Monthly Archives: July 2014

Turn and turnabout

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It always came when I least expected…

… I have trouble controlling my random thoughts and the small irritations being a people watcher bring out in me. He was just driving his car, an ordinary day for an ordinary bloke; until he passed me outside the supermarket. He was doing that ‘look how macho I am’ thing that some men do in cars. You know, how they slump slightly in the seat, drive with virtually their whole arm resting across the top of the steering wheel?

Unbidden, my mind muttered, ‘Macho my arse, he actually looks like a vaguely grumpy gnome’.

Wham. Next thing the car is through the front of the neighbouring florist shop, glass and metalwork flying and a distinctly shaken gnome ends up sitting in the dead centre of a floral tribute to a ‘much adored nan’.

Me? I’m sidling gently backward through the gathering onlookers and estimating how long before I can start running. There’s a downside to these occurrences. Well, yes, of course, the incidents are problematic enough, but some mischievous god decided the recipients of my random thought magics are instantly aware of who was responsible. Have you ever had a heated debate about magic and blame with a purple parrot during a church wedding? No? Then don’t even begin to think you know what this might be like for me.

(Before you ask, the mother of the bride had worn the most ridiculously overblown millinery confection I had ever seen in my life and guess what I thought it made her look like…?)

Want some more examples of the joys I endure? Aged three, playing with a small friend, she got a fit of the giggles and snorted. Apparently she was thought to be happy after they re-homed her at a local petting zoo. Annoyed by the frequency of having to hoover cat hair in my apartment, I snarled something about the ease of hairless creatures. Tigger and Boots got their fur back eventually but they moved in with the family two streets over and ignored me pointedly if I passed them.

I could go on… I have tried everything I can think of to control the magic. It doesn’t run in the family, although there were always vague mutterings about Aunt Gracie. I think it had more to do with her penchant for sharp mens suits and her ‘special’ friend, the lusciously loopy Linda. Anyway, no family members to turn to, and the internet is so full of pseudo witches and whatnot that it would take me a few reincarnations to sift through to the people who could help me. So I placed an ad in a national paper:

Wanted – Practitioner to aid in the control of random thoughts and strange transformations.

I admit, I didn’t expect any replies, and I wasn’t disappointed. A month passed and no-one had responded. Then Nigel walked into me. Not into my life, or my workplace; literally into me. I was wandering along, nose in a book I’d just bought, reading that tantalising blurb on the back, and Nigel walked slap into me. I had a black eye for a couple of weeks and his crown fell out. He was reading too and we smacked each other in the face with the books. I swore, mentally called him something unmentionable and slapped a redundant hand over my mouth, waiting for him to turn into said unmentionable.

He didn’t! For a split second he shimmered, and then he was just Nigel. The rest, as they say, is history. Nigel’s not a looker. He’s ordinary and I adore him. You know they say that everyone has a partner out there somewhere? He’s it. He is everything I am not and together we negate what we can do. He has the same magic as me, but his cancels mine, and vice versa. I admit, occasionally, we agree on a transformation and ‘forget’ to cancel it out, but for the most part we have been given a gift… being normal.

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Alice and the Cat

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I feel I ought to say, for both these pieces, the prompt has come from the Accentuate Writers forum and consists of the first two sentences, those separated from where my tale takes over. New blood is always welcome there so try out the forum if you are looking for help, advice and all things writerly 🙂

A cloud of dust trailed the old pickup as it sped toward the farmhouse. Alice watched with mild curiosity, her grip on the shotgun tightening,

…but her attention was actually focused on a patch of earth twenty feet from the back porch. Her mind noted the truck hurtle by and swing into the Brown’s weed-strewn lot, Jeff slamming the rusty car door and heading into the house with a readily recognisable brown paper bag in hand.

The dust settled, no further sound issued from the Brown house, and Alice let her body regain balance, her faded blue eyes sweeping back and forth across the yard, waiting, the epitome of patience, the shotgun now resting gently on the window frame. It would come; it had every damn day for a week, but this time she was ready for it.

The scrubby grass by the fence rustled, stilled, parted, and allowed admittance to a rangy, ginger tomcat. He paused, and Alice could have sworn it searched her out, looked her right in the eye, flicked its tail and strolled right over to the patch of dirt. The second it put a paw out, aiming to claw at the ground, Alice let fly.

The report deafened her and forced her back in her chair, but she had many years of hunting behind her and made it back to the window in the twinkle of an eye. The cat was gone and a small crater remained close to the debated patch of earth. Alice knew it was too much to hope that she’d hit the cat; darn thing had a few lives left in it, and it was smart, but maybe she’d done enough to scare it off for good.

‘What under God’s blue sky are you doing, woman?’

Art shuffled in and Alice gave a mental shake of her head. He’d been pretty as a picture, seemed like only yesterday, but he’d let himself go in the three years of their marriage; maybe too far? She brought her attention back to the gun and the window as Art peered out, noting the new excavations.

