Thursday, March 30, 2017
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Monday, March 27, 2017
You can find the whole text and audio here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/47660
Ed Lopez has always been my favorite actor. He’s appeared in some great films and, more importantly, he’s gorgeous.
Mum says she doesn’t understand my fascination, but she always accompanies me to the cinema when one of his new films comes out.
Last week, we were given tickets to the premiere of Vampire Slayers.
‘What a convincing performance!’ Mum said when the film finished. ‘You’re right, the guy can act. But he’s a bit too pale for my liking.’
‘He’s perfect,’ I said.
Just then, we saw him outside the cinema having his picture taken with some fans.
‘Come on, this is your chance,’ Mum said, pushing me towards Ed.
I gave my phone to Mum and stood next to him shyly.
‘Like this?’ Ed asked my Mum.
‘Yes, that’s great.’
I said my goodbyes and went back to Mum.
‘Let’s look at the picture,’ I said.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
There was a scrumptious-looking cake on the table. It was shaped like an owl and smelled of chocolate.
I thought I would try it, just a tiny bit… I was sure nobody would notice.
I’ve always had a sweet tooth, you know. I like all kinds of foods, but I prefer desserts.
I moved towards the plate as silently as I could, trying to contain my excitement. And that’s when I heard it.
‘Mum, mum, there’s a bee in the kitchen. And it’s flying towards my birthday cake.’
Then a big human walked into the room and I was no more.
When I finished my degree in Fashion Design, I couldn’t find a job, but then one day my Mum told me a friend of hers was looking for a baby-sitter.
It wasn’t exactly a dream position. However, as I needed the money, I said yes.
I started working almost straightaway. Mr Hamilton was a widower and had a little daughter called Winnie. Winnie was a lovely five-year-old with emerald green eyes.
We got on really well from the word go. After one month, I asked Mr Hamilton what had happened to his wife.
‘She must have been very young. Was it cancer?’
‘I don’t talk about it,’ he answered in a steely voice. He sounded so different and so detached that for a moment I was scared.
One day, I was upstairs putting some of Winnie’s toys away, when I found a really disturbing picture in one of her drawers. It was a photo of her Mum, but on it she had drawn a skull and a dagger.
When I turned around, Winnie was standing there, looking at me.
‘I did it, you know.’
‘You did what?’ I asked, but deep down I already knew.
‘I killed Mum. She had fallen in love with another man and she was going to leave us. I couldn’t allow that.’
I stared at her as if I had never seen her before and then ran out of the room.
‘So what? Are you going to leave me like all the other babysitters? I thought you were different…’ she shouted as I rushed down the stairs.
I didn’t stop running till I got home.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Becka and I soon became best friends. It was obvious I had chosen the perfect dog. She was easy-going and never barked. On the first day, she decided my bed was a lot more comfortable than hers and started sleeping with me.
‘If I had known you weren’t going to use this thing, I wouldn’t have paid twenty pounds for it,’ I told her, but the truth was I didn’t mind. I felt less lonely at night thanks to her.
On Saturday, I took Becka for an early morning walk before going to work. I had planned to go up and down the street and back home, as I was in a hurry, but she started pulling towards Silver Wood and I didn’t have the heart to say no to her. The truth was she spent too many hours on her own.
We walked among the trees for a while. It was shady and cold and I wished I had brought a thicker jacket.
Becka was having the time of her life, smelling here and there and trying to chase every bird she saw even though she was on a leash.
‘We need to go back now, my little hunter. I have to go to work,’ I told her.
She ignored me and kept on moving forward. We eventually got to a clearing. I suddenly heard the noise of leaves being crunched under somebody’s shoes. I turned around and came face to face with Mr Potter.
‘Willow!’ he said. He seemed genuinely happy to see me.
‘How are you Mr Potter?’
‘Fine, fine. How about you?
‘I’m better, thanks. Got myself a little dog to keep me company.Her name's Becka.’
‘I see. She’s lovely,’ he said, but he seemed quite unnerved when Becka started sniffing at his feet.
‘I have a question I want to ask you. Why did my Mum send you a sample of my hair?’
‘I can’t tell you that, Willow. You’ll have to find out on your own. Well, it’s been nice seeing you. I have to go.’
I watched him as he disappeared behind some rocks and then walked back home.
