Archive for September, 2005

A Woman’s Right to Shoes….

Posted in creative / writing on September 11, 2005 by Khlari

This is a story written by Marian Keyes, which I finished for a BBC competition….. Nick poked me, and motioned me to turn around with a very peculiar look on his face. Maybe he was just pissed again. I turned. Looking at me was a tall, dark thin man, with a vague accent that spoke of somewhere other than Stoke Newington. Mind you, most peoples’ accents in Stoke Newington spoke of somewhere other than Stoke Newington. Steven and I had moved there because it was the only place that was cheap and-convenient-for-the-city-,as he glibly put it. We seemed in fact to belong there as much as anybody else did, and after he had waltzed off with Cinderella-Hayley, the queen of the equal feet, and possessor of shoes in pairs, I had moved around the corner onto Foulden Road. Yet this man’s voice didn’t belong, it didn’t belong at all…….. “I think you have my shoe.” I was startled out of my trailing train of thought. “How can you be sure?” I snapped back. As I did so however, my eyes automatically traveled down his shantung-suited legs, and came to rest on the most exquisite periwinkle blue suede shoes. Then I knew. Only someone capable of these shoes was capable of those shoes, they had the same soft, enchanted, glowing qualities. And I was sure that his socks would be knitted black silk. With no holes in the toes. Idly I wondered how he had got through Dalston alive in order to arrive here. It wasn’t only his voice that didn’t fit, the rest of him obviously didn’t arrive here on the 149 bus either. And his departure point was more likely to have been Samarcand than Edmonton. “Because a kind shoe fairy left me clues” My shoes! I knew they would come in useful for something, if not my feet, their intended targets. My orphan shoes, leading the glamorous stranger across murky London and into my pub…..Nick was trying to catch my eye in a ‘wink wink nudge nudge told you so’ kind of way. I ignored him pointedly and concentrated, despite the alcohol, on sophisticated and mysterious. Hard to achieve when you’re five feet two, covered with green paint after a hard day with thirty seven-year olds, and more cuddly than curvaceous, but I tried. “Forgive me,” he said “I did not introduce myself.” I held my breath. And tried not to hug the pashmina’d shoe in a demented sort of way. Please, dear Lord, please don’t let him be called Brian Higginbottom…. “My name is Cyrian Merlotti, and I really do believe that is my shoe.. Miss….” Yes! My feeble shoe-addled brain sprang back to life, as usual, I began burbling incoherently. But that was also aided by the copious quantities of gin and tonic within. “Alice- Alice Sackerthwaite……( now you see why not Higginbottom…. I had a brainwave, maiden name- yes!!!!}- Alice Sackerthwaite Long” I thought that if I left it at that I at least couldn’t be accused of talking rubbish. Yet. “Miss Sackerthwaite Long,” he enunciated, I mean enunciated, who else could make the hated Sackerthwaite sound sexy, it was worth divorcing Steven just to lose that, though I must admit that custody of half my footwear had not featured in the decree nisi- in place of alimony perhaps pedimony? “Please may I please have my shoe back.” I looked up into his eyes, which were a very long way up, and the same glowing blue-violet as his shoes, as he looked down at my oddly-shoed feet and I grimaced inside. “Or perhaps you are a lady in need of shoes?” and he smiled. “Although with such beautiful feet I think it is a great pity for them to be covered, yes?” I was dumbfounded. Who could find my uneven and bizarrely-shod feet beautiful? Why? Was he mad? Was he some kind of kinky eurotrash-footfetishist, of the kind beloved by Antoine de Caulnes and Jean-Paul Gaultier? Would I see myself on next week’s programme? Worse, had Steven and Hayley maybe sent him to convince me that I was mad, foot-obsessed, and indeed harassing them? “You could say so…..yes, indeed” I faltered, wondering what on earth I was leading myself into. My grandmother always said that one drink too many and you would end up a white slave in Shanghai……..Shanghai! Maybe he was into foot binding!!! Or worse! Mind you, there was little that I could say, I must have looked stupendous sitting on a bar-stool cuddling his shoe in my pashmina, a very normal thing for a thirty six-year old woman to do in Bar Lorca on a wet Tuesday night……..and I was sure I could feel my mascara slowly descending my cheekbones. “Allow me to present you with my card then, and maybe you would allow me to buy you a drink to celebrate the fortuitous reuniting of my shoes.” I looked at the card. “Cyrian Merlotti, chaussures exquises faites mains, exquisite hand-made shoes London – Paris There was an almighty crash as the pub doors slammed back on their hinges, revealing a rain-drenched and somewhat the worse for wear Hayley. She’d obviously been at the babycham again. This was descending into an episode of Eastenders. “Alice!” she screamed. “You can have him back, he’s a complete bastard and I never want to see him again!” She stumbled, and fell splayed on the floor, with her feet sticking out like a rag doll, heaving with sobs. Then her right shoe fell off, or maybe I should say my right shoe, and she began wailing again, comforted by a now very agitated Nick. Five minutes ago I would have had the uncharitable thought that that was because it was her right foot that was still a size four .But not now. Cyrian put his hand on my shoulder. “And what do you say, Miss Alice my Wonderland?” he purred. The moment should have been broken. But the wailing Hayley only caused me to compare Cyrian’s honey-soft voice to Steven’s nasal scouse twang, his periwinkle blue shoes to Steven’s BHS loafers…remembered his meanness, he had even moaned about the shoes I had had made for our wedding, and I realized I didn’t care anymore. “You were made for each other.” I said to Hayley “Shall we go, then?” said Cyrian I smiled up at him. I had died and gone to heaven. The shoe-fairy had descended upon darkest Stoke Newington in full Jimmy Choo glory. “Yes please” I said. The doors swung shut behind us, as he carried me out into the softly drizzling night.

