If you are still around, I have changed my blog site from tammymkelly to tammyiswriting.wordpress.com. Just in case y’all are interested in still following each others writing.
Hope all are well!
If you are still around, I have changed my blog site from tammymkelly to tammyiswriting.wordpress.com. Just in case y’all are interested in still following each others writing.
Hope all are well!
Story continues from part 5.
Tuesday, 25th October 2011
Nate was alone, standing on the footpath outside of his apartment building, confused and unsure of himself or of the future.
He slowly walked up the three flights of stairs. His confusion was mostly caused by feelings he had never felt before and didn’t know the right names of. Not knowing what to call these strange new feelings was bothering him far more at the moment, than what these feeling might mean.
Deep down in the being he was sure he had made the biggest fool of himself, and screwed up his one and only chance of true happiness. The perfectly messed up ending to a truly crappy day.
Falling out of bed, orange juice on the cereal, coffee in the office shirt, black out, cancer, and now this, the date from hell.
Maybe he would be in luck, maybe Glen would be asleep and he could just sneak in and…
“Nate! Your back!” Glen chirped.
Nate shrugged and slumped down in the couch, there was no way he was getting out of this.
“So… how did the date go?”
“Worst date ever.” Nate mumbled.
Glen frowned. “Oh really? I’ve told you about that guy whose aunt pulled a knife on me?”
Nate nodded. “Okay, maybe not ever. But MY worst date.”
“Nate, don’t take this the wrong way, but you haven’t got a clue what your talking about. Tell me everything.”
The last thing Nate wanted to do.
“Besides,” continued Glen, “I did lend you my ‘lucky’ shirt.”
“Well… it all started with your so called lucky shirt didn’t it.”
Glen frowned and raised one eyebrow.
“We meet at the coffee shop. Turns out his name isn’t Brian. So I made a fool out of myself there.”
Glen interrupted. “So what is his name?”
“Er, Lex. Anyway, so I kept getting his name wrong, after about the tenth time he corrected me. So embarrassing. But then he said he didn’t like my shirt. He said something about ‘liking what I had been wearing earlier’.”
Glen smirked. “When you where shirtless?”
Nate frowned. “Oh… that makes a lot more sense.”
Glen shock his head and got up and went into the kitchen and turned on the kettle. “So then what happened?” He shouted out.
“Well. We ordered coffee. He ordered decaf with soy.”
Glen stuck his head out of the kitchen. “Doesn’t mean he’s a stinky hippy.”
Nate nodded and went into the kitchen so he could continue this conversation without having to shout. “Yeah. Well, turns out he’s lactose intolerant. And the waiter got the order wrong. He downed half his coffee before he noticed it was milk and then he ran to the bathroom. I was left sitting there for 25 minutes waiting for him to return.”
Glen made two large mugs of black tee, one in his bright blue mug, the other in Nate’s pink mug. “Sounds like Lex might have had a crap date too then.”
Nate sipped his tea. “That’s the point. The first time we meet and he gets sick. Why would he come back for more?”
Glen lead the way back to the lounge room. “So… this was at what 8? 8:30? Its now 1:30. What have you been up to for the last five hours? Just moping around and feeling sorry for yourself?”
Nate shock his head. “No, Lex walked me to the front door. We’ve been talking and had more coffee and food and walked around a lot.”
“I’ve had relationships that didn’t last that long.”
Nate sipped at his tea slowly.
“So what else did you do wrong?”
Nate frowned. “Criticised his religion, and a few of his other stupid beliefs, his politics, you know… all the subjects to avoid.”
“But he kept talking to you?”
“And he walked you home?”
“The there is only one question that really matters.”
Nate frowned, a little worried about what this question could be.
Glen smiled. “Was the kiss any good?”
Nate blushed deeply at this and just nodded.
Glen smiled more. “Going to see him again?”
Nate shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Glen smirked, a strange little smirk that made him look more like an elf. “Can I have his number then?”
This caught Nate by surprise. “What, no way. No.” He almost yelled. The conviction in his voice surprised himself.
