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Tuesday, 18 September 2007

A Very Short Story...

They've just got into bed. He's just woken from a snooze having fallen asleep halfway through Hell's Kitchen, she's just lying there thinking. Still grumpy from having had his sleep interupted, he hears that quiet breathing punctuated by deep snorting sniffs that he's learned to associate with tears.
'What's up?'
There's a long pause, and then she says;
But something is.
'Come on, love...'
'It's just...'
He already knows what it's just, knows what this is all about but it's always best to make sure, what with her condition.
'It's all this family history business, isn't it?'
She's already traced hers back to the Crimean war before coming up against a bit of a brick wall beyond that. She's just started on his. Well, it's an interest, isn't it? Supposed to be therapeutic.
'Don't you ever stop to think about of all those lives that led to yours?' she asks, turning to face him as he lies staring up at the ceiling through the gloom.
'It's not just two or four or or six or eight or ten people but hundreds - thousands, even, of descendants. Don't you think it's the height of arrogance to see yourself as the pinnacle of all those descendants? As if somehow you have some right to just stop a sequence that spans tens of thousands of years? To just, I don't know - end it all with you and me?'
He's tired after work; heavied and dulled by beer, he doesn't need this.
'Look', he says, 'it's not as if I didn't warn you. I said right from the off that I wasn't interested in having kids'.
There's silence.
'You're bad enough as it is now, if I interupt you at that blessed computer when you're doing your genealogy bit. Imagine what you'd be like if you had some screaming brat constantly demanding attention and food and its arse wiping. And love. Are you telling me you could cope with all the whining and wailing and feeding and changing? You'd have eighteen bloody years of it, not just six months you know.'
He's just about to get on to the ethical stuff - too many people in the world as it is, without another hungry mouth to feed. And then there's her condition. But he realises almost as soon as these further arguments have formed in his mind that they have now gone beyond such reasoning.
'We could always get a cat', he ventures and hears his words thud against the silence of the room.
Because the argument is already over as far as she is concerned. It was over some while ago. It's too late anyway. Time has taken the matter in hand and there are no arguments you can use against time. She feels the same disgust welling up inside her as she did earlier today on the way home from the surgery. There was an overwhelming stench of shit as she walked along the quiet back streets that back onto the railway line. Her chest tightened and her heart felt like an overblown balloon, its membrane pulled too taut, too thin and feeling fit to burst. Up ahead, a ferret-faced boy whacks a football hard across the street. He gives a panicky moan as she walks along side him. She notices a squirrel lying dead in the middle of the street. She isn't sure if it was there before he took a shot or whether it has been laid out just now by the speed and the power, the lethal volleying of the ball. She needs to lose this feeling, needs to get it out in every conceivable direction, to shit, vomit or strain herself free of this suffocating nausea. But she can't stop for a shit or to be sick or to rain down on to the concrete slabs. All she can do is cry.
So she just cries.
And she just tries to free her mind of the image at the heart of her despair.
But she just can't free her mind of the wall of blackness waiting somewhere up ahead.
Then, for a long while there is silence until at last she says, as if she's starting up a new discussion instead of closing this one down,
'I just feel so utterly pointless.'
And the words just hang there like daggers of ice glinting in the mouth of a dark cave.

L.U.V. on y'all,


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  1. I hope this is all fiction Bob. Are you all right? Just going off to make a strong cup of tea.x

  2. Wether it's fiction or not it's bloomin' well written, and it deserves to be celebrated.
    Go on Bob - treat yerself to a kitten.