After leaving Becka in the kitchen, her favourite room, I walked towards the pub. I kept on thinking of a topic for my first column. In the end, I had told my boss I would do it, even though I didn’t have much time. I had decided it would be a good way to force myself to write.
‘You’re late,’ Mindy said accusingly as I walked in.
‘So sorry. Becka felt like going to Silver Wood.’
‘Come on. Take this tray to table seven as soon as you can.’
Table seven was Mrs Bennet’s gorgeous nephew. I still hadn’t been brave enough to talk to him.
I put his tea and his eggs on the table and smiled. He looked at me as if I was a moron and started eating.
‘Enjoy your breakfast,’ I said in a small voice.
I returned to the counter to take the next order.
‘Nice guy,’ I said to Mindy.
After work, I went to Aunt Lucy’s home. I hadn’t seen her for two or three days and felt like a chat. When I got there, I saw Merlin Potter standing outside her door. Well, the man was everywhere… There was a short lady standing next to him and it seemed they were saying goodbye.
I waited behind a tall bush, as I didn’t feel like speaking to the man again. Why was he talking to Aunt Lucy anyway? I had got the impression he was just a friend of Mum’s… Aunt Lucy had told me she hardly knew him.
When they left, I walked to Aunt Lucy’s home and rang the bell.
‘Did you forget anything, Merlin dear? Oh, it’s you…’
‘I didn’t know you were friends with Mr Potter.’
‘I’m not, well… I am… It’s a long story.’
‘I have time.’
‘I don’t. I’m sorry dear, but I was about to go out. Poker night.’
About to go out? Why was she lying again? She was wearing a tatty dressing gown and her hair was in rollers, so I was sure she had been planning to stay in. I was even surprised she had received visitors looking like that.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
The first pages of Mum’s diary didn’t contain anything out of the ordinary. She wrote about me as a baby. My colics, the first time I smiled… It was all endearing, but not fascinating. After a while, I had had enough.
‘Mum!’ I shouted. ‘Mum! Are you there?’
A moment later, she was in the kitchen with me.
‘Why are you calling me, Willow?’ she said. ‘I cannot keep on coming here, unless it’s an emergency.’
‘Well, this is an emergency. I want to know why you want me to read these diaries. There’s nothing interesting here.’
‘You have to keep on reading… You have to be patient.’
‘Yeah, sure. Me… patient. Are you joking? And one more thing. What’s this letter about?’ I asked showing her the missive.
‘Oh, that! You’ll have to find out on your own.’
‘So you don’t want to tell me?’
‘No. Goodbye, love!’
But she was gone… After that, I didn’t feel like reading anymore, so I went out into the garden and started deadheading some roses to channel my frustration.
The next day, I went to The Star at seven thirty. Mindy had told me she wanted me to see how the breakfasts were done. As soon as I got there, she gave me an apron and a hairnet and I started work.
Most of the tables were full and I found it difficult to keep up.
I mostly took orders and Mindy and the cook did the rest. Things finally calmed down after nine thirty. It was then that I noticed the young man sitting on his own and looking out of the window.
‘Who’s that?’ I asked Mindy.
‘That’s Josh Bennet.’
‘I know… He’s all kinds of gorgeous, but I’m a married woman.’
‘Well, I’m not.’
‘Pity is his character doesn’t match his looks.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘He likes to keep to himself. Doesn’t seem to have any friends.’
I had my lunch at the pub, but most of the day I was rushed off my feet. When I finally got home at eleven thirty, I was so tired I went straight to bed.
The next day, out of the blue, I had an idea. Why not adopt a dog? That way I wouldn’t feel so lonely. The worst problem would be my long hours at the pub, but I’d talk to Mindy and tell her I needed time to walk him.
I thought I’d wait till Wednesday, my day off, and drive to the shelter in Greendale, a nearby village.
Aunt Lucy was horrified. She had never been a dog person herself.
‘A dog? Not one of those big ugly things, I hope?’
‘No, I prefer small dogs. Listen, why don’t you come to the shelter with me and help me choose?’
‘Thanks, darling, but you know how I feel about dogs…’
On Wednesday, I got up early. I was as excited as a little girl opening her Christmas presents.
