Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Red & Blue

Mina was strikingly beautiful and she knew it. Her curly red hair was the color of autumn leaves. Many of her friends and acquaintances had tried to imitate it using  various chemicals, usually with disastrous or at least disappointing results.

Her eyes were blue, like a field of forget-me-nots. However, when she was angry, they shone with a violet light.

When she walked into the Les Rochelles, the new French restaurant next to Macy’s, silence took over the room.

The receptionist and the maitre d’ greeted her in unctuous tones she secretly despised. She followed them, sat at the table and proceeded to study the menu. 

Steve arrived ten minutes later. He hadn’t changed one bit. Always on the go, always looking as if he had just come out of the shower, just like Pierce Brosnan.

‘I’m sorry. I was in the middle of a meeting and …’

‘No worries. I haven’t waited much.’

‘You look wonderful. I like your dress.’

The dress in question was as quaint, enticing and lovely as Mina herself. While most of the other women at the restaurant were wearing little black numbers, golden shifts and the like, she had chosen a long silken gown that would have made any stylish gypsy happy. 

‘Thanks… I guess.’

They stared at each other for a while and Mina tapped her fingers on the table absent-mindedly. After a while,  she started talking again.

‘So how have you been?’

‘Good, good. I miss you though.’

‘I’ve missed you too. But you know…’

‘I know. We did what we had to do back then. The children needed me.’

‘How’s Willow?’

The presence of his wife’s name on Mina’s tongue caused Steve’s back to stiffen imperceptibly. 

‘Older. Wiser. Bitter as usual. But aren’t we all to a certain extent?’

Just then, a waiter approached their table. Mina thought he looked like a child, but then again, that was what happened when you were in your fifties yourself. Everybody else started looking younger.

‘Are you ready to order?’ he asked in heavily-accented English.

‘I’ll have the onion soup and a steak in pepper sauce. Well done, please,’ Steve told him. He spoke in a monotone, as if restaurants and life in general bored him.

‘Good choice, Sir. What about you, Ma’am?’ the waiter said. 

His eyes caressed the contours of her face for a short while and he had to make a big effort to look professional. 

‘What do you recommend?’

‘The bouillabaisse is excellent.’

‘I’ll have that then,’ she said, the corners of her mouth dissolving into a mischievous smile.

The waiter left and after a few seconds Steve started speaking again.

‘I have been following your career.’

‘I thought I was good at covering my tracks. I’m always very discreet.’

‘You are. But when one is driven there’s always a way.’

‘So you’ve been stalking me?’ Mina asked, feigning an anger she didn’t  really feel.

‘No. I just wanted to know how you were doing. And we had promised not to call each other.’

When their food arrived, they moved slightly backwards and stared at each other like two bulls ready to charge. Mina was spellbound. She had never understood the power Steve held over her. She’d dated many other men, but she had never felt so completely vulnerable with any of them.

‘And yet, you’ve broken that promise. You said you couldn’t tell me whatever it is you want to say over the phone. How cliche.’

‘It’s true. And I can’t tell you here either.’

‘Where do you suggest we go? Is there a hotel room you have in mind?’

‘No, actually, I thought we could talk in my car.’

‘Good idea.’

Mina kept on chewing daintily, pretending she felt at ease, that there was nothing strange in their being together. However, inside her brain, synapses were flickering like playful fireworks. She wondered what Steve was planning. If he didn’t want to sleep with her again, then what did he want? All sorts of scenarios presented themselves to her in record time.

‘So what is it like to be a grandfather?’ she forced herself to ask. She didn’t want him to notice her discomfiture.

‘So you’ve been stalking me too…’

‘Just from time to time. And?’

‘It’s the best feeling in the world. You should see how beautiful she is. And those little dimples.’

‘What’s her name?’

‘Linda.’

Dessert came and went. They refused coffee and Steve put his shiny MasterCard on the table. Mina didn’t even bother to offer to pay her part. He owed her and besides he had money to spare. 

Once in the street, Mina sighed. She was a wild creature and closed spaces made her feel restless. The night air, however, was a lovely balm, a calming potion. 

The sky was dark blue and the street lamps shone yellow and white. 

They walked side by side awkwardly, conscious of the proximity of the other, but making an effort not to touch.

Mina was eager to find out the real reason Steve wanted to see her.

When they finally drove out of the parking lot, she felt elated, drunk on anticipation. She didn’t love Steve anymore, but there were two things she craved more than anything else: victories and puzzles.

The car slid almost silently. Mina and Steve didn’t talk. Half an hour went by. When they finally parked, Mina was not sure she knew where they were.

‘So?’ Mina asked facing her companion and trying to hide her glee.

‘This is a serious matter.’

‘So it seems…’

‘You know I don’t love my wife.’

‘You know I’m not a therapist… Let’s not play games. You haven’t brought me here to tell me that.’

‘I loved you very much, you know. It was real.’

