CONFUSED by Cynthia Smith

Cynthia was inspired to this by our ‘confuse    confused   confusion’ trigger.
CONFUSED    by Cynthia Smith
Marjorie was standing in the middle of … a room. She had that frightening feeling again – not being able to remember where she was or why she was there. She looked around. There were a table and chairs, a sofa, and a flowering plant on the window sill. “I wonder who lives here and where they are”, pondered Marjorie.
Just then she was startled by an unexpected sound. Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Turning, Marjorie saw that the noisy bird had come out of a little wooden house, which looked just like the one … Marjorie laughed out loud, realising that it was her cuckoo clock and this was her living room. Relieved, she sat down on the sofa.
She thought perhaps this had been going on for a while: not recognising things and forgetting where she was. Well, whenever Mam and Dad had had a problem, their first solution was … was to make a brew. Through a half-open door Marjorie could see some cupboards and a sink. Of course, that was the kitchen! She shuffled over to it and through the door. On the side were some green canisters and in front of them a flowery cup and saucer sat, as though waiting to be filled.
Again, the strange feeling came, a fuzziness in her head. What should she do now, she wondered in panic. She looked around. Ah, there it was, the …the … Marjorie picked it up, shuffled to the sink and carefully filled it with water. Pleased with herself, she took it back and, after a little fumbling, got it to sit on its stand. Now what? She remembered that the kettle – that was it, kettle! – would make a noise like a toy train and then the water would be hot. But how did she make it do that? Marjorie wished the nice young woman who visited her would come soon and sort this out.
Deflated, she shuffled back into the living room and sat on the sofa again. Her mind drifted off; to other living rooms; to people whose names she could not quite recall; to crying babies and laughing small children; a fluffy grey cat sitting on her lap …
Marjorie started violently. The doorbell was ringing and she struggled up from the deep cushion to answer it. For a moment she hesitated to open the door, but then a kindly voice said: “Hello Mam, it’s only me.” Marjorie was delighted to see the young woman again: it seemed so long since she had seen her. She smiled as her visitor gently showed her how to switch on the kettle. Having made the tea, she then produced some cake from her bag and cut a large wedge for each of them, warning Marjorie how careful she must be when using a sharp knife. Marjorie did not really take that in; she was just delighted to have some company.
They sat on the sofa, enjoying the chocolate cake and sipping hot sweet tea. Marjorie decided that the young woman must be from the … from the … the Council. People had come from the Council before, but none as nice as this one. But Marjorie did wish she wouldn’t call her ‘Mam’ – it made her sound like the Queen! “Do call me Marjorie”, she admonished gently. “Oh Mam, I can’t do that”, she laughed, giving Marjorie a little hug.
There it was again: the feeling that a thought, a name, a memory was just over the edge of her mind … She tried to pull it back. But it was gone.
She asked the young woman, who said her name was ‘Beth, short for Bethany’ (what a pretty name), if she would put the television on for her, so she could watch it after she had left. Beth showed her how to do it, how to mute the sound and put it back on, but Marjorie just smiled, knowing she would not remember.
They chatted for a while and Marjorie wished that she could have this pleasant company every day. Suddenly, the noisy bird burst out again, with five ‘Cuckoos’ this time. Marjorie did not realise that that meant it was five o’clock, but she noticed through the window that it was getting dark.
“Oh, Ron will be home soon! I must get his tea ready. I’m sorry, but I think it’s time for you to go dear. Thank you for coming.”
Beth passed a hand across her eyes to hide the tears that were welling up. It hurt so much that her mother did not recognise her. There was no point in telling her again that Dad had died two years ago – she would have forgotten before she saw her out the door. Far better to let her think Dad was still here. So she smiled and pressed her mother’s hand, promising to call as usual the next day. Marjorie bustled her out, because it was late, and because … What?
She sat down on the sofa again and looked at the television set. The young woman had turned the sound off while they were talking. Marjorie pressed a button to turn it back on, but it must have been the wrong one as the picture disappeared.
Oh well, if she couldn’t see pictures in the box in the corner, she could look at the pictures in her head … Some children were playing games on the sea shore … a little black dog raced after the ball … A family sat round a table, eating, drinking and laughing. Wasn’t that Uncle …Uncle …? Paper chains …a tree indoors, covered in lights … There was that pretty baby again … Why didn’t her mother come to stop her crying? …

MAKE NO MISTAKE By David R Graham

Flash fiction from David from the ‘Confused’ trigger

MAKE NO MISTAKE By David R Graham

Adam Goodman’s sense of welbeing increased as the 17:02 pulled into Bridlington rail station. Finally, his housing transfer was completed. He had said good riddance to Doncaster and within the next hour he would move into his new bungalow in Sewerby.

