A little love to shine
A heart to want as mine
Hide underneath the staircase
You have to look to find
So, here I am, at the top of a raised gangway secured to a vintage paddle steamer, a bouquet of pink carnations in my hand and about to make the boldest statement of my life. The backstory as to how I come to be here, I will explain, briefly.
Despite growing up to realise Aditya is viewed by society as an ‘imaginary friend’, he has been in my life since before any other meaningful event I am able to recall. Today, he is no less real. He is the brother I never had and better known to me alone, as Adi.
I know. You are sceptical. You didn’t have an imaginary friend when growing up, nor have you ever known anyone who did. I’m sorry for you, I really am. Believe me when I tell you, you have missed out. Right from the beginning, Adi has been my sage, providing support, advice and guidance. He’s given comfort when needed, warmed me, warned me, saved and occasionally scolded me. But he has never, ever, abandoned me. Unconditionally, he has always been here, right by my side.Continue reading “Imaginary Friend”
“It’s such a beautiful day.” Standing on the fifth floor balcony of the hotel room they’d checked in to only minutes previously, Santiago surveyed the vista before him.
Maria dropped her backpack onto the bed, removed the hair band she’d worn all day, ruffled her hair and joined the distinguished-looking young man, outside. “It’s just such a beautiful countryside; where are we, exactly?”
“You know what?” Santiago’s expression softened, “I don’t know for sure. I know we are in northern Europe. After we met for the first time this morning, at Charles De Gaulle airport, our train stopped in Brussels and then continued through Belgium. Could we be in the Netherlands? I’m unsure, I dozed off several times.”
“No.” Maria pointed towards a mountain range. “The Netherlands are flat, bicycle friendly flat. Did you know that in the town of Utrecht you can coast along unaided on a bike for one kilometre after pushing through just five pedal rotations?”
“I did not know that, Maria.” Santiago grinned, amused by his companion’s reply. “How did you happen to come by this information?”
“I’ve told you, I received a good education back in Buenos Aires.”
“A good Catholic education and upbringing. I wonder what Sister Carmella would think of your pink hair?”
“I wonder what she’d think of this?” Maria faced Santiago and forced her hand between his legs. Her fingers groped the loose folds in his trousers, until, from touch, she identified his balls. With a firm grip established, Maria pulled her catch towards her. Santiago felt a flourish of bodily changes spring into action, as his lips met with hers.
“Al-right,” Maria said, pulling away from the embrace, “a decent sized set you’ve got down there.” She winked, smiled, lifted up a little onto her toes and planted another kiss, this time onto the smooth space between Santiago’s eyebrows and nose.
“You know, it matters not where we are,” Santiago fixed his gaze into Maria’s green eyes, “I am just glad we found each other.”
“I can check our location!” Maria excitedly retrieved her phone from her jean’s back pocket and began tapping in her birth date code to access the phone’s features.
“No, hold that action Maria. Don’t you see? We are two porteños on an open ticket, a random adventure visiting the other side of the world a long way from home. Isn’t there something magical about that?”
“Oh for sure!” Maria cleared a list of notifications from her locked screen and returned the phone to her pocket. “Honestly, all the station names we’ve seen, they’ve meant absolutely nothing to me. All I can tell you is that we are not in Spain.” Laughing, she draped her arms around Santiago’s neck and scattered light kisses across from his jawline, to his cheekbone, to his temple. A sense of euphoria grew large and fluffy, inside Santiago’s head.
“M-Maria … Maria, I, I, love, you.”
Maria could make out the shape of two nipples showing through Santiago’s shirt. Deftly, she slid her hands down and covered both protuberances with the face of her thumbs. “It’s still early,” a cheeky expression danced across her face, “let’s open the wine you picked up. I’m taking a shower.” She gave his left nipple a sharp twist, felt his chest muscle tense and a satisfyingly deep growl vibrate through her momentarily flattened palm.
“If you don’t mind,” Santiago said, “I’ll kick these boots off and watch some TV whilst you shower.”