That’s entertainment…..

Posted in creative / writing, gothic, me and my world on September 11, 2005 by Khlari

This is a story I wrote in response to something that really happened……unfortunately

That’s Entertainment

“and all we have now, are our thoughts of yesterday, la la la la, la la la la la la la”

Marie grinned madly as the song finished, and David smiled back at her as he strummed the last chord on the guitar.
Basil rushed up to them, in his dusty tailcoat and battered top hat with swan-feathers in the band.
“Oh darlings, that was wonderful” He turned to the rest of the room “don’t you think so?”
Turning back to David and Marie, he hugged them,
“Such a pity you have to go now though, after such a wonderful song”.
Marie hugged Basil back. “Afraid we do though, David has work tomorrow. But it’s been lovely, hope the rest of your birthday goes as well”.

Marie and David walked down to Euston in the warm evening air, and ended up catching the bus back with another friend of Basil’s who they had bumped into at the bus stop. Finally all three piled off the bus, laughing, at the junction. Basil’s friend headed off towards Stoke Newington.

“What’s the time” said David.
“Why?” answered Marie.
“Because I’m starving and the noodle bar’s still open.”
“You are such a pig, you had about fifteen helpings at the party…”
“But I’m soooo hungry…”
“You always are….oh, go on then!”

They spent half an hour there giggling, spooning noodles into each other’s mouths and drinking Chinese beer until they realized that the place was closing and that the staff were giving them distinctly frigid looks. They paid up and turned out of the door towards home.
“Oh damn” muttered Marie, fishing in her handbag, “I’m going to have to get some fags, I think I left mine somewhere..”
“Who’s silly now then? I know, what about getting a bottle of that fizzy Chardonnay you like at the same time?”
“You’ll never get to work tomorrow….”
“Hell, you only live once! It’s your fault we’ve to go to the shop anyway……”

They carried on mildly bickering into the shop door, picking up their wine, and up to the till. The young guy behind the counter looked at them, amused.
“Never seen you looking quite like that before…don’t teach like that do you?”
Marie laughed, she had almost forgotten the outfit she was wearing. Maybe that explained the chilly looks in the noodle bar.
“It was for a friend’s birthday party, we were doing a song by a band called Strawberry Switchblade, they dress up like this, and they used to be his favourite band”
The guy smiled back “Don’t think that they were too big in Turkey. Like the corset though.”
“Don’t think we’ll be off to work tomorrow dressed like this though,” chipped in David, “a little impractical I think”.

