Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Run in the Woods

It was one of those crisp autumn afternoons. The trees were dying and the dead leaves crunched beneath our feet. We could even see our breath, which reminded me that even though the summer was gone, we were still alive. In spite of the trees the place was full of life. Dogs, on leads, barked at squirrels teasing them, hungry to be freed from their owners desperately trying to restrain them. Children's eyes peered through the windows of their classroom prisons and over the hedge-fence of the neighbouring school, equally hungry to be set free to run into the world. The birds had all the freedom. Serenading each other and dancing in the air, before returning to their branches and nests. The trees, decorated with vermilion tips, looked on fire, just waiting for the first snow of winter to extinguish them. It was still early in the afternoon but the sun had already begun to set. It hung low in the sky and although too weak to provide any warmth it was still bright enough to blind you. We walked with our backs to it and our shadows stretched far out in front of us. The gates behind us were once painted a dark green but were now chipped and rusted and the path before us was cracked, snaking across the gentle slope of grass before disappearing into the woods.

We had never walked through a park before and I couldn't understand why; it was full of beauty. She didn't care about that or the cold. I looked at her and she seemed bored. I thought to put my arm around her but hesitated and withdrew. I had caught a glimpse of venom in her eye and knew it was best to leave her be. She had clearly had enough of this outing and was probably going to take it out on me. An argument would ensue and the day's peace would be ruined. Instead she just started to laugh. She took in great lungful after great lungful of air and laughed. She sounded maniacal. She was. She started to tear at her clothes and temporarily blinded me by tossing her long faux-fur coat over my head. It was a sight I wish I hadn't missed. I pulled the jacket from over my eyes and dropped it to the floor; I would've been sour about it, but I could still see her broken hourglass body running away. Her pale flesh quickly turned pink from the cold. She just ran, naked. Those hips of hers wriggled like no other. She knew they drove guys wild and that's why she would shake them. She never lost it, even when she was running through a park with no clothes on. She was a creature of pure sexual chemistry.  She was just another wild animal running free. People started to stare but she paid them no mind. I didn't know what to do - I was excited but my inhibitions would never allow me to join her. I went to chase after her, but instead lit a cigarette. I didn't need the exercise. I was happy to watch her shrink into the distance. When she finally disappeared into the trees, I picked up her underwear, stuffed them into my pocket and walked home. I didn't want a pervert to find them. I would've taken the rest of her clothes, too, but I was lazy and I figured she could do with rescuing some decency if she ever decided to turn around and come back. I wasn't going to stand and wait around in a wind-bitten park for that. I knew she'd be knocking on my door as soon as she got cold.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Rum and Coke

If I wasn't asleep I didn't know how to spend my afternoons. There was a time when I'd drink the day away, but not anymore; I had my health to think about. I didn't like the idea of dying young. There was only one place I'd go when I was bored and couldn't sleep.

I'd wait anxiously for her to open the door. I could never be sure if she'd actually be in or even conscious enough to greet me, but I'd turn up anyway. She was unreliable, but I enjoyed her company and I had no better place to be.

She'd pull her front door open and stand there, staring blankly, with her hip cocked and a cigarette in her hand down by her side. Even when she was expecting me she wouldn't be dressed and she'd take no time to put on any make-up or do her hair. She had no need to and I didn't care. Her green eyes had flecks of brown, and when they locked on mine, she smiled. Her teeth were tobacco-stained but her eyes glowed and made her look almost beautiful.
Her hand would tremble as she'd drag on her cigarette.
"Well, whatchya waitin' for?"
She'd blow the smoke out of the side of her mouth.
"Come on in, you sonuvabitch, and gimme a hug"
As I'd step into her home I would be met by the smell of a combination of cigarette smoke and coffee, but as we'd embrace, the aroma would dissolve and my nostrils would instead fill with the floral fragrance of her perfume. I always liked that smell; it reminded me of walks in the wood as a child.

It was the same routine every time I went round there. It never changed. She'd go into the kitchen and offer me a cup of coffee, to which I'd always oblige. She'd also offer me a shot of rum to go in it, to which I'd always decline and remind her I'd given that up and was now looking after myself. She'd laugh at that. "Suit your shitty self" she'd say and sometimes her tongue would fall over the S-H's and it'd get tied up. She didn't care though. She'd just light up a joint or do a line before finishing making my drink. One time she even managed to snort sugar and put coke in my coffee because she was so messed up. I stopped having sugar in mine after that. I'd see myself into her living room, which was empty except for the sofa, a handful of pictures on the walls and a television set sitting on top of a pile of old hardback books. I'd turn on the television and sit down and wait for her to join me. The shows we watched were always bad, but we rarely paid enough attention to them to notice.

This one time it was different though. This one time there was a knock at the door and when she heard it, she turned her head to the window to see who it was and her face instantly turned white when she saw him. She threw her body to the ground and hissed at me to do the same and keep quiet. She fumbled for the remote and quickly turned it to standby. She was in a panic and falling apart. She looked so scared I thought she might be dying. She just lay there with her head buried against the floor, trying her hardest not to move. I watched her as she started to sob but I didn't really know what I was meant to be doing, so I just lay there as silently as I could.

When he finally left I tried to approach her and comfort her, but she just pushed me away and refused to talk. She slumped into the chair, hiding her face in her hands and shaking as she cried. I sat back down on the sofa and waited for her to talk. That was the gasman at her door, making his rounds and reading people's meters. She didn't want to let him in because she figured that if he didn't know how much gas she used, she wouldn't have to pay her bill. I knew she had lost her job but I didn't really know why; she never really talked about it and I wasn't going to pry. I could see there was something really troubling her. It looked like she wanted to tell me something pretty big, but every time she went to speak she caught herself and remained silent. Eventually she just gave up and walked back into the kitchen where I could hear her chopping up cocaine. I just turned the television back on and watched it in silence for the rest of the afternoon. I just wanted to get out of there, but I couldn't leave her in that state.

When I finally walked home that evening I thought a lot about her and the gasman. I couldn't understand why she was running and trying to escape. The bill would come through her letterbox at the end of the month anyway and she'd have to pay somehow. She couldn't run forever. We're all scared of something and I could now see that running would get us nowhere. We can't live forever, not like that. Not in fear. I kept thinking about it 'til I got home. I just couldn't understand it. I fumbled with my keys and, when inside my flat, kicked off my shoes and walked to the liquor cabinet. There was one last bottle of rum hidden at the back for emergencies. I poured myself a strong one with ice and Coke. Suddenly I didn't feel so scared anymore.