NANOWRIMO Novel – Cuttings – Day 12


Her pen slows, stutters and then stops.

She sits for a moment, waiting and then slowly, unwillingly, she puts the pen down and stares at the page, willing something to happen.

She doesn’t know where this story is going, has lost the voice of the porcelain doll of a woman, doesn’t know what to write next.

She feels betrayed, even angry, so far the cuttings, the gifts have delivered. It has felt as if they are actually writing themselves, a painless process, but now she si in all too familiar territory, pulling out words one, by one. Each sentence a battle to complete.

She sits for a moment, staring straight ahead, experimentally, she picks up her pen again, wills  the story to continue, but nothing, just a blank page and a gnawing feeling of doubt, of being lost.

What is it about these characters that are not allowing them to speak to her?

And then she has a memory, an image so strong that she feels the shame of the actual event.

It’s a party, one of those cusp parties, house still over-full, people sitting on stairs, spilling out of the kitchen, but the wine is a little better, the food less chaotic and although there is music, it is beginning to become a soundtrack , background noise, rather than the reason to be there and dancing will happen, but it is  starting to become slightly self-conscious, tinged with irony.

They are only a few months, years away from dinner parties, from discussions about house prices, school choices, arranging visits to farmers markets.

She is there with there then boy friend, a man she knows is just a little too good-looking for her, just a little out of her league.

Sometimes it makes her feel good, powerful,  when she walks beside him, notices the looks from other women, admiring, trying to catch his eye, but at other times the looks become calculating, trying to fathom why he is with her, what they would need to do, to say, to attract his attention and then she becomes anxious, clingy, all the things that she knows will eventually push him away.

And this party, this, we are almost too old for this kind of party, party is full of those calculating women. Their eyes slide over her, score her accurately, cruelly, before turning to him, blinding him with high octane smiles, tiny hand gestures, the offer of food, wine attention.

She si standing, watching him dance, post irony, post self consciousness and she watches the women watching him and feels completely wretched and almost hopes that they will split up soon, so that this feeling , this know of anxiety in her stomach will go and instead, she can get on with the familiar and practised agony of a broken heart.

That’s  what her story needs, not the porcelain doll, not the oiled perfection of the strong man, it needs a gawky, awkward other women, someone to stand in the shadows, to watch the narrative unfold, she needs to place herself or a version of herself into the freak show and she picks up her pen, suddenly sure again and starts to write.

When God gives you lemons……Continued

But what happens was not what i was planing, not even near, what happens is that his wife appears, comes to join him for this summer gig, comes to hang out with the freaks.

She is all angles, straight edges, neat lines, the kind of woman who irons her jeans, hell, she probably irons her socks too.

One day, she just arrives, neat, neat car, neat bags, neat hair, everything about her screams normal and part of me, the bit that likes to sit in cafes and watch the world go by, and that’s  a harder trick than it sounds when the whole world wants to stop and stare at you, wants to know what brought them together, but, but, his body has crept into my dreams, worse has crept into my work.

Some nights and let’s face it, men only come to me late at night, their desire belongs to the dark, to lonely streets, some nights I have found myself thinking of him, loosing focus, letting the performances slip, the mask fall away from the perfect china doll.

I go on watching him, but now I watch them, watch her casual cruelty to him and his beaten down responses, the way his head dips when she speaks to him, huge hands knotting and unknotting, a giant, oiled child, while she, 5’3 of spiky anger pokes and prods him with her voice.

I need to do something, I am disordered with desire, for a small women I have a whole lot of desire, a whole lot of need, a whole lot of something that has not been filled.

I become more open in my watching, step out of the shadows, stand, one tiny hand on my tiny hip, a perfect child parodying, channeling, a kind of grown woman and of course he notices, begins to wait for me to arrive before he starts his warm up, asks my opinion, watches me as he lifts heavier and heavier weights.

Grunt and stare and drop.

20 and 30 repetitions and his eyes always returning to me.

The suggestion, when it comes, falls naturally from his lips, he doesnt notice how carefully I have planted the thought, watched it grow, nurtured it as carefully as any seedling and I pretend to think, pretend to mull it over.

Why don’t I become part of his act????

My act is private, behind heavy velvet curtains, the men come, one by one, led by word of mouth, photographs shared in  chat rooms, bars at the edge of what the real world does. They stare, licking their lips, eyes heavy with desire and some, those who don’t repulse me, those who hunger doesnt scare me, those get to stay, to touch, to play out their fantasies, but, it is a performance, perforce, without an audience and a part of me, I want to say a tiny part of me, but that’s a given, see, I can even make myself laugh out loud, sometimes.

A part of me, wants to have an audience, wants to play out this performance in public, so I agree, well of course i agree, I’ve spent 3 weeks putting the idea into his head.

The act isnt complicated, but I need to train, need to build muscles, to look the part, so we workout together and my body starts to change.

I am building muscle, tiny, tiny muscles, a doll with definition and I like it, like the hardness of my body, the proof of work, my devotion to the love of the strong man.

We choose a costume, something to show off my abs, my perfectly formed butt, the tone of my thighs.

Befoe the first show, he oils my body, his hands covering me in a few short strokes and I glow and it’s not just the oil, I’m glowing from the inside too.

The show goes well – he walks on, strikes a few poses, shows off every prefectly dileanted muscle, he is like an anatomical drawing brought to life and then approaches the weights.

Bends.

Strains.

Grunts.

Buut he cannot lift , , the crowd satrt to laugh and then, I appear, dainty, tiny, but to those who know, I am ripped, fit and do I walk over to the weight bar and

Bend.

Strain

and lift and laugh as I toss the fake foam weight around and everyone laughs and applauds and he does the act and then performs some serious weiths with me, straddling her shoulders, a pocket Venus.

Of course, we touch, we have to touch, it’s the act, I can see him telling himself that, night after night as his hands wrap round my thighs, his fingers on my glistening skin and night after night I feel his fingers shake, almost vibrate with pleasure, with denial and I wait, sure that I will get what I want.

She waits too, stands at the side of the stage, watches, but she’s watching me, not him and I feel her eyes burning into me and I don’t care, I just don’t care………..

(to be continued).

She has to stop writing, her wrist is aching, neck stiff and more importantly, she has no idea where this story is going.

She stands up and stretches, tries to untie the knots in her spine.

She needs to take a break, she needs to eat and she knows exactly what she wants.

she will Walk down the hill, to the fish and chip shop that’s been there forever.

she can Remenber walking there with her father, eating the chips out of the paper, she can remember hanging around outside in those difficult mid teen years, too old to play, too young to do anything else.

She will eat chips out of the paper,lick the vinegar off her fingers and remember their father and these stolen moments of pure food pleasure and she will try and find her way back to the story.

As she goes to get her coat, she realises that she is humming to herself .

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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