Writing a blog for five years has brought many joys, not least, becoming part of a like-minded community which, albeit virtual, shares many of my views and with whom I can discuss pretty much everything.
Now that sense of fulfillment has been enhanced by the publication of my first ever work of fiction in a British newspaper. Dawn started life as a draft on this very blog a couple of years ago and it was your feedback, fellow bloggers and readers, that encouraged me to work on it more and submit it earlier this year to The Voice's "Your Tale" section. You can read the first draft here and the final copy appears below. Credit for the beautiful photo accompanying my story goes to Helena Smith, the author of the "Eat Hackney" blog and a great photographer. Let's hope this is not the last time Helena and I collaborate on a project together. Many thanks. Your feedback will be very welcomed.
“Is he asleep?” he asks.
"Well, I try. I know it's difficult to put myself in your place."
"I wonder if anyone could put themselves in my place. I wonder if even I want to be in my place".
Silence. The unsayable is usually followed by quietness. This is not what she came here for, however. She saw the balcony light on, heard the soft, mellow notes of Miles Davis’s A Kind of Blue playing and knew he was out there. She found him with a glass of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other one.
Their eyes kiss. It's a lingering, embracing kiss, the type they know they’ll never be able to replicate with their lips.
He remembers the walk well. He also remembers his wife. They held hands at first like two adolescents in love, until they began to argue. It was over some petty issue. As it's the norm these days. And then the hands went their own separate ways, like their owners. Sometimes his current situation reminds him of a driver leaving the windshield wipers on when the rain ends. That screeching sound that diverts the driver’s attention from the traffic for a split second before the wipers are switched off. That's how his relationship feels at the moment. But he can't bring himself to halt the wipers.
"No, you could say that a tumour is also killing my relationship".
"I think you're wrong. I fell out of love with him before he was diagnosed. His condition has just made things... more difficult"
"You mean, to leave him?"
"Yes. Who would like to be thought of as the bitch who dumped her husband when the going got tough?"
"Then, there's no hope for me? For us?"
His silence is seized by her to press on, unchallenged. I, too, fell for you many years ago. Same reasons you gave, plus your body, she smiles. I always saw you as more than a friend. Whenever you discussed your difficult upbringing, the black child adopted by two successful, white, middle-class academics, I listened. I sympathised with your search for an identity. I have utmost respect for your work as a travel writer, especially because there aren’t many authors in that field who look like you. Through our conversations I felt an intimacy developing between us.
She suddenly changes her tone: I’m at my wits' end. I recently wrote to the Guardian’s Family Supplement’s ‘A letter to…’ I addressed my correspondence “to my husband’s tumour”. Just leave him, alone, I begged, leave us alone, leave ME alone!
He is crying in silence. Strangled sobs that punctuate her narration. As dawn breaks, the bonus track, Flamenco Sketches, kicks in. The nascent sun spreads its orange carpet over the Alpujarras mountains. Their eyes may be bloodshot but they are still locked in a long, lingering kiss.
Next Post: "Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music", to be published on Sunday 24th June at 10am (GMT)