“Go right ahead, I won’t take long.”
“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?”
“Mike!” Alona shouted, her voice cutting through the mewing seagulls overhead. “You’ve got to pull yourself together. Come on, let’s take a stroll, I need fresh air.”
Separated by an intentional gap, they headed across the car park towards the quayside. There, under watchful eyes of mothers, a huddle of children leant over the edge dangling lines baited with bread to lure crabs. Equipped with small red nets attached to bamboo canes, fathers stood nearby, ready to catch the crabs when clear of the water’s surface. Under the terms of an unspoken truce, Mike and Alona peered into a rainbow-coloured plastic bucket containing water. Various sized dancing crustaceans waited impatiently for their return to the sea, ready for the next hunter-gatherers.
They continued walking in silence. The Nelson stood on the far edge of the quay, backlit by an intense pink sunset. Eager customers lined the picnic tables outside. The aroma of deep-fried fish drifted through the air.
“I know it’s all my fault.” Mike said.
“Stop biting your fingernails, Mike. Please … not in public.” Sharp glances traded between the couple. “Retain some … dignity, won’t you? Anyway, explain to me, what’s all your fault?”
“From when we first met – six months ago – I placed you upon a pedestal.”
“No! Okay yes, sort of.” Mike stopped, turned and gripped the safety rail, casting his gaze out across the harbour to where yachts and fishing boats bobbed on the water. “You’re beautiful, kind-hearted by your actions, more intelligent than me, you brim with self-confidence. I saw you as perfect. You fulfilled my ideal vision of a woman and life-long companion. Honestly Alona, I’d convinced myself I saw an aura glowing around you, each time we made love.”
“Then why,” Alona drew alongside Mike and placed a hand over his, “does it feel like this relationship’s crashed emotionally? Don’t you want this any more?” She studied his expression, searching for clues,
“I feel awful saying this and you’re not going to like it.” Mike bit on his lower lip. “Recently, I’ve come around to seeing your faults.” Mike looked at Alona, noticing her eyes widening and her posture stiffen, as she sighed deeply. “How you sometimes make insensitive comments, forget to clear up after yourself and possess few money-management skills. As the mistakes racked up, one after the other, you went from representing my whole world to a meteor, vaporising upon entry into my planet’s atmosphere.”
“You mean, I fell from the pedestal you’d placed me on, falling from a very great height.”
Mike felt his hand grasped firmly, his arm tugged. “Right, Mike Montagne, you come with me.” For her height and size, her physical strength surprised him. He felt small and insignificant, resistance seemed pointless.
“Where’re we going?” He asked.
“You’ll see.” Alona snapped back, without turning her head.
Without warning, she changed direction sharply and descended the concrete steps built into the harbour wall, onto the jetty below.
“Get down on all fours!” She demanded.
“What … why? What’s going to happen to me?” He said, lowering himself shakily onto both knees. Alona’s hand pressed onto the back of his head, pushing him down to the seawater.
“Don’t struggle.” Her words, just before his face made contact.
Quickly, he drew in a deep breath and closed his eyes. The shock of the cold water numbed his lips, cheeks and forehead. Against the vermillion background of his eyelids, small, bright blue ovals drifted in random directions. The harshness of sound dampened, as water filled his ears. After a stream of bubbles escaped his mouth, Alona pulled him out.
“Breathe.” She told him, before pushing him downwards one more time.
“How are you feeling now?” Alona asked.
“I think, I feel alright.” Mike replied, sitting down. The harbour wall served as a backrest; drawing up his legs, he rested his chin onto his knees.
“Yes, actually I feel quite serene.” He said, managing a smile.
“You’ve just experienced a remnant of the mammalian diving reflex.”
“I have?” Mike ran his fingers through his wet hair and gave his head a shake.
“It’s a response we share with most mammals. When cold water hits the face, physiological changes occur.”
Alona adjusted her summer shift dress and sat down in front of Mike. “Well, the important aspect for humans relates to blood flow, concentrating in vital organs: the heart, brain, spleen and so on. Increased levels of oxygen accompany the blood flow, producing a calming effect.”
