used to bring me
of faraway lands
on the backs of
messengers in the breeze
the waves are thicker
as these whispers pollute
the air I breathe
used to bring me
of faraway lands
on the backs of
messengers in the breeze
the waves are thicker
as these whispers pollute
the air I breathe
The fog brought on a different kind of cold, one that bathed the skin with a film of air that made the body feel hopelessly exposed against it. My body plummeted straight down to Earth. The world hit me in a series of flashing lights and whirring sirens. Blue, white, red. Noise. They held me in place – steadied me. There was a tapping. Tap, tap, tapping at my side, like a leaky faucet over a sink. The fog was turning me to ice – all except for my side, which was alive. It was on fire.
….The sirens began to slip away from me. And the lights were losing their steady grip, melting into one indistinct hue. They looked like fireworks… the fireworks I saw with Tom one night.
….I met him under the bridge, at the canal. We walked, shivering in the gloom, passing the white-columned buildings that overlooked the water, high up on the opposite side. Tom made up elaborate stories about the people who lived in them. We laughed at the way he became a character, creeping into his own tales.
….We passed under the second bridge, and then took the narrow path up to the road. In all our excitement, we ran to Primrose Hill. Tom was lightening on his feet. He rocketed up the steep slope of the hill.
….‘Hurry up!’ he called. My body was heavy and cramping. I pulled at clumps of grass, crawling up, dizzy from breathing too hard. I collapsed. Why didn’t I take the path up? ‘Over here.’ Tom’s voice came from over a buzzing.
….I got up. A shoe sat a metre away, in the darkness.
….Many shoes and trainers were up on the hill. People buzzed and chattered. I found Tom standing on a bench.
….A countdown began. The London sky exploded into colour. The crowd cheered, bursting into a chorus of ‘Happy new year!’ Tom’s face lit up.
….The voices and cheers began to fade away. They slipped away, like the sirens and the lights. They faded, Tom faded, the night faded.
….Strobe lights danced on his skin. Dancing: he was effortless and drunk. Beautiful under the lights.
….The counter I stood at slide under my elbow, and I nearly knocked a drink over. His drink. Our drinks. Yes. I picked them up, and turned to rejoin him on the dance floor.
….The lights zigzagged across everyone and everything. They cut through my torso and paralyzed me. But, Tom continued to dance, bumping into other bodies to the music. They moved like a stormy ocean of tangled clothes and limbs. I was swept up into the movements of this ocean, and it brought me closer to him. Still, my body would not move.
….One of the bodies circled closer to Tom. It hovered beside him for a moment, before initiating contact. They touched. Their lips met. He was swept up into the ocean of dancing, faceless bodies, and the distance between us was filled up by the turbulent storm.
….Then, the sirens came back. They crashed and wailed against me. A fresh shiver rippled through my body, reawakening the tapping and throbbing at my side. I could feel myself being dragged under, and sucked into the darkness, to the place where the indistinct mess of colours existed.
….But, he called out for me. Tom had come for me. I tried to call for him, find his name on my tongue. But all I could hear was his broken voice over the sirens.
Coffee and conversations. Laughs and tears. I access human interaction, while wiping down drink stains, crumbs, and fingerprints. I also have access to many cups of cold beverages. I dispose of them in bins, standing around the perimeter of the shop, which everyone can access themselves.
….‘Maybe we are technology. We’re machinery of a different kind, made of organic matter rather than plastic and motherboards.’ The students pack their books into their bags, and get up to leave. Thankfully, they put their cups into the bin. I wipe the spot they sat in, next to the window.
….A man, one of the regulars, possibly a writer, sits further along the window table, reading through his scribbles in a brown book. Our eyes meet momentarily, then he continues to read the hieroglyphics. I could be the next major character in his work. Several customers sit alone, reading novels or typing into their tablets, sipping away at their coffee.
….I go over to the area where the clean napkins and packs of sugar are stacked. Crystalline granules create a constellation on the wooden surface, before my cloth swoops down to destroy it.
….Two women sit close by, a younger one and an older one.
….‘This is serious. How do you think it’ll go?’ says the older woman.
….‘Well, it’s in an hour. I just hope it all works out.’ The younger woman clasps her fingers around her cup, like a clamshell.
….I get some more napkins out of the cupboard below, and refill the holder.
