Day 275: A useless love – a connection or affinity that doesn’t fit into the plans of anyone concerned.

 

 

When your Jewel glows, you’ve found the one you should love. A simple formula, but with a single catch. You have no say in it whatsoever.

There are three people in this story. There’s me, there’s Henry and there’s Marco. Marco is six foot three, funny. He’s good at sports, he’s clever. He can hold a conversation. He’s everything you’d ever look for.

Then there’s Henry. Henry is thin and weedy, with thick glasses. He constantly pulls the leather gloves he wears further onto his hands as if he’s trying to push his fingers through the fingertips. It makes him look nervous and shifty, always.

No contest, right?

Then somebody, anybody, explain to me why when I’m next to Henry my Jewel burns like a small piece of a star trapped in my wrist. But when I’m with Marco my feelings burn that way. What do I do?

I have classes with both of them tomorrow. Something has to give way.

***

This one is causing me trouble. I want to come back to it when I’ve had time to give it some thought, but at present it’s not working for me. I intend to have the three characters’ Jewels all burning when they’re together, but all for different people. Marco – My main character. My main character – Henry. Henry – Marco. 

Alas, I’m just not getting there with this one. Still, fingers crossed. Look out for 275 revisited in the future. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

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Day 266: You have just swallowed your pride and done something you didn’t want to do. Your friend wants to know why. The two of you are driving around an almost-full parking garage looking for a space for the friend’s oversize pickup truck. Write the scene.

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“Look, just drop me anywhere. I can walk the rest of the way.” I said to Jay, tired of circling the grey underground world of parked cars and litter. “It’s really nothing for me to get back from here.”

“Allan, shut it. You’re gonna stay in this truck until we find a space that isn’t taken up by another fucking BMW!” He yelled out the window at the double parked, electric blue Beemer, “Then we’re gonna work out exactly what the fuck just happened. I thought you were never going back?”

I chewed on my lip as I thought about my response. I hadn’t even told Jay the full story yet and he was pissed at me. “Well, I wasn’t going to. You know he sent me that text a… There’s a car pulling out. Jay!” He yanked the wheel to the side so that we swerved around the Micra that was pulling out. Jay, being the cautious and pleasant driver that he is stuck an arm out and extended a middle finger as he rounded the bend to the ramp for the third time. “Look, can’t we just wait until tomorrow? I’m really not in the mood right now.”

“Got one!” He yelled in triumph, either having not heard or deliberately ignored me. “Do you want to talk, then get food or get food first?”

“I was just gonna go home, mate.”

“Food it is. Come on.” We jumped out of his stupid, red truck. He’d found it for a grand near Worcester and had spent almost as much just trying to keep the thing running. I slammed my door in with a groan. “Hey! Be careful. You know the window pops out if you don’t treat her gently.”

He’d always had a habit of naming his cars after ex-girlfriends. Almost poetic, as he tended to crash them all. The truck, he’d decided, was “Shauna, you know, after the big girl I spent the week with in Marbella?” I had no idea what he was talking about, but I just nodded so he’d stop.

We fought our way through the crowds of Saturday shoppers, all clamouring for the bargains with the January sales having started up. “Why did we come here?” I asked him as a family of four walked straight through the middle of us. “Surely you could have, excuse me,” I just avoided the lady who stopped in front of me, “Picked somewhere quieter?”

“Yeah, but this was the nearest place with a Burger King.” We were silent until we’d ordered food and got to the table in the corner.

“Look, I don’t even know where to start.”

“Try the reason you went down there in the first place?”

“Keira phoned me. Told me she wanted to see me. So I went down to her place and she was out of it. Apparently she’d called everyone she knew and I was the only one who went. She looked like she was on her way out, Jay. I had to do something.”

“So…”

“So, I went to a place where somebody could help me. Where I knew somebody who could help me. Keira means that much.”

“You went to…”

“Yeah. I went to see Dad.”

