So Much For Nostalgia

It’s always like that when you go back there. The place where you spent your childhood. You immerse yourself in the memories as the years come flooding back; you and your friends are climbing the trees, playing hide and seek, chasing each other in the little grove. The grove is still there, so are the houses, but strangers live in them now, and the old playground has been rebuilt. You used to have a sandpit. Kids these days have no such thing. It was a different time back then, with no smartphones, no video games. The summers you spent outside, returning home only to eat and sleep. You didn’t need technology to find each other, because you always found each other.

But things have changed now, you’ve all grown up and lost touch. Everyone moved away. You don’t come back often, you’ve got more interesting places to go, but sometimes, just sometimes, when you’re in that mood to visit the ghosts of the past, you make your way there, careful to avoid people. You don’t want any intruders.

And then, once your cup of reminiscence is full, and you’ve seen everything you needed to see, you walk away. Return to the present. You take your smartphone out of your pocket and scroll down the updates. You answer emails. You may video call your favourite nephew when you get back home, he’s excited to tell you about the new things he built in Minecraft. You listen attentively, and end the call hoping to see him soon. You get your Deliveroo app on, make an order, and, when it’s delivered, you settle down in front of Netflix.

No time like the present!

I Fall In Love With You Every Day

I fall in love with you every day.

I fall in love with you every morning. It helps me get out of bed. 

I also fall in love with you every time I’m having my breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say.

I fall in love with you multiple times throughout my workday. There is no regularity to it, it may come at any hour, any minute. One thing I know for sure is that it happens when I’m not concentrating. And you can bet there will always be a time when I’m not concentrating.

I fall in love with you when I’m preparing my dinner, and then again when I’m eating it. I fall in love with you when I drink coffee or have a snack. I drink a lot of coffee and I eat a lot of snacks.

Then I fall in love with you when I watch a movie or an episode of a TV show, and I have to press pause, so I get to experience that moment again. When I’m reading a book, I have to pause my reading to fall in love with you, before I can continue. 

To be sure, I fall in love with you while doing even the most boring tasks. Doing my shopping at the supermarket, or cleaning the house. Washing the dishes, always when I’m washing the dishes it is the best when I fall in love with you. 

When I exercise I fall in love with you too, and it helps me exercise better. And that is a good thing because exercise is good for you.

The weekends are the best, of course. They give me plenty of free time to fall in love with you.

I fall in love with you every day. 

You see, I need to.

Because if I didn’t, life would become unbearable.


Written for the OLWG prompt. Thank you for reading!

The Camera Smiles

It has been sitting quietly in its bag for months now, untouched. The bag, covered with dust, has blended so much with its surroundings, I no longer see it. It’s become invisible. The reproachful look of why you not love me anymore is gone. It has given up.

You might wonder what it’s been like for it, the emotions it has been through to end up in this state. First there would be confusion, what is happening, why am I not being used? Then fear. Has she found another one, a better one, does she not need me again. Then anger. After all I have done for you! Followed by sadness. So this is how it will be now. It ends with—nothing. Just emptiness.

Look, I swear it’s not my fault. What was I to do, with the year we’ve just had? Nowhere to go and nothing to do.  Better people than me have succumbed to hopelessness. It’s not my fault.

Or so I tell myself.

There is always something to do, it used to tell me then, before it stopped talking to me.

I think it might be dead. Even though it’s never been alive because it’s not a living creature. It’s still dead.

It’s a tragic end.

Then comes that Saturday.

It’s winter and it’s cold. I open the window in my living room to get some air in. The flock of starlings have finished their weird loopy team flight thing they do and settled themselves on the tree next to my house.

And all at once I know. I know I have to get that dusty bag and open it and get it out.

So I take up the dusty bag, open it and get it out.

The lens cap got stuck, I struggle with removing it, but eventually I do. I point the lens at the tree and take a picture of the starlings. I take multiple pictures. And not just of starlings.

It’s alive. It’s alive!

And finally, the camera smiles.


OWLG prompt

The Journal

This year, I vow on the first day of January, I will keep a journal.

No, not some pretty pastel-coloured notebook, its pages filled with drawings and calligraphy and glitter—nice as that is, it’s not really my thing—but a digital one. I install an app on my phone and resolve to update it at least once a week. Most of the time, I manage to keep up with it. I log my thoughts and feelings, inspirational quotes, make lists of movies and TV show I’ve seen, upload pictures and videos, and more importantly—inspired by the guy with orange skin almost starting a World War Three on Twitter on the second day of the year—the world events. Though most of that is not in any way uplifting. Fires, floods, human rights abuses, narcissistic leaders, events strangers than the fictional plots I watch on the screen. Rich old men sending army of trolls after a teenage climate activist. From the Far East, news of a novel virus emerge. A once great nation commits an ultimate act of foolishness, based on campaign of lies and manipulation. The world shakes its head and I keep typing and tapping on my phone, snapping, screenshotting and saving pieces of news from the media, all media, real or fake; I’m creating an archive. Sometimes I save bits of conversations from WhatsApp, or texts, I talk to people. Some are concerned, some aren’t. Some can only respond with emojis, others with reaction gifs. Everyone’s glued to their phone anyway. The virus is moving closer. Then the panic buying starts and into my journal I add a photo of empty supermarket shelves.

