Juxtaposition

Since publishing my 3 books on Amazon Kindle I have sold 62,  of  which 60 were during periods when they were free, but I don’t mind about that; I’m happy to have readers! They are free at the moment and will be for two more days June 28th and 29th 2017, so if you hurry you can get them. See the About My Books page.

I know I said that  wouldn’t be posting so much, but I have found a flash fiction story that was edited out of one of the books, about English general elections among other things. it’s called Juxtaposition.

 

 

The general election was in mid-swing, and for Mandy it brought back memories of that campaign long ago, squeezed into the back of a van with scruffy, heavily smoking labour party campaigners and piles of leaflets tied with rubber bands. That lady in the polo-necked jumper, twenty years her senior, who had so impressed her with tales of ‘politically educating’ potential voters on their doorstep. All Mandy had felt able to do was stuff a leaflet through the letterbox and quickly move on to the next one.

Now as she walked up the road there was a slim leaflet sticking out of every letterbox- and then suddenly, on one of the doorposts, she saw the pixie. He was exactly like a pixie from a children’s’ fairy tale: a little green figure balancing on the stone and holding a flute. As she watched he put it up to his lips and began to play, and the music was so completely mesmerising that she forgot where she was and entered a reverie, and after the reverie she could remember nothing of what she had first thought or daydreamed.

Mandy made her way home, hoping that after her intriguing experience the depression wouldn’t hit tonight. For she had an affliction, and it was depression. However well her life was going, however fortunate she was, she would sink into that quagmire of hopelessness, convinced that neither she nor her life had any worth. It ate away at her cheerful times; it was like a mousetrap that she could tread on at any moment.

As she sipped her tea and watched the News, she thought she could tentatively trust that this would be a cheerful evening. Then the pixie was there beside the TV, singing like a jangling cricket and leading her away into a funnelled-out tornado, poised over foggy, brackish moorlands where there were stagnant pools and a single wren bobbing in a bush. She became more and more lost in travelling through this spiral, walking on cloud steps, and she loved the pixie and wanted to follow him forever.

When you’re working at the polling station you have to pretend you live there for the day, because there are no half shifts, only the full one which ends with taking out drawing pins with exhausted fingers under dark windows and electric light, and bagging up many papers to transport away along with heavy metal boxes. On this side of the counter you must stay alert, while those queuing up on the other side relax and slouch, and half surrender responsibility for this change to normal routine.

Mandy was proud of her hard work at those distant elections- it somehow justified her sitting now gazing into a coal fire, or spending several hours watching a film. She didn’t mean to drift away so often but it felt peaceful, like rambling through the countryside. The journey with the pixie was only a new variation of the same; it was simply harder to remember what happened when she followed him. The music had so many layers: although it was one flute there could have been a whole orchestra behind it, and each layer whirled her somewhere new along a path bordered by grey, misty shapes which might have been flower heads leaning upwards above a marshland.

The last time she got depressed she had lain on her bed for four hours, and all she did during that time was pull undone some knitting she had been attempting to learn as a new hobby at a time when traditional household crafts had all but disappeared. Dinner time passed without her bothering to eat anything, because what does it matter when you live alone? You might as well never eat again.

Mandy stood up quickly as she remembered this and did a few tasks to reassure herself that she wasn’t depressed tonight.  Work was best for taking her mind off it, yet it often struck in the middle of work as well, and that was devastating as she slowly ran out of energy and motivation and came to a stop. But there would be none of that tonight; she would finish her work and then sit down to follow the pixie again into his musical world where the two of them were united.

 

 

 

 

Evil Guardian Angel

This one was channelled from Ino

I don’t know what to do with my English public schoolgirl friend. She never actually wore a tie at school, but I’ve decided that the Old School Tie is something that strangles those who try to survive without being streetwise.

Several times now I’ve picked her up from the gutter of life, dusted her down and set her back on the road again. But she only goes somewhere that’s off the map, where many a big bad wolf idles by the side of the road watching for her to stray off it.

