One day during the summer

The dialogue was originally improvised in front of the bathroom mirror, whilst I was doing my hair one morning. I didn’t really realise I was doing it until my throat started to hurt from doing a gravelly, Southern America accent. I added the rest of the text to stop it from being just back-and-forth dialogue. I really wish I was lying about how this came about.

 

One day during the summer, on the one of the nicer days I was sitting on the riverbank. Just me, George (my fishing rod), Bessy (my Springfield bolt action repeater) and the afternoon sun beating down on us all. I was just sitting there thinking, George’s string dangling in the water and Bessy nestled in beside me; a happy family if ever there was one.

We’d been there some time when I turned to George and said,

“George, tell me a story.”

George looked at me for a second before replying, “I ain’t tellin’ you no story. I’s already doin’ your fishin’ for you.”

“Godammit, George. I ain’t asking much”, I pressed. “Just tell me a story ‘bout something.”

“Ain’t happ’nin’, may as well leave it, sir. I ain’t yo’ story rod, I’s a fishin’ rod.”

“I swear, George, if you don’t start talkin’ soon, I will, so help me God, leave yous sittin’ here, by this river and go home”, I threatened, not meaning a word of it; I would never have left George behind.

“The way I sees it: seein’ as mah talking is jus’ a figment of yo’ ‘maginin’s, really you the one refusing to tell yo’self a story.” He had a point. I was doing the voices for both of us and I had made a conscious effort to turn this little back-and-forth into an argument. But I would not be distracted:

“Don’t try and play yo’ sly tricks on me, you jumped-up twig. When I tells you to do somethin’ you best jump and do it, a‘for I replace you”, I was getting angry but I didn’t want to lose focus on what I was trying to achieve. I decided to continue threatening George as I knew he was insecure about his size.

“Do I need to remin’ you”, I persisted childishly, “that there are a hundred-score trees behin’ us, all with branches bigger than you. I could jus’ as easy take a walk into them woods and grab me up a whole mess o’ sticks and make me a fishin’ rod that would catch up a nice fish and tell me a story while doin’ it. Just take one a them sticks and tie and string off it an’ it’a be a better rod than you ever was.”

There was a pause while I thought about what George’s response might be, in order to keep the dialogue flowing.

All I is, is a stick with string off the end. Ain’t notin’ special ‘bout me. An’ there ain’t nothin’ diff’ent ‘bout them other sticks. The only reason ahma talkin’ is ‘cos yous doing mah voice. You just sittin’ there, pretendin’ t’ be havin’ a argument with yo’ fishin’ rod. An there ain’t no use threatenin’ me, nex’ fishin’ rod’s gone have the same problem.”

“You lyin’ sumbitch, I oughta –“

I was cut off by a groan of frustration. Bessy had entered the fray.

“Lawd almighty, ahma so sick’a you two fightin’ all ‘a time”, she spoke with the unpleasant timbre of a man badly approximating a woman’s tone of voice. “You boys stop yo’ squabblin’ this instant, or I swear, I will put a Godamned bullet in each a yo’ God. Damn. Skulls. Ya hear me?”

There was a pause. George and I looked at each other. Neither of us wanted Bessy to get upset.

I thought this had gone on long enough, anyway.

“I’m sorry, George. You don’t have to tell me a story.” I conceded graciously, the bigger man as always.

“I’m sorry, too. Now, can’t we jus’ sit a spell in the sun and enjoy the res’ o’ tha afternoon?”

And so, we did.

 

 

 

Dating The Public Transport Announcement Robot-Lady

We first met on the Connex (when it was Connex) train from Brockley to London Bridge. It was a few years ago and it didn’t last long but I’ll never forget her. Her voice sent a shiver down my spine.

“We will shortly be arriving at New Cross Gate.”, I almost melted.

There was a connection the moment I saw the text scrolling across her LED screen. A real spark between us. The kind of crap that only happens in terrible romantic comedies. Anyway, this was for real.

It was good for a while. It really was. We had a great time together. I had to fit my schedule around her because she always seemed to be working but I didn’t mind. It was enough just to be around her while she worked.

After a few months, though, the cracks started to show. The instability in our relationship started to manifest itself and things started to get tense between us.

It’s always the small things that bother you, isn’t it? I mean big things obviously don’t go unnoticed but it feels to me like it’s usually a build up of minor things into a bigger picture which just says: “This isn’t working.”

She could be very controlling. There were times when I felt like the whole direction of the relationship was dictated by her constant announcements.

“Our next destination is swapping keys.”
“Please make sure you have all your belongings with you when we move in together.”
“Please alight here for a nice little bridal shop that has a dress I really like.”
“We will shortly be arriving at… why haven’t I met your father?”

That last one caused, probably, our biggest fight. My father lives out of the country and she could never understand that it wasn’t because I didn’t love her that I hadn’t dropped everything to take her to visit; she’s not even eligible for a passport.

It was during an announcement on the 484 from Lewisham that she finally ended it. I hadn’t had the courage to do anything even though I was unhappy.
“Harefield Road”, she said. There was an awkward pause before, “I don’t think this is working. I’m not happy and you haven’t said a word to me the whole trip.”, in her disjointed, robotic tone.
“I… I don’t… I just…”, I stumbled over my words as tears welled in my eyes.
“You don’t seem happy and I can’t bear it that it’s us that making you this way.”, she filled the silence left by my inability to articulate emotions.
“I think you’re right… I’ve been having doubts recently. I just couldn’t bring myself-“, I was halted by a sob.
“We can still be friends.”, she said. Her voice, although harsh to most ears, was strangely comforting.

And so it finished. You’ve probably seen her around; I still do. We chat and I think we get along well. I don’t regret our time together, I’m a better person for it.

If you see her, send her my love.