Glen nodded and got up. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. ‘Worst date ever’ my arse! I’m going to bed.” And with that Glen headed off to his room.
Nate sat on the couch and finished his tea. He was still confused.
Nothing had gone right today. He was sure as he sat there in the darkened room and tallied up all the things that had happened.
Fear and anxiety kept rattling around in his head, but so did these new feeling. He still wasn’t sure what they were called. But he had narrowed it down to two labels. It was either love or lust. That just confused him more.
He got up, put his empty tea mug in the sink and fell into his unmade bed.
It had been a bad day. One of the worst. He was sure. Hadn’t it?
Part of my creative writing class. Weekly Assignment 7.
As published on my writing blog.
Last Wednesday as everyone was leaving the house for the day, I mentioned to my 9 year old that I’d be late home since I was going to a writing class.
With his current focus on perfecting round o’s and soldier-straight t’s, to earn his “pen licence”, he stopped abruptly in his tracks and said to me “As if, Mum, you can already write”.
He was right of course. I can write – although my handwriting has become more illegible with age – but my choice to improve my creative writing is a whole ‘nother story.
His misinterpretation tickled my fancy and reminded me of one of the reasons I like to write… the magical combination of words on a page, mixing up their multiple meanings, playing with known phrases, rhyming words, alliteration, and figures of speech, well for me, it’s like an art.
So as I drove to work that morning, my brain started to tick over as it often does…
No-one in their right mind would be so engrossed in the English language as I was, I thought to myself as I turned right.
Right at that moment, a huge jacked-up-ute pulled out in front and smashed into the right-hand side of my car. Shaken up, and rightly so, I jumped right on the horn.
We both parked and he came right over and asked if I was alright. I wasn’t and neither was my car, so getting right to the point I told him exactly what I thought – that I had right of way, he was at fault, and that right now I felt like crying.
I asked him to write down his name and phone number, but right or wrong, he wouldn’t accept that the accident was his fault or that the damage was worth reporting. “She’ll be right, love” he said with outright disdain, and laughed it off like we were best of friends having a right old time together.
Just then, in a right-royal state, I spotted a policeman walking into a newsagent right over the road. I sprinted across four lanes of traffic, followed him right through the door and grabbed him by the shoulder. “I’ll be right with you” he muttered as he paid for his newspaper at the counter.
He turned and looked me right in the eyes… and right away knew something was wrong… “Are you alright?” he asked quickly?
Oh yeah, right as rain, I thought to myself – but instead I stood upright and asked what my civil rights were when a right-arsehole ute driver just smashed right into me.
Coming back to the scene of the smash, he addressed the ute driver… “Rightio mate, what’s going on? I think it’s about time to do the right thing or you’ll be rightfully charged for negligent driving”.
I could have kissed that policeman right on the lips as I watched him write out a ticket for this dickhead.
Alriggggghhhht, I thought as I pulled out into the traffic! And with a righteous wave to Mr Ute, I knew everything was once again right with the world.
As I continued on my way to work, my mind wandered back to the conversation I’d shared with my kid earlier – and the writing course I was starting that night. I might fancy myself as a copywriter, and maybe even harbour the thought of a best-seller one day, but the real reason I like to write is the fun of words. Right?
With all the hype and fuss about the growing super economy in our midst, I have to be able to say ‘I have been to China.’
Well, I have. It was not my intention, and certainly I did my best to avoid it. But it seems the Chinese had other ideas. The magnetism of that country is stronger than any mere mortal such as I.
Having spent countless hours on planes over the years, I had become very used to the routines of international airports. Once checked in and through security, you are free to zombify. This is the only way I have found to survive the mind numbing sterility and repetitive nothingness of being captured in the never-ending boredom of hours upon hours of planes and airports required for the simple journey from A to B.
In this case, Finland to Hong Kong. It was just after Hong Kong was handed back to China, so in my mind it was not really Chinese yet.