As I lift her up by her braces (she’s never had braces on her teeth but she does so need a gate across her mouth), I swing her a few times as if from the gibbet where her path would shortly have petered out had I not picked her up. Then I place her on a friendlier road lined with flowers, and I give her a pocket handkerchief full of pot pourri tied to a stick that she carries over her shoulder.

But I should have put in rat poison. Then the discolouration of her character and tongue would at least have been quick instead of painfully slow as she meanders along the flowery way, the easy path, the ‘wide road that leads to destruction.’

In the land where old school ties have only recently disappeared, it behoves you to be very careful that people can’t tell exactly where you come from, right to the exact front door and the number on it.

If I can find you so can the stork, and whose baby would you really like to be? He picked up his bundle just as you did, and will be depositing you behind the front door where the cap fits. ALL CAPS: easy to read there above the door. So the journey will end and a new one will begin, but don’t expect me to keep picking you up this time, because I’ve picked someone else.

 

Past Historic

n-college-greenhouseFlower petals, velvet maroon, brushed my cheek as I leaned forward in the greenhouse. Something unfamiliar: a wrenching magnetism emanating from the flowers, vigorously sucking in heat. But the heat here was supplied by boilers, so it must be possible to fool a tropical plant, when what it is really seeking is the sun.

I remembered that this was a past life regression. So the public gardens still stand, but this greenhouse is long gone, a glass case from another time and its source of warmth allied more closely with steam combustion than with modern radiators. This other me who could feel flowers drawing in heat was familiar like the coal fire in my childhood home, yet at the same time she was a stranger with very unusual senses. I moved on.

Nympho

I hate the way insatiable women are made fun of all the time in comedies and cartoons. I watched one of those late-night animations once, about a woman who kept dragging her man into cubicles and things. It was bad taste and insulting.

I’m going to draw a cartoon that makes fun of insatiable men. Here we go! The man I’ve drawn has inflated arm muscles and long, floppy hair. He wears scruffy shorts that are too tight, and his name is Wacko. Now I’ll start writing rude jokes.

What was that? I heard a noise behind me. I look around and then at the sheaf of papers on my desk- and he’s gone! Where are you, Wacko? Come back! I bet the girls in the cartoons don’t run away like this.

I hear a voice calling from a distance; it’s a grating voice, the way I imagine Wacko’s. “Yes they do! Where do you think YOU came from?”

 

One Hand Clapping

I went to a concert and heard a band I liked, and afterwards I looked them up on YouTube. As I watched the video of the pub gig it was obvious that the audience hated the band. The silences after some songs, the scanty applause after others, the muttered heckling….it all sounded so rude. What a terrible audience! Didn’t they realize they were being recorded, and how it would look?

At my own gig I mounted the wooden steps to the stage, and as I climbed up I cast a spell on the audience to make them appreciative. Here there will be no silences, or only a couple of people clapping at the front, or patrons making rude comments under their breath. Never shall I suffer the fate of that band in the video!

The spell tasted like ash, and made me think of rats running in the dust. Ugh- caught on the akashic video. What a terrible performer! Doesn’t she realize she is being recorded, and how it will look?

Melon

The melon was round, contradicting what he had heard about the oval-ness of melons, and it served to represent a globe here: a sphere of influence for all who dwelt on the planet’s surface and mined its fruitful interior full of juicy assets.

That old song about a shy melon wouldn’t stop echoing in his mind as he rotated the fruit between his hands, and stretched out the allegory over a greater distance than his fingers could ever have spanned. Ideas seeded from that melon bursting with pips flew across the room as if on tiny wings and recalled paintings of Cupid as a baby cherub, fertilizing the heart with romantic and sexual notions that had nothing whatsoever to do with a melon.

But still he held up the melon, used it to represent the world, drew on its rind in felt tip pen and spoke to his students about  obscure abstractions that are recognized the world over.

 

 

This one was channelled from Ino.

Meditation: Fawn And Ladder       

I love the tender pale green of leaves in April, newly opened from the bud. I love the dark green of August leaves that have been out the whole summer and are about to fall.