David picked up the carrier bag with the wine, and his guitar in the other hand, Marie following behind. There was a bicycle lying right across the doorway of the shop.
“Bloody silly place to put a bike” said David. With the guitar in one hand, and the wine in the other, there wasn’t a lot he could do, and Marie, he knew quite well, couldn’t bend at all with that corset on. He nudged the bike slightly to the right with his right foot, so that Marie could pass.

As they came out of the door, Marie whispered “Don’t think you should have done that”
“Why not? Was a silly place to put a bike”
“Why not? Because a nineteen foot rasta will come round the corner and kick your head in for touching his bike”
“ Ha bloody ha, very funny! Take this a minute, will you?” he passed her the carrier bag with the wine in it and fixed the strap back on the guitar so he could put it on his shoulder. “Need to find my keys, yours are probably at the bottom of your bloody handbag.”

They rounded the corner into the little alleyway that was the shortcut to their house. David was still fiddling in the pockets of his leather jacket for his keys.

“So you know where yours are then?” teased Marie.

Suddenly Marie was thrown aside as something approached them from behind, the force of the blow pushing her into the road, and David being thrown forwards and away from her. Everything span into confusion, David was flying forwards into the brick wall at the end of the ginnel, guitar flying across the pavement. Suddenly a bicycle flew into the edge of her vision, clattering across the pavement, the rider descended upon the prone David. Marie was now running forwards, but her legs couldn’t carry her fast enough, her heels impeding her progress, everything was going too slowly, too fast for her to keep up.

She saw the man’s fists raining down on David’s head, and heard the babbling stream of vitriol from his mouth. The voice was rasping and unceasing………
“Not from round ‘ere are you? Gotta learn respec’ if you wanna live ‘ere mate, respec’, man, you touch my bike man, you better go back to where you come from fuckin’ weirdo, no-one disses me an my bike man, you gotta learn, I is gonna teach you a lesson man, you gonna get out of here you freak cos I is gonna learn you…….”
As the words came from his mouth the punches came from his fists, David had struggled up from the floor, but then was drowned in a sea of blows, falling, falling to the floor again…..he was trying to speak….”Look mate, I…..” but was silenced again and again by the hailing raining fists……..

“Stop it!” Screamed Marie, she had now reached David and all she could see was a sea of blood as the man came for him over and over again
“Get out of it you tart your man deserve a beatin’, him have to learn respec’, if yous live in Hackney you gonna lean respec ‘…….The incessant diatribe went on and on, harsh, grating, monotone, a violent rap of senseless rubbish. He looked at Marie as he said this but the hand was on autopilot, punching, punching. His eyes were dark, dark with a crazed look, his gold front tooth shone under the streetlight as he spat his poisoned words, and his goatee gave him a diabolical air Marie could hear herself screaming, words were coming out of her mouth but she had no idea if they were making sense, the man was so big, she was so small, David wasn’t much taller, but this man was about six foot five, and on he went….and on…..

She had the bottle of wine, could she swing it, would she knock him out with one blow? He was so tall, he was moving too much, would he kill both of them. If she could get her phone out of her bag? He would just destroy the phone. He was going to kill David, she was sure now, she was powerless, powerless, standing there, watching the destruction of the man she loved, she could see him almost drowning in his own blood his blue eyes looking up at the crazy raining blows on him, the crazy man smiling as he tried to kill her lover…..

David was still trying to speak, the man still chanting ‘get back where you come from’, every time he heard David’s soft Lancashire accent filtering through the blood…..then she saw David falling, falling, as a boot crashed into his head…..The boot was grinding David’s head into the pavement, what could she do, how could she stop this maniac, David was going to die, the man was laughing now, laughing, frenzied, as he kicked, and ground, and kicked, and ground.

Then he moved downwards to his bike, and grabbed the heavy metal D lock from it, still kicking, still grinding. Marie could take no more, David really was going to die, maybe they would both have to die, she stumbled forwards and grabbed the lock from the man as hard as she could. He turned, faced her shocked, the mouth still ranting hatred as he did so. Marie stood shocked with the lock. “He might not be from round here, but I am,” she screamed “So fuck off”. This is it she thought, he’ll kill me now. The mouth stopped moving, the lock was wrenched back. Marie shut her eyes and waited to die. Then silence. She heard the hiss of a bicycle’s wheels, and all was silence.