….‘I’m sure it will. You’ve dressed well for it. Everything starts with appearances.’
….‘What if it’s a no? No one can help if it’s a no. It’ll be over. Not even my good shoes will save me, despite what people say.’ The younger woman closes her eyes and begins to take some deep breaths for a few seconds.
….The older woman looks around, probably checking if anyone is listening. She sees me. ‘Could I get one of those, please?’ she asks. I smile, handing her a napkin. She turns back to the other woman. ‘Dear, you’re being a little dramatic now.’
….The younger woman becomes quiet, probably on the verge of tears. Talk about coffee shop drama. She picks up her handbag, and gets up. ‘I think it’s time I made my way there,’ she says.
….The older woman sits there, drinking the rest of her coffee. The other woman left her cup on the table.
….Someone taps me on the shoulder. I turn around. It’s Thomas. He flashes a grin at me. ‘Are you going to stand there all day, gaping at stupid packets of sugar?’
….‘Hello to you, too. I wasn’t gaping.’
….‘Honey, you should just work here full-time and you can stare at all the sugar you want,’ he teases.
….I take my apron off, and get my jacket from the back. I say bye to everyone still working their shifts. I make my way to the door, grabbing the cup left behind by the woman and throw it away.
….As I walk away from the shop, I see the younger woman waiting at the bus stop, on the other side of the road. I continue walking, another stranger on the street.
Law fumbled with his keys, as he locked the door to his flat. Down the corridor, the building’s cleaner, Ember, paused from her work in his presence, briefly looking up from the floor that would never look clean. Every morning the low buzzing and humming of her Henry would fill the corridors, as the rest of the building’s residents began to stir from their sleep. Her movements and rattling, floor by floor, had become a constant in the background noise. She was a kind of security: she existed within the fabric of the walls, peeling corridors and stained carpets. She would still be here long after she was meant to be gone.
….And so would the big black bins downstairs, with their mountain of junk growing outside, rather than inside, of them. Black bags, on the mountain’s side, slouched against the ground, gutted open, oozing intestinal household waste and drugs. Sometimes Ember would sift through the junkyard, before leaving it in a state more or less the same as when she had first got there.
….‘Good mornin’, Mr. Law,’ she said, after a few seconds. She had that edge in her voice that was present in all the teenagers living on the council estate across the road. Law was thankful he could speak like a decent Londoner. His cheeks flushed at having standing too long outside his door and having an observer watch his battle with the lock.
….Law went to Costa, and got himself a cup of filter coffee and buttery crumpets. He sat down with his journal, by the shop window, and flicked through the pages. He reminisced on the days he spent wandering the city and its streets.
….Once he took a walk through Hyde Park. The grass was tall in some places, so he stepped carefully, to avoid finding himself stuck knee deep in it. Sometimes he stood still and watched as the wind blew across it, creating ripples and waves, like a breathing ocean, or a Mexican wave. The soft rippling effect looked like it was emanating from a source – a point where a stone entered the water in a pond.
….This choreography repeated itself over and over again. These actions in nature were copies of one another: the grass behaved like water in the wind, and not like grass at all.
….Everyone seemed to be around that day. Like a river, they cascaded past him on the footpath. They moved beyond him, beyond his vision… beyond his page.
….Law devoured his crumpets, and continued reading through several pages of his journal.
….At Marylebone Station, schools of people emerged from London’s tunnel network, and deposited themselves at the top of the escalator in regular intervals. It was another repetitious occurrence in the city. A cycle, a pattern, just like the ripples in the grass. London lived and breathed the same way everyday, in a constant loop: churning people out of the ground and transporting them on boxes with wheels.
….Law drank the rest of his coffee, and left Costa. He decided to take the Tube around the city.
….On the Tube, he stood his back up against the glass, opposite the rows of seats, and watched people shuffling around in the door windows. Some of their heads elongated and stretched out, as the window curved inward around the top. A couple sat silently for a while. They seemed bored in each other’s company.
….Every few minutes, the lady fixed her short hair in a little mirror, and checked her teeth. Her male counterpart spread his arms and legs out to his comfort, invading the space of other Londoners sitting near them.
….They dressed well. The lady dressed formally, wearing an expensive looking coat, giving off the impression she had just walked out of her office, in Canary Wharf. The man, on the other hand, dressed casual, opting for a coordinated theme: white t-shirt, black biker jacket, black trousers, and white Nikes. A beanie sat on his head, with a curl of brown hair styled up at the front.