I coloured the wood before me in greens of every shade, for I was building a meditation landscape. It was to be the sacred forest presided over by the Green Man. But he must have turned back into a stag already and brought his herd here with him, for up ahead and over to one side of the wood I could see a fallow deer that I had not put there.

She grazed by a stream at the bottom of a gentle valley, her head down and her brown neck facing towards me. I half expected to see exaggeratedly long eyelashes when she looked up, like a deer in a Disney film; however when she did look up they were the normal eyes of a deer.

Everything else was normal too as I walked down the valley and drew near to her: the dappled coat, the slender legs with well-proportioned hooves. It was only strange when she spoke. “Hallo, Villatina.”

Villatina wasn’t really my name. I made it up when I was eleven and was writing an episode of my favourite science fiction show from the TV. Had I regressed back to being a child ?- (and talking animals as well.)

The forest disappeared and I had a sudden vision of a broad open fireplace with many statues lined up along the mantelpiece shelf above it. They were of Egyptian gods and characters from Greek mythology, and all were half animal and half human hybrids: Thoth, Anubis, centaurs and fauns, and Cernunnos himself who is half a stag. All those ancestral priests and philosophers weren’t being childish, were they? That must be the message, because after all I was still engaged in a meditation.

The mantelpiece faded and the image of the deer returned. “Hallo, fallow deer,” I answered her.

“I have some things to show you further down the valley,” she said.

With my hand on her soft flank I followed her deeper into the incline towards the narrow river that lay right at the bottom of the valley. Then…

“You’ve painted over all the rungs,” I exclaimed. “Give me the paint pot.”

The air was a dull grey, and the man I had addressed stood brandishing his paintbrush with one hand and holding a paint pot in the other. The top half of the ladder took up all my field of vision like a close-up photograph, and I couldn’t see the bottom half ; it was as if I was floating, although my feet felt as though they were on the ground.

“No!” he retorted. “It’s MY paint.” He splodged a blob of brilliant white paint onto one side of the ladder and it stood out sharply against the nondescript grey, so thick that it ended in a lump and a long white strand folded back on itself.

I took a step closer to the ladder and the close-up view intensified: now all I could see was the splintered surface of one rung. It was like being right up close to a television screen, and that was when I realized that I had started to dream.

When does meditation become a dream, and when do either become a trance that is completely detached from the physical world? I didn’t know whether I was lying in bed asleep or still sitting in the home-made temple in my spare bedroom, and I couldn’t remember my name, my family or what kind of job I did. Maybe I should ask for that information at the Narnian castle with its many formal gardens laid out in front of the entrance: it would only be five minutes’ walk from here. But they might be unable or unwilling to tell me.

I lifted my foot slowly onto the lowest rung of the ladder, all the while wondering whether it was Jacob’s ladder, and began to climb.

“Hey, remember I’m painting it!” yelled the man with the paintbrush. “You’ll get paint all over your legs!” Looking down I saw a white stripe appear on the left leg of  my fawn-coloured casual trousers, which I had apparently been wearing all this time.

Ignoring the man and the paint on my leg I climbed to the second rung, and then on upwards, eight rungs, and then I stepped off into navy blue clouds that gathered around my knees and obscured all other worlds and their adventures.

Looking down might help, but when I did what I saw below the ladder was many fields divided by hedges spread out like a map below me as if I was viewing them from an aeroplane. I could dive down there and it might turn into a pleasant flying dream….or else the landscape could change into a flat picture which I would land on after a few seconds. That had happened before.

I didn’t want to have a love affair with Son of Joseph, and I didn’t like him mocking Jesus by calling himself that. So I turned him into paper; that entire meditation landscape became a flat picture lying on the ground. In the end we did have an affair, but only in the story. He kept claiming that the story was real. “We country bumpkins are here all the time, but you have to drive over from the big city.” If I believed that my coma would be deep, and difficult to come out of.

Turning astral objects into a picture is a way to control them. They can no longer move or act and instead of a sequence of events happening to you it becomes a picture book that you can close as you sit at your desk above it.