She knelt down on the floor to David, picking up his bleeding head and laying it in her lap. He was conscious, but barely. Suddenly all was activity, a man ran forward, a flat window flew open, a girl ran to her…….

Marie felt distanced from everything, the sudden buzz around her like a masquerade, people saying things and doing things while she could only gaze on as if in a bubble. Above her head drifted the one sound she could identify……

The plaintive tones of Paul Weller floating out into the night sky
“ A police car and a screaming siren, a pneumatic drill and ripped up concrete, a baby wailing and stray dog howling, the screech of brakes and lamplights blinking – That’s entertainment, that’s…”

Marie could feel David’s blood running over her knees as she cradled his mangled head in her hands, sea his blue blue eyes looking up at her through a carmine sea, her once-white skirt dripping scarlet.

That’s entertainment…..for some people. A Saturday night punch-up for some, a life held in balance for others. Then, finally, the wail of sirens.

a bit bipolar????

Posted in creative / writing, France on September 11, 2005 by Khlari

Speaking one language
While I think another
Language schizophrenia

Orphaned phrases
Still lost in the translation
Struggle in the mire

Am I the same in the two
Or subtly different in both
A split personality

I am divided
In cross channel confusion
Belonging nowhere
Half my heart in both
Stuck somewhere between the two
With no solution

Lost my direction
Vacillating endlessly
Impossible choice

For losing one half
Is to lose half of oneself
Semi sacrifice

Now I have to live
A bipolar disorder
My divided brain

Half English half French
Yet belonging to no-one
A foot in each camp

Musings on London……

Posted in creative / writing on September 11, 2005 by Khlari

and a little poetry to inspire your jaded souls!

Central artery
Bisects the metropolis
Cutting clean in two

River of flotsam
Your green and muddied waters
Flowing through my veins

London will never
Abandon my consciousness
Though I leave it behind

Brackish tributaries
Coursing within my being
Eternal reminder

Some things you can leave
Though does residue remain
Imprint on the soul?

She Sells Sanctuary……

Posted in creative / writing, gothic, werewolves vampires and ghoulies on September 11, 2005 by Khlari

and another……..in a different vein…lol!

She Sells Sanctuary
Khlari jumped from the step of the 38 bus as it pulled round from Essex Road to the stop at the Angel. As she got off, she saw the gaze of the bus conductor upon her, she noted it with approval. She pulled her long black coat around her as she walked past the building site. Even though it was a Saturday night, her look was guaranteed to attract attention, even in the relatively cosmopolitan streets of Islington. That was the way she liked it.

She turned the corner of City Road, and headed down the side of the tube station towards Torrens Street and the lights of the Slimelight ahead. She breezed past the queue and headed towards the staircase up to the club. It was a dank 19th century warehouse, perfectly suited to its current purpose.

‘Khlari!’
It was Martin, the doorman.
‘Looking good!’
Khlari gave him a twirl, hair extensions flying, her corset hugging her in, her skirt flowing behind, her long fishnetted legs leading down to her pointed boots……..
They exchanged a few air kisses, their usual practice, as he waved her in to the club. She was a regular.

As she climbed up the worn stone staircase to the third floor, she heard the heavy industrial beat pounding as she passed the second floor, until she reached the haven at the top of the stairs. She turned left into the room…the lighting was ultraviolet, and all you could see were shining eyes and teeth as the haunting strain of ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ filled the air.

She headed for the bar. More new bar staff, they changed from week to week, people come, people go, London was a transient city.

‘Pernod and black please.’ The crowd at the bar had parted to let her through, she was well known figure around here.

The man behind the bar was tall, dark, and handsome – in a Goth way. He was elegantly emaciated, with cheekbones to die for, and long slim legs encased in leather trousers, with the obligatory pointed boots…..
Khlari shot him a look.
‘I don’t think I know you.’
‘Should you?’
‘I’m here all the time’
‘Oh really?’
‘What kind of an accent is that anyway? Not from round here…’
‘No, I’m French….’

