I’m Only Human After All

This is a revisited story one that deserves a second glance … or that is what I think. I hope you feel the same. 😇

I called out, but his name lodged below my voice box; like a bubble, it floated until it popped. Slowly I turned back the bed, cotton sheets held at arms length, the smell of stale lovemaking sweat and perfume. Bare feet kissed the wooden floors leaving a mist; an impression of where I walked. Across the room down to the utility with my arms full. Once the wash was loaded, I glanced down, my nose twitched at the stench, my mouth sticky, I dry retched and memories flooded back. I peeled my dishevelled stained nightshirt from my aching self and it joined the sheets. My mind was busy trying not to think as I scrubbed and soothed my flesh, steam covered the pointless tracks on my cheeks as Rag n Bone man’s lyrics pounded over the sound of the shower. ‘I’m only human after all.’ I dropped a pill, swigged stale coffee left on the drainer and sat wrapped up in a towel. The dusk alerted the back of my mind it Snook in to disturb my … nothing, my emptiness.

This was ridiculous I am a grown woman Out loud I said ‘pull yourself together’. For the next week or so I worked on auto, walking to work, doing my admin, answering when I had no choice, until Friday night. Backpack on ready for home I felt him watching. A damp trickle formed between my breasts as I scanned left to right, I knew he was there somewhere. Head down, my shoes slapped against the damp tarmac, three, four, slap, slap, counting, walking determined not to be startled. ‘Hi toots, I thought it was you, fancy a drink?’ His voice hit my eardrums, but I was ready. A smile touched my lips for a second. ‘No thanks, busy busy’ I strode on. He was almost jogging alongside me, breathlessly he stopped me with a ‘Hey hey what’s the hurry, he stooped in front of me. Come on, we can continue where we left off.’ He twisted a strand of hair by my cheek, he bent further to peer into my face. ‘I said, I am busy, now please just,’ I snatched my shoulder from his grasp and carried on. I didn’t look back, slow down or think about him, I just allowed my feet to pound the pavement slap, slap, slap. Ashamed that’s what I was, ashamed and regretful and I couldn’t accept what it was I had done.

Weeks had passed since he met me from work, I still felt uneasy, he hadn’t called or text or poked me on Facebook, but, I was wary. Maybe he didn’t know my name either, I couldn’t remember him using it.

Ange and Jack had been arranged for months, dinner with friends, that would get some normality back. I tousled my hair and dressed casual but nice, I pouted in the mirror checking my lippy, I was the most relaxed I had been for a month or more. After fajitas, we had tequila and chilli chocolate buns with mallow topping; her food amazing as always. Ange and I laughed and reminisced about school, Jack cleared up and Ange and I began to talk freely. ‘What’s doing girly? You have been somewhere else for a while, I thought we trusted each other. I tell you every grizzly detail; like we always have.’ She nudged me, her head shook in disbelief, her eyes clouded over and she bit her lip. Just then Jack called through, he was walking to the pub, leaving us to our stuff, as he called it, while he indulged in a lary game of pool. Ange followed for a kiss. I saw them in the mirror’s reflection. She grinned and mouthed thanks, she closed the door. ‘Well … I’m listening’. She did that thing, that glaring eye staring, folding arm thing that she does when she’s mad. ‘Nothing to say really, I just, well … I was stupid, a slut and I, I’m ashamed. After Todd and I finished I felt lost, God that is so cliché, but I didn’t feel attractive or wanted.’ I dropped my head in my hands, roughly rubbed my cropped hair and grunted. Ange plopped on the edge of the chair with me, rubbed my shoulders. I released a howl so guttural I startled myself. ‘C’mon you’ll feel better, I won’t judge you-you know me better than that.’

I scrubbed my face with my palms and wiped them down my jeans. ‘I went to that club, the one on the corner, the one with the tattooed bouncer, the cute gay guy. I had some Jeager bombs and I began to dance, winding myself round guys legs, rubbing up behind them. They didn’t know me; nor me them.’ I leapt up and paced the floor. ‘It was sort of freedom, a liberating, sexy … I know, a slutty thing to do. The bouncer Jason, pulled some guy off me for stuffing his hand up my skirt. He tried to call a cab but I wasn’t having any of that. In my head, I was showing Todd, even though he wasn’t there, couldn’t see. My heart was racing as I dropped into the seat again. ‘Next thing I knew is I kissed this guy. He mouthed a wafer under my tongue … don’t get me wrong I wanted, … I was reckless. I’ve been having flashes come back to me of the stuff we did, the table, the kitchen, outside the front door for god’s sake.’ That’s not all. He met me from work one night, a week or so later, it freaked me out. How could I be so stupid?’ Ange’s eyes grew as she listened with her lips clenched tight. ‘Don’t worry,’ I patted her hand. ‘it was fine, he just wanted more. He hasn’t been back.’ After a minute, I looked at her holding both her hands. ‘I’ve been petrified Ange, I took him to my home! The things we did.’ I shook my head, looked at Ange’s horrified face. ‘ Don’t say anything, I can’t cope with your disgust too.’ We sat for a while with a box of tissues between us, Ange crying for and with me. Me crying out of self-pity and shame. ‘I went to the clinic on Duke Street and had tests, well you just don’t know, do you. I find out in a fortnight … so far, several are back and I’m clean, just waiting on Hepatitis and HIV. I wouldn’t hold it against you if you never spoke to me again.’

