Flying Low

The witching hour had been and gone. It was now entering that part of the night where the pretenders had gone safely to their beds, but the hedonists had not totally taken over the club, their drug-addled eyes moving fitfully as their passions empowered them. Or as my mate Dave would have it, late enough that you weren’t a pussy but not so late that you’d be walking home, not a taxi in sight. Or, as Steve put it, Pick-Up Hour. The flirting had to end one way or another.

My mind had been on that particular idea for the last few minutes, actually. You see, there was this girl I’d been eyeing off for quite some part of the night, and sure enough, I’d seen her eyeing me too. The occasional glimpse had our eyes locking, before her eyes would dip demurely as she smiled and returned to her own conversations. We’d eyed each other on the fringes of the dance floor, passing on our way through the masses of late night humanity, eyeing up and down at the bar – all over the place.

In short, it’d been a night where little was said, but plenty was understood.

Now that the crowd had thinned somewhat, I got a decent look at her. She was tall, closer to six foot than five, though ably assisted by a killer pair of heels. Her legs entirely did justice to the heels, and those in turn were shown off to a greater extent by the is-it-a-shirt-is-it-a-dress number she had on, which I swore and hoped would ride too high at any moment. Deep brown hair framed her tanned face perfectly, and a seemingly too-serious mouth broke into an easy grin at the slightest word from one of her friends.

This time, she leaned forward on the bar, patiently awaiting the swamped bartender. Her gaze slowly wandered the club until our eyes locked, and this time she held it. She smiled again, nodded and mouthed something. My guess was “I’ll be over in a minute.”

Hello. The night was just about to pay off.

It’s at this point, as a guy being approached by a girl, you get two conflicting feelings. The first, primary one is simple: fuck yes, I am the shit tonight. King Dingaling, got ’em coming right over. Doesn’t matter if she’s not perfect, it’s her coming to you, not the other way around. This is the way these things should happen, you think.

And that’s rapidly followed by the second thought. Fuck, shit, what am I going to say? You’re used to approaching and seeing your lines get shot down, brave soldiers in the conversation war go to a thousand needless deaths. Now that she is coming to you, you’ve only got one job: don’t cock it up. If you can get away with it, don’t say anything: your body’s obviously done the job already, why mess with the formula? But, shit, what if she gets closer and then changes her mind?

Do women go through this every time? It must be excruciating!

Continue reading Flying Low

Leave me with a scar

“What’s this?”

“What’s what?”

“This little scar here.”

“That… that there is from skateboarding.”

“No!”

“No what?”

“You never skateboarded!”

“After cracking my head and getting 6 stiches, no.”

“I still don’t believe you.”

“I was 6 at the time.”

“Oh… well, what’s this one?”

“That one is from impaling myself on my bike when I was about 10.”

“You don’t do things by halves, do you?”

“Pure accident. Stacked it while mucking around and the bear-traps took a chunk out of my thigh…”

“Ugh…”

“More gory details? You could see all the layers down into the muscle.”

“You’re still proud of it, aren’t you?”

“No, not really… the story is a bit of a dud, isn’t it? ‘Err, yes, I fell on my own bike.'”

“Point taken. How about for this one?”

“That’s an easy one. Burnt it last week at your mum’s, remember?”

“Not my fault you’re clumsy.”

“I think your mum has it in for me.”

A giggle. “And have you got a brave story behind this one here?”

“You don’t recognise it?”

“No… should I?”

“Yes. It has no brave story, but you should know it.”

“Still can’t think why I should know it…”

His voice becomes distracted, quiet.

“That was from when you broke my heart the first time.”

She looks up into his eyes now, searching for his distant gaze. Her mouth opens, then shuts again, as her gaze shifts, looking inwards. She tucks her head into the speacial hollow next to his neck as they both drift into a sea of memory.

Untitled, No. 1

You notice more when you just shut up.

The line of the eyebrows, carefully maintained, just under the line of the fringe. The waves in her dark hair, untied now. On the left, tucked behind ears too ordinary, stereotypical even, as one might find on a mannequin. Fingers playing with a loose lock, nails with a clear varnish.

