An unblurred version
An unblurred version
I then altered it, so posting for posterity as this no longer exists
Light travels in straight lines but feelings go round corners.
Bryony could ‘feel’ that Jez was waiting for her round the corner.
She thought of yesterday at school. When the invitations to the school disco were given out, and how Mr. Brookes had allowed the class to get all excited and kids had been shouting… Oh they’d all thought it was so funny because Mr. Brookes said they had to go with partners, one girl with one boy. Gazzer got down on his knee in front of Eva Evans and kissed her hand and said…” Eva, will you do me the honour…” Every one had laughed and kind of paired off till someone, Billy Parsons, said, “but who’ll go with Bryony?” like she was a leper or something…
The question just wavered there, unsatisfactory, without solution… Into the void, Mr. Brookes said, “Well settle down now, page thirty five please ladies and gentlemen.”
Then, to the amazement of all, Mr. ‘Cool and Popular’, Jez Mulvey, said quite loudly, “I will. I will go with Bryony.” You might have thought he was responding to a dare.
Feelings go round corners. One more step… one glance.
Bryony ran. She could have run like an antelope with a leopard on her heels, she could have run like a rabbit from a fox. But she ran like a girlie who wanted to be captured, and he caught her easily.
The children who had made ‘good entries’ in the poetry competition were invited to the presentation. Karen went with her mum. Clearly the organisers had not expected her to be in a wheelchair, no ramps, too many steps and too little room between the tables. Karen, at twelve, was getting just too heavy for her mum but they struggled. Pleased to be there.
It some ways it was gratifying. Clearly she had gained her invitation on the strength of her poem alone. Sometimes she wondered when nice things happened, at school perhaps, if it was just people trying to be extra nice, because of the wheelchair, and her illness.
Karen’s mum pushed a chair to one side and slid her up to a table at the rear of the hall. There were pretty girls and plush boys with their mums and dads at all the small round tables on the dance-hall floor. Waves of excitement rippled with accompanying smiles and shrieks. Waitresses dressed like ‘Alice’ and waiters like the white rabbit offered smoothies in long lidded glasses with straws. Karen chose banana and strawberry. The ‘glass’ was plastic but no matter.
“Don’t drink too much” cautioned her mum, “I don’t know if I can get you to the loo!”
A hush ran round replacing the kerfuffle. A sparkly suited entertainer stepped on to the stage. He thanked them all for coming and said complimentary things. He introduced the judges who added, “how hard it had been to choose between the entries.”
Then they announced the third prize first and a perky, boy with a gappy grin and a captivating smile bounded up the stage steps. The second prize bought up a more serious girl with glasses. Karen loved her dress. And then they called Karen’s name, First prize.
Karen’s mum began to fuss and move furniture. The host and the judges scanned the floor for their prize winner. Karen’s mum inched the wheelchair forward and everyone seemed confused.
Then a great ‘bear of a man’ stepped forward. “Will you let me carry you?” he whispered to Karen. She nodded, she liked him straight away. Unbuckling her straps, he lifted her high over the watching crowd, through the labyrinth of tables. The lacy hem of party dress and her useless slippered feet dangled over his arms. When they reached the stage someone offered a chair but the man shook his head and held Karen, as if she was standing, to receive her prize in her hands which worked as well anyone else’s.
“Standing’ between the other winners, Karen took her bow.
Self portrait, though going on for 20 years ago. In essence I haven’t changed. Goats on the right hand, sheep on the left!
“So how can you tell if you are asleep or not if there’s only you and it’s late at night in your own bedroom and you ought to be asleep.”
“You have to pinch yourself, that’s what they do in books.”
“But how can you be sure your not just pinching yourself in the dream.”
Patrick stopped. He could no longer walk and think at the same time.
His satchel, on a long leash in his hand, lay face down in the dust. Simon, his school-friend, walked on a little way then turned back.
“Well I did pinch myself, I’ve even got a bruise. See.” He raised the cuff of his blue school jumper.
Reluctantly Simon walked back and examined the mark on Patrick’s arm.
“That doesn’t prove anything.”
“There was an alien in my room last night!’ insisted Patrick.
“We’ll be late for school!” warned Simon.
I find myself in lonely places, though not alone.