Spiders

vidar-nordli-mathisen-776709-unsplashThis is some prose I wrote about the battle that we have with the shadow sides of ourselves. Learning to live with the darker parts of myself reminds me of learning to live with our household spiders, which for some of us is often a step too far!

SPIDERS 

I have always been afraid of spiders. They are long, black spindly-legged specimens of dread. Their mortal threat lies there in their very being: not under the veil of a furry coat or a smooth skin but there, in your face with no punches pulled.

The spider. His crawly legs and sudden movements surprise as he sidles surreptitiously across the surface of the window sill. Silent but deadly. Then he stops: still but with a menacingly potent potential. He take no prisoners (unless you’re a fly). I mean – would you tackle a tarantula?

Spiders’, the vegan, animal-loving, lama-saving cohort chant, ‘Spiders are the kings of the household ecosystem, keeping all of those house flies away from defaecating all over your dinner’. I would rather have a fly poo on a pea, imperceptible to my naked eye than a spider in my bath, willing me to turn the tap on but then running out before I can unleash the fatal torrent in its direction: a display of twisted tactical mastery.

I clutch the piece of card and the Tupperware pot, waiting for an opportune moment to launch my attack on the malificent entity. It knows that I am about to mount a kidnap attempt, but unlike a mouse frozen before a pouncing cat, it stalls to outwit. No sooner do I bring the cardboard weapon down upon the wretched eight-legged currant, it runs six centimetres to the right. It stops, standing still. My frustration and anger build but the killer instinct takes hold and with a deft scoop, I catch my prey and open the window. It is humanely deposited on the window ledge. I shut the window and exhale in triumphant bliss. No more spindly-legged battles. No deaths. No tears. A mutually acceptable resolution I trust.

Sweet dreams; fluffy cloud sensations and spectrums of colour. I wake in the morning embodying a rested glow. I run the bath. Frothy bubbles frolic playfully under the gushing water. I lower myself slowly into the warm water. The warmth envelopes my being like an aqueous hug. I close my eyes and breathe. The tap drips hypnotically. Thoughts waft in and out of my mind. I look at the window above the bath. It is starting to steam up now. I start singing, a slow melancholy shanty. The melody rises up with the steam; sweet and angelic,  heaven-bound, lulling me into a drifty soporific state. Then silence. The tap stops. The sounds tapers off, hanging in mid air. I spy something small in the corner of the window: small but not unremarkable. A black fleck poised with intent on the wrong side of the closed window (not the outside side). It goads me to investigate it further and I do.

I emerge from the embrace of the water with a Neptune-like glory. Death is in my sights now. Water is my power and I am the fleck’s nemesis. Every ounce of humanity that I ever had has rushed out of my body like a retreating garrison. With timing and aplomb I throw a sodden sponge at the fleck. This is it. Bang. Gone. Triumphant and bold like a Valkyrie princess I snatch the sponge to see my winnings only to be met by a surprising vacuum of fleckiness. NO FLECK? What the heck?

I look down and see it in all of its arachnid smirkiness heading snidily towards the toilet. I leapfrog out of the bath to catch it, taking a fishtank-load of water with me. I trip and bash my head on the toilet seat. I lie on the floor in a naked heap. My pride is damaged and I am vulnerable. I have been defeated by a centimetre-long household insect. The threat is present, real and hiding in plain sight in my own home.

The ever-present resistance I feel is comfortable, patterned, safe: trusted in its familiar unpredictability.

Copyright Fizzy Wisdom 2019 

Annie and the Tale of the Unexpected

Annie sat looking out of the window thoughtfully. She wasn’t musing, contemplating or otherwise channeling her thoughts in any creative direction. She was thinking in loops of fear which seemed to spin round in her head without settling on any final well-reasoned destination; much like a toy train going round in a circle on a plastic track. As she looked into the middle distance, her brow, already ingrained with deep pensive creases, furrowed some more. The intensity of this fresh furrow made her head feel dense and foggy. The furrow acted like a trigger for her inner dialogue:

  ‘I have to pick Chloe up from school because she can’t walk home with two  bags….. and if I pick her up that limits the risk of her getting abducted…….   and I will save her from being tired……but then I also need to be finishing off  this piece of work for the boss and if I don’t get it done by 5 o’clock I will be   in trouble…… and then I might lose my job……. and in any event I need to wait for a delivery to come………but then I need to go to Tesco’s or there        won’t be any dinner and if I don’t cook sea bass in a fresh tarragon sauce then I will be depriving my family of the food they need…..and God forbid we would otherwise have to eat baked beans and then my husband will divorce  me and run off with Cathy Barratt who makes her family pavlova on a  Monday and soufflé on a Tuesday.’

 Annie froze as she looked at her watch. It was already 3.30. She was late for the school run. The phone rang. It was her daughter, Chloe.

Alright Mum, I’m going round to Lindsay Barratt’s to do some homework. I’ll be back around 7’.

Annie was slightly thrown by this turn of events, which she had not foreseen. She usually sought to plan all eventualities before they happened. She not done any reconnaissance  in her head and it was therefore outside of her control. She took a moment to gather herself and the quickly applied her thoughts to the thing that she now had control over: her work. She would sit down and finish her work.

Annie sat down at her desk and turned on her laptop. She only had the conclusion to finish and some editing to do. No sooner had she settled herself at her desk, an email from her boss flashed up on the screen. It read:

Don’t worry about the report Annie: Stefan has already done one on the same subject for another project so we are going to use that’.