‘Why didn’t you leave her then?’

‘I’ve already told you. I couldn’t.’

‘Cut the crap, Steve…’. Mina’s voice was shrill. It was unusual, but sometimes her composure flew out of the window, like a sparrow escaping approaching footsteps.

‘Ok… What I want you to do is …I want you to take care of Willow.’

‘You’re kidding, right?’

‘No, I’m not. That’s what you do, right? I told you before I’ve been following your career.’

Mina wiggled in her seat like a caged deer. She wondered if she could trust him.

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. You know I’m a writer.’

‘Drop the act, sweetheart. I mean your other career.’ 

‘Can I think about it?’

‘Yes. How much time do you need?’

‘I’ll know by tomorrow. Meet me by our tree at seven. And now, can you please drive me home? I’m tired.’

Mina looked out of the window. The fear of the previous moments was already fading and in its place the seed of an idea was starting to form. She couldn’t risk being exposed. Steve would have to go…

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Failed Attempt.

  1. I've tried to write a poem in iambic pentameter for a competition with disastrous results.



I know the theory, but can’t do this.
A great reason I should win, pretty please.

I need the course more than my clever friends.
Troubled by this da DUM, making no sense.

Does it have to rhyme as well? It’s too much.
Not even Sandra with her gentle touch
Can help me master this iambic foe.
I am not a poet,  that much I know.

Free verse makes me feel less stupid, no rules
Mean I can work with no difficult tools.  

Don’t make fun of me. I gave it a try.
Now excuse me, I’m going home to cry.

  1. Iambic Pentameter: a line of verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable, for example Two households, both alike in dignity.
Note. Sandra is a member of FanStory, the writer's web I belong to.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Love Kills

I slide and glide,
I twirl and whirl,
Under the sea
Next to the reef.

I like swimming
And lying down 
On mossy rocks
Touched by the sun.

My curly hair 
Smells of weeds,
My soft skin
You’d love to kiss.

I have no legs,
I have no heart.
My treacherous  song
Will seal your fate.

But you can’t resist me,
You yearn to hug me.
My emerald eyes
Are cunning traps.

Come live with me
In salty water.
I’ll keep you safe
In my sunken ship.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Water Resistant?

It’s no fun, believe me. I wish I was green like the rest of my family. Being a pink dragon means you’re the butt of jokes and that nobody takes you seriously.

However, I’ve come up with a brilliant idea.

‘What do you want all that paint for?’ Mum asked me when I came back from Tesco this morning.

‘Wait and see…’

I stood in front of the mirror, brush in hand, and painted myself from head to toe. For the first time in my life, I looked like a real dragon. And then I heard Mum shout, ‘Bath time!’



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Danger In Uluru

Rob had lived near Uluru all his life. Even though he had never visited a big city, he was sure the Red Centre was the best place in the world.

He wasn’t sure what was more beautiful, the terracota pot colour of the land, the low vegetation, the wonderful dawns or the sky at night.

Now that he was older, his mum let him go out on his own. He loved exploring new places and watching the beauty that surrounded him.

Every morning, after breakfast, he had to listen to his parents repeating the same words,

‘Do be careful, Rob. You know there are lots of motorbikes around and the tourists are not always careful. We don’t want you to get hurt.’

‘I’m always careful. Don’t worry.’

Rob thought his parents were being overprotective, but he didn’t say anything. He was a very thoughtful little guy and didn’t want to offend them. After all, he knew they loved him very much.

One day, while walking along a small road, he noticed a creature he had never seen before. It was like a tiny dinosaur covered in thorns.

He stopped to watch it and was so absorbed in contemplation that he didn’t hear the noise of an oncoming motorbike.

When he finally realized he was in danger, it was too late to get out of the way.

He heard a loud crash and then everything went black.

Two people got off the motorbike and ran to his side.

‘Oh my God! We’ve hit a kangaroo,’ a woman with a heavy American accent said.

‘Is he dead?’ a man in a black jacket asked. He was talking to himself, still in shock.

‘No, look, he’s moving,’ the woman answered.

Luckily, Rob was just bruised and very scared. He looked at the tourists, got up and hopped away.

His parents had been right after all. He promised himself to be more careful in the future. Now he had to go home and ask Mum to lick his wounds. He was in for a good telling off, he was sure.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Matilda & I

Last Saturday, I got up late. The night before I hadn’t fallen asleep till three or so and I was exhausted.

I walked into the kitchen barefoot and made my usual cup of tea. My eldest son was sitting at the table eating cereal and watching something on his computer.

‘What are you watching?’ I asked.

He removed one headphone and looked at me, slightly annoyed by my interruption.

‘Sorry?’

‘I wanted to know what you’re watching.’

‘Thirteen Reasons Why.’

‘Is it good?’

‘Yeah.’

‘I’ve read the book.’

‘Is there a book?’

‘Yes. I liked it.’

