Call me

confusion reigns just now for me

life moves forward

then steps back three

this way that way

a choice to make

a chance a risk

shall I take?

taking time to work things out

first a whisper then a shout

voices calling on the phone

unknown faces verbal tone

anger danger people scared

ringing me as if I cared

but care I do hence my confusion

this job’s for real

no illusion

© Liola Lee 2019

Short poem about whether to take a job dealing with people in crisis…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Fairytale Trap

Never make assumptions because more often than not, they’re wrong! 

The girl with a stare, queueing at the counter with token toddler in tow, tugging relentlessly at her shirt tails as tiny tots tend to do,  is a typical take on thoroughly modern mummyhood. Looking like, and yet not like any young mum taking the chance to escape the terraced cage for a bit, another pregnancy, baby bump bulging through tight, once loose top. Dirty disposables, playgroup melodrama, and conversations cradled in cliches and laundry lists are the order of the day if she’s lucky. More often than not it’s tantrums, Telly Tubbies and tea after tears. Stopover at the coffee shop is a welcome temporary release from the monotony of reluctant motherhood. A skinny latte, and almond croissant when she thinks nobody’s looking and nobody cares. After all a little indulgence helps her get through the routine of yet another lonely day. Is this it?  A grade ‘A’ student with potential to do well someone had once said. Somewhere, sometime, something had happened to change the course of the class room. She had fallen in love with the wrong boy, and as so often happens when young girls lose their hearts had got pregnant because she believed in fairytales and happy ever afters. Hers,  however was not a Cinderella marries a Prince Charming kind of story where the glass slipper fits but more a reality tv show where the ill fitting shoe is now on the other foot and the feet are blistered and sore. Fairytales are not real, they never were and dreams are but a distant destination of a deluded delinquent imagination. Sleep is hit and miss, though more missed than hit these days. Life is filled with small demanding people and big demanding people. Somewhere beneath and between the lines of the never ending story, the girl got lost in a clothes peg world of chores and domesticity. 

Fast forward 30 years and the rest, and the girl now a mature woman of 54, grey unsaloned  hair frames her face where once was mocha and chocolate carefully corkscrewed curls. Her roles are many but still she is lost, still lonely and alone in a crowded coffeeshop where the conversation has become comfortably stale. This is an unknown woman without a face still trapped in the fairytale that she sold herself in 1984. 

“And what will it be today Madam? Your usual skinny latte and almond croissant? said the Barrista.

“No, not today. Today I shall have tea and toast’,

© Liola Lee 2016

I wrote this while treating myself to some time out in a Costas coffee shop. It was an idea I had for a book idea. It’s still an idea…..

 

 

 

 

Little Women Revisited…

With her arms wrapped tightly around his waist, off he cycled towards home with her riding pinion. Home, back then to both was in the Lane at Kent House. It was always a blast when Laurie met her outside the school gates and took her home on his shiny metallic blue Chopper bike. Chopper bikes were right on trend in the early to mid 70s. The other girls always looked a little envious, either because she got a lift or maybe because it was on a Chopper. If her Mum had known, she would have had her guts for garters, and most likely Jo would have been grounded indefinitely, or at least until she got round her Mum with a nice warming cup of tea or some other such bribe. Chopper bikes were decidedly dangerous contraptions, some would say death traps but they looked good, and were fun to ride but the handle bars were lethal, a visit to casualty in the waiting. He, Laurie lived at number 4 with the mustard yellow door with his Dad John, Mum Doreen and younger sister Sarah. She, Jo lived a little further along the lane, on the same side of the road five doors up at number 14, where the front door was a sort of muted red, not quite scarlet but lighter than crimson. At Jo’s house were Dad Hew, Mum Mary, and her three sisters Meg, Beth and Amy. Jo and Laurie were friends, childhood friends, and had been since 1974 or thereabouts when Jo and Laurie were heading towards puberty. Between 1970 and 1974 they saw each other but that was all.  Their friendship when it started was platonic, nothing more, nothing less, and if it was more than that they never said a word. Sometimes words can spoil a friendship, sometimes words can spoil a marriage. Words have been known to bring down governments and make complete fuck-ups of families. Can boys and girls ever have a platonic friendship? Some, maybe many would say no but who are others to judge? Sometimes things are left unsaid, and one day everything changes because kids become adults and childhood gets lost somewhere in the archives of time. It was the early 1970s, and they were just children learning how to live, learning how to love and trying to fathom things out as they muddled along the road that is life. There was a crowd of boys and girls who lived in the Lane who sometimes hung out and sometimes did not, each with stories to come and histories to make. These were the kids of Kent House Lane.

