Dust

Jean hated to clean, she could see the dust but just couldn’t be bothered with it. Quentin Crisp once said “There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse”.

Jean reached up to the bookshelf, pulled his book off the shelf and wiped a layer of dust from the spine. She opened it and looked at the inscription “To Jean from Quentin Crisp” she had been a true fan of his. She agreed on the dust, dirt is dirt, however much of it there is, however it doesn’t go away unless you do something about it.

Jean needed a cleaner but she also needed a holiday, she longed to travel see some more of the world before she turned to dust herself. She thought she might start in New York and see what, if anything, would open up from there.

Jean put her little house on a holiday letting site, the place you would put your home for short term lets, she was very careful about the photos she took. It wasn’t long before a six month let was agreed and Jean paid for her vacation with the deposit, packed up and left.

Jean just closed the door on the dust, this she thought, was a much better option than getting cleaners in to do a deep clean. References she had received for the tenant, described her as an exceptionally clean young woman. Jean just knew she would return to a spotlessly clean home in six months, now all she had to do was to work out how she would find the already spent deposit!

“The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us” Quentin Crisp

~

I wrote this story after helping my sister clean her new rental for two days before moving in. I couldn’t quite believe how much we had to clean and however messy she is over the next six months the owner will still be returning to a home that has been deep cleaned! I suggested to my sister we were paying forward, that she wouldn’t have to clean on leaving, but that is silly, it is not in her nature, after all she was well chosen!

The owners name wasn’t Jean of course, this is a book that used to sit on my mothers bookshelf 🙂

lizalizaskysaregrey©2017

 

 

Toothbrush

She turned the toothbrush away from hers, she didn’t want the bristles meeting. Those bristles that touched his mouth, she didn’t want them touching hers.

She thought back to when they first met, how she had loved everything about him. she remembered watching his mouth as he ate, remembered how it looked so beautiful, so warm, so tender. But that was then, all those years ago, before the words were spoken, before those words of hate left his mouth, left both their mouths.

They stayed together now for the children, well for Charlie anyway, as Faith had left home now. Shacked up as she was with Jack, in love as she once was herself.

She thought about their toothbrushes, she wondered if they faced each other, was this a sign of lasting love, could you tell from how toothbrushes were placed, the state of a relationship. It wouldn’t be long now until Charlie left for university, another year and she would be free. They had agreed that they would wait for the children to leave, give the last one a year to settle.

She picked up her shopping list from the night stand where she had left it the night before. Glanced through the things she needed to buy and took a pen from her bag. New toothbrush she wrote, in bold letters.

~

lizalizaskysaregrey©2017

Maude

They called her brassy, big, loud and larger than life. Maude was a gentle and loving soul but this is not how she portrayed herself. Maud liked to wear tight fitting clothes over her well covered body. The more gentile women would tut as they walked past, they had decided from a distance that she was a woman of a certain kind and best to be avoided.

Maude fitted into the mould she had created, she wore far to much make up, far to many chains around her neck and wore her hair up with an added hairpiece, a look more fitting for a girl than a more mature woman. Maude created the personality she believed would get her through life, it had, it gave her the confidence she needed but never the love she desired. Maude always met the wrong man because she had no idea of how to attract the right one.

Maude’s childhood had been difficult, she had not experienced love from her parents, she always felt and was told she was an accident. She wasn’t wanted, she was ignored for the most part and verbally and physically abused at others. Maude left home at the earliest opportunity, falling for a local lad who showed her more interest than she’d experienced before. Maude was pregnant at fifteen and married at sixteen, a girl herself, she found herself responsible for a family.

Maude learnt how to work the system, her husband Bob put what money they had over the bar of the local tavern and if she was going to feed her family Maude needed to tell the odd tale or two. She realised early on that to be listened to and noticed she had to create something quite different, she had to hide any vulnerability, show no fear and charge at the world head on, Maude was certainly a force to be reckoned with if ever there was.

Maud had so many layers that she didn’t really know who she was, so many walls around her that even she couldn’t break them. Maude believed she fitted the lies she had created, she recognised herself in the person she had become. Maude had tried to cover her fragmented and difficult beginning in life in an attempt to become whole and yet the whole Maude created had nothing to do with the person she was. Maude was her own work of art and yet it was not in her original style, quite simply, Maude was a fake.

The day Maud was knocked over on that crossing was the day she went home, home to her childhood and home to who she really was. Stripped in hospital of her clothes, jewels and make up, Maude found herself. She found herself in the people she spoke to, she found herself in the kindness of the nurses and she found herself in the girl in the next bed who was interested in what she had to say.

Maude was in a coma for six weeks, it was felt unlikely she would survive, but she did, she did more than that she broke down her own walls. Somewhere in the space of the coma, in a place she was safe and at a time just right for her, Maude found home. A lifetime of being someone else, a brassy tart, evaporated. Maude survived and in surviving realised she didn’t need to create anymore, she could be herself.