Thirty minutes later, Adam boarded the 510 bus and arrived in Sewerby at 6:03. He was tired and hungry after his long journey, during which he had sustained himself with the thought of a pint and a hot meal in the Ship Inn. Having eaten there on previous visits, he liked the pub’s friendly atmosphere, wholesome food and choice of ales and beers.

When he entered the pub, Adam was pleased to see that, other than a group of suited office workers, seated round a table to his left, the pub was relatively quiet. He did not like busy, noisy, pubs. Happily anticipating a good meal and a pint, he closed the door behind him and moved towards the bar.

He was almost there. When he heard someone shout out.

‘I DON’T FUCKIN’ BELIEVE IT!’

The words were loaded with a mix of aggression and disbelief.

A nervous shiver flushed through Adam’s body. He jerked his head to his left, in time to see one of the office workers on his feet. His tie was askew. He was well built and looked strong. His face was suffused with blood. Worse still, he was glaring at Adam with murderous intent.

Watching the man swaying on his feet, Adam realised, with a sinking feel in his stomach, that the man was drunk.

Unable to move, Adam watched the man approach.

‘You’ve got a fuckin’ nerve. Comin’ back here, Grossman!’

‘My name’s not Grossman,’ Adam said his voice hoarse with rising apprehension, ‘It’s Goodman.’

‘Is it now? Not very fuckin’ original, is it? Grossman! Goodman! Couldn’t you come up with something better than that. After fifteen years! Eh?’

‘My name, is, Goodman,’ Adam said reaching into his jacket pocket to get his wallet.

‘That’s a pile of crap, Grossman! Did you really think anyone would forget your murderin’ face?’

Adam’s wallet was not in his jacket pocket.

The man moved closer.

You must have a fuckin’ death wish! Comin’ back here! After what you did!’

Adam took his eyes off the man. With growing anxiety he searched the rest of his pockets

The man balled his fists and moved closer.

‘Well your wish is about to be fulfilled, Grossman!’

‘My name isn’t Grossman! It’s Goodman. I’m Adam Goodman,’ Adam said in a placatory tone as he continued to search his pockets, in the forlorn hope that he had missed his wallet.

‘There ain’t nothin’ good about you, Grossman! You don’t know the meanin’ of the word!’

Adam’s anxiety bordered on panic. I must have left it on the bus.

The man moved closer.

I had it when I got on at Bridlington.

The man moved closer. Others joined him.

I’ll have to call the bus company. Right away. The number might be on a bus stop.

The man was suddenly towering over Adam.

Adam jerked his head up in alarm.

The punch caught him high on his left cheekbone.

The impact jarred his whole body.

The pain shocked his nervous system.

He was being attacked!

Why? What had he done?

Terror seized his whole body.

Time slowed.

His arms flew out to his sides.

He fought to stay on his feet.

He spun across the bar room.

His attacker followed.

He crashed hard against the street door.

He shook his head.

His attacker closed in.

His vision cleared. His attacker was almost on him. There were others behind him.

He had to flee. To escape. He wrenched open the door. He dashed out to his left. Not knowing where he was going.

His pursuers were closing in.

Panic overwhelmed him.

He stopped thinking.

His vision distorted.

He charged into the side of a vehicle turning into the car park.

The impact and momentum rolled him to his left.

He tumbled between the vehicle and its trailer.

The vehicle jerked to a stop.

He fell across the trailer’s chasse bar.

His attackers pounced on him.

He gripped the edge of the trailer. Tried to pull himself to his feet. A stunning blow struck him between his eyes.

The impact plunged him into darkness.

He did not feel the rest of the blows, that pummelled the life out of his body.

davids Bar brawl image

‘So. You finally did it Carl?’ Detective Sergeant Baldwin said in a tired tone. ‘That temper of yours has finally got you facing a murder charge. How many times have I warned you?’

‘That fuckin’ creepy bastard deserved what he got. You know what he did to Elaine Greene an’ her little girls.’

‘Carl, Carl, Carl,’ DS Baldwin said in exasperation, ‘You haven’t got the brains you were born with. Have you?’

Carl Foulstone did not answer.

‘The man you and your mates beat to death, wasn’t Martin Grossman. His name was Adam Goodman.’ He had just moved here from Doncaster. You killed the wrong man. Carl. An innocent man.’

