"Well, are you going to do anything?"
"Oh I don’t know. I thought I might-"
"Yes?" Alex almost panted, desperate for information.
”- might go and have a nap for a bit, if I’m honest. Watching you work is quite dull.”
Alex sighed deeply, closed her eyes and counted to ten. She’d read somewhere that that was an excellent strategy for relieving stress, but unfortunately it doesn’t work when you’re talking to a fictional character. Behind her closed eyes, she could still see him, sitting on a box of repressed memories and staring languidly back at her.
"I understand it’s dull for you," she said, finally. “Accounting is an incredibly dull profession. But I am earning our keep and I expect you to do the same. I don’t want to be an accountant forever, so you need to inspire me every now and again. Tell me a bit about your life history - how old were you when your mum left?”
"That’s up to you," he shrugged, flipping his messy (but beautiful) hair out of his eyes and humming tunelessly.
"But I’m too busy-"
"You writers are all the same. You have one half baked - albeit, in my case, brilliant -" (he flipped his hair again) "- idea for a character and then expect us to do all the work. I didn’t ask to form in your mind. I was hoping for Rowling-“
”- or someone who could at least imagine up a little bit of action every now and again. Give me a juicy plot point or something. You’ve been holding on to me for two years now. You going to write me a story or not?”
Alex opened and then closed her mouth. He had a point, and worse, he’d made me feel guilty. She should try harder. He deserved the book that she had tempted him with. She was about to make a heartfelt apology, when he tossed his stupid (but god, beautiful) hair again. She threw down her pen.
"Right. Shave your head."
"Shave your head. You’re bored of life and trying out the punk thing. It will make for an excellent opening chapter."
"No, I don’t - I mean, I’m not bored - oh god, I’m sorry!"
“You characters are all the same,” she sang, as golden locks fluttered into the depths of her sub-conscious, “you want exciting plot points but then refuse to accept the consequences.”
Inspired by a conversation with my good friend and fellow writer.
I just crave a book. I feel an overwhelming need for paper and ink and want to feast on cliff hangers and flawed characters. I can actually describe it like a hunger. I want a book in my hand and in my head right now.
Just come back from a week in Italy and for some reason, all of my latest story ideas seem to feature young women who move to Sicily and fall in love…with olive oil.
“You’ve quit?” Catherine raised one eyebrow suspiciously, “again?”
Fran sighed and handed back the pack “I know.”
“You won’t keep it up. You don’t have the willpower.”
“But… I don’t like smoking.”
Catherine blew out a perfect smoke ring and stared pointedly at her friend.
“It’s too much effort – I keep forgetting and missing my cigarette breaks. And it smells. I don’t get how anyone can like it.” Fran peered around the restaurant, but the thick plumes of smoke that were billowing forth from every table made it difficult to see even Catherine clearly.
“It’ll kill you, you know. If you don’t start up again. The health risks…”
“I know…” Fran fidgeted with her now defunct lighter. According to the latest government decree, the best way to immune yourself against the advent of poisonous pollution was by smoking. Strengthen your lungs with the right kind of toxins. In this day and age, fresh air could kill you.
“..But I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, so…” Catherine gave a snort of derision and used her still glowing cigarette butt to light a fresh one, disappearing behind a smouldering cloud of ash.
Fran looked over at the non smoking section with a faint flicker of longing. Apparently, non smokers had just as much right to not smoke in public places. It was their choice. They just had to live with the consequences.
I promise I will never be away for this long ever again. Will you ever forgive me?
“It’s not hard – you just point and shoot.”
She raised the gun with a tremor, and then lowered it again. “I can’t.”
“Why not?” He narrowed his eyes and stared at the cat hanging by its tail from the tree, “it’s already dead.”
“I don’t care, I can’t shoot Fluffy.”
“He tried to rip your eyeballs out, remember?”
“That wasn’t his fault and you know it! If he’d have just let me stroke him he-”
“He would have chewed your arm off. A pat on the head doesn’t reverse the virus; otherwise the army would be out there offering the zombies hugs and gentle words of encouragement, not blowing their brains out. Now come on, you need to learn how to do this. Shoot.”