It takes me some time to finally realise that I’m chronicling the end of the world.


Author’s Note: This short piece of prose was inspired by the song Doom Days by Bastille, particularly the line “I think I’m addicted to my phone, my scrolling horror show, I’m live-streaming the final days of Rome”, lyrics by Dan Smith.

Daily Dystopian

You have now settled into the routine. You get out of bed, sit at the computer for seven hours, working remotely, you chat with your colleagues on instant messenger, send and receive a hundred emails daily, watch the senior managers’ speeches on video. You eat and drink anytime you want. After work you do a bit of cleaning, then go for your government-permitted short walk a day. Every other day you do your shopping at the supermarket, never not worrying that you won’t be able to get all the stuff you need. Toilet paper has become a precious commodity, nobody knows why and nobody asks anymore. Other than that, you stay at home. Just like everyone else. Your cat is your only companion. You catch up with family and friends only by technology. Books and streaming services are what’s keeping you sane. Just like everyone else. It’s been a while since you’ve seen the city centre. Last time you were there, it was already emptying, more pigeons than people. You wonder how the pigeons will survive now, with no people there dropping crumbs for them to eat. Out of your window you see magpies and crows, unconcerned about the human world, they go on flapping their wings and cawing. You watch TV a bit, then go to bed and in the morning it starts all over again.

You’re used to it by now. It was not the apocalypse you expected, but it is the only one in which you think you may survive.

They Laughed

They laughed. It was a good joke.

Truly you couldn’t blame them. They were tired of constantly hearing the same thing on the news. Look, it was a mess but the vote took place and that was it. The will of the people had to be honoured. What else do you want to do? It’s dragged on long enough. It was time to move on. Even though the new leader was a bit of a clown, he could get it done. Done and dusted. Got out of way so they never need to hear about that thing ever again.

Little did they know that those were the first days of the apocalypse.

Ode To A Passport

Over the years, you’ve not thought much of it. You’ve always just had it, because you had to have one of those. After all, it is a necessity for most people. But it’s not a thing that anyone spends a lot of time thinking about. Not most people, at least.

The first one you ever had was not like the one you have now. Later it changed again. And of course, you need to regularly renew it. But it’s still yours. It will always be yours.

Sometimes you considered changing it to a one issued by a different authority, but you never did. Too much effort. Unnecessary too, though ultimately advantageous. In the end, not important enough for you to go through with the change. So, you let it be. Lived your everyday life, focussed on other things.

Then it happened. Something very ugly, hateful, monstrous. Accompanied by sadness and anger and depression. For you it was tied to that thing, the thing you didn’t ever think about, just like other people never thought about theirs. Now more and more people started thinking about theirs, just as you started thinking about yours. Yours would work against you; that was sure. But you still didn’t change it. You were determined you would not change it, ever.

Everything was horrible. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. No silver lining on this cloud. Just a sense of a loss.

But you still have that thing that was always yours.

And then, one Friday night as the clocks strike eleventh hour, it becomes your most treasured possession.

A Good Hunt

Weekday night, your usual routine. Pick out the outfit for work tomorrow, prepare breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, you decide to fry two slices of bacon medallions. Once that’s done, you leave the medallions in the frying pan on the stove to cool down, before you put them away later.

So you potter about a bit, watch a bit of TV, then you go back to the kitchen to take care of the breakfast. You walk to the stove and—there is only a single bacon medallion in the frying pan. The other one has disappeared.

Gone.

Without a trace.

(Does bacon even leave a trace?)

You sigh. You suppose you’ll have to replace the missing medallion with something else.

In the living room, your cat is unassumingly licking her paws. It was a good hunt.

The Dream

It took me till about ten o’clock to realise it.

The day was not significant by any measure; the most regular of regular Wednesdays in the most uneventful time of year for me. Nothing was going on. My work was as steady as ever and there wasn’t anything particular to look forward to. So where did it come from then, this feeling of warmth around my heart, this unexplained giddiness?

And then it hit me. It was because of that dream.