A small half-smile arrows into her cheek, eyes distant in thought. A foot kicking air absently, setting the skirt’s pleated hemline swaying. Careful black heels, enough to be fashionable, but not over the top, inoffensive for work.

She breaks from her reverie, glances at me and smiles, before returning to whatever it was that was occupying her outside.

I think I could blog this. The thought drifts across my mind, incongruent. Need to think of a title, though.

No Hero

Bang, Bang

Gunshots have a way of being capital B bangs. They might even be in all capitals, but that never looks right.

Two gunshots, and the silence that followed was so absolute, pin-dropping would have constituted a racket. It was the kind of silence where you could hear the reverb rattling around in people’s heads as their brain scrambled to shift gears, the right gear for this new situation thrust upon them unasked for.

Scientists chase an elementary quantam particle called, ridiculously enough, the Higgs Boson, whose existence is so short the mayfly considers it rushed. If watches measured time so minutely, you can bet solicitors would bill by the boson-second. Scientists don’t ever actually see a Higgs Boson, they just sort of assume it’s there because that’s how you explain what’s left behind afterwards. Even light considers a boson to be snappy about its business.

The silence which followed the gunshots lasted about three quarters of a boson-second. And yet it stretched out in every human mind, ballooned to such proportions as thoughts queued up to Be Thought, orders issued for the body. A lot of which involved screaming for no reason in particular, mostly because that was the Done Thing.

Colin was no woman, so it would be somewhat undignified to join in the screaming. It wasn’t the Done Thing for a man. A man… was supposed to step in, protect the women and the weak, fight, not flight.

On the other hand, Colin was no hero. You can’t be a hero with a name like Colin. It doesn’t even work as a secret identity name. Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, Clark Kent – those were hero names. Even if Clark Kent always sounded a bit like a shoe brand, and Peter Parker like a special type of expensive pen.

Not to mention how daft naming your kid Bruce would be. Imagine calling your 4 year old Bruce. “Bruce, don’t you dare stuff that crayon up your nose!” See? You’d just think of an old man going senile.
Continue reading No Hero

Act III, Scene IV

TWO PEOPLE, one MALE, one FEMALE, lying on a DOUBLE BED. It is A SUMMER NIGHT, and no lights are on inside THE APARTMENT, though LIGHT filters through the BILLOWING CURTAINS from the STREET OUTSIDE.

The CAMERA zooms in from the door, taking in the scene. They are TALKING, IN SOFT WHISPERS. There is a note of AMUSEMENT in the banter, with OCCASIONAL QUIET LAUGHTER, more often feminine. The camera switches to OVERHEAD, CLOSE-IN, as they CONTINUE TO TALK.

“And… let’s see now, your eyes are gorgeous,”

“Go on,”

“They’re so big, and so blue, it’s like they’re pools I could just drown myself in, all day long,”

She chuckles.

“And have I mentioned your nose?”

“Yes, you have,”

“Ok then, your hair, it’s the most perfect hair I’ve seen, and that hairstyle, just perfect,”

“Get out,”

“No, I’m not kidding!”

“I haven’t shampoo’d it in days,”

“Does it matter? It still looks like you stepped out of a shampoo commercial,”

“I hope it’s not the anti-dandruff one you’re thinking of,”

“No way!”

“Ur-huh. You were saying?”

“Your lips…”

“Been there, done that. Getting bored, bucko.”

“Am I seriously losing track? I keep forgetting what I’m up to… it’s like you keep hitting reset on my senses,”

“Did you know it was once a crime to murder metaphors? They’ve gone soft these days,”

“Hey, I’m no Shelly or Keats you know,”

“Honey, if they handed out poetic licenses you’d have failed your learner’s test,”

“Gods that pun was horrible,”

“Not as bad as your metaphors,”

“Quite possibly,”

“Shut up and kiss me, boy.”

“Yes ma’am.”