‘No way! I recognised his evil mug, the moment he walked into the Ship. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He must have been mad coming back here. He was mad when he attacked and raped Elaine and her girls. He deserved to die the way he did.’

‘You killed the wrong man. Carl. And make no mistake. I am going to do everything in my power to see that you go down for murder. I am going to see to it. That you go down for a very long time.’

‘No way! I don’t believe you! You’re wrong!’ Foulstone said with ill-concealed fear. ‘It was Grossman!’

‘No Carl. You killed Adam Goodman. Grossman has been in the maximum security wing at Wakefield; for the best part of a year, for assaulting two highway patrol officers with a car jack.’

Definite? by Chris South

Chris’s second piece from triggers Confused – now definite.

Definite? by Chris South

How do I define myself

Am I definite and here

Is this me in the definitive?

It really isn’t clear!

I could be anyone or anything

And anywhere at all

It wasn’t made explicit

From what I can recall

Supposing that I am here

In this body and this mind

And not some other entity

Is this how I’m defined?

By the parameters of existence

Encased within this shell

Futile in its persistence

To embrace this living hell

When life by definition

Is complex and imprecise

That the slightest indecision

Could result in sacrifice

Of the definitely definite

Thing I claim to be

Until I fade into the infinite

And am no longer me!

 

Copyright(c)/C8-@/Frivolous Oblivion/Definite/25/10/2015

Paradox by Chris South

Chris’s responses to our two triggers – Confusion, followed in a separate post by Definition

Paradox by Chris South

Betwixt and between

Neither seen nor unseen

Amongst them I’m alone

Eyes shut tight sleep wide awake

Each sigh a deafening tone

Heat turns cold

As youth grows old

Right is always wrong

Trees stand tall before they fall

The weak become the strong

Good is bad

And happy sad

Insane is sound of mind

Remembered times are soon forgot

Lost for all to find

Day is night

As black is white

The end has now begun

Dawn draws nigh when dusk descends

The moon outshines the sun

Birth brings death

First-final breath

This heart beats on in vain

Life sprang from a virgin’s womb

Then died and rose again

Truth is lies

When love despises

All but none the less

Freedom binds my soul in chains

Its peace is my distress.

STORM by David R Graham

STORM by David R Graham

David's stomr blizzard

‘Jack. It’s nearly five mile. You’ll not get a mile, in that lot,’ Ben Cole said pointing at the white blizzard that battered the cottage’s kitchen windows with manic intensity. ‘You’ll be lucky to make it to the road. Even if you do. That stretch through Bentley Hollow will be under six feet of snow by now.’

Jack avoided his brother’s eyes. ‘I’m not taking the road,’ he said zipping his jacket high under his chin, ‘I’m going through the fields. The tracks are good; all the way to the Pines. From there I can get onto the Quarry road. Then it’s less than a mile to mine.’

‘Through the fields,’ Bob said. ‘You’ll have less chance than you would on the road. Stay here. Jack.’

‘I can’t Bob. I have to get back. Pat and the girls are on their own. In that lot.’ Jack said and nodded at the window.

‘I’ll come with you,’ Bob said turning away.

‘No. Stay here Bob. You may be needed. The Rover’s got all-wheel drive and new tyres. I’ll make it,’ Jack added. He adjusted the hood of his jacket. Took the Rover’s key fob from his pocket and moving to the kitchen door.

Bob turned back slowly, ‘Alright,’ he said resignedly. ‘But make sure you keep your phone on. I’ll call you in thirty minutes. If you don’t answer. I’m coming after you.’

‘OK,’ Jack said and stepped out into the howling white maelstrom. He barely heard the muffled sound of the door bang shut behind him. For a fleeting moment he wanted to turn back. Instead, he turned his left shoulder to the wind and aimed the key at where he knew his Range Rover was parked. He sensed rather than heard the click clunk of the central locking. He did see the flash of the orange indicators. Their bright light boosted his confidence.

Despite the flashing indicators to guide him, Jack still had to hold his hands out in front of him to avoid walking into the vehicle. By the time he reached it, his clothes were drenched and his hands were cold. He wrenched the driver’s door open and, propelled by a blast of driven snow, he clambered quickly behind the wheel and slammed the door.

