Small Stones

The result of amalgamating two pages. January and July 2011

Too close for comfort
Watch rioting on TV, grateful I am nowhere near. Arrive at work next day to find front door smashed.

Hangnail gone bad. The throbbing in my thumb reminds me I am not dead.

Good Morning
The single grunt that passes for greetings in a Monday morning office.

Heaving chest and tight throat. Immediately awake and struggling. Midnight fear of drowning.

Broad beans signal their ripeness by drooping on the plant.

Cars wink at me as the slowing line of traffic reveals so many broken brake lights.

The wood grain in the panelled door makes wolves' faces stare at me.

Podding peas.

Pop. Zip. And the sharp taste of summer green. 
Some peas won't make it to the pan.

Knotted dough, crusted with sea salt crystals, sparkling like giants' engagement rings in the bakery window.

The results of a challenge to write something every day in January 2011. The idea is to concentrate, just for a while, then record what you've experienced.
January 1
The new year burst to life with fireworks, a celestial garden spread across the night sky. Blossoms of fire with petals of flame sprang up; chrysanthemums, daisies and tall, waving grasses of light, which faded faster than true blooms. An after image burned on my eyes preserved them for a few seconds, then was gone. The year was abandoned to the darkness of January. 
January 2
This morning I looked up and saw a piece of blue sky peeping through a tear in the blanket of grey-striped cloud. It was a pale, baby blue shade with a light, pearlescent shimmer and was far too small to make a sailor a pair of trousers (as my father used to say) but it was there. A tiny reminder that winter does not last forever.
January 3
The cat curled up on the sofa. A black question mark against the cushions.
January 4
No voices.
I am surrounded by an apparent silence that actually consists of white noise: the rush and slight rumble of the air conditioning system, a gentle tapping of fingers on cushioned keyboards, and two floors down, outside, there is an occasional thunk of a car door as someone gives up and goes home.
First day back at work.
January 5

                                                                      electric eel
                                                                              of headlamps
                                                                                    rush hour

January 6
With a spill of glass beads and the chinkling of a teaspoon in a china cup, two hesitant birds began the dawn chorus.
January 7
Heat flows from the china to my hands, infusing comfort as it spreads. Sharp, green assaults my nose, high inside my nostrils. I sip, and a darker green washes my tongue, cascading sweetness then leaving a gently bitter after taste. The scent of jasmine rises on steam and I inhale gratefully. The cup that cheers.
January 8
Sliver of light on a chaffinch sky.
January 9
Evidence of sad lives, cheap, empty bottles litter the graveyard like abandoned corpses, too poor for a proper burial.
January 10
Sudden chest pains in the night. We both think the same but avoid using the words on the drive to hospital, trying not to tempt fate. The journey seems longer in the frost-chilled darkness and we are unfamiliar with the new ward lay-outs. We find A&E and soon there are tests and needles and wires and hushed conversations and a very long wait.

It is not what we feared. The relief is almost as painful as the complaint.
January 11
The jeweller’s shop (where I was selling) was a symphony of taste, an exercise in understated furnishing, and cleverly designed to make rich people feel at home, with its stylish black backgrounds, gleaming glass cases and subtle, angled lighting that showed off the diamonds perfectly and emphasised their sparkle; the charity shop, on the other hand, (where I was buying) was a jumble of items that were thrown together anyhow, no colour co-ordination, no themes, no organisation, and all illuminated by bare bulbs overhead, that could not be directed to glint off the beaded bracelets on the shelf, no matter how hard you tried. 
January 12
I sometimes think that I'd be able to see better if I could take my eyes out and polish them.
January 13
The normally reassuring tick of the bedroom clock measures the pace of my insomnia.
January 14
Tired of being so tired. My body rolling to a halt like a clockwork toy that needs rewinding;  my head an over-stuffed cushion, heavy and mis-shapen. My legs are worn out pants with stretchless elastic. I feel they could fail at any moment. My arms are groaning, even at the thought of typing another word. 
January 15
The buffeting wind has left broken twigs scattered across the road like wooden confetti. 
January 16
Smooth red potatoes, like small bald heads that must be scalped for dinner.
January 17
In the small hours of a dark night the contented purring of a warm cat can be a deep comfort.
 January 18
The bright, unblinking star in the dawn sky is actually a planet. I have no idea which one.
January 19
In the cold dawn the starlings are hunched along the telegraph wires, composing music that will never be performed.
January 20

       Next door's
    kitten is crouched
   on the windowsill, an
  indoor pet with outdoor
    dreams. His body
   sways slowly and the
 very tip of his tail is flicking
gently but his head is steady and
his eyes determined as he identifies
  his prey. If it were not for the glass
  between him and the world he would
  try for the catch, but would be unlikely
      to succeed. His dreams must be very
                                               big indeed,
                                                   he is fixed
                                                 on planes
                                                taking off
January 21
The glow from the gas fire looks very warm, but my feet are still cold.
January 22
All along the roadside moles have been digging, leaving Morse code molehills that spell out their underground secrets.
January 23
Vinegar seeps from the tip of the newspaper cone and its sharp aroma rises with the gentle steam. Oozing beef fat oils my fingers and the tang of salt seasons my tongue.
I gasp, and suck in short pulls of air to cool the blistering heat of the freshly fried potato. Beneath the log pile of chips the crisply battered fish is glistening, ready for me to break open its brown-dog shell and reveal the softly flaking flesh inside.

January 24
Recorded memories in a museum gallery surprise me by telling my own history.
January 25
Bubbles. They usually mean celebration, but when they are flavoured with chlorine they mean relaxation. Jacuzzi. Even the name sounds bubbly.

January 26
A black lace thong hangs like a limp flag from the security camera on the student accommodation block. The signal is clear but the message is not.

January 27
It wasn't until I started the River of Stones project that I realised how much of my life is repetitive.

Getting up at the same time each day; seeing the same people walking through the village; driving the same route, with the same junctions and the same lorries getting in my way at the same stretch of the motorway every day.

On the other hand, it wasn't until I started the River of Stones project that I noticed the lake by the side of the road; the blackbird that lives in the churchyard; the grey fluffy cat that patrols the car park; or how beautiful the sky can be at 7am.

January 28
The moon was a French polished fingernail against the dawning sky.

January 29
Covered in flour, my hands knead the bread dough until it is smooth. Later, when I make the sandwiches, there is still flour along my arms.
January 30
Small scrap of silk covered bound feet but is not even big enough for my toes. I cannot imagine the pain.
January 31
The lost glove waves sadly on the damp street corner, like an unrequited lover longing to be noticed.