Archive for May, 2011
by Sophie Langley
His fingers moved across the piano keys, again and again hitting the same wrong note. That same section, again and again. The keys were smooth under his fingers, worn from years of his sisters’ treading similar paths, and from the family who had owned the piano before theirs did.
What he really should do, he knew, was stop and play notes around the offending one slowly – repeatedly – until his fingers moved without error. The instrument was out of tune anyway, he thought, having been moved between houses many times. The wrong note, repeated so many times now, didn’t sound so wrong anymore.
Without warning, he played the correct note, and his fingers hesitated above the keys. Practise makes perfect. Or practise means our bad habits become more deeply ingrained – he was never sure which.
When he placed his fingers back on the ivory it was warm, and he’d lost his place on the sheet music. He wasn’t an exceptional pianist, he thought.
His sisters had been exceptional pianists. And public speakers. And debaters. And exam-passers. He, on the other hand, made the same mistakes again and again.
He thought about closing the lid.
Instead, he played the same section through once without a mistake, then twice, three times, four, five, six, and on and on, never finishing the whole piece but playing that section so many times that the number itself was exceptional, even if the playing wasn’t.
by Carlie Daley
At night when her body lay still, her mind roamed restlessly. It sputtered, faltered, grew thirsty and insatiable like a rusty bike. Sleep came but the dreams held out. Neon lights bled through, tormenting her bones.
She yearned for wild weeds to tumble through her mind. Unfurling like vespertine flowers, revealing the pearls within her waking life. Instead they were soldered shut like virgins’ thighs.
From her small window always the twinkle of Venus in the dark morning followed by cries to mark the day. Sometimes she’d catch a glimpse; a face or a scene, but it would evaporate like smoke. Sucked into a vacuum.
Across the world she saw the clenched faces of insomniacs sparring with themselves, tangled in bed sheets, yet she found no solace in their shared suffering. Struggling not for sleep as she travelled through the night, a grim reaper propelled by a storm of black thoughts.
All the while a babe slept softly beside her, murmuring and babbling, as she roamed on endlessly for that bridge between sleep and waking. Yet it always eluded her. If only she could enter the clean, sparse mind of her newborn. If only she could dream again.
by Jordi Kerr
Beatrice stood by the window.
Her husband worked nights, leaving the children to her care. She’d dash from the office in time to pick them up from school. Soothe the stresses the classes placed upon them, and the hurts that children inflicted upon each other – for boredom, for amusement, for a place of dominance in the pack. Once home she’d fix their snacks and separate their squabbles, oversee homework and organise dinner. When bedtime came she would tuck them in. Marcus, the eldest, no longer cared for motherly attentions and would grunt his “goodnight” as she switched off the light. Ashleigh and Lucy had to share a room, and although it was Lucy who still begged for bedtime stories, Ashleigh would listen to them with as much delight.
At the moment they were working their way through Peter Pan. Beatrice remembered how, as a child, she would leave her window open and lie awake at night, waiting for Peter Pan to come. She wondered if her girls also dreamt of escaping to Neverland, of not growing up.
It was an autumn night, the temperature dropping quickly, the windows tightly shut. Beatrice knew there was no Peter Pan beyond them. She had grown old waiting for him. She turned her back to the window, picked her cushion up off the floor, and pressed it firmly over Lucy’s face.
by Harriet Gregory
On the driveway, he said “It’s funny to kiss you.” She looked at him and a tear left her eye, and took with it its blue colour. The blue ran down her face, thick syrup goo that dripped into a blob on the pavement. Then, with nothing left to keep it there, her eyeball popped out. Stark white and hollow like a ping-pong ball it bounced down the driveway and onto the road. He watched on in amazement, waiting for her to respond, to say something, to be horrified. But instead, in the silence of his astonishment there came a rustling from the hollow of her eye. Out pushed a bird; perched on the bridge of her nose it shook dry its wet feathers and flew away.
Harriet Gregory dabbles as a writer/performer and is currently studying Theatre Production. She loves bad jokes, good posture and is aggressively optimistic.