Something about the respite from life gave Maude a second chance, gave her opportunity to recreate and in doing so she chose to be herself. Surrounded by care and love she felt at home, she allowed the love she had buried to resurface, the gentleness to cross her brow.

Maude’s recovery was slow but her transformation miraculous, a lifetime of lies got knocked over that day but Maude stood up.

The moral of this story is we all get knocked down, but each time we get up we are closer to ourselves.

brassy

lizalizaskysaregrey©2017

 

 

Watching You Play

Have you been here before little one, I think to myself as I watch you play. Lost in your own world as you sit in the corner of the room with your toys. The sun steams through the window upon you, as if lighting you up for the world, but you my darling, are lost in your imaginings and I am impossible to see.

I try to connect to your thoughts, link in with your world but it is impossible to reach that place in childhood that is just too innocent and wonderful for adults to enter. The cat lifts her head from the sofa and looks at me, I must have disturbed her but you my lovely one, are still lost in the wonder of your toys.

I want to cry as I hold you in my sight, my love for you being so strong. I feel a tear upon my face but I don’t brush it away, letting it fall into your world. I think this love will last forever, I feel it throughout my being. From the moment you were born, the love I felt for you became part of me, it defines me, it explains my very existence.

I roll a marble across the floor in your direction, it rolls to the left of you and stops. I see you momentarily glance at it before resuming play. You are not interested in the marble today. I sit in my chair in the bay of the window and watch you, I have all the time in the world.

Your play is disturbed by the sound of the ice cream truck, playing its tune as it turns the corner of the street. You stand for a moment, coming closer to the window, to watch the truck go past. Do you remember your first ice cream, sitting as you did in your high chair with chocolate ice cream everywhere? Oh how we laughed, there are pictures of it somewhere, your chocolate kisses all over my face. We must get granny to sort them out for you, they will make you laugh.

As if by magic granny enters the room, your warm smile greeting her. You throw your doll to the corner and run into grannies arms, to be picked up and swirled around. The cat lifts itself and stretches, it’s dinnertime and she too wants to be noticed.

In grannies arm you head to the mantle piece to look at the photographs displayed. Granny gently touches my picture as she does every day and tells you again about your mummy who loved you very much. You listen again as you do every day and kiss her eyes and cheeks. Although she is smiling we can both see the sadness in grannies eyes as she talks of me, keeping me alive in the memories.

Granny does not notice you as you point to the chair in the window I am sitting upon but I do.

lizalizaskysaregrey©2016

Return of my Invisible Friend

Like a lot of children I had a friend that only I could see.   Although no one else could see her, it didn’t make her any less real and somehow validated our special friendship.  Her name was Reen, well that was how I pronounced it back then, and we played for hour upon hour in the wonderland inside our home.  Reen stayed close to me, she waited in my room while I slept, rocking gently on the rocker beside my bed and joined me at the table for meals, we spent hours at the bottom of the garden in our camp under the old coalbunker and I shared everything with her.  It was Reen that helped me wrap the hedgehog up warm and put him in the dressing up chest for the winter and Reen that taught me not to eat the slugs we found on the path.  When I was having my hair washed Reen would stand by the door watching and smiling as I screamed and wriggled away to the other end of the bath, I don’t recall her bathing but she was always shiny and bright.  When my daddy didn’t come home any more, she stayed close to me at night as I listened as mum cried in the distance. Whatever the weather was doing and however many layers I was wearing, Reen always wore the same dress, with little white flowers on a pale green background with a white collar and cardigan.

I can’t remember when she stopped coming or I stopped noticing, maybe about the same time my little sister could join me in play and moved into my room.  I feel bad now I think of it someone so important, just forgotten.  That’s it with imaginary friends they just leave your imagination one day and that’s it your on your own.  I remember mum telling me how one day we were running for the bus and she noticed my hand held out behind me, like I was dragging something along.  ‘Wait for Reen’ I fussed as we mounted the bus, a petrified look on my face, because I might leave my friend.  Mum told it as if she believed I really did have a friend, even with all the excitement of running for the bus and a fun day ahead, I had not forgotten Reen.  I didn’t remember this and although I had a slight dream like memory of a girl with a pretty dress and curly blond hair, Reen was cast to the back of my mind.  Mum often said she wished she had asked me more about my friend back then, but a busy mum bringing up two girls she let it go as I did myself years later with my own child.