A computer game appears to be three-dimensional when in reality the screen is flat. Where do you actually go when you start playing the game and enter more and more deeply into the virtual environment? An insect in the air could dive down and after a few seconds would land on the flat screen, just as I might with the fields that I could see below the ladder.

In the end the fields did have depth, and I landed in the grass by a wooden fence. I felt the lumps of grass under my feet yielding as I stepped on them, and the breeze blowing on my face. As I walked through the fields they gave way to forest, and the faces of animal guardians could be seen looking out from the trees, semi-transparent against the leaves and the dark tree trunks. There were foxes and badgers, rabbits and dogs and regal looking stags. I was back at the beginning, back in the sacred forest, and then it was a meditation again instead of a dream, and I opened my eyes.

In The Garden

I’ve always loved the beetles in my garden. They scuttle within their own universe between the lawn and the flowerbed borders  with their gleaming black wing-cases and tiny thread legs, moving too rapidly for me to get a fix on. I followed a beetle last Sunday as he ran up the wall, and a filmy wingtip protruded from his back where he was constantly about to spread both wings.

I pounced at the wall, not to catch him but only to watch, and locked eyes with my next-door neighbour: wary, lined face; floppy apron a little askew; grey bun with wisps of hair escaping around her ears.

“It’s all right, I’m only looking at that beetle,” I said.

She digested this information, her expression gradually changing to one of resignation.

“Do you often watch insects?”

“Oh, yes, when I’m out here. I love them.” I realized I must sound like some kind of nutty biologist.

“All I want is to get rid of mine,” she said. “As soon as I see one I spray the insect killer.”

This was clearly what she had been doing, for as my shiny beetle crossed over the top of the wall and ran down her side of the wall he fell off it, dead. I said no more and returned to my comfortable garden chair.

That night I dreamed a beetle ate her.

 

 

 

Chalices And Cups

chaliceEvery teacup in the little china shop was a chalice. Those priestesses who had not acquired a chalice by inheritance came in and bought a fluted blue cup or an ornate wine glass to use instead. Then they took them up to the temple on the hill and filled them with hot red wine or berry juices to offer to their goddesses.

Avrilla who worked behind the counter at the china shop thought of herself as a closet priestess, aiding them as she was in their devotions. Her role was every bit as important as theirs, and one day she decided to lead the worship. She climbed up the hill to the temple carrying the most valuable of her cups made of a rare and fragile aquamarine bone china, and she filled it with sparkling wine.

The priest who was in charge of all the priestesses came out from the back of the temple. “Here we believe in a priestly caste, and items of a high monetary value do not raise you into it,” he said.

Avrilla produced a stick and waved it in the air, as if about to smash the many chalices on the altar. Everyone gasped.

Then she lowered the stick and said, “no, I won’t do it- I’ll just close my shop, and in time that will close the temple.”

Kite In The Sky

Don’t let go of the string on a kite. The string on a kite is an astral cord. Never paint faces on the sides of a kite, and particularly beware of making the kite into the shape of something recognizable, like a dog.

These are not my words: these were the strange instructions on my Chinese kite and they were under a flap in the bottom of the box where you would not immediately look for them.

It would be strange indeed to read these instructions with your new kite when you took it out of the box to assemble it. But how much stranger it is to read them five years after buying the kite, when you have painted your face on one side of the kite, you have given it to your toddler to play with, who constantly used to let go of the string, and you have had a clown at a children’s party twist the kite in with a sausage dog balloon.

My kite is flying today at the annual kite display, alongside many others that have been brought here specially and are in the shape of butterflies, bats, dogs and cats and Disney characters. My bad luck may have nothing to do with the kite. It has just won a prize because it is still conflated with the sausage dog balloon, and this is seen as original. Bubbles burst around my face, and my skin hurts. It feels like acid.

 

Another one channeled from Ino the Dark Muse. Remember you can read all 14 in her flash fiction collection here:

https://www.mediafire.com/?idc8c58uhac8j4s