My palms are wet. I can’t stop the leg twitch. A silver trail glistens on my sleeve. I sniff and step up. My stone I polished smooth, under darkness when all stood still, and only stars watched. Between fingertips and thumb, I roll three times, kiss and release. A clink as my stone stops dead. I suck my breath and hop clean over. Both soles thump together, out and in, all eight slapped with plimsolls. A cheer lights my eyes and pinks my cheeks. A wobble threatens to bury me in a puff of chalk dust.
Me and Jed head to head. I’ll have him. He won my best Alley yesterday and won’t give me a rematch. I challenged him to the grid. “It’s a kid’s game,” he said. A smile like the common lizard’s twitch escapes me. “Fourteen and still playing?” He nodded at me as he wiped the drool from his chin. “Yeah, I’m just a dumb girl.”
His marbles come from his brother’s stash, he was a champ, before he left school to muck out stables. Too grown up now, thinks he’s special. A flick in my mind and we are back behind those bike sheds, fumbled hands and warm lips. I thought I wet my knickers; I know different now. No lad will get the better of me again.
A crowd gathers as I drop on eight: one, two, it’s over. Quick as a blink. A twist of my head and there’s Jed. He kicks the trim off his pumps, a glob of spit hits the ground. I grin, and nod; I got him good. They lift me and I float above the lot. My fingers grip at heads; greasy hair and dandruff will never feel so good again. Not bad for just a dumb girl.
‘Anne, What if we chose not to feed that bird,’ Daddy pointed, ‘because it has a yellow beak? None with yellow beaks.’ Mummy joined in, ‘We could tell everyone how wicked the yellow beaked ones were, they would copy,and soon there would be nowhere for them to go.’ Tears welled in Anne’s eyes, her lip trembled. She stood, her eyes swollen with unshed tears. “No! Everybody needs kindness, you always tell me that. I will be very cross and sad if you do. Please don’t.’ They hugged her, assured her she was right not to discriminate.
Charli Mills set this challenge at the ranch as set out below. June 4, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about justice for all. It does not have to take place in America. Injustice exists anywhere. What is the story behind justice for all? Go where the prompt leads!
Respond by June 9, 2020. To read or join in press the blue.
This is a monologue that I crafted for an exercise with the local theatre group. I have been part of the group for a while. It is called Act your age … which of course we never do. Press here to find the workshop.
Throughout the covid-19 pandemic we continue to meet up; with the aid of Zoom. One of the things we were introduced to was writing monologues. The tale below is one of my attempts at yet another new writing firm. This, may not work as a reading piece as well as it does a listening one; because of the vernacular. The pronunciation such as words that finish with ‘ing’, were spoken but the ‘n’ was the last sound made. I hope you see a young boy of about nine years old who lived in rural Victorian England. I will attach a clip of me reading it, but bear in mind I am not either nine years old or a boy, so a modicum of imagination is required on part of the reader and listener.
Good day, I am Walter, you can see I’m standin next to the well outside the schoolhouse. The teacher’s house. This week I am water monitor (whispers) for my sins. I slake the thirsts with my bucket, Miss tied the tin mug on a piece of string to my trousers. I am skinny after graftin all Winter, so the cup it pulls em down … my trousers that is.
This is my job now because the mister kept me too long catching the piglets, doing that made me late. These lug holes still burn where they was cuffed; look at it, it’s fat an sore … Mr Pickles says, it will be blue the morrow.
Any way me cheeks glow under these rough trousers from Miss McCreedy’s split-cane, she is fierce is Miss … she don’t like the lateness of us urchins. Miss says it is ungrate\nfulness, that breads tardy children. She Pulls her arm high when dishin out punishment, swings harder than Mam when beatin her rug. See her arm go, with that cane. I ave hot ears, a hot backside and the rest o’ me is freezing.
The punishment of water monitor aint so nice in the cold, (Walter shivers) when you already done a day’s work before you get to the raggedy school.
I am standin , stampin my boots, tryin to get the chill off, waitin for another waif to want a drink. Then I show my strength, like a strongman at the Freak show. Liftin the lid, turnin that barrel to wind the chain, I hoist the bucket an fill the cup for thirty mouths. It is man’s work, (raises arm and flexes his muscles) specially when yer fingers is blue with cold. I saw it once … that strongman, aint that the truth, with these very eyes I seen. In Piccadilly, Grandma took me … ‘The Harvey’s Freak show’ not many of these raggedy kids as been I know; Walter here (pokes his chest) will not forget that day.
At school we is taught writin readin an rithmatic. Miss McCready bangs a tune with her laced boots against the wooden floor, One Two, One Two, she keeps time as we chant like the old monks in the Abbey did. The only differing thing is, we chant tables and godly sayins. Miss McCready, every day she raises her voice to say, ‘cleanliness is next to godliness, and ‘the mills of God grind slowly but they grind exceedingly far.’ Those words make us raggedy’s fearful, so we are good. We has the reverend in on Fridays. The reverend puts the fear of God into us … for us own good of course. The word of God is so loud he makes the ink dance in the wells when he shouts it. My sister Winnie got er legs caned, four strokes, for peeing with fright at him. Miss called her filth, an stood her on the desk so all could see her shame.
