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Sunday, 02 October 2016 18:37

A shortish life in 15 shortish paragraphs

A shortish life in 15 shortish paragraphs


1.       Birth

From the start it was all hard work. Later her blue-eyed brothers and sisters made it sound as if they had the time of their life in the hospital visiting mother and child - having never seen such a thing before they endlessly entertained themselves by flushing things down the toilet. But she knew that it wasn’t all happiness because she thought she remembered a cold misty day when Ma walked into the sea with her belly ripe with herself and stones in her pockets. Luckily a random old man looking for his dog on the beach dived into the waves to save them both.


2.       Pure Little Hearts

Despite so much fun Daddy insisted they move back to the village where they had lived before she was born. Ma sat on the veranda with a white towel over her head sighing in Friar’s Balsam. The orchard was full of pink and white blossoms and she liked to bounce on Daddy’s shoulders. At night she would walk down the dark corridor on his feet. Afterwards she and her dark eyed sister knelt at his knees in their nightgowns saying prayers for the purity of their hearts.


3.       Burying the tree

One day Daddy was angry and crying so he took a spade and she and her sister followed him into the dark forest where they buried a tree. Ma packed up all their things into boxes. Then they were gone: Ma and Daddy went over the seas and Nothing happened for a while.


4.       Furniture Van

When she was seven she watched their things being brought from a furniture van onto a strange lawn in the city where there was neither an orchard or a forest. She noted the thick tread of the tyres and watched the heat tremble from the exhaust and decided that she would hold onto this moment for the rest of her life. Which she did. Except towards the end she did forget a bit.


5.       Not much fun in the city

The family wasn’t having much fun in the city. Her blue-eyed brothers played sports and had their noses broken, while her blue-eyed sisters kept telling her to put on her shoes. Her brown-eyed sister put her left hand into the fire to see how hot it really was. It was very hot.


6.       Peas

She learned to cook peas. Then rice and gravy. Soon she cooked meals for the whole family.


7.       Boxes

She knew that she was destined for great things so when the family once more was made to move she said she would carry all the boxes into the house and unpack them singlehandedly and everybody would be happy again. But somehow the van never arrived. Neither did most of her blue-eyed siblings. Just her dark-eyed sister whom she loved dearly.


8.       Secret admirer

She started writing letters and poems to lovers who only existed in books and other illusive places and who loved her dearly and held her close.


9.       Wedding

When she was 18 her sister got married. She cooked chicken and rice and peas and gravy for a 100 guests. The bride wore a white glove over her left hand. A brown eyed man made a very long speech. Daddy was angry and Ma blushed - by the time they ate, the food had gone cold.


10.   First love

At 20 she followed a silver tongued man who told her that her eyes were deep blue pools and that he would like to drown in them. She let him ravish her over and over again. When he left her for another she was gripped by terror.


11.   Delusions of grandeur

After that she lived an ordinary life with just the odd delusions of grandeur and a doggy who got himself lost in the mist quite often.


12.   Madness

Ma and Daddy turned old and lost most of their memories. She fed them peas and rice and gravy. Sometimes when she was working in the orchard next to the house she thought she heard them argue.  “You could have flushed her down the toilet,” she thought she heard Daddy say but when she went inside Ma and Daddy looked at her as if she had gone completely mad.


13.    For someone who is superstitious this is an unlucky number Nothing Much happened for quite a while.


14.    The Pyre

One day she walked into the orchard with an axe and started chopping down all the trees. It took her three months and lots of hard work to complete the job. Then she made a pyre. It was a beautiful fire.


15. Death

Soon afterwards she drowned in a pool. She was still relatively young. It was all a mystery because she had always been a reasonable swimmer and her dog had run round and round barking at her. But there was no old man to hear it bark or dive in after her. “That was weird,” she was said to have said as she drew her last (watery) breath.

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