Monday, April 23, 2007

"Friends, Re-united": A Shortshort Story.

It’s been a long time, as they say.
And in the distance, she’s fatter. She’s waddling towards me.
Fancy that, sexy Jackie, who once glided in lurex round Quaintways*, now actually waddling.

Clark’s shoes with Velcro? There are probably hairs on her chin. Thread veins on thighs. Her dress might even be crimplene.
I stand beside King Charles Tower, conscious of belly, bald patch, patting the back pocket of my M&S stretch jeans, where photos nestle beside video card (it’s beery) and glasses (they’re smeary).

Jackie waves. I’d never have known her but for the tulip in her hand.
We plumped for a tulip because they grew in the park that first time we snogged; just fourteen, she at the High, me at the Grammar. There were red tulips, yellow ones. We sat on a bench and looked at the Dee and she sang “ Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen” while I felt her breasts, until I stopped and pointed out that Copenhagen was Denmark and tulips usually meant Holland. She’d smelt of apples and Tizer and spearmint gum. Her breasts were soft like her Nan’s budgie, and when I touched her nipples, circling them with my finger so that they perked up like soldiers, she’d said: “ Heaven” and then she’d cried.

Her smile is wide.
“ Look at you, forty years on” she says and her voice is her mother’s and her eyes are her Nan’s and we face each other and hold hands and hers are small and cold and cluttered with rings.
She stands on tiptoe, offers her cheek to mine. It’s powdery yet damp and I remember maiden aunts sipping Bristol Cream at Christmas.
We link arms and “ Who’d have thought it? “ she says and we’re standing under Eastgate Clock and we’re watching the crowds of our city, its Smiths, its Boodle and Dunthorne.

“ The park?” Jackie’s eyes giggle. And I remember them ringed with kohl, how they glittered.
So we kiss on a bench and the kiss is sweet and the kiss is tender and Jackie says: “ Heaven” and then she cries.

* A long-gone Night Club


Blogger Minx said...

Jan, it's taken me a couple of days to catch up with things.
So sorry if you missed The Bucket Boys. We saw them at Lanhydrock last August - rhythm and blues in the park - brilliant. Hope yer teeths is better.

Loved the story. Nice to read someone who is not afraid to add a little sauce where needed.
I have just submitted to The Clarity of Night competition. There are some cracking stories over there.

10:44 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Yes, I've heard already from certain attendees of the party; The Bucket Boys were brilliant on Saturday..."Grr!" she says through her gritted teeth (but then THAT's entirely the wrong expression in the circumstances...)
LLanhydrock superb; we spent a day there 2 or 3 yrs ago. House/garden wonderful, steeped in stories and lovely imaginings..I REALLY want to go back sometime.
Glad you enjoyed the story. I love the refining necessary in creating a very short story, the whittling of words..

10:55 pm  
Blogger Catherine said...

I always enjoy your stories. Hope you are feeling much better.

7:02 am  
Blogger TitaniaWrites said...

Wonderful story, Jan. I hope putting it on your blog doesn't mean you can't submit it elsewhere too.

8:43 am  
Blogger Marianne said...

Excellent story, Jan, and glad you are feeling better now. I, too, am brewing a post around Friends Reunited. It's on the back burner.

I wish I had your skill with words.I haven't tried writing anything since I left school at 18 until now. Any pointers?

9:42 am  
Blogger I Beatrice said...

Loved your story, Jan. Admirable economy indeed. For the longer-winded way of doing it, go to Dickens, in Little Dorrit.... Marvellous stuff too - if a little wordy for today's tastes.

On another note, I loved your concept of Yourselfness. Which is as far from mere selfhood or selfishness as can be. It saddens me therefore to introduce a more sombre mood. What if Yourselfness is all you've got? My beautiful little 4-yr-old grandson is autistic, and Himselfness is the only thing he knows. What he hasn't got - and will have to struggle to achieve, step by painful step, all the days of his life - is any concept of the Otherness of other people.

9:54 am  
Blogger Anne S said...

Count me in on the admirers of your story. It rings bells. These days meeting old boyfriends and such - not that we get on such intimate terms as your characters - is just like that. A mental criticism of their appearance. Though one doesn't dwell on such things considering that they may be thinking equally unflattering things about me.

12:36 pm  
Blogger Lizzie said...

Jan, I enjoyed your short story very much - and thanks for your kind comment on my own site.

The trip to France was marvelous- do check it out later (when I've posted it - today, with luck!)

1:07 pm  
Blogger Jackie Luben said...

Lovely story Jan, and short enough to read without feeling guilty at the other things one should be doing. Wasn't too happy about my namesake waddling, though. Too close to home.


3:16 pm  
Blogger Cathy said...

Great story, Jan.

4:53 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

Spot on, Jan, very piquant, really enjoyed it. Glad you're feeling better!

7:16 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Thankyou for all the comments.
It's much appreciated!

9:46 am  
Blogger mutleythedog said...

Just discovered you - its a great story!

12:35 pm  

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