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 250: The person you loved who didn’t love you back

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Dear Diary,

This morning, I fell in love. It’s silly, I know, but I did. He sat across from me on the train, legs crossed neatly in trousers with a perfect crease down the centre. He’d only just made the train, practically diving through the doors at Walmley Station. I don’t know why anybody could be late at Walmley, the whole village is only three streets long. But there he was, hurling himself through the doors before he began picking his way through.

He reached my seat and gestured to the one opposite, asking if he could sit there. Immediately wins points in my book, people being polite. Of course, I wasn’t waiting for anybody so I nodded for him to sit. Only once I’d given him a cheeky once over, mind you.

He plonked himself onto the seat, always nice to know that nobody’s perfect, and pulled his own book from the satchel he’d placed onto the seat beside him. A mystery, by Joan Marquez. I love Joan Marquez and I so wanted to ask him about it. But of course, I didn’t.

I was scared! He sat with his book and a half smile spreading across his face, the end of his tongue poking through in the most adorable concentration face I’ve ever seen. He’d raise his spare hand to his forehead every so often, pushing his fringe back over the top of his head before turning the page. and going back to his concentration face. It was… It was a thing of beauty.

On top of that, he’s reading a Joan Marquez! I was so close… I’d just finished my book and put it away when we pulled into Harrington and he got off. I saw him meet up with someone on the platform. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Blonde, leggy… He kissed her on both cheeks then went on his merry way.

Life will never be the same,

Talia.

 

October 4th 2016

Had to get the train today. Car wouldn’t start. Of course, only just got through the doors before it left the station, lucky me. Still, I got a seat! Win. 

Read some of Tribute to Death. Not bad. Not my favourite Joan Marquez though. If You Go Down To The Woods is definitely her best book. The chick across from me on the train was reading something interesting, but I didn’t have time to ask her about it. She was pretty cute too. 

Saw my sister at Harrington. We managed brunch before I had to disappear. Her and Phil have decided to have a kid, which is kind of a big deal. Apparently. She just badgered me about when I’m getting married.

Never, it seems, is not an appropriate reply. 

Still, onwards and upwards. Maybe I should get the train more often. Perhaps I’d see more of cute book chick. 

Frank

So, for this challenge the thought was that my initial character had fallen for this guy she’d never spoken to, never seen before and had got the wrong end of the stick. Is it cliche? Probably. Am I bothered? Not really. I think the concept works and as such I was happy to work with it.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 246: You’re the high school sweetheart from the Day 12’s prompt. Write your reply to the breakup note.

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Karen,

Look. I get the feeling that you and I left each other in very different frames of mind. I never asked you to wait for me, nor did I want you to. In fact, I’m fairly sure I told you I didn’t want to see you again and that you could, and I quote, go to hell.

You want to know what life with the 22nd is like? Heaven. There’s no crazy bitches out here that follow you home, or sit in your car and wait for you, or leave you unwanted or unexpected gifts.

Actually, wait, I’ve just described [REDACTED]. Look, tomorrow I move into one of the most dangerous regions on this godforsaken hellhole and it’s still preferable to your thirty second reminders of that one time we kissed at Helena’s party.

We were seven years old Karen! I grew up. Perhaps you should learn to.

Don’t wait for me Karen. I don’t want you to. I don’t want any more letters either. I’m only replying to this one in the hope you’ll piss off and leave me alone.

Goodbye Karen.

Oooo, an unwelcome letter. A harsh reality for a former suitor…

Day 12, that’s when the original was written. I was never very happy with it, so I’m glad that I’m finally writing John’s reply. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 236: Just when I thought I knew what she’d say next…

She didn’t say anything. I was convinced she was going to scream and to cry, just like she had every other time we’d had this argument. We’d hurl insults back and forth at each other like hot potatoes. She’d throw something at me, a book or a plate or on one memorable occasion, a chair. I’d storm off and that’s how we survived. It’s what we did every time.

But not this time.

“You’re just like your mother.” That’s what got her so riled up. She hates being compared to her mother. A long, convoluted family history involving her parents split. All of the siblings had dealt with it a different way. The eldest had turned to the wine, the youngest dived into the military and she, the middle child, had chosen to run away. She’d gone to university on the other side of the country, then spent a few years the other side of the world. Where she’d met me.

