Monthly Archives: September 2011

Inspired by a book-writing Barrister at Court today

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Notebooks bent
Advance is spent
Paper white
The inked bits shite
 
There’s a book in everyone
So they say
Would you mind coming out then?
I’ve got bills to pay
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Past Tense

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Past Tense

Past tense you said
You did
I did
We did
But I still do
 
I let you go
 
This feeling will fade
Like the others
A memory
And that’s the saddest thing
About past tense

9/11 2011

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Two towers standing up so high
Their fate came flying through the sky
Shattered windows, tattered lives
Shattered families, battered lives
Ten years on we won’t forget
Every person whom death met

Once upon a time in Central Park

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Once upon a time in Central Park

Fairytales of New York

1978

Once upon a time in Central Park, Amanda Barrett was running through the rain.  Born and bred in Malton, a small town English girl stood out in a big American city because of her “unique” British accent.  The accent that had charmed Max into asking her to be his wife.  Max who was probably drenched because Amanda, as usual, was late.

“Excuse me!”

Amanda didn’t have time for beggars today.

“Excuse me!  Miss?”

Amanda glanced behind her.  The woman, about her age, smartly dressed, probably wasn’t a beggar.  She stopped.

“You dropped your wallet.”

Amanda glanced at the slimline red leather purse in the woman’s hand, “Oh my God.  I’m s’ sorry.  I’m in hurry.  I’d prob’ly lose me ‘ed if it wan’t screwed on.”

“Wow.  That’s an amazing accent.  Are you from Yorkshire?”

Now Amanda was surprised.  She had lived in New York for a year and hadn’t yet met an American who didn’t assume she was from London.  The shock must have shown on her face because the woman giggled and said “I love Wuthering Heights.  I’m Rebecca.”

Amanda took Rebecca’s outstretched right hand, “Amanda.  Thanks.  For me purse.  It wa’ very nice o’ you not to rob it.”

“Oh.  I have taken all the money out of it.”

Amanda raised her eyebrows.

“I’m joking!”  Rebecca’s eyes sparkled and Amanda realised the rain had stopped.

“Well, thanks again.”  Amanda touched the red leather then noticed the ring on the third finger, “Oh my God!  Your engagement ring is exa’tly like mine!”

Rebecca looked down and gasped, “Andrew told me he’d had this custom made!”  Rebecca laughed again, “That man has big romantic ideas but no money to follow them through!”

Amanda smiled, “Like I said, I’m in hurry but it wa’ nice meetin’ you.  Tek care.”

And that was how a small town English girl met a big city American girl.

And they all lived happily ever after.

1979

Once upon a time in Central Park, Rebecca Turner sat on a bench waiting for her best friend Amanda, who was late, as usual.

Her wedding plans were almost finalised.  She would become Andrew’s wife on a sun-soaked beach in California, wearing a new sheer white dress, over a blue bikini, with old white sandals and coral nail polish borrowed from her Mom.  The guests would toast her and Andrew’s future over a clambake, the sun would set and everything would be perfect.  At least if this last thing on the to do list went to plan.

She glanced at her watch.  Thirty minutes and counting.  So much for the British being punctual!

There she was.  Running like always.  Rebecca hoped she’d fastened her purse so her wallet and everything wasn’t flying all over the place.

“Rebecca!  Sorry I’m late.  I had to get some money changed over for the wedding.  Mine, not yours.  Obviously.”

Rebecca laughed. Amanda was always late but each time she had a new excuse that came tumbling out of her mouth between gasps.

“I’m glad you’re in a mood for nuptials, because that’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Really?  Because I wanted to to talk to you about it too.  You first.”

“Well.”  Rebecca folder her hands.  She had practiced this speech a thousand times but lengthy reasoning no longer seemed appropriate.  “Will you be my maid of honour?”

Amanda screamed.  The girl became more American every day.  “That’s exactly what I was going to ask you!”

“Oh my God!  Will everyone in England have that cute accent you used to have?”

And that was how Miss Barrett and Miss Turner decided to become Mrs Collins and Mrs Barker side by side.

And they all lived happily ever after.

1981

Once upon a time in Central Park, Amanda Collins sat on the grass waiting for her best friend Rebecca.