“So,” Mike held Alona’s hand, “whenever I feel anxious, find a wash basin and dip my head in cold water.”
“Yes, even the simple act of splashing cold water onto your face helps. But immersion, like just now, works best.” Alona shuffled along on her bottom, closer to Mike. “In this calm state, I want you to understand; I love you. Okay? Also, forgive me my little foibles, allow me some leeway. There exists dark and light aspects to my character; I love myself, perfection holds no interest to me. You and I will move forward if we are happy, trusting, secure and wishing to grow together. You need to accept me as I am. Okay?”
©Brinkinfield 2020 All Rights Reserved
Part of the Ekphrasis Project (story inspired by picture)
With special thanks to the Covid-19 Lockdown
From a series of short form fictions taking inspiration from collage.
It was half way through the lunch break. Everyone else had gone outside to eat their sandwiches in the sunshine, leaving just these two colleagues sat together in the admin office, deep in conversation.
“Yeah, well that’s the story of my life, I guess.” Tom looked down at his new sandals, his toes poking through, nails beautifully pedicured – nails he spent much time on, trimming and shaping, occasionally painting. He sensed a hesitation in Barbara.
“It… it’s the story of most shy people, isn’t it? You live out life in your dreams; night-time escapes from the reality that is your life in real life… No?” She rested her hand onto his muscular lower thigh. Long fingers extended encircling his knee, followed by a sharp squeeze, forcing a reflexive leg kick from her quarry.
“Yes, you’re right.” The tall concrete wall guarding Tom’s feelings transformed to shrink-wrapped, stacked cardboard boxes held together by ever weakening package tape. “But don’t you understand? I meet women in my dreams who actually give me their attention – who talk to me and are attracted to me.” Tom paused, taking in a deep breath. “In my dreams, I find myself accompanied on local history museum tours, enjoying restaurant dinners, hand-in-hand walks through the streets of picturesque villages located across south-eastern France. And always finishing-up, late at night, inside an apartment…”
“But Tom!” Barbara interrupted abruptly. “It’s not, real!”
“How can you say for sure it’s not real, Babs? I’m there for between six to eight hours per twenty-four hour day, living a full and bountiful life that I love! Who’s to say it’s this life that’s not reality? Maybe you’re a figment of my non-reality?” Swiftly, Tom spun around in his office chair, which squeaked and groaned under its load. His stomach filled with a rising sense of regret, wishing he had not outburst quite so.
“Oh, I’m not real am I?” Barbara’s face went all serious. “Well Tom, I was going to say I’d be your girlfriend. I’ve fancied you from afar, not letting-on regarding my feelings of affection towards you. Up to now, you’ve featured in several of my fantasies. But, I guess you’re not interested.” She spun away in her own office chair, heading at speed towards the tea and coffee station. “You’re happy enough in a pretend world, I see that this much is clear!”
“Barbara!” Tom yelled, “It’s always you who’s the co-star of my dreams!”
“Oh Tom…” A teardrop rolled down Barbara’s cheek, falling into her mug, fractionally diluting the semi-skimmed milk more so. “You’re just saying that, now.”
If you need more, the car will show the way
On road we go, or land not known to say
Or land not known to say
Sit back and chill the seed is now a tree
The hills sweep low, a bell does ring for thee
A bell does ring for thee
We park not far, to walk the rest on grass
The wood has grown all green now hides the pass
All green now hides the pass
A scent of sea or salt to sand and blue
We track a stream, you know it leads us through
You know it leads us through
On chalk our steps drift dust, to air and light
The house we know. is dark and stands on white
Is dark and stands on white
A gate is done the beach at last in view
With thoughts we sit, no words I say to you
No words I say to you
No crowd will come, we share this space alone
No time is lost, the rocks become your throne
The rocks become your throne
We wave goodbye it’s time to let you be
I leave you here, the place you love found me
The place you love found me