Clutch

Calli punched in the security code to lock the door, and flung herself on the bed knowing she’d have at least fifteen minutes of time alone in the room before Ursula came down from the dining room. Longer if Ursula stopped off for a drink in the staff quarters. Her head and feet were pounding, and she felt raw… the acerbic looks of the other staff having stripped away the last of her dignity. She rubbed at her eyes with the heels of her palms and felt the eye-liner and mascara smudge. Three more days. Just three more days and she’d never have to set foot on another trans-galactic cruise ship. Never had to look at Sadé again.

Staring down at her feet, Calli didn’t care if she still wore her filthy shoes on top of the cashmere blanket. Beneath the torturous leather, the strapping tape which kept some skin on her heels and toes was stained and frayed, and in desperate need of changing. Sweating the small stuff made little sense now. Sadé had seen to that.

The knock came as Calli was kicking her shoes off and contemplating the pain of removing the tape.

“Go away,” she called.

“Let me in Calli.” Dianna’s voice penetrated the metal door without the aid of the intercom, which squealed in protest at the velocity of the voice projection.

“I’m in no mood.”

The door slid open and Calli’s face flooded with indignant colour.

“Ursula gave me the code.”

Calli shook her head and gave up on the strapping tape, turning to lie face down on the bed.

“Are you going to hide down here forever.”

Callie turned her head to the side. “We dock at Europa in three days and my roster will be over. So – just three days. It’s bad enough having to go up to work.”

Dianna eased herself down on the side of the bed.

“Aren’t you blowing this all out of proportion.”

“No.”

Dianna fidgeted with the corner of her white shirt, crumpled and untucked now she was officially off-duty.

“Sadé made you a bread and butter pudding. Why don’t you go up and get some.”

“No.”

“But you love his bread and butter pudding.”

“I used to love his bread and butter pudding.”

“He made is specially for you. Blow torched the sugar on the top and all of that.”

“What a stupid waste of bread, eggs and cream. I hope his supervisor finds out.”

“How many times does he have to say he’s sorry.”

“Just once.”

“You’re being too hard.”

“Making me a bread and butter pudding is not a declaration of sorry. Nor are the flowers or any of the other stuff he’s tried. I wish he’d knock on my door instead of you and just say, ‘I’m sorry Calliste’.”

“Actions speak louder than words.”

“No they don’t.” Calli wigged off her stomach and turned to face the wall,  smothering the sobs in pillow she’d taken with her. “And I thought he’d change. I thought he was the one.”

“He promised, I know, but sometimes people just slip up.”

“He promised he’d never do it again. A promise is a promise.”

Dianna put her hand on the shoulder of her friend.

“C’mon Calli, please. Don’t let this ruin things between the two of you. You’ve forgiven him once, you can forgive him again.”

“No. If it were anything, anything, else I could. But not this.” Calli said, her words soaking into the pillow with her tears.

Dianna sat there, stroking Calli’s short black hair and waiting for the crying to finish.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Dianna said when Calli finally sat up, her face a mess of watery, black gashes on livid red flesh.

“Everyone’s talking about it.” Calli wiped away the tears with the backs of her hands.

“No they aren’t.”

“Of course they are. I see the way everyone looks at me now. The way they mutter when I walk past. There goes Sadé’s girlfriend. Can you imagine?”

“I think you’re making all this up.” Dianna reached out and took her friend’s hand. “Sadé’s up there in the kitchen cooking up a storm like nothing happened.”

“Of course he is. It doesn’t bother him.”

“Then why let is bother you.”

“Because it’s… wrong. And up here no one ever forgets anything. Remember Eric, Maddie and Sophia.” Dianna shuddered. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. Minds atrophy in the great expanse of space.”

“He loves you though. He’d do nothing to hurt you.”

“But he did.”

“Oh pah-lease, Calli.” Dianna threw down her friend’s hand and stood up. “If you carry on like this someone other woman onboard is going to snap him up while you’re planetside. It’s a lonely life up here.”

“Good for them… I’m getting off in three days and starting a life where no one knows I was Sadé’s girlfriend.” Callie squared her shoulders and swept her spiky fringe to one side. “You can have him if you want.”

Dianna blanched.

“I wasn’t suggesting–”

“C’mon. He’s a hot guy. And he can control himself most of the time.”

“Callie, I wasn’t–”

“Yes, yes, you were – Miss Peace Envoy.”

“No, I –”

“Put yourself in my shoes and see how magnanimous you’d be.”

“You’ve got it all–”

“See how you’d feel if it was you sitting at the Captain’s table, employee of the month and your boyfriend reaches over between mains and desert to take the crocodile clutch bag of the Captain’s wife… and licks it… yeah… just as I thought.”

Authors Note: This story was born from the [Fiction] Friday prompt #159 “Include this in your story: “I wish he’d knock on my door instead…” from Write Anything. Compliments also of a small boy who was trying to smear birthday cake all over a beautiful leather bag of a school friend’s mother at my son’s 6th birthday… and an off handed comment about licking the bag later!

Small Tales, Big Imaginations

We’re almost through the second term of the school here in Australia and with Mr D settled into the school routine I’ve been spending Wednesday morning in the Prep room helping out in whatever way I can.

Today the teacher was sick and she’d left a story exercise for the kids to do. There were three pictures, the first of an old lady knitting, the second of her getting up leaving her knitting behind, third was the cat leaping up on the chair to the knitting and the last square was blank. It was up to the kids to decide how the story ended.