‘The cat was back’
‘And you shot it? Jesus Christ, Ali, you’ll have the sheriff out here!’
‘So what? I have every right to shoot vermin in my back yard don’t I?

Art shook his head, giving her that disapproving look she was seeing far too often; the look that told her he’d decided he was the alpha male and she was a dimwit who needed his constant orders to live her life straight. He wandered into the yard and she watched him approach the disturbed ground, scuffing at it with the toe of his boot. He paused, cast a slightly puzzled look back at the window and Alice felt her stomach clench, her body tense, already preparing for the inevitable, absently reloading.

Art bent, sieved through the dirt with his stubby, nicotine-stained fingers, fingers that no longer reached for her to make her sing, and came back upright rolling something white between finger and thumb.

“Something here, Ali. You musta hit that cat, girl, cos this sure looks like bone.’

Alice swore, leveled the shotgun and fired as Jeff Brown exited his house and gunned the pickup. He left in a cloud of dust, sound and vision obscured, oblivious to Alice fetching a shovel; the same one she’d used to bury her first husband. Damn cat would be back for sure. Time for a patio, she chuckled and set to her task.

High Flying

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It’s amazing, the things we’ll do to get ahead in life. Before the me you know, the me who drives high-end cars and eats at fine restaurants, I was…

…just Mum. Don’t you loathe that phrase? ‘What do you do? Oh, I’m just a mum’. Like giving life to the next generation means nothing. Yeah, yeah, I know it can all be done in a lab these days, but that has its drawbacks right? Creating life is a personal thing, something supremely beautiful between two people. A test tube and a syringe don’t exactly hit the same level of awesome, am I right? Not to mention procreation can be kinda fun. Come on, I saw you grin slightly there.

In a way, that’s how I got here; the whole fancy cars and restaurants shebang. Sex. Well, a bit more than sex, but that is what it all boils down to, in the end; doesn’t everything? No sex, no people, no unique humanity. You have no idea how much people will pay for that. Actually, you might. If that’s the case, I’ll make sure you get my card before we leave the bar.

Can I get you a refill? Same again? Why am I here? Long story short, even millionaires need a timeout. It’s nice, all the money and fancy stuff, but my life isn’t my own any more. There are legions of people out there right now who are frantically connecting to each other in a desperate attempt to locate me. Don’t worry, they aren’t going to come hurtling through the door any time soon. I’ve ditched all the things with locators, all the gadgets, and I changed clothes too, wearing stuff I bought an hour ago, cash. You think I am paranoid? Believe me, I know from bitter experience; last month they found me via a bug sewn into the elastic in my underwear.

It’s ok to laugh, I did. I even gave the person who thought of it a raise; you gotta acknowledge that kind of ingenuity and dedication to the boss. Maybe they’ll get it one day, stop trying to find me when I take a day off, but I’m not sure I want that, not in my heart of hearts. That means they don’t care anymore and I like that they do.

But this is good, talking to people who have no idea who I am and what I have done. What’s better is that you, people like you, that I meet on my off days, you are all genuinely interested to hear what I do, how I made my money. Your fresh ears often give me fresh eyes, notions I wouldn’t consider when I’m cooped up on the top floor with a constant flood of signatures to add and figures to study. I loathe math but they insist I have to read those graphs and tables. Seriously? Pie-charts just make me hungry.

So what do I do? I make babies. Not me personally, you understand. I’d be a shapeless blob rocking in a psych ward if I’d given birth to a half million children. Yep, that many; each and every one loved and wanted and born from the union of a man and a woman. You thought I was gonna get all scientist on your ass right? Nope, not my style at all. I’ve always been a people person and my company is run on that principle – people first, now and always.

There are groups out there who claim I run, at base level, a modern cathouse, but it’s not that way, I assure you. You see, one day, a decade ago, I was sitting on my front porch, chatting to a girlfriend. She was bemoaning her lot. She wanted kids, couldn’t find the right man to have them with and was panicking in time to the ever louder tick of her biological clock. I happened to know a rather suitable young man. She would never have married him, nor he her, but as sexual partners they were highly compatible. I arranged a meeting between them and proposed they come to an arrangement. They met regularly for sex – separately, they both reported that their times together were explosive, mainly due to there being no constraints of love or relationship complications – until my friend fell pregnant. They drew up a contract which made it clear he was in no way financially responsible for the child and they went on with their solo lives very happily.

Cutting out all the boring stuff between that day and here, I turned it into a business. People come to me when they want children but no relationship. We match people by whatever criteria the pair want – and we have an increasing number of men who come asking for a child without the need to be in a male/female dynamic – and then send them off to have whatever kind of sex they want, no strings, until the pregnancy happens. Contracts are exchanged and away they go, satisfied, often on all fronts, backs, sides… Well, you catch my drift. It’s an extremely lucrative business.

Me? Yes, I did, a couple of times in the early days. I’ve decided on one more time, before the clock hits zero. I want to keep this one, the child of the business I built on love and sex. I’m looking for someone, you know… on my days off