The room fell silent after I made that comment, as if even the electrical hum realised what a mistake I had just made. But sh e said nothing. Not a damn word. She just turned around, grabbed her cup of tea,then walked out.

I’m still waiting for her to come back.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 213: Write for ten minutes about what is running through a husband-to-be’s head while his wife-to-be is walking down the aisle to the altar where he stands.

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Oh my god. This is actually happening. I’m actually getting married to Marissa Bates. She is right outside that door, it’s going to happen. She’s going to walk down this aisle with her dad who’s going to be glaring at me as he shuffles up leaning on that stick because he’s a war hero and he thinks I’m a waste of space because I’m just an accountant but he doesn’t realise I’m an accountant for Annalise McMannon’s crime syndicate and my job is just as dangerous.

Probably a good thing now that I think about it, I don’t think he’d be letting me marry her if he knew.

Holy shit, the door’s opening. Holy shit, I just thought holy shit in church. Wait, I did it again. Okay, concentrate, concentrate. It’s the wedding march.

She looks incredible. She convinced her mum to let her have the wedding dress. It’s so beautiful.

She’s so beautiful. That black hair that falls down to the small of her back, the understated jewellery, nothing gaudy or attention-seeking, just complimentary, enhancing. My god, she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

There he is, there he is glaring at me. Go away, you shuffly old man and let me stare at my very soon to be wife without being distracted by an angry old guy with a limp.

She’s here. He’s giving her away. She’s about to be my wife.

I’m never going to smile this hard again.

I wanted this one to read stream of consciousness as opposed to a regulated story. I hope it works?

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 189: You are looking down through the skylight as chefs prepare dinner for your ex-fiancées wedding.

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I poked my head up above the flat rooftop, my best meerkat impression. “It looks clear. Go, go, go!” Danny heaved himself up over the lip of the roof and rolled towards the nearest vent. “Okay, Xander, your turn. It’s clear, go on!” Xander didn’t move. Just stood shaking.

“I can’t.”

He thinks he can’t. I can’t deal with stuff like this, not after we’ve been planning this for months and here he is, afraid to go over a rooftop. “Get over there, you idiot.” I cuffed him round the back of the head and he yelped. A grown man, six foot and change and he yelps.

It got him moving though.

With one final check that the coast was clear, I pulled myself over and ran to the vent. “Okay Danny, what have we got? What’s the best way to do this?”

He pulled a roll of blueprints from his backpack, laying them out on the ground before us. The vent meant that we could raise our voices a little, as long as we kept an eye out for the security guards. He ummed and ahhed. “Well, we could…”

“Danny. You’ve had weeks.” I sighed and hung my head. “Weeks with those blueprints. What did you say to me when you got them? ‘Only need a couple of days’ or ‘It’ll be done in a week.’ Why don’t you know where we’re going?” I’d realised I was raising my voice at the end of my rant, so it died to an irritated hiss. “Tell me you’ve got something.”

He looked at me as if he were about to say something, then he lowered his eyes and started to mumble. “Well, there’s the vents, but that does run the risk of being noisy. There’s the skylight, but if there’s an event on then there’ll be chefs in the kitchen. Then there’s the stairwell but that’s probably going to be guarded.”

Xander shook his head. “No guards, nuh uh.”

“Well, that’s out then. Also, Xander’s gained some poundage so the ducts are out.” He ignored Xander’s spluttering. It was true, Xander had ballooned in the last few weeks.

“I guess we take the skylight then. Xander, watch for the guards. Maybe you can get that bit right.” Danny and I stole over to the skylight and peered down. Chefs ran around like ants, swarming over their sugary kingdom. “Goddammit, Danny! Did you not even check if there was an event?”

Now it was his turn to splutter. This was turning into far too much work just to get into Hintzall’s office. I looked around to see Xander jogging over to us. “That is not looking for guards, you moron!”

“Well, there aren’t any guards but… Well… It’s worse.”

“What could be worse than guards?”

“Well… It’s Anna.”

He was right. It was worse than guards. It was the previous love of my life, also known as the bitch that broke my heart. “What’s she doing here?”