For once Amanda was the first one there.  The sun warmed her face and a light breeze played with her red curls.  It was a perfect day.  So perfect that Amanda started to cry.

“Honey, are you OK?”  Rebecca was frowning, her eyes full of concern.

Amanda smiled and wiped her tears away with the back of her hand, “I’m fine.  I’m just so happy.  And apparently hormonal!”  Amanda giggled.  “I’m going to have a baby.”

Rebecca’s face broke into a huge grin and she dropped to the grass beside Amanda.  Rebecca wrapped her arms around Amanda’s neck and whispered in her ear “Me too.”

And that was how Amanda and Rebecca embarked on the journey to motherhood together.

And they all lived happily ever after.

1986

Once upon a time in Central Park, Jess Collins was talking to her Barbie doll about whether or not they should invite GI Joe to the party later.  If Joe came to the party Robbie might come as well and Jess would like that, but Barbie didn’t know what Ken would think of the man army-crawling through the long grass three feet away.

After a lengthy discussion Jess and Barbie decided that if Ken looked a bit more like Joe, maybe everyone could come to the party.  Besides there would be chocolate cake at the party and everyone liked chocolate cake, even boys.

So Jess removed Ken’s pristine white tuxedo and found him a new outfit; camouflage trousers and a white vest.  Barbie smiled at the new clothes but Jess still thought something wasn’t quite right.  Ken needed mud on his face.  So Jess picked him up by the feet and started to rub him in the grass upside down.  Ken’s head popped right off and Jess screamed.

Amanda and Rebecca looked up at the sudden commotion but before they could run over to subdue Jess’ sobs, Robbie had gone to the rescue, “This is bad guy work Joe!”  Joe agreed.  “Do you think we can save him?”  Joe said they could.  Robbie picked up Ken’s smiling face and popped it back onto his neck.  Jess stopped crying and Amanda and Rebecca smiled at the cute scene.

“Thank you Robbie.”

“All in a day’s work ma’am.”

Barbie was so happy she kissed Joe.  On.  The.  Mouth.

“Would you like some chocolate cake?”

And so everyone celebrated Robbie and Joe’s heroics and Ken’s recovery over English style chocolate sponge and Robbie and Jess forged a relationship that would last a lifetime.

And they all lived happily ever after.

1992

Once upon a time in Central Park, Jessie Collins and Rob Barker lay on the grass side by side finding pictures in the clouds.

Jess rolled onto her front.  This was a baby game and she wasn’t a baby anymore.  “Rob?”

“Yeah?”

“I saw my Mom kissing my Dad yesterday.”

“Gross!”

“She put her tongue in his mouth.”

Rob sat up and staring at Jessie wide-eyed said in a tone of absolute seriousness “That’s disgusting.”

Jessie frowned, “I think it’s grown up!”

“Then you’re disgusting.”  Rob laid back down and closed his eyes.  Jess scowled down at him boiling with anger and punched his arm.

Rob shot up as Amanda yelled “Jessica Collins!”  from a bench a few feet away.  “Behave young lady or we’re going home.  Apologise to Robert this instant!”

Jessie, still scowling mumbled an incoherent sorry to Rob’s smug smiling face.  Then he lay back down and closed his eyes again infuriating Jessie even more.  She leaned over and hissed in his ear “I was going to ask if you wanted to put your tongue in my mouth.”

Rob’s eyes shot open.  His shock would have been less if Jessie had told him she smoked cigars like his Dad.  “Why?”

“Because it’s grown up.”

Every time she told him something was grown up he was glad he was a kid and he wanted to stay that way, like Peter Pan.  But she still always managed to talk him into it, like last week when they broke into her Dad’s desk and drunk a bit of his scotch.  He was sure the tongue thing couldn’t be as bad as that so he admitted defeat.  “OK.”

Jessie grinned and glanced over at their Moms who were talking away as usual.  She crawled behind a tree out of sight and Rob followed.

Jessie kneeled and started smoothing imaginary wrinkles out of her dress.  Rob hugged his knees and looked anywhere but at her.

“Robert.  I’m ready.”

Rob winced at the sound of his full name.  That must be grown up as well.  He decided to get it over with as quickly as he could, took a deep breath and pressed his lips to hers.  He slowly opened his mouth and, closing his eyes, slipped his tongue into her mouth.  It touched hers for a millisecond before they both shot back.

