The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction
They ate fried chicken on Monday but on Friday he liked a steak with his hot tea and chips. This was before I came along screaming blue in the face. On their walk on a Saturday afternoon through the park they would stop for a light picnic lunch (usually a variety of sandwiches and ice tea or cold lemonade, let me stop here. This is only in my dreams. Most of what is written here is true but some is made up. Pure make-believe. Mostly Enid Blyton make-believe. Mr Pink Whistle loved that lemonade for his parties for the elves and his talking cat. I can’t believe I can remember that far back).
On Sundays she would curl up on the sofa and read her cookbooks after the greasy feast of roast chicken and he would sit in his study and read the newspapers. Tall men have such a sweetness about them even boys. Tall men have such a sweetness about them. My father was not a tall man. My mother’s love, mummy (that’s what I called her) was like a cold photocopy. Why do women long for children anyhow? Is it biology or survival or do they mean the same thing? I’m just a woman who longs for a child of her own now but the pretty are way more advanced than I am. They’ve married happily or unhappily and they’ve had those kids.
The red seed of an abortion flowing out of the woman’s body. Nobody talks about backstreet abortions anymore in Johannesburg. You can go to any clinic. The red seed growing and growing of cancer cells. How can I be delivered from those things? How can I escape, forget? I ran away before to another city but I don’t think I can do that again. I’m too grown up. I am too set in my ways.
I’m safe here. Amongst these houses. In this house. In this suburb. The elite. Those are two words that mean absolutely nothing to me. What does being wealthy mean for humanity at large? It is a meagre one percent. I do not count myself amongst them. It is not my money. It doesn’t belong to me. I didn’t work for it. I’ve wasted years, energy on a variety of things. I tried to educate myself but the real world is a machine and it spits you out if you do not fit. If you’re unconventional. If you’re ugly and emotional. Sylvia Plath is so beautiful, all her doll parts. I’m obsessed with her. I eat to live. I eat to live, to survive another day in modern society although it stinks to high heaven with shadows and insecurity.
The house belongs to my parents. My brother is fixing it up. His son’s name is Ethan. His girlfriend’s name is Rose. He does some painting. He has a patch of garden where he is growing vegetables. He says we are going all out organic in a big way. We have to eat healthy. He is so handsome but now he is taken. All the girls wanted him. They danced around him. All he had to do was to click his fingers. He could have anyone. I had all these dreams of living in a world-drama like that.
I am rich in other ways. I see now that spiritually I am richer. I mean to say that perhaps in the beginning stages of my life, in the formative years my mental faculty was not as rich as it is now.
Johannesburg smells. It smells of poo, dirt, urine, pavement meeting rain, thunderstorms, white snow spreading out like a blanket, smoke, people, blood, cars, trains, pollution, mines, funerals, murders, and films. I love films. Faster, faster, faster is how everything goes there.
I know you. I’ve always known you. You knew that then and you know that now. I am not coming for you anymore. You’re history remember. Funny how we never said that word goodbye as if we were both reaching for something. Are you lost heathen?
I want to write to her, my sister who wants to travel the world but I do not want to write to her not of suffering, loss, sadness, the mourning period, a stolen kiss in the cemetery and not the peck on the cheek kind. I want to be overwhelmed by the brethren’s kindness. I know she won’t reply though. She’s the pretty one. She’s the one I make most nervous. How I work on her acute dopamine and serotonin levels. Shame on me. Shame on her.
During the cocktail hour in my house the world becomes a new place. Mummy and Sissy. And then there’s a calm breeze that floats through the house. Sissy is short for sister. The awfully good middle child. The achiever. Invincible Superwoman. I have a rush of love for her. For mummy too even when she’s at her terrifying worst. The vodka loosens the tongue. I can hear laughter, cackling even. They’ve finished the orange juice and that makes me mad. They know I can’t drink the strong stuff, the heavy stuff. What do to with madness except admit defeat and sink?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt brave enough to feel that vulnerable in front of someone else. Man, woman, child did it matter.
You who do not know me, of me, what I have carried for years, the internal struggle I have been in, had to spirit away while nations have been at war I think of your kindness. You came like a thief in the night.
Focus on what I am trying to tell you. The January heat of the sun is pinned to my cheek, there are tears building up inside of me like sap when I remember you. Golden-gorgeous-genius you as much of a lover of words as I am. And when I think of magnificent you, that incredible phase in my life (past is past but still you are not dead to me and still further along you are not a ghost) I think of you as a cure, an anchor, a door that is left ajar for a visitor, and when I think of you I drown but not in despair or shame (blush of red on my cheeks). I drown in hope. I forget that you killed me once, perhaps on more than one occasion.
Write. Write words. Anything that takes your fancy, pleases you, makes you glad and see the loveliness in the world. Now that’s a mantra.
Smile. Pick up the fragments, the small bits and littler pieces.
Sylvia Plath wrote about kindness and words, their purity, clarity, poetry, dryness. It came like a flood out of her, pouring out like machinations, sunshine, liquid, the blue jewel of the sky. I think it became necessary for her in a way like writing has become necessary for me.
I need you Sissy but you’re not there. You’re not connected to me in the substantial way we were once as children. Sometimes I call her Jean in my stories or Eve.
I’m scared. I do not want to go back there again, held hostage by deep pain and regret. Where are these words coming from? I do not know. To question it means the death of me.