She hesitated and he sighed again.
“Just…just imagine he’s drooling. Imagine he’s coming at you, foaming at the mouth, hell bent on sucking the juice out of your eyeballs. Only this time, I’m not around to stop him stripping the flesh from your bones and feasting on your brains. Go ahead- shoot him.”
Her lip began to wobble and he tugged on his hair. He didn’t have time for this- it was getting dark, and they still needed to find food and shelter. He knew it had been a mistake going back for her –true love meant nothing in a zombie invasion. But he was stuck with her now, so he tried a gentler tactic.
“It’s ok baby,” he took her in his arms and stoked her hair, “you’re just scared and you’re new at this. So try this- imagine…imagine it’s your dad coming towards you. Only now, you have a gun and you actually have a chance of saving your mum, instead of cowering in the wardrobe and futility attempting to block out her agonising screams.”
She burst into tears.
He’d spent the last three days in bed, eating stale Jacob’s Cream Crackers in his underwear and refusing to leave the flat.
"Dude," Alex had said, wrinkling his nose and moving down wind, "you gotta get out of this bed. It’s not normal.”
Tom mumbled something, showering the duvet in cracker crumbs.
"I know you’re upset, but you weren’t even together that long."
He mumbled louder, waving the plastic butter knife for emphasis.
"They’re always ‘the one’ Tom. Remember the last ‘one’? Invited her brother to sleep on your couch for three weeks and then it turns out that it’s not her brother, it’s her ex- boyfriend. And then-”
“And then you find out that actually, it’s her ex-ex boyfriend. And then he robbed you.”
Tom sighed and shoved an entire cracker in his mouth.
“And then there was Beatrice. Who tried to shave an African fertility symbol into your hair while you were sleeping. She was weird.”
“No. Come on, get up.” Alex tugged open the curtains and Tom hissed like a rabid cat, burrowing further under the covers.
“You’re being ridiculous,” Alex sighed, “you know that, right?”
“…Possibly,” came a very small reply from under the duvet, “but all I want to do is eat crackers and watch The Notebook and come up with an amazing plan to get Lucinda back.”
“Watch the what?”
Tom stuck an arm out from his fortress and fumbled for the remote.
“Dude…what the fuck is this?” Alex gasped, as the screen came to life.
“The Notebook. A 2004 romantic block buster loved by millions of women across the planet,” came the muffled response.
“But…but why are you watching this?”
“Lucy said I wasn’t sensitive to her feelings. She said I spent too much time playing video games and hanging out with my idiot friends- no offence-”
“-And I need to get in touch with my sensitive side and listen to her more because she is a woman and she has needs that quite frankly, I don’t fulfil. And then I kicked my X Box. And then she said ‘yes, of course I was wrong to break up with you.’ I am not sure, because I was in a lot of pain at the time, but I think she was being sarcastic.”
“Dude. Why is Ryan Gosling writing love letters? Why does he have a beard? Ryan Gosling, what the fuck are you doing??”
Tom ignored him and paused the film. “Lucy loves this film. It is her favourite film in the entire world. In the course of our seven month relationship she asked me to watch it with her no less than 32 times. And every time I refused- but I thought that if I finally watched it too it would show her that I am a sensitive, caring guy, and then she would think twice about breaking up with me.”
“Tom,” Alex moaned, “this whole ‘you’re not sensitive enough’ bull, it’s complete bollocks. Fuck her, man! It’s just an excuse. It’s like the time she said that you were too clingy.”
“She only called me clingy because I tried to surprise her with a romantic night in for two. In hindsight, it was not a good idea to break into her apartment.”
“I was not entirely naked; I was wearing a strategically placed rose. But yes, I did not know that she had invited her grandma over for dinner.”
“Tom.” Alex paused. “Tom, you are my best friend and I love you. But I am very surprised that she didn’t break up with you sooner.”
Getting emotionally attached to fictional characters is one thing.
The pain you feel when you remember they’re not real is another.
Hey there, anon. I’ve been pretty rubbish lately, I know- the last few weeks have been really hectic! However, I am currently working on a couple of bits so please bear with me. I’ll hopefully have something uploaded by the end of the weekend :)
“But don’t you see?” he whispered, stroking her face, “I did it because I love you.”
