The Illuminated City

Beaver Lake, MontréalIt was a bitterly cold night and the bus was late. The young lad in the bus shelter checked the bus timetable again by the flickering light from a nearby lamp post.

He shoved his hands deep into his jacket pockets and looked at the girl in the jeans ad on the side of the bus shelter.

What a mane of blond hair! What plump lips! What a deliciously curved waist! What shapely hips! What he would give to have a girl like her to take to the school prom next Saturday. The jeans clung to her long legs, smooth as melted chocolate.

“What are you staring at?” snapped the girl in the ad. “I’m sick and tired of people always staring. Haven’t they got anything better to do?”

“Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to.” He wished he had a cigarette. He wished he smoked. “The bus is late,” he said.

“It’s always late.”

A light ripping sound, nothing more than a whisper really, and she 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

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“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.”

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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

That Night At The Circus

Cirque du Soleil Big Top - Montreal Vieux Port

It was her vibrant contralto that made her such a valuable addition to the circus. That, and her winning smile and ability to transform into any form suggested by random members of the audience. Rock, waterfall, leopard, begonia, soup spoon… All was possible. (Once, to the audience’s horror, some idiot called out “skunk.”)

The Invisible Circus, BristolThe Ringmaster permitted only three transformations a night. He felt more would be detrimental to her health. Transformation was an exhausting process, even for her, to whom it came so naturally. In any case, three, the Ringmaster maintained, had scientifically been proven to be a lucky number.

Not so lucky if you were Snow White, argued one of the tightrope walkers, but he was well known as a troublemaker, and we all knew that story turned out fine in the end.

The little boy should never have been admitted. Everyone is now agreed on that, even if at first some said it was all her own fault. She’d always been able Continue reading

The Optimism Project

Chinese Gardens, Montreal Botanical Gardens 2015Optimism? Three whole pages? What sort of a school project is that? When I was your age, I was doing sums, finding the highest mountain in the world in the atlas, looking at leaves through a magnifying glass, important stuff like that. What will the world come to if all you kids do is think about optimism?

Your dad shouldn’t have sent you to me, my dear. I’m the family pessimist as he well knows. As far as I’m concerned, optimism is for the birds. Think everything will end up in a rosy glow? It depends on the occasion, that’s all I know. Some things will turn out well, others won’t. And you better be prepared when it doesn’t.

I learned pessimism from Charlie Frent in elementary school. Playing conkers in class, he was, when all of a sudden his conker got the teacher in the back of the head. Next thing we knew, Charlie was over his desk being whacked on his behind with a ruler.

That did it for me. Charlie didn’t give a…I mean, he wasn’t fazed at all. Although who can read another’s mind, especially at the age of seven? He just gave the teacher the finger (behind his back of course) but I was marked forever.

Never see a conker, but that I remember the lesson I learned that day: always watch out because just when you’re having fun, you get whacked on the behind.

What? Well, that may be so nowadays, but back in my day teachers were allowed to. But there, the past is past and you’re young and you need to write three pages on optimism for your teacher. Let’s see if I can dredge up something for you.

Hm….

Hm…. It’s a shame your Uncle Freddy isn’t here.

Make a cup of tea, why don’t you, dear? That might help.

Hm…

It’s not so easy this optimism lark. Get out the dictionary, there’s a love. “Hopefulness and confidence about the future.” Hm… What with the Continue reading

The Silk Painter

The Silk Painter

The ivory silk stretched taut on the frame, tethered by pins at each end. Her brush whispered down the length of it, slashes of red dye instantly softening.

“You’ve been doing this for many years,” he said.

“I’ve been doing this for many years,” she agreed. Now the blue. Now a golden ray. She sprinkled salt and the ray burst into a thousand suns.

She was aware of him hovering, watching, searching for some clue. But she was not there to provide him with clues. Those he had to find for himself.

Next she chose black. This black wasn’t to hide, but to reveal.

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2016 is my year of the Thursday Blurt. These are quick-writes, when I take advantage of a spare five, ten minutes and write whatever comes to mind, starting with something tangible, something I can see, smell, taste or hear or touch as I start to write. If the blurt turns out to be a story, great. If it doesn’t, tant pis.

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