Mike enjoyed working in the garden, out in the clean, fresh air. On a warm, overcast summer day like today, under cool shade provided by the cherry tree, he found the light reflection from his laptop computer screen, tolerable. True, working outside meant he had to put up with noise pollution from the neighbours. However, classical music streamed through decent loudspeakers served as an antidote, creating an aural backdrop acceptable to work to.Continue reading Con
Two innocent souls, from a chance meeting, quickly form an intense friendship. Several days later, following a sweaty bonding of bodies driven by mutual carnal desire, they had come to regard each other as lovebirds.
We join them, yet another day later, at Obsomba station, located on the Northern Criss-Cross Line. In the golden hour before the setting of the sun, we find ourselves needing to ask, has someone had a change of heart?
You might not imagine so, but creating an ice sculpture is very tiring work. Today, by lunch time I was exhausted. My name is Guðrún, I am an artist and during the winter months of the upper Northern Hemisphere, I busk my skills in towns and cities, creating ice sculptures in return for donations of appreciation from tourists and shoppers.Continue reading By Lunch Time I Was Exhausted …
“What’s up Ramesh?” Akira gently drew her boyfriend close. Automatically, Ramesh laid his head against her shoulder and across to her right-side, upper chest. He felt disconsolate, giving wonder and consideration as to whether he could feel reconciled with himself, now or forever in the future.
“I can’t say goodbye, it’s like we’ll never be together again.”
Akira sighed. Despite her grace, kindness and love for her boyfriend, this recurrent happening had begun to wear her down. “Ramesh, how old are you?”
“Me? I am 18, you know I am 18. Why do you ask?”
“Because Ramesh, this – this behaviour is unusual, for a young man of your age.”
“You think I’m needy, don’t you?” Ramesh snuggled his head into the yellow, furry fabric of Akira’s top.
“Clingy I would say, Ramesh.”
(Annotation by Brinkinfield)
Sunday July 4th, 2120 (Possible typo? How could it be ~100 years in the future?)
They’re everywhere now, the blue-coloured hair women, swamping city streets, filling up bars and restaurants, taking over businesses, banks, major conglomerates, media outlets and universities. I’ll be lucky if I’ll find work as an accountant in this county, ever again.
(Monday and Tuesday, entries torn out from journal)
Wednesday, July 7th, 2120
Three days in a row now, I’ve woken up to find a blue hair coloured woman posted outside my cottage (and all down the street, outside the neighbours, too). Earlier, I went out to ask of her business and she forcibly pushed me, with her hand flat against my chest, back through the front door without saying a word. I’ve got to say, I thought her pretty hot, but it’s no excuse for rudeness!
(Thursday page, blank)
Friday, July 9th, 2120
I tried to go out this morning, with my food shopping list, fridge is empty. The blue hair woman pushed me back again, growling and baring her teeth at me! When I turned to bolt back inside, she slapped my bottom cheeks hard, left and right! Both are still stinging, seated on a cushion as I write-up this entry. After I’d regained my composure and pride, I went back to the front door, got on my knees and shouted through the letterbox, telling her I’d already alerted the police. When I peered through to gauge a reaction, she turned around and gave me the finger.
Saturday, July 10th, 2120
Midday, the internet is switched off. Nothing but a 404 error message or a question mark symbol centered within a blue square, depending on which site I try. Blue woman is still there. Earlier, she tapped on the kitchen window and pointed towards the front door. She’s got really long, well manicured finger nails. Still think she’s really hot. I found a food box left outside the front door, lots of veg, granola, almond milk and dried soya mix : (
Sunday, July 11th, 2120
4am, I can’t sleep. I can’t stand this ‘no internet’ situation much longer. I might as well be living in a cave. One week isolated and I’ve got absolutely no idea what’s happening on the outside. I’ve decided I’m left with only one option: seduce the bluie, get her onto my side, then see if any other renegades are willing to join us. See if we can’t get the internet back on and life back to some semblance of order!