“Well, she was smoking a cigarette in a wedding dress. My guess would be, ak!” He was cut off as Danny’s hand slapped across his mouth. They both looked at me with terrified eyes.

I looked back through the skylight and actually paid attention this time. Hundreds of tiny pots of prawn. Venison dinner. Asparagus pasta for the vegetables!

She’d even got the goddamn cheesecake for dessert. “That’s my menu, you bitch!”

I looked at the other two, who were still staring at me as if I were about to explode. I wasn’t. I’d gone cold as a new plan went through my head. “Umm, Andy?” Xander asked. “What are we doing?”

I grinned evilly. “We’re going to get into Hintzall’s office, boys. By going through the front door.”

I’d teach her to leave me at the altar.

Ooooo, mixing two plots. Recipe for disaster. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 161: A conversation you regret never having

 

cold-snow-black-and-white-road.jpgI passed the man behind the counter two twenty pound notes and told him to keep the change. I wasn’t in the mood for any prolonged conversations, not today. He passed me the bottle of whiskey and the plastic glasses.

He gave me a pitying look. As if I needed his pity. Arsehole.

I slid the bottle into my satchel, along with two of the plastic cups. The rest, I abandoned in the nearest blue litter bin. The rain was starting, that fine drizzle where it didn’t matter if you were holding an umbrella, this rain was going to get you soaked. It didn’t matter to me anyway, I’d given up on umbrellas years ago. Far easier to just get wet.

The bus stop was waiting for me, sadly lacking a bus. I just wanted to get this over with, but the world seemed to be conspiring against me. This whole damn day was just… Ergh.

Oh no. It’s a charity gal. You know the ones, they’re in some kind of branded jacket holding out a clipboard. ‘Excuse me Sir, do you have a minute?’

What am I supposed to say, no? I’m clearly waiting for a bus with nothing better to do. My phone had stopped being able to play Candy Crush too, so I couldn’t even blatantly ignore her. ‘What?’ I asked gruffly. Hoping she’d get the hint.

She didn’t. ‘I’m from the local dogs home, I was just hoping that I could take a moment of your time?’

‘Well, you’ve got until my bus comes.’ Still not getting the hint. Come on girly, go badger somebody else.

‘So, sir, there are over 16000 dogs without homes in the UK. We’ve got at our centre more than 100 dogs that need a loving home. As you can imagine, this takes a lot of time, energy and food for the poor dogs. If you could give just £5 a month…’

The bus arrived, surreptitiously announcing its presence with a whoosh. I looked at the poor charity girl, shrugged my shoulders beneath my heavy coat, then wandered onto the bus. ‘Ticket for Abbey Street, please mate?’

The driver grunted, took my money and passed me my change. I’d always liked this kind of us driver, not one for chatting. I’d never liked conversation. My feelings are mine and nobody else needs to hear them.

I took my seat, just past the weirdo and the old biddy on her way to the shops. Watched the grey city go by under the grey sky. Boring, dull and grey. I hated this place. Especially when the weirdos come out. Like this guy on the bus, singing his head off, drunk at three in the afternoon. My stop couldn’t come fast enough.

I got steadily to my feet as the bus pulled up. The driver looked at me, threatening me with pain if I dared step across the line before the bus had stopped moving. Soundless, but very expressive. I just glared back at him. Sod him.

***

The sun was considering breaking through the grey sky as I wandered through the wrought iron gates. I knew exactly where I was going, even though I hadn’t been here for 363 days. First the fork to the right, then take the right at the crossroads. Grey marble waiting for me below the 12 foot skeleton of the tulip poplar.

‘Hello Sarah.’ I said, feeling my eyes moisten. I should have come here sooner. I knew it and so did she. Wherever she was.

I took a seat on the patch of green beneath the naked boughs, drawing the bottle from my satchel. I poured two glasses, sizeable ones. She’d never forgive me for ‘any of those sissy measures.’ I poured one on the ground, just in front of her headstone.