“I love you too,” she breathed, nuzzling her cheek against his hand.
“I love you more,” he muttered.
“No, I love you more,” she murmured.
He leant in for a kiss. She leant in for a kiss. They kissed. And then
Miles slammed his face against his typewriter in frustration.
“this-is-fucking-shit-this-is-fucking-shit-this-is-fucking-shit-” he garbled, his eyes screwed up in desperation.
“Oh come on now. It can’t be that bad.”
Miles sat up in surprise, the letters T, Y and U imprinted on his forehead, and peered over the top of his typewriter. A young woman was draped upside down across his coach, peering up at him as her long black hair draped gently across the floor. He stared at her, mouth agape.
“I mean, you’re the great Miles Alcott,” she smiled, “and everyone raved about your first book! What did The Times reviewer say again? “Never before have I come across a writer with such talent”?” She sprung to her feet with the agility of a kitten and shooed him away from the typewriter. He obligingly moved out of the chair, a look of confusion still etched across his face.
“Hmm…” her eyes quickly scanned the page and she fell silent.
“Well?” he asked hopefully, with regained composure.
He looked at her expectantly.
“No, you’re right. This is bad.”
Miles clutched at his hair and groaned.
“It’s really bad-”
“Ok,” he sighed.
“Really, really bad-”
“God. Louisa is about as interesting as a dead slug. In fact, a dead slug would make a better heroine. I mean, it wouldn’t be a great loss if Louisa melted in a pile of salt. And Jacob? A moustache? Are you kidding me?”
“I guess I knew it had to be bad, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, but I can honestly say Miles, this is most probably the worst-”
“OK!” he shouted through gritted teeth, “it’s bad. I know it’s bad, you know it’s bad, it’s shit and I am a terrible writer. But goddamn it, you knew I needed your help. I called you two weeks ago and you said you’d be here. Christ, I told my publishers I’d have the first draft finished by Monday!”
“And?” She asked dreamily.
“And now it’s Thursday and I still only have eight chapters!”
“Seven,” she corrected, “I really don’t think you count that last chapter. It’s just….words. It’s like you just smashed your face into the type writer over and over.”
“Well that’s what you’re supposedly for, isn’t it?” he could feel the anger creeping into his voice, “to make sure that I don’t write a character with the personality of a dead slug?”
“I didn’t say she had the personality of a dead slug, I said a dead slug would be more interesting-”
“Well, thank you so much for clearing that up! If only you’d turned up two weeks ago like you said you would I wouldn’t have a pile of dead slugs on my hands!”
“Well, I am here now!” she smiled brightly, and Miles exploded.
“I HAVE BEEN CALLING YOU NON STOP,” he shouted, “I HAVE LEFT YOU VOICE MAILS. I HAVE SENT YOU EMAILS. I EVEN SENT YOU A TWEET. YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE MY MUSE. WHERE. HAVE. YOU. BEEN?”
“Nebraska,” she calmly replied.
“Nebraska?!” he spluttered.
“Yes. Nebraska”. She rolled her eyes, “I had a message from this author. A one hit wonder in the eighties; won every literature prize going- they even made a film-”
“Get to the point,”
“Anyway, he’s not written anything half as decent since. Oh, he’s tried, and I tried to help him, but he got ever so big headed and decided that I had nothing to do with his success. So he went at it alone. His second book bombed. And so did his third. And his- well, you get the picture. Anyway. He decided to have one last crack at it. He’d holed himself up in a yurt without running water or electricity. Something about wanting to get back to nature?” she laughed and did a handstand up his bedroom door, “He lasted two days before he cracked. He sent me a very apologetic message via a carrier pigeon. I’ve named her Frances. She’s a delight.”
“And he was more important?” Miles moaned in exasperation.
“Well,” she shrugged, “I’d never been in a yurt before.”
Miles swore loudly. He tore chapter eight out of his type writer, scrunched it up and flung it at her. Unfortunately she thought it was a game, and gleefully threw it back. He made a choking sound and sunk to the floor, sobbing. She quickly bounded over to him, and encompassed him in a bear hug.
