Alison

I guess I am the kind of person you don’t want to be in a disaster with. Not because I am unlucky, not really. I mean, I don’t die or anything. But if there is a weird thing going to happen I am almost always involved.

Not big stuff, though, not newspaper headlines weird, just odd. Like when I got on the plane, and I put the boarding pass between my lips as I went through security. You know, the whole scanning thing, and take out the lap top, and take off your shoes. And then when I went to grab the boarding pass, it was stuck to my lower lip. Swear to god. So I had to peel it off, and I’m buggered if there wasn’t a line of skin on the boarding pass, a semi circle, like the shape of your teeth, only in skin. And my lower lip felt all swollen, like I was in a fight with something. My tongue is still hunting for the soreness, and finding it.

My glass of wine on the plane stung a little. It’s never good wine, but it doesn’t usually sting going down. That sort of stuff. It’s  enough to make me feel, like, marked. Not in a 666 devilish  sort of way, just that if there is a weird thing going to happen it’ll happen to me.

Like the time I locked myself between my own front door and the security gate. That was weird. I managed to get someone passing to call my dad, who has my spare keys. You have to have spare keys, with my kind of karma. The guy went to the bakery on the corner, and called my dad, and he came and let me out. Laughed like a hose, he did. He shakes his head when that sort of thing happens. Like he thinks I should be James Bond and always have a snappy comeback, or a martini. Not be keyless, in Gaza.

Alison

Where I live.

The dusty paths winding between the tents have dark patches where water has been thrown to keep down the dust. Occasional pools of water reflect strings of lights. A still figure draws the eye, a woman middle aged and soft with too much flesh, and a long plait winding its way down her shoulder. Her face is lined, and there is grey mixed in with her pale blonde hair. Her brown eyes twinkle at the crowd. She hugs her knee, and rocks as she sits and watches the crown spill past her table of knick-knacks. Her wares are pretty, pictures of unicorns, dark green household objects painted with flowers.

She rocks a little again, and her mouth lifts in a smile as she scribbles some figures on a scrap of paper. “Petrol money, yes. The most important thing, but if I have electric light tonight I can finish the trays, and they always sell well there. And then I can borrow from Ayesha, and then still get there tomorrow, and have some cash for driving back”.

Her hand, with rings too tight, reaches out to stroke the wood nearest her. “I could just work by candle light, but then it may look like nothing. And no chance of enough cash for the week. A cheque coming in regularly, man, that’s nice. Only good thing about that bloody school. “

Her mind skitters away from the image rising in her of herself standing in the staffroom, and the headmaster saying how much they had appreciated her work, and how she would be missed. He had not met her eyes once during his speech, read from a crumpled bit of recycled departmental circular. She had stared back at them, and smiled, and lifted her head, and straightened her shoulders, like some textbook soldier. She had pitied them, refusing to feel bad, and smiled and thanked them, and stared at them, hoping to put a hex on them just by staring, and smiling. The smirch of their smiles did not touch her.

She keeps smiling now, although the procession of floats has drawn the crowds away, and no one passes close to her table. Her head tilts back, and she smiles, a brave smile she thinks. Over the noise of the music thumping through the loudspeakers, she hears a scream.  The crowd stares in the direction of the biggest float.

“What is it?” she calls to the security guard hurrying past.

“That Carmen, she’s fighting with Brit on the bloody float.”

She stays where she is, staring into the gathering dark. She could go and watch, like the others, not like anyone was gong to steal her stuff. Couldn’t give some of it away. She looks up and sees the boy hesitating, half turning away. She goes very still, and calls to him.

“Derek. What are you doing here?”

“Nothing, Aunty Jocelyn.”

“Come here then, what is going on?”

He walks over, with the shambling gait of an adolescent, not quite meeting her eye.

“I thought you couldn’t come.”

“My dad didn’t come home, so he wasn’t going to say anything was he?” The boy stares at his feet, and twists his head, so that his body faces hers, but his head is turned away. His belligerent tone stops her.

She stands up, and puts her hand flat on his chest. His head turns back to face her, and his body stills under her touch. And then they are looking around them, instinctively checking for observers. But the gaze of the crowd is still fixed on Carmen, and the fight, and no one is watching.

“Come home with me.”

The boy shrugs.

“OK.”

And she decides candlelight will be just fine for what she has in mind for the evening.

Alison

alison-12

The sink is full of dishes, and mug of tea stands, gone cold.  The moon shines on her pale face.

A tricycle lies on its side in an empty corridor.  The slap of a wave on the shore, the cry of a bird.

Books lie face down, waiting.  The water laps at the shore, turning her in gentle circles

A bath run, steaming quietly to itself.  Her clothes billow softly around her.

Ginger biscuits on a plate.  The river slides, carrying its gentle burden.

The thing that makes the world is gone.  Her hair floats in the dark water, like weeds.

Everything waits, turned towards the door.  The river slides its oily way, carrying its burden gently.