Beware the Half-Light

graveyardBeware the half-light, was what her grandma used to say. ‘Tis the time of mystery and nefarious shenanigans.

Beware the broken mirror, her grandma also used to say. ‘Tis only the five minutes you have to make good.

And yet here she was, in the garden in the half-light, hacking at the hard, frozen ground with Grandma’s old trowel. Five minutes to bury the broken shards of the mirror.

Not even a crumb of earth could she dislodge.

Five minutes. More like four minutes. She must have used up at least a minute throwing salt over her left shoulder, turning around three times widdershins, and grabbing – carefully – shards of the broken mirror and running to the potting shed for Grandma’s trowel.

The wind sighed Continue reading

One Love – In Code

My aunt Cicely was singing in the kitchen. Of her love. At least, that’s what my mother said.

“For Uncle Jeremy?” I giggled. It was hard to imagine Uncle Jeremy as anyone’s love. He was old for one thing, almost fifty. And had very little hair and a lot of stomach. And only talked about how many dragons he’d slain in his video game.

“Shhh,” my mother hissed. “He’s in the sitting room, he’ll hear.”

Uncle Jeremy wasn’t to hear? Aunt Cicely had a secret love!

Poor Aunt Cicely! To be married to Uncle Jeremy and love someone else.

All that summer we stayed with them, I often heard Aunt Cicely singing in the kitchen of her love.

koi at the Chinese Gardens, Montreal Botanical GardensI tried to catch the words but couldn’t make head or tail of them.

“…spotted koi, light in the leaves, chocolate chip ice cream, buzzing bees, my sister Marie in her yellow dress, sandwiches with cream cheese and watercress…”

(Marie was my mother.)

Obviously Aunt Cicely was singing in code so Uncle Jeremy wouldn’t understand.

I imagined her love – he’d be tall, with a blond mane of hair and one of those long low sports cars. He’d have a name like Gideon, or Hawk.

When I heard Continue reading

The Questions Desk

The party of twenty would arrive shortly, at 8 pm. At last all was ready – the table laid, the chairs in position, the candles waiting to be lit, the flowers in the vase, the crown roast in the oven. She hesitated. Something was not right.

The little white ferret, crouched beside the grandfather clock in the hallway, was watching her too carefully. It also knew that something was not right.

Did the curtains not match the carpet? Were the pictures on the wall too somber? Had she forgotten a spice in one of the recipes? Was the party of twenty allergic to leek soup? What was wrong? What was wrong?

She put on her hat and ran down the street to the Questions Desk. The queue was very long, as was to be expected on a Friday evening. How would she Continue reading

The Fire Seller

outside Montréal Musée des Beaux Arts, summer 2015The fire seller is always there on Tuesdays. Only Tuesdays.

Even before I see her, I hear her calling out in that high-pitched, slightly raspy voice of hers: “Flames for sale. Pretty flames for sale. Seven-a-penny. Special price! Today only! Sweet, bright flames for sale.”

Don’t worry. I’m not going to buy any. I wouldn’t dream of it. I’m a law-abiding citizen. I know it’s illegal.

But after work on Tuesdays, especially if I’m tired and feeling useless to the world, and if the sky is overcast and heavy, what’s the harm in Continue reading

A One In Six Chance

iciclesMid-February!

On the other side of the window, icicles, and beyond them, the children’s playground, white and desolate.

Old George shivers. He longs for spring, for crab apple blossom and tulips.

IMG_3433He longs for summer, for hot blue skies, for dahlias and peonies, for dragonflies, and ice cream cones that you have to eat fast, before they melt, for the shrieks and laughter of the kids playing on the swings and slides and splashing in the wading pool.

The pool!

Instantly he thinks of typewriters and young women.

Specifically, of the young women in ‘the pool’ as they called it in those days. ‘Girls.’ That’s what they were then.

Long ago, yes, but he still remembers lifting the receiver of the black phone, waiting for the dial tone, listening for a moment to the muffled laughter and clacking typewriters at the other end, then saying those magic words Continue reading

Of The North-East Corner

detail of "Untitled" by Mimmo Paladino, 2002

I am the Defender of the North East Corner. Once a privilege, now a penance. For who wishes to linger beyond one’s given time? To see one’s world become strange, then stranger still?

In days long gone, before the sprouting of the concrete forest, when I stood in open country among grasses and brooks beneath an endless sky, the old people spoke often of the Grey Lizard.

Fortresses were built, Defenders sent out to all Corners. Who hears the Grey Lizard’s name now?

Yet, as Defender of the North East Corner, I made my pledge. First, to offer the bowl of friendship, as that is our way. Then, should the Lizard refuse to drink, to raise the alarm and protect this Corner to the end.

So here I stand, although I grow weary and am mocked, addressed not by my illustrious Defender title but as ‘moron’ and ‘weirdo’ by those that leap from the horseless chariots they call ‘bus’ and ‘car.’ Go back, they tell me, to where you came from.

Still I wait, in snow and sun alike, ready to fulfill my solemn oath.

"Untitled" by Mimmo Paladino, 2002

When the Grey Lizard comes, will we stand firm and fight? For fight we must. The bowl of friendship is broken now, cracked with age, the milk drained.

Has the Lizard lost its strength over the aeons? Have I? Will one of us hesitate, turn away and take flight? Will it be the Lizard? Or me?

Why would the Lizard take flight? Why would it fear me? I have only this shield left. See how the birds alight on it. They have no fear of me.

Listen to their merry chirruping.

How glad I am of them.

detail of "Untitled" by Mimmo Paladino, 2002

*****

“Untitled” by Mimmo Paladino (2002) stands at the north-east corner of rue Sherbrooke and rue Musée, beside the Erskine and American United Church which is now part of the Montréal Musée des Beaux Arts.

See other magnificent Mimmo Paladino sculptures.

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge Life Imitates Art – “find inspiration in a piece of art, and go further: imitate it.”

*****

2016 is my Year of the Blurt: each week I’ll take advantage of an odd spare moment or two to write something very quickly. Probably the blurts will mostly be fiction, but who knows! Will I be able to meet the challenge of posting one every Thursday through the year? Thank you for reading this blurt.

Please note: all material on this website, except for comments by others, is © Susi Lovell.

What Has Hands But Cannot Clap?

 

IMG_1048George has always made it a priority to save time. A few seconds here, a minute or two there.

They add up to hours, days and weeks in next to no time.

He locks them away in a large safe at the back of the cupboard in the upstairs room on the right.

His rainy day savings, he calls them.

He’s found he can save a good six minutes by cutting through the alleyway instead of going the long way round from the train station to the office, even though that means stepping over unidentifiable black messes seeping from the overflowing garbage bins and having rats run squealing Continue reading