From Different Film:
Her hand wobbled on the banister. Neither wood, rivets or bone seemed capable of holding her up. The hallway was dim. The flock wallpaper reminded her of her grandfather’s house in Blackpool. Dorchester Milds. Cheese wrapped in cellophane. A Bontempi organ playing ‘sweet Spanish eyes’. She was in her life. In her body, like she had never been before. But she was an actress in it. Roseanne Sinclair: self-doubt, insomnia, daily worries about money. That person was left behind in the hall with the cereals and prunes. She thought of her boys; the first time she left Robert sitting up, on his own, on a blanket. She remembered the roundness of his hairless head. How he rocked, ready to keel over. Now she felt sorry she had inflicted the wreckage of her life on such an innocent, perfect, little thing who imagined the world forever a kindergarten of pastel blue. Some day, he would ask her why his father had left home, to become someone else. Why he left him to cope with the taunts of bigger boys and having to come to terms with a dubious fascination for sitting over the plughole when the bath water was running out.
From A Homecoming:
I speculate how misled we really are. We experience things, probably almost completely erroneously, all of the time. For example, there was a girl I was besotted with for four years. What I remember most was that she pinched her top lip for comfort whilst reading, usually light fiction. I recall she stenciled her boots with two interlaced flowers and I was convinced I was in love. She showed me the result under a sky like a blood orange but she didn’t show me anything else. In return for four years of my life, I can’t remember a single word she said. It may have been that she never said anything to me at all. Perhaps we only ever get an essence of wisdom as it’s passing us by. These are questions I have. If we are only clever in retrospect, when do we start to get things right?
From Ar-Ta and Peem:
Arthur shifted his stare towards three girls who had strutted in. They were
underdressed for the icy blast; the first of the pre-clubbers. Tom relaxed. An
excuse to remove himself from Arthur’s attention. He resented the way
Arthur made him feel trapped. He would never forget the afternoon Arthur
drooled a line of saliva onto the bar. It glistened in the sun-shaft through a
window, suspended from a white crumb of mucus in the crease of his
mouth. Arthur just stared. Stared and smiled widely at Tom. And Tom could
not escape the presence of the spit wherever his eyes went. The line
remained unbroken until Arthur moved and it snagged and fell away on his
jacket. Arthur sat by the bandit, completely unaware, a melting icicle
clinging to the end of his chin. During Tom’s break, the image kept
returning, in the faces in the paper. Princess Stephanie of Monaco.
Craig Brewster. He left his tuna baguette half-wrapped in cling film, a few
bites out of it. It wasn’t the thought of the spit that made him sick. It was
the impenetrable void in Arthur’s eyes. To have only one shot at life but
barely know you were alive enough to live it.
All excerpts copyright of the author, Kenneth Paul Stephen.