My son put his headphone on again and I took that as my cue to leave the room. Cradling the mug in my hands, I walked into the living room.

And that’s when I got the biggest surprise ever. Sitting on my rocking chair, there was a little girl I had never seen in my entire life.

She had brown hair and big eyes and was reading a big book that she had rested on her lap.

‘Who are you? And who let you in?’ I said.

‘I’m Matilda, of course.’

‘I don’t know any Matildas…’

‘Yes, you do.’

‘Excuse me?’

‘I’ve seen you have a book about me on the shelf. I read  the whole thing while you were sleeping. It was kind of weird reading about my life, but I have to say it’s pretty accurate.’

‘You want me to believe you are THAT Matilda?’

‘I don’t want you to believe anything, lady. I just want to go back to Miss Honey’s. I bet she’s worried about me.’

My boring, average life had suddenly got very strange. I closed my eyes in the hope that she would disappear, but when I opened them again she was still there, smiling to herself.

‘What are you reading?’ I asked.

‘Great Expectations. It’s the same book I was reading in my room last night. It was really late, but I was enjoying myself so much that I couldn’t stop. I guess I must have fallen asleep and when I woke up… I was here.’

‘And you’ve just been sitting in the living room? Did you talk to my son?’

‘I did, but he told me to wait for you.’

‘Typical. Listen, why don’t you keep on reading while I get dressed and then we’ll decide what to do?’

‘Okay.’

I went to my room and put on some clothes hurriedly. Then, I shook my husband awake and told him what was going on.

‘Do you want me to take you to the doctor’s?’ he said before turning around to sleep some more.

It seemed I would have to do this alone.

When I got back to the living room, Matilda was still sitting on my rocking chair absorbed in her book.

‘Do you want some breakfast?’ I asked her.

‘Yes, please. Reading makes me hungry. Could I have a glass of milk and some cookies?’

I brought her a tray with cookies, milk and fruit on it and sat on the floor next to her.

‘Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself?’

‘What do you want to know?’ she asked, her big eyes shining.

‘I don’t know. Are your parents as horrible as Roald Dahl paints them in the book?’

‘Oh, they are much worse. Dad eats his toenails when nobody is looking and Mum wears a wig that she has never ever washed.’

‘Disgusting. But that’s not what I meant. Are they mean to you?’

‘Well, I don’t know what kind of mother you are, but my parents left me home alone when I was two to go to the theatre with their friends. When I was four, I cooked my own meals…’

‘Appalling. I’m glad you don’t have to live with them any more. By the way, do you know there’s a film about you?’

‘Is there? So I’m famous then?’

‘Kind of, yes. Children love you.’

‘Do you have the film? Can we see it?’ she asked jumping from the rocking chair onto the floor.

I realized how small she was and asked, ‘How old are you?’

‘Six.’

I opened a cupboard and looked for the DVD. I eventually found it and showed it to her.

‘Here it is.’

‘Funny! This guy really looks like Dad. Who is he?’

‘Danni De Vito. He’s a famous actor. Come, sit with me on the sofa.’

I made some popcorn for myself and we watched the film in silence. Matilda laughed from time to time. Her laugh was loud and musical, like a small church bell.

‘That was fun,’ she said when it finished.

‘Was Mrs Trunchbull really like that?’

‘A bit uglier, I would say. She had a wart in the middle of her nose.’

‘Can I ask you a question? Do you really have powers?’

Matilda blushed furiously.

‘I don’t like talking about that. Yes, I do, but I hardly ever use them.’

Neither of us spoke for a while, but eventually she said, ‘I want to go back. You’re very nice, but I miss my life.’

‘I want to help you, but I don’t know how to. Why don’t we go out, have a nice day and then at night we’ll try to take you home? You can start reading again and see what happens.’

Just then my husband walked into the living room.

‘Who is this?’ he asked.

‘I’m Matilda, sir.’

He looked at her, shrugged his shoulders and left. We both burst out laughing. 

‘Men!’ I said.

I took Matilda shopping and bought her a beautiful green dress. We had a great day together. I had never thought I would be able to meet the main character of one of my favorite books. 

When it got dark, we went back home and ate a quick dinner.

Then, I told Matilda to sit on the rocking chair and put Great Expectations on her lap.

‘I’ve really enjoyed today. I do hope our plan works though. You deserve to be happy.’

Matilda started reading and I watched her from the sofa. After an hour, her little head began to loll forwards. Eventually she fell asleep. And then, the most extraordinary thing happened. A golden glow came out of the pages of the book and it enveloped Matilda. When the light disappeared, Matilda was gone.

The next morning, I woke up rested and happy. My husband asked me, ‘Where’s the little girl?’

‘She’s gone back home,’ I said.

‘Good, good. So now, really, who was she?’

I looked at him and left the room. Why bother? He wouldn’t believe me anyway. Or even worse, he would think I needed a shrink. I love my husband dearly, but there isn’t a single speck of fantasy in his bones.