 Annie readjusted her thoughts. Now she had only one thing left that she had planned for: dinner. She now had two people to cater for instead of three as Chloe was not coming home. She also had a small megabite of space left in her head now that some of the afternoon’s anxieties had unravelled into nothing.

The megabite of headspace was not free for long. As she got into her car to go to the supermarket, the furrow deepened and the angsty thoughtforms descended like a doom-ridden fog:

‘Oh no look: someone has reversed into the back of the car! I can’t get it  fixed on my insurance because then my premiums will go up but if I pay for it there won’t be enough money for the new fridge I have to buy. What will I  do?………… Oooo and those new neighbours down the road have got teenagers who look like they are up to no good. I can’t have them living round here: they might be a bad influence on my kids……….. the garden is         not tidy as the lawn has not been cut: I am bringing up my children in a  property surrounded by weeds………aaaaaaaaagh!’

Annie sat in her car and sighed a big sigh as she put the key in the ignition. As she accelerated down the street, she started to plan the evening’s meal: see bass, white sauce, fresh tarragon, lemon, romanesco rather than broccoli and perhaps some potatoes dauphinoise on the side. Wine. White wine. It was always better to get two or three bottles just in case. It would be a disaster if there was no wine left which would almost certainly result in her husband going off with Cathy Barratt. There was no doubt that she had to get two bottles of wine to save any risk of impending divorce.

Annie loitered with intent at the fish counter. She did not want to be too close to the smiling woman in front of her in case she started up a conversation. She stood waiting and looked at her phone just to ward off the possibility of eye contact. As she glanced through her emails, her husband’s number flashed up on the screen. She pressed the red button. ‘Hello?’ she enquired, slightly surprised by the prospect of hearing from her husband at this time of the evening. She was expecting him back within half an hour.

Hello honey. Listen. Something’s come up. I have to work late and I won’t be home. In fact I won’t be back till tomorrow morning because I’m going to stay up here in London to finish what I have to do.’

 There was an uncomfortable pause. Annie started to process what she had been told. ‘OK……I will see you tomorrow then’ she said and ended the call.

Slightly affronted, she picked up a lasagne for one and headed to the checkout. She caved and picked up a pavlova as well. She could have some tonight and her husband could finish it off tomorrow on his return from London. She was hoping it might be nicer than Cathy Barratt’s. That reminded her to give the Barratts a ring on the way home to find out whether she needed to pick up Chloe from Lindsay’s or whether Cathy could drop her back. She phoned the landline and a male voice answered.

‘Stuart Barratt here’ said the voice.

Annie had not foreseen the prospect of anyone other than Cathy answering the phone. This caused her to take a sharp intake of breath before she spoke.

‘Hi Stuart. It’s Chloe’s Mum. Is Cathy there?

‘No. She is in London working. She won’t be back till tomorrow’.

Oh that’s a coincidence. My husband’s staying in London tonight as well’ she said, ‘I wonder if they are aware that the other is there. I just wondered whether you might be able to drop Chloe back.’

‘No problem. I’ll drop her round in an hour’ said Stuart.

Annie’s furrow started to deepen. She rang her husband.

Hi darling. I just wondered what you were having for dinner tonight’ she said.

‘Chicken curry’

And for dessert?

‘Pavlova’

 Annie ended the call. He was having PAVLOVA! Her husband and Cathy Barratt were in the same city and her husband was having pavlova for dessert. It was Monday. That could only mean one thing. Her husband must have been having an affair with Cathy Barratt.

The catastrophe was there, laid bare in front of her like a newly-discovered murder victim. She was the crime scene investigator. She had the damning evidence now. Her worst fears had come true. The nightmare of nightmares had begun. Perhaps it was because she had served him a tin of macaroni cheese instead of home-made salmon fishcakes last Wednesday.

Stuart Barratt dropped Chloe home. Annie did some more sleuthing as he got out of his Audi.

Where is Cathy staying then?’

‘At her Mum’s in Kent’

‘Are you sure?’ asked Cathy

‘Well yes: I spoke to them both just now’ said Stuart

 ‘And where will they be eating?’

‘There of course. Cathy’s mum always cooks’ said Stuart with a puzzled look on his face.

Annie was surprised yet again. She tried to process the flaws in her detective work but could not quite compute them. She decided to settle down with her chardonnay and work it all out whilst looking out of the window. Perhaps the vista of the garden might give her some inspiration to get the real answers she needed.

Patterns

daniele-levis-pelusi-383478-unsplash

Self-destructive patterns. They creep up on us like some familiar shadow, egging us on to find that security in the dark clutches of self denial, facilitating our swift escape from wholeness like some fly-by-night lover. They are a most eager companion when we are willing to leave our selves because to simply be in our bodies in the present is too painful or too lonely. So off we flit like a masochist on a mission – seeking this illusion here or that one there.

Drinking is the illusion of connection, providing fickle friends-for-the-night fading to fuzzy-headed memories in the morning’s returns.

Cigarettes waft their bosomly, billowy pillows of smoke, suggestive of solace and security.

Dating apps promise the escape in a big pink digital love bubble; a saccharin sop to a solitary singleton.

But by sure the best remedy is to go without and stay within. Realise that you’re at home being you, tucked away in your own sweet skin.

Copyright Fizzy Wisdom 2018