I think I must have dreamt it sometime earlier in the night, otherwise, as it’s usually the case with my dreaming, I would have known straight away and not at bloody ten o’clock. It was quite… intense but not in any way extraordinary, if you get what I mean. Dreaming about being together with someone is probably one of the most common things in the world. You may have a dream about your celebrity crush or someone whom you used to know a long time ago or your actual life partner. But Manny was just a friend. Not even that close a friend. Sometimes we wouldn’t see each other for months. His family ran a small café in my area and that’s where I knew him from. One day I was there in my Star Trek t-shirt and he said he also liked Star Trek and that’s how we got talking. I hadn’t been there for a while, though. A mutual acquaintance told me Manny now worked in the café full time as his father was recovering from a heart attack. But that was over a week before the dream so it couldn’t have been what brought it on.

I hardly ever thought about Manny. He was a great guy and not bad looking, but I didn’t ever think about him, not in that way anyway. I don’t date. But that dream was, how should I put it, well, dreamy. It wasn’t sexual at all, but very romantic. I didn’t remember what went on in the dream, I knew only that it was the two of us together and this strong feeling of passion. Where it came from, I have no idea. Like I said, I never thought of him that way and I wasn’t interested. I imagined he wasn’t interested in me either. He once said he ended his last relationship because he had too much other shit going on in his life—of which there would be now even more. So why then?

A Wikipedia article informed me that dreaming occurs mainly during the REM stage of sleep. Not that it helped me in any way. Freud would have said that the dream was an expression of my repressed sexual feelings towards Manny. Yeah, Freud would have said that, I bet… It was emotions the dream evoked, not horniness. But I wasn’t in love with Manny, I could tell as much. I just found it intriguing. Mind you, I like things that intrigue me. Before, when I had dreamt about men, it was either a boyfriend (when I used to have those) or someone I had a crush on. This was new. In the dream, Manny was a romantic hero. In real life, he was just Manny. Not anything lesser. Just a normal dude.

It was all nonsense.

I went on with my day.

I needed to do some supermarket shopping after work. As Manny’s café was nearby, I thought I’d check it out. I didn’t intend to talk to him, unless he saw me, I just wanted to see if he was there. If he really was a romantic hero.

It’s likely they would be closed by now anyway.

So I walked over to the café, acting all inconspicuous, and looked inside. Sure enough, it was already closed. Manny was still there, closing up.

And he was, in a very prosaic and practical manner, mopping the café floor.

I almost burst out laughing right there on the street.

Well, even romantic heroes have to make their living somehow!

The Wrong Side

Content Warning: domestic violence

She was happy.

Everything was going her way. Britain left the EU, finally, finally!!! Immigrants and refugees were being deported, all the remoaners and libtards either eliminated or too broken to ever dare so much as speak again. Extinction Rebellion has been designated a terrorist organisation. You get arrested if you only breathe the words “climate change”. And not only that, any political correctness has been banned by law. No more talks of diversity, no more LGBTQ pride marches, no more feminism. Same sex marriage was illegal again, the welfare state completely dismantled.

The snowflakes were melting and she was living for that.

After the new Government imprisoned the members of the royal family, they seized their wealth and redistributed it amongst themselves. This meant the palaces and other royal residences were converted into flats, which were then granted to the new Powers That Be and their most faithful servants, in order of importance. And she, for her tireless and constant media campaigning in favour of the new regime, was given a flat in what used to be Kensington Palace. Life was wonderful.

She was dancing around her spacious living room, brimming with happiness. Just that day, another new law was passed (or more precisely, was declared by the Home Secretary, as Parliament no longer existed and the Government did what they pleased). Speaking, writing or otherwise communicating in a language other than English became a criminal offense. Fantastic, she punched the air with her fist. Out of all the new laws, this was her favourite. She wondered what took them so long to declare it—she thought it should have been one of the first ones—but as the saying goes, better late than never. She could now look forward to catching people who speak foreign and report them to the authorities.

She preferred not to think about the newly independent Scotland (she hated them anyway) or the reunified Ireland (never in her life had she cared about Northern Ireland so it didn’t matter), both supported by the EU. Britain was now smaller than it used to be, only England and Wales. Neither did she prefer to think about all the snowflakey lefties and remoaners that managed to get out before the new regime kicked in properly; mostly across the channel to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, some northwards to the independent Scotland. She couldn’t say why this fact bothered her so much, since she despised them. Perhaps she would have liked to see these pesky individuals arrested and charged for treason so that she could enjoy watching their televised trials, but there were still plenty of people being arrested and charged for treason so there were still many televised trials to devour. She loved being on the right side and now more than ever when that side was in power.

The media station she used to work for folded some time ago but it’s not like she needed a job. She would never have to worry about the money again, both she and her husband were firmly established with the new Government. She spent her time tweeting and working from home on her own broadcasting channel. And this time if anyone tried to argue with her or oppose her, she could call the authorities. But that rarely happened anymore, it was all praise, praise, praise. You rule, you’re the best was all she saw these days. We love you! She basked in it.

But she had to admit something was missing.