A blonde meteor suddenly hurtled towards Khlari, shrieking her name on the way….
‘Mia!!!’
Khlari hugged her friend, who was closely followed by the other part of the triumvirate, redhead Martha…..
They were legendary here at least, uber goth babes, all the baby goth girls yearned to be like them. They had been around the scene forever, since their early teens, had grown up in gothdom as they frequently teased each other. Martha went as far as to claim that these days she wouldn’t even recognize ‘normality’. They contrasted perfectly, Mia was raucous, blonde with a laugh like Sid James, Martha tall, elegant and Dutch, with flowing red hair, and Khlari smaller, quieter with long black hair. They made an unlikely group, but one that had withstood the test of time. They drifted towards the dance floor, with the sound of Siouxsie’s ‘Arabian Knights’ literally beating through their ribcages. The Slimelight was not the place for a quiet chat. They came here to bare their souls to the music.

As the song switched to ‘Alice’, they threaded their way onto the floor, twisting, turning, feeling the music flow through them, losing themselves for the moment. A symphony of fishnet, black, and deathly white in front of their eyes. As the strobe lights flashed, the other dancers seemed to shatter, break, then reform before their eyes as Eldritch’s plaintive voice pleaded with Alice not to ‘give it away’……

The sound drifted on to ‘She Sells Sanctuary’…Khlari felt the drumbeat flowing through her bones as Ian Astbury’s tribal wail rose into the smoke-filled air. Suddenly she felt a light grip on her waist as she turned. She was suddenly looking into the green eyes of the barman.
‘Hello’
‘Just dance…..’
They moved in a haze, his body perfectly aligned to hers and the rising, falling, turning, hypnotic motion of the song. She did not need to ‘dance with him’, they seemed perfectly attuned to each other. Suddenly, he was kissing her, they were against each other, swirling, flowing as one.

Finally he broke away.
‘What are you called?’
‘Khlari, and you?’
He smiled. Most Goths seemed to call themselves Thunder or Raven, though, alas, they had been christened Colin, or something equally prosaic.
‘It is your real name?’
She looked affronted. ‘Yes, I’m afraid so. What is yours?’
‘They call me Cassian’
‘That’s your real name?’
‘Yes’
They both broke into hesitant smiles.
‘So why aren’t you behind the bar? Dereliction of duty?’
‘No, I am finished.’

They carried on dancing, moving, kissing until the end of the evening. Mia and Martha had sensed that she wanted to be alone and made a tactful and tacit withdrawal. The dancefloor was emptying, the flickering lights showing the echoing spaces of empty warehouse now.

‘I must go’, Khlari said
‘Why?’
‘I have to get home, somehow’
‘Stay for a drink’
‘How? The place is closing.’
‘I live upstairs.’
‘Here, above the club?’
‘Yes’

She finally agreed, and he led her to the far corner of the dancefloor, behind a curtain, and up a tiny staircase she had never noticed before, until they came to a small door.
He took her into a flat decorated in typically gothic style, heavy velvet and candles everywhere.

‘Wow’
‘It is nothing’

They sat and talked, and drank red wine from tall purple goblets, for what seemed like hours, until suddenly she was lying back on the sofa, and they were kissing again. They embraced delicately, until suddenly, she heard a hissing noise.

She sat bolt upright.
‘Poppysma.’ She said.

He shot up.
‘Pardon?’
‘Poppysma’
‘This is ridiculous. What do you know about this?’
‘Well, go on then. Hurry up.’

He stood up.
‘Hurry up? You know what I will do and you say to me to hurry up – are you mad?’
Khlari stood up herself. Even with her heels on, he was still about a foot taller than her. She looked up into his eyes.
‘Look, Cassian. I am a Goth. Of course I know what you are about to do. Just get on with it.’
He sat down on the velvet sofa, and put his head in his hands.
‘It has never happened like this’
‘Well maybe you’ve never been to London before. I did notice you know.’
‘But I cannot do this’
‘But I want you to’
‘Want me to? Ah mon Dieu, this is completely…ridicule.’
‘Look Cassian. This is really simple. You Vampire, Me Goth. Now bite me.’
He began to pace around the room…. ‘How can I bite you if you want me to? This was never part of the deal…’
‘Stop the existential angst and get on with it………’

Khlari jumped from the step of the 38 bus as it pulled round from Essex Road to the stop at the Angel. As she got off, she saw the gaze of the bus conductor upon her, she noted it with approval. She pulled her long black coat around her as she walked past the tube station. Even though it was a Saturday night, her look was guaranteed to attract attention, even in the relatively cosmopolitan streets of Islington. That was the way she liked it.