When I was eating breakfast, the phone started ringing. I thought it would be Aunt Lucy calling to tell me she had changed her mind and decided to come to the shelter with me after all.
‘Miss Foster?’ a man’s voice said. A voice I knew quite well.
‘Yes, it’s me, Sir.’
‘So you know who I am?’
‘Of course!’ It wasn’t that easy to forget my old boss…
‘I’m calling to offer you a little job. How would you feel about writing a column about your life in the village? I bet people in the big city would find it quaint.’
‘Can I think about it?’
‘Indeed. Give me a call when you decide.’
He hung up before I had time to say bye. The guy wasn’t known for his social graces.
A while later, I drove to Greendale. I was so happy, I couldn’t stop humming.
When I arrived at the shelter, a girl in brown overalls showed me around.
‘We have two hundred dogs more or less. Are you looking for a specific breed?’
‘No, not really. I’m expecting to fall in love.’
‘Oh, that’s easy. I’m in love with all of them myself. Let me introduce you to somebody. I’m a bit of a matchmaker, if I may say so myself.’
She led the way among the cages till I found myself facing a Westie with overgrown hair and lovely black eyes.
‘Oh my God!’
‘She’s quite perfect, isn’t she?’
‘What’s her name?’
I had to sign some paperwork, but after an hour Becka and I were ready to go home. She seemed to be delighted to be coming with me and I was besotted from the moment I first set eyes on her.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Aunt Lucy arrived punctually and together we cleaned the living room and washed dishes and glasses.
‘Do you know where these go?’ Aunt Lucy asked pointing to some champagne glasses on the table.
‘The cupboard just behind you.’
We kept on working silently for a while. Outside, the branches of the trees swayed in the wind. The sky was grey and the clouds’ stomachs were swollen with rain. But even on such an inhospitable day, Mum’s garden was beautiful.
‘You know what,’ I said. ‘I think I’m going to stay.’
I have to say it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
‘For a while?’
‘No, for good.’
‘And what about your job?’
‘Well, my job isn’t that great. I guess I could do some freelance stuff. Or find a different kind of gig.’
‘I’d love to have you here,’ Aunt Lucy said and she hugged me.
I wasn’t sure why, it didn’t make sense, but for some reason, I felt she wasn’t being totally honest with me.
Ten minutes later, she told me she had to go. The house was looking clean and tidy again, so I decided to go out myself.
I walked into the village and when I went past The Star, the village pub, I heard a voice calling my name. I looked around and saw Mindy. Mindy used to go to school with me back when we were tiny and now owned the nicest pub in Harper’s Wood. Her life and mine couldn’t have been more different. She was married and had a little girl. Now she was pregnant again. In fact she looked as if she was about to explode.
‘Hi there,’ I said.
‘Why don’t you come in? Let’s have a cuppa and a chat. There’s nobody in at this time of day so I can have a break.’
We sat at an empty table. Mindy sighed and looked at me.
‘So how are you?’ she asked.
‘I have my moments. I do miss Mum a lot…’
‘I know what you mean. So what are you going to do now?’
‘I’m thinking of staying, in fact.’
‘You are? That’s great!’
‘So tell me about you. When are you due?’
‘Any time now,’ she said. ‘We’ll be needing somebody to help out at the pub. I’ll be busy with the baby and you know little Mary is a handful.’
‘So you’re hiring? Would I do?’
‘Are you interested?’
‘Of course I am!’
We talked a while longer and I walked back home feeling hopeful. It had been a very productive morning. It seemed I had a future in Harper’s Wood. I now had a real job! I couldn’t believe it.
When I got home, I went up to my room and searched through Mum’s diaries. After a few minutes, I found the first one. The first entry had been written a few months after I was born. I took it downstairs to the kitchen and sat by the window.
The pages were made of extremely thin paper. For some reason, they made me think of fairies’ wings. I’d never really known what gossamer was, but I somehow felt it was the perfect word to describe the paper. Something delicate and fragile.
I opened the diary and found a letter folded between the first two pages. I opened it and read it. It was short, but the truth is I didn’t understand what it meant. It read:
We’ve analyzed the hair sample you sent us and Willow definitely has it.
Do let me know if you need any help. You must tell her even if you don’t want her life to change.
What did I have? And why had my mother sent that strange guy some of my hair? It sounded creepy, to say the least.