SARAH PHILLIPS
TAKEN FROM THIS WORLD TOO YOUNG BY FAR
“HAVE A DRINK ON ME”
12.08.1987 – 16.01.2015

I took it seriously. ‘There’s your drink, Sarah. Proper scotch, none of that cheap shit.’ I took a sip of my own, feeling the burn pass down my throat to my gullet.

‘I miss you Sarah. It’s only been a year and it’s just so grey. Everywhere. Even now, the only patch of colour is right here, next to your.. Next to you.’ Another sip, another burn. I’d always hated this stuff, but it was Sarah’s favourite. I pushed my hair out of my eyes as the sun finally broke through the heavy clouds. It was cold, winter sun, but sun nonetheless.

‘Sarah. I… I wanted to come before. I wanted to come to you before you died on that bloody road. I always wanted to tell you what you meant. About how sorry I was for that stupid fight.’ I took another thing out of the satchel. A small, velvet covered box.

‘Sarah, I was walking to your flat when your mum phoned. I had this bloody thing in my hand and had been rehearsing what I was going to say for hours. I know, I know. Just after a fight, best time to propose, right? But the fact that we fought told me what I needed to know.’ I sniffed. I’d been rehearsing this speech for months too, but nothing had ever worked. I knew that in the end I’d just have to do it off the cuff. My fingers brushed against my beard as I wiped away the tears. I’d always been clean-shaven before.

I poured us both another glass. ‘I was going to walk right in, tell you to stop being so bloody stupid and then ask you to marry me.’ I could feel the whisky around the edges of my mind now, definitely there but not causing any trouble yet. ‘I know, that would have been bloody stupid too, but at least then we’d be stupid together. That’s what I wanted.’ I sighed, popping the box open so that I could look at the band of white gold inside. A single diamond peeked back at me, staring into me like Neitzsche’s abyss.

‘Your mum was in bits. It took me ten minutes just to understand what she was saying.’ The tears were flowing freely now, I’d lost all motivation to stop them. The words were also coming easy. I didn’t need to rehearse this. This was raw. These words hurt.

‘I could tell. Your mum’s bloody unflappable, yet here she was. Calling me, for starters. She hated me. Yeah, I could tell.’ I sniffed at the thought of the burnt roast potatoes that always got ladled onto my plate. Little things, but proof enough for me. ‘Good thing I didn’t want to marry her. I wanted you.’

‘Sarah, I wanted you to make me the happiest man alive.’ I knocked the bottle over as a sob burst from my chest, heaving its way from my stomach. ‘I wanted you to stay with me.’ I collapsed against the headstone and let my tears hit the marble.

There would be no stopping them now.

***

I’d waited there for a while, scaring away the mourners who came to ask if I was alright. I quite clearly wasn’t alright, but there was nothing they could do about it. Not unless they were the Second Coming of Christ. The evening started coming in, reds and golds edging across the horizon. ‘You always loved winter. I remember the zombie snowmen. You said you’d seen it in a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon and you just had to do it yourself.’ I smiled at the memory. Even now, Sarah could make me feel better.

Eventually, I had to leave. The caretakers had come round making sure that everyone was out of the cemetery and had, politely, shooed me away. I gathered up the bits and got unsteadily to my feet. I should have come here months ago. But I actually felt lighter. Some of the weight had gone from my shoulders and it felt like spring was coming. For the first time in a year, I was seeing colour in the world.

***

Three Days Later

‘Hello Sir, welcome to the Dog’s Trust. I understand you’re here to see Max?’

I nodded and Charity Girl brought out a bundle of golden fluff. She set him on the floor and he raced towards me, sniffing and snorting as his head bounded from side to side. His deep brown eye stared into mine and I knew it right then.

I wasn’t leaving here empty handed. It was time to try and live again.

So, that’s today’s episode. Another longer one, but I hope you all enjoy it. Personally, I see this as either an opening, some backstory, or possibly a flashback. Either way, I feel like there’s more to this story. 

Besides, who doesn’t want to write about an adorable bundle of fluff with one eye called Max? 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 134: A guilty pleasure

 

Keys to your own home

Keys and lock the door on the background of solar garden

‘Darling? Are you at home?’ I called, sliding my keys out of the lock as I opened the door. I paused for a moment, waiting for any kind of response.

