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.

Marry me, Mrs Johnson

“Will you marry, me, Mrs Johnson? ” Ted asked, putting two milk bottles through the kitchen window, always ajar, one gold top and one silver top. He asked this every morning as he delivered the milk. My mother gave him a tired little smile and said what she always said “Oh Ted, I’m already married, you know.” Ted nodded at the customary  answer and walked away with his head down, back to the milk van, his sadness palpable.  I think he really wanted a wife. Ted was a “mongol” as we called a person with Down’s syndrome in the sixties. At eight,  I wondered at the word. He lived alone with his mother and we never knew who his dad was, or cared. Ted was as much part of the village as the vast oak tree on the green, Mrs Hurley in the village shop, or the village vicar. He was always immaculately dressed in a clean, pressed checked shirt, a home knitted grey tank top and twill trousers. He had a job on the milk-round and everyone knew him. He commanded his own respect and only got angry if anyone was unkind to him. Ted and his mother taught me what Care in the Community should be.

Official portrait

When the company moved offices, there was the matter of the Official Portrait of His Excellency — to consider. The secretaries to the CEO and CFO said to the secretary to the Company Secretary of a blue chip company that hers should be the office to accept the honour of hanging the Official Portrait on its wall.

Of course, the Sec. to the Co. Sec. had to accept such an honour. Not to do so would be unpatriotic. It was noted, however, that she did position her desk with her back to the Official Portrait. At least there was one beautiful face visitors could look at when they entered her office.

©2019 Allison Wright
[113 words.]

Volunteering, Strong on Your Feet

Volunteering takes many forms here in Australia. There are those who volunteer as firies (fire control officers), ambulance officers, in op shops (charity shops), teaching numeracy and literacy, and so on and so forth. At my age I don’t have the horsepower to join the volunteer fire brigade or volunteer sea rescue.

For quite a long time I volunteered on an adult literacy program. Nowadays, I volunteer with a group that works with the Senior Citizens in the community. We hold regular classes in which we teach the Seniors a series of exercises to strengthen their balance and so prevent falls.

As a trained Yoga teacher, I find this rewarding – although the exercises are not yoga asana, they make sense when viewed as appropriate for older people – some in their 90s. The program is put together by two physiotherapists who keep a close eye on the instructors.

[148 words]

Deus é grande

Outside the kitchen door there was a concrete hard standing with a depression in it running the length of the courtyard towards a metal door in the wall shielding the view of the back garden from the road.

It was hot, so we five kids begged my mother to let us dam up the gap between the bottom of the door with towels, and run the hose pipe so that the depression filled with water for us to play in.

She agreed, so there we were, my sister and I, our two little boy cousins and the girl from across the road, all sitting naked except for our underwear on the concrete, splashing each other with a pitiful amount of water.

There was a lady at the school gate telling people about Heaven, where our souls go when we die. That is what we were talking about. She said that we had to repent of our sins, whatever that meant. Then my friend from across the road said it was that if you had been bad you had to say you were sorry. We had to be good to get into Heaven. We all looked up at the bright blue sky and wondered if you could get to Heaven if you had been mainly good and only a little bit bad.

We didn’t know. I laughed at my sister, because she couldn’t say “damnation” properly. She laughed at me because I did not know what it meant. We decided that God must be very big. Then, our cousins splashed us, and tickled us. That is all.

©2019 Allison Wright
[268 words – one extra minute because I made so many typos today: forgive me.]

Office

She was on the phone when Andrea walked in. Cath had her feet crossed at the ankles, resting on an old manilla folder on top of one corner of her enormous desk. Her ankle-high Continental-style leather boots were scuffed at the heel, and the soles were somewhat worn, but still held faint traces of chic.

Black tapered trousers, red and white flecked jacket, white shirt, and fancy wrist watch. This was Cath faking it until she made it. Not that she wasn’t doing too badly on the making it part, but she was ambitious.

She motioned to Andrea to turn around so that she could see how Bert had cut her hair. Andrea obliged.

“It’s a war zone around here. Operations just don’t get it. But you’re looking great, my love. Thanks for the burger, by the way”. She smiled as she took her first bite.

©2019 Allison Wright
[145 words]

Scouring

I watered the garden while thinking about this, then came inside and wrote it. So, not five minutes’ worth, exactly.

Cath was at the sink, cleaning the pot. Her shoulders were hunched, Every now and then she dabbed the steel wool in the plastic container full of scouring powder. Scrubbing, scrubbing. God only knows why. The pot wasn’t burnt or anything. No. It has to be perfect, as always, shining as if it were new.

The old stainless steel pressure cooker was used for almost everything. Now she was scrubbing the outside. And now the lid.

She ignored Andrea who had walked into the kitchen, tossed her bag on the kitchen table, and said “Hi, honey, I’m home”, by way of humour. Cath seemed intent on not turning around.

Then Andrea saw. She was crying. Jaw clenched, red cheeked. Tears streaming down her cheeks. That’s when she sniffed. Andrea came closer, and put her hand on her shoulder. Cath whipped around, eyes huge and angry, “What?!”

“I was about to ask you the same thing”, said Andrea.

“It’s Len. He’s dead. Bert told me when I saw him at the salon today.”

©2019 Allison Wright
[192 words. Writing: 7 minutes; editing 3 minutes]