Once behind the wheel, Jack quickly started the engine and turned on all of the heating. The glowing dashboard and increasing temperature were a further boost to his confidence. For a moment, he watched the snow dissolving on his clothes. Then he quickly put the vehicle into reverse. Backed away from the cottage, swung the vehicle to the left, flipped the headlights to full beam; flipped the windshield wipers to a fast sweep and moved the vehicle forward cautiously.

The yard gates were still open, Jack knew. He caught a fleeting glimpse of the stout timber gatepost on his left and steered clear of it.

Beyond the gateway, Fireway Lane was little more than a wide white bar between snow-coated hedgerows that disappeared into the darkness to left and right. Left would take Jack down to the Folding Road. Where he could go left to the town centre. Or right, to Bentley Hollow. The first of five hamlets that led to his destination at Lammer’s Cavelly.

The Rover’s powerful headlights revealed a wide gate directly opposite the yard entrance. It was closed.

Reluctantly, Jack left the warmth of the vehicle. Keeping close to the Rover’s vibrating bonnet, to avoid the culvert that he knew was concealed to his right, he quickly opened the gate. Then he hurried back to the vehicle. Drove slowly onto the field beyond, clambered out, quickly closed the gate, practically jumped back into the Rover and moved it off at a slow sweep to his left.

One down, Jack thought. Eight more to go. It would be slow going he knew. But it would cut the road route by nearly four mile.

By the time he had passed through the fourth of the field gates however, Jack realised that repeatedly getting out of the Rover’s hot interior into the freezing night air was making him wetter and colder by the minute. So, in order to reduce the time he spent in the open. He decided to leave each of the remaining gates open. He would come back first thing in the morning and close them all.

‘Hello Ben! Yes! I’m fine. No! I’m doing fine! I’ll be home soon! Yes! Don’t worry! I’ll call you when I get there! Yes! I will! OK! Thanks Ben!’

Leaving the gates open, meant that Jack made better time. But it still took him nearly an hour to reach the last of the gate: directly across from the Pines. By which time he was soaked through to the bone and his eyes ached from squinting against the fiercely driven snow.

The Lammers Cavelly Road was on the other side of the gate. Once on the road, Jack reasoned, he would make better time. With that thought in mind. He got out of the Rover; narrowed his eyes and moved quickly to the gate.

Jack heard the sound the moment he pulled the gate.

A chill, colder than the night air, rushed through his body.

He froze.

He had recognised the sound. But he could not get his thoughts to focus on it. He cocked his head to focus his hearing.

The wind howled about him defying his effort.

Despite the wind, Jack heard the sound again. Lower this time and longer. Drawn out, lingering. Fading to a silence that defied the wind.

Jack recognised the sound.

A dog!

‘Where are you!’ Jack shouted.

He was answered by a pitiful whimper. The sound guided his frozen hands.

He touched sodden fur.

His touch produced a prolonged anguished, wail.

‘Alright!’ Jack shouted against the wind. ‘I’ve got you!’ He moved his hands along the dog’s body.

The dog yelped afresh, when Jack tried to pick it up. Something was restraining it.

Jack let the dog go and traced his hands to the dog’s neck. He found a collar and a lead. He ran his hand up the lead and found the end hooked over the gatepost. He stood up and unhooked it. It was not a lead, he realised. It was a length of nylon cord.

Had someone abandoned you, eh?’

‘Come on then! Let’s get out of this lot!’ He shouted and picked up the dog.

Ten minutes later, by the dashboard clock, Jack, guided only by the vaguely illuminated tree trunks, either side of the swirling white mass, steered the Rover down the centre of the Lammer’s Cavelly road.

‘Sorry about the wet jacket,’ he said risking a darting glance at the dog laid on the passenger seat. ‘It’s the best I can do for now. I’m going to cut through the quarry, though. So we’ll be home soon. Then we’ll get ourselves dried off and warmed up.’

‘Here we are,’ Jack said squinting uncertainly pass the thrashing windscreen wipers when he made out the quarry road. ‘We just have to get through here and…’ He risked a second glance at the dog. Its mouth was open and it did not appear to be…

It’s gone, Jack thought, letting his attention linger too long on the still animal.

In that fleeting moment, the Rover tilted to the left and began to slide.

Jack jerked his eyes to the windscreen and stared fearfully at the swirling black and white world beyond.

The Rover’s lateral momentum increased.

Jack stamped on the footbrake and wrenched on the handbrake. To his alarm, both actions served to increase the heavy vehicles slide.

Jack panicked and swung the steering wheel against the slide.

In the blink of a eye, he realised his mistake.

The Rover began to tip over to the left.