We work at school to be learn-ned. One day when she is six, Winnie will be doin the chickens, wringing necks, plucking and collecting eggs. The numbers learned will be needed then. At sunup, I get old Tom ready, he is the plough horse. I feed, groom and tack him up for work, then I feed the pigs, mend the boundary fences. In winter I breaks ice off the troughs and fill them. Harvest time I cut the hay, work all night, till my eyes pain with the dust of it. Paa does the ploughing, plantin and such. If the Mister is pleased, he lets us use our house and small oldin as wage. Teacher hates market day, cause her schoolroom is empty. So Here we lives, we works and does family proud. Years will bye and still, when I have curled bones and no teeth or hair, this well will still give ice cold water. I am knowin, it will still stand … next to Miss McCready’s house. But some other spinster will be Mistress of the learnin. I know this for there aint none over fifty in the church yard.
Have you learnt anything new in lockdown? did you enjoy my attempt at a Monologue? I love replies they are especially needed at this time xx thank you in advance, answers in the comments and I will reply quick smart.
On the day in question, she took the black tarmac path that snakes behind the row of terraced houses. Houses with their postage stamp gardens that are secreted away behind red brick walls. They sit prettily on the edge of the small English market town. Across the width of the path are the allotments. Every forty or so feet of its length are gates, if you stand still enough, you can sometimes hear the squeak and crunch, as rust drags itself across the warped hinges. The home owners can slip out of the doors of their walled gardens, and walk to their patch. Sectioned plots of land just big enough for fruit, vegetables and herbs to grow. Each one has a wooden shed, some are used for hiding Dads from noisy homes, while others are potting and tool sheds. Some, are the holders of secrets, places where illicit pairings take place.
Old Jack, wanders the allotment with a paint kettle, and a blackened gnarled brush. “A ten pound note will get your shed protected” he calls waving the brush. Jack sleeps wrapped in bubble wrap and cardboard; close to the Brazier. Often he rests inside unkempt sheds that he tidys in return. He blows and snorts as he splashes his face at the ice cold pump. You can see where his stained hands are dried on the threadbare seat of brown corduroy trousers. The scent of Creosote wafts around him like midges beside a Scottish loch. Often people smell Jack long before they see him. A harmles but important character of the allotment.
As she walked, she looked at the bustle going on both in and around the allotments. Old men nod in acknowledgement to each other; men with no need to waste words on pleasantries. Years of shared knowledge and friendship, camaraderie and memories have passed between them. Women with their hair covered, and gloves protecting their hands, lean on wheelbarrows and forks. Girls laugh at secret stories. A young woman colours as she looks about; checking she wasn’t overheard. An elderly couple stop what they are doing to smile at each other, and touch fingertips … A shared silent moment. Father’s dig and tend the early veg. Cutting curly spring cabbage for dinner, digging in Manure, sold to them all by old Jack. She scans the scene spotting a damp steamy pile at each shed as she passes, pressing a fine linen handkerchief to her nose.
Life goes on around her as she continues on the path. The sun shone on the crisp morning, birds sang and dogs wagged their tails. A boy on a micro scooter passed her; head down, furiously concentrating on the pounding of his white trainer against the path. A cough pushed spit from his mouth as he passed her. It slapped against her stockinged leg making her gasp. The woman wiped it with her handkerchief, curled her lip in distaste as she lifted her head and screwed her eyes. He poked up a middle finger and snarled back. A moment or two passed before she straightened her collar and went on her way.
The path comes to a halt. Cobbles trail a curve around the periphery of the luscious green patch of neatly manicured lawn. Several keep off the grass signs are the only things to mar its perfection. A dozen impressive buildings stand around the edge like sentinels. Her eyes scan the area and her brisk steps echoed as she looked for the large black door of number 5; the doctor’s surgery.
Old Jack squinted, and blinked. His green eyes followed the woman. Drawn to her composure, he followed at a distance along the track. Something bothered him, like an over-wound clockwork mouse with no control of her speed. He watched until she pushed on the heavy black door.
Inside they were very efficient. Fifteen minutes later it was over, Her chewed raw fingers struggled to push the three oversized buttons through the fastening’s of her best coat. Fingertips twitched, she pressed her palms into the worsted fabric to still them. Silently she tugged on the cuffs of her pristine leather gloves. A sound, a crisp snap made her flinch as the door closed behind her. Standing for a moment, she took a shuddering intake of breath, placed her smart shoes one in front of the other. She walked the cobbles in the same manner she came. Controlled, back along the tarmac path. But old Jack saw the difference, he saw her legs tremble, the tightening of her lips. Oblivious, she concentrated on the rapping sound her shoes made against the tarmac surface … Click-clack, click-clack. Holding her head high she blinked furiously a fixed determined expression on her face gave nothing away to the onlooker; the passer-by. So she thought. All was changed for her. Her world had tilted in a sentence. But life on and around the path continued. Birds sang the sun began to shine as the wind dried her lashes. He watched, until she closed the gate that shut herself behind those red brick walls. He listened for the clink of keys opening her door. His view obstructed not by the walls or the door its self … but the clouds in his eyes. Jack shakes his head slowly as he logs another look at life along the footpath.
What do you think happened? Leave me a comment I answer quick smart.
Watch them unfurl in the fragileility of spring, Opening our eyes allowing us to dream. Sun scoots low to expose streaked windows and stained tablecloths that soap failled to clean. Dust motes dance without rythm or beat, As the light stings our eyes and warms our feet. lettuce and sweatpeas sprout in soil filled pots, With dafdodills normality comes in restless spots. But do not be fooled enough to blink or sigh, For Jack with pointy fingers and lazer eyes Sends snapping frosts throughout night skies. He burns lime green leaves until
they are as as black as Magpies eyes
Stomps on plants with leadend boots.
Its plan is clear to freeze the shoots. Now our gardens spoilled spring hadn’t sprung So we begin again
with steaming pile
Of Pony Dung.
Which is your favourite season and why ? Let me know in a comment