Jitters

I am writing an online test today. That is what was scheduled to start five minutes ago.

I have just shot a quick e-mail to the agency managing the tests. Should I mention that these tests are a repeat of a test done in late October in the previous decade? My enthusiasm for this activity wanes with each passing minute. Next, my patience will begin to erode.

In the meantime, I have received three e-mails. One is advertising cheap accommodation near an airport I travelled to 18 months ago. As if I would go back there…

Oh, look, a new e-mail from the agency telling me that the tests for translation in the direction opposite to the one I travel in have been received. Let’s wait a little longer, she says, for the test that I am supposed to be doing. I don’t have all day, I think. And then I remember that there is always that expression beginning with F.

I still plan to have T-shirts, or tea towels emblazoned that on it, by the way. Ah, but what about my reputation? The test people have got another 15 minutes of my time. And after that’s done, forget it.

I have other things to do. Who knew?

©2019 Allison Wright
[199 words]

A lesson in arithmetic

My builder father was very good at mental arithmetic. He played games with us as kids. How many years’ difference between his year of birth and my mother’s? 4. How old would I be in the year 2000? 36. And how old would he be? 65. And how old would I be in 2020. I said 56, and I was right. And then I said he would be 85. He said oh no, he would not be alive by then. He was right.

©2019 Allison Wright
[79 words]

 

Biscuit

Like a Marie biscuit divided in half. That’s how I described the moon to myself the other night.

Even though it was the big half, I did think my little phrase bordered on the maudlin.

And then I became so, as I imagined a world without Marie biscuits, and only the big half of one to look at every now and then when the night sky is bright.

©2019 Allison Wright
[89 words]

 

Blank, but moving

I am writing an article. Not for me, but ghostlike, behind the scenes.

The Intro. That is where I start.

Some, I have heard — the other ghosts — bash out the middle bits quick-sticks, then tag an intro and a conclusion on the ends, like slices of bread around bacon, lettuce and tomato.

BLT ghosts. They are silent like me, for the most part.

I caught myself staring, half blankly, not at the screen, but at the glowy space between my head and the white wall, some one metre distant.

The small voice – the one in charge of the time and its alarm, neatly dividing what remains of my deadline into quarter-hours, as if oranges, starts thrumming, sotto voce, then booms, crescendo.

You must go on. Continue, stop dreaming.

I am not, replies the Thought. Wait.

And then they come, the keys on the keyboard stutter out aloud, like the rhythm of a fado from my long-ago heart: the perfect words. They’re here.

They stand astonished on the page, and look at their new neighbours, then settle into the space allotted. They agree: We like it here, they say. We’re staying.

©2019 Allison Wright
[192 words]

P.S. In this fado, Barco Negro, sung by the famous Amália Rodrigues, there is a rhythmical, short sequence of notes that helped lend form to the half-sentence that started out life as a blank stare.

Mrs Rouault’s kitchen window

The image of a painting by Sally Swain was hard to track down online, but no matter. In the end, I photographed the image I have.

I have often thought of the wife of Fauvist artist Georges Henri Rouault and my sister while washing the dishes. Let the record reflect that her name was Marthe Le Sidaner. My new abode has the perfect window when engaged in this activity.

The colours are frequently as bright. The colours are either in the glorious sunrises or in my imagination. Sometimes it is a touch of both.

Artist Sally Swain published a book called Great Housewives of Art. The image here is of the greeting card my sister sent me thirty years ago, full of the news of her adventures as a young woman in London.

Alternative caption: Allison does not wash windows, but thinks about it while washing the dishes.

Oh, the dishes I have washed in my life! Oh, the colours I have had the enormous privilege of seeing! The ink of the letter has faded; the colours in my mind’s eye do not.

©2019 Allison Wright
[172 words]

Little known Beckettian facts

The sum of all my yesterdays is all I have. No, that is not true, for they do not form a solidified whole. The patchwork of yesterdays flaps about in the wind.

There is always a new song. Old sounds, altered lyrics. Same rhythm, syncopated rhythm, none. The silence stretches. It is fluid like the yesterdays that come in waves.

I wait, watching for yesterday’s new narrative. Where is it? It is here. Or soon is. It will come to shore. A distant drum. The beat says yes, the voice will tell a story.

When? There is something in the wind.

©2019 Allison Wright
[104 words. I am out of practice. That was longer than 5+5 minutes.]

Pictures

So many pictures, all in frames. I am good at drilling holes in walls. I am. My father taught me well, you see. Plus I have had practice. Plenty of it. All the places I have lived.

I won’t be exercising this talent this time, though. I am letting go. Such things are burned already into my soul. I have kept one. My sister knows which one. She and I took turns with the handle of that press.

Her first wood engraving. Nothing else matters. I have an easel on which to display it – as if it were something special. It is. I’ll clean up the easel and the picture this week.

©2019 Allison Wright
[109 words.]