few who feel it, most simply stop, stare and pass on by empty of all that gives such short lives meaning.

I call to those who can hear, I call to those who stop, who turn at the passing of the snake and who seem to hear the puma, nestled in the craggy top of my stones. They feel my heart beat with theirs and wonder what it is, they see the passage of the condor and a part of them runs the mountain tops again. A part of them leaps into the air, high above the Vilcanota whilst I, in my silence of the thousand years, observe and continue to erode with the rest of the sliding mountain.

(Three Word Wednesday: Erode, Heart, Observe)


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Corner Shop

31 August, 2011 at 23:06 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , )

“Spareabitofchangemate?” called out the old, homeless man on the street corner, running the words together as if they were one.

The girl ignored him, she wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, and ran along the pavement, the wooden end of her skipping rope dragging behind her. At the corner she stopped running and glanced behind her, the homeless man was peering into his polystyrene cup, trying to count the loose change there. The girl stepped up the two shallow, concrete steps into the corner shop and peered over the counter at the sweets there.

“Whachoo wan? Wishwon?” asked the grey old asian woman behind the counter, her English heavily accented. The girl smiled up at her, over the sweets.
“Wishwons?” asked the woman again, smiling back over the sweets.

The girl pointed to the cherry chupa chup lollies and held up one finger.

“Won lolli,” said the shopkeeper, placing it deftly in the bag.

The girl’s front teeth bit down thoughtfully over her lower lip. She pointed to the blackjacks and raised two solemn fingers.

“Chew off those.” said the shopkeeper, smiling broadly now. “Thas twenny pee.”

The girl glanced down at the fifty pence coin she held in her hand. She pointed at one of the white chocolate mice, two fruit salads and a packet of parma violets.

“Thas fifty pee.” said the shopkeeper twisting up the paperbag with hands as crinkled as the paper.

The girl handed over the coin and took the bag of sweets with glee. Then she took off down the steps of the corner shop and back up the street at a run.

“Spareabitofchangemate?” called out the old, homeless man on the street corner, running the words together as if they were one.

The girl glanced at him as she ran by but said nothing. Then she made it to the terrace house she called home, dashed through the door, slammed it and took the stairs two at a time to her bedroom.

Mumbled words shouted from the kitchen below didn’t penetrate the room clearly enough to be replied to and she happily ensconced herself in the comfy armchair in the corner of her room. With her back to the door she didn’t react when it was thrown open and her father came stomping across the floor to her. She did however, jump a mile when he laid a hand on her shoulder and placed a small object into her hand. She fiddled with it and he waited until she had it in place.

“Please stop going out without your hearing aid.” he said.

“Sorry Dad,” she replied. “But I had to get to the shop before Mr Street did or he wouldn’t go in.”

“His name isn’t Mr Street, you should stop calling him that.”

“Sorry Dad.”

“And I don’t think it’s polite you watching him and Mrs Harishandra.”

“Sorry Da…ooooh there he goes!”

Her fingers delved into the paper bag to pass her father one of the blackjacks and she nibbled on the nose of the white mouse as they peered out of the window. There the homeless man finished counting his coins and drew himself up to his full height before walking to the corner shop.

“Where do you think they’re going to go this time?” she asked her father.

“I don’t know, her son caught her last time so they can’t go to the back yard again.”

“Do you think they’ll try the bus shelter? All the kids from the big school do it there.”

“No, it’s too open, they need somewhere no one’s going to walk in on them, especially not her son.”

The pair of them chewed away on their sweets until they saw Mrs Harishandra flick the shop sign to closed.

“They’re staying inside then,” said the girl.

Her father shook his head, “Surely not, the smell would alert her husband and I’m sure he doesn’t approve.”

“Maybe the yard again…”the girl trailed off as on the roof opposite them the skylight began to open. Soon out of it poked Mrs Harishandra’s head and the homeless mans, with one arm each able to stick out they passed their illicit cigarette between them as the little girl and her father watched, fascinated to see if anyone would catch them this time.

(Three Word Wednesday: Drag, Mumble, Penetrate)

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Travelling Salesman

24 August, 2011 at 15:36 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

“You have to admit it is adaptable and that the glide function is incredibly smooth.” he said smarmily.

My lips pressed together. “Yes, but you did lie somewhat on the advert.”

“Madam,” the salesman assured me. “I most certainly did not. This is a vehicle with one careful owner which functions beautifully for all your travel needs.”

“You didn’t state that the careful owner was yourself.” I stated from my seated position.

“This is true, but Madam, I sell many such second-hand objects, I’m not required to make any disclosures as to the persons who have sold or otherwise given me their items.” He smoothed down his jacked with impecably manicured hands.

“If you had the idea that it came with… obligations may have been more obvious.”

“Madam, I am here to negotiate a sale. You signed the contract and now you have a top of the range magic carpet.”

“I was expecting a flying car!”

“Madam did not make that clear.”

“I was not expecting to become a genie!”

“I do fully understand Madam’s predicament and can only hope that Madam will find, as I did, a buyer for the carpet and it’s genie curse.”

(Three Word Wednesday: Words – Adapt, Glide and Lie)

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Voice Mail

17 August, 2011 at 14:13 (Flash) (, , , , , , , )

“I just need you to action this item.”

Again Paul wished that there was a mute button on real life, especially when it came to the heartless verbing of nouns.


He blinked a little and brought himself back to the reality of his secretary and her paperwork standing in front of him.

“If you could sign…”

He shook his head. “Not now, just…out please!”

He looked at the phone, no message light flashed at him from the desk. He had become used to the messages, from the first sobbing, pained one he listened to on returning from a meeting.

‘They say the fetus isn’t viable. Please…please call back.’