In desperation, Jack swung the wheel back to the left. But it was too late.

The Rover tilted beyond the point of no return.

Jack let go of the wheel and grabbed up the dog.

The Rover crashed onto its left side.

The windows shattered.

Jack’s head collided forcibly with the leather-padded doorframe and he blacked out.

 

‘He’s coming round.’

Jack recognised the voice. He opened his eyes in response. His head hurt abominably.

‘Ben! What happened? Where am I?’

‘In reverse order, Jack. You’re in hospital; recovering from exposure and mild concussion. The Rover turned over in the quarry and slid down an embankment. Fortunately, it stopped before it reached the water. Another couple of metres and it might have ended up six feet under.’

‘How did you find me?’

‘You can thank Charles for that, Jack. He insisted he could see a light flickering in the quarry. The rest of us couldn’t see a bloody thing. I said you would not have been daft enough to have gone through there, anyway. But Charles was his usual persistently insistent self. So we followed him and, sure enough, there you were.’

‘The dog! Ben, I found a dog! Is it al..?!’

‘Take it easy, Jack. The dog’s fine. Billie’s taken charge of it.’

‘Has she. Good. I’m sure that child’s destined to be a vet.’

‘I’m sure you’re right, Jack. They’re inseparable. She’s already named it.’

‘Has she. What’s she calling it, ‘Rover’?’

‘No, ‘Storm’.’

WILD WORDS by Margaret Moreton.

WILD WORDS by Margaret Moreton.

DSC_0639[1]

Words are not always spoken – they are there to formulate our thoughts and afford them expression. To me, many of the most expressive come from the wild; from the natural; from the unfettered and the uncultivated. They are there, expressing beauty, docility, strength, continuity, freedom and much more.

I look in my little garden patch and see the yellowing leaves of my plum tree. They say to me “We have fulfilled our purpose – we have collected water; we have sheltered fruits from wind; we have added grace to your tree and now our work is nearly done – except that we will fall to earth, decay and feed your tree for next year.” Continuity is assured. And then, I look over the wall to a holly tree, growing wild, where nature planted it and is giving so much. He has a message to my young plum tree. “You take a rest now – me? I have my busiest time of year ahead -1 nurture my fruits now and they, in turn, nurture so many bird friends. More, I give a haven to those friends on cold, icy, wind-swept days as they hunch among my closely-packed branches and shelter until better times.” The holly can be decorative too and in much demand at Christmas-tide to decorate our homes and churches. In the latter, it surely represents immortality and its evergreen quality makes it invulnerable to the passage of time.

‘Anchorage’ ‘support’ ‘quiet advancement’ are all words which come to me – from the wild – when I think seriously of the ivy and how it symbolises those words. And then I think of the carol of the holly and the ivy, and marvel at how the Christian faith has dwelt upon and used this combination from Pagan times, where the holly and the ivy represented the male and female elements of life. It underlines how intrinsic is nature to our beliefs and customs, and indeed our very needs.

The natural world – the wild – comes up with the sense of freedom and the image of beauty in strength. Again, I look to the trees and think of the oak or the yew. The word ‘oak’ is synonymous with strength and indestructibility. Reflect upon its uses in today’s world as divorced as breakwaters on our beaches and as casks maturing our wines. All this with rich, under-stated beauty in its grain. Nature, in her wildness, has given us much.

In my life I need beauty; beauty of form; beauty of nature and indeed, beauty of expression. I can find these facets in so much of the wild and natural. And I look so often to the plethora of trees to afford me the fulfilment of these needs. The sight of silver birch foliage, caught in the wind is very special – it tells me that nature unfolds beauty in the humblest of habitats and the most normal of circumstances – and my heart gives thanks. Look to the weeping willow for sheer grace and beauty of conformation, with the elegant sweep of its long, flowing branches in a gentle breeze. I see beauty in nature given to us, uncultivated as it is, in the glorious mahogany of the copper beech tree. There is real majesty in its vibrant, arrestingly rich colour. And then, the modest familiar apple tree expresses much; there is promise in the oh-so-delicate, yet strong, blossom. The fulfilment comes, expressed in the rounded bloom of the ripe fruit. In the gift of such a universally popular blossom and fruit, there is care expressed; there is practicality expressed and there is popularity expressed.

We are but one species of God’s world – given to learn and be learnt from. If we respect the wild and accord it its place, then we may enjoy it and be helped and favoured by its presence.

Photo – King’s Park, Retford, by K P Murphy