Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Story Prompts & a Reminder

These daily prompts appear on the bootcampkeegandiaries (lik on the right) and only occasionally here


A blessing be upon your house


A nasty break – my son's – and needing pins


a little gas and air, barbiturates, routine


quietly close your eyes.


The trolley trundles; I pretend


his hand, mine, confederate, serene


they shroud his eye, his light put out


with sticky juices, half a death, he waits


through flapping doors to mystery


and all around is cancer, hideous disease


I did not taste what went into my mouth,


"What do YOU want, mother?"


I am my ownworse nightmare, idiot,


I saw his face, I loved it, him


I was there in linen, lying, saw


the drugs were cutting in, the pain subsiding, a


Once on a moonlight road


the deer was broken backed, eyes bulged.


under moon, we went three separate ways


Marzipan said...

OK, I had a go. Two hours to kill while my Yaris was being serviced, so I thought, why not?

It was hard and it ain't great, but it was fun.


Imelda Jones said substitute teachers were a blast. We’d heard ours was going to be some old guy. She said, wear lots of mascara, sex yourself up, let’s have a mash up. She’d got lots of numb-nuts questions lined up for like ‘Have you read the complete shirt novels of Simon Bareback?’ She was going to go to town with him. Imelda had two rubber roosters ready to stuff down her jumper so’s she could ask which one he preferred (The red chicken, the black?). She could be totally random, she knew how to weird-out people. This substitute, we hadn’t met him, but, man, I already felt sorry for the guy.

So. Helen of Tring, miss high and mighty, Her Majesty of GCSE literature, was ill, hence the new guy, but we didn’t know what with. All around us at St Mary’s was talk of cancer, hideous disease. In assembly, Mr. Pashley, the headmaster, told us nothing, but asked us to all to say a silent prayer for her, then he said ‘Helen Thomas, a blessing be upon your house.’ It seemed a strange thing to say, but Pashley was an atheist, everybody knew that. Janie Rowlands, next to me, nudged my ribs, stifling a giggle.

Anyway. I’d seen Miss Thomas in Sainsbury’s, wheeling her shopping trolley, picking up a box of pills, pale and thin. She was stooped over it, timid, pitiful, like an injured animal. She was a deer, broken-backed. Her eyes bulged. She looked like she was in agony. I was in the book and magazine aisle, mother was flicking through another diet book (Mao’s Little Book of Recipes, or whatever), but I looked the other way when she came past. I remember her trolley trundled whilst I pretended.

So, yeah. Monday morning we were guessing what this old guy would be like. We walked into classroom 2B, through flapping doors into mystery. Janie, Stacey, Imelda and me sat down, all made up. Imelda was totally slutty. But, like, I couldn’t stop thinking about Helen of Tring, Miss Thomas. I wondered if she was taking tablets, if she was at home, the drugs cutting in, the pain subsiding. Janie was all mouth about how hot Robbie Williams was, how she was wet. She was all mouth. I was picturing Miss Thomas, her moist grey skin. I didn’t feel hot.

Then. Incomes this old guy, the substitute. He was in a motorised wheelchair, all suped up like a five-wheeled cycle. It buzzed, like a wasp, as it rolled in front of us. It had stickers on the sides; one of them said ‘I’m my own worst nightmare.’

‘The guy’s a spaz.’ Janie said, dead quiet.

‘It’s fucking Stephen Hawking.’ Imelda laughs, but she put the rubber chickens back in her bag.

Then. Then this guy told us his name was Jacob. He spoke like he was being strangled. No one asked if Jacob was his first or last name. Everyone stared at their desks, and someone at the back made a voice like a Dalek, but nobody even sniggered. But, you know, I had to keep looking at him. Jacob’s face twitched non-stop, he blinked all the time, really exaggeratedly. Like his flesh had a life of its own, like it was dancing.

Anyway. He told us we were going to write a poem. He spoke with frailty, up and down, like the boys in our class whose voices were breaking, but with a strange and calm assurance. He chalked some words onto the blackboard: Microscope, Glass. Then he pulled out two pictures, one of a glass slide, like you see the science guys in Waking the Dead looking at, and one of millions of cells, black and grey.

Jacob said: ‘Cancer. Look at it under a microscope, that’s what you see. A poem, please, by the end of the lesson.’

So, right. Everybody looked at each other, stunned. Imelda was totally spaced. We sat there mute, trying to think of poems. I heard some of the boys at the back making up limericks (Dazza, what rhymes with retard? Hee, hee). I thought about those cells, multiplying, decaying, and Miss Thomas with a box of aspirin in her bony hand. I thought about Jacob, Mr. Jacob, his face alive with rhythm. In the end, though, I could only write one line..

I saw his face, I loved it, him.


The Boot Camp Diaries said...

Hey not bad!

I never ceased to be amazed where prompts take people.

The second half is much stronger (first half looks like being another girly/blokey/teen thing)... so I'd suggest trimming the first half or "adding napalm"

could easily place well if the weaker parts come up to the last third

If it was all as good as the last third it would be a seriously good story

Marzipan said...


Thanks for taking the time to read and make some comments.

I'll work on what you've said.