She turned the corner of City Road, past the derelict station, and towards the lights of the Slimelight ahead. She breezed past the queue and went into the club.

She wrapped her arms around Cassian.
‘Hello Cherie, good journey? Meet Raven, he is new on the bar tonight.’

It was odd how in 20 years, no-one had ever remarked how well Cassian and Khlari had aged…..nor the abnormally high turnover of bar staff. The fact they went out only at night- well, they were Goths after all. And, at the end of the day, nothing seems so strange after all at the Slimelight…….

Jigsaw Feeling……

Posted in creative / writing, France, me and my world on September 11, 2005 by Khlari

This is a story I wrote for my MA application….draw your own conclusions……. Jigsaw Feeling Difficulty level impossible, number of pieces infinite. Can this woman ever be put back together again? Hard to tell. Let’s look at the pieces. How is she in pieces? How can she be so fragmented? Is this a woman or a jigsaw? But I can number those pieces, I can number those breaks, I can quantify that falling apart, for I am she, your hypothetical jigsaw lady. Every piece has a story, every break has a history. Maybe it has a history that you will not wish to hear, maybe it is a saga that you will listen to with your hands over your ears. Painful to hear? Oh pity on you with your delicate ears. Do you not think in your privileged position that it was a thousand times more painful to think and to live? Let me list the breaks, let me list the multiple and many fissures which traverse me, your anonymous jigsaw lady. Break the first. It is hot, it is summer and I run into an old work colleague and we go for coffee. We laugh about our old job back in England and I invite him back to come and meet you. We were laughing as we got out of the lift. Do you remember now, can you? How you shot out of the door, and threw Nick against the wall screaming torrents of abuse? Do you remember how you dragged me into the apartment by my neck and threw me across the bedroom, how you grabbed me by the shoulders and banged, banged my head against the wall until it felt like it was going to explode. Is it coming back now, how you did this until I was unconscious? Can you remember how I screamed, how I held my hands across my stomach to save my unborn child? Then, how you went out to get even more drunk, leaving me lying across the bed, probably not even aware or caring if I was alive or dead? Break the second was a direct result of break the first, though I doubt that your alcohol-addled brain was capable of making that connection. But I’ll remember for you. I’ll remember the pain, the fear, the rush in the taxi to the hospital sitting on a towel with the blood flowing down my legs, by myself of course. I recall perfectly lying on the hospital trolley, my head still covered with the bruises that you had carefully placed under my long black hair so that no-one would know that they were there except me. I can still hear all the lies and the platitudes, the assurances in French for foreigners that everything would be fine. The rest you wouldn’t know, you weren’t there you will say. The screaming pain on the stark white bed, the vitriolic nasal mutterings of the nurse who believed that I was just another deluded little English girl, and that she knew best. The refusals to help, the pain shooting through me in waves, the pain in my head now dulled by the torrential waves of a different pain. I’ll tell you about being left for five hours like this. I’ll tell you how it felt to know that this was going to happen. I’ll tell you about the dead baby I gave birth to all alone in a hospital bed, 1000 miles away from home. I can describe perfectly the corpse in a white plastic bucket they showed to me when they finally answered the bell. How it felt to sit in a waiting room full of pregnant women the morning after waiting for an ultrasound. How, when I was walking out of the hospital by myself two days later, they presented me with a bill for six thousand francs for incompetence rendered. Because for me the memory is not fleeting, it is engraved in these chasms that cross my body and mind, the chasms I carry with me every day of my life. Which leads me to break the third. You weren’t there. Are you beginning to see now? Not all of these breaks are the physical kind you love to deliver. Some are far far deeper than that. They are breaks in the soul, breaks in the spirit and being. You probably wouldn’t even notice them. Shortly after that was break the fourth. I came home from work to find that you had gone to your brother’s wedding in Brittany without me. I spent the next four days eating stale bread and cheese and smoking cigarette butts, as you had thoughtfully taken every penny in the house. Luckily for you, I