I sat in the lounge and took out my book and prepared to read non-stop to Hong Kong. This includes handing over boarding passes, finding seats, stowing overhead luggage, strapping myself in, greeting fellow passengers… this is a most important skill – to be able to communicate ‘I am friendly, and inoffensive but I am reading so piss off’ without lifting my eyes from the page. I can even pretend to politely watch as the air hostesses tie themselves in knots with life vests while continuing in my own little world.
This zombie state has been developed to ignore most things around me because any milestones acknowledged often bring to mind the passing of time. This is to be avoided at all costs. Except take off. I love to look out of the window during take off and landing – these are the highlights of any journey and anything else is to be merely tolerated.
‘Passport please,’ says the small man behind the counter.
‘Huh? Oh.’ I fold my book around my finger to mind my place and dig in my bag. Snapping out of zombie can take a bit of time as all the little processors in my brain wake each other up and start to assimilate and process my surroundings.
I hand over my passport and he waves me on.
‘Wait.’ One process is signalling an alarm. ‘Can I have my passport back?’
The small man is not even looking at me, he is waving me on so he can get a better look at the next traveller and utter the only 2 words of English he has been taught for this mighty important role.
‘Can I have my passport back, please,’ repeat with a bit more urgency in my voice. All my processors are running now and I realise with alarm that I have not paid the least bit of attention to where I went when I got off the plane. I just followed the other zombies.
‘You get passport back,’ one of the other little guys behind the counter says. I look dubious and refuse to move. He nudges the first guy and they scribble a number 2 on the corner of an old scrap of paper, rip it off and hand it to me. ‘Go to next. There,’ They wave their hands and dismiss me. Many Asian cultures have this strange knack of several people doing the same job at the same time without shoeing each other out of the way. The ultimate job sharers.
I walk away a bit stunned and vaguely head in the vaguely appointed direction. I am ushered past a few successive counters with lots of nodded promises of being reunited with my passport. There are one or two other lost souls who are obviously in the same predicament, but they are ushered in various other directions and eventually I find myself alone.
Towering over about 4 million Chinese heads.
On the wrong side.
I am no longer in the international airport. I am on Chinese soil (or concrete) with the general population, at the end of one of many, many long, long queues to check in. I have no luggage and no passport. I close my book and put it in my bag.
My flight to Hong Kong, according to my itinerary is due to leave in about 15 minutes.
I intercept an official looking person and ask for my flight in my best broken English. He nods me back to my queue.
I have no choice but to wait. 40 minutes later, I reach the counter where the lady takes one look at my number 2 and says ‘Oh. Oh. That queue.’ and points right. I no longer exist for her, so I go right.
30 minutes later, another ‘Oh. Oh. That queue.’ and again to the right.
This is fitting in to no routine I have ever experienced in my distinguished flying career. None of these counters seem to have a purpose except to be the focus of a queue. My plane has probably now landed in Hong Kong, and my feet hurt. And actually, no one has asked me for my boarding pass, so how on earth do they know where I am going.
I hang on to the ripped off corner of blue scrap paper as it seems to have significance to them. Without it I might become entirely lost, because even though I am taller than everybody and my blond hair stands out like a beacon, they all seem to look straight through me.
I start to hum a Beatles tune and try to think positively. At the next counter I seem a man approach with a handful of passports. ‘Aha! The power of positive thinking!’
The next 10 minutes in that queue count as some of the happiest of my life. I get to the front and triumphantly hand him my blue 2. He nods, hands it back, and waves me on. I don’t believe it! I am so surprised I blurt ‘But … where’s my passport?’
He gives me a tired look and nods me on. ‘Bloody foreigners and their stupid questions,’ I read printed clearly across his face.
I am beginning to think this is some sort of game to trap and break the spirits of unsuspecting travellers. It is about 2 and a half hours since my plane left the airport and I have no hope of getting out of here. I am trapped like a lead ball in a pinball machine, bouncing from one obstacle to another. Except there are no lights, or dinging, and I have only collected 2 points.
I lift my weary head at the next counter and plonk my high score in front of yet another little man. He nods and hands me my passport indicating a door on the right.
I pick up my passport and head through the door down the gangway onto my plane and into my seat. The plane hadn’t left.