Jo was actually Joanne Mary Huett, the Mary being named after her mum. Being somewhat of a tom boy she liked to dispel with the ‘anne’ bit and just be called Jo. Short and to the point, just like Jo who was petite in stature, and down to earth in character, always saying what she thought, often without thinking but never meaning any harm. Her rosy cheeks demonstrated a love of the outdoors. She had a mass of wild unruly raven curls, and preferred to wear washed out jeans and tee shirt given the choice.. She had no airs or graces, loved being out in the fresh air, and sometimes wished she had been born a boy as they seemed to have all the fun, or at least more fun than their female counterparts.They never got stuck with girl stuff  like washing up, sweeping and tidying, though in truth when there were any chores to do Jo  somehow  always managed to sneak out of the house and back to play. Meg, the eldest also always managed to evade household chores. Amy was still too young to be expected to do much around the house, so poor Beth, who was always so helpful and  so responsible got stuck with being the helping hand of the family. Beth was the second eldest. There were just eleven months between Meg and Beth. Then came Jo, three years after Beth, and then two years later came dear little Amy, the baby of the family. They were the Huett girls;  four little women of the 20th century.  Jo was just seven when she moved to the Lane. Before the Lane she had lived with the family in Sydenham in a rather large caricature of a ground floor flat in a large red brick Victorian House but that’s another story. 

This is Jo’s story as seen through her eyes. 

1970 The Move

“Come on girls…it’s time to leave” Daddy called out with that beautiful precise diction that was Daddy’s . It’s what my Mum, Mummy had initially fallen in love with!

We were all enormously excited because we were moving house. It was a big new adventure! Up until now we had lived in a flat, a big flat but still a flat. We were moving to our new house, and we would be occupying all of it, not just one floor. Just us and nobody else. The new house was in Beckenham which was considered so lardy da!  Just a couple of miles away,  so not too far to go.  Mummy and daddy had got a GLC Mortgage in order to buy it, though at the time we did not even know what a mortgage was, let alone a GLC Mortgage.  We just knew we were moving to a brand new house. Well, not a brand new house as it had been built during the 1930s, another thing we were not really aware of at the time, as children do not tend to dwell on such things too much when they are very young but to us it was brand new. We had never lived there before, so it was to all intents and purposes as new as they came. We were to have our very own front door, a front garden and a back garden,  just for us. I do not really recall being sad when we left the old house in Hillcrest but children look at things differently to adults. Looking back, I am sure leaving Hillcrest must have been sad to some degree for mummy and daddy as they had history there, and it had been their first home without Nana, and Aunties May and Connie. It had been a compulsory order for us to leave the old house, as the remaining old victorian houses in Hillcrest were to be demolished to give way to new flats to extend the nearly new  Hillcrest Estate which was full of high rise flats, all granite grey and concrete.

When we arrived at Kent House we all piled out of the car, crashing unceremoniously through the garden gate, down the short path, and all but stumbling into the house, all trying to be first in, and not quite managing it. Meg and Beth were to have the back bedroom that overlooked the back garden and and an expanse of land beyond the garage and back alley. Me and Amy were to have the small box room at the front of the house which looked out into the lane so we would be able to see the comings and goings on. We were the little ones so it was the little bedroom for us. They were the big ones and got the big room. Of course Amy and me had bunk beds. Me on the top and Amy on the bottom, though sometimes Amy  would join me in the top bunk as siblings often do, at least until she fell out and really hurt herself, and then she stopped coming in to my bed.  Mummy and daddy took the front bedroom with the bay window which I guess was the master bedroom. There were no ensuites in those days. There was a compact, some may say tiny bathroom with a toilet next to Meg and Beth’s room, and there was no downstairs toilet as there are in many of today’s houses. So if someone was having a bath you had to check to see if they needed to go to the loo first, or they would just have to wait but you never really thought anything of it as it was just the way it was. It was just lovely having a new house. We were all going to be very happy here. When you go into a house or any building you can often feel if it is a happy home or an unhappy one. Kent House was the former. We were home now and you know what they say. Home is where the heart is and all that mushy stuff that us sentimental types tend to fall for, hook, line and sinker whatever that may mean. So what’s the story behind the girl? 

Jo

Sometimes you have to go back to before the beginning of the story.  It’s a lie or maybe not a lie but a fib,  when they say a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Most stories have lots of beginning, lots of middles and many endings. It just depends on who is telling the story.  The Storyteller gets to pick and choose, and tell or not tell but the Author gets to show.  Jo wanted to write, did write and wanted more than anything to become a published Writer. She wrote poems, stories, snippets and anything else that ignited her rather overactive imagination. At the age of 5 or not quite 5 but nearly, Jo had started primary school and could already write her full name which was considered an achievement for a child at Kelvin Grove. Furthermore, she knew the alphabet off by heart. Yes, Jo loved to write, loved the language with all her being and wanted to get what was inside her out onto the page. 

