She reads through the typed sheet again, checking carefully for crimes against the grammar police, for non ironic cliches, in fact for anything that will allow the other members of her writing group to settle around her work, black wings beating, claws shredding paper and her own soul under the guise of helpful feedback.
She is unsure about this task,but has, within the coded language of writers groups everywhere, had a bit of a go, which everyone knows means has spent hours staring at blank paper and that the offering for group crit is in fact draft 6 completed at 4 am today.
Choose a significant object, choose an object, a thing that means something to you
Said the group leader
Don’t think too hard
Describe the item and then write up to 1,000 words responding in any way to the object.
She shied away from the task all week, on occasions found herself wandering from room to room, picking up and discarding things that could easily be described as significant,objects illuminating scenes from her life, without giving too much away and then on Friday she makes her decision, prompted by a lackadaisical attempt to tidy the seeping shoe rack and the shoes which are beginning to escape up the stairs.
And there is it, under a pile of trainers which cannot fit anybody anymore.
One brown, Patrick Cox wannabe loafer, size 10, left foot.
She can remember exactly when she last saw this as one of a pair, it’s certainly a significant object and she is so close to the deadline that, really, it will have to do.
Coffee on, a sneaked cigarette before she starts and then pen and notebook and this is the piece she wrote.
The Patrick Cox Wannabe loafer.
My husband, the wannabe
Always wanted to be a wannabe
Always will be a wannabe
Perhaps he wanna be a wanna be
( she likes the rhythm of this, can imagine it and herself, if she was significantly someone else, performing the piece to an audience, a smoky upstairs room in a writers pub, where somehow the clean air rules have never taken off)
My husband saw Jamie on the television, swooping and flying around London streets on a Vespa
My husband wannabe Jamie
He buys a wannabe Vespa, cheaper, but somehow so much less Italian.
He wanna ride and fly and swoop, but he wannabe braver first, so, this bike, this wanna be bike lives in the covered walkway beside the house where I used to hang the washing on wet days
( she decides not to include the prayers she mutters to any deity out there on his one and only outing on the wannabe bike, let’s keep it light)
My husband buys The Face because he wannabe what everyone there already is.
He leaves them in untidy piles in the bathroom, claims to be building a wannabe archive and gets annoyed when the corners curl, the pages get damp after over-vigorous toddlers in the bath at bath time.
He wannabe younger, or at least younger than the contributors to The Face, I sees his lips moving as he reads, working out ages and where he sits on some continuum of wannabe- ness
When he is 36, something he doesn’t wannabe, really doesn’t wannabe, he stops buying it.
( the older he got the more panicked his birthdays became, veering between nights when E and C did not equal MC2, but ended in clubs where he danced, sadly, like someone’s dad and years when the birthday word itself was banned, ignored, spoken only by small children who knew no better )
He wannabe stylish, quirky, the kind of man who gets photographed in street style articles.
He wannabe a model, not the young airhead type, but the grainy, the grimy, the ones who’ve lived a life.
He wannabe spotted, spends 3 visits to the clothes show, walking like a wannabe too near those identical women, the spotters from Storm and Models 1.
They look behind and In front and through him.
( his vanity drove her mad,how much time does it take one man to get ready for an evening out, she became reconciled to dabbing on her makeup in the less good light in the less good mirror in the hall)
He wanna own an icon, he wannabe an icon, he wants to be a be, no wanna, just the actuality of existence.
So when one christmas,I spends a lot of money, buys perfect pair of loafers, Patrick Cox Wannabes in a rich chocolate brown…….
He doesn’t get the joke.
He doesn’t wannabe the laughing stock.
( they managed to keep the row contained until after food and after quality street and after chocolate reindeer and after Wallace and Gromet and after the inevitable fail of the first Christmas toy, but when it comes it’s vicious.
Ripping the wrapping off everything that’s remained hidden for so long.
On New Year’s Day, he moves out, and weeks later, when she has begun to see that he don’t wannabe married to her anymore, she finds just one of the Patrick Cox Wannabe loafers, just one hidden in the back of the newly single wardrobe.
She is under the word count, but not by an amount that will cause any raised eyebrows, but will be seen as polite, not taking up more than her fair share of time, of attention.
She doesn’t wannabe seen as needy, she doesn’t wannabe seen at all.
She rubs her fingers across the soft leather of the loafer and wonders, yet again, where the other one might be, might wannabe.