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LOST AND FOUND – OU FutureLearn creative writing course

April 3, 2020

lost_and_found_poster

If you get the chance and have the time, check out the Open University FutureLearn syllabus; free courses.  I have just finished the Writing Fiction 8 week course, and loved every minute.  I have learned a lot, and am pleased with the final story I managed to produce.  Here it is, hope you enjoy it.

 

LOST AND FOUND

I rolled over and grunted, slinging my right arm over my squinting eyes.  The bedsheet taped over my window did little to keep out the harsh light and as I have no clock or watch I guess must be morning, with the sun slung low.  I felt a wry smile twitch. Ha! Like I’m a navigator or something useful, working out time by where the sun was.  Anyway, there’s no need for timekeeping when you have nowhere to be.  Another groan and push, and I was out of bed, wincing at the cold of the lino.  My face was getting exercise; good for it.

Coughing, I switched the kettle on and scrabbled in the ashtray for any unfinished smokes.  Yes!  I slouched against the paint-peeled cupboard inhaling the stale tobacco as the water boiled.  At least the nightmare had held off, the same one I’d suffered for the last 18 or so years.  19 now?  I lose track. 20?  I’m reaching, yearning, desperate, my arms empty but I know they should be full.  Breasts aching and heavy with no-one to suckle.  Many’s the time I’ve woken, pillow soaked and heart shredded.  Not last night though, thank the … no, he deserves no thanks.  He caused this, forcing my parents into forcing me into the nightmare.

“Dammit.” No bread left, so no toast.  I’d cope.  I could eat later.  I wasn’t hungry anyways, but my mammie always said to start the day with a good breakfast.  She said a lot of things.  I shouldn’t have listened.  The Nuns said I had to listen to them and I did.  Now here I am.  We are.

Library today, because she would be there.  I know the day by what she does.  She was the reason I left the block and now gained some respite from the monolith greyness and hubbub.  Screaming kids, shouting mums, pissed off and pissed old farts; chaotic words that set my teeth chattering.  She would be there. Pulling on my cleanest floor clothes, I drained my coffee and grabbed my overnight bag. Always have one with you, you never know.  The best thing about no timetable was there is never a reason to hang around, anywhere.  You never know.

I got my prescription on the way as I must look after my health now.  I’ve been on them for a few weeks and I am starting to feel the difference.  Finding her has given me this.  My extremes are softened, edges planed, thoughts more a river than a waterfall. The interaction with the chemist took energy and I rested on the wall outside, ignoring the taunts of bicycling boys who should be in school.

“Oi, witch”

“Nutter!”

“Bag lady!”

“’ow many cats ya got now? Did ya eat ‘em all?”

They cycled, skateboarded or ran off, giggling to remind me how young they really were.  I’d missed that about her.  Would she have been harsh, sharp, like them? My parents wouldn’t have let her, I was sure. That would require a strength they didn’t love a child into having.  Not me, anyway.  All acquiescence and obedience and bless me father for I have sinned.  Besides which I don’t give a shite what a bunch of ignorant chiselers think.

She was already there.  Her stern gaze concentrated on her lap-top, her olive elven face lit by the electric glow of the screen.  Her hat pulled low forcing her blue-black fringe over and into her small dark eyes, and she twitched.  No-one saw, except me. I was near but not eye-line close.  See but not be seen.  I drink her in.  Still can’t believe she’s here.

Every so often she tapped the side of her face with a chewed biro, an immediate precursor to jotting in the bright pink notepad to her side. Still used pen and paper. I wondered if the nuns made her write with the wrong hand, like me.  Sinister, they called it.  Times changed though now, I’m pretty sure they can’t do that now.  Parents objected nowadays didn’t practically worship the nuns like when I… It’s not about me anymore.  A quick shake of my head and I reset my focus.

Her body tilted to form a barrier and she sat with her right side to the wall, her location never varying in all the time I’d watched.  She seemed full of such ferocious intensity.  I remembered.  I sit unnoticed and watch.  Sometimes I catch myself tapping and twitching too, like a yawn caught.

I first saw her outside the library three months ago, and I knew.  She was me years ago, or I was her years ahead.  Didn’t much matter.  I found her and had to watch her.  She was and is and always will be important and I know that.  More than that, she is my job.  My purpose.  I know that is real because I remember.  I know the routine of her.  She is the blood of me.

She doesn’t know I’m here.  I am invisible. I know it’s true because they didn’t notice when I left.  I remain unfound.  Not lost as I wasn’t there in the first place and you can’t be lost if you were never there can you?  But she was there then and is here now. I’m okay.  My days are full and not lonely anymore.  I have my purpose, and it is her.  I lost her at the beginning and it’s nearly the middle now, and I’m not running again.

She’s moving.  Packing her laptop in the patchwork rucksack she always has with her.  Time for me to pack up too.  I’ve seen the looks others have given her, male others, predatory others.  She was not going to be like me, used and discarded and muddled.  Alone and family-less.  I ran and they stayed, and now here we both are.  I pick up my still packed bag and return the book I wasn’t reading to the nearest shelf. Time to keep her safe.  That’s my job, from now on.  My reason, my purpose is her.  She is from me and I am for her and that is all forever.  I smile and follow.

From → About Writing, Prose

4 Comments
  1. That’s rather good… but I did note an error or 2?

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    • Edited one, let me know about others. That’s part of what I learned to do on the course, edit and be edited!

  2. Very poetic 🙂 but couldn’t find that course – or any mistake on your text apart form seemingly arbitrary changes in tense, but then that may have been a learned technique 🙂 Can you share any notes?

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