Monday, 1 February 2016

Free Writing a Novel - Part Two



 Carrying on with the Free Writing a Novel experiment, here is the next bit. I have little idea what it means, but I have a sense it is heading somewhere. To be heading somewhere means that it must have come from some place. That's the thing with this Free Writing. It's a pretty linear journey, even if it feels as if it is just spilling out.

Here we go . . .


We had a pet, once. Joseph. A dog. Filled with guilt, Joseph was, from the day my father brought him home till the day Mr Hedges from next door found his headless body in the street outside his house. The head was buried in the garden – Joseph, guilty no more.
            I would often look out at the spot where my father’s sister found Joseph’s rotting head, and how the grass there never stopped growing, and how flowers now grow there.
            I have been here many times, this world. As have we all. Round and round and round and round we go. Searching, loving, hating, in fury.
            The winter of ’48 nearly took me from this world, spinning and tumbling from it like a fat man falling off a roundabout. I coughed and I coughed and I coughed, the pain in my lungs like a stab wound. I can taste chicken soup and I can smell linctus, but that is all.
            The whiteness covered everything, and the cold made my father’s sister’s pudgy hands bleed and crack. My father would trudge through the snow and down the street in the morning and would trudge back again at night. Where he went, I have no idea.
            I taste chicken soup and I smell linctus, and the cracked and bleeding hands of my father’s sister shake as the spoon nears my mouth.
            It is 1950, where I live. A house, like any other. They are all the same. Black and white in my mind. Only my pain is coloured-in. The hurt. Don’t tell me otherwise. Don’t tell me the world has always been in colour and it is just the modern fixation of photographs and television that dictates otherwise. I do not watch television. I have no photographs. Only memories.
            Her eyes – big and bulbous – her leer – like the lopsided grin of a troubled man.
            Forgive me if I ramble. If I jump. From place to place. Point to point.
Fragments are all I have left.
            My father wittered away at whatever he did during the day, and my father’s sister loomed ever larger in the darkness of that house that looked the same as all the others. A hovel, it was not. But it was no palace. A council house is a council house is a council house. All brick and symmetry.
            I learnt to walk – late, of course. And I learned to hide my true feelings, until I could stand steady. I would watch her as she cleaned – for she ever cleaned. And I would dream of her body in pieces, her flesh running through my fingers, her blood sinking into the carpet.
            Mealtimes, at least, afforded me some perspective, a view of the wider world of that house. I sensed what it might be to be an equal, to be held in the same esteem as the me that would grow tall and strong, and that one day would fight back with righteousness and flaming eyes, and gritted teeth. But I was never to grow much. It was destined. It was my choice. And in that high chair I would sit, and if I made a mess with my food, she would scream at me – Don’t make such a mess, you horrible, useless shit! – and I would make a mess again, just so I could hear her scream.
            And inside, my world began to take shape – a world of dark and pain and self-flagellation.
            My father came and my father went, and my father’s sister grew tired. I hated her even more. I would tip my beaker of juice onto the floor, and she would just give me a look as if to say I was beyond her reckoning, beyond her ken.
            And, one day, she wasn’t there at all.

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