….In the window, Law imitated the man, pushing his hair to the side with his fingers. But, his straight hair fell flat and he gave up.
….Law consulted a diagram of the London Underground, next to an advertisement about popular TV box sets, that the whole nation was buying. He used a pointed finger to trace out several train routes. Then, he hopped off of the Tube at the next station.
The shiny, tall buildings, in Canary Wharf, loomed over Law. Light tickled on the surface of these buildings, like a sunset on the ocean. The city was empty here, at this time, save for a few people. The lone clacking of someone’s heel on the pavement bounced in the air, on the dome entrance of the station, and on the glass that held J. P. Morgan together. There was something about an abandoned city that was appealing.
….Law stood there, letting the echoes – sounds, reflections, copies that radiated from their source – float around in his head. The clacking faded away. Then it all clicked. He took out his journal, and drew circles and spirals that collided into each other. In the centre of them, he wrote:
….We’re all echoes in this city. We pass and go through life, leaving a tiny trace of ourselves behind when we’re gone.
Law got back to his building in the early hours of the next day. In the lift, he found a black hat on the floor, and put it on his head. He adjusted the hat, as he approached his front door.
….Down the corridor, a door creaked open. Ember came out. She walked towards him, as he fumbled with his keys and lock.
….‘Goodnight,’ she whispered, as she went past. Law tasted the alcohol in her breath. The lift doors opened, and she seemed to disappear into the walls of the building.
….As he entered his flat, Law pictured Ember with her Henry, rattling and humming, floor by floor, as the rest of the residents began to wake up, just as he began to fall asleep.
Thank you for reaching the end of this story! I feel like I’ve achieved so much by writing it. It’s the first story of four that I wrote for an assignment – the whole collection is called City of Echoes. The next story will be up next week – stay tuned! x
As I walked down Old Marylebone Road, a flicker to my right caught my attention. It was the reflection of cars zooming across the glass windows of a building, on the reflected road. I stopped, and turned to face it. Eyes stared back out at me, watching me with an expressionless face.
….Taxis and vans raced past behind the staring girl. The wind created by the passing vehicles tickled my skin and played with the jacket of the girl in the glass. Footsteps approached from my left and faded away on my right. People walked past the girl in the glass, only seeing what was in front of them: pavement or a smartphone, or the girl standing in their way.
….A life parallel to the one I lived flickered in this glass, like a movie. But it was real. I tucked some hair behind my ear and the girl opposite did the same. In a minute this girl would be out of my view, going about with her life on the other side of the glass and the building.
….She walked with me now, ready to continue her day just as I was. When I passed the building and turned back, she was gone, just as I predicted. But the cars and buses kept on racing, back and forth down the road.
This evening I looked up at the sky and saw the clouds.
It’s been a long time since I had last spared a few minutes for the sky.
The clouds were moving and I began to see shapes forming from the marshmallow structures. A procession of dinosaurs emerged. The T-Rex had captured my heart – his comical huge head and teeny tiny hands. Mr Rex you brought a smile to my face.
The clouds were moving fast, away from me. Leaving me behind. The T-Rex had disappeared. Off on another adventure, I suppose.
I’m glad that I had shared a few moments with the sky.
I scream at the sky. I know my voice merely tickles the universe. It has no strength to create ripples, like the ones you’d see in a little garden pond.
Unlike me and my puny little scream, the stars show off their existence through their burning souls. They merge with the beauty of the darkness, their home. They create the coldest warmth that I long for. Or is it the warmest cold?
The Sun is a volcanic dragon, spitting her embers and secrets away. Secrets that cannot reach me. Secrets that can’t be kept. Sun can’t hold her tears in any longer and my voice cannot reach her and reassure her. Sun, I want you to stay.
I sense laughter from a distant galaxy. Beautiful radiation, please stain me. If a supernova gets too close, I will let it tattoo my skin with impossible colours, that are too real to be on Earth.
I want the stars and universe to scar me with their secrets and their lies. I wonder if they can see me: my wide, curious eyes gazing from a little window at night.
Moon looks like a pearl – raw and iridescent. I don’t think I’ll catch a supernova tonight, so Mr Moon I bid you goodnight.
