Nocturnal Creatures

I was always a nocturnal creature. I would sneak out of my bedroom late at night to explore. I especially loved the moonlight. The way it shone across the trees, casting odd shapes and shadows, replacing all colour with blacks and greys. I remember the first time I saw an owl, wings outstretched, swooping silently on its prey, claws grabbing hold. I watched in awe as it disappeared from sight. The second time I followed.

 

Published on http://www.paragraphplanet.com May 2017

Memories

Do you remember our hotel? How you always insisted on room service? How we waited until dusk before strolling hand in hand along the deserted beach? How you wore that silly hat?
Well, I remember rushing to your side when you collapsed, sitting by your hospital bed — meeting your wife.

 

Published on https://fiftywordstories.com  Nov. 2015

 

 

Twenty Minutes

I have a twenty minute window. Snapping on a pair of gloves I watch the security guard unlock the gate and head down the street for a fag. With military precision I’m inside the yard systematically rummaging through sticky, unwanted objects until my phone vibrates and I have to withdraw. By the time he rounds the corner I’m back across the street with only seconds to spare, enough food in my bags for the week.

 

 

First published on http://www.paragraphplanet.com April 2017

Life Can Be Stranger Than Fiction

So far, this year’s been extremely difficult. My husband’s had Septicaemia, an e.coli infection, two eye operations and a torn retina — and it’s only the beginning of May. It all started to get on top of me. I could feel myself spiralling into depression. I’ve suffered from it on and off for years and know the signs. However, over time I’ve devised my own coping mechanisms, one of which is walking.

So last Sundays that’s what I did — three miles there, three miles back. While walking, I separated the fucked-up thoughts and problems from the ones I can actually do something about. The main worry was my husband would lose his sight in one eye. We still don’t know for sure, only time will tell.

Anyway, I found myself in an empty art gallery that was between exhibitions. Huh, I thought, someone’s taking the piss. I’m worrying about my husband’s sight and I end up somewhere where there’s nothing to see! I walked to the next gallery, only to discover it was an exhibition about the retina.

Eyes were everywhere. A resin piece containing images of eyes dangled from the ceiling inviting the viewer to touch and an image of the artist’s own retina was projected onto a wall. It made me realise how intricate the organ is. There was also a large collage made up of eyes. The exhibition led me to consider how people get on with their lives even after losing their sight. It felt as if someone was trying to tell me something.

I left the gallery and popped into Oxfam. After choosing a couple of books, I took them to the till. The young woman serving was partially sighted and had to hold the books up close to her face to read the prices. I realised then, no matter what happens, you just have to play the cards you’re dealt.

A week later my husband bumped into an old work colleague. He told him about his eye troubles and it transpired this friend was married to the artist whose work I’d seen. My husband was offered the chance to go along to have his eye photographed and added to the display.

How’s that for a coincidence?

With Hindsight…

With hindsight, I should have mentioned that my 4am story in The Infernal Clock is based on an actual event.

A few years ago, following several operations, my husband’s stomach split open and his intestines fell out while he was recuperating at home. Dehiscence, they called it.

I had to hold them in with my hand while I called an ambulance. Intestines are very pink when they’re attached to the body. They’re not at all slimy, as you might imagine.

Before they could be put back, his intestines had to be pulled out and cleaned to avoid infection. He always says they didn’t put them back in the right order.

All true.

Although the cat didn’t get involved!

Warning: May Contain Swearing

First Things First

One thing you need to know about me is that I swear. Not every other word — I’m not that bad. Usually I swear out of frustration, and occasionally out of anger. Let’s face it, the current political climate is provocation enough.

I really don’t understand people’s objection to it. Having worked in a variety of occupations it seems fairly common place. Walk any High Street and you’ll hear plenty.

There’s even a report I could cite suggesting the larger a person’s vocabulary the more likely they are to use profanity. So if you’re intending to follow me consider yourself warned.

Now, where should I start?

OK, I’ve been married forever and we have two sons, both still living at home. Over time I’ve had several jobs; trainee Draughtsman, Cartographer, Dark Room assistant, Paste-up Artist. I even worked for myself for a while. But with two small children, and a husband working seven days a week, it just wasn’t viable.

That’s when I stumbled into the most boring job of my life — Stock Control. Believe me, after a couple of years I couldn’t give a rat’s arse how much they had in stock. But it paid the bills.

One good thing to come out of the job, however,  was meeting my friend, Tina. She wanted someone to accompany her to Creative Writing classes. As it turned out, the class was part of an Access Course and a year later we were both applying for a place at University.

The course was a wonderful way to ease back into academia. That said, it wasn’t easy. The course involved a lot of hard work, including giving up two evenings a week for the classes, not to mention finding time to complete the homework, all while holding down a job and attending to a family.

The job soon went when I managed to dislocate and break my arm cleaning the kitchen floor. While off sick, they offered me redundancy and I took it, intending to leave anyway as soon as I started University. I’ve never regretted my decision.

Changing My Mind

During the first year of the Access Course I studied two subjects, English Literature and Creative Writing, whereas the second year only required me to take one. Which was just as well, as Fine Art was more work than the other two put together!

When it came to applying through UCAS I added it to the list as an afterthought, originally intending to apply for English Literature related degrees.

But as time passed my love of Art was rekindled and by the time I reached the interview stage it was the only subject I wanted to study. But my portfolio was so small, I was worried it wasn’t enough. Luckily, they offered me a place there and then. I was so happy. I cried for hours.

Although I wanted to study Fine Art, I still wanted to write and found Twitter a good place to find out where to submit work. I started writing Flash Fiction, entering weekly competitions while carrying on with the Access Course. Last year was probably my most productive writing year to date. In actual fact, I wrote more words for Fine Art than the other two subjects combined.

That Tricky Question

There’s a whole lot more to Fine Art than, ‘splashing a bit of paint on a canvas,’ as someone once suggested. Which brings me to that tricky question — what exactly is Fine Art? It’s the first thing people ask when they find out the subject I’m studying. So, here goes…

Fine Art is the engine driving society forwards, it’s always a couple of paces ahead. It’s where artists’ ‘think outside the box’ — that blue-sky thinking so desperately needed.

It’s the thing people look at and say, ‘ You call that art?’ because it’s unfamiliar, even though the idea’s often absorbed into culture without a second thought.

Fine Art asks questions some people would rather not answer. It points out the absurdities and injustices of life.

It is not restricted in form, nor material, and the fact it has no boundaries is what makes it so hard to describe.

Fine Art is an experience. It leaves an impression.

If it can be imagined it can exist, if only as a concept — we have Duchamp to thank for that.