I’m in my fifties now, I’m on the downward path now although still hopeful, and today I walked into the lounge to find Reen sitting on the sofa.  I saw her as I walked through the door just sitting waiting, like your family might, familiar, comfortable in the surroundings and all grown up.   I suppose that would make sense as she would have been growing with me, but she didn’t have the worry lines I see on my face each time I look in the mirror or any of the ravages of time this stressful world brings, she was truly beautiful.  I recognised her immediately, there wasn’t a moment when I didn’t know who she was.  The dress was gone but replaced by a blouse of the same pattern and her face was soft and creamy as I remembered, with big eyes and the gentle smile that was so deep and warm and hair the colour of summer. The shopping bags I was carrying hung heavy on the end of my arms as I stood and watched, holding my breath, not blinking in case she disappeared again.  She smiled some more and I felt safe, I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time, with a bubble growing in my throat, I couldn’t speak.  There I was like an idiot, standing in my coat, hair dripping into my eyes, the light still not switched on, with those sodden bags hanging from my arms.

Oh dear god, what a loser I must be to have my childhood friend return at my age.  It wasn’t that I was not happy to see her it’s just that it made me realise what a total bulls up I must have made of things since she had left, had she returned to repair me, put right all the wrongs and untangle all the lies.  She must know, yes, I looked into those eyes and knew instantly she had been with me all the time, I just hadn’t seen her until now.  You know when something is so real, there is not time for excuses, embarrassment, ego polishing or the like, well that was the moment I was caught in.  I bent to put my bags down on the floor, still dripping from the rain on to the waxed floorboards, knowing, as I did there would be a watermark later.  I walked slowly, yet within one held breath to the sofa and sat beside her.  I sat on her left, she was on my right and the feather sofa gave beneath me, this was not a dream.  I might have breathed but I’m not sure as in my mind a breath might have blown her away.  We sat there, comfortable like we had never been apart and a small bit of me realised we hadn’t parted, I had just stopped seeing her.

I want to be able to tell you how we spoke, how we caught up with the time and how I apologized for forgetting her but I can’t.  Because we haven’t spoken yet, she is still sitting there watching as I write this down with my cat Eris, snuggled up comfortably and purring softly beside her.

lizalizaskysaregrey©2016

Rain

 

 

 

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She liked the rain, it washed away the dust and grime of her life and freshened her surroundings.  She sat  for a while and listened to the gentle patter on the window, watching the long streams of water as they trickled slowly down on to the rotting sill.

It had been a long time since it had rained here and it brought about a new and interesting mustiness to the air.  This was the change she had been waiting for, this gave her something to think about and broke the monotony of a Sunday, the longest of days.

The garbage would have a better scent she thought to herself, it was a long time since it had been collected and the stench of fish guts and babies nappies trailed through the walkways like a cancer.  Tomorrow the air would be cleaner, the concrete washed of muck and the flower pots washed down and flowers fed.

A crack of thunder lit the horizon and the lights went out.  She sat watching the shadows of the trees in the distance bending, as beaten by the relentless and torrential storm.  Behind her door she heard the unmistakable crash of gates closing and further in the distance cries from the murky shadows.  She watched through her prison window and thought about the fresh dawn of tomorrow.

 

 

Quiet Dignity

Frank ‘died as he lived in quiet dignity’, these word were engraved on his headstone.

Frank died in 1979 quietly and without fuss just like his father before him.   He was taken with Motor Neurone Disease, unlike Frank Senior who had gone to bed at the age of 98 after shaking everybody’s hand and saying goodbye.  Fit as a fiddle they said he was but he had decided it was his time, he had, had enough so he went to bed and waited to die.

Frank didn’t say much even before he got sick, he was happy sitting in his chair with paper and pipe or pottering in his garden tending to the vegetables that would grace the Sunday dinner table each week.  Frank would stand at the head of the table to sharpen the knife on the old steel before perfectly slicing the roast beef.  It was a family ritual and silence prevailed while Frank sliced the joint onto the serving platter.  After he was finished he would sit quietly and eat his lunch while the family chattered away.  Frank didn’t need to say much because his wife Francis could fill any gaps, she had plenty to say.

After he went the family wanted a nice gravestone for Frank, something fitting for a much loved husband and  father.  Black and shiny with enough space for Francis’s name when she followed him as she did twenty odd years later.

After her death they moved the gravestone to open the plot for Francis, a double plot so they could be together.   Another lovely service and everyone went off wiping their eyes remembering a lovely old couple.  After the funeral no one really visited as is the case often with all the best intentions.  Life is for the living and as much as the dead are loved they don’t tend to get many visits.

It was a number of years later when I was driving through the town I remembered my grandparents graves and stopped off.  Frank’s headstone was still under the tree where it had been moved to let the grave settle, it had never been put back and Francis had never been added to the space on the headstone.   I was shocked, angry, sad and then almost immediately okay with it.  Gran might have been ‘mortified’ as was her favourite word, not to have been included, but to me it just fitted, the headstone quietly sitting under the tree in quiet dignity.

 

 

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