It was around noon when Kale realised there was something missing from his cookie jar. His cookie jar was in fact a replica of Pooh Bear’s hunny pot; Grandmama had gifted it to him after she had gone to Disneyland and had forgotten to take him along. So there it was, Kale’s Pooh Bear hunny pot, now cookie jar, in his arms, who had fallen victim to a heinous crime.
In his mind, Kale couldn’t comprehend who in their right mind would do such a thing. Kale replayed the possible scenario in his head: hushed footsteps; a head carefully tilting, checking the surroundings; a grubby hand reaching for the hunny pot-cookie jar’s head; the other taking the goods from within; the head is replaced. Yes, a meticulously thought out plan was needed for such a task, Kale thought. His eyes scanned the vinyl tiles on the floor of the kitchen. His bare feet were getting cold, so he wiggled his toes. He noted the odd crumb and chocolate chip on the floor. His precious cookie – gone.
Kale was a passionate and skilled baker. Mother had taught him everything: that the details were the most important. If the flavour was not quite there, then it was the details themselves that would be the key to winning the hearts of those who received the treat. Cookies were his speciality. He could bake one for just about any occasion: birthdays, weddings, celebrations, presents, teatime, boredom, pranks, thievery. Of course, there were times when he produced something foul and bitter from the oven (just like mother had said – mother was hardly ever wrong). Kale knew when his batches were good or bad, and smiled to himself. He never failed the detailing of any treat he produced.
The minutes and hours seemed to disintegrate as he stood there, stock-still. On his wrist, the clock hands and Pooh Bear’s smile curved up in the same V shape. His baker’s hands were firmly around his hunny pot-cookie jar. A thunderous thud sounded above his head – the sounds of war.
His mother walked into the kitchen just then. She had a pleasant expression on her face and smelled of cupcakes with a healthy sprinkle of icing sugar and candy hearts. She ruffled his floppy brown hair and hugged him tenderly. “You alright, hun?” she asked. “Oh, I think Jake has taken something of yours,” she added.
“Of course, the last one left is a bad cookie.” She chuckled warmly, getting out some mixing bowls and flour.
Kale held onto his beloved cookie jar, like a hand grenade, just as he did before. Five minutes had passed since he had found out about the great crime. Those five minutes had ignited a fire in his baker’s heart.
It’s been a while since I last posted any of my written work, so here I present you with some prose! A while back I posted Kale’s Cookie Jar before, but since I’ve given it a better story and flow etc. I do hope you like this version (or both versions). This is one of the pieces I officially submitted for assessment (hope I get a good grade!)
I’ll see you soon! x
It was around noon when Kale realised there was something missing from his cookie jar. His cookie jar was in fact a real life replica of Pooh Bear’s honey pot; Grandmama had gifted it to him after she had gone to Disneyland and had forgotten to take him along. So there it was, Kale’s Pooh Bear honey pot, now cookie jar, in his arms, who had fallen victim to a heinous crime.
In his mind, Kale couldn’t comprehend who in their right mind would do such a thing. Kale replayed the possible scenario in his head: hushed footsteps; a head carefully tilting, checking the surroundings; a grubby hand reaches for the honey pot-cookie jar’s head; the other takes the goods from within; the head is replaced. Yes, a meticulously thought out plan was needed for such a task, Kale thought. But in the next moments Kale smiled to himself and announced, “What a grand plan, indeed!”
The minutes and hours seemed to disintegrate as he stood there, stock-still.
A thunderous thud sounded above his head. Strike back operation had commenced. And Kale seemed to finish an invisible conversation out loud, “Of course, the last one left is a bad cookie.”
Kale held onto his cookie jar, like a hand grenade, just as he did before. Five minutes had passed since he had found out about the great crime. Those five minutes had given him all he had wanted to know.
I hope you can appreciate that this piece of prose isn’t in its final form yet – it is currently a first draft for my prose submission for later on. So there may be parts where you don’t fully understand what’s going on (especially towards the end).
Just a quick update as well: I finally handed in my long Odyssey essay yesterday! I feel very relieved that now I don’t need to look at it anymore. I think I deserve a day of rest before proceeding with more work/reading. Also, it was my birthday on the 25th, so I’m 19 now. It feels strange to know that next year I’ll hit the big 20 and will have no choice but to be an adult.
Anyways – all the same, hope you enjoyed reading this post!
See you soon! x