Writing On Demand

Today’s writing seminar included reading “The Singing” by Jon McGregor. The discussion surrounded the emotion that was evoked by the geography of the setting. To this end, we were asked to write a short similar sized piece in the same style. We were given a location by picking a random street on Google Maps and we had 15 minutes to complete the task. This is the unedited extract that came from this exercise.

I’m not allowed to make any noise. I did once. I won’t do it again. When he comes to make the delivery of things I’m not supposed to know about, I lay here, still. Watching. I lay down by the small flat window, not too close, but close enough that I can hear his footsteps on the concrete paving outside. Then I peer at his face through the net curtains. He looks like the criminals in those tv documentaries I remember seeing as a child; nothing but a blurred out stranger who has committed only ‘alleged crimes’. I still look though. Every second day when he arrives with the sack over his shoulder. I haven’t seen a new face in over two years now, at least I think that’s right. Its become a sort of game for me. I sometimes dream about what colour his eyes are or if his skin is wrinkled or smooth. I hear his voice sometimes, he sounds a little wrinkled, not too much, probably around my dad’s age. In the summer he came without his hat on, his hair is mousy, or maybe it was dark and is now greying.

I hold my breath as he walks up the steps. I know it makes no difference when I think about it, but its become habit and this way I can hear his voice. They laugh, they never use names, it is always over in under ten seconds. It’s like how you tell the day is over when the night comes, only he comes in two’s. It’s the marker, what I have to reach for next. Like a survival instinct I suppose.

There will be 48 hours before this happens again. This used to be when the tears would come, but that stopped happening quite a while ago. I hear them moving downstairs and him, going out to organise the delivery into the garage. I know its him; the only disruption in all this quiet. This is always the moment when I am most fearful. I think about the street and can’t remember if it bends to the left or right, I tense. Im most afraid now, not because of what is coming next, but because I know its only her downstairs and worse still, I know that if I’m ever to leave that now would be the only chance I’d ever get. Like clockwork, every second day, Im afraid because I never know if this time I’m going to try to run.


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