“I need you, ok?” he muttered, muffled against her silk shirt, “I need you to do whatever it was you did last time. I need you to inspire me again.”
“There, there,” she cooed, “I’m here. And don’t you worry Miles. I will inspire you. You will write your book. It’s just a matter of getting you back in the zone!” She sprung to her feet excitedly. “Ok, so we’ll go for a walk in the park- you know, to show you some of the beauty in the world- and then I’ll give you a massage; very relaxing, get the creative juices flowing, and then we’ll have a paint fight, ooh- and then-”
Miles allowed himself to relax. She was, after all, the Muse. It just had to work.
* * *
“It’s not working.” she sounded surprised.
“I know it’s not working.” He sighed. The whole afternoon had been a waste of time. The walk in the park had been marred by the overpowering stench of dog mess, and then he’d had an allergic reaction to her massage oils. And then another reaction to the paint. He didn’t want to try anymore. All he wanted to do was curl up in bed and plan his next career move. He’d heard McDonalds were hiring.
“But it always works.” she sounded annoyed. “I am the Muse, for goodness sake!”
“Well maybe we should just give up,” he said slowly.
“What? No! Look, I inspired you once before, I can do it again! Remember last time? Remember how you couldn’t finish your first book? You spent months trying to write those last few chapters. Then I turned up and boom- you got it done in one afternoon! Just give me a little more time, please-”
“No. I give up.”
“You can’t give up Miles, I won’t let you! Please -”
“It’s no use! I’ve lost my mojo- my spark- that… that thing that made me a writer? Whatever it was…it’s gone.” He sank despondently into his chair and held his head in his hands, “let’s just face it. I can’t write. You might as well as just go.”
She frowned, her forehead creased in concentration. “You’ve lost your thing. So all it is, really, is a case of finding it… but how do you find a lost thing?”
“…Is that a rhetorical question?” he asked exhaustedly.
“I’ve got it!” She cried, her eyes shining, “How could I forget? When this worked so wonderfully last time?”
Miles felt nervous, but the Muse clapped her hands in excitement.
“All you really need Miles, is a little motivation, and that mojo will come bouncing right back! And how do we get motivated?…. Weeeeeee SING!”
She conjured up a guitar out of thin air and began to enthusiastically strut around the room.
“Oh god, not again-”
“Come on Miles!” she sang, “Sing with me! Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past/ You must fight just to keep them alive!”
“No, shut up, please. Please shut up,” he was too tired for this. She ignored him.
“Write and I’ll stop! All together now! It’s the eye of the tiger-”
“Ok, ok!” Miles hurried over to his typewriter and began to type furiously, “I’m writing, I’m writing. Shut up. Now!”
“Not when you’re on such a streak! I’ll stop when you’re done!”
Three hours later, as the muse sat on the floor and crooned out Cyndi Lauper, and as Miles exhaustedly re-read his twenty, perfect chapters, it suddenly dawned on him. She hadn’t inspired him, not really. And last time, when he’d churned out half a book in one afternoon, she hadn’t inspired him then either. No, it was a lot simpler than that. He just wrote to stop her singing.
Caroline sung loudly and off key as she turned off the water and shrugged into a ratty bathrobe, and hummed to herself as she wrapped a towel around her hair and flung back the shower curtain.
There was a strange man in her bathroom.
She screamed and grabbed the first object she could lay her hands on, which turned out to be a bar of soap, and threw it at his head. He ducked and it sailed past him, but the bottle of conditioner hit him squarely on the forehead. He held up his hands in surrender as she brandished her shampoo bottle.
“Please! Please, calm down! I’m not here to hurt you!”
“WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU WHY ARE YOU IN MY BATHROOM OH MY GOD HELP-”
“Please, you need to calm down. I am here tell you something important.”
“I am afraid that you are dead.”
Caroline stopped screaming. She stared at him for a few seconds. The young man blinked back up at her.
He coughed nervously and consulted his clipboard.
“I am the Reaper. Your spirit has departed your earthly body and is now in my care, but do not be afraid, for I am here to guide you to the other side and make your transition to the afterlife as smooth as possible,” he read, parrot fashion, before coughing again.