It was, in inverted commas, on time.
My lengthy stay in China had been included in the itinerary.
I had that dream again last night, the one where my parents pick me up early from school to see doctors and specialists.
The one where my mum looks down at me with loving eyes that shine with a certain sadness and pity.
Whenever I try to catch my father’s eye he glances away avoiding my eyes.
The dream always makes me feel alone and on the edge of learning a new truth, the end of innocence.
The kids in school didn’t mind me joining in with sports, but they never seem to miss me when I wasn’t there to play footy either.
I guess I wasn’t anything special, and they could always outrun me.
But as I woke today, my dream disappeared from my mind quickly as I thought of your sweet face.
Your lovely big eyes, looking at me with slightly slanted and exotic long eye lashes.
You always give me the sweetest grin when we meet each day.
When I run my fingers over your body, you shiver in anticipation and you make me feel really special.
Today will be different though, you have already left and I will meet you later.
I get ready and dress for the day ahead.
When I go over and walk towards you, in my colours for today, I doubt you will recognize me.
But you do! and you raise the top left corner of your soft mouth in greeting.
Our faces meet and we stand for a moment with our foreheads touching.
Then I whisper, this is what we have been waiting for, my love.
This will be your day to shine.
You stick out your tongue in kind of reply, and when the owner comes over I pull away to let him shake my hand.
His breath smells of cigars as he looks down on me and says; Good luck son, you don’t get to ride in the Melbourne cup many times, so might as well make sure to win it today.
Story continues from part 4.
The hail pounded on the factory’s tin roof, filling the empty factory floor with a deafening roar. The offices were better protected, but the noise was still oppressively loud.
The lack of power was a bigger problem.
Nate went down stairs and walked through the unused machinery, leaving footprints in the dust. He unlocked and opened the door to the power room and went in and checked the fuses. Everything was in full working order. The building was simply not getting any power.
The blackout must be outside somewhere. He headed over to the front door of the factory and opened it. The little designer swimwear shop across the road was in darkness too. He leaned out the door and looked up and down the street. Everything was out.
Well at least it wasn’t something he would be expected to fix. He went back up to the offices and found Jock.
“Looks like power is out for the whole block at least.”
Nate went on. “The website is down, and even if someone rings to place an order by phone, with the computers down we can’t do anything.”
Jock was clearly not thrilled about this. “So we’re screwed?”
Nate shrugged. “Until the power comes back on yeah.” He paused. “Even if we had that generator you wanted, that would only give us an hour of power.”
Nate looked at his watch. It was 3.14pm. The chance that he would get out of here before five today were almost non-existent.
Jock shock his head. “Mains will probably be back on in an hour.”
“Wanna bet?” Nate asked as he walked over to the door.
Jock’s reply was drowned out but deafening boom of thunder.
This sort of thing had happened to Jock before. 29 times before. He only remembered three. The human memory is a fickle thing, and he didn’t even remember that he didn’t remember.
On the occasions he didn’t remember he had simple repeated whatever he had been saying that got drowned out by the background noise. Sometimes this had been the right thing to say, sometimes it hadn’t.
However three times in his life he had stopped, reconsidered and changed his mind. Coincidentally all three times this had turned out to be the best thing to do. These were the only three occasions that Jock remembered.
To Jock this was proof positive. Every single time he had had to repeat himself due to loud noise, changing what he said had been the right thing to do. It was the only option. His poor memory was proof of that.
So as Nate politely waited for the thunder to pass and asked the seemingly simple question. “What was that?” There was nothing simple or accurate about the thoughts that bounced through Jock’s brain.
“Err, nothing. Just let me know when everything is back online.” Jock answered.
Nate went back to his office, stopping at the front desk and the little waiting vestibule to pick up an old newspaper. He folded the paper open to the crossword section and realise Scarlet had already finished the crossword. Perhaps ‘finished’ wasn’t the right word, filled-in was more accurate. She always wrote random colours and numbers into the crosswords.
One hour and four minutes later the lights came back on. Time to get to work. Nate headed to the broom closet he mockingly called the ‘server room’, and started the process of bringing the website back online.
