28 January 2009

PART 2 - A Chicken in an Oven

I saw her board the train and sit beside the man who was coughing. She seemed nice enough. She would have been in her thirties or forties. It was hard to tell as she carried a bit of weight. She had thick brown hair that curled around her face and over her eyes. Her featherdown coat was not really necessary that day. The temperature was above zero.

The thing I noticed most about her was her briefcase. It was one of those naturally tanned leather ones with impeccable stitching. The sort found only in Italy. She must have paid a fair bit for it. Or perhaps it was a Christmas present?

Anyway, she kept to herself at first but then I saw her looking at the man beside me. When she caught me watching her, she would quickly look away, then look back at him again. And you know how it is when someone is staring at someone else? It sort of makes you stare back? Well, that was how it was. I had to keep staring at her.

So when she turned to look out of the window, I was relieved. The passing villages were closed against the cold and the bare trees rushed past us as if we were the wind itself. It was warm in the train, like an oven. Sitting there, I felt like a roast chicken looking out of an oven door.

Suddenly I noticed that her eyes weren't moving. You know when you look out of a train window while the world is whizzing past and your eyes flicker left and right? Well, hers weren't doing that. So that's when I realised she was still watching him, through the reflection in the window!

She did this the whole trip. It was so rude! The poor man beside me wasnt' stupid though. He knew. She made him so nervous that he kept fidgeting. I can't say exactly what he was doing, but he stayed restless for the remainder of the trip. Then the train pulled into Zurich and he leaped up and dashed down the aisle like a prison escapee.
The following week, I saw an article in the paper about a woman who had been charged with harrassing a man on a train. I wondered if it was her. I guess I'll never know...

PART 1 - A Fish in a Bowl

I could see he was weird by the way his eyes rolled. They would surf the passengers, leaping from one sight to the next. Perhaps he was looking for other crazies? After a long day, I couldn't concentrate on my book and was also glancing around the train. I hoped he didn't think I was crazy too.

But it wasn't until the woman beside me coughed that I really started to watch him. He was in his mid forties, wore a suit and carried a designer briefcase. A scarf hung from his neck and gave him a Bogart appearance. His fringe had a perfect kink in it, which made him look as if he'd spent too much time in front of the mirror with a wet comb. Either coaxing the kink in or coaxing it out. I guess I'll never know.

I had been watching this man for a while when the woman beside me coughed. He rolled his eyes again, then held his breath. To avoid discovery, I turned my head to look out of the window. But to my delight I found that I could continue to stare undiscovered through the window’s reflection.

Reaching into his brown leather Bally, he pulled out the Neue Zurcher Zeitung. He started to read the paper and I lost interest in him. He was normal after all. But then he brought it very close to his face until he touched his nose with it! I felt my eyes cross. Then he alternated between reading the paper from a sane distance and touching it with his nose.

I felt my jaw drop, my mouth gaping like a fish struggling for oxygen. I continued to stare out of my fishbowl window without seeing anything beyond. My eyes smiled and my lips twitched. This was pure entertainment. I had to force myself to look at the passing view just to dampen the rising laughter. But no matter how hard I tried, I was pulled back to watch. I was a chocolate addict in a Lindt store.

What was going on inside this man's head?

The woman beside me coughed again.

The crazy rolled his eyes and put his paper away, then brought his hands up to his face and covered his nose. He then moved his hands all over his nose and smelled them.

He remained like this for the rest of the journey until the train pulled into Zurich and he leaped up and dashed down the aisle like a prison escapee.
The following morning, I read in the paper that the Grippe was running rife through Switzerland. Perhaps my 'crazy' was just trying to avoid infection? I guess I'll never know...

27 January 2009

Marketing Plan

Sorry, everyone!

I do not have an interesting story to load today.

Instead, I've been spending time developing a Marketing Plan for my Freelance Writing...

I've been identifying all the things I DON'T have that will make it difficult to market myself! :-(

Bad Catherine! (My writing course says I must be positive and believe in myself! So I guess this means I have to focus on the 'not-directly-connected-to-writing' aspects of my career/life and make some mileage out of them!)

I will post my Marketing Plan when I've finished it so you can all see how imaginative I was able to be!

26 January 2009

Collision of Cultures

An excerpt from the story that I'll be submitting for the Writers & Artists Yearboook 2009 Short Story Competition:

The monsoon season was raging. The dirt roads were soft and soupy; having collapsed under relentless waves of overloaded traffic. Catherine was on her way to the office and her senses were being freshly assaulted.The alleyways were liquid messes of caustic garbage and mud; the air a mass of poisonous droplets.