He had left work at the usual time that night, unable to face her crying.

There had been angry ones, ones full of sobbing, then hopeful ones. ‘Jade made it through another night, I’m still at the hospital. Come visit us.’

He had, and he had peered at her baby through layers and layers of clear plastic and tubing. Machines beeped and tubes gasped around her. She had never seemed to be anything to do with him but had always seemed a life removed by a dozen layers of plastic.

The hopeful ones had been when the messages became more and more infrequent, rather than dozens all day there would be one or two.

‘Jade’s allowed to come home. Pick us up after work.’

Each one, getting more and more terse, to the point. He had thought that this meant she was feeling better, and in a way, he supposed, it had.

The final message had been very terse and straight to the point.

‘I’m leaving. I’m taking Jade. We’ll be gone by the time you get home.’

He had left work early that day, as soon as he recieved the message, but some cruel trick of fate had a tanker crash on the motorway ahead of him and he was trapped there for hours. By the time he reached home they had long gone and no helpful note or handy clue left to tell him where.

He had returned to work, uncertain of what else to do. He took refuge in the routine and now he sat in his office looking out across the other city-blocks and down from his window at the cars, looking like models, whizzing below. He could barely make out the people, only those sporting clothes of particularly vibrant colours were obvious to him, sat up here, being asked to action documents. He was looking at life again, through a dozen layers of plastic.

A loud knocking at his door startled him from his reverie.

“Paul? There’s a meeting in half an hour, will you be attending?” the head and shoulders of one of the younger managers poked through the door.

“No.” he said, standing. “No I won’t.”

Then he marched down to the switchboard, determined to cash in some old favours. He walked out some time later and made his way to a cafe where he ordered a coffee, nothing fancy, with milk and sugar. He sat at a table positioned on the pavement where he could watch all the colours move around him, then he took out his mobile and dialled.


“Hello darling. It’s Dad, and I’d really like to see my Grand-daughter.” he said.

“She’d really like to see you too.”

(The words this week were: Gasp, Mute and Viable)

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The Immersion

10 August, 2011 at 15:56 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

“Come on! It’ll be fun!”

The small girl looked up at her father doubtfully. “But it’s very cold.” she said.

“You’ll soon warm up.”

She frowned with concentration and looked at the wooden contraption outside of the kitchen door. It was bright red. She liked the way the bright red looked against the white of the ground so she nodded decisively.

“Yes.” she said. “Let’s go.”

He pulled the cord of the old-fashioned heater so they’d come back to a warm house and then he pulled on her boots and bundled her out of the door into the small wooden toboggan. She fitted perfectly and rested her booted feet upon the tops of the runners. He picked up the washing line that he’d fixed to the front and began to pull her down the drive. The day before’s labour was made perfectly worth while by the sudden laugh of delight that bounced over the fallen snow.

The hill was a little further away than he would have liked and her cheeks were almost as red as the homemade toboggan by the time they got there. She clapped her hands together to warm them up and then turned to face the hill.

“Ok,” he said. “Out of there, we need to push it up the hill.”

Her eyes were very wide as she looked up at what was to him a small hill but to one of her small stature must have looked immense. She got out of the toboggan and began to push it up the hill determinedly, he pulled on the washing line. Once they were up the hill he put her back on the toboggan and paused, several other children and parents were there on the hill running and laughing and sledging but she was clearly the youngest. Perhaps he should have waited another year. The hill looked a lot bigger from up here compared to his suddenly small daughter.

“Daddy? Are you going to push me?”

The wide brown eyes looked up at him. He made sure she had the washing line tight in her hands and then, rather than pushing he let go of the toboggan and watched it make it’s way slowly down the snow-covered hill. It speeded up as it went before coming to a gentle stop on the flat at the bottom of the hill. He raced down to it, his heart pounding.

His daughter looked back up at him with her eyes shining.

“Daddy! Daddy! I want to go again! That was fun!”

It was the fifth trip back up the hill of her begging him to push her harder so she could go faster that decided him. The other children with their lighter plastic sledges were whizzing down much faster than she was in the wooden red toboggan, she wanted to go faster and he could see how much she was enjoying it. When she was settled at the top of the hill, her hands gripping the washing line tightly, he dropped his reservations and pushed the little red toboggan – hard. He watched as she sped down the hill, the weight of the wood pulling her faster and faster. The little red toboggan was going so fast that it didn’t come to a halt on the flat as it had before but kept going towards the woodland beyond, ringed with a barbed wire fence. The other parents looked up at his shout as he began to run down the hill.

He saw his daughter lie down flat on the toboggan and go under the barbed wire, her movement only made the sled go faster through the trees. He was aware of the shouts of other parents as he clambered over the fence and his heart almost stopped when he realised that they were shouting about the iced over pond which lay ahead.

The toboggan made it to the pond before him, smashing the ice immediately before it and running it in cracks across the whole of the ice sheet. It had stopped however with one runner embedded beneath the ice and the other still on the frozen mud at the edge. His small daughter had clambered out from the toboggan and stood, washing line in hand, spattered in mud and drenched in sweat.
She looked at him very gravely as he approached and sneezed.

“Daddy can we go home now?” she asked, and sneezed again.

He picked up the toboggan out of the pond. “I think your immune system says we have to go home.”

She sneezed again.

“Definitely.” he said.

Much later, after her hot bath, when she was in her flannel pyjamas and fluffy towelling dressing-gown he asked her whether she had enjoyed her day. She sat curled up next to the radiator and considered his question.

“I enjoyed parts of it.” she said, a serious frown creasing her face.

“What was your favourite thing?” he asked.

She wrinkled her brow in concentration and eventually said with deliberation.

“The immersion heater.”

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