Thursday, 26 March 2009


~A story written in about 10 minutes, from a title given in Creative writing club yesterday~

I was sitting in my chair reading, and waiting for my wife to return home. I was expecting the usual slamming of the front door, the exaggerated sigh, the unmistakeable odour of victimhood and the air of frustrated anger that usually came my way at this time of the evening. I was prepared to respond as I habitually did: with a mixture of the nod and the quiet acquiescence of the freshly made cup of tea.

So when the door slammed, I thought nothing of it; but when something vivid and white flashed past me and flung itself down on the sofa opposite I looked up in surprise. A white shirt? Her?

There was a youth sitting opposite me, stereotypically tousle-haired, his white shirt open at the collar and two vivid sideburns that looked like a sharper version of seventies powercut-and-inflation facial hair.

"Who the hell are you?" I asked, unable to get up but feeling stuck between the arms of my chair.

"Oh shut up, grandad," he replied, before looking around him and saying "I've always wanted to say that."

"What the bloody hell are you-"

"Oh for crying out loud, shut up and listen. Why on earth are you sitting here, on a beautiful evening like this, reading Harry Potter again? Why the bloody hell aren't you actually doing something?"

I was at a loss. I was reading Harry Potter, that much was true, but I hadn't really looked outside for hours. And what business was it of this interloper's?

"Jesus man, look at the state of you. Fat, bald, and - I don't believe it - are you still wearing that shirt?"

"There's nothing wrong with my shirt." It was my favourite shirt. I had had it for years. In fact, I sat my finals exams in it. I remembered the constant sense of panic and the persistent feeling that I had simply failed: not just in my degree, but in something deeper, in everything.

"Yes there is, it looks dreadful. It looks about twenty years old."

"Twenty one actually." I could not understand why I wasn't calling the police, but I also could not understand why I was allowing myself to be drawn into a battle of wits with someone much more agile and intelligent than me. Probably.

He laughed and he began to fiddle with his long hair. He looked around for a moment, seeming to take in the room.

"Not much in here is there? Where are the pictures? The family? The home-ness of home?"

"We went for the minimalist look."

"Oh yes. Where is your wife?"

"I'm not sure. She went out hours ago. Shopping probably."

"Well, if she did, she went with the guy from No.27."


"Come on. Don't tell me you didn't know: the lifts to work, the silences, the confidence - she's sleeping with the tall, slim man from No 27 who still has all his own hair." I cannot say that I was really shocked: I saw now that I had been thinking this for months, but hadn't wanted to admit it. But I was curious as to how this youth knew, and why he cared. But he had moved on.

"Do you remember your first kiss?" I did. It was kept, safely, in the corner of my life, surrounded by glorious skies, a permanent force field of anxiety, and the background of exams. I had been sixteen, and she had been beautiful and the most intelligent girl in the school. The enforced wait had made the first contact so special and so full, me and her, that it had simply stayed here all that time. "And what happened then?" Not much, was the honest answer. Come our GCSE results, two months later, I had done poorly, she had excelled, and in a fit of the spiteful childishness I later made my speciality, ignored her and the relationship was over. He looked sympathetically at me. "They say your first love is the most special, the one you keep returning to."

"I don't think so. I don't feel any shade of love, and it's too long ago now for regrets. I feel....shame, I suppose. Shame and beauty. Funny combination, that."

The youth looked thoughtful for a moment. "So this is what it all comes to, then," he said. "Reading children's books in an empty room, with an empty heart, and not even enough hair to tweak like you always used to do; no calling, no ambition, no faith."

"I suppose so."

"It's a bit of a waste of time, really. I might as well just-" he leaned into his pocket to pull out what looked like a small bottle of tablets.

"What does it have to do with you?" was my bizarrely inappropriate question, since by now I knew perfectly well what it had to do with him.

"Well, why should i work, and strive, and do as I am told all the time, if you're just going to sit here....rotting away?"

I had a sudden thought. I stood up, feeling stronger than I had done for ages. "Look, I've got an idea." His right eyebrow raised itself. "That's it. Don't sacrifice her. Look after her. You're right for each other - you can change things. You can, you can make it different. Make it all different. Just by that first love affair. Change everything."

He laughed and shook his head. "No, old man. I'm not doing anything different. I haven't done anything wrong. It's you who needs to change. You who needs to undo the evil you've caused. I'm just a kid. Why should I try to undo your cocked up life?"

"Because you're the one with the power, the energy. You can do it."

The youth stood up slowly, sighing. "I was afraid of this," he said. "You really are finished, aren't you. You've absolutely nothing to give anymore. Something has gone very, badly wrong and your entire life is being scrunched up and thrown in the bin."

With that, he ran his hands through his luxuriant hair and slowly walked out of the room.


Anonymous said...

good god but you talk a lot of shit!

The Tin Drummer said...

Tee hee, thanks Anonymous. It's true, of course. I find it soothing. Actually expelling shit is an essential part of being alive, so I am sure I can be forgiven for that.

The Tin Drummer said...

Tee hee, thanks Anonymous. It's true, of course. I find it soothing. Actually expelling shit is an essential part of being alive, so I am sure I can be forgiven for that.

Crushed said...

I liked that...

I don't know if you meant to be him metting himself as he was twenty years ago, but that's how I saw it.

I hope this isn't the future you forsee, TD :(

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matt M said...

Well I wish I could write something like that in 10 minutes.

Without extensive preparation, note-making and pen-chewing, my output resembles that of a distracted eight-year-old. And not a particularly bright eight-year-old at that.

The Tin Drummer said...

Hey Crushed - cheers. No, it's just how I fear it might turn out.

Sweet Cheeks (I cannot get over how lovely your name is): yes, I hope that is true. But you know, you try and try, and nothing ever happens, and you are just the same as you were when you were born.

Matt: Now don't be silly. Your debates with Alex are, to my mind, (having merely a degree in reading from the world's greatest university) to be some of the finest writing on the net. You are an *exceptionally* talented writer and thinker, and, what is more, you are tolerant. That can't be said for many.

Liz said...

Ten minutes?! That is just showing off!

Took me a while to work it out - which is good - and I enjoyed it.

I haven't visited for a while: I've missed a lot!


That's fantastic. Was it his younger self who he was talking to?