Nothing.

I slipped through the door, kicking my boots off my feet. If I was quick, I could get one in before Carol got home. I’m sure she said she was working late tonight, so she shouldn’t be home until around seven.

More than enough time.

I closed the door behind me, quietly. Carol’s mum lived just upstairs (Not my choosing. I want that on the record.) and I didn’t want her snitching on me to Carol. I had enough trouble after the anniversary last week when she’d spotted me sneaking out to get her a present the night before. Honestly, if you ever get the opportunity to live close to your mother in law, don’t. Just don’t. God only knows how she was going to react to this.

So, sneaky beaky was the name of the game. Keys deposited discreetly on the hook, watching my footing in case I knocked more of the ornaments everywhere. I broke a snowglobe the other week and Carol didn’t talk to me for three days. I should probably be avoiding this stuff, but I just need to do it. It’s been so long since I got my fix.

At least I’m onto carpet now. No more squeaking floorboards to carry through the flat. Drop my bag onto the rug, that’s on the carpet because just one carpet isn’t enough, no, you’ve got to have a rug because it will match the mantle and the couch and four hundred other knick knacks and souvenirs in the tiny flat we share.

I switched off. Started nodding and backing away.

So, got to the couch, and reached for the drawer below the television. My prize was in there. I know it’s bad, I know I shouldn’t do it. But I leaned back, relaxed, lifted my hand…

And turned on the television. If I was lucky, I could get one episode of Desperate Housewives in before Carol finishes. Then pretend I hadn’t later. I think I’m onto a winner.

Secrets are dreadful, dreadful things. And cheating on your significant other with the next episode of the series… There’s a special circle of hell for you people. I’ll see you there though, because I’m dreadful for it. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 125: The Art of Love

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‘Son, there’s only one thing to know about the art of love. That’s how to make her, or him, I ain’t gonna judge, think it was their idea.

You see, you want to go fishing for the weekend. How do you think you go about that? You think you turn to your partner and say ‘I wanna go fishing?’ Nope. Absolutely not. Say that to your mum and she’s gonna come up with fifty thousand reasons you’ve got to stay home. Favourite one I ever heard? ‘You can’t go fishing, you daft old coot, Norma’s husband’s brother is in town and we agreed three years ago that the next time he was in town we were all going to go out for dinner?

I knew nothing of the sort. But it just goes to show why you can’t be direct. You say, ‘Darling, what do we have planned this weekend?’ and she’ll tell you her plans. So, you tell her ‘It’ll be great for you to spend some time with the girls, get some cocktails, have a proper catch-up.’ See, at this point, she’s thinking that it would be fun, it would be great to have some time with the girls. But then… ‘What will you do? I thought we were all going to go out?’ This is the crux, the point of convergence. Fuck this up and kiss goodbye to those trout.

‘I don’t know, I figured I’d just cast about all weekend. Find something to do while I’m bobbing about.’ See what I did with that? Where I used fishing related terms in what seemed like a normal statement? She’s got cast and bobbing in her head and then…

‘Perhaps you and the guys could go fishing? Take the boat up to Lake McElderry?’ At which point you thank her profusely for the idea and ask her if she’s sure. Then, you’re sorted. You and the lads head up to the lake, get some trout, get some beers and have a whale of a time away from the women.

That’s the art of love.’

Peter paused for a while. ‘That’s fair enough but Dad…’

‘Yes Pal?’ His father replied, leaning back in his chair and raising the pipe to his lips.

‘That doesn’t tell me how to ask Charlene out.’

Dad paused, a whisper of smoke coiling from the bowl. ‘I may have got a little of track there… Where did I start?’

‘Well, your exact words – twenty minutes ago,’ Peter said the last part in a hushed voice. Dad had a tendency to take things as an affront, ‘Were “You should just walk up to her and say…” Then you started talking about you and Mum.’ Peter shrugged. ‘Maybe I should ask her…’

The panic rushed into Dad’s eyes as he thought of his wife giving relationship advice. He spluttered his way into a new story. ‘So, you walk up to her and you say…’

The Idiot in Tin Foil