FADE TO BLACK as characters KISS

Snow

Jacob moved carefully, wary of the many improbably perched ornaments that decorated the house.

“Over here,” called Angela, her voice seemingly distant. It was no real help, but the corridor had only one way out that didn’t seem to be covered in years of dust. Jacob stepped into the brightest room in the house, a window letting in the rays of dusk.

“See? He’s still alive,” said Angela. The kitten in her hand looked bedraggled, but it was breathing, its tiny chest rising and falling rythmically.

“Just barely. How’d you find him?” Jacob asked, examining the kitten with the practised care of a professional.

“I saw his mum limping out of the house, and just out of curiosity followed the trail through the house…”

“So curiosity actually saved the cat this time,” Jacob said, smirking. Angela fixed him with a withering look. Jacob looked around. “Cats usually have more than one kitten per litter, though…”

“Yeah, I know,” she said.

“Oh, right. Well…” Jacob said, backpeddaling. Angela was a sentimental one.

“I figured you were a vet,” Angela began.

“No! Really?”

“Ha ha. Anyway, you should know what do with him.” Angela finished, hopefully.

“Well I think he’s actually a she, but we should be able to see to it. I’ll keep her for a week, but after that… well, I could always give her to one of the pet shops.”

“Oh… can’t I keep him? I mean, her?” Angela asked, almost pleading.

“Hmm, you might have to do a lot of taking care of her. She is only a day old right now, and even in a week she’ll need near-constant attention. Are you sure you want to?”

“It’s not like I have anything else to do, other than maybe start looking for a job again…” Angela looked at the kitten, its eyes tightly shut like all babies, peacefully asleep. Its starkly white fur glowed orange at the edges in the dusk light.

“I’ll call her Snow,” she said.

A Study in Scenery

The club is packed, and the crowd is slowly transforming. The Friday night 9-to-5ers are leaving, finishing their week, and the dedicated party nuts are heading out to start their weekend; two different worlds crossing in the common space of the music and drink. I’m not sure what I’m doing here, and soon I will be out of place, the business shirt and formal pants an odditity instead of the standard. But she’s here. It’s always about a girl.

She is dancing, lost alone in the music. You can see her across the floor because she wears a white halter and skirt, bright white that draws in the dim light of the club and amplifies it. She throws all her energy into the dance, dark hair flying as she performs for herself, or perhaps for those around her. It’s all the same, because she has her eyes closed, and the small smile on her lips shows she is immersed. The drink disappears down my throat and I untuck the shirt, instantly dropping the formality. Perhaps I can pass for an overdressed student.
Her eyes open and she spots me. The smile turns into a grin, and she keeps eye contact, dancing out the song. I’m fixed to the spot. I turn around and order for us, her timing perfect as I turn back to hand it to her.

“You’re late,” she says, leaning in close to be heard over the music.

“I know,” I return, feeling the softness of her cheek, her hair. In the club, under the loud music, such intimacy is standard, even necessary.

“How long?” she says, sipping.

“One drink,” I reply, clipped sentences enforced by the music, its beat rising to a creschendo.

“No fair!” she shouts, barely audible, pouting. She finishes the drink in one long swallow, and races back to the dancefloor. It’ll have to be one set.

Continue reading A Study in Scenery

Dear Diary, part 2

Day 18

Actually getting out from work by the clock to make it in time for that train, those 5 minutes before. She was looking lost in thought today, and my train pulled in first. She looked up and directly at me before my train pulled out, the distance between us halved.

Day 19

She has a boyfriend, it seems. He was carrying flowers, and they were standing hand-in-hand.

Day 24

I know I haven’t written about that girl at the station in the last few days; I guess seeing she had a boyfriend threw whatever notions I may have had out of my head and I started avoiding that train instead of looking forward to it. But I was there again today, and this time she smiled at me. Confused. Seems to be something like a high school crush. How pathetic.

Day 25

As I put my ticket into the gate, she was there next to me – I glanced over and realised with a shock that it was her. I looked up at her face, and she looked back, a flash of recognition in her eyes. We were both late though, and ran to make our trains.

