To A Troubled Soul

Welcome to this shelter.
I work here, at the shelter.
I’m not really kind:
I let this place be my conscience.
But that’s enough about me-
It’s supposed to be about you.
I won’t ask why you’re here:
Tell us when you’re ready.

Welcome to our facilities:
Lounge, telephone, quiet room
With a box of tissues.
The government gave us a grant;
We all hope they won’t withdraw it
Telling us the date we close,
Like they’ve done to other shelters
Only just this year.

Welcome to this refuge.
No-one needs to know you’re here.
It’s all safe and confidential:
You can trust the staff.
This feels like reading out a pamphlet;
Fire regulations next.
Is it just a job, I wonder?
Is my heart engaged?

Welcome to our haven.
We’re not allowed to get too close,
And that’s convenient for me
Because I wouldn’t want to.
Hope you get your problems sorted,
Go back out into the world,
Leaving room for someone new.
Now, there’s a grim idea!

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Fugitive in a Cave

channelled from my chaos muse Ino. Once again we both had a go at flash fiction, and I decided to keep hers!

I always used to sleep in a cave hewn out of the cliffs when I came to the seaside town. No hotels for me- I live on the road, on the street in fact, and I’ve been called a beggar. But I don’t beg; I take temporary jobs in the places where I happen to be. If you ask for one of the jobs that no-one else wants, you can always find employment. Then if you sleep in the open air, or on rainy days inside a cave, you don’t waste money paying for a bed for the night.

Being a footloose rover has its advantages. Any trouble and you need never go back to that place. There was trouble one time under the cliffs, when I found a horde of gold bullion stashed at the back of a smuggler’s cave. The smuggler wasn’t convinced that I would keep quiet, so I tricked him into looking the other way and taking his eye off his gun, and then I ran into the sea and swam beneath the surface until I was far enough away.

He was right, I didn’t keep quiet. But nothing could be found later, when searching with a band of heavily armed volunteers. So I’m still on the road, but I don’t really regret it.

There was a red stripy bear in the cave as well, which I didn’t point out to the smuggler. I bet you don’t believe me about that- you think it’s a tall tale. But the human bones in the cave were probably the smuggler’s. I wasn’t counting those when I said that nothing could be found.

 

Relaunched

The folk songs of my youth are always played in a bluesy style now. Maybe this is not an auspicious time for my last-ditch attempt to make it as a singing star, but when I met the sugar daddy I just had to give it a try.

Now I’m up here on the vertigo heights of this stage, leaning over the microphone as I cajole the audience to look beyond the mundane consciousness of every day to something wilder, which refreshes like a spring of mineral water.

Belting out the song I am not; my natural voice is soft, and the rhythm section says it better than I can with even the most basic beat. Just close your eyes and any rhythm is a path to an altered state. Under the stage lights the shadows of amplifiers lengthen unexpectedly and gyrate to the music. Dissolution follows, at least for the concert hall, yet here we all stand at the end, so our shadow play cannot be over.

He doesn’t care whether I’m here to sign autographs or to lift hearts; it’s just a gig to him, and who am I to pretend to have met a sugar daddy? It’s really the Devil.

 

 

 

 

Margaret

I am Doctor Faust’s girlfriend Margaret, famous among the university scholars. You there! You think it was the string of pearls he gave me that persuaded me to be his love, leading to a tragedy which almost outshone the Greek ones he was giving his lectures about.

And you over there- you think it was his handsome face, and not the pearls at all.
Really, it was that someone knew the spell to make pearls become tears, and she tried to tell it to me, but I turned away and put my hands over my ears. As if that would stop a fairy of that sort- nothing would, but I still had to try.

pearlThose fairies very nearly tied me up. They threw me down, and there I was lying stretched out on my back, on the flattened grass all wet with dew. I managed to escape their ropes. I shan’t escape them all, though: in this version, they hang me.

Absent Birds

channelled from Ino

 

Where did the wren go?
Where did the swallow go?
They both ate the cherries
From the prefab tree
And now they’ve gone away.

Come back, Peter-
You saw the exodus from Rome,
And then you went away,
The wren perched upon your arm,
The swallow in your pocket.

Swinging freely on the swing
In the cage, from the age
When everybody left.
Now they should come home;
Now they must come home.

 

 

 

 

Toothpaste Tube

 

We set ourselves this title. My story:

When you buy the miniature toothpaste, it means the holiday has started. Time to pack; time to make an effort for the family.

Nothing looks as lonely as the pier in an English seaside resort, pointing out bleakly to sea. Do you remember the days when you were supposed to sit on the front eating fish and chips out of newspapers? That was such a strange custom. Now it’s all multiplexes with sports and entertainment going on in different rooms. We should really go abroad; we could afford to, but some of us in this family never seem to get around to obtaining a passport.

