16 December 2011

#fridayflash: but it's a lifestyle


The thing that makes noises in the morning is... making noises. I don't like it. It sounds like a very big and angry squirrel barking.

The thing won't stop making noises until she wakes up and forces it to stop, so unfortunately I have to work with the thing instead of destroying it, at least for now. I sound the alert, right in her ear, and she tries to hit me (but she misses, because we do this most mornings and I'm ready for it), then she rolls over and makes the thing quiet.

Some days she falls back asleep after we go through this, then she wakes up later and runs around in a panic before heading out the door. I don't like that either, so I jostle the bed to make her finish waking up.

She says what she always says when she's angry at me. I get out of striking distance. Then she looks at the now-silenced thing and gets up on her own. She heads to the washroom. I didn't actually feel like waking up myself yet, so I find the warm spot on the bed and settle in for a late-morning nap. I hear the toilet flushing.

I do not like the thing, because it makes loud angry noises. She doesn't seem to like the thing either, for all that she allows it in the room. Today I will try to knock the thing to the floor again. It's harder to do than it sounds, because it's tethered to the wall.

The shower is running. She won't come back in here for at least another ten minutes. Bliss.

She made the angry sound from inside the shower! I'm not even in that room! The shower sound stops, so I lift my head to listen and watch for what will happen next.

She appears in the doorway with a towel wrapped around her, dripping water everywhere. I lift my head to get a better look, because she's got the angry face on, and notice one of my mouse dolls in her hand. It's completely drenched in water. She squeezes it and a puddle forms on the hardwood.

Oh. Oh right. Mouse dolls aren't supposed to go in the shower. This has happened before.

She takes a step into the room. I leap off the bed and run under it, making for the spot in the exact middle, under the headboard, that I know from past experience she can't reach.

I hear the angry sound again, and then ridicule noises. I do not like being ridiculed, but it means I will not get hauled out from under the bed.

She leaves, and then I hear the shower again. I come out from under the bed carefully, in case the shower is a trick. Sometimes she runs water to hide the sound of food being released from the metal traps.

No, she really doesn't seem to be around. But there is water all over the floor! I take a running leap over it, and just get a little bit on one foot. Ick. I eat some food and drink some water in case I need to hide under the bed for the rest of the day. The mornings the thing makes noises she usually leaves for the whole day, but it's good to be safe.

The shower stops, and she sees me by my food and water. She makes good mood noises. I signal the food and water are getting low, just in case. Sometimes she leaves with more bags than usual and doesn't come back for two mornings.

She cleans out the water holder and refills it, then does the same with the food holder. I should be good for another two days. I check the food and water while she goes back to the bedroom.

She comes out wearing the clothes that mean she's going to leave. She picks me up and strokes my head. I let my chest rumble to show I mean no harm, and she's still making good-mood noises, so I must be communicating effectively. Then she lets me down, and I notice that there is a sunbeam on the couch in the living room, so I go sit in that.

She's about to leave when she goes to the living room, picks up the little window in the black case from the table, and taps at it for a few moments. I look after she leaves, and the glyphs are:
SheHasACat: I wish I had my cat's lifestyle. [tweeted at 7:30am from Twitter]
I tap the window a few times, but all that happens is that the glyphs vanish, and a creature who looks like me appears. It's not moving, so I don't get concerned.

I figure it's time to go back to my sunbeam.

09 December 2011

#fridayflash: picture tour

This is another description exercise, along the lines of prose sestina but using different methods. I wanted to play around with showing versus non-showing, action versus stillness.

The bottom frame of the window sits level with the sidewalk outside. The window is unusually large for a basement apartment, and passers-by could easily look in if it weren’t for the lace curtains that Helen has hung up inside. She’s proud of those curtains; they were sewn from her wedding veil, but she did a good job when she made them over to fit in the window.

The door to the apartment is four concrete steps below the sidewalk. The door has some small panel windows in it, but they’re frosted and so otherwise unadorned.

The pine coat rack almost stands in the doorway. It supports Helen’s beige winter coat, her brown felt hat, and the old black umbrella that probably used to be Gene’s. The hook furthest from the door has tomorrow’s dress hanging from it so the wrinkles will have a chance to fall out.

Today’s dress is white cotton with a small print of violets, washed so many times it’s as soft as old bedsheets. Helen likes it because it’s comfortable, especially now that she’s thinner, but the full skirt keeps getting caught under the legs of her chair when she changes position.

Helen sits at her old hall desk that stands next to the coat rack, right under the lace-curtained windows. She’s writing a letter and looking at photos. That is, she looks at the photos she’s arranged on the little ledge at the back of the desk for several minutes at a time, then out the curtains for several minutes more, the lace printing shadows of roses and ferns across her face. The sunlight that steals past the curtains makes her white hair glow. Every once in a while she seems startled to discover the pen in her hand, notices the letter-paper as if it just fell from the ceiling, reads what she has written so far, and adds another paragraph, or maybe just a half-paragraph, because the photos distract her and start the cycle all over again.

The corner between the desk and the night-table is piled with books. Some of them were definitely always hers. Others may have been Gene’s. She’s put the books that make her happy near the top. The ones on the bottom are mostly bait to lure the mice and the mildew away from anything important.

The night-table is adorned with a china lamp in the shape of a poodle and an old wedding photo in a brass frame. The groom is tall and handsome and wears his blonde hair in a crew cut. The bride is a brunette, and her long lacy veil with its pattern of roses and ferns has been wrapped around the happy couple’s feet.

The coverlet on the white-painted twin bedframe was originally sized for a double bed. Helen cut the excess width of fabric off and hemmed the raw edges by hand, using green thread to match the background leaf pattern. Her favourite cabbage rose fell right on the cut line. Some things just can’t be helped.

A three-tiered chest of drawers sits opposite the hall-desk on the other side of the bed. Helen’s clothes are hidden in it. On top are more secrets – photos of the man and woman from the wedding picture laughing in a Hawaiian-themed nightclub, at a backyard barbecue, in front of a living room Christmas tree. The barbecue and Christmas photos are in colour, but they’re faded.

The chest of drawers shares the wall with an upside-down milk crate that keeps the pantry items and dishes off the floor.

Helen hung the excess strip of fabric from the bed coverlet over the door to the shared bathroom. Mr. Braemar, her neighbour, does not always remember to close and lock both bathroom doors before he does his business, and Helen would rather not fight with him about something so stupid.

The wall opposite the foot of the bed has a bar fridge plugged into it, and a hot plate sitting on top of another upturned milk crate. There’s also a small sink, which is nice so Helen doesn’t have to do her dishes in the shared bathroom. She’s hung a little mirror above the sink. That way she can get dressed and brush her teeth in the morning without having to wait for Mr. Braemar to finish and leave for work.

The gap between the bar fridge and the door is empty, so the door has somewhere to swing when Helen opens it. The door is open now, and an extra sunbeam is hitting the vinyl-covered dining room chair that Helen sat in until she finished her letter. The bits of glitter embedded in the vinyl sparkle in the sun.

The photos are still on the back ledge of the desk. The shaft of sunlight narrows and vanishes as Helen closes and locks the door. She pauses to check how much change she has in her pocketbook before she heads to the post office to send her letter.