She stared at him, dumb founded. He rubbed his thumb and forefinger together, procuring a leaflet from thin air, and stuffed it into her damp hand.
“Read this, it explains everything,” he said, “but skip the bit about Valhalla on page 14, that doesn’t apply to you.”
“Welcome to the Afterlife….” she read, before glaring at him. “Is this a joke? Did Steve put you up to this?” She surveyed him carefully. He didn’t look dangerous; if anything, he was a little on the weedy side, and he was wearing a bowtie, but still, she held her shampoo bottle up in front of her like a shield. “Because this isn’t funny. Now, I will give you a five minute head start before I phone the police-”
“I know this is a little hard to take,” he said gently, “but we really have to get moving or we’ll miss our slot. I can explain on the way, but if you’d just take my arm, Mrs McGowan and step this-”
“What did you call me?”
The Reaper looked up at her nervously.
“Mrs McGowan…am I pronouncing that right? I’m sorry; all they did is give me a list of names- I had a Mrs Zaborowasowski this morning who refused to accept she was dead until I had pronounced it right and rolled the ‘R’,” he laughed nervously and tugged on her sleeve, but she refused to move.
“Mrs McGowan, please-”
“Mrs McGowan lives upstairs.”
“….What?” The Reaper let go of her arm.
“Mrs McGowan lives upstairs. In 302. This is 202. And I’m Caroline. Caroline Mathews.”
The Reaper paled. “But, but…I went up there,” he frantically began flipping through the pages of his clip board, which, as far as Caroline could see, were blank, “To 302. The old lady, she told me I had the wrong floor. She told me Edna McGowan was the noisy girl in 202….” he closed his eyes in despair.
“What’s wrong?” Caroline asked cautiously. He muttered something unintelligible.
“I am going to be in so much trouble… this is only my second day, how could I screw up so badly?”
“What have you done?”
“…..you’re not supposed to be dead. She is.”
Caroline pounded on the door to 302.
“Mrs McGowan? Mrs McGowan, open the door. I know you’re in there!”
“Caroline, please, if you’d just let me call my boss I am sure-” the Reaper begged, but Caroline furiously kicked the door.
“I am dead because of her! MRS MCGOWAN, YOU OLD FRUIT CAKE, OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME-”
The door opened, and a frail old woman peered out.
“I don’t want whatever it is you’re selling, thank you,” she began to shut the door, but Caroline wedged it open with her shoulder.
“Mrs McGowan, did you tell this gentleman that I was you?”
“Did you know you’re only wearing a bathrobe?” she wheezed, pretending she hadn’t heard the question, “you’ll catch your death of cold, you know-
“Is that supposed to be funny?!” Caroline screeched.
“- in fact, you are looking a little pale. Now,” Mrs McGowan sniffed, “What do you want?”
“Mrs McGowan,” Caroline hissed through gritted teeth, “when this gentleman came to call on you this morning, did you or did you not tell him that ‘Mrs McGowan’ lived downstairs in 202 when in fact, you are Mrs McGowan? Did you or did you not tell him that I was you?”
Mrs McGowan barely glanced at the Reaper, who smiled nervously and waved, before shaking her head.
“Never seen him before in my life. You must have the wrong person- mind these young ones, wearing nothing but bathrobes and playing their music too loudly and bothering old ladies with silly questions- now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got a roast in the oven,” and with surprising strength for a woman of her age, she wrenched the door out of Caroline’s grasp and slammed it shut.
“Mrs McGowan!” Caroline bellowed, “you open this door right this second and get out here and die so you can go with him and-”
“Caroline, it’s no use,” the Reaper said with a sigh, “she’s already half way down the drain pipe by now.”
“Well, I’ve just spoken with head office,” Caroline looked up at him hopefully, but the Reaper shook his head, “and it’s just as I thought; death is pretty irreversible.”
“….So that’s it then? My life is over?” Caroline stared around her messy flat. She hadn’t had time to tidy up before she’d died. Oh god, last night’s underwear was still on the floor. That was going to be her legacy.
