STRIPED PYJAMA CASE
If ever I couldn’t imagine where I might one day be, this is that place. I’m supposed to be a writer, but I couldn’t write this. A poet might have done a better job of not being seen.
This is the end and the beginning. It’s a barrier I reach as I walk in my sleep. It’s a frontier. I came here alone, not seeking company, but something found me when I fell in a ditch.
I sleep on my side, sheilding my eyes from the glare as humanity takes a Polaroid of itself. In someone’s blinding flash, I see the bones in my hand.
The ground rattles, and the people around me whisper, “If you hear hooves, think zebras, not horses.”
How to cross the road in striped pyjamas.
I blew into the breathalyser, like a blade of grass between my thumbs. I didn’t know what animal sound I was making, but whatever beast I’d summoned was now approaching…
THE WRITER’S LIFE
An email arrived at the Unfinished Literary Agency today. Entitled ‘Reintegration into human life for aliens,’ it asks:
As a guest in another person’s living space, how do you position yourself on the furniture?
There’s no indication of whether the chair is the only one in the room, let alone the most nonchalant to be found in, so I went with 9. It continues:
Arriving as a visitor and finding another human guest already present, consider your assumptions and first impressions: indicate the most likely relationship of the guest to the host for each diagram.
I went with:
1. Police / The queen
2. Mum / Leonard
3. Dad / Sheldon
4. First date / Penny
5. Second date / Raj
6. Third date / Howard
9. Someone who understands them
The email ends:
Each diagram could be any of the answers you gave; they can all be inter-changeable, if you can imagine such a place. Others may not be of similar mind. What’s considered normal where you’re from might seem eccentric on other worlds. Be yourself, wherever that is.
The second volume of short stories from The Unfinished Literary Agency is available in paperback.
A section in my longhand journal for what’s on my mind but which hasn’t taken shape, self-contained stories, and a sandpit of ideas…
I run away, into a tidal wave of people, screaming and pouring towards me. They really don’t know what’s ahead, and I don’t have time to stop and tell them.
A quarry from which sand is excavated. A shallow box or hollow in the ground, partly filled with sand for children to play in. A place where foundations lay, where toys can be left for others to play with, and where co-operation can be measured by observing the area over time. Halfway between an aquarium and a vivarium for the mind it’s contained within, the contents may be shared and the alien life within allowed to wander. The first few words of something which others can contribute to via the comments below a blog post, eventually creating a tale of many people and places, all working together without borders. A collaborative project. “Here’s the start of something and here’s what you can do with it…”
To be continued…
As one door closes, another one opens. And there goes door 24 on my advent calendar. I have little patience for such things, but just enough to carry on regardless, listen to Ska and write what will or won’t fit anywhere else.
This whole dehumanising, debilitating, illness-inducing appeal process I’m going through, up against the social cleansing agenda of the ruling fascist UK government, is exhausting. But as one light goes out, another switches on.
While I still have the willpower to battle their Vogon bureaucracy, I can’t focus on any fiction longer than the flash format. I enjoy the six-word discipline every now and then (‘They had shoes, but none fitted’), and I sometimes venture into the middle ground.
By some odd coincidence of life, I was talking to a friend who’d lost someone recently, and I was reminded of something. Like me, he believes they still walk among us.
In any case, I’m a romantic poet and a horror writer with little time to be both. I guess I’d call this ‘Sleeping with one leg outside covers’…