Be Careful What You Wish For

The solicitor peered over his half-moon glasses with grave solemnity and pushed the mahogany box across the vast expanse of tooled green leather that covered the desktop.
“Your Godfather has bequeathed this item to you, Celia. There is an sealed envelope inside.”
Celia lifted the lid. Under the envelope was a strange bird surrounded by a nest of white napkins.
“I understand your Godfather was Geoffrey Soames, a diplomat in India.”
“Yeah, I think so.” Said Celia with the disinterested of a fifteen-year-old. She vaguely remembered a fat bloke squeezing her six-year-old cheeks. She stuffed the envelope in her pocket, closed the box and left the musty office and the ghoulish solicitor.
At home she placed the hideous bird with the sharp beak on the mantelpiece next to her parent’s hideous carriage clock and headed upstairs to her bedroom. The box would be handy to keep her makeup stuff in, she thought, flopping onto her bed.
Then she remembered the envelope.

My dear Celia.
No doubt the gift of the bird will be a disappointment. But, whosoever possesses the bird can make three wishes. Choose carefully.
With kindest regards
Geoffrey

Yeah, right? Geoffrey. And I’m Madonna.
Later, Celia put her skepticism to one side and made a wish. She decided to start with wish for a fortnight holiday for two in Magaluf and see what happened.
The next morning her father walked into the kitchen. “Registered delivery for Celia Thornton. Must be important.”
Celia slit open the envelope with the butter knife. “I’ve won a holiday for two, dad!” She squealed.
Her excitement soon evaporated when her enraged father told her that over his dead body she would take her feckless, fuckwit boyfriend to Magaluf.
“I hate you dad, I wish you were dead!” She shouted as she slammed the front door.

*
“The beak penetrated here, Martin. See, just above the left eye.” The pathologist pointed at the small red rimmed hole in the victims head.
“You’re sure it was an accident?” Asked DI Fuller.
“Absolutely certain. I’m guessing he had some sort of seizure. That would explain why he was gripping the ornamental bird so firmly when he fell and impaled himself on the beak. Death would have been instantaneous.”
“A painless death, then.” Said the inspector. “A small crumb of comfort for the family. I’m off to see them next.”
Rather you than me, thought the pathologist running a scalpel around the dead head.
*
Celia listened, with a growing sense of horror, as the inspector explained the circumstances of her fathers demise to her sobbing mother. This was all her fault. She had caused the death of her father. Hadn’t she wished him dead?

*
After the funeral Celia lay on her bed floating in a sea of grief and misery. She had wished her father dead. A common enough aspiration of truculent teenagers, but for Celia a wish that had come true.
Then she remembered. Scrabbling under her bed she found the letter. Of course! Three wishes. She had three wishes!
Celia ran from the house not stopping until the fresh earthen mound of her father’s grave lay in front of her.
“I wish my dad was alive again,” she shouted, startling a woman arranging flowers at a nearby grave.

*
Her father’s eyelids fluttered, then opened to impenetrable darkness. As his fingertips felt the coffin lid inches from his face, he began to scream. His daughter, waiting above, heard nothing.
There is no better sound insulation than six feet of damp soil.

Beautiful dance of death

img_6363

The sun, a pale orb, looks down
as chill winds careen and caper
through the tracery of branches
Thrumming timeless hymns
Nature’s long forgotten songs

Perching on swaying boughs
Funereal crows in mourning clothes
Flap wings black and feathery
trapeze artistes seeking balance
As they cry their discordant chorus

Leaves lose their tenuous grip
And fall, cascade to the ground
To join the multicoloured cavalcade
of prancing harlequins dancing
Across slick grass and uneven slab