“….Erm. Yes. ” She flinched, and he squirmed.
“But I have some good news;” he added brightly, “Head office has decided to grant you automatic entry into heaven!”
“So?” She sniffed.
“So, that means all your past sins and misdemeanours have been wiped out. Usually souls have to stand before the council to be judged, but in your case, you’re getting a free pass into heaven, regardless of your past.” She stared blankly up at him.
“…You see, this whole thing is a right mess, and they’re scared you’ll sue…”
He let Caroline contemplate this for a few minutes, before examining his clipboard once more.
“Right, I really don’t mean to rush you, but are you ready to go? I’m going to have a mountain of paper work…”
“Yes…there is just one thing I need to do first.”
“You said I’m getting a free pass into heaven, regardless of my past misdemeanours?”
“That’s right. All of your sins have been absolved; you’re getting in to heaven, no matter what. Our way of saying sorry for, you know, killing you.”
“Excellent. Then you can help me frame Mrs McGowan for my murder.”
I have spent most of today buried in a blanket fort and hidden behind a wall of books. Best saturday ever.
Once upon a time there was a man named Peter. Peter was a somewhat ordinary man. He a little shy, slightly taller than average and in possession of a vast and slightly useless encyclopaedia of knowledge, but he was a somewhat ordinary man, none the less.
On the morning our story starts, Peter sat alone in a cafe, sipping a soy latte and brooding. A thick book was propped up against the sugar bowl, but for the last few minutes he hadn’t been able to concentrate on A History of France from the Earliest Times to the Treaty of Versailles. Instead, he was glancing curiously around the room with a very puzzled look upon his face.
“Hello?” He tentatively asked. He looked around again, noting that he was, without a doubt, most definitely alone.
“Hello?” He asked. Again. Even though he did not get an answer the first time. Peter was, they told me, an intelligent young man, though I suppose it didn’t always show.
“Well, that’s not a very nice thing to say,” he said, peering under the table looking for goodness knows what.
“I’m looking for you, stupid!” He exclaimed. And rather rudely too.
“Oh for heaven’s sake- I am sorry for being rude, but this is rather odd you know. Who are you, and why are you narrating my life?”
As well as being somewhat ordinary, Peter had always been a modest sort of fellow, and so he couldn’t help but think that his life was not worth narrating. Modest, and astute.
“Are you saying that my life isn’t-?” Peter crossed his arms and leant back in his chair, “well, if that’s the case, you can bugger off. This is creepy.” But Peter had never been good at confrontations, and was thus very easy to ignore.
“So…you’re not going away then?” he asked, with a slight frown. The seconds ticked by. He wriggled around uncomfortably in his chair. And then he sighed.
“Are you still here?” Peter finally asked, as though he didn’t already know the answer. He sighed with a shake of his head, resolvedly pushed his glasses further up his nose and buried it in his long, dull book-
“It’s not dull,”
-whilst the narrator resolved to ignore his inconvenient interruptions and attempt to get on with the task at hand.
“I think you’ll find that you’re the inconvenient interruption. I am trying to read,” Peter mumbled through gritted teeth, indicating his long, dull book. But Peter blushed slightly as he said so, because he knew full well that he wasn’t at all interested in reading about the History of France or the Treaty of Versailles-
“Actually, it’s very interesting. Did you know that in 1483-”
- Because he’d already read A History of France from the Earliest Times to the Treaty of Versailles. Twice. In truth, he was only using the book as a ruse to sit inconspicuously in the cafe until the cute barista made an appearance. Peter blushed harder. Peter would not admit it because he was a little shy, but he’d taken quite a fancy to the cute barista ever since she’d recommended the almond croissants three weeks ago. Unfortunately, Peter hadn’t enjoyed the almond croissant at all, but he was willing to forgive her poor judgement in breakfast pastries, because she was rather beautiful. Now all he had to do was talk to her. He had not spoken to her since the morning of the ill fated almond croissant recommendation, when she had happened to mention that she had always wanted to go to Paris. Peter knew a lot about the Parisian sewer system. That, he had decided, was his way in.
Peter was terrible at flirting.