couldn’t telephone anyone, as they had already cut the telephone off. Break the fifth happens the next time I am pregnant with the baby you claimed to want so much. Though I am sure you won’t recollect any of this. You passed most of the pregnancy in an alcohol-fuelled haze. As I recall, you spent everything on Pastis and beer, while I had to beg and plead at the hospital for them to let me pay for the ultrasound next week, the blood test at the end of the month. They were worried you see, they had put down Break the Second as a miscarriage, so I was an ‘at risk mother’. In a way they were quite right, though with my stress levels they had just put me down as another hysterical foreigner, and sent me to the hospital psychiatrist. You wouldn’t remember all of this. How I carried you to bed, though I was pregnant and you weighed twice as much as me. How I cleaned up when you were sick anywhere and everywhere. How I changed the sheets when you wet the bed and were so drunk that you haven’t noticed. How I carried the shopping home on two buses, despite the fact there was I car which I had basically paid for sitting in the kerb outside. The one thing I couldn’t forget was the alcohol. The bottle of Pastis per day, plus any beer, wine, whatever you could get your hands on. Not if I valued my life. Break the sixth would be hard for you to know about, because I had to admit myself to the hospital on the other side of Paris. I travelled by train and metro to get there, with all my bags. My ‘condition’ now so worrying that I had to have extensive tests, or lose this baby. Actually, when I started giving birth they had to ring you for two hours before you answered the phone. You probably wouldn’t remember, I guess you were comatose somewhere. You did arrive finally, another two hours after that, although you did have to keep popping out for a drink from the car at regular intervals. I would call the actual birth breaks seven, eight, and nine. I had better fill you in on the details, you had just popped out for a drink, after asking me where the nearest bar to the hospital was. I had been left alone for quite a while when someone finally noticed that blood was dripping onto the floor, and your daughter was dying. You weren’t around when I was rushed into the theatre, trailing blood. It would have been hard for you to hear that I had in fact lost half of the blood in my body. Mind you, that probably explained the light-headedness, and the pains in my chest as my heart raced to keep up. Your daughter was stuck, they finally managed to extract her, but I wasn’t even aware if she was alive or dead. Actually, you turned up about 20 minutes after the whole event. The tenth break happens after we get home. I had just changed jobs. Again. It’s amazing how you in fact lose jobs when you have to keep taking days off to hide your face, or even when your partner in an alcohol-fuelled paranoia refuses to let you leave the house. It’s even more amazing when you find a new one. However, when you have borrowed money from everyone you work with, and the Creche Municipale is refusing to take your child unless you buy the nappies and baby lotion, and pay the bill, you have to move on. The crunch happens when you can’t even buy the baby food. There’s no money left after the Pastis. Break the eleventh is the holiday in England, where all the spending money goes on finding Pastis, of course at a premium price, nothing else will do. Where you spend most of the day in bed, pretend to be ill, refuse to meet my friends and oblige me to lie to my entire family. Mind you, this is not helped by your refusal to learn any English after 3 years together. Number 12 occurs whenever you feel paranoid. Then the fists fly and you accuse me of having affairs with anyone from the concierge to the hunchbacked man who puts out the vege
tables in Franprix. This is probably sufficient in fact to do numbers 13 through to 25, it’s fairly frequent. I feel that Number 26 is the beginning of your unlucky streak. You force me to go and see a psychiatrist, to find out ‘what’s wrong with me’. Unfortunately, the psychiatrist actually concludes that the only thing wrong with me is you, and I’m prevented from going back. We also have Number twenty seven….which on second thought probably includes numbers 28 through 35, compound fractures. Through having to take time off of work to mind our sick child, I have lost my job again. This is where you develop a new paranoid interest, returning to Brittany, land of your fathers, and all that twaddle. So off we go on another wild goose chase. We go off to Sables d’Olonne, in the 85…but it’s still not Brittany. Guess even they wouldn’t wish to take you back. In the meantime we’re supposed to be having the holiday of our dreams in the South….. It takes us 2 days to drive there. Maybe because of all the stops on the autoroute. 