(Monday page blank)
Tuesday, July 13th, 2120
I’ve written out Bluie’s daily schedule, based upon notes taken yesterday, while observing her closely from the bathroom window. At least now I understand she is armed with the latest Walther pistol, concealed under her dress, the holster strapped to her left thigh. As I watched, she spun the weapon around on her fingers, practiced replacing the magazine and aiming. I have to say, she looks pretty handy with it. At around mid afternoon, she looks tired and bored, several hours still, before she is relieved by the night shift. This gives me plenty of time to enact my plan, venture outside, confront and reason with her to switch sides, locate like-minded folk and form a resistance. If she refuses, I’ll soon show her who’s boss, for sure!
(End of journal, no further entries)
©Brinkinfield 2020 All Rights Reserved
Part of the Ekphrasis Project (story inspired by a picture)
“Okay,” Gina said, “let’s get this straight right from the get-go. I am not your love, do you understand, Euan?” Gina fixed an icy stare onto the awkward young man.
“I’m just saying … ” Euan shuffled his feet and sank his hands deep into his pockets. “Look, why don’t we pop into the museum, grab a coffee in the downstair café?”
It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
Way back, in the early 2020s, I owned a café-bar in Söder, Stockholm, called Mellan Broarna, the meaning of which made sense, if you happened to be familiar with the island. Known locally for late hours, fine schnapps, a range of delicious smørrebrød and original entertainment, we welcomed local and international visitors alike. I ran the place with a light-touch managerial style, as you’d expect, encouraging bar, kitchen and waiting staff to coordinate harmoniously. They understood their responsibilities and kept the place operational, incident-free, right across all the eight years the project existed.
You’d have liked the place, unassuming from the outside, spacious on the inside. Large, arched windows looking out onto cobble streets outside. A wood interior, furniture, bar counter, finery found in all the fixtures and fittings. The brass lamps glowed orange, warm and reminiscent of a century ago.
Yes, you’d have loved the place, for sure.
My role, aside from styling, finance and administration, included sourcing performers for Friday and Saturday evenings, when we hosted a varied assortment of musicians, comics, and poets. Thursday evening served as audition night, a feeder for the weekend shows, with acts new to the venue granted the opportunity to perform in front of a smaller, but nonetheless encouraging, and appreciative clientele. Those shows steadily gained a reputation for uncovering talent, going on to appear at the weekend here, elsewhere in the city and beyond.
Genius is simple, performers arrived any time during the evening, writing their names on a piece of paper taped to the wall to one side of a modest-sized, raised stage. The acts went on in order, I compèred, read out short bios I’d scribbled onto scraps of paper; I crossed names off after each performance. Undetermined gaps of time existed between one act and another, allowing adequate time to refresh drinks, order food and discuss the pressing issue of the day. Informality ruled. Several novice creatives told me they actually preferred these feeder evenings, above the weekends, and showed up regularly.
One summer, on a Thursday evening, Bella, an African American and Gretchen, originating from Germany, arrived together; two overseas students previously acquainted by a chance meeting. Bella explained how the studio formed their usual rehearsal environment, however, they both happened to enjoy practise in the open air, with the Royal Djurgården city park as their choice location. Here, they’d stumbled onto each other and a bond of mutual appreciation quickly formed, with Bella admiring Gretchen’s cool trumpet playing and Gretchen equally impressed with Bella’s artistic ballet exercises. On the same day, according to Gretchen, they’d had a bonkers idea to become an act, as Bella Ballerina and Gretchen the Trumpeter. Prepare to be amazed! they’d told me. I chuckled, kindly, asking them, is that right?
Because, like you know, it takes a lot to amaze me, at least in a positive sense.
By ten that Thursday evening, we had comfortable numbers, not cramped; the staff each occupied with their tasks, all just how I liked it. Earlier, I had commandeered a small table and busied myself with administrative paperwork, refreshed by lager and encouraged by the promise to myself of a nightcap at the end of the evening. My attention had wandered back and forth to the stage, fulfilling my role for introductions. Several poets had appeared in the mix, along with a stand-up comedian, a folk singer performing original material with a nyckelharpa and a young woman playing several classical selections on guitar, starting with Bach, followed by a Clara Schumann piece and finishing with my personal favourite, Tarrega, with a flawless rendition of Adelita.