Day 27

Was talking to Ryan when she came up the stairs on the opposite platform. I couldn’t help but look over and give her a smile. Ryan won’t let it go now, and is calling her my station crush, to go with my former train crush, bus crush(es), and that crush when I was working at that pizza place back in uni. Ryan must be eliminated; he knows too much.

Day 30

She was crying today. Just quiet and not too obvious, but she was sitting down and had despair writ large over her face. Totally lacking an idea of how to deal with this. I looked the other way, again confused.

Day 31

She was quite clearly sad. Destroyed my mood for the night, couldn’t stop thinking what to do, or what could have happened. Any number of things, and I can’t do anything. I’m a total stranger.

Day 32/33/34

She’s still pretty sad. Weekend ahead going back to visit the family; will ask Emily for some advice.

Day 37

Serendipity, I believe they call it.

Long(er) story. She was standing in front of the ticket gates lost in thought, seemingly staring up at the next train displays. I saw the chance and stood next to her until she noticed. She looked at me after about a minute with a little bit of shock, I think. Her eyes were still rimmed red.

“Whatever made you lose that smile has got to be something pretty terrible,” I said, not looking at her directly, “so I was wondering if there was anything a stranger could do to help.”

She was silent, and then I looked at her. Her eyes scanned my face intensely, and something tripped a neuron in my head. She looks so damn familiar.

“No way…” she said, a note of disbelief in her voice.

I was lost. And then I saw it too, as the smile crept back onto her face for the first time in days. “Oh you’re kidding, right? After 10 years and on the other side of the world? Only you!” I said, laughing. We hugged for the first time in years.

I’ve found my Rachel again.

Dear Diary, part 1

Day 1

I saw this girl standing on the opposite platform today, waiting like I was. Almost exactly like I was actually – slouched at the end of day made much too long, iPod plugged into ears, staring off into the middle distance.

Day 3

I saw that girl (from a couple of days ago) again today. We made eye contact for a second across the tracks, but in the usual manner of strangers looked away nearly instantly when we realised eye contact had been made.

Day 5

She was there again (see about 2 days ago). Noticed she had medium length wavy hair. She wasn’t listening to her iPod today, but had a book in hand. Couldn’t tell which book – too far. Greenish cover.

Day 9

That girl at the station again. Noticed she has a gorgeous figure. Spent more time looking at her than down the tracks waiting for the train.

Day 10

She was there again. Eye contact made again, lingered for more than the usual.

Day 11

And again. Couple of consistent days now. She varies her hair daily, but for all that it’s still long and wavy. Intrigued. iPod is back, novel seems to have been finished. Made effort to smile at her, but I don’t know if it came out right or indeed at all, as she looked away without response.

Day 12

Smiled at her today and she smiled back. Small, quick smile, but a simple acknowledgment no less. Looks like I could have some fun here.

Day 13

She was sitting down today; either she managed to get a seat, or was tired. On phone until her train pulled in. Feeling little less happy; weekend ahead.

Day 16

Running late today; arrived just in time to see her disappear behind her train.

Day 17

Saw her again. Announcement came over PA expressing regret at being late, so I mouthed “Not Again” & rolled my eyes exaggeratedly (is that even a word?). She smiled back with a small shrug and put down her shopping bag. Her shirt today was a bright pink that really stood out.

pinstripes

She walks down the street, head bent into her favourite book. She’s reading this for the fifth time, this year. Her feet know the way to work, moving automatically to her destination, a desk some stories up in a glass tower. Even if she knows exactly how this chapter ends, every time she reads it her heart soars, and rides a rollercoaster. She knows that if she finishes this chapter off, she’ll smile nearly all day today. When I first saw her, she was wearing pinstripes, and that’s what she’s wearing today. Every little thing makes her happier, and there’s nothing better than that.

I know this because she tells me, that night when we’re on the bed watching TV. She reaches up and brushes a lock of hair out of my face, smiles at me and cuddles up to sleep. I smile, and turn off the TV. This is happiness.