I stand silent, listen and watch
This wintry beautiful dance of death

***

In memorium

img_6127

By Laura Driver

 
The sun streamed through the stained glass window casting a myriad of colour across the dreary black outfit Evie had laid out on the bed. Once dressed she gazed into the full length mirror; the dark circles under her eyes, her lank hair and badly fitted jacket confirmed that today she would be saying goodbye to the only person who had ever really understood her.
Staring out of the train window she looked across the glorious green landscape whizzing past. She’d grown up here, she and her brother had spent endless hours climbing trees and exploring. It was a happy time, they’d had an idyllic childhood, but that was before John had got involved in all that stuff with the police.
Exactly two weeks ago Evie had been summoned to her parents’ house where she was told the horrific news. Her brother had committed suicide by jumping off a suspension bridge, his body had never been recovered.
Today was a memorial service, a wretched attempt to say goodbye, Evie didn’t see the point without a body.
The church loomed at the end of the path where her relatives gathered, a mob of black-clad, sniffling miseries. The tinny chime of Evie’s phone alerted her to a text, she stopped and rummaged in her bag for her mobile.
The text message was from an unknown number and as her eyes flitted over it she froze, dropping her handbag, the contents spilling at her feet. Evie’s heart was thumping out of her chest. Her family, a mere few metres away, looked at her with confusion. She didn’t know what to do, she looked down at her phone again, her hand shaking.
The text read “They’ll never find a body because I’m not dead”

****

img_6128

This piece is a guest post by my daughter Laura Driver who has joined the writing group that I attend. It is her first fictional story. I began writing by contributing memoirs -stories about her childhood and mine – to her blog http://www.arewenearlythereyetmummy.com. Joining the creative writing group mentored by James Nash forced me out of my ‘memoir’ comfort zone and I have composed poems and written fiction. I hope that through membership of the group Laura too will develop her writing talent.

Where the ground lies still

image

Inside the
thin carapace
of our heads
In our mind’s
dark landscape
Tectonic plates
Our thoughts
Our dreams
Constantly
Shift and move
Colliding
Crushing
the bones
of our souls
Creating
unassailable
cold mountains
Of angst
Of pain
Creating
fault lines full with
the sediment
Of regret
Of sorrow

Is heaven
a place where
the ground
lies still
Where forever
we will
walk in peace

Winter’s last battle

image

I am winter
bringer of darkness
and death
Like Bonaparte
I have laid waste
to your lands
Chilled you to
your very souls

You, Spring
bringer of light
and life
Foolishly
you thought I had left
Retreated in defeat
from this never ending
battle of the seasons

You, Spring
began to celebrate
Rolled out floral carpets
to colour the land
Began to unfurl leaves
banners to joyfully wave
Birds sang songs
of victory

I, Winter
have returned
To drain your world
of all colour
Smother your lands
with pale snow
and silence the birds
This is my Waterloo

As the arc of time passes

 

image

As the arc of time passes my given span
And turns relentlessly to the moment
Now I too must soon pay the ferryman

Will I need a holy tome, a Bible or Koran
Or a book of good deeds and sins I repent
As the arc of time passes my given span

Will you meet me, your son, now a man
Recognise me, this time worn remanent
Now I too must soon pay the ferryman

Will we talk of our life shared if you can
Before you were taken, your time spent
As the arc of time passes my given span

Will you ask me how went my life’s plan
Does my book of days tell of joy or lament
Now I too must soon pay the ferryman

Will I tell you that life perdured as it began
Days of light, and shadow, without relent
As the arc of time passes my given span
Now I too must soon pay the ferryman

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My writing group project this week is to write a Villanelle. I have never taken much interest in poetry. I had heard of sonnets and blank verse in a general knowledge sort of way, but not a Villanelle. Six months ago, before joining the writing group, I would thought a Villanelle was an ice cream dessert. How my literary world has grown……..

You miss her too

image

In our garden
under a cool
October sun
I watch as
you crumble
Fall slowly
in your grief
Crushing plants
Dislodging petals

I slide my hands
beneath you
Between the cool
leaves and
your warmth
I gently lift you
Cry into
your limp body
Weep soft tears

I carry you
to your bed
Cover your grief
with her gown
A shroud of scent
to remind you
of her
You miss her too
You faithful friend

Missing life

 

image
Beneath time swept landscapes
where lost souls tread, you lie
buried; missing, death presumed.
Your lost treasures: your future life
and precious dreams entombed.
Above, no pale stone with chiselled
name marks the place: your grave.
A passive poet, doubtful warrior
you died young, consumed
in a holocaust made by men.
Beloved wife and child bereft
forever haunted by a never
healing sorrow, and unfulfilled
dreams of what might have been.

For you, my unmet grandfather
I carry your genes, your memory.
With these words I mark your life

+++

During the First World War on the 9th of April 1917 my grandfather Clem Walter died during the the Battle of Arras.  A stretcher bearer his body was never found; one of 36,000 at Arras with no known grave.