You don’t know anything about me. I prefer it that way because if you knew anything about me if would mean the death of you. I’m awfully mean. I’m a miserable person. I’m miserable company to be around with. I am not an idol or a celebrity. I am not a god or a leader of a secret cult. So do not worship me. Food for thought. I will let you down. I cannot nurture anything. I will let you down badly. Keep your expectations to yourself. You in all your loveliness, splendour and wonder I surmise will need it more than I do.
I’ve never been good enough for this world. It has pushed me aside to get to the pretty ones. The lovely ones. Popular, not so moral ones but they have not stood the tests of time. They do not pray. They aren’t churchgoers. They aren’t Christian or even Catholic or even Muslim girls. They who delve into having their dope smoking ‘man-of-the-year’. They are the visible ones. How can they be lonely when they have nothing in their heads but moth smoke, and heat and it has lived there so long that cobwebs have sprung up, a kind of witch’s brew to drown their spirits when they are feeling pointless. When their perspective is lost. Oh lots of people say they aren’t good enough for this world but they’re simply lying to themselves. Sometimes even the beautiful get lost. So lost in fact that they land in the wards of hell. I don’t pity them for a minute. They found their own way there and must make their own way back to the universe that created them. I am talking about those people who are lost-lost. Just plain lost. They came into the world this way. Deserted by family. Perhaps there was an absent mother, an absent father, or perhaps they witnessed violence (I’ve witnessed violence and made stories up about it.) They are Immortals every single one of them. They suck ‘blood’ (conversation, acting in a world-drama) from mortals, suck water from rivers (the sea is filled salt and salt robs them of feeling physical, their angelic otherworldliness) because they’re thirsty (as if it is the first time they have felt it on their skin), and feed on chicken feet. They cherish red meat. They’re a butcher’s wife every one of them. How I hated them? Their soft mouths, the apple in their cheeks, the paradise I believed that men and boys would receive when they spoiled these ‘children’ to get to love, to say those words and mean it and to say those words and not mean it anymore.
The lost girls do not know how to remember loss, suffering, suicidal illness, confessional poetry, what comes after silence, the passing of history, death, poverty. They do not know what the meaning of the words genocide or Holocaust is.
They know that autumn comes before winter. They have devoted themselves to making themselves look like the cover of a magazine. It’s a tragedy. Comedy speeded up. You can still get a sadistic pleasure out of it, watching them. Studying them up close and personal. Observing their habits ‘in the wild’ (their most natural environment which is the bathroom).
If only they had the brains. If only I had the patience to teach them. If only they could understand. If only they could surprise me these half-wits, these idiots with their shiny pink lips that they continually go to the bathroom and dot more lipstick on because they are expecting a man to show up. It is so hot here. I am sinking. I am becoming more and more lost. And I can’t help it.
Parents have their favourites. I am my father’s favourite. It didn’t matter to the world, to the charismatic older men I met in that dumb world fuelled by money and ambition, the feel of their skin, to the boys (schoolboys tripping on acne, and hormones), to the other girls, the girls who were the same as me, to women, to women who were as cold, as frozen as my mother. She never had a warm embrace for me. She never had a kind word to say to me. And if she did it was for her own pleasure. As if all she did was make me and that was enough, handing me over to my father to raise. I wasn’t really a woman or a girl at the end of youth. This, this was normal and when I found out it wasn’t. When I was fifteen or fourteen it killed something inside of me. It shattered me. It destroyed me. And I became as I wrote in Bittersweet Squalor a destroyer. I became the queen of bitter and mean. I became nasty and nothing that I did could flip that switch. Up and down. Up, up, up and then down, down as if I was a drug addict on uppers and downers.
I have learned the hard way that it’s important to most of all to have a passion to write and then that burst of black clouds, that approaching storm, that half-buried voice inside of me that demands to be crazy and heard at the same time (lunatic make peace with the world I say) doesn’t exist anymore. It doesn’t have a soul. It doesn’t have a spirit. It doesn’t have a physical, mental or emotional body. You can’t act your way out of an acute spell of depression. So the love affair ended. The older man moved on to the birthday of his son and his life, his eloquent wife. How articulate he was in saying and not saying all of these things to me. A killer is a killer is still a killer. Was I was too much masculine, not feminine enough?
All of these questions will drive me to my grave.
© Short fiction by Abigail George
Email address: abigailg (at)dbm.co.za
Read 'Winter in Johannesburg' by Abigail George
Sam Hawksmoor writes:
Raw passion, vivid anger, rolling emotions cascade across the pages. Abigail George bares all with a compelling, lyrical prose and one hopes that at least some of this is fiction - for no single human being could withstand the tumult of emotion that are contained with these stories. I have been reading Abigail's short fiction for years now on Hackwriters.com, her great romantic upheavals and barely concealed anger at what life has dealt her and have worried for her. But she is a tough cookie and if you want to know what it's like to be Abigail and just what happens to people who live an emotional life - 'Winter in Johannesburg' is brilliant, vivid, compulsive stuff. I highly recommend her work - but stand back - there will be fireworks!
The Depth Awaits
Pink watermelon flush in each cheek. Why didn’t you love me mum? Are you aware of the storm you created, rain pouring down, my heart feels as if red lace is wrapped around a stone, a canvas, the painter’s sketchbook.
The Monk’s Mission
I sit here as the aftertime explodes into life continued. Dirty hands from constant gardening, the bloody-everything of war on the television, in the air, feet on the stairs, and a stampede in the house of childhood