Sunday, May 17, 2009

Life Is Sweet

In honour of Mercury Retrograde (active until May 31st) and on the heels of my Write Anything column this week 10 Writing Tips for Using Mercury Retrograde Energy here is some old writing I've dug up - circa 2001! Thankfully my ability is weave fact and fiction has become a finer art form rather than an act of being clobbered over the head with a sledge hammer. It is a first draft and probably littered with errors! Let the embarrassment begin ...

Lily was a mathematical genius she decided. One bottle of chardonnay, plus one bottle shiraz and a bottle of bubbly tossed in for good measure equalled one bloody sore and swollen ankle – even when the total volume was divided by two – half for Lily, half for Wil.

She looked down to the contortion of swelling and mulberry coloured bruising that had been a slender ankle five days earlier. They said that you learnt from your mistakes and she had learnt an important lesson – the consumption of large amounts of wine did not empower one to think that they could take the dog for a walk at midnight, if your mobile so chose to have no service in the particular area that you were partaking in these large amounts of wine .. and further more … if this midnight wander was for the quest of mobile service so one could ring a friend in England to track down one’s ex boyfriend’s new work number – then - one should just stay at home, crank the music up a little louder and start on the Black Label Bundy. The result may be one hell of a headache in the morning, but in retrospect a far better option than the consequences currently being endured.

Lily scribbled out for the fourth time that evening the sketch that she was working on for her dress for the Moulin Rouge party. The dull throbbing in her ankle was sweeping into a grand crescendo of pain. Mind over matter, she told herself … mind over matter. There was nothing worse than self-pity and she wasn’t going to wallow in that. It had been her own stupid, drunken fault and she would just have to endure the pain, the inconvenience – and – the loss of pay.

“Fuck off!” she swore savagely, as an obese ginger cat, grazed past the crutches neatly stacked against the utility bench in the eating area, behind where she was currently sitting – aimlessly doodling now.

The cat threw her a distasteful look and commenced rubbing against the crutches.

“Fuck off you stupid cat – are you deaf as well as fat.”

Screwing one of the discarded sketches into a ball she turned awkwardly and hurled the pink craft paper in the direction of the cat. It missed by a wide margin and the cat continued to rub its wide head against the crutches, pushing harder against them as they slipped further from it’s pleasure pressure until a moment later they clattered loudly to the off white coloured tiles.

“Jesus Fucking Christ!” swore Lily, pulling her injured foot from the chair across from her and preparing to hop after the much hated feline … and then …

“Is everything OK?” Wil asked calmly emerging from her room, an untidy longhaired Terrier trotting along behind her

“I’ll go get the cat and lock it out side.”

As usual the fat feline had not ventured far and within a minute it was duly banished from the house. Wil picked up Lily’s crutches and replace them against the utility bench.

“Are you sure you are OK?”
“I’m fine,” lied Lily in a strained voice, sneaking a look at the equally annoying Terrier out the side of her eye.
“Can I get you a drink?”
“Nope I am fine.”

Wil stood there taking in her friend knowing she was lying through her teeth and probably did want a drink but was so exasperatingly independent that she would rather forgo a drink than ask someone else to get her one.
“Well if you’re sure.”
“I’m sure!”

“Are you in much pain honey?” she asked, looking down concerned at her friend’s normally calm face that was forcing the fakest of smiles,
“I’ll be fine. I think I’ll go back to bed and put my foot up. Put some more ice on it.”
“That’s probably a good idea. Now you are sure that you’re fine.”

Lily dragged herself to her feet, gathered up her crutches and gracelessly made her way to the freezer for the ice pack.

“Hey Wil,” she called. “You know how fat cat’s name is Primrose Mary – and how Frank’s into his old boats and stuff.”
“Well what do you reckon that if Primrose Mary was a boat that - say sank – do you think he would see the funny side of me drowning the cat in the fish pond.”

Wilbur laughed heartily.
“I think it might be difficult to explain.”
“Yeah. But it was it would but it would feel so bloody good!”
“I know it would babe. Why don’t you grab the ice pack and go rest.”
“Even for medicinal reasons …”
“No Lil.”

At that moment there was an electronic bleep from the adjoining room – Wil’s bedroom.
“I’ve got mail,” Wil quipped happily and disappeared to her email program.

Lily rolled her eyes, slumped against the fridge door and resisted the urge to cry.

“It’s not for me?” Lily called, but she could already hear Wil’s fingers hitting the keyboard in response. “Never mind,” she mumbled, organised the crutches just so, then hauled on the door, got the ice pack and terry towelling cover and fumbled her way down the hall to her room.

The room was reasonably large for a spare bedroom, sparsely furnished with a single bed, an ironing board, a small ? table, a CD tower and a small beside table that held a clockradio-come-cd player. The floor looked like the after math of World War III in a Chinese laundry. Wil had laid a towel down over some of the clothes so when the dog came into her room it wouldn’t sleep on her clothes – just on the towel that was on her clothes. Grrrrrrrrrrr!!! Muffy the bringer in of dirt, grass and burrs.