Then, it came to the turn of Bella and Gretchen. They emerged from the green room, located behind where I sat. First onto the stage, Gretchen with her trumpet, plainly dressed in a short-sleeved white blouse and blue jeans. Bella followed, wearing a low-back, mid-sleeve, black coloured leotard, with white tights, ballet shoes and silk ribbons. The crowd gradually hushed, as the two young women took up positions at opposite ends of the stage.
Gretchen began playing a slow tune, the notes singing, stretching out across the room, curling around everybody in the room. Bella matched the music with sensuous movement, arms unfurling down to her fingertips, ripples through her body, neck and head, and unfaltering balance en pointe. The audience were captivated, couples exchanged affectionate glances, lovers gently squeezed each other’s hands. When the pair finished, the applause echoed onto the street outside. As they turned to exit the stage, people cried out for an encore, which, smiling and clearly having fun, Gretchen and Bella obliged.
At the end, after taking their bows and the applause, they left the stage for the green room. Simultaneously, a man I recognised as a patron, the slightly eccentric Sir Charles, clearly deeply moved, left his table and advanced to meet the smiling ballerina and trumpeter. I heard him address them, saying it had been a wonderful experience, how he’d never heard such beautifully played music or seen such poise and elegance in dance, and on behalf of the universe, he wished to thank them both.
It had been an outstanding, atmospheric evening, one that holds on in the memory. You remember the times when that happened, don’t you?
©Brinkinfield 2020 All Rights Reserved Part of the Ekphrasis Project (story inspired by a picture)
“But…” Katie hesitated, what she’d just heard made no sense to her. “A double reverse Mormon thing situation.” Aware of the relative silence inside the public library, aside from the muffled sound of pages turned and throats cleared, she half whispered “What the fuck is that?”
“Well.” Maya glanced at Erik, seeking a signal he was happy for her to continue and explain. Erik returned a gentle smile, an eyebrow arched slightly.
“I hope it’s not what I’m thinking,” Katie said, noticing the non-verbal exchange, “because I can tell you straight off, I am not interested in, that.”
Disengaging himself from the conversation, Erik retrieved a large photo book from the low-level table they sat around, entitled ‘The Wonderful World of Volcanoes’ and began flicking through.
“Okay, let me explain.” Maya gauged the distance of library-users, measuring the volume of her voice to suit. “Erik you see, he grew up within a Mormon community near Gothenburg, Sweden.”
“I’m already not liking this.” Katie said.
“It’s not what you think,” Maya said patiently, “I’ve known Erik for a little over two years and I can tell you, he’s quite unique – at least in my experience of men.” Maya looked admiringly over to Erik again. “At age eighteen, upon rejecting his religion, he became initially persecuted – then completely ostracised by his family, friends – the whole community he’d grown up in; basically everyone he’d ever known.”
“No contact whatsoever?” Katie watched as Erik nonchalantly looked through the book held in his hands. Involuntary feelings of sympathy welled up inside her; he had a kind face, she thought.
“Okay,” Katie had a question, “so, you and I have been getting on well since meeting at the book club three months ago. We share similar interests and there’s been more, too. After the last gig we went to, I felt sure we were heading somewhere. But, I didn’t know about Erik; you conveniently omitted to mention your involvement with him. Why was that?”
“Right okay, I’m sorry.” Maya inhaled deeply. “Look – you understand how relationships work within the Mormon faith, don’t you?”
“I know about the polygamy.”
“Yes, okay, well Erik’s take on this, now he’s outside of the faith – is he doesn’t mind if I have additional relationships, with women.” Maya paused, allowing time for the statement to be absorbed and understood.
“But not with other men?”
“Not with other men, correct.”
“And Erik has relationships with other women?”
“No, nor with anyone else. He is exclusive to me; this is his choice.”
