fiction and other writing

Archive for July, 2012

Colour Change

The bedroom walls were covered with posters of fantasy drawings. Clothes were hung from doors and draped over chairs. Make-up spilled from jars and pots and colourful jewellery decorated every surface.

“Shall we go to…” started Yasmin.

“the cinema? said Yetta.

“I do wish you wouldn’t…”

“do that. Sorry. I’ll try not to,” said Yetta.

Yasmin pulled on her purple jumper and turned round to see her twin was wearing purple too.

“Oh, this is really a joke. I’ll change,” said Yasmin raising her arms to pull the jumper off.

“But why bother? You know mother likes us to dress the same.”

“Well it might’ve been ok when we were little, but we’re older now and we should be different. We should be individual,” said Yasmin slipping on a black shirt.

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about but hey, who cares?”

Picking up their bags they headed off to the cinema. On the way they passed the ‘Cutting Edge’ hairdressers. Yasmin, suddenly grabbed Yetta’s arm and guided her into the shop. Yasmin explained to the receptionist that they would like some guidance from a hairdresser before they booked an appointment and they were asked to wait.

The hairdresser came and looked at them both and smiled. They were used to people smiling at their beautiful long blond hair and bright blue eyes. Yasmin took the lead.

“I want to look completely different from my twin, but we’re still at school so I need a hairstyle that’s not too outrageous.”

Yetta’s face paled. “But we’ve always looked the same. It’ll be horrible to be a single rather than a pair.”

“Sorry Yetta. You’ll always be my best friend, but I want to be me.”

“Well let me see how can I help you?” said the hairdresser. “If you just wanted to be different you could have a bob. However if you want something more dramatic, I could give you a very short wispy style. We could even add some low lights and then you could darken your make-up. Then again red hair always looks good.”

“I like the sound of wispy and low lights,” said Yasmin. “Can you do it now?”

“Yes, we can fit you in. We’re very quiet today. I’m Tracy by the way.”

“Well I don’t like your hair ideas and I’m not wasting my afternoon. I’m off to the cinema. You coming?” said Yetta.

“No,” said Yasmin. “I’ll see you later.”

Yetta marched out of the shop and towards the cinema. She sat through the film on her own, taking in none of it. Usually she sat with her twin. They rarely were apart and all the time she thought about how her sister would look with short, darker hair. She knew that when Yasmin went home their mother would explode with anger. There would be such a terrible row. Mother liked them looking like clones. She always said a pair was better than one, but really she liked all the looks that came their way. Mother used them like ornaments. She would shout and scream and rant and rage at Yasmin for spoiling the image. Yetta began to be sorry that she’d walked out of Cutting Edge.

Yasmin felt very brave as her locks tumbled to the floor. Tracy was funny and told her lots of amusing anecdotes as her hair was low – lighted. She liked her new look, but wished Yetta had been sitting there with her. Usually they were together and it felt odd being without her, although wasn’t that partly what she wanted, to be an individual? It was later as she thought about going home that her confidence left her. Their mother was about to hit the roof and she was going to be shredded. In truth the pair of them never stood up to her. They let her bully them into being her “pretty girls”. It was wrong but she was such a dominant woman. Instead of going home she went to sit on the swings in the park, but in the end she knew she must go home.

Yasmin ran a hand through her short hair. This is what being an individual was about; standing up for things you believe. She opened the door and her mother was at her before she had time to think.

“What the hell have you done to your beautiful hair? Why you wicked, wicked girl.” The tirade went on, but although she tried to speak there was no space for her words. Then suddenly Yetta was standing beside her. Her hair was now shoulder length and had a gentle red tint to it. Their mother stopped and stared at Yetta.

“That Tracy’s very good, isn’t she? I went after the cinema. I love your hair like that Yasmin. Do you like mine?”

“How dare you..?” their mother started.

“No mother, how dare you, dictate how we should wear our hair. We’re seventeen and we’re going to be individuals…” said Yasmin.

“…and although we’ve lost our wow factor, we’re going to start learning what it is like to make our own decisions.” said Yetta.

“Goodnight mother,” said both girls together.

Book Review: The Green Ghost and Other Stories edited by Mary Danby

I don’t usually review children’s books but I’m going to make an exception for this book of ghost stories. I first read it to children when I was teaching. The class were nine to eleven year olds and without exception sat enthralled. I would be wary of reading this to younger children, because in spite of it being intended for children several of the stories do not have a happy ending. Some are quite haunting (forgive the pun).

My copy of the book went missing from the classroom. I was disappointed because I thought I might read it again sometime, but if a child ‘borrowed’ it, then that can only mean that more reading followed, which must be a good thing. Browsing on Amazon the other day for a completely different book, this one was advertised for one penny plus postage and so I treated myself. (As far as I can tell you can’t buy it new anymore.)

There are forty-two stories in total and some are better written and more exciting than others. The stories are short, easy to read and enjoyable. My favourite one was, ‘The Ghostly Gardeners’ by Ruth Cameron. I even remember it from reading it years earlier. A young boy finds a secret door in a wall. I won’t tell you what happens next as I don’t want to spoil your reading.

Most of the protagonists are children and this helps children identify with the main character. Mary Danby, who edited the book, chose the tales well, as they are varied, which is quite an achievement with over forty stories.

I would highly recommend this book for young people and although I’m not young, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a book of quick reads, entertaining, scary, but not too scary. It would be great for reading round a camp fire.

Circle of Life

In the Spring of her life,
she held the buttercup beneath her chin
to see if she liked butter.
In busy, happy days she threaded daisies
and gave delicate necklaces in friendship.

In the Summer of her life,
she birthed her babies with her lover
and found the meaning of commitment,
like Irises that share their beauty
each year in generous bounty.

In the Autumn of her life,
her hair turned from Auburn brown to slate.
Movements slowed and pained,
like leaves that drift to the ground
and carpet it with rust.

In the Winter of her life,
her skin furrowed with deep crevices,
like the earth ploughed for the coming year.
New seeds are waiting to be sown
and she thinks in fondness of the Spring.

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