We got off the train on a Saturday afternoon: Brighton again, and as we wheeled the suitcases along the platform the children shouted, pointing out places in the distance that they recognized from last year. We did manage to find something old-fashioned, donkey rides along the beach, and we’re hoping it will be here again this year. A photo of a child on a donkey looks like it could have been taken any time during the last 50 years. It’s as if time had never moved on. But in another way, that makes it boring.

In the newsagents, buying sandwiches and daily papers, I glance at a brochure for mountain-climbing holidays in the Alps and I want to apply, even though I haven’t got a passport, and we would probably all fall down the mountain.

The children are screaming outside the shop. They sound happy.

 

Ino’s Story:

 

She squeezed the toothpaste tube as hard as she could. There was no toothpaste left, and only a thin dribble of minty white stained water seeped out through the end.

How is it possible to empty a toothpaste tube completely? Usually when people throw toothpaste away there is at least some residue of the paste itself at the very end of the tube, or in one of its metallic creases. But her boyfriend John had managed it somehow.
He’d completely emptied the cat food as well. Not even one granule in the bottom of the box for the cat to search for with its tongue. If he was so good at emptying packets, she thought, why couldn’t he at least replace them? Instead he always left all the shopping to her.

She returned to the bedroom, where she not only got dressed but also made the bed and tidied up the room. Then she began to write a shopping list. She went around the house and checked everything that needed replacing, and that was when she discovered that John had also emptied a tin of steel wool. Whatever did he want with a substance like that?

After making her list she went out to the garden shed. She unlocked the door and pulled the battered light cord for the battery-operated light that John had installed. It illuminated a lot of spiders in various corners and strategic spots in the shed, all of which were well within reach to jump on her very easily. Then she noticed the webs were all made of steel wool. That made them strong enough that no casual brushing with a feather duster would ever be able to break them. John was somehow in league with the spiders, and had exchanged unbreakable web material with them, but what had he exchanged it for? How had he managed to communicate with them?

She was afraid to leave the shed to do her shopping. Now finish the story- you know you want to.

Boat

 

We both wrote a micro-story called ‘Boat.’ Ino’s is a little vicious- these egregores are definitely demons!

My story:

What dream is this? It must be the restful dream sent to the weary in which we lie back and drift in a boat on a lake. I know I’ve dreamed about this lake before and I remember something white: something to do with swans or clouds. But the details have gone in a puff: a powder puff bursting so the air is full of powder and everything obscured, the way my memory so often is now.

Maybe other memories, and dreams both pleasant and jangled, have crowded out this boat and the mental picture of my head reclining back on wood while the oars drag lazily at my arms on either side. It has become faded and yellowed, like old paper. But once again the boat draws near.

 

Ino’s story:

I am paddling this canoe and thinking all the while how my paddle is my magic wand. No one would ever suspect that is what it is.

For if I were to stop paddling I would soon be lost under the rapids, therefore everyone will think the paddle is an essential part of my sports equipment, and nothing more. I can hide the magic I am doing with it. Be careful not to offend me, otherwise I will wave my paddle over you, and then it will be a wave over you all right!

I can also slice the paddle through the water at all different angles, each of which has a meaning as I chop it here and there. A loaf of many slices with which I feed the world around me exactly what I think it deserves at any given moment. It can melt into sugar in your mouth or it can block up your throat. In every case, I’ll decide.

 

 

City Park

Children are jumping through hula hoops in the field opposite the duck pond. There’s so little green open space here; it’s all endless city streets that smell like the inside of a used tin can. That’s why the children like to come here: to feel grass under their feet, to see water and wild birds and boats.

There has been a scare about the algae, though. It may not be safe to stand near the green and white crust that spread over the pond last year, and the park was closed for a few weeks while it was cleared away. That looks like a bit of it growing again, in a corner of the pond. My throat feels tight; I hope I’m standing far enough away.

Perhaps I should phone up and report it, especially as there’s a child on her knees now, hoop abandoned on the ground and her face turning blue. I so much hope I didn’t spoil this area when I planted the algae. It was just an experiment: mixing plants from the secret witch’s herb garden into habitats of the inner city.

The Music Student

A mandolin is thrumming:
Strings taut, buzzing.
A ping of finger flicking string:
Dull, like hitting a clay drum.
He feels a brake holding back his fingers-
Wants to move them faster,
To express the throbbing music
He feels in his throat, strumming;
Vocal chords vibrating fast.
“I’ll hum it, then I’ll play it,”
He says, feigning confidence.
His fingers feel like slow motion-
Cannot capture it.

 

Books Are Now Free

All my occult fiction except for one book is now FREE and available in a variety of formats. Go to this site:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CandyRay

I’m returning to my original ethos of art for art’s sake. Art is magic, and magic is art!

However, I am about to start writing under a new pen name, and I will see how this new ‘persona’ gets along and whether it becomes appropriate for her to go professional. I’ll either be doing it the proper way this time, or else I’ll merely be bouncing around exploring a new direction with more free books.

(The books are also available on Amazon but not currently free.)