We cleared the dinner debris and emptied the dishwasher, although together, we completed the chore in silence. When the coffee was made Jack burst through the front door, pink-cheeked, smiling, relaxed. He looked from one to another, pulled a face, pouted his bottom lip and said ‘I’m going up, night then’ and gently closed the door.

Red-eyed and nervous I said ‘I can’t cope without your friendship, please don’t hate me.’ I held both her hands, looked into her face. ‘For the last time I will not ever, hate you, but I am hurt, hurt because I was too busy to see the effect Todd’s affair had on you and because you felt you couldn’t come to me. I let you down and you put yourself at risk.’ We hugged hard I stroked her hair said. ‘Sometimes, we do stupid things, sometimes, it is no one’s fault but our own and sometimes we are lucky enough to walk away unscathed. I Jane Masters, head of finance, single thirtysomething female, should have known better! but I won’t get it wrong twice. As the song says … ‘I’m only human after all.’

Flower photo borrowed /thieved temporarily from Geoff LePard I thank you, Geoff. Press here to visit the master🔜 here🔚

A new venture into a different genre yet again inspired by the magnificent Rag n Bone man song I hope you enjoyed both the song and the story I look forward to your comments *waves*.

New-age Punk.

Armed with their look

They’ve a gut full of fears,

Their anger disguised

Behind tattooed tears.

They hook youth to bring

New music to the masses,

To stir unrest amongst

those middle-classes.

Secretly it’s about

Statement and look,

under the guise of a

new-age punk book.

Courting social media

With Insta and Mix,

To highlight the movement

With moody selfies and glitz.

Power hungry fools

with political agendas

Infiltrate the movement

To fulfil their vendettas.

Soon they are castigated,

Pilloried as militant fools.

Credibility lost, they are

just punks without tools.

Another new direction for this have a go woman of words. Let me know if I grabbed the emotion and threw it out there. Maybe it is a step too far? Let me know I value your opinion.

An Educated Walk

To join Rochelle’s prompt press ‘here’

A hundred miles I walked. Stinking dirty miles, in shoes that didn’t fit. The right too tight, reminding me, squeezing too much in leaves little space to breathe.

The left, two sizes too big, rubbed raw my foot. It made me bleed until it seeped through the lace holes and rolled back the skin, but on I walked.

It taught me to say no, to leave room to be kind, so I can grow a better man.

It taught me, never to be too proud to admit, this is too big for me.

It needn’t hurt to learn that lesson just take an educated walk.

Thanks for the Photo @Sarah Potter

A Disguise like Autumn

Many thanks to Sandis Helvigs for loaning the photo.

He was bold he was cold he lived in a disguise.

He used a leaf to cover his eyes

With Autumn.

He Wore A Disguise like Autumn.

A fancy dress parade was to follow the carnival. The Carnival comprised of floats and majorettes, brass bands, boy scouts, tumble tots and brownies not forgetting the women’s institute and the natty knitters. The music blared from speakers followed by dancing dwarves; who were following snow white on her bed. The shop doorways lined with stalls, mulled wine, hot soup, cards, gifts and all manner of cakes and crafts for sale.

They paraded through the town twice, full of fun and revelry. The floats were to be judged and prizes awarded. Collections for the hospice and the homeless had been going on several weeks before, and at the event. The parade culminated in the turning on of the Christmas lights by some vacant reality television star; that no one remembered.

As a watcher, I stood out, not dressed fancy or otherwise.Because of the cold all the clothes I owned I wore. As one of the recipients of the collections, I thought a few scraps of food would be given me, a few bits … to ease my bones in the late Autumnal weather. Especially knowing it was only going to get colder and harder sleeping rough.

I thought of the cost of the lights, music and costumes, I weighed up the fuel spent and calculated how much the prizes would be. In a previous time, I was a numbers man, a number cruncher and balancer of books. I wandered through the park to where finally the tractors rested their wheels and the children were reunited with parents and teachers. Backs were slapped, kisses freely given and received. Many prizes were happily accepted and some tears were shed in tiredness. Pride shone from the faces of people in fluorescent tabards who were clutching stuffed buckets of dosh.

I bent down and picked up a leaf, I twirled it in between frozen fingers, a beautiful Horse Chestnut leaf as big as a tea plate. The leaf was golden and rust, as if kissed by the turn of autumn its last disguise, before withering away. From my spot, I watched as a photographer took snaps of all he could see, a journalist took notes, then they spied me. I lifted the leaf to my face to hide, a voice asked: “Excuse me can I take a shot … what have you come as?” I stood still, my identity hidden from all but me. “Me,” I said, “I have come as autumn.” A look of confusion crossed his brow, he took the shot purposefully and slowly walked away. The girl tapped her pad with a chewed pencil she nodded my way. She glanced back once or twice as she disappeared into the crowd, I knew she was there somewhere, lost, like me, anonymous, unseen.

I wasn’t given any soup or mulled wine. The vicar scowled and turned away when I asked for a sleeping bag and a scarf. No eye contact was made, no smile thrown my way. I wondered what people thought their money would do, how much it would help … a man like me. Someone down on his luck, shabby, hungry and cold; wearing a disguise like autumn.

Please readers, let me know your thoughts, leave them in comments and I will get back quick sharp. Happy Autumn.