In a space that should accommodate three lanes of traffic there was a chaotic explosion of vehicles and animals. A truck veered too closely. It was caked in mud and its bent axle struggled with an unbalanced load. Her polished hotel car was a poor match but still her driver beeped and pushed in front of the truck. The truck beeped and pushed ahead. The beeps became louder and more frequent. She heard them not as simple traffic warnings but as raised voices shouting at each other. These vehicles appeared to be arguing and taunting each other and she was frightened by the persistence of her driver in the face of such threatening opposition. After a few very long minutes, her driver capitulated. Catherine felt her ribcage relax as she resumed breathing.

23 January 2009

Missing the Connection

Today they missed their connection.

They were three minutes late.

The train normally waited for them but perhaps three minutes was a little too long for a Swiss train?

They had tried though...running up the temporary wooden access ramp to the other platform, only to see the train pulling away, the last of its carriages creaking like a great aged caterpillar.

So they waited. Twenty minutes on a chilly platform.

'Well, that was twenty minutes of my life wasted, she murmured as she boarded the next connection.

She caught her words. Hadn't her partner only that morning berated her for being too pessimistic? But surely her statement had been positive? She wanted to be constantly reminded of time slipping away, of life passing, and her comment was motivation to optimise every minute of it!

As she glanced out of the train window, she saw that nature was also motivating her. A sunrise was spraying its joy at her...in orange, yellow and pink...

22 January 2009

Like a Fly into Honey

My poetic words for today:

'Darkened tree trunks leaked with the sweet smokey scent of soot and aged sap oozed from old wounds like congealed blood'

I like these so much I'm going to put them on my header!

21 January 2009

The Crunch

I was laying on my stomach like a beached whale.

He was lurching above me.

I felt his presence and froze. Cold hands flattened on my shoulders and moved slowly up to my neck. I gasped. He pressed, then released. I waited. He pressed, then released. I waited.

'Sit', he demanded.

While my brain clunked through the alternative methods of getting from 'prostrate' to 'sit', my body remained horizontal.

Much later, in my newly achieved sitting position, he approached me from behind. His hands surrounded my head like a cage. I wondered if he intended to crush my skull. I waited. He twisted. Crunch. I waited. He twisted. Crunch.

(If anyone is wondering what this is about, read my Blog from 18th Jan entitled 'The Fall'. It seems the muscles cooled...)

20 January 2009

My Sore Neck

I have a sore neck...probably from that little slip on the ice yesterday...

This morning was the first morning for two weeks that I haven't done my writing course on the train. We met a friend and she sat with us for the entire trip to work. I feel cheated. I feel like I've lost an opportunity so I'll have to make it up to my 'creative artist' tonight.

But these pathetic setbacks haven't stopped me from starting to think about my story for the Henry Lawson Festival of Arts Writing Competition! I'm going to write a piece about Wilpena Pound. It will be based on a camping trip my family made there when I was a young teenager. I will try to make it a little humorous so I can only hope that my family don't find it offensive...

I'm also entering the Writers & Artists Yearbook 2009 Writing Competition. The theme is 'Conflict'. I'd like to write a new story and I'll start on that one tonight too...perhaps even on the way home in the train.

Warning: Friends must be avoided at all costs!

18 January 2009

The Fall

Once upon a time, rugged up like Michelin men, two dedicated workers set off for the office in the dark of a winter's morning.

The smaller of the two prepared to walk down the hill first but she soon found her boots sliding.

'Careful! It's really icey here', she warned.

The larger of the two stepped forward and confidently moved past her. There was a deep thud and a loud crack. He was down. Flat on his back on the footpath. She froze, worried that the crack had been his skull.

Moving forward to check him, there was another thud and crack. She was down. She lay on her back, powerless and shocked.

There was a long silence as they contemplated their possible injuries. Verbal discussion resumed on the realisation that the cracks had been the handles of their briefcases as they had hit the cement.

He coaxed himself up first, finding a less slippery path to eventually stand erect. She floundered on the ground, her legs moving as if in a Fred Flintstone cartoon.

A very careful walk to the tram followed.

Later, before their muscles cooled and the pain of their falls could be felt, they had giggled at the picture they must have made...two heavily padded individuals laid out on the footpath beside each other in the dark of a winter's morning....

The Reason

Welcome to Catherine's Cache.

I am an aspiring writer. Well, I am more than an aspiring writer. I AM a writer. I proudly announced this to a friend recently and was met by a puzzled look. I returned the look in amazement. Clearly, she just didn't get it. Long seconds passed before she said, 'What do you mean? Have you been published?'. I was truly perplexed. Why didn't she just accept that I was a writer?

This is why I started this Blog: in the hope that, in some small pathetic way, having a Blog may be viewed by the unenlightened as being 'published'...