Jo was the third daughter to be born to Hew and Mary. 

©. Liola Lee 2019

One of my favourite novels/books  as child/teenager/adult was ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott. Being one of four sisters, I was able to identify with the characters in the story to varying degrees. My plan is to revise/combine the story with my own, so a mixture of fact and fiction. Whether I complete the project or not is another matter but it is an idea in my head just now….and I mean just an idea but maybe it could lead somewhere or maybe not…would love to know your comments on my idea!

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Dick and Jane

Jane’s discharge was absolute. She was better now, healed, a beacon of light to the other residents who still had time to serve. No longer on section, Jane was free to go. No more visits by the psychiatric team. No more case reviews, no more anything in connection with the white coat brigade. She was released without ceremony, to go on her way wherever she saw fit. She was no longer their concern. Jane walked away from the centre. She did not turn and look back. She had things to do, places to go and people to see. Time spent incarcerated delays living. As the doors closed behind her she walked forward with an air of quietude . She knew that she would catch up with everything in the end, and that all would be okay or at least okay in her world.

In contrast to her exit, Jane had not arrived at the centre quite so quietly,  which was more a hospital really, and the residents in truth patients. On arrival at the centre some 24 months or so ago or something like that, she had screamed like a barking mad banshee, and struggled with the nurses who were just guards in disguise with a bit of nurse training thrown in for good measure.  She would not make it easy for them, her captors but would fight them with all the fight within her until they were willing to listen. Days, weeks, months, and finally two years passed.  Jane learnt how to play the game, and now she was free to go. 

Dick had dropped Ella at Nursery, and had returned home. Work could wait. He had more important things to do today, rather than go to the office to work on the new accounts. The accounts could wait, there was something else that could n’t. Arriving home, he noted that the gate was closed. Knowing he had left it open earlier, and also knowing that the Postman also always left it open, he was a little on his guard, though not afraid. After all this was Jane, his Jane. He had been expecting her, though he had thought he may be home before her. 

He opened the door slowly, and as quietly as he could. Walking into the hall he could smell the unmistakeable heavy scent of Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium, Jane’s signature scent; it was heady just like her. The door to the kitchen was open, not wide open, just open a few inches, and not quite enough to see into the room. He hesitated for a moment, then went into the kitchen but there was no-one there. He was a little surprised as he was sure she would be sitting at the table waiting for him. It was what she did or at least what she used to do when she wanted to confront him with something, nothing and anything. It was just her way. He wondered if she had learned her lesson. After all, that had been the point of this last two years.

He walked back out into the hall, stood at the bottom of the stairs, and called out ‘Jane’ .

No reply. Nothing. Just silence, and that perfume. That smell took him back to that first meeting with Jane, back to the beginning.

Where was Jane? She had clearly been here. There was no mistaking that but where was she now? He was both puzzled and even a little perturbed, annoyed even. Predictable Jane was being unpredictable. Dick hated unpredictability. Jane would have to answer for that. Just wait until he caught up with her. He knew he should have gone to collect her and bring her home himself. She could never be trusted to get things right. Back in the kitchen Dick clenched his fists, and punched both down hard on the table. Being solid Oak the table withstood the attack. Dick’s knuckles did not. Dick sat down at the table, looked down at his bloodied throbbing hands. This was not quite the reunion he had imagined for so many months.

Dick looked up at the large clock which hung on the wall on the other side of the table. It was coming up to 2.30pm. Had he really been sitting there for all this time. Taking a deep breath, Dick stood up, he stretched out his fingers. The blood had dried. His hands hurt but nothing broken, not any bones anyway. He needed to pull himself together. Ella finished Nursery in half an hour and he must be on time. He was always on time. Turning the tap on, the water ran cold as he rubbed the blood from his hands. He watched as the now diluted blood washed away down the plug hole. He dried his hands, checked them once more for stains and getting his things together, he went out the front door to get in his car to go fetch Ella. Had he locked the front door. He was unsure, so went back and checked again, and again, and again, his OCD resurfacing from somewhere past,  until he had satisfied himself that the door was indeed locked. 

© Liola Lee 2018

This was a writing exercise set by Stephen King in his book ‘On Writing’. Whether he would think I had hit the mark or not is not up for debate. I have still to finish his book. This I plan to do this year along with the others I have started but not yet completed. That said, this could be the start of a story maybe?