Lily clamped her eyes shut, tightened her fists on the rung of the crutches and tried not to scream out in sheer frustration. The tiny taps of toenails on the cold ceramic tiles, snapped her out of her inner explosion. She glared at the small dog that looked up at her with big sad eyes from beneath long dishevelled hair. In an instant Lily believed in spontaneous human combustion and that was she about to be the next casualty, as she felt the pressure build up inside her. The dog tentively stepped into her room and look for a comfortable place to lie down.

“OUT!” Lily screamed. “OUT OUT OUT you stupid mongrel. OUT!”

“Muffy, c’mon Muffy” Wil called from her room, in a sickly sweet high pitched tone that just added fuel to Lily’s fire. “C’mon out of Lil’s room.”

The dog gave one last traumatised look and trotted back down the hall. Lily accidentally/on purpose let the door slam, then set about negotiating her way through the mess of clothes, plates, empty coke cans and books on the floor. She just wanted to go home! House sitting with Wil had lost its charm.

When she was an able bodied bi-ped capable of cooking, cleaning and hanging out washing, driving, showering standing up, putting her dirty clothes in the washing basket and generally just being normal (if that was a possible classification for her!) – it had been great. Now it was just a nightmare. She looked distastefully down at the plates on the floor from last night’s salmon risotto that she couldn’t carry back down to the kitchen – that was if she could find a square inch of bench in the kitchen that wasn’t covered in the after math of Wil’s cooking to put it.

With well skilled fingers, she strapped the ice pack to her ankle with one of Wil’s long woolly khaki army socks and propped it up on the mountain of pillows at the end of the bed.

Everything had gone pear shaped and she just wanted her own bed … and Mum.

Now there was a complete cock up if she’d ever seen one.

Saturday morning she had woken with an ankle twice it’s normal size and so painful she could barely move. Wil had still been over the limit to drive Lily to the doctors so in desperation Wil had messaged Lily’s Mum on the internet that Lily had hurt herself.

Like the dedicated and loving mother she was, Lily’s mother had driven the half an hour into house sitting and had then driven her another half an hour back out to her GP, waiting with her, driven her to the hospital for x-rays, back to the GP, to the pharmacy for a cold pack and then back to house sitting. It was three hours that seemed to be three days to Lily, especially as her hangover started to descend on her like an ominous black throbbing cloud. Yes, she had been less than pleasant to her silently suffering mother, and yes, she had snapped at her – but hell she’d been in pain – lots of pain.

Back at house sitting her Mum had wafted about the kitchen looking for ways to help. That was when Lily’s resolve broke.

“Mum – just GO HOME!” she had stormed.
Wounded, her Mum and turned and walked out the door.
“Mum, I’m just tired and in pain,” Lily had tried to explain to soften the blow of her words. “I just want to go to bed and I do appreciate you taking me to the doctors.”
Then her Mum was gone, hurtling down the road in her little Nissan Pulsar and Lily felt like a complete shit.

Sunday night, merry from State of Origin drinks, she’d rung to commiserate with her Mum on the thumping of the Maroons and got the answering machine. She’d left a somewhat garbled message, thought not a lot more of it and sat down to watch the end of “ET” which ended up being a more interesting and exciting option than the football. Monday afternoon it was the answering machine that greeted her and then she began to worry. Her Mum always rang back – fearing the worst she rang her sister.

“You’re an ungrateful and selfish person,” her sister had attacked. “Of course Mum is pissed off with you. You were so rude to her. She’s not talking to you and I don’t blame her.”
“What! I told her that I was tired and sore and that’s why I wanted her to go.”
“No you didn’t. You yelled at her to leave.”
“No I didn’t – what would you know.”
“She came home and told me how nasty you were to her. You’re so selfish.”
“You’re a fucking bitch. Fuck off.”
…….and down the phone had slammed, proving yet again that Lily and sister did not get along.

Lily had sent an offline message to her Mum that morning trying to explain without being a sap, what had happened and that she had not meant to offend her – and still there was stony silence from her mother. It made her feel violently ill – she was never on bad terms with her mother – never! Now all she wanted to do was go home and even that option seemed like a mirage in the current climate of family love.

The chill of the ice pack cut into the traumatised skin. Lily tried to relax, but the tension inside, combined with the morbid feeling from the falling out with her mother left her wondering at which point the bomb inside her would go off. Reaching behind her, she turned the CD on, fast tracked to song 6 and lay there listening the to surreal voice of Dido.

Where was her phone call that made everything better? A week ago she was almost over the broken foot she procured at Easter time, John was happily writing to her from Tennessee once a day, work was finally looking up and life was sweet.

The bottle was always half full in her opinion, but she had to admit to herself that it was becoming increasingly difficult not to see it as half empty – especially when you were now a tri-ped (one good leg and two crutches) your charming e-mailer was off screwing the recently moved in next door and divorced young woman – who was coming to terms with life – and you had no more sick leave to cover you absence from work.

With a rueful grin, Lily did admit all would be bearable if Wil would just give in and let her sacrifice Primrose Mary to the goldfish in the pond out the back.

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