2, 300 miles of hell. And then it rains, God does it rain. That’s my fault as well. We’re meeting your brother and his family for the perfect family holiday…though to be honest even they had probably suffered enough at the time with your gimcrack little charades. Crack bang here we go again……any chance for a slap…oh though you are so careful that Christophe and Sandrine don’t see…Until you finally let the curtain drop, your unguarded moment. They take me out for the evening, and when I return I have the whole no sleep where have you been what were you doing pantomime, bang, slap, what, bang, slap, where…..Christophe intervenes when you have banged my head on the wall so often that I am comatose, and your daughter is crying, ‘Maman, maman’ alone into the night. They leave in the morning, and jigsaw girl has to piece together the events from the map of contusions. In retrospect, breaks 35 through 38…one for each of the vertebrae ruined. I tell your mother. She says ‘demerde-toi’. Get yourself out of your own shit. Sensitive family…..the bruises are still fresh and purple as an aubergine. These are not the physical cracks but the mental. Your son did this. Help me. Talk to yourself. You might as well. Become mute, it would be safer. Back home. Then the move. You and your equally alcoholic friend Serge at the wheel. Safe in the hands of the man that drinks niaoul before breakfast. You like us being there, mind you. No friends at all, no-one to hear me, God that makes you happy. Because, as usual, you’re not happy and it’s all my fault. This time, I’m even supposed to be sleeping with the woman at the ANPE…the dole office. The guy at the library where I’m doing my research for the CAPES, the teaching certificate that might take us out of this…… Then I get a job in La Roche sur Yon, leaving at 5.30 am, cycling 4 miles, catching the TGV, walking for 20 minutes, catching another bus, taking another walk…….it’s the middle of winter, and this time I’m supposed to be having affairs with the 15 year old farming students…..every night it’s bang, crack, bang crack my head…..More and more, I am becoming fundamentally flawed, only the wallpaper holds me together….the smile hides a thousand wounds. Every day I play the dutiful French wife at the Catholic school, thanking God it’s winter and I can hide myself beneath layers of clothes. Every morning at 5 am it takes more and more Prozac to just get myself out of bed. Every night I have the 6 hours of recriminations and maybe 4 hours of sleep if I’m lucky. You shout through the sleeping tablets. You’ve stopped going to work. I now have to lie to your boss as well. It’s Christmas. My parents arrive. Let’s play happy families and thank the Lord no-one can understand each other. Even lost in translation you manage to spoil it for everyone. The only saving grace being that in such proximity it can only be your words that wound me. For now. They leave, I wave them off on the TGV to Nantes with tears in my eyes, they, so concerned, I nearly get on the train. Your hand restraining me like iron under the sleeve of my coat. ‘Why were you crying?’ ‘I wasn’t’ ‘I’ll give you something to cry for’ ‘I wasn’t……’ ‘Come here’ ‘No’ ‘Come here’ ‘I’m fine’ ‘Will you give me what I want? You’re my wife………’ Bang Crack Slam Silence…….Confusion Suffocating Pain. Va et vient, in and out, you’re my wife, symphony of pain, take no more, NO. Coming round, he is inside me, can take no more, no longer a person, just a possession. All is black. Try to die. Why can’t I die? Realise now that you cannot die of unhappiness as I would be dead one hundred times over. I’ve stopped counting how broken I am now. Just wish you would finally break me so I could know no more. But I keep waking up to a new hell. Hell is other people, old Jean-Paul was right. But the Jigsaw Lady Lazarus is not broken inside. Maybe the carapace is cracked and shattered into infinitesimal pieces, but something inside now rises up. This is it, breaks…..infinite. But I am beyond caring. I have arrived at calculating. You are admitted to hospital – this worried me once until I found out that the ‘epilepsy’ was caused by the alcohol. I take my chance. I make the worst telephone call of my whole life to everyone, tell them it was all a sham. I lie to your mother – she deserves no better. I get up at 4 am, take my child, my life in a suitcase, and my shattered self. I fight my way through border control with lies and smiles, and bring what remains of myself home. I have rebuilt myself. I have filled in the cracks, I have rebuilt the walls, I have rebuilt the girl that you tried so hard to destroy. Some, physical, parts of the jigsaw lady will always be broken, thanks to you. But never the spirit.