“You were right!  That was gross!”  Rob watched Jessie run off and he didn’t feel quite right.  He decided he wouldn’t put his tongue in anyone’s mouth ever again.  Grown up indeed!  He started to feel better then.

And that was Rob and Jessie’s first kiss.

And they all lived happily ever after.

1997

Once upon a time in Central Park, Rebecca Barker leaned on her friend Amanda, her tears ruining her perfectly made up face.

“Rob, why is your Mom crying?”

“My Dad left.”

“What?”

“He’s gone off with his secretary.”

“Oh Rob, I’m sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?  Cos your parents are still together?  Cos nothing’s ever happened to upset your perfect little world?!”

Jess looked down at the grass, tears springing to her eyes.  Rob had never snapped at her her whole life.

Rebecca’s marriage was in tatters.  Rob had turned into a sullen angst-ridden teenager overnight.  Jess no longer knew what to say to him.  And Amanda was keeping quiet about the lump she had found in her breast.

Could any of them live happily ever after?

2000

Once upon a time in Central Park, Rob was walking Jess home after prom.  She hadn’t been his date.  In fact he hadn’t had a date at all.

Jess’ date had been Danny, captain of the football team, fan of steroids and good with his hands, whether girls wanted him to be or not.

Rob had heard Jess’ frightened cries outside the boys’ bathroom.  He’d gone in, slammed Danny’s head into a urinal and got her out of there.  And now they were walking through Central Park, her corsage in bits and one of her dress straps trailing down her back.

He looked across at her.  Scowling, eyes on the floor.  The silence was awkward.  Their last conversation still echoed in his mind.  His parents’ divorce had affected him badly.  He didn’t know her Mom had cancer.  How could he have?

He’d tried to fix it.  Tried to be there for her.  But she couldn’t forgive him.  How could she watch her Mom’s red curls fall away to nothing and forget his accusation that she’d never known real pain?

Why did it have to him that found her?

She kept her eyes on the floor.

He couldn’t stand this.  He couldn’t be this close to her and lose her again.  Deep breath, “How’s your Mom?”

“What do you care?!”

That stung.  Amanda was in remission but Jess would go to Hell before telling him.

“Of course I care.  Come on Jess.  Are you really gonna let something I said when we were kids…”

“Kids!  Kids!  My Mom could have died you selfish bastard!”

Nick Adams was hurrying through the park.  It was raining and he’d left his umbrella in his apartment.  He would go back but he was late.  He looked up at the word “bastard” and saw the young couple arguing in the rain.  Dressed for prom, she’d probably knocked him back.  Smiling at the memory of his own prom he put his head back down and carried on.

If Nick hadn’t been late and in such a hurry, he would have noticed her dress was torn and they were both crying.  If he had noticed her dress was torn and they were both crying, Nick would probably have stopped.

“Jess please.  Jess look at me.  Please.  I’m sorry.  You’re right.  I was selfish.  Please.  Jess please look at me.”  Rob fell to his knees, collapsing into sobs and not even feeling the rain soaking through his tux.

Jess looked down at the broken form before her.  Her childhood friend.  Her first kiss.  The first man to break her heart.

Unsure whether it was the rain or her tears that blinded her she fell to the floor and whispered three simple words in his ear.  So long ago but never forgotten.

“Robert.  I’m ready.”

2010

Nick Adams walked through Central Park in the rain as he had done every year for the last ten.

The first time he remembered as clear as day.  Soaked in rain.  No umbrella.  No watch.  The young couple arguing.

He had thought he was late but he was early.  He was going to propose.  He saw Abbie wrapped around another man against a tree.

He always remembered the tree because the initials RB and JC were carved childishly into the bark.

He’d named them Rachel Bennett and James Carlisle and thought of Rachel breaking James’ heart like Abbie broke his.

Every year for ten years.

Looking at the tree.  A strong permanent reminder.

Happily ever after is a myth.

Robert and Jessica Barker walked past the sad looking man in the rain.  Huddled under one umbrella neither felt they could live without the other.  Jessica told herself she would tell Robert about the lump tomorrow.  Tonight was their anniversary.  Tomorrow was another day.