Few Hairs and The Torteless

So that’s his game!

The old man sat there with a brick for a phone pressed to his hairy ear. He squinted, strained to hear whoever he talked with, mouthed spittle-infused words.

Oh, he was good. Really good. But it was an obvious ruse.

He turned and gave me that glassy-eyed look only the elderly could, his comb-over blowing in the speeding traffic’s wake.

He knew I was on to him.

Across the road, the last chocolate torte glistened in the bakery window like an Olympic medal.

He wanted it, but I wanted more.

Red: A wiggle and a shake.

Red and amber: I checked my trainers laced. Come to poppa.

Green: He was off.

Goddamn! He was already halfway across the road!

I swerved through the milling pedestrians like a serpent through grass. I’d show the old buzzard!

Bursting onto the pavement, I dodged an old woman with a mop for a dog and leapt through the open bakery door, chest thrust forward. Winner!

With no time to gloat, I got straight down to business. “Onechocolatetorteplease.”

“Pardon?”

“One chocolate torte, please.” This time slower.

“Sorry,” said the girl behind the counter, “we’ve just sold the last one.”

“The one in the window?”

“That’s the one.” She beamed an inoffensive smile.

I panicked, after all, she was pretty. “But I was here first,” I whimpered.

The girl shook her head and pointed over my shoulder, her bangs smacking a drum ‘n’ bass rhythm against her rosy cheeks.

I turned so slowly, my hips ground.

He sat there in his buggy smug as you like, his eyes watering and his few stray hairs a mess. His dentures were missing as though he’d rushed to beat me and hadn’t had time to put them in, his hitched-up slacks revealing the argyle socks beneath — beige, of course. But worst of all, worse than anything, he had something to say; his lips frothed with the effort.

“You’re fast,” he said. “Really fast, son.”

I glowered.

“Whilst I’m old and slow.”

I gave him one of my best sneers.

“But I have this.”

He held his black brick aloft, or as aloft as his ancient limbs could manage. This, he waggled.

“Same tomorrow?” asked the girl behind the counter.

The old man cupped his ear.

“Same tomorrow?” she bellowed.

He waggled his archaic phone one last time; it might as well have been a cup and string.

“I’ll ring ahead,” he replied, then reversed over my foot and sped off.

You’ve won this round, old man, but I’m off to buy a new charger.

Truth was, I’d rather have had the torte.

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Ageless Angel

She was that age, that ageless something

Between rose petal cheeks and silver waves of fascination

Where the foundations moved but the plans never changed

Where her eyes only ever shone brighter, more acutely than before

Piercing like twin stars set in her own personal heaven

A girl with a woman’s knowing, woman with a girl’s innocence

The sort of carefree soul who bought coral rings just to remember other people’s dreams

It was easier for her living through the dreams of others, I think

As she had no time to waste on her own

I’ve forgotten what they called her because her name never really mattered

Not to those who shared her timeline, her space, her place

A name, as with the asking her age, was pointless

For whoever took the time to speak to the wind

When the only thing that mattered was feeling it rustling their hair

No, her name was only sought by those determined to tame her

To mould and conform her; they might as well have bottled an ocean

Elemental, unbridled, let loose on us all

An ageless angel without a prayer of surviving, she couldn’t have cared any less

And when I was with her, neither could I

Yet, now, I wished I’d known it

Guessed or made up something to define her soul

To capture the uncapturable even if but for a day

I suppose I will until my own spark fades

And all those dreams with it of her body pressed to mine

Childhood Lost

Beneath crayola skies, we lingered,
Watching little butterflies flit between branches,
Laughing at the starlings as they caused kerfuffles
That only they knew
And only they could end.
This place of colour, light and creation,
Unsullied by adolescent snobbery
And adult ignorance, bewitched us.
When did we lose it?
When did we lose us?
We sit looking at a leaden heaven
Impervious even to X-ray eyes,
Refusing to divulge either answers or lies
With weights heavier than hearts should be
Pulling at our cavernous chests.
This is not us.
This is not the way we should be.
Childhood has bequeathed us everything
And delivered nothing,
Yet to return is considered a backward step:
It is only step to regain that innocent joy.

50 Word Stories: The Loneliness of Time

There’s a coffee steaming on the table. I hate drinking alone, but you’ve got to do something to stay warm. Curlicues of dispersed heat rise like ghosts departing the dawn; I’m sure one winks. Another day begins with a slurp and a cough. This is my mantra. I’m crying again.

50 Word Stories: Viewpoints

Every elephant carried a suitcase tucked neatly under its tusks. Marching down the high street in one long line, the elephants bowed to each passer by in turn, then wandered out of town.

“Where are they going?” said the adults as one.

“Who packed their trunks?” laughed all the children.

Elsewhere / Somewhere / Nowhere

Time cascades

Where once it streamed

Life pouring over the precipice

In torrents of me

A most magical tumbling

If one accepts it

Of liquid and light

A return to the womb

Cocooned in a separate reality

This curtain of creation falls

Upon a rock-strewn stage

There is no avoiding it

I await the last connection

The hardest landing

Before the water

Washes me away

Elsewhere

Somewhere

Nowhere

Or all

50 Word Stories: Change For Change’s Sake

“I like my vacuum cleaners to look like vacuum cleaners not airships, or oxygen masks, or lilac lawnmowers, or frisbees! Bleedin’ disgraceful!”

“It’s called progress, Granddad. Stop moaning.”

“Pfft! It’s called change for change’s sake.”

“What would you rather have, a fancy vacuum, or dirt?”

“A housemaid.”

That’s my Granddad.