Jock opened the door as Nate was down on his hands and knees resetting the power suply. The overly tight yellow shirt riding up and little, and Nate’s jeans riding down, revealing his plumbers-crack.
Jock, just like anyone else in this position couldn’t help but look. As he did he noticed a large mole above Nate’s left buttock.
He pointed at the mole. “You should get that looked at, it looks cancerous.”
Nate yelped in surprise at Jock being there, and at the comment Jock had made. He tried to twist around to see what Jock was pointing at.
“Are you serious?”
Jock nodes. “I never jock about cancer. Just got your doctor to have a look at it.”
Nate stood up and dusted his knees off as the severs started to hum back to life.
“Great, just what I needed.” Nate checked the computer screen and nodded. “The website will be back online in about 10 minutes.”
Jock wounded off, satisfied that his supervision had fixed the problem, and went to find something else that needed his management.
Nate twisted around, trying to look at the spot on his lower back, but it was in just the wrong place. He went to the men’s room to check it in the mirror. Small, black, irregular shaped mole. Had it always been there? Had it always been that shape? He would have to get it looked at.
5.29pm and Nate was still at his desk, the website up and running smoothly, everything going as it should. He could finally go home and relax after the strange day.
He looked out the window. It was still raining. He pulled on his damp shirt over the top of the bright yellow t-shirt, picked up his shoulder bag and his rainbow umbrella and headed out into the rain.
A 5 minute to the station, a 10 minute wait for the train, a 12 minute train ride into town, change train, 6 minute more waiting, a 18 minute train ride home, and finally a 4 minute walk to his flat.
He climbed the three flights of stair to the top floor apartment, side the key into the lock and turned it, and stopped.
“Ah crap.” He shouted to himself, suddenly remembering his date plans for the evening. He had planned to stop in the city and get a new shirt. He looked at his watch. 6.27 not enough time. He pushed the apartment door open and went inside.
Before he got three steps in the door he was stopped by his flatmate. Glen.
Glen was a nice guy, a really nice guy, a bit of a flake, but a nice guy. Without a doubt the best flatmate Nate had ever had. And Nate had had a few in the past few years. But Glen was campiest little queen Nate had ever meet.
“Okay, before you freak out, it’s not as bad as it looks.”
Nate frowned and raised an eyebrow. “What’s not as bad as it looks?”
Nate’s frown deepened. “What damage.”
Glen pointed towards the kitchen. “From that super scary hail storm.”
Nate dumped his bag and umbrella in the hallway and stepped into the kitchen. The window had been smashed, and several plates and cups were shattered on the floor among the window glass.
Glen walked into the kitchen too, pulling on a pair of kitchen gloves.
“Broken stuff.” Glen said, as if that was somehow helpful.
“Do I, just put all the bits in the bin?”
Nate nodded again.
“And then… mop or something?”
Nate nodded. “Yeah… and I’ll find something to put over the broken window.”
Half an hour later, the mess all cleaned up and Nate had tapped a large piece of cardboard over the window. It wasn’t a good solution, but it would see the night through.
Nate slumped down on the couch and Glen turned on the telly.
“So… what you up to tonight Nate?”
Nate shrugged and then yelled. “Oh crap.” He got back to his feet and rushed to his room. “I’ve got a date tonight.”
Glen frowned and turned the telly off again. “Did you just say ‘date’.”
Nate’s dashed across the small apartment, unbuttoning his still damp work shirt as he walked into the bathroom. “Yeah, and I’ve got nothing to wear.”
Glen smirked. “OMG, you are gay after all.”
Nate stuck his head out of the bathroom door. “Why does everyone always think I’m straight?”
Glen shrugged. “That doesn’t matter right now. Right now you have to tell me everything, about this date, about this guy… it is a guy right?”
Nate grumbled from the bathroom. “Yes it’s a guy. Fine. I’ll tell you, but you have to lend me a shirt to wear.”
Story continues in part 6.
Part of my creative writing class. Weekly Assignment 6.
As published on my writing blog.