“You are very insulting,” sniffed Peter, forgetting entirely the time he tried to use his knowledge on the riveting subject of Diseases, Pest, and Disorders of Potatoes as a means to converse with a beautiful woman. As it happens, she did not care about where in England you could find the best soil for growing potatoes. At all.
Peter remembered, and grimaced pathetically. But Peter will never get a girlfriend if he keeps pulling such unattractive faces. Incidentally, he will never get a girlfriend if he keeps boring beautiful women to death. Luckily, Peter was too entirely nervous to talk to the cute barista about the state of the Parisian sewer system; in fact, all attempts to speak to her so far had failed entirely. Which was probably for the best. For the cute barista, I mean.
"I really don’t mean to be rude-" interjected Peter loudly, in such a manner that meant whatever he was about to say could quite easily be deemed as rude, "but- oh for heaven’s sake, will you please stop doing that?”
This narrator had no idea what Peter was talking about, but luckily, just as Peter opened his mouth to make some arbitrary comment, the cute barista appeared behind the counter. Luckily for this narrator, I mean. Because Peter, in an attempt to smooth down his hair, knocked his book of the table and almost fell out of his chair in his attempt to pick it up. His glasses fell from his nose. The cute barista smiled slightly. Peter scrambled to pick up his glasses, righted himself with a nervous cough and immediately buried his head into his book. His ears turned red and he wondered if she was looking at him.
“Shut up,” he hissed out of the corner of his mouth.
"Hey, are you ok?" The cute barista asked. Peter opened and shut his mouth twice. All the blood had gone to his head and he had momentarily forgotten how to speak, although this narrator gently suggests that he says I’m fine, thanks.
"Uhhh..ummm, yeah, fine thanks," he garbled, and she smiled at him, before turning back to the coffee machine.
Peter casually slung one arm over the back of his chair and confidentially called out for another soy latte.
"Erm…no I didn’t," he whispered into his book, a look of undisguised confusion etched across his face.
Peter casually slung one arm over the back of his chair and confidentially called out for another soy latte.
"Oh! Oh…erm," Peter attempted to casually sling one arm over the back of his chair. "Can I get another soy latte, please?"
"Sure thing!" she sang out brightly, and quickly brought one to his table. He blushed his thanks and immediately buried his head into his book because Peter was hopeless. But for some unfathomable reason, she hovered at his table. She peered at the spine of his book and exclaimed in delight.
"Oooh! I love French history. I’ve just written an essay on the Bastille for class."
"Umm" said Peter. She looked at him expectantly.
Peter smiled and- but Peter shook his head slightly in annoyance, indicating that he wanted to do this on his own. Fine then.
"Umm," he repeated. And then he began to panic.
Peter was very much aware that he needed to say something more interesting than ‘umm’ if he hoped to keep her attention. But he was stumped. He pushed his glasses up his nose to stall for time and desperately wracked his brains for something witty or intelligent to talk about, but her close proximity made it hard for him to think properly. And I suppose having his every though narrated was a slight distraction, too.
But he really needed to say something, ANYTHING, and soon, before she started to think that he was really really strange. Anything, Peter.
"So Paris has a really interesting sewer system," he stammered.
But actually, much to Peter’s delight and surprise, the cute barista knew almost as much about the state of the Parisian sewer system as Peter did. Together they drank soy lattes and talked about France and potato farming and fell in love, and so, in fact, everything turned out rather splendidly. But of course, this narrator always knew that it would. In fact, one day, Peter sat-
“Oh no, not again-“
Cor Blimey! This is a rollercoaster of a monologue written by one of our illustrious Tumblrites, Laura J. Blake. So much fun in one disaster! In the piece, a jilted, pent up Londoner struggles to apologize for decking the ex’s new beau, but eventually he fails to keep his cool and goes ballistic anyway - even as the answering machine records every stammer and twitch. I don’t know where my accent landed, maybe somewhere between Dick Van Dyke and Jason Statham. It’s about 7 minutes and change. :)
An interesting interpetation- definitely a lot angrier than it sounded in my head, but still pretty cool! It’s really interesting to learn how other people interpret the words you write. (The original story can be found here)