Their task, having decided how the story ended was to illustrate it, then retell the story to one of us, so we could put it down in words for them.

Annie has been working as a relief teacher this year and does lots of creative writing (not surprising) especially if there hasn’t been set work left. She said the one thing which disappoints and upsets her most is the limited imagination of the students, even when they’re given vivid visual prompts and lots of encouraging, leading questions.

The cat, old woman and knitting wasn’t a particularly vivid image (compared to these wonderful story telling cards Annie has) but it didn’t limit the kids. Sitting on the carpet they were all given a chance to give their version of what happened – the Grandma came back and told the cat off, she came back and the cat ran away, she came back and was glad the cat had done it because she didn’t really like knitting. I couldn’t help myself. I suggested that perhaps you could draw the Granddaughter holding the knitting and the cat disappearing – leaving the Grandma to think she’d done it. Later I also suggested to the kids that perhaps the Grandma had turned into the cat after she’d left the room – because you never saw the two of them together in a picture… just to keep their imaginations probing into new and original places.

My job ended up being transcribing the stories and I was able to ask some interesting questions to get the kids to think deeper about what was in the pictures – what was the Grandma knitting, who was she knitting it for, how did the cat feel and how did the Grandma feel at the end of the story. Did something else happen next? What?

It made me think how easily it is when you get caught up in a story to miss some of the major linking information in a narrative arc – even when you write every day.

The best story I heard, was the last one.

She was one of three girls who had drawn identical pictures and coloured them in, also in identical colours. I’d told them all they had to tell me different stories because that was the joy of story telling – you can take the same idea or prompt and come up with totally different stories.

The young girl in question told me the cat was leaving. Leaving – I asked. Yes, he’s going to the bus stop. Bingo! I thought. This girl’s got it happening. So I asked her what happened to the knitting. Oh he took it with him – he was going to play with it while he was waiting for the bus.

It made me realise you can faciliate and nuture storytelling and writing, even before kids can’t physically write words and construct sentences. They are born storytellers if you give them a chance and we could foster a whole new generation of writers with nothing more than a few interesting pictures and questions.

The other thing which struck me was the context. How many people knit now? My mother, Nanna and Grandma were all knitters (just look at all the ‘lovely’ jumpers I’m wearing in the school photos) but how many kids have seen a family member knit? I asked one of the girls if her Nanna knits and she told me all about having to get the “knits” out of her hair with a comb!! I had to smile.

Now to convince Mr D’s teacher to do some more story telling exercises on a Wednesday…

Image via Items of Interest – carvings done by Pete Goldlust

Erotic Science Fiction?

Really what was I thinking when I started with this story idea.

Let’s rewind, for those who haven’t been following my deluge of bizarre facebook updates about dreams, parasites, erotica and science fiction.

The first night I stayed at Jason’s place, during my Melbourne sojourn, the one hours sleep I managed to get (because I was stressing about missing the train home the next morning – as my parents were off to a funeral and couldn’t care for Mr D) was spent having a very full on dream. I say full on, because it was a completely somatic experience and I woke up clutching my side, wondering where the blood and the squiggly things were.

I dreamt I was having pains in my right side – a bit like the pains I had during my pregnancy because Mr D was a right side lying baby and as such, there needed to be extra room for him and my liver on the right hand side – thus my ribs splayed out to accomodate it all. The pains started off mild but grew in intensity – almost like labour pains in my liver. Then I could feel things moving beneath the skin of my ribs and stomach. When I looked down I could see thin finger-like shapes moving beneath my skin. In my dream Jason came to the rescue with a syringe full of something to kill the parasites and there was lots of blood splatter…

At this point – I should point out there was NOTHING erotic about the actual dream. It was utterly disturbing and I really was looking for the exit wounds in my side.

So I got the idea for this erotic sci-fi story where the two characters have got this sexual chemistry burning up between them and at the critical moment these parasites explode out of the female characters. Sounds all very B Grade 50s sci-fi/horror… which was what it was intended to emmulate. But then I was too tired to write it and time slipped away.

I got thinking about lots of things, trying to integrate some new ideas I have been churning over, into the story and it developed from this schlock type sci-fi horror into something deeper. I had to work out how the hell the parasites got into my MC and to really even out the sexual tension into something less about flesh and getting it on… and more about the sensual dynamic between two people, and the internal dynamic. Orgasmic explosions of parasites really is probably in bad taste.

So now there’s Sappho, books of Pop Poetry and book sniffing (where the hell did that come from?)

Throw into the mix Florence and the Machine’s “Lungs” which I have been listening to incessantly since I bought it last Thursday. I have lyrics which fit with the narrative arc and the darkness in my character… and I’m trying to wind the lyrics as a poetry flash back in the shower – so the erotic part of the story is while my female character is in the shower – alone.

This is where I insert a scream… and wish someone would just come in and kill her psycho style… or the parasites would explode from there there and then… *sigh*

I know my MC is having a sexual awakening after locking away herself with her grief for the deaths of her husband and child, while traversing barren alien landscapes mapping the microbiology prior to habitation.

After writing races tonight I have 1107 words and half the shower scene. Seriously, I really could scream (in frustration not in erotic delight)… while we might have had a good giggle and crazy chat about writing about sex after our foray to the Saturday session at the EWF… I’m left wondering what the hell was I thinking? Erotic sci-fi?

Well, we’ll see I guess.

Image: Barbarella from ScifiScoops… and proof you should never google “erotic sci-fi images!” It might have been better to have found an image of some intestinal parasites…