“And,” Katie asked, “he has no ambition for involvement with you and I together?”
“That is amazing.”
“Believe me, he is an amazing man.”
“Okay.” Katie’s gaze moved between Maya and Erik. “What if,” her voice adopting a speculative tone, “what if I was interested in Erik?”
“You can’t be.”
“I mean, as well as you – the three of us all together.”
“No, you can’t be.”
Erik slowly closed the book and returned it to the table.
It was late and the dance floor was sweaty; lithesome bodies competed for space. Two new arrivals gravitated through the dimmed light towards the bar, drawn by the sound of a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice and fine liqueurs. The man pulled out a wooden stool from the service counter and registered the attention of a member of the bar staff.
“Come on Danny,” said his female companion, pulling at his hand, “let’s dance, I just love this music!”
“But you’ve barely danced a step in your life Olivia, this is a quite ridiculous suggestion!” Danny’s body mass remained as motionless as a sunken ocean liner’s anchor, lost to the sea bed.
“Fuck-you Danny!” Olivia gripped both her hands around his wrist, managing to tilt the stool forward. “You taught me a few tango steps last year and I said we’d try them out at the next opportunity.” She tugged harder still, gritting her teeth in determination as accordion, violin and snare drum sounded, filling into all corners of the bar.
“I just came in here for a nightcap, we’ve not long eaten – you’ve already drank too much. This is a bad idea Olivia!” Sturdy heels put a brake on further progress.
“Come on Danny, less of the excuses, it’s Argentinian tango – my favourite!”
“Argentine.” He sighed. “Olivia! You will make fools out of both of us, the people here – they know well what they are doing.”
“So? So do you – for fuck’s sake. You taught a tango class for years!” The sight of an assertive young woman engaged in a fierce tug-of-war, caused a rippled of amusement amongst people within the immediate vicinity. “Take control – like how you’re good at, and guide me Danny. I’ll be your marionette for the rest of the evening.”
He relented, his eyes glancing heavenwards seeking divine intervention. “It really, truly doesn’t work like that, but, okay.” For a moment, he observed his partner, her serious expression melting into one declaring a satisfying victory. As her grip on his hand loosened, his fingers interlaced between her own and together they navigated between the busy tables, out toward a space onto the dance floor.
© Brinkinfield 2020 All Rights Reserved
Part of the Ekphrasis Project (story inspired by a collage)
From a series of short form fictions taking inspiration from collage.
For a moment, Mr Andrews stood stock still – dismayed and shocked. Then, with the ice cold water seeping down through his clothes, he lifted the upturned plastic bucket free from his head. The muffled giggling he’d heard start only seconds ago, now became clear in tone.
“Oh Mr Andrews,” came a voice, “We’re so sorry, but we couldn’t resist a classroom prank – not on the day we have returned to visit you specially!” Wiping his eyes with a white handkerchief drawn from his pocket and replacing the spectacles which had become dislodged from the pronounced bridge of his nose, Mr Andrews stared at the two young women in astonishment.
Recognition synchronised with memory. “My God,” he said, dropping the bucket to the floor, “it’s the non-identical Faith twins – Nancy and Trixie!” As he approached the unexpected visitors, Mr Andrews lost his balance, slipping on the floor where a puddle of water now surrounded him – falling forward onto his hands and knees.
“Oops, Mr Andrews! No grip on those shoes!” said Nancy, the more talkative of the two. “Here, let us help you to your feet.” The young women hauled up their former schoolteacher and dragged him over to a chair, located behind a wooden desk at the front of the empty classroom.
“It’s such a surprise to see you both.” He said, pulling at the front of his woollen jumper, checking the level of drench he’d incurred. “It must be four years since I saw you last.”
“That’s about right.” Said Nancy.
“You must have gone through university, what are you both doing now – what have you become?” The twins exchanged a glance containing a glint of wickedness even Mr Andrews – despite his lack of worldly-wise experience, could not miss. “Go on girls, tell me, what have you become..?”