Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"Out Of The Blue.... Into The Blue "

This piece is the start of something begun ages ago.
I'd actually completed about 20,000 words, then I deleted most of them by accident while ( stupidly) fiddling about on my computer keyboard as I chattered on the phone... so 20,000 words vanished into the blue, just like that. Hence the 2nd bit of my title!

So, just to confuse, the story below ( which, as I've said, is actually the opening to something much longer ) is called:" Out Of The Blue" ...

"Convolvulus, that’s its name; Nan told me, years ago. And now its white trumpet flowers twine beneath us as we push through brambles out of the Jenner’s orchard into the field.

Some weedy orchard, the Jenner’s; six fruit trees, a few raspberry canes and that’s it. But everyone thinks it’s posh as it’s the only orchard around. We’re stuck in the middle of a town, you see. We’ve been scrumping, nicking Cox’s, their Golden Delicious.

Now we’re into the bareness of the field. I suppose it’s city scrub really, houses built round yards and back gardens ambling towards it, where deck chairs slump and other kids dads mow patches of grass, dig King Edward potatoes. Not my dad though. My dad’s an Italian film star, an England footy player; my dad’s a city stockbroker. My dad is strong and reliable and rich and funny. My dad is dark-haired and brown eyed and gorgeous and my dad comes only in dreams.

There are buttercups in the field, startled ones, purple clovers peeping between tall grasses, which redden our legs, tickle our noses. I’m the only girl as usual, with Johnny Rogers and Shane and Eddie Price and scrawny Joe O’Brien.
They're threshing brambles with make-believe swords, beheading nettles with bare brave hands, screaming for dock leaves, laughing man-like, together.
The boys shout, but I’m louder. I can be a fishwife. Garish soldier shouts streak like vapour trails into the sky. There's Shane and Johnny and Eddie in footy shirts and jogging pants, Joe in his big brother’s shorts. All their faces still with the soft traces of babyhood.

In the centre of the scrub, we squat on the ground.
My thighs are fleshy; they spread as I sit cross-legged. I trace this fleshiness, the softness, with a finger, the inside of my leg. It’s new, this fleshiness, it fascinates.
And we talk of the strangeness of the Jenner’s orchard in the midst of this scruffy part of our town, the pond in their garden, the lilies floating, and Johnny laughs about the stench, the sweetness of their roses.
I remember the grassy stubble of our own gardens; the yellowness of places seducing cats and Macdonald’s cartons and Eddie says his dad is setting up a baseball net in their yard. Johnny says his dad grows red-hot pokers. And Sean says his dad kips all day in a shed when he’s been on a Bender. I say nothing.

The lads have known me years. Infant school, Junior. They look at me. They know my thoughts. And I know their thoughts. “ Her dad comes only in dreams..”
And we sit like squaws round a fire, suck sweets, swig coke. Johnny boasts, Eddie snaps twigs, Shane cracks his fingers so they snap, make me shudder and wince. Joe lights a furtive fag.

And then he’s here, crossing the field. Chris Kelly, swaggering, strutting, striding towards us; older, Boy Band gorgeous. I hardly know him, but I see him on the bus and he stares. He really stares.
Now there are stirrings inside me, something nestling in my secret places. It’s like waiting for Christmas, the start of a holiday, but it’s suddenly grownup stuff.
Chris Kelly knows and I redden and he slinks towards me, eyes aglow.

The slap is hard. It's out of the blue.
His slap on my thigh is single, it stings, and it’s the cruellest of bumblebees, the most vicious of nettles.
Then he turns and slouches away and his hips roll and his hands jingle coins in his pocket. There’s silence and Johnny pales and Eddie picks his finger nails, the cuticles, the skin round his nails, till they bleed and Shane groans and they turn to me and their eyes are wide as caves…

“ I’ll get my Dad,” says Johnny. His voice is a hoarse whisper.
Sean slings an arm roughly round my shoulders. Eddie examines his knuckles as though his life depended on it. Johnny runs across the field screaming for his dad.
Mr Rogers bends to the soil in his garden and the skin of my thigh is a livid angry red.

And then I scream.
“ Nan!” I yell and Johnny looks at Eddie and Eddie winces and Joe drops his fag in the scrub and Sean croaks: “She’s gone, Jade, she’s gone, you went to the Crem…” and my thigh smarts and aches and my shoulders shake and I’m crying.
And over the field in Jenner’s orchard, beyond the wildness of convolvulus, I’m sure I hear Nan’s voice….



Blogger Lucy said...

Just arrived here at last, and have been spending quite a long time reading your stories - wonderful stuff, wistful and sweet and cruel and slightly eery all at the same time! But I would like to be curled up with them in a book rather than glowing on a screen.
Thanks for your attendance and good words at mine, I'll get you on the blogroll now.

5:38 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

This is another beautifully crafted story of childhood, the underbelly of cruelty and the timeless quality that the hours and mintes all had.

I love the "places seducing cats"

1:44 pm  
Blogger Carole said...

I felt as if I'd been slapped when I reached the cruel twist in this tale. Great stuff!

5:38 pm  
Blogger Minx said...

I so want more of this - I was left feeling deprived.

I would like to know more about your writing habits and what else in your writing cupboard. No pressure - just nosey!

9:22 pm  
Blogger Jackie Luben said...

Hi Jan,
I enjoyed your story. Thanks for visiting my site - I hope you'll call again.

11:25 am  
Blogger liz fenwick said...

Very evocative Jan.....left wanting more........

ditto minx's request :-)

Thanks for stopping by!

5:20 pm  
Blogger aminah said...

when will you write the next part??? enjoyed reading this...

5:31 pm  
Blogger Stay at home dad said...

I liked this very much too. How horrible to lose so many words...


8:58 pm  
Blogger Marianne said...

Thanks for coming in to see me Jan.

I am enjoying reading your work and, like Lucy, would love to be curled up with it in a book.
Keep in touch.

9:56 am  

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