It was as if all these good things made life a bit… well, boring. Back in the day, nothing used to set her heart racing like a good online argument with a socialist loser or two. She would always emerge victorious which made it all better. Of course, being showered with praise was beautiful, but it would be more fun if she could take part in kicking some dissenters. She’ll tell her husband to ask the big boss tomorrow…

She reached for her phone to check Twitter. And—she couldn’t. There was no connection. Testing the other devices confirmed the internet was down. She tried to call her husband but the mobile network was down too. This was not right. She looked out of the window, but there didn’t seem to be any panic. Why wasn’t her network working?

She switched on the TV and flicked to the news channel. Another new law was announced. As of today, all females are forbidden from working, owning property or using the internet… Yes, she knew that already, so what. This law wouldn’t apply to the likes of her, why should she care? The news channel was devoting quite a lot of time to discussing this piece of legislation; (she only just noticed that all the people in the newsroom were men) she rolled her eyes wishing they’d shut up about it and move on to the real news, like what was wrong with the internet connection? Because surely it couldn’t just be their household that had this problem.

That’s it, she would ask the neighbours. She stepped out of her flat into the corridor and found herself face to face with one of their usual security guards. “Hello John, what’s up, you’re not usually here on our floor?”

“Ma’am, you should stay in your flat.”

“Why, what’s going on? I just wanted to ask the neighbours if their internet is working.”

“I don’t know anything about that, ma’am, but you need to go back inside.”

“But why?”

“I’ve been ordered to tell you to stay inside your flat. I don’t have any further information. Please if you could go back in…”

She stamped her foot. “Now I won’t stand for this. I want to speak to your manager.”

“Ma’am, you cannot speak to my manager. Make your way back into your flat immediately.”

“Listen to me, you cockroach—“

John grabbed her arm. “Ma’am, I will not be spoken to in such way. Get back inside.” He pushed her towards the door to her flat. She was about to slap him, when she was interrupted by a sharp ding followed by the sound of opening lift doors. Her husband appeared in the corridor. “What’s this?”

“Sir, I was just telling your wife she needs to go back into the flat,” John said.

“Clearly there’s been some misunderstanding,” she said.

“It’s alright, John, let me handle it,” her husband said. “Come in,” he put his arm on her shoulder and led her back inside. He closed the door, took his coat off and hung it on the hook, acting as it was just another Tuesday.

It was a Tuesday.

“What is happening?” she cried out. “The internet’s down, my mobile network is down… are we being attacked?”

“No, we are most certainly not being attacked.”

“So what is it? That idiot told me to stay inside the flat!”

“He’s not an idiot. He was simply following orders.”

“Whose orders?”

“Mine.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Now now, darling, swearing doesn’t suit such a fine lady like you.”

“What are you talking about?”

He laughed. “Haven’t you heard? Women are banned from using the internet, or going out without their male guardian’s permission.”

“But surely that’s only for the—“

“The unwashed masses?” He laughed again. “Wrong. It applies to everyone, including you.”

“But—but that’s not right.”

He shrugged. “What did you expect? It was always going to end up this way.”

“But no. No, no, no, no!” Her hands were shaking. “They need to change it. They need to change it back to how it was before, listen to me, you need to talk to the Prime Minister.”

“They will not change it and I cannot question the Prime Minister. You have to deal with it.”

“But—“

“But nothing. I forbid you from using the internet or going out. You will stay here until I tell you otherwise.”

“You… you,” she felt the rage rising in her. “You would have been nothing without me! It was my work that got us here!”

“Maybe, but who cares? You channel has been deactivated and your Twitter account and its history deleted. All those articles you’ve written are now showing in my name. You no longer exist.”

He stopped her hand flying midway to his cheek. He grabbed both of her hands roughly. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. You don’t want to land yourself in prison, among those leftie losers, do you? I hear you’re not exactly popular with them.”

She started kicking but it was no use, he was stronger than her. He dragged her to the bedroom, slammed the door and locked it from outside. She didn’t even know there was a key. “Now you stay there and be a good girl,” she heard his voice through the door. “If you behave yourself, who knows, I may even be allow you out one day.”

Slowly her veins filled with icy cold dread as she fell to her knees. It was always going to end up this way. She screamed. Her hands clutched into fists as she banged at the door. “Let me out! Let me out!!!”

Fool. She should have known it was pointless.

And it was then, sinking to the floor, her body shaking with convulsions, her mind seeing the whole truth bare, staring into her face, laughing the evil laugh of villains, muhahahahaha, it was then that she at last realised that she backed the wrong side.


Author’s Note: For those who don’t know “remoaner” is what Brexit supporters call remainers, i.e. people who support UK remaining in the EU. I also want to make it clear that Extinction Rebellion are good guys. This story was inspired by some nasty women